Paul's Passing Thoughts

The History of Western Philosophy and Its Societal Impact on the Church – Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on February 1, 2017

The following is part two of an eight-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s second session at the 2013 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for part one
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five
Click here for part six
Click here for part seven
Click here for part eight

My job is explaining cultural impact. That’s a tall order. There are three reasons for that because diagnosing a cultural disease requires being an epidemiologist, or one who studies and analyzes the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations.  To be an epidemiologist you have to know:

  1. What the pathogen is
  2. Where the problem starts
  3. How to respond to it

Explaining the complex factors that impact all this takes a lot of time. So when I was thinking about this and what all it needed to entail, I decided that for us to really understand where we are in history intellectually, the only way to do that was to do a review of the development of Western thought. We need to pretty much start at the beginning. And that means we are going to have to put on our thinking caps.

What we are discussing is, in my estimation, of incalculable importance. Those who make it their aim to understand these subjects will be at the forefront of being able to withstand the tide of collectivism that we see washing across the face of this earth. To be sure, the resurgent Neo-Calvinist ideology is merely a subset of a broader collectivist trend. If history is any measure, the Neo-Calvinist movement and its intellectual children will go a long way to paving the way for the tyranny that is on the horizon.

Since I am going to start with the basics, I fully expect what I am about to tell you to be disturbing.

If you look at your life, your greatest miseries are when chaos prevails. Your greatest joys and pleasures are when you bring order to the world in which you live. I don’t care if the world in which you live is as narrow as cleaning up your children’s toys in the living room. You will take great satisfaction in taking that chaos and bringing it back to order. I believe this is part of the nature of how we are built. I contend that the nature of human existence is this: we are the “order-bringers.” Having been created in the image of God, since God is an order-bringer, man is as well.

With that understanding, the nature of our challenge in this earth has always been to rule and subdue the chaos that is around us and to produce order in whatever we choose. This is going to be a radical thought for many of you. The purpose of life is the purpose of your life, whatever you choose that to be. It is your job to find your meaning and identity in the context of the work that you do in bringing order to the world in which you live.

You are the order-bringer of your life. The absolute that you are seeking is staring you in the face every time you look in the mirror. Pain and misery are the result of looking outward at the surrounding chaos in an effort to find order. Satisfaction and joy come when man finishes his work, deems it good, and then wants to share it with others.

This is exactly what God did. God created the world and all that is in it, deemed it good, and took joy and satisfaction in what He accomplished, so much so that He shared it with man, a creature designed and created in God’s very own image with the ability to appreciate exactly what God accomplished because he shares that same sense of satisfaction in accomplishment.

When you understand that context, you will be able to understand what happened in Western thought. The reason Western thought stands so profoundly unique is that it arrived at some revolutionary concepts independent of anything else.

Man looked around and saw the tides of change everywhere, chaos. He saw oceans rolling, mountains upheaving, volcanoes erupting, tornadoes, earthquakes and all manner of natural disasters. He saw social evolutions, conquest, counter-conquest, wars and famines and destructions. And he looked at all of this and said, “where can we find order in the chaos?” The constant disarray told him there is in fact no order. The question was how do we make sense of this all?

While not every thinker is represented in the timelines that follow, each person represents a new idea in the evolution of human thought. It is by design that I purposefully chose to stop at St. Augustine, and the reason why will become evident as we go on. In the west, we are the direct recipients of this progression.

The progression itself isn’t specifically evil. There is no nefarious intent in what these men were seeking to accomplish. They are trying to answer a very fundamental question, and it is the same question that we ask ourselves when we were old enough to look at the world and say, “This is scary!”



The first man who tried to make sense of the world was Thales. He was one of the first people in Western thought to take a stab at answering this question. And for this reason he is regarded as the father of philosophy. He lived in a town called Miletus in Asia minor, hence the name of the school he founded, the Miletians. Only four sentences from his works survive, however we can reconstruct his ideas from his disciples and other sources that reference the Miletian school’s tradition in subsequent centuries.

Here is Thales’ theory. The universe is made up of one substance. Computers, animals, stars, theologians; they all boil down to one “stuff”.  This is called monism. His reasoning went like this. If there is a universal “stuff”, man can explain how everything is related. The first question then was why was this an important thing to identify? The answer was that if everything was one substance, then we would be able to explain change. Now in this context, “change” means chaos. In Thales’ mind, it followed that all the chaos around us is really just another form of this universal “stuff”. This would be the common denominator to tying everything together.

For Thales, this universal “stuff” was water. While it seems absurd to us, from his point of view this seemed completely logical. Water was the “stuff” that took three forms: solid, liquid, and gas. Water seemed to be able to turn into air (what we know as evaporation). If you dug into the earth deep enough, eventually you would find water. After the rain it seemed that you would find things living in the puddle left behind.

Even though he got the wrong answer, here is what is important by geometric factors. He is the first person in recorded history to employ a scientific approach. He observes the world and draws a conclusion. This is the essence of science. For the first time he offers an explanation of the cosmos that isn’t related to some god somewhere.

We have a hard time from our perspective in history because we are so familiar with the scientific method. From the time we are very small, our minds are geared to make these rudimentary observations. This was not so in the ancient world, where everything was some kind of a god. The air you breathe was a god. The grass you walked on was a god. There was a water god, a sun god, a fire god, a moon god, fish god, harvest god. So the universal explanation for everything that happened had been because some god of something caused it. What Thales did is the intellectual equivalent of going from a three-year-old who still believes in Santa Clause to a twelve-year-old who is finally being introduced to calculus.



Heraclitus used the word logos to describe the defining force behind the universe. However he didn’t use it like the Christians used it. Logos has a number of interpretations and usages. Most Christians are familiar with the Stoic interpretation that logos = the word of God. Heraclitus thought that the logos had immeasurable properties as if it were some extra-worldly entity.

According to Heraclitus, man is not able to understand the logos. The universe is in constant change. His aphorism describing these concepts survives to this day.

“Ever newer waters flow on those who step into the same river.”

Heraclitus is basically telling us that no matter what you do, it is in constant change. He describes reality as a unity of opposites, which meant all existing entities are characterized by pairs of contrary properties. He described his idea like this: the path up and down are one in the same.

Here is Heraclitus’ explanation for change.

“Reality’s essential nature lies in being both the same as itself and different from itself. In order to change, a thing must become different from itself. If it remains the same as itself, it hasn’t changed. But also after it has changed it must still be the same thing. Otherwise there has been no change but simply the substitution of one object for another. If a changing thing then is an identity of opposites it is both “is” and “is not”, and what “was” and “was not” what it will be.”

Clear as mud, right? When Heraclitus looks at reality he doesn’t see one “stuff” as Thales’ did. Instead, he sees nothing everywhere. He sees everything changing. He sees everything “becoming”. His conclusion was that everything changes all the time. It is change that is the governing force of the universe.

Now his river metaphor makes sense. Now you can understand why Heraclitus arrived at this disastrous conclusion – there is no such thing as a universal “stuff”. On the contrary, there are no things at all because everything is changing.  A contemporary historian of philosophy summarizes Heraclitus this way:

“All things flow. No man can ever step twice into the same river.

“How could he?

“The second time he tried to step, new waters would have flowed down from upstream. The waters would not be the same. Neither would the bed and the banks be the same, for the constant erosion would have changed them, too. And if the river is the water, the bed, and the banks, the river is not the same river at all. Strictly speaking, there is no river.

“When people talk about a river, they suppose that a name applies to something that will remain there for a time at least. But the river remains there no time at all. It has changed while you pronounced its name. There is no river. Worse yet, you cannot step into the same river twice, because you are not there twice. You too changed. And the person who stepped the first time no longer exists to step the second time. Persons do not exist.

“When anyone says that something exists, the meaning is that that something does not change, at least for a short time.

“An object that is real must be an object that stands still.

“Suppose a cleaver sculptor takes a lump of children’s modeling clay and begins to work it rapidly, it shortly takes on the appearance of the child’s teddy bear. And if the sculptor should stop, we would call it a teddy bear. But he doesn’t stop. His nimble fingers keep working, and the momentary bear turns into a small statue of Zeus, only quickly to disappear into the form of the Empire State Building.

“But, ‘What is it?’ you ask. The answer is not that it’s a bear or a god or a building.

“Under these circumstances, all we could say is that it is modeling clay. And we could call it clay because the clay remains the same throughout the changes. But if the clay itself never remained the same, if it changed from clay to wax to paper maché and so on and never stopped changing, we could call it nothing.

“Nothing, that is, it does not exist. It is unreal.”

~Gordon H. Clark: Thales to Dewey, A History of Philosophy

This is the implication of Heraclitus’ philosophy, and he was profoundly influential.

Is your head spinning yet? If it is, this is by design.

Question: if you think that chaos (i.e. change) is the core of existence, what does that do to man’s senses? Answer: It strips him of any effectiveness whatsoever. It makes man’s senses invalid, because while they show us solid things, “reason” explains that everything is changing, therefore man’s senses must be too base, too unrefined to understand reality.

This poses a huge problem for human existence. The solution, therefore, was to divide reality, because we also know that things can’t always change. This is the source of the two “realms” philosophy

  • The Realm of Reason – The capacity to understand the constant change.  True reality is a Heraclitean flux.
  • The Realm of Appearance – Shaped by incompetent human senses. Reality as it appears to man.

Anytime you hear someone talking about dividing reality somehow, they are utilizing a Heraclitean philosophy.

“Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.”
~ John Calvin, The Institutes of Christian Religion, Book I, Chapter 1, Section 1



In opposition to Heraclitus, Parmenides bases his entire thought on this one principle:

What is, is. What is not, is not.

He contended that nothing cannot be. In other words, you cannot have “nothing” and have it be something. He made his point this way:

“For never shall this prevail, that things that are not, are… Thinking and the thought that it is are the same; for you will not find thinking apart from what is, in relation to which it is uttered…For to be aware and to be are the same… It is necessary to speak and to think what is; for being is, but nothing is not.

“[In criticism of Heraclitus] Helplessness guides the wandering thought in their breasts; they are carried along deaf and blind alike, dazed, beasts without judgment, convinced that to be and not to be are the same and not the same, and that the road of all things is a backward-turning one.”

His conclusion was that existence is an obvious fact. Existence is universal. Existence is eternal. Therefore non-existence is impossible. A thing cannot disappear, and something cannot originate from nothing. So man can’t even think about what does not exist. That which does exist is called the Parmenidean One, which is timeless, uniform, and unchanging.

Lastly, Parmenides goes on to argue that movement was impossible because it required moving into the void. Now here is the thing, he’s got existence, but now he has to figure out how to deal with the implications of change, and so his solution is to decide that change is really not possible. Here is his logic:

“How could what is perish? How could it have come to be? For if it came into being, it is not; nor is it if ever it is going to be. Thus coming into being is extinguished, and destruction unknown.”

I want you to notice that Parmenides is actually the early form of Aristotle’s laws of existence. “A” is “A”. The law of identity. What you see is exactly what you see. There is no disconnect here, which is a substantial leap forward in the evolution of human thought. Unfortunately, Parmenides drew an erroneous conclusion, which is understandable when seen from the context of the Heraclitean Flux that he was trying to counter. He concluded that the word is packed completely full. There are no holes and no spaces, but rather one big slab of “stuff”.

When he concluded that change was impossible, he meant change of any type; motion, alteration, course correction. And of course the logical conclusion of this premise is that there is no such thing as talking, moving, smiling, vibrating, waves on the ocean; it is all a gigantic illusion. Therefore he concluded there is no change at all, this world is completely motionless in every respect.  The way we explain change is that we are calling man’s senses into question.

Now notice, even though Heraclitus and Parmenides disagree about the nature of chaos and change, both of them blame man’s senses as the culprit in the explanation. The failure is not a faulty assumption. The failure is man.

To be continued…

Click here for part one
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five
Click here for part six
Click here for part seven
Click here for part eight

The History of Western Philosophy and Its Societal Impact on the Church – Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 30, 2017

The following is part one of an eight-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s first session at the 2013 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
Click here for part six
Click here for part seven
Click here for part eight

john immelWe have actually talked many times before about the challenges before us. I understand our obsession. The scope of this issue is vast. It seems a little conspiratorial and a little overwhelming to put it in those terms. When we start talking about Plato and him being a pagan and what John Calvin preached, it starts to come off as if we’re trying to find the boogie man in bad places.

While our challenge is lofty, it is much more personal, because our challenge deals with what happens in the pews. You show up at church, you hear doctrine, you get some people that shake your hand and look longingly into your eyes and say, “you belong.” That is hard to resist. Most people go to church because their kids have a place to stay, or they like the music, and they genuinely like the people. But that’s not where it ends. It is personal because at some point you may have ended up on the wrong side of the pastors. Something happens, it doesn’t matter what, but originally you have been told that you are part of this grand party, and then you find yourself under scrutiny, and suddenly the marketing and packaging is all wrong. You thought you were right to object or to challenge or to just be you, and one day that just was no longer so.

The problem that you have is that you look at your Bible and show supporting references for your objection, but you are told that’s not what that really says, and it really doesn’t matter because you should be submitting to some authority. Suddenly, you look around and life is now insane. All those people that hugged you and said “ye, verily, we are glad you are with us,” have now turned on you in less than a minute. All those friends you had, where’d they go? They have no interest in what you have to say. And the crazy part is the more you try to justify or to explain your position, the worse it gets. Without fail they accuse you of being “defensive”, and of course only “defensive” people are sinners. If you were really humble you wouldn’t dare walk down this line of self-defense.

You look around and you are bewildered. After you wade through the thousand and one emotions that have come out of you in ways that you could not have begun to fathom, you stand back incredulous and wonder, what the heck just happened? “God’s church is not supposed to be this way,” we tell ourselves. And yet here we are, dead square in the middle of a conflict that is almost unintelligible.

Of course these types of experiences within Christianity have been going on for generations. But in our modern age of blogs and the internet, we now have the ability to start comparing notes. Individuals are suddenly able to tell their story about what happened to them, and somebody else will read that and affirm those experiences with their own. As the solidarity among hurt and abused individuals grew, one day we stopped and said, wait a minute, there is a systemic problem here.

This is where we sit within Christianity today. We know we have a conflict, but we haven’t been able to identify the problem. The explanations run the gamut from:

“Doctrines of men” – Well, all doctrines are doctrines of men. God does not come down here, stand up in the public square and start talking. It’s all doctrines of men. Everybody is standing around all the time talking about the content of what they think and proclaiming that in general to the masses. What they really mean is it’s not authentic. If it were true doctrine we wouldn’t have a problem.

“God is testing you” – This one is fabulous. Basically what you are saying is the manifestation of reality is God’s intent. So why then are you seeking to solve the problem? This is how God means it to be.

“All churches have problems” – This a neo reformed classic. They like to pretend that people fussing over the color of the carpet is somehow the same thing as a child being molested and the pastor covering it up and refusing to let the parents go to the authorities. As if there is a moral equivalency.

“We’re all just sinners” – The tried and true “get out of jail free” card. We can’t really fuss and moan about the fact that somebody’s done bad things.

“It’s a failure of ‘polity’” – If you had the right government structure then these bad things wouldn’t happen because we’d have checks and balances, and of course Christians have come to believe that the nature of checks and balances is really designed to restrain our sinful appetites and desires, and so that’s what would make a better government structure that would prevent these bad things from happening, never once realizing that all governments are always in service to a series of values. And so it doesn’t matter the structure you put in place, at the end of the day, if you have the same values, you will continue to govern towards those values.

“If we just had the right people” – Which is ironic considering we assume the problem is the doctrines of men. By definition, if we’re just looking for the right person, what we’re really saying is there is an idealized person out there who somehow magically gets it all right and finally gets to come down from Mt. Sinai and tell us the truth. Well, that’s nutty, because that never works.

The one thing we never challenge is the doctrine itself. There is something wrong with that picture.

Some of you have experienced this tumult. You started looking for answers, and you’ve heard all of these points belabored in endless cycles – if we loved more, if we prayed more, if we prayed louder, if we prayed quieter. Finally you heard somebody say, “No, it’s not any of that. It is the doctrine.” You heard a man named Paul Dohse say, “No, it’s the doctrine.” You heard a guy by the name of John Immel say, “No, it’s the doctrine.” That’s the problem.

And it’s not just a problem. It is EVIL!

That one is a big one for a lot of people, because they want to sustain some kind of moral equivalency between doctrines, as if to say, well, it’s got some good ideas, but, you know, there are some things here that are good, and these guys aren’t all bad from top to bottom. And so we want to parse it out. We don’t want to take a position on the content of what they teach. The doctrine is evil. It is fundamentally and substantively hostile to human existence.

But this leads people to a serious problem. If it is the doctrine, if Calvinism is error, [gasp!] how can that be so? It’s orthodoxy. This is what the church has believed for 500 years, or at least the Protestant church. We would like to pretend that we’re different from the Catholics, but hey, how can you debate orthodoxy? Reformed theology is sacred. John Calvin and Martin Luther, are you kidding? They are at the base of God’s left hand, right beside Peter, James, and the other guys. How can you possibly begin to challenge who these guys are? The reformation, my goodness, if it hadn’t been for those guys we’d all still be Catholics. And those dastardly Catholics, my goodness, they’re just corrupt, and the Pope is of the devil.

Anybody ever heard that before?

Then you have to ask yourself, if that is the problem, if the Reformation is not what we’ve all been told that it is, and the people at the top of the intellectual food chain are not who we’ve been told they are, then we have to ask the really hard question; why has this happened?

Here is my challenge to you. Take a look in the mirror. You are the reason this happens. It isn’t any more complicated than that. Now you might say to me, but isn’t that what everybody else has told me? Everybody else told me that I was a sinner and that I was the reason there was this conflict. Yes, but this isn’t for the same reason.

To understand what really happened we need to start at the beginning. But before we can start that the beginning, people must take responsibility for the content of their own mind. I will bet money that very few people have ever heard a preacher say that before. A preacher might tell you to “think”, but maybe not so much. Here’s the thing. Paul and Susan Dohse and I can detail for you the list of doctrinal failures. We can detail all of the root issues and all of the spiritual manipulations. I have been thinking about these issues for almost twenty years of my life, so I have the ability to do this. But until you personally are committed to the content of your own mind, your own life, and your own purpose, nothing I say here will matter.

Here is why.

heads-sandAt the end of the day, if you’re not willing to take responsibility for the content of your own mind, your worldview exempts you from everything that comes after that. You have capitulated. You have tossed up your hands and said, oh well, it’s not that big of a deal. At some point you’ll let your brain go tilt, you’ll shrug at the complexity of the world, and toss up your hands in surrender, and insist that Jesus’ message is just simple. All this “brainy” stuff is just added torture for your peaceful soul.

This sounds like a “churchy” answer. You will console yourself for a while, evading the reality that you are letting other men fill the blanks of your own mind. Eventually you will find someone else that will take up the cause of organizing your life yet once again. And not too long after that you will be confronted with the very same spiritual tyranny, the very same social conflicts, the very same church dynamic.

But maybe this time it’s worse. And maybe this time, the spiritual/church tyranny is actually joined with political power. Somehow the guy in front of the pulpit managed to get himself elected to office. And now, not only does he have a body of doctrine, but he has guns.

In Christianity we have failed to understand that government is force. Polity is force. When people start talking government, when people start talking about passing laws, what they are really saying that what they are entitled to do is force you, to compel you, to bring violence against you to bring a desired outcome. And then tyranny will have been joined with political power. And liberty will be dying under its assault.

What will you do then?

The options are very limited because you have already abandoned self-directed thinking. The only thing left will be a wail and a tumult of gnashing of teeth that men are just sinners and who can save us? You will toss up your hands in despair, retreat into some church where the intellectual barricades rule over the doors and you can fortify against the evil.

This all sounds very grim. That course of non-action is a dead end, and it has only one outcome. And that outcome is, you deserve what you get.

You are the reason tyranny happens, from top to bottom, throughout history. Not because you are a wretched old sinner who fails to submit to authority. The reason your interpersonal church relational problems happen is because you refuse to reason, because you refuse to be an independent mind, because you refuse to be an individual.

Now, how many people does that statement make nervous?

How many of you cringe at the notion that you should be more individualistic? How many of you think that having “ego” is deviant sin? How many of you equate being individualistic with “selfish”. How many of you equate selfishness with the greatest expression of moral failing?

what-if-i-told-youWhat if I told you that your reaction to self and “selfishness” and individuality and ego is by design? What if I told you that despots and tyrants throughout history the world over have specifically set out to persuade all of humanity that the problem is always the individual, and the only solution to the problem is sacrifice?

Disturbing thought, right?

So now we get to think. I need to bring you up to speed on some basic thoughts that most people have never heard before.

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.

Here is the underlying logic.

Verse 1 – Assumption + logic = action.

Verse 2 – Faulty logic, erroneous rationalizations, are still ideas that flow from one to the next, until they get to an outcome. That’s important. Just because something is “rational” doesn’t mean it’s not wrong.

Verse 3 – Mass action + destructive outcomes = common premise.

I want you to see the specific relationship between actions and ideas. I submit that man, as a rational, cognitive being, is specifically designed to operate from this standard. What makes man utterly unique in the world is his ability to cognitively and rationally approach the world. He is the only creature that does not automatically by nature adapt to an environment. The exact opposite is true. Man must adapt his environment to himself, and the only way he does that is by reason.

Once you understand that the nature of man’s existence requires him to integrate ideas, then it becomes amazingly simple to understand that the integration of ideas is what he is always after. He’s always trying to figure out how to take his ideas and put them together.

Unfortunately, most people have a big basket in their head, and they toss in this idea and that idea, and they shake it all up, and from time to time they will pull an idea out of this basket and decide, this is a good idea, and then they will act on it. It gets a little dangerous when they start pulling out two or three ideas. It doesn’t matter if they are mutually exclusive, they will try to force them together. They then look at the world, and it still makes no sense to them. Never once has it occurred to them to go back and check their premise; what is your assumption?

This study is called philosophy. Of course when I say “philosophy” in the context of Christians they immediately think of Paul’s major condemnation of “vain philosophies”, and they start to tune out because they think they have an intellectual “get out of thinking free” card.

Disciplines of Philosophy

– Metaphysics

– Epistemology

– Ethics

– Politics

These four studies drive all of human existence. The nature of existence is called metaphysics. How we know what we know is called epistemology. How we value what we know is called ethics. And how we interact with people is called politics.

Each of these disciplines of philosophy is a function of the previous one, forming a progression of thought. What you assume about man’s existence will ultimately impact what you believe man can know. What you believe man can know will ultimately impact how you think he should ethically act. How you think man should ethically act will ultimately form your government structure.

We can debate endlessly about the issues that create the problems within the church or fixing those problems with the right government structure, but government structure is always in service to ideas. This is the reason why. Politics is at the end of a philosophical progression of thought that begins with a metaphysical assumption.

Philosophy is the broad study of how man integrates his ideas. It is how we know what we know. It is where ideas come from, their objective value, and how those ideas impact our human interaction. With this in mind, you can grasp the implication of what I’m saying in the Gospel According to John Immel:

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.

This is why when you go to church you end up in the exact same spot. You find masses of people taking the same action. If you find their assumption, the roots of their ideas, you will find the cause of their actions.

So my goal last year at the 2012 TANC Conference was to introduce the systemic nature of human thought; to illustrate how this system dynamic impacts human action. Without this mindset it is almost impossible to understand what is happening. To be sure, without this intellectual tool, no specific doctrinal discussion will matter. It won’t matter how much we dissect sanctification, justification, and the centrality of the cross. It won’t matter how many scriptures we stack up in service to our pet doctrines. It won’t matter how much we rail against misplaced church government.

Ladies and gentlemen, that has been done over and over, council after council, synod after synod, internecine fight after internecine fight. And yet the church is a slow-motion train wreck of tyranny and counter-revolution. If you make even a cursory study of the evolution of Christianity from the mid-second century to about 1200 it is a laundry list of bloodshed and tyranny and counter-revolution.

To put this into “church speak”, church history is an endless cycle between legalism and revival. Revival in this instance is nothing more than the return of life, to revive what is actually dying, and the body politic continues to die because it keeps cycling through these same tyrannical ideas. But we have never broken out of the cycle because we have never understood the method underlying the madness.

“All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what they cannot see is the strategy out of which victory has evolved.” ~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The tyrants and the mystic despots of the ages have been winning because we have never once challenged their assumptions. In the 21st century we are once again rolling through a philosophical cycle that has repeated itself over and over in history. This cycle is of course why Christians are living through ever-increasing manifestations of abuse.

People are confronted with the same tyranny that our forefathers set out to resist. As of now, the only real response has been to toss up our hands and look mystified at the stars. We know we are impotent. We remain impotent, caught in the cycle of doctrinal fight, church splits, and human tragedy. All we can do is wail about human depravity and mumble feebly about needing more faith. Pray harder. Sacrifice more.

Blah, blah, blah.

I tell you the truth, the answer to why this is happening is as easy to diagnose as the common cold. But the first thing we must do is dare to take responsibility for the content of our own minds. Mystic despots have ruled the world with portents of disaster for anyone with the ambition to live life beyond the substantive, beyond the mediocre.

Here’s where you come in. Autocrats rely on being able to compel outcomes because no one opposes their ideas. Tyrants only succeed when men refuse to think.

In then next session we are going to learn how tyrants have been so successful at waging war against liberty. Put on your thinking caps. We’re about to jump into the deep end of the pool.

~ John

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TANC Homework 2015 #2 Lucian’s Zeus Catechized

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on July 8, 2015

immel 3By John Immel

Dear Reader, If you don’t know it yet, TANC 2015 is at hand (a little biblical language for you Calvinist Aficionados). I am assigning homework for the attendees.   Answer the following questions. They should be pretty easy.


1. Zeus references the Sophists. Who were the Sophists?  (Hint: watch my 2013 lectures)

2. …[Read more at Spiritual]

Excerpt From TANC 2013: Pastor Plato

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 10, 2014

The Protestant Reformation was NEVER About the Bible

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 1, 2014

It was brought to my attention yesterday that Mr. Reformation himself, John Piper, hands down the most popular Calvinist of our day and the “elder statesman” of the Neo-Calvinist movement, stated the following in The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin  ( John Piper, Crossway Books, 2000, page 73):

We need to rethink our reformed doctrine of salvation so that every limb and every branch in the tree is coursing with the sap of Augustinian delight.

This is an outright admission that Plato is the foundation for understanding reality and the Bible. Augustine’s integration of Platonist philosophy with the Bible was well documented by Susan Dohse during the 2013 TANC Conference. Once one pursues knowledge in this information age regarding what was really going on during the Reformation, you see that it was nothing more or less than a philosophy war. You can take that literally because armies in fact brought swords and catapults to the theological debates going on during that time.

So, why did Martin Luther make Sola Scriptura a central focus of the Reformation? Due to the rise of the Age of Reason, the Bible being made readily available to the great unwashed masses was inevitable. Ingenuity invented the printing press, and the handwriting was on the wall. The masses were going to get a Bible in every hut, and it was obvious that Augustinian-like slaughter was not killing people fast enough to prevent mass distribution, so the next best thing was to mandate how people interpret the Bible. That’s what the Heidelberg Disputation was all about. Nothing more, nothing less.

Yes indeed, Scripture alone, but with what interpretation? Not the use of reason. To Luther and the Reformers, a serf believing in the ability to reason is like a toddler playing with a loaded gun. Basically, this is a discussion about grammatical interpretation using reason versus redemptive narrative. Those who would use reason to interpret the Bible were known as the “schoolmen,” and Calvin refers to them 69 times in the Calvin Institutes. The references are not complimentary. Like Luther, Calvin saw the use of reason to interpret the Bible as a rogue hermeneutic and antithetical to Platonist principles of philosophy.

This is an issue that has never been brought to the forefront among Christians for consideration even though most pastors preach via meta-narrative, and most Christians assume the use of reason to reach logical conclusions past, “I am a totally depraved person who can know nothing beyond the foolishness of the cross.” This is why Protestants are the most confused individuals on the face of the earth. Protestant pastors interpret reality in a totally different way than those being led.

And so it goes: Sunday after Sunday, the churches are full of parishioners trying to draw logical conclusions for living from a sermon designed to lead parishioners to one conclusion only: the only thing you can understand is that you cannot understand anything save that you deserve hell, and everything other than that is a an undeserved gift. Principles for living life? What life? Life isn’t for living, it is only to be praised as something done to us, not by us. The only thing we should be doing is hell, not life.

Therefore, if you raise a concern, or ask a question, this immediately reveals the fact that you just don’t get it. You are living for your own glory, and not the glory of the cross story. Knowledge and pride are inseparable, and of course, “pride precedeth a fall.”