Paul's Passing Thoughts

TANC Conference 2019 Primer – Guest Writer John Immel’s Conference Introduction

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 14, 2019

The following article was written by John Immel originally in December of 2013.  This article lays the groundwork for the topic of John’s sessions in this year’s TANC conference. 


“…man can only be moral when man abandons ALL self-value. You are not even John Calvin’s worm: a maggot under the feet of a Holy God. You are nothing…”

Al Mohler and the Irony of a Neo-Calvinist

Nelson Mandela died recently.

It is inconceivable that people haven’t heard that Nelson Mandela passed away because if you are alive and in the United States, it should be almost impossible to miss the lovefest pouring out from the American media for the one-time President of South Africa.

Of course, whenever the American media starts having orgasms over a public figure, my BS meter starts pinging in the back of my mind. If for no other reason, the only people the American media venerates are political leftists. When CNN, NBC, CBS, ESPN, and the Ethernet equivalent outlets are heralding someone’s “great accomplishments,” chances are high that the person leans politically closer to Lenin than say Limbaugh, closer to Pol Pot than say Palin.

As an American, I knew the required parts of the Mandela mythos and South African politics: Mandela as the second coming, apartheid, and the evils of the racist white man. I learned the important stuff from the highly instructive morality play called Lethal Weapon 2 with Joe Pesci and Danny Glover. “You’re blek. He’s blek”

And the all-time best movie line:

Evil white dude: “Diplomatic immunity!”

Bang!

Roger Murtaugh: “It’s just been revoked!”

(By the way, if you freeze the movie just after the gunshot, when the evil, racist white guy is holding up his diplomatic creds, you can see that the bullet goes through the creds before it goes through the guy’s head.)

Anyway, so as I was saying, I knew all the politically correct parts of the Mandela lore, or at least all the parts that resident white people are supposed to know and not challenge, ever: only white guys are racist. And lest we forget, white guys are evil racists, so of course whatever Nelson Mandela actually DID in his life should never be challenged.

Ergo and so forth, being appropriately subdued by white guilt, I was going to let the mythology go unchallenged. I got the message from the social cops: Move along, nothing to see here. No spiritual tyranny to address. Right?

That was until my friend and partner in Neo-Calvinist eye poking Paul Dohse wrote this article: Albert Mohler, Nelson Mandela, and the Crusade for a New Calvinist Host.

In the article, Paul asks an innocuous question that got me to pondering. Why is Al Mohler weighing in on the Nelson Mandela dealeo? Paul has his own take. I’ll let you take a peek at what he said.

But indeed, why was Al Mohler getting on the national Mandela bandwagon? What does a preacher from Louisville, Kentucky have to do with the price of beans in South Afri—oops, China?

I decided to take a quick gander at Al Mohler’s full article. And I must confess after reading it twice, I still wasn’t sure what Al was trying to do. He had some classic Mohler-esque argumentative non sequiturs and the ever present obsession with a “fallen world” that so many Calvinists tout without a blush of shame. There was this one sentence that made my eyes narrow:

It is unlikely that anyone is going to try to help them [Americans] think about these questions and to think about them as Christians.

Did he say “help” people think?

You people in the Southern Baptist Convention need Al Mohler’s “help” to think?

That would explain a lot, I guess. But . . . >shrug< . . . if SBC folks are gonna feed off the Al Mohler intellectual teats, then they are welcome to their cognitive indigestion.

Ehem . . .

Considering most everyone else was slobbering over Mandela, I will say that I was impressed by Mohler’s “honest” treatment of Mandela’s life. Mandela was a Marxist terrorist and Mohler got that part of his life right. Well, he got the terrorist part right (sort of), but he didn’t cover the Marxists part in any detail. (This is a crucial distinction.) However, he treated the terrorist part with such . . . ease (?), such caution, such moderation that for a minute I wasn’t sure this was THE Dr. R. Albert Mohler. Dr. Al tends to be a pretty emphatic soul, so I what caught my attention was his moderation as he gave the overview of Mandela’s terrorist life and the subsequent Christian lesson.

Where was the Mohler-esque outrage we are treated to when he is riding his Moral Majority high horse?

For example, note the contrast between the Mandela article and Al Mohler’s uncharitable (?) condemnation of yoga practitioners. (Read my article) His Neo-Calvinist indignation was in full tilt boogie over yoga. He didn’t advocate “moral complication” for those dastardly women daring to teach demonic doctrine. You would have thought the yoga insurgents were storming the chancel. So strident was his condemnation that I dubbed him Almohlerishi Antiyoga. So on one hand, Mandela is a terrorist with a “morally complicated” character and on the other hand, we have full condemnation of yoginis bending and breathing their way to enlightenment.

What am I missing? Did the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi declare Yoga Jihad or something? Is there a devious plot to bend and breathe and hug the world in to submission?

(Picture Al Mohler, CJ Mahaney, Mark Dever, and John Piper skipping down the Yellow Brick Road saying, “Dandelions, tiger lilies and Care Bears . . . oh my!”)

Where does this sense of proportion come from?

Is the Moral Majority outrage-o-meter broken?

I read through the Mandela article a few more times still pondering Al Mohler’s walk down Moral Equivalency lane and my attention finally focused on a name that makes two cameo appearances: Reinhold Niebuhr.

And then my mind traveled back to when I was writing one of a bazillion papers for my Systematic and Historical Theology degree. And like a ghost haunting the library stacks, the voice of that tortured, nagging, self-righteous, cynic whispered the name of his book: The Irony of American History.

Uh . . . do you, dear reader, see the similarities between Niebuhr’s book title and Mohler’s article title?

If I were Archimedes, I would have shouted Eureka!

Just so you Reformed Theology guys know, that would be like shouting “John Calvin!” when you have a new thought.

Oh wait, you don’t have new thoughts.

Ehem . . .

Anyway, of course, you see the inspiration for Al Mohler’s article. And after a few hours refreshing my memory on what that tortured, nagging, self-righteous cynic wrote in his book The Irony of American History, I had a pretty good idea what Al Mohler was really saying. And it isn’t really about Nelson Mandela. The Mandela mythos is merely the opportunity to affirm something much more insidious.

Since you, dear reader, can Google Reinhold Niebuhr and get 609,000 results in .029 seconds I won’t rehash the basics of his life. He is famous for the Serenity Prayer, has a dozen or so books to his credits, and (most important) he went to that bastion of Calvinist indoctrination Yale Divinity School. Well, that factoid isn’t really important in the cosmic sense but is merely trivia that I choose to point out because that is where my grandfather Ivan Immel went to Divinity School.

Those years ago when I was doing my degree work, I read Niebuhr like most bright-eyed and bushy-tailed theology students. I was looking for a pithy statement to quote so I could pad my bibliography. Critical review was limited by my academic expediency. It didn’t help that I was a terrible student and (more important) didn’t have a sufficient grasp of the evolutions of Western thought to understand what Reinhold Niebuhr really had to say. Today I am not a much better student, but my grasp of Western thought has improved over the last decade. And more important, I understand how the branches of Western philosophy (and theology) are wrecking the single greatest political achievement the human race has ever seen.

So this time when I picked up Niebuhr’s work, The Irony of American History and Moral Man and Immoral Society, the real roots of his ideas screamed off the page. Reinhold Niebuhr is a Kantian. Well, he is first and foremost a Calvinist (with a mix of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and Hegel for seasoning), but the practical extension of his theology is the heartbeat of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy.

Of course, there is no contradiction in holding both of these philosophical fathers in harmony. Indeed, Kant is not possible without Calvin’s metastasized rehash of Augustinian doctrine. I submit that without the roughly 150 years of Calvin’s ideas saturating the whole of European philosophy in general (and Germany/Prussia in particular), Kant would have remained a fussy little man in Konigsberg, virtually unheard of in the broader world.

If the surviving dominate theology of the Reformation had been say . . . Menno Simon’s doctrine instead of Calvin, Kant’s phenomenal and noumenal world would have been unintelligible (well, more unintelligible than they already are), but more important, Kant’s altruistic ethics would have died a blessedly fast death from neglect. And trust me: the world would have been saved untold bloodshed. But that didn’t happen. Calvin’s Institutes dominated the whole of post reformation theology; it is the epicenter from which almost every Protestant fight originates because that is the fruit of its tree. So the intellectual landscape was ripe for Immanuel Kant’s “rational” philosophy, and his ethics in particular.

The impact of altruism on the world, on America, and on Christianity specifically could be a lifetime study. The first half of that life would be spent explaining to everyone what altruism is: what it really is and what it really means. It is so much a part of our vocabulary, so implicit to our everyday actions, so endemic to our ethical worldview that altruism almost permeates our skin. The second half of that life would be spent chronicling the causal relationship between altruism’s ethical demands and every government atrocity committed in the name of is alleged virtue.

I don’t have a lifetime. I have a few paragraphs. So here it is in brief. Kantian ethics prescribe that man’s highest moral action is self-sacrifice. Now when I write those words, many of you, dear readers, will nod sagely to accept the premise all the while wiping out of your mind all the “selfish” things you bootleg into your ethical world. After all, man can’t be TOTALLY selfish. It is not possible to live, without SOME things for yourself. Right?

Wrong.

This is exactly what Kant meant: the Self-Sacrifice is total. Even the desire to breathe, to eat, to hold pleasure from swallowing is an act of unrepentant ego. In Augustinian doctrine, such action was a manifestation of human sin against a Holy God. In Calvin, such action is a manifestation of man’s highest depravity. But in both of their doctrine, man could at least try (I use that word loosely) to take action that garnered blessing in the afterlife. Or maybe better said, man could want the blessing of the afterlife and still be moral. So he could sustain some “selfish” motive and—somehow—dodge the pervasive depravity of his existence. But by the time Kant is done with the self-sacrifice ethic, he raised the moral bar such that he obliterated the whole of human values. Altruism says that any action or motive no matter how small, how trivial, how insignificant, even when done for the blessing in the afterlife annihilates ethical values as such. Altruism says that man can gain NO benefit from the values he seeks: That the beneficiary of all values MUST be someone else.

So all those caveats and addendums you smuggle into the moral speakeasy so you can take satisfaction for… anything…all of those are evil, an evil of the first order.

Why?

Merely because you are man: man can only be moral when man abandons ALL self-value. You are not even John Calvin’s worm: a maggot under the feet of a Holy God. You are nothing because you are an ego. Indeed, the only truly moral man was the man who abandons the pursuit of value qua values. Man’s highest ethical action was his “duty” (an action done at the behest of others without a shred or a shadow of personal satisfaction) to abandon the sum of his existence in behalf of others. The only way to be truly moral was to be truly value-less. And this could not be a passive existence. Altruism requires action to man’s detriment. To “live” this moral state, man must cut his own throat to fulfill the moral imperative. In effect, Kant walked into the Holy of Holies, kicked the High Priest out, and handed the knife to the lamb on the altar and said, “It is your duty to sacrifice yourself.”

Of course, after a thousand years of turning an icon of Roman execution into an archetype of “virtue,” a thousand years of Augustine’s cancerous doctrines echoing the same sentiments and 150 years of Calvin’s metastasized version of the same doctrine swimming through the minds of Christianity, Kant’s “rational” ethics seemed to affirm and confirm God’s highest revelation. Christianity surrendered to Kant’s philosophy without so much as a belch of protest, elevating death as the highest ideal of human existence. So from the 18th century to the present day, the cult of death called Christianity has been nailed into the minds of humanity.

And lieber Gott im Himmel, how the blood has flowed: blood, blood, blood, and more blood.

Since I’m no longer that doe-eyed and naïve theology student, only interested in stroking the professor’s ego so I can be inducted into the theologically elite club, I now read theologians with vast amounts of critical review at the forefront of my mind. Actually, I was never the slavish, sycophant, bobble-headed theology student, which is why Dr. Carpenter walked out of Advanced Systematics class when he saw me take a seat, and exactly why Sovereign Grace Ministries ran me out of church on a rail.

And now I have the tools to recognize the roots of Niebuhr’s sociopolitical disaster. I knew from the first page of The Irony of American History that Niebuhr is a rabid Kantian. (1) Altruism dominates the whole of Niebuhr’s worldview, and most of his alleged American “ironies” can be directly traced to his endless altruistic manipulations. Moral Man and Immoral Society is entirely predicated on the Altruistic ethic. To Niebuhr, man’s highest and greatest sin was the existence of ego or the existence of self. Here is how Niebuhr articulates the doctrine of original sin: “This doctrine [original sin] asserts the obvious fact that all men are persistently inclined to regard themselves more highly and are more assiduously concerned with their own interests than any “objective” view of their importance would warrant.” [Emphasis mine]

This is not what Augustine specifically taught, but this is what Augustine’s doctrine looks like after a Kantian gets hold of the dogma. So it followed in Niebuhr’s mind that the root of all social injustice was a failure of the individual to identify the needs of others, which means money. Individuals must give their money to those who need it. And by logical extension, this means that nations of prosperous people had a moral responsibility to the needs of other nations.

Just so you know social justice is a euphemism for the redistribution of wealth. Whenever you hear a preacher pounding the pulpit for social justice, he is really saying that you must be compelled to give your money to those who do not have your money. Don’t confuse social justice with an act of benevolence. What that preacher means to say is that if you have one dollar more than anyone else on the planet, YOU are guilty of a CRIME. It doesn’t matter how you got that dollar. It doesn’t matter that you worked to create that dollar. It doesn’t matter if the other people are rotters and thieves and bums. If you have a disproportionate number of dollars, (one dollar) in comparison to anyone else in “need,” you are guilty of a CRIME. And crimes are punished by government.

With this in mind, you can begin to fathom the hatred Niebuhr held for America, the single most prosperous nation ever in the history of the world, and the scorn he held for America’s citizens whose achievements set the standards of innovation and relieved human suffering more than any other people . . . ever. So The Irony of American History has nothing to do with American irony but is rather tour de force in Niebuhr’s tortured, nagging, self-righteous cynicism. And Moral Man and Immoral Society has nothing to do with a study in ethics and politics but is rather a contemptuous treatise in how to offer Christians a justification to use government force to eradicate private property.

The only irony in either book is watching a Calvinist/Kantian who has the nerve to lay claim to moral “certainty” for everyone else’s failure to measure up to his ethical bar.

I know I’m treading on sacred ground by criticizing Niebuhr because he is something of a theological hero, venerated in seminaries across the country. Niebuhr’s popular influence grew through WWII as he decried America’s “isolationism” to encourage her to enter the war and then further as he condemned America’s action in the Korean War and Vietnam for American “Imperialism” and then further expanded through the Cold War for his mutual criticism of the United States and the Soviet Union. It is said that his works have influenced American foreign policy, and since Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama name him as among their favorite theologians, I have no doubt that the rumors are true.

Preachers and theologians like it when one of their own (someone in full doctrinal solidarity) rises to the status of notable public spokesman, because it vicariously validates their life. It doesn’t matter how many times a preacher tells you from the pulpit how self-LESS he is, how much of a moral martyr he is, how altruistic he is, he is acutely aware that he will fritter away his life in obscurity. And he HATES that. So when a preacher starts being quoted by public figures, all those guys living in the shadows of irrelevancy, they are thrilled because they think that notoriety—somehow—validates their life.

And this is doubly true in the academic world. Professors hate the fact that they will write a textbook that a few dozen people on the planet will actually read. And they have no end of animosity for a bunch of uneducated good old boys Texas preachers on television soaking up accolades. So since very, very few American theologians have ever risen to notable heights, Niebuhr has achieved unique status in the pointy headed academic pantheon. Not that it would have taken much to stand out in American theological academia through the late 19th and early 20th century. Since the Puritans landed on Plymouth Rock, America’s “intellectual” leadership has been slavishly committed to German philosophers and theologians. (With a Dane and a French guy or two added to the mix.) My understanding of the tides of American theology from 1925 forward is a little thin, but I suspect that Niebuhr’s strident cynicism cut through the European Me-Too- Me-Too-ism of his contemporaries, so he sounded like a fresh voice.

Not that Niebuhr was a fresh voice. He didn’t have anything new to say. He was little more than a warmed-over Jonathan Edwards. And just like Edwards, Niebuhr played on some of man’s deep-seated, superstitious fears to manipulate their intellectual loyalties. By necessity, Calvinism dies a social death about every four generations, because without civil authority to compel people to believe the doctrine, eventually everyone runs into Johnny C’s intellectual cul-de-sac and finally arrives at the only logical conclusion: “Who cares?” Without fear and force, Calvinism fades into the cultural background until the people have forgotten why their parents ran kicking and screaming from the chancel and one more preacher figures out how to sell medieval doctrines in contemporary words. Niebuhr was one such man.

Since Niebuhr started his sociopolitical rants with a definitively religious presumption like the “Fall of Man,” he probably sounded like a stark contrast to his secular philosophical contemporaries. Niebuhr took on ideologies like John Dewey’s fully disastrous body of thought called Pragmatism. Niebuhr wasn’t particularly successful at rebutting Dewey. If he had been, Dewey’s Pragmatism wouldn’t have succeeded in dominating American education for the last one hundred years.

Intellectual influence is very different from intellectual success. So while Niebuhr was influential, he wasn’t particularly successful at defeating the pragmatists. And neither was he successful at defeating his other targets of opportunity: the communists and the social gospel-ers. I submit that his argumentative impotence comes from the single glaring fact that he conceded the premise of his adversaries. Every single one of his noted ideological foes are, at their roots, Kantians.

Dewey’s Pragmatism is an epistemological consequence of Kant’s noumenal and phenomenal world. The communists got their ideology from Marx and Hegel, who got their metaphysics and epistemology from Kant. The Social Gospel crowd is a “Christian” derivative of Marx who insists that justice is a government-enforced redistribution of wealth. And they ALL agree that Man is metaphysically corrupt and epistemologically incompetent. And they ALL agree that man’s highest ethical action is . . . (you guessed it) self-sacrifice. (2)

Niebuhr accepts his enemies’ premise so his counterargument was little more than a discussion of means and methods, but the philosophical endgame was the same. Man’s existence is condemned. (Full stop) Now let’s figure out how to slice up the sacrifice for the greatest “good.” So even though the tamed cynic loved to judge his opponents’ rationalizations for their political “idealism,” Niebuhr held the same premise—man is existentially corrupt.

Here in is the real irony: Niebuhr had no chance to succeed in his stated crusade. Like Don Quixote jousting the windmill of human ego, Niebuhr never once realized that he and the commies and the social gospel-ers and the pragmatists were all riding on the same nag.

Oh, the irony of the cynical ramblings of Reinhold Niebuhr.

<snicker>

But Niebuhr did have one opponent that he was very successful at beating: the United States of America. He was particularly successful at taking on America’s “moral” history. This success is tied to two interrelated facts. First, altruism and the roots of American government are philosophical antipodes. Second, America has had ZERO intellectual leadership interested in defending her root moral virtues. Indeed, since American intelligentsia swims in an ocean of altruism, it almost seems absurd to speak of America’s moral virtues. America has become synonymous with excess and greed and exploitation. Who would have the courage to defend such a monstrosity?

It is easy to win an argument in a vacuum. This is of course why most major Neo-Calvinist ministries block comments on their blogs. No one can argue back. In Niebuhr’s case, he didn’t have to block comments; virtually no one was willing to offer a substantive, unapologetic rebuttal defending the moral virtue of American individualism. So historically, Niebuhr was one more Kantian voice singing from the same sheet of music. American “idealism” was really delusion, and how dare the people of America fail to sacrifice themselves for the greater worldly good.

And Niebuhr’s singular tool of assault against America and her greatest virtue is a stark raving mad dash into moral equivalency.

Now we get to the nub of the matter.

Niebuhr winds through his arguments like a wolf circling his prey. He is slow and subtle and cautious. So if you are not paying attention, you won’t notice that he is getting closer and closer to his central thesis: Man’s inexorable selfishness is the heart of injustice. Therefore, man needs to be forced into moral action.

Generations of European Christians accepted the premise of human depravity as self-evident, as have all sociopolitical organizations founded on the metaphysical premise that man is a “sinner” who inhabits a “fallen” world. But Niebuhr’s target audience was 19th and 20th century Americans, who, even while attending church and listening to doctrines that condemned their existence, were LIVING through the greatest expansion of liberty and knowledge and prosperity the world had ever seen. The idealism that Niebuhr tried so hard to condemn was no mere Pollyanna-ism. Man had proof that life was filled with opportunities, that the future could be bright because the future could be built. It was a conclusion born from seeing the world’s harsh and brutal environment mastered and ordered and pacified.

The Medieval age had no such contrast. Their worldview of gargoyles and superstition and brutality was all anyone had ever known, so there was an internal logic to the churches’ ban on reason and science. All the world knew was faith and force and the poverty those twin destroyers bring. But the 17th century was the beginning of the Enlightenment and the full immersion of Aristotelian thought into the minds of men. And by the time history arrives in the 19th century, man was without excuse. For the first time in world history, man could SEE a vision of life that held endless possibilities; it seemed that man was on the verge of solving the world’s problems. And the shining light on the hill, the amazing beacon of hope, was the United States of America.

It is important that you, dear reader, understand the sense of life that permeated the American spirit through those years. We have become complacent to the human advances because they are so common. But a mere hundred years ago, every day man woke to a new miracle: the polio vaccine, the iron horse, the mass produced car. The list of innovation and prosperity would be too great to write down.

Man woke up seven days a week and saw man’s ability triumph. He went to church one day a week to be told that he was a sinner, life was hopeless, and man’s highest ethical ideal was death. But men KNEW there was a disconnect; something was wrong with the picture. Church doctrine condemned the whole of man’s existence. But man’s existence was very obviously not the impotent, ulcerous, cancerous sore described by the preacher. And because of that blessedly prescient American government doctrine called the separation of Church and State, people could openly reject the theology that had been the source of human misery for millennia.

And object they did.

Thus rose the religious intellectual boogieman called Modernity whose handmaiden of evil was Reason: a dastardly creature that had the temerity to reject age old doctrines. Reason was to blame for driving medieval doctrines from men’s minds and unseating the Church from its “rightful” place as governing authority over men’s bodies and souls.

It was to this audience that Niebuhr spoke. And this audience would never, in a million years, allow a government to dictate GOOD. This audience rejected man’s inexorable selfishness as the heart of injustice that therefore needed to be forced into moral action. This audience had seen the virtue of a government whose sole and limited function was the defense of the individual in the pursuit of his life, liberty, and happiness. This audience could see the living contrast between the American form of government and the despotism that had dominated the whole of Europe. Indeed, anywhere medieval doctrines had dominated American life, they could see the manifestations: slavery, poverty, and war.

So Niebuhr knew—just like all mystic despots know—you can’t persuade a confident man, a man of ability, that he needs to be “saved” (from himself or that others need to be saved from him) unless you first persuade him that his virtues are really vice, unless you persuade him that the source of his liberty, ability, and prosperity is really the deepest metaphysical evil. And a nation of those self-same confident individuals succeeding with a government built on the premise of self-appointment and limited government would never abandon the roots of their liberty. The only way to defeat such a nation was to create the moral equation: American egoism equals total moral injustice. The singular method to defeat America was to condemn the root of its very existence: its founding strength MUST become its undermining weakness.

So to an America who chose not to get into World War I and II Niebuhr preached against “isolationism” because it was selfish of America to abandon the “world community” in the name of its own “self-interest.” And then in a twist of irony, Niebuhr preached against American “imperialism” when she got involved with that same “world community” to intervene in Korea and Vietnam. The root of both arguments is that America has no moral right to act in its own self-interest. And each egoistic, each selfish exploitation of the under privileged, each dollar earned in the name of capitalism, each failure to live up to the high moral standard of altruism is proof positive that the United States is fundamentally corrupt.

For all of America’s idealism, it is really no different than the Soviet Union, Niebuhr argues in his typically convoluted reasoning. Yes, yes, yes, those communist are guilty of all manner misguided notions, but America is equally misguided. Nay, America is even more misguided because it has all of this prosperity, and it has the nerve to do so little. He concedes that Soviet leadership uses force to create the Workers’ Paradise, but how is that any better than America’s use of “economic” force to exploit the proletariat? All nations use force in service to their egoistic foreign policy. All nations do greater evil than individuals. All nations are sinners. This is the way of the modern world: a choice between “idealistic,” self-deluded ideologies and “realistic” theology. America is self-deluded in its selfishness. It is sinning in its sinfulness. It is yet one more irony of human history. The world is a fallen place. How dare Americans live with their naiveté? How dare Americans remain immature and uncaring for the whole of the “world community?”

Thus goes the circling and circling of the Niebuhr-esque argumentation. It wears the reader down to despair. It drives them to the only “reasonable” conclusion: There is really no difference between the Soviet Union and America. There are no truly moral choices among men or among nations. There is only the choice of evils.

Sounds reasonable, right? That sounds virtuous, right? Sounds equal, right? Sounds spiritual, right?

Wrong!

The idea that the Soviet Union and America are on the same moral level is the highest rational atrocity. It is a moral bait and switch of disastrous proportions.

Altruism preaches sacrifice, and sacrifice is exactly what the Soviet Union demanded. The result was blood, blood, blood, and more blood. The leaders of the Marxist revolution turned Russia into a slaughterhouse. Stalin is reported to have killed upwards of 50 million people and that does not count the state-created Ukrainian famine. Whatever America’s faults, her revolution bears no resemblance to ANY Marxist revolution. There are no killing fields, no concentration camps, no charnel houses of mutilation. And the only time America has even gotten close to a public policy of oppression, it takes thirty minutes of research to realize the advocates and instigators are universally political leftists or Christian theocrats advocating the primacy of the State in defiance of the U.S. Constitution.

Christians need to wake up and smell the sacrifice. When preachers thump the pulpit proclaiming the irony of American history, daring to create a moral equivalency between the outcomes of American individualism and the greatest thugs on the planet, you MUST understand the evil underneath their vile hearts. These preachers like to pretend they are paragons of moral virtue, but this is all an ugly, ugly fraud.

Altruism’s logical end is moral equivalency.

There is no such thing as a truly selfless man. Man must breathe and eat which means he must choose WHAT to breathe and WHAT to eat, which means he must choose between values to live. To abandon values is to abandon life. The action of living is driven by a desire, a will, a purpose to live. Without this driving desire, man would lay down and die. But an ethical standard that demands man abandon values means altruism demands man’s death. Of course, this is totally impracticable. It has no coefficient in reality. And eventually, man arrives at the end of the cul-de-sac and realizes he is condemned no matter what he does. A moral life is not livable, so there is only one conclusion: Morality is man’s enemy. Therefore, value judgments are irrelevant.

The only thing left to human existence is moral equivalency, which really means there is no moral standard.

So it doesn’t matter that Joseph Stalin wiped out millions of people. That is really no different than America’s long list of “social injustice.” And besides, Stalin’s actions were done in service to the “need” of the working class. The fact that he used force to achieve those altruistic ends is merely the hard choice between evils: the egoism of the individual or the egoism of the collective.

Who then can do the moral calculus? Who then can solve the problems of human existence?

Certainly not the Enlightenment rationalists, answers Niebuhr. Certainly not technology says Niebuhr. Certainly not the idealists—the communists or the pragmatists—says Niebuhr. And with absolute certitude, Niebuhr snarls with vitriol, it will not be the United States with all of her ego-driven quest for material wealth and individual liberty. The world is morally complicated and our only salvation will come some other day in some other time, after God judges the world.

And this was Niebuhr’s ultimate conclusion. Man is doomed no matter what he does: His natural impulses make egoism inescapable, and his egoism demands government to enforce “societal cohesion.” Ergo, someone has to make the hard decision on how to do the greatest good. These men are historically necessary. They do the “hard” thing. They do the immoral thing to produce the greatest collective morality. And since no one can be moral . . . well, let’s not focus on the means. Let’s not focus on the evils these historically necessary men commit. Evil is an inescapable part of human existence.

Who are we to judge? Will it not be God who judges in the final analysis? God alone can save us from ourselves, and he saves us through the atonement accomplished by the Son, Jesus Christ. There is salvation in no other name, no matter how honored on earth.

Those of you who read the Mohler article should hear the familiar whispers. You should now see the very subtle underlying theme in the Mandela article. Molher executes the Niebuhr technique with skill like a wolf circling his prey, cautiously walking closer and closer to the central premise: Even our great men are still cesspools of evil. The only lesson to be learned is that Man is doomed to be “morally complicated.”

Let us take a look at the technique so you can see it in action.

Mohler said:

While we’re thinking about terrorism, we probably also ought to think about someone from our own nation’s history, like George Washington. Had the American Revolution turned out differently, George Washington would in all likelihood have been hung as a traitor. He would also have been accused of being what we now call a terrorist.

All this is not to give moral absolution to terrorists, so long as they win and eventually have political victory. It is, however, to remind ourselves that in the process of politics in a fallen world, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

In the United States, we speak about the efforts that led to the overthrow of the British colonization as our national revolution, the birth of a nation. The British called it treason.

Now let’s evaluate so we can see if there is in fact an equivalency between Mandela and Washington.

The Brits maybe have had many epithets for George Washington, but most certainly “terrorist” was not one of them.

Our contemporary political leaders have done the American people a monstrous disservice by introducing the “war on terrorism” into our public minds. This is little more than a contrived political convention to turn acts of war by militant Islamists into little more than illegitimate, fringe, criminal acts of aggression. It is a deliberate effort to sell fraud to the American people.

It is impossible to wage a war against terror because terror is an emotional state. Actions of war might create terror, but the emotional state is not the primary goal. The goal of war is to destroy an adversary. Militant Islam has made it very clear their goal is the destruction of the Great Satan. World domination has been the sole stated goal of militant Islam since its inception and only willful blindness to the facts of reality can account for so many people going along with America’s current foreign policy. The political end game is very simple: our ruling class does not want the responsibility of the very oath of office to which they swore loyalty. They have absolved themselves of the responsibility to identify the ideological source of “terrorizing” actions. It lets the ruling class pick and choose who they will use force against without ever identifying the ideologies who have declared war on the United States. It is politically expedient for them to declare general hostilities against the amorphous “terrorists” while never ever addressing the sponsor states and supporter ideologies funneling money into proxy wars. And most importantly, it allows the political class to re-craft the U.S. Constitution in service to domestic policy that enslaves U.S. citizens. But this is a separate discussion.

But what is on point with this discussion is the substantive difference between the two concepts. Treason and terrorism are not corollaries. Just because someone abandons political loyalties and declares war on a hostile government doesn’t specifically mean their acts of warfare are by definition terrorism.

War is terrible, even terrifying, but since this bears repeating, I will say it again. It is impossible to wage a war against “terror” because terror is an emotional state. The use of atrocity to undermine an enemy’s will to fight may be an effective tool for victory, but this is no different than the whole purpose of war. The purpose of war is to kill people and break things to achieve a singular political end: “Who rules?”

Does Imperial Japan rule or the United States of America? Does National Socialist Germany rule or is it the United States of America? Does Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge rule or is it the free people of Cambodia? Does Islam rule by Sharia Law or does the United States govern itself by limited government?

When the central question of war is asked like this, it becomes apparent that WHO rules is directly tied to HOW they will rule. And the HOW is inexorably rooted in philosophy. The reverse progression goes like this: Man’s public policy is directly tied to his ethics. Man’s ethics are directly tied to his epistemology. Man’s epistemology is directly tied to his metaphysics. If we start at Niebuhr’s beginning, the progression looks like this. Man is metaphysically corrupt. (He is a sinner.) His epistemology is egoistic and therefore unable to grasp the broader world. He is therefore blind to the “needs” of others, so he is incapable of ethical action. But man will not willfully sacrifice himself, so man needs the hand of government to compel him to selfless action.

All tyrannical ideologies follow this philosophical justification. All tyrannies presume that man is property of the state in service to fulfilling their ideological definition of GOOD. This means that all statist governments—communist, socialist, fascist, tribalist, monarchy, and theocracy—are tyrannies. There is no such thing as a benevolent tyranny . . . not even in Church.

This is why I said that altruism is the philosophical antipode of American self-governance. Altruism eradicates man’s moral claim to himself. If man does not belong to himself, then he is by default someone else’s property which is why all statist governments get their moral justification from altruism.

With this background, you, dear reader, can see the stark contrast between Nelson Mandela and George Washington.

It is true that George Washington as a British subject committed treason. Treason means the abandonment of political loyalty. But the key question is what KIND of government did George Washington abandon? The answer is important. The British Government was a monarchy. The supremacy of the crown had its theological justification tracing back to the disastrous “Christian” doctrine called the Divine Right of Kings. The doctrine absolved the king of moral failing and made the whole of a man’s life property of the King’s domain. Man’s political loyalties were to whoever wore the crown. Monarchy then is merely a variation of state-ism.

Statist governments are illegitimate governments because they enslave man to the state. It was to this root premise that George Washington was committing “treason.” He was abandoning political loyalty to the philosophical premise that the crown could “own” men. George Washington’s “treason” was entirely moral, as was the war he waged in service to overthrowing British tyranny. The ONLY legitimate government derives its just power from the consent of the governed. The state is NOT sovereign. It is the people who are sovereign who then grant LIMITED powers to the government. In the fullest definition, individual men are the property of themselves and the state is the servant whose sole charge is defense.

All other governments are illegitimate. No state has the “right” to oppress or the right to enslave, and it is therefore moral to wage war against any group of thugs who claim such authority. It matters not that they wear a crown, or a miter and simar, or stand behind a Plexiglas podium, or declare their loyalty to the Marxist workers’ paradise, or have an address in the District of Columbia. And our Founding Fathers knew the importance of this moral foundation. It is for this reason that they penned the following words.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. [Emphasis mine]

And now the difference between the “revolutionary” Mandela and the “revolutionary” Washington becomes stark. Mandela was an avowed, committed, unrepentant Marxist, a friend of Fidel Castro, the Soviet Union, and an antagonist of the United States of America.

Marxist revolutions are perpetrated by the intellectual elite on behalf of the “common” man, in one “resolute and unscrupulous thrust of power” against the materialistic bourgeois to create a “classless” society where those who create—according to their ability—are compelled to provide for others—according to their need. Or maybe I should say this more simply: the intellectuals divide society between slaves and slave masters, but the master is need . . . and need alone. This “working man’s paradise” is created in the name of the highest moral aspiration: the “greater good,” “brotherly love,” and the “true soul of man.” But no matter the moral justification, the end is statism: man is property of the state.

George Washington (and the rest of the Founding Fathers) fought for a wholly unique political ideal: government as protector of the individual in his pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. This is the only legitimate, the only moral form of government on the planet. And it is fully moral to wage war against tyranny to establish this political ideal.

By contrast, Mandela may have ostensibly been fighting for “freedom,” but he was only fighting for the (black) poor to be able to enslave the (white) rich. However, the Mandela revolution (the African National Congress) and the South African government were both statist governments. The fact that Mandela was fighting for blacks only makes his form of Marxist government based on tribe, and tribalism is merely a primitive form of statism.

This does not justify apartheid by any stretch. Apartheid is exactly what happens when unions gain control of government force. Apartheid was, among other things, public policy enacted to pacify South African unions by preventing blacks from entering the work force. (By the way, this is exactly the origin of unions in the United States.)

But don’t get distracted by the racism because this is exactly what Molher did. He focused on the fight for “racial equality” in Mandela’s life and ignored his ideology. It is noble to fight for racial equality but for that fight to be true virtue the outcome must be liberty for all: and that includes the white man. But that was only one facet of Mandela’s efforts. Molher also ignored the ideology inspiring Washington’s actions because this is the only way to create a moral equivalency.

Now watch what happens to the Mohler article when there is no moral equivalency between these two “revolutionaries.”

Go back and read the article. This time ignore the Menachem Begin non sense: it is a red herring. And then reject the moral equivalency between Mandela and Washington.

What then can be said about Mandela? That he went to jail for leading a Marxist revolution? How many Marxist revolutions does this world need to have before people finally see it is a political disaster? What is praiseworthy about the inevitable Marxist political purging and death squads and killing fields and “necklacing”? (3) That Mandela was one more Marxist ideologue who railed against the wealth of the west, but lived out his life in the luxury that can only be achieved by capitalism?

Can you say that the Mandela legacy fought racism? Only if you ignore the subsequent South African history of counter racism.

What does it do to Mohler’s equivocation: “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”? The answer is simple: he is wrong. By objective standard, a true freedom fighter is easy to identify. George Washington is not “morally complicated” but rather morally praiseworthy because he was a true freedom fighter.

And this is the whole crux of the issue. The moment political leftist theologians are confronted with men who are morally praiseworthy, their commitment to “politics in a fallen world” takes a mortal wound. If men can act with moral clarity, then their ability to demagogue human incompetence vanishes.

This is exactly the insidious undercurrent in Mohler’s article. This article is not really about Nelson Mandela. Mandela is merely the occasion for Al Mohler to reveal his root presumptions about his political thought.

Have you ever wondered how so many preachers end up excusing tyranny? You ever wonder how they will have a conniption fit when little Albert pops out of the pants and into the church secretary, but they barely raise a peep of protest over violations of American civil liberties? Ever wonder why preachers will write articles giving Marxist thugs a pass but will spew all manner of condemnation on a bunch of women bending and breathing their way to better health?

You ever wonder how Neo-Calvinist preachers can speak sagely of the ”Christian” doctrine of the equality of all men and ignore the historic reality that (Calvinist) Christianity has been at the forefront of slavery and political inequality since its inception? Ever wonder how Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation is held up as orthodoxy but preachers ignore with impunity Luther’s, On the Jews and Their Lies?

You ever wonder why, with almost one hundred percent consistency, the New Calvinist leadership has sided with CJ Mahaney against those who have suffered under his leadership deficiencies?

Here is the answer from Al Mohler’s article.

And yet, when we look at his legacy in terms of the overthrow of apartheid, we recall the fact that Reinhold Niebuhr, one of the most influential theologians in America at the middle of the 20th century, argued that there are times in which certain men, certain historical figures, appear to be historically necessary, even if they are far from historically perfect. That seems so often to be the case in a fallen world. In a sinful world, a world in which every dimension is marked by sin, the most effective political leaders are those who have the strongest convictions; but often those strong convictions and ambitions are met by a somewhat less than stellar character.

Translation?

The only choice man has is a choice of evils. Even our most “effective political leaders” have “somewhat less than stellar character.” But humanity needs these historically necessary men, the men who will do the hard thing, even the immoral thing, for the greatest good of humanity. We can be “honest” about who they are, but in the final analysis, we cannot really judge. This is a fallen world after all. Who among us is without sin?

And so goes the logic to its inevitable end. As long as the man in question is “historically necessary”—someone who achieves altruistic ends—it does not matter that he stuffs people in ovens or sends them to the gas chamber. It does not matter the nature of his political atrocity because no man can be moral. His strong political convictions are not to be judged because the irony of history is that man is doomed to suffer their less than stellar character.

I guarantee you that when Al Mohler and CJ Mahaney are sitting around shooting the breeze talking about CJ’s many leadership deficiencies, Dr. Al nods sagely and tells CJ that he is one of history’s necessary men. That CJ’s tenacious commitment to pure Christian doctrine is the only thing that matters; that the collateral damage done in the after math of his leaderships deficiencies to molested young children are the consequence of sinners living in a “fallen world.”

<shiver>

. . .

. . .

You, dear reader, should now see that the only irony in history is a bunch of altruistic Neo-Calvinist preachers trying to help Christians think about political philosophy.

~ John

It’s All About the “O” – Mohler, DeYoung, Lucas: We Own You

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on September 10, 2017

ppt-jpeg4Originally posted September 15, 2012

Join an authentic Reformed Protestant Church if you will, but let it be known: they now own you. Newsflash for the husbands: Calvinist elders believe they have the ultimate say and authority in your home. And another thing: the gospel they hold to rejects synergism in sanctification as works salvation. So, guess what? If your wife buys into that, you are now in what they call a mixed marriage. You are now dangerously close to divorce court as the divorce rate in these churches has skyrocketed.

At the TANC 2012 conference, in his third session, author John Immel nailed it—it boils down to who owns man: in the Christian realm, does Christ own you or Reformed elders? In the secular realm, does man own man or does government own man? Recently, our President stated that government owns man. Recently, in a trilogy of articles by three Reformed  pastors published by Ligonier Ministries, it was stated that the church owns Christians, and I will give you three wild guesses as to who represents the authority of the church. That would be the elders.

So it’s all about the “O.” It’s all about “ownership.”

As we shall see, these articles plainly state the Reformed tradition that came from Catholic tyranny. The Reformers never repented of the same underlying presuppositions concerning man’s need to be owned by enlightened philosopher kings. The Reformation was merely a fight for control over the mutton with the Reformers seeing themselves as the moral philosopher kings as opposed to the Romish ones. Their doctrine was just a different take on how the totally depraved are saved from themselves. But both doctrines reflect the inability of man to participate in sanctification.

The three articles posted were: Should I Stay or Should I Go? by Albert Mohler; Where and How Do We Draw the Line? by Kevin DeYoung; and, Who Draws the Line? by Sean Michael Lucas. All linked together for your indoctrination convenience.

Al Mohler states in his ownership treatise that Christians have “no right” to leave one church for another because of preferences. Emphasis by underline added:

Swami Albert Mohler

Swami Albert Mohler

Far too many church members have become church shoppers. The biblical concept of ecclesiology has given way to a form of consumerism in which individuals shop around for the church that seems most to their liking at that moment. The issue can concern worship and music, relationships, teaching, or any number of other things. The pattern is the same, however – people feel free to leave one congregation for another for virtually any reason, or no reason at all.

Church shopping violates the integrity of the church and the meaning of church membership. When members leave for insufficient reason, the fellowship of the church is broken, its witness is weakened, and the peace and unity of the congregation are sacrificed. Tragically, a superficial understanding of church membership undermines our witness to the gospel of Christ.

There is no excuse for this phenomenon. We have no right to leave a church over preferences about music, personal taste, or even programming that does not meet expectations.  These controversies or concerns should prompt the faithful Christian to consider how he might be of assistance in finding and forging a better way, rather than working to find an excuse to leave.

Where to begin? First of all, while many authentic Reformed Protestant churches will bring you up on church discipline for leaving because of “unbiblical” reasons, those reasons vary from church to church. So, not only do the reasons for leaving vary among parishioners, but so does what constitutes proper “biblical…. ecclesiology” in regard to departure varies as well. Mohler states in the same post that doctrine is a valid reason to leave a church, but yet, one of the more prominent leaders of the Reformed movement (CJ Mahaney), who is strongly endorsed by Mohler, states that doctrine is not a valid reason to leave a church. CJ Mahaney substantiated that Reformed position and clearly indicated what authentic Protestant theologians are willing to do to enforce that position when he blackmailed the cofounder of SGM, Larry Tomczak:

Transcript of Phone Conversation between C.J., Doris and Larry Tomczak on October 3, 1997 pp. 10-11:

C.J.: Doctrine is an unacceptable reason for leaving P.D.I.

Larry: C.J., I’m not in sync with any of the T.U.L.I.P., so whether you agree or not, doctrine is one of the major reasons I believe it is God’s will to leave P.D.I. and it does need to be included in any statement put forth.

C.J.: If you do that, then it will be necessary for us to give a more detailed explanation of your sins [ie, beyond the sin of leaving for doctrinal reasons].

Larry: Justin’s name has been floated out there when there’s statements like revealing more details about my sin. What are you getting at?

C.J.: Justin’s name isn’t just floated out there – I’m stating it!

Larry: C.J. how can you do that after you encouraged Justin to confess everything; get it all out. Then when he did, you reassured him “You have my word, it will never leave this room. Even our wives won’t be told.”

I repeatedly reassured him, “C.J. is a man of his word. You needn’t worry.” Now you’re talking of publically sharing the sins of his youth?!

C.J.: My statement was made in the context of that evening. If I knew then what you were going to do, I would have re-evaluated what I communicated.

Doris: C.J., are you aware that you are blackmailing Larry? You’ll make no mention of Justin’s sins, which he confessed and was forgiven of months ago, if Larry agrees with your statement, but you feel you have to warn the folks and go national with Justin’s sins if Larry pushes the doctrinal button? C.J., you are blackmailing Larry to say what you want!―Shame on you, C.J.! As a man of God and a father, shame on you!

This will send shock waves throughout the teens in P.D.I. and make many pastors’ teens vow, “I‘ll never confess my secret sins to C.J. or any of the team, seeing that they‘ll go public with my sins if my dad doesn‘t toe the line.”―C.J., you will reap whatever judgment you make on Justin. You have a young son coming up. Another reason for my personally wanting to leave P.D.I. and never come back is this ungodly tactic of resorting to blackmail and intimidation of people!

C.J.: I can‘t speak for the team, but I want them to witness this. We’ll arrange a conference call next week with the team.

Doris: I want Justin to be part of that call. It’s his life that’s at stake.

C.J.: Fine.

(SGM Wikileaks, part 3, p.139. Online source)

Of course, this example and many others makes Mohler’s concern with the “integrity” of the church—laughable. But nevertheless, Mohler’s post and the other two are clear as to what common ground Protestant elders have on the “biblical concept of ecclesiology.”

sean-lucasBesides the fact that parishioners “have no right” to leave a church based on preference, what do Protestants fundamentally agree on in this regard? That brings us to the article by Sean Michael Lucas :

Because the church has authority to declare doctrine, it is the church that has authority to draw doctrinal lines and serve as the final judge on doctrinal issues. Scripture teaches us that the church serves as the “pillar and buttress of the truth.”

So, even in cases where Protestants believe that doctrine is an acceptable reason for leaving a church, guess who decides what true doctrine is? “But Paul, he is speaking of doctrine being determined by the church as a whole, not just the elders.” Really? Lucas continues:

In our age, this understanding—that the church has Jesus’ authority to serve as the final judge on doctrinal matters— rubs us wrong for three reasons. First, it rubs us wrong because we are pronounced individualists. This is especially the case for contemporary American Christians, who have a built-in “democratic” bias to believe that the Bible’s theology is accessible to all well-meaning, thoughtful Christians. Because theological truth is democratically available to all, such individuals can stand toe to toe with ministerial “experts” or ecclesiastical courts and reject their authority.

Creeped out yet? Well, if you are a blogger, it gets better:

Perhaps it is this individualistic, democratic perspective that has led to the rise of websites and blogs in which theology is done in public by a range of folks who may or may not be appropriately trained and ordained for a public teaching role. While the Internet has served as a “free press” that has provided important watchdog functions for various organizations, there are two downsides of the new media, which ironically move in opposite directions. On the one side, the new media (blogs, websites, podcasts, Facebook, Twitter) allow everyone to be his own theologian and judge of doctrinal matters. But because everyone is shouting and judging, the ironic other side is that those who are the most well known and have the biggest blogs gain the most market share and actually become the doctrinal arbiters of our electronic age. In this new media world, the idea that the church as a corporate body actually has authority to declare doctrine and judge on doctrinal issues is anathema.

Lucas continues to articulate the Reformed tradition that holds to the plenary authority of elders supposedly granted to them by Christ:

For some of us, again reflecting our individualism, such understanding of the church unnecessarily limits voices and perspectives that might be helpful in conversation. But restricting access to debates and judgments about theology to those who have been set apart as elders in Christ’s church and who have gathered for the purpose of study, prayer, and declaration actually ensures a more thoughtful process and a surer understanding of Christ’s Word than a pell-mell, democratic, individualistic free-for-all. Not only do we trust that a multiplicity of voices is represented by the eldership, but, above all, we trust that the single voice of the Spirit of Jesus will be heard in our midst.

So, bottom line: the priesthood of believers is a “pell-mell, democratic, individualistic free-for-all.” Still not creeped out? Then consider how they answer the question in regard to elder error:

Of course, such slow and deliberate processes do not guarantee a biblically appropriate result. After all, the Westminster Confession of Faith tells us that “all synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred” (WCF 31.3). Sometimes, entire denominations err significantly as they prayerfully consider Scripture and judge doctrine. Such error, however, does not negate Jesus’ own delegation of authority to the church and set the stage for a free-for-all.

This brings us to another issue that DeYoung propogates in his post: since Reformed elders have all authority, their creeds and confessions are authoritative and not just commentaries. Hence, they declared in the aforementioned confession cited by Lucas that even though they may be in error, they still have all authority. Whatever happened to the Apostle Paul’s appeal to only follow him as he followed Christ?

DeYoung:

deyoungThose who wrote the ancient creeds, such as the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Chalcedonian Definition, were not infallible, but these creeds have served as effective guardrails, keeping God’s people on the path of truth. It would take extraordinary new insight or extraordinary hubris to jettison these ancient formulas. They provide faithful summaries of the most important doctrines of the faith. That’s why the Heidelberg Catechism refers us to the Apostles’ Creed, “a creed beyond doubt, and confessed through the world,” when it asks, “What then must a Christian believe?” (Q&A 22–23).

FYI: If you see something in your own Bible reading that contradicts a Reformed creed or confession, you are partaking in visions of grandeur.

This is the crux of the matter, the question of authority. It is almost crazy that Christians don’t have this issue resolved in their mind before they join a church. You could be in a church that is subtly indoctrinating your family with the idea that they are owned by the government; in this case, church polity.

Let there be no doubt about it, Reformed elders are drooling over the idea of another Geneva theocracy with all the trimmings. And someone shared with me just the other day how this shows itself in real life. “Mike” is a local contractor in the Xenia, Ohio area. He is close friends with a farmer in the area who lives next door to a man and his family that attend an authentic Reformed Protestant church.

One day, his new Protestant neighbor came over to inform him that he needed to stop working on Sunday because it is the Lord’s Day, and the noise of his machinery was disturbing their day of rest. Mike’s friend told him, in a manner of speaking, to hang it on his beak. Mike believes what transpired after that came from the neighbor’s belief that he was a superior person to his friend, and that his friend should have honored the neighbors request by virtue of who he is.

The neighbor has clout in the community, and to make a long story short—found many ways to make Mike’s friend miserable through legal wrangling about property line issues; according to my understanding, 8” worth. It was clear that Mike’s friend was going to be harassed until he submitted to this man’s perceived biblical authority.

Protestants have serious authority issues, and you don’t have to necessarily join in official membership to be considered under their authority. A contributor to Mark Dever’s  9 Marks blog stated that anyone who comes in the front door of a church proclaiming Christ as Lord is under the authority of that church.

It’s time for Christians to nail down the “O.” Who owns you? Are you aware of who owns you (or at least thinks so)? And are you ok with that?

paul

The Gospel According to John MacArthur’s Reformation Myth

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 14, 2017

Originally published September 8, 2012

Let me state something right out of the gate: the church has never been in a Dark Age. Christ said, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). Imagine that. Peter wasn’t anybody—he was an everyday Joe—a blue-collar guy in that culture. Then one day God shows up personally and informs everybody that He would  oikodomhsw “be building His church,” or some translators, “I shall be home building”….mou (of me)….the ekklesian (out-called, not “church” which is not a biblical word) on Peter. You can trust me on this one: Jesus has been home building His out-called, and the construction project has never slowed down or stopped. The building project has always been on schedule and within budget—funded by the Blood. And Christ didn’t choose a John MacArthur Jr. of that day—He chose an ordinary Joe.

Right here, two pillars of the Reformation myth are found wanting. There has never been an out-called Dark Age, and Christ doesn’t primarily use renowned scholars like Martin Luther to get things done. Today’s “Reformed” “church” is built on the foundation of lofty creeds and confessions written by men of fleshly renown. The very name, “Reformed” is fundamentally false—our Lord’s building project has never needed a  “reformation”—especially at the hands of murdering mystic despots.

But two days ago, Susan and I had the rare privilege of sitting down with four men who exemplify what Christ is using to build His out-called. We held siege at the restaurant for three hours. These men so encouraged me that it is a wonder that the local police were not called accompanied by men in white attire. They bore four marks of God’s true out-called:

  1. Ordinary men.

  2. Thinkers who constantly wrestle with understanding.

  3. Wholly devoted to truth.

  4. Sold-out to the sufficiency of the Scriptures as their only authority.

Somewhere in the world since the day Christ showed up and walked into the everyday lives of twelve men, He has been slowly building His out-called. He has been building with those who possess the same spirit of Noah and is in-fact a fifth mark: they will stand alone if they have to. In the present day neo-Reformed blitzkrieg, it is, and will be two or three families who come out from among them, weeping with sorrow, often leaving the only church they have ever known while the door is held open for them by the young, petulant Reformers of our day that despise the sweat and blood that built the work that they have covertly sieged. As our brother Jude said of these brute beasts, they slip in “unawares” (v.4).

Basically, the problem is the same as when Christ showed up to found His out-called. The religion of the day was founded on the authority and institutions of self-important men. People where amazed that Christ didn’t check in with the academics before He launched His ministry, nor quoted the spiritual brainiacs of that day. Likewise, if Christ came today, John MacArthur, Al Mohler, and the insufferable likes of obnoxious men like Steve Lawson and Paul Washer would watch with incredulities as Christ would ignore them and make a b-line for the ghettos—choosing His workers and confidants from among them.

So how should I view an article sent to me by a reader that was written by John MacArthur regarding the Reformation motif of “Justification by faith.” First, as I am presently teaching my family, ALL ideas presented by men, and I believe that MacArthur fits into that category, will entail a litany of propositions that lead to a conclusion. Therefore,  let us examine and wrestle with the propositions presented by MacArthur in this article (Justification by Faith: online source: http://goo.gl/xJyFO).

Proposition 1: “The Reformation doctrine of justification by faith is, and has always been, the number one target of the enemy’s attack.”

The “Reformation doctrine”? Excuse me Mr. MacArthur (hereafter, JM), but we get our doctrine from the Bible, not the Reformers, who, as I have noted, are an oxymoron to begin with. In the first sentence of this article, JM sets up an authority between the out-called priests (that’s us) and the word of God. Therefore, his article is predicated on a proposition by men who are not original authors chosen by God— buyers beware. Hence, if we are discerning, JM has raised the propositional ante to a considerable level. By citing the preapproved authors of the Bible, additional consideration could have been avoided.

JM goes on to state that this doctrine, “….provides the foundation of the bridge that reconciles God and man — without that key doctrine, Christianity falls.” This should now incite interpretive questions for the proposition:

  1. Could the Reformers have been wrong?

  2. Even if they were right, is there a danger in making Reformed epistemology a standard of truth?

  3. Is the claim that the church stands or falls on this doctrine establishing Reformation doctrine as a significant authority? And if so, is this wise?

Proposition 2: “Social and political concerns have brought evangelicals and Catholics together in recent years to unite against the forces of secularism. Under the influence of ecumenism, it’s difficult for either group to remember what it was that divided them in the first place.

The pragmatists and ecumenicists are aided in their forgetfulness by new theological movements that redefine justification in more Catholic terms. Under the influence of liberalism and postmodernism, proponents of the New Perspective on Paul, the Emergent Church, and others have so confused and redefined the doctrine of justification that it has become shrouded in darkness once again

The Christian church today is in danger of returning to the Dark Ages. The seeker movement has Christianity turning in its Bibles; the ecumenical movement urges Christians to use worldly means to accomplish temporal ends; and current theological movements look through the lens of philosophy — Enlightenment rationalism and postmodern subjectivism — rather than Scripture. The departure from sola scriptura has led to the departure from sola fide — justification by faith alone.”

JM asserts that the Reformation was a marked contrast between Catholicism and the Reformers. Catholic influence is dragging the “church” back into a “Dark Age.” Regardless of the nomenclature of which he frames this proposition, he begins to articulate the Reformation motif in a way that is traditional, and packaged for fairly easy digestion—if you understand the premise of the motif, and we soon will.

The key here is this part of JM’s proposition: “….and current theological movements look through the lens of philosophy — Enlightenment rationalism and postmodern subjectivism — rather than Scripture.” First, throughout his post, JM uses the term “Reformation doctrine” and “Scripture” interchangeably. Hence, he is proposing that the two are synonymous—he is asking that you accept this proposition as fact. But what we want to focus on here as a gateway of understanding is the word “subjectivism” in his proposition. This is key to understanding my counter proposition:

  1. There was no difference in Reformation doctrine and Catholic doctrine.

  2. Subjective verses objective  is key to understanding the Reformed denial of the new birth that predicates its false gospel.

MacArthur begins to propagate the traditional Reformed dogma of subjective verses objective;  that is, as I have previously stated, the crux of their doctrine.

And is that biblical? Is Reformed doctrine biblical doctrine? Is the Reformed gospel the biblical gospel?

The History of the Reformation Motif / Myth

We will take an interlude on the way to our understanding to examine the very significant contemporary contribution to understanding Reformation doctrine by its own proponents and advocates. It is true that Reformation doctrine has experienced  times of low recognition followed by “rediscovery,” “resurgence,” and “revival” since the Sixteenth century. The last resurgence began in 1970. It was a rediscovery of authentic Reformed theology that launched the SDA Awakening Movement. Until then, the doctrine had never been framed in a subjective verses objective  model of understanding. “Subjectivism” was fingered as the root of all evil verses the, and here it is: objective gospel outside of us.  More specifically, “The Centrality of the Objective Gospel Outside of Us.” Hereafter, COGOUS.

This apt method of framing Reformation doctrine was the brainchild of SDA theologian Robert Brinsmead, who was joined by Anglican theologians Geoffrey Paxton and Graeme Goldsworthy, and later by Reformed Baptist Jon Zens. They attributed all contra Reformation beliefs and movements such as the Enlightenment era to “subjectivism.” JM shows his kinship to this contemporary understanding of Reformation theology via his propositions in said article, of which the sender asked, “Does this muddy the waters?” Answer: no, in-fact, it clarifies MacArthur’s participation in the endeavor to save the church from a supposed “Evangelical Dark Age.”

The theological think tank formed by this “core four” was known as the Australian Forum and their theological journal was Present Truth Magazine which was the most publicized theological journal in English speaking countries during the Seventies. They compiled a vast amount of documentation that clearly shows that the Reformation gospel of Luther and Calvin was the Centrality of the Objective Gospel Outside of Us. It contends that if the power of God is infused into the believer, it will enable him/her to, as the truism states, “know enough to be dangerous.”

Because the Reformers saw justification and sanctification as the same thing, they argued that any enablement infused into the believer would automatically contribute to the justification process which they saw as progressive. Please note: this is exactly what JM et al accuse the Catholics of, but as we shall see, they are both guilty of this same thing: the fusion of justification and sanctification together.

Hence, in contemporary lingo, the outcry of the Reformers against Rome was the “infusion of grace into the believer—making sanctification the ground of his/her justification.” In other words, all enablement and spiritual life must remain outside of the believer. All of the power of grace must remain ‘objective” by staying outside of the believer. This Reformed paradigm was brilliantly illustrated by the Australian Four, hereafter A4, by the following pictorial illustration:

Also let me demonstrate by another A4 pictorial that they believed justification was progressive:

I will later explain the application of the two-man chart  in this post. I can most certainly read your mind as you look at it: “How in the world does that work in real life?”

We will now further my contra proposition by substantiating some of my sub-propositions. Let’s first establish that one of the elder statesmen of the neo-Reformed movement, John Piper, and a close confidant of JM, agree with the AF’s contemporarily framed assessment of authentic Reformed doctrine, hereafter, ARD. Graeme Goldsworthy, one of the original A4, recently lectured at Southern Seminary on the Reformation. John Piper wrote an article on Goldsworthy’s lecture (Goldsworthy on Why the Reformation Was Necessary: Desiring God blog, June 25, 2009). Piper’s assessment of Goldsworthy’s lecture is a major smoking gun in regard to agreement on ARD:

In it [Goldsworthy’s lecture at Southern] it gave one of the clearest statements of why the Reformation was needed and what the problem was in the way the Roman Catholic church had conceived of the gospel….I would add that this ‘upside down’ gospel has not gone away—neither from Catholicism nor from Protestants….

This meant the reversal of the relationship of sanctification to justification. Infused grace, beginning with baptismal regeneration, internalized the Gospel and made sanctification the basis of justification. This is an upside down Gospel….

When the ground of justification moves from Christ outside of us to the work of Christ inside of us, the gospel (and the human soul) is imperiled. It is an upside down gospel [emphasis Piper’s—not this author].

Note, if you think about it, it is impossible to “reverse” justification and sanctification unless they are on the same plane. Nor can you turn a two-part object upside down unless both parts are attached—making either one the “ground” or otherwise. Hence, a careful observation of Piper’s use of words betrays his subtleness in regard to believing in the fusion of justification and sanctification together. Furthermore, Piper’s beef with Catholicism is not the fusion of justification and sanctification together per se, but rather the infusion of grace into the believer. The AF two-man illustration depicts Piper’s contention to a “T.” Note the exact same issue: Christ within, or Christ without. Just grasp that for now, and put the absurdity of it on the back burner—it will come together for you later.

Basically, if God’s grace/goodness is placed within the believer, he/she becomes enabled enough to become dangerous leading to all of the terrible things inside of the guy looking down. Everything must remain outside of the believer, leading to all of the good things listed on the right side of the chart which are listed outside of him. Don’t miss that. Today’s church owes Robert Brinsmead a tremendous debt of gratitude for publishing this chart.

A Major Key to Understanding: John H. Armstrong and SUBJECTIVISM

Now, let’s take yet another sub interlude to further my contra proposition. The following illustration shows how the AF made the objective/subjective / Christ within / Christ without the major crux of ARD:

A theologian named John H. Armstrong eludes to this exact survey in Present Truth to make a point in an article that he wrote (The Highway blog: Article of the Month;  Sola Fide: Does It really Matter?). Armstrong was the general editor of a combined work called The Coming Evangelical Crisis (1996 by Moody Bible Institute) that included the who’s who of the neo-Reformed movement: R. Kent Houghs; John MacArthur; RC Sproul; and heretics Michael S. Horton and Albert Mohler Jr. Armstrong stated the following in the aforementioned article:

The sixteenth-century rediscovery of Paul’s objective message of justification by faith [and sanctification also because justification is supposedly progressive] came upon the religious scene of that time with a force and passion that totally altered the course of human history. It ignited the greatest reformation and revival known since Pentecost.

Now, if the Fathers of the early church, so nearly removed in time from Paul, lost touch with the Pauline message, how much more is this true in succeeding generations? The powerful truth of righteousness by faith needs to be restated plainly, and understood clearly, by every new generation.

In our time we are awash in a “Sea of Subjectivism,” as one magazine put it over twenty years ago. Let me explain. In 1972 a publication known as Present Truth published the results of a survey with a five-point questionnaire which dealt with the most basic issues between the medieval church and the Reformation. Polling showed 95 per cent of the “Jesus People” were decidedly medieval and anti-Reformation in their doctrinal thinking about the gospel. Among church-going Protestants they found ratings nearly as high….

I do not believe that the importance of the doctrine of justification by faith can be overstated. We are once again in desperate need of recovery. Darkness has descended upon the evangelical world in North America and beyond, much as it had upon the established sixteenth-century church.

As JM said in our observation of the article at hand:

….the doctrine of justification….has become shrouded in darkness once again. The Christian church today is in danger of returning to the Dark Ages.

And,

Enlightenment rationalism and postmodern subjectivism — rather than Scripture. The departure from sola scriptura has led to the departure from sola fide — justification by faith alone.

JM, John Piper, Armstrong, Graeme Goldsworthy, and what they call the “Justification by faith” doctrine—all the same camp, and the same belief: The Centrality of the Objective Gospel Outside of Us.

How in the World Does COGOUS Work in Real Life?

As far as how this doctrine functions, there are two camps. But in both camps, the believer remains unchanged and totally depraved. The crux of COGOUS is that sanctification is a total work of God because it finishes justification. The doctrine then frames man’s role in regard to Gnostic ideas. In fact, the very first sentence of the Calvin Institutes is a Gnostic idea. Calvin claims therein that all knowledge is contained in the knowledge of ourselves and knowledge of God. Since we already know that Calvin believed in the total depravity of man, this is the knowledge of good and evil.

Calvin, right out of the gate, states that this is the core of all true wisdom. So, what you begin to see when reading the works of various Reformers of old and new, is the idea that change begins with wisdom, and as we see our own depravity in deeper and deeper ways, and the holiness of God in deeper and deeper ways (which the former facilitates as well), a transformation takes place. Not in us, of course, we are totally depraved—we therefore cannot change—we rather manifest a realm. As it was explained to me by a fairly well known Calvinist, there is a Spirit realm, and a flesh realm (not an old nature within us), and both put pressure on us if we are saved, and we either “yield” to one or the other realms at any given time. But again, we don’t change, we merely manifest a realm. Out of this comes terms like, “Pastor of Spiritual Formation,” and “heart formation,” or “spiritual transformation.” Notice that the “spiritual” is being transformed, not us. I am presently doing research to get a more refined understanding in regard to “what this looks like.” Apparently, an exercise of our own will to obey is creating our own reality instead of “His preordained story.”

A rough sketch follows: all reality points to Christ’s glory, and all reality is wrapped up in the gospel and interpreted by it (the first tenet of New Covenant Theology).  All history is “redemptive.” Therefore, all historical events, and events period, are preordained by God to show us wisdom; ie, the knowledge of the good (Christ), and the knowledge of the evil (our own depravity), and both point to God’s glory and “show forth the gospel.” So, all events in life are preordained by God to show us our own depravity, and His holiness. That’s the first way we gain wisdom of ourselves and God, and when we see it, our manifestation results in part of the grand gospel narrative preordained by God.

The second way that we manifest the gospel is through seeing historic events in the Bible that represent the same kind of events that happen in redemptive history. The Bible, in the same way that redemptive history does, gives us wisdom in regard to our own evil and God’s holiness, again resulting in redemptive historical manifestations. If we respond improperly to the redemptive historical event (whether good or bad), we reap “bad fruit” (ie., a bad manifestation) which lends further opportunity for deeper understanding of our own depravity and more glory for God. If we participate properly in the gospel story, we are assured peace and joy regardless of our circumstances (because we are in essence detached from reality in my view). Many Reformed  thinkers such as David Powlison and Paul David Tripp call this,

The big picture model is the story of every believer. God invites us to enter into the plot! (Paul D. Tripp: How People Change, p.94).

As I said before, there are two camps: one rejects any kind of work at all by Christ in us, but Tripp is of the other camp that teaches that we remain totally depraved,  but Christ does do a work in us, albeit His work in totality. Tripp states that as we gain deeper understanding of our own evil (deep repentance), our hearts are emptied of idols which then results in a filling of Christ resulting in spiritual formations or manifestations (Ibid, p. 28). Others believe that whatever we see in the Bible ( like a circumstance of Christ’s love) is imputed to us as we see it and understand it. Many of Reformed thought call this “such and such ( love or whatever) by proxy.”  It is also known as the “active obedience of Christ” or progressive imputation. Following is an illustration of some of these ideas presented here (Ibid, p.100):

But you can also see some of these concepts if you refer back to the two-man chart. The gospel man meditates on “Grace, Justification, Perfection, Security, immortality, Law,” but these things remain outside of him as manifestations of the objective gospel. But the Christ within man has these things inside of him because that is where his focus is (subjective). Following is another Reformed illustration of what we are talking about. Notice that the cross gets bigger—not us. We don’t grow—the cross does. The cross represents grace outside of us; so, the cross is seen as bigger (ie, God is glorified) while we don’t change. These manifestations make God look bigger while not being connected to anything recognized as us being new and improved. Michael Horton refers to this as “preaching the gospel instead of being the gospel.”

MacArthur often conveys ideas that do nothing in regard to separating himself from this absurd mysticism. In writing the Forward to the Gnostic masterpiece, Uneclipsing the Son  by former associate Rick Holland, JM states the following:

As believers gaze at the glory of their Lord—looking clearly, enduringly, and deeply into the majesty of His person and work—true sanctification takes place as the Holy Spirit takes that believer whose heart is fixed on Christ and elevates him from one level of glory to the next.  This is the ever-increasing reality of progressive sanctification; it happens not because believers wish it or want it or work for it in their own energy, but because the glory of Christ captures their hearts and minds.  We are transformed by that glory and we begin to reflect it more and more brightly the more clearly we see it.  That’s why the true heart and soul of every pastor’s duty is pointing the flock to Christ, the Great Shepherd.

Let’s now return to the article at hand and address the more relevant parts. In the section entitled, “Back to the Beginning,” JM sates the following:

In the 1500s a fastidious monk, who by his own testimony “hated God,” was studying Paul’s epistle to the Romans. He couldn’t get past the first half of Romans 1:17: “[In the gospel] is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith” (KJV).

One simple, biblical truth changed that monk’s life — and ignited the Protestant Reformation. It was the realization that God’s righteousness could become the sinner’s righteousness — and that could happen through the means of faith alone. Martin Luther found the truth in the same verse he had stumbled over, Romans 1:17: “Therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith” (KJV, emphasis added).

JM then fails to mention that Luther believed that this justification passage also applies to sanctification. Then JM sates the following under the next heading, Declared Righteous: What Actually Changes?:

In its theological sense, justification is a forensic, or purely legal, term. It describes what God declares about the believer, not what He does to change the believer. In fact, justification effects no actual change whatsoever in the sinner’s nature or character. Justification is a divine judicial edict. It changes our status only, but it carries ramifications that guarantee other changes will follow. Forensic decrees like this are fairly common in everyday life….

Similarly, when a jury foreman reads the verdict, the defendant is no longer “the accused.” Legally and officially he instantly becomes either guilty or innocent — depending on the verdict. Nothing in his actual nature changes, but if he is found not guilty he will walk out of court a free person in the eyes of the law, fully justified.

In biblical terms, justification is a divine verdict of “not guilty — fully righteous.” It is the reversal of God’s attitude toward the sinner. Whereas He formerly condemned, He now vindicates. Although the sinner once lived under God’s wrath, as a believer he or she is now under God’s blessing.

This all looks to be very solid theologically, but I want you to notice that JM fails to mention that Justification is a finished work. That’s key. And it’s key because of what he states next:

Justification is more than simple pardon; pardon alone would still leave the sinner without merit before God. So when God justifies He imputes divine righteousness to the sinner (Romans 4:22-25). Christ’s own infinite merit thus becomes the ground on which the believer stands before God (Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Philippians 3:9). So justification elevates the believer to a realm of full acceptance and divine privilege in Jesus Christ.

The problem here is the implication that a pardon is not enough, and that our “standing” must be maintained lest we find ourselves “without merit”…. “before God.”  This is problematic because any kind of standard that would maintain merit before God for justification is voided (Romans 7;1-4). There is simply no merit or standard left for a Christian to be judged by in regard to justification.

But the smoking gun that convicts MacArthur in fusing justification and sanctification together in this same article follows under “How Justification and Sanctification Differ.” JM starts out well with this statement:

Justification is distinct from sanctification because in justification God does not make the sinner righteous; He declares that person righteous (Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16). Notice how justification and sanctification are distinct from one another:

After stating this, JM, evokes the classic neo-Reformed double-speak sleight of hand for fusing justification and sanctification together without appearing to do so:

Those two must be distinguished but can never be separated. God does not justify whom He does not sanctify, and He does not sanctify whom He does not justify. Both are essential elements of salvation.

JM also clearly states that progressive sanctification is part of the same “salvation” process that justification is also a part of ; hence, they supposedly can’t be separated. But the Bible authors only speak of sanctification as salvation in a manner of speaking because there are three sanctifications: positional (1Cor. 6:11), progressive/practical (2 Cor. 7:11, 2 Peter ch. 1),  and complete (1 Cor. 6:11[those who are sanctified positionally are glorified as well]), but only one justification that is a onetime legal declaration (Romans 8:30).

Furthermore, JM’s use of the distinct but never separate sleight of hand is the exact same mantra constantly used by many in the neo-Reformed crowd:

Though justification and sanctification cannot be separated they must be distinguished.

~ Ernest Reisinger

It would also stand to reason therefore that MacArthur, like all of the neo-Reformed, would not see any role for the believer in sanctification other than gospel contemplationism.  This can be confirmed by reviewing the previous excerpt from Holland’s  book.

Classic Reformed Kettles Calling the Pot Black

We now observe a trait by JM that was never true about him before he went over to the dark side—blatant contradictions that assume the utter stupidity of his followers. He follows the neo-Reformed protocol for drawing the line of distinction between the Reformers and Rome in this way:

Roman Catholicism blends its doctrines of sanctification and justification.

So, the two cannot be “separate,” but they can be blended? But what JM states next brings us full circle to what we observed in John Piper’s article on the Goldsworthy lecture at Southern:

Catholic theology views justification as an infusion of grace that makes the sinner righteous. In Catholic theology, then, the ground of justification is something made good within the sinner — not the imputed righteousness of Christ.

Please note JM’s either/or interpretive prism, (a neo-Reformed distinctive) that eliminates the possibility that the believer is empowered by the Spirit internally for something that is separate from justification; namely, kingdom living. Notice that the issue is specifically “something good” inside the believer verses the “imputed righteousness of Christ.”  Obviously, JM rejects the idea that it can be both, and whatever it is, it must point back to justification if it is something “good” inside of the believer.

Rome’s motive for fusing the two together is beside the point, both the Reformers and Rome believe the two cannot be separated. Hence, for Rome it was easy: Christ forgives all of your past sins, but now you must do certain things to complete your justification because salvation is linear with both justification and sanctification on the same plane. Likewise, the Reformers believe in the same linear gospel, but pardon it by making everything that needs to be done to complete justification—totally of Christ alone. This requires us to remain totally depraved in the process and utilizes Gnosticism for whatever application can be surmised. Frankly, this is the first time that I have seen writings from JM that totally remove all doubt that he has bought into this doctrine , hook, line, and sinker.

JM continues:

If sanctification is included in justification, the justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete. Our standing before God is then based on subjective experience, not secured by an objective declaration. Justification can therefore be experienced and then lost. Assurance of salvation in this life becomes practically impossible because security can’t be guaranteed. The ground of justification ultimately is the sinner’s own continuing present virtue, not Christ’s perfect righteousness and His atoning work.

The contradictions here are mindboggling. Again,  “If sanctification is included in justification….” Is somehow different from, “… . but can never be separated.”  Like all in this camp, JM complains about those who combine the two, while at the same time stating that they cannot be separated.

But perhaps the whole issue should be narrowed down to the most glaring contradiction in all of this.  While MacArthur states that justification and sanctification cannot be separated,  but are distinct,  like all neo-Calvinists, he then complains that Rome “blends” the two. According to the standard New Calvinist MO, the cardinal sin in regard to this blending is “progressive justification.”  Note once again the following excerpt in this post by JM:

If sanctification is included in justification, then justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete.

But MacArthur is a Calvinist, and progressive justification is exactly what John Calvin propagated.  Again, they accuse Rome of exactly what they are guilty of themselves. In fact, Calvin entitled chapter 14 of the the third book of the Calvin Institutes, “The Beginning of Justification. In What Sense Progressive.” Calvin then makes the same case throughout the rest of the chapter that all New Calvinists constantly make–that a believer must continually return to justification for their sanctification. Seeing these kinds of blatant neo-Reformed contradictions in his teaching is truly sad to watch.

What is it going to take to overcome this kind of error in the church? Christians who think, and love truth enough to wrestle with it long and hard. That’s going to be a small percentage of Christians as thinking is also not in vogue.

Nevertheless, they are out there—Christ said they would be in increasing numbers as He continues to build His out-called ones.

Addendum:

But perhaps the whole issue should be narrowed down to the most glaring contradiction in all of this.  While MacArthur states that justification and sanctification cannot be separated, but are distinct, like all neo-Calvinists, he then complains that Rome “blends” the two.  According to the standard New Calvinist MO, the cardinal sin in regard to this blending is “progressive justification.”  Note once again the following excerpt in this post by JM:

If sanctification is included in justification, then justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete.

But MacArthur is a Calvinist, and progressive justification is exactly what John Calvin propagated.  Again, they accuse Rome of exactly what they are guilty of themselves. Calvin entitled chapter 14 of the third book of the Calvin Institutes, “The Beginning of Justification. In What Sense Progressive.” Calvin then makes the same case throughout the rest of the chapter that all New Calvinists constantly make–that a believer must continually return to justification for their sanctification. Seeing these kinds of blatant neo-Reformed contradictions in MacArthur’s teaching is truly sad to watch when one considers what he once was.

paul

Ground Zero: Pope Gregory and New Calvinist Gospel Contemplationism

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on June 20, 2017

ppt-jpeg4Originally published December 13, 2012

Let’s just take one contemporary example: a Presbyterian church that is now a mere shell of what it was; the remains of a war over the arrival of a New Calvinist pastor who exhibited outrageous behavior and leadership style. Today, some parishioners stand dumbfounded that the Presbytery took positive steps to keep said pastor in place.

As TANC, our newly formed think tank that researches Reformed theology continues to journey into church history for answers, the reasons for present-day tyranny in the church become clearer every day. First, it is driven by the gospel that founded the Reformation. Simply put, it is a gospel that does not believe that people change, but are rather called to contemplate the saving works of Christ in order for His righteousness to be manifested in one of two realms. Whether Baptist, Methodist, or whatever, this Reformed seed, the idea that people really don’t change is at the core of their function though they would deny it verbally. The Western church as a whole buys into this basic concept.

Secondly, the basic concept of spiritual elitists ruling over the totally depraved. You know, the they really can’t change crowd. The Reformation clarion call of total depravity—what’s our second clue if we need one? The spiritual is accessed through the chief contemplationists, and since they have the dope directly from God, they should rule over the totally depraved. Look, I have been a Baptist since 1983, and this is how it works. Again, we wouldn’t verbalize that, but to some degree it is true of all Western denominations because we are the children of the Protestant Reformation. What were we protesting? Naughty philosopher kings; past that, not much.

If we don’t change, the church doesn’t either. Think about that. And we wonder why things are a mess. Apparent growth in numbers is being driven by something else other than a true gospel. And the Reformers deny that while pontificating total depravity. It is testimony to the depth of which this Protestant construct has dumbed down the average parishioner; i.e., the totally depraved change. And nobody blinks. The assumption is that total depravity only pertains to the unregenerate, but that’s not the case according to the Reformed gospel and its time for people to start doing the math on that. The “Nones” and the massive exodus from the evangelical church is taking place for a reason.

I’m not ready to declare Pope Gregory the Great the father of the Reformation and present-day New Calvinism just yet, but recent discoveries reveal some things that should be fairly obvious. We aren’t stupid, just trusting, and that needs to end. Christians need to take advantage of the information age and start studying for themselves as the Christian academics of our day refuse to be forthcoming. They didn’t forget to mention that sola fide is also for sanctification. They didn’t forget to mention the total depravity of mankind AND the saints. They didn’t forget to mention that the new birth is a realm and not something that happens in us—it’s deliberate deception because the Reformed gospel is “scandalous.” The totally depraved are not “ready” for what the enlightened class of philosopher kings understand. By the way, many seminary students will testify to the fact that they are told as much by their seminary professors. Seminaries are where you go to be certified for the purpose of ruling over the totally depraved in order to, in Al Mohler’s words, “save them from ignorance.” Sorry, I prefer to let the Bible and Google save me from ignorance. Thank goodness for the Gutenberg press.

Monks. That’s what we are missing here. Martin Luther. Ever heard of him? He was a monk. What is the very premise of monkism? It’s the idea that the spiritual is obtained by contemplationism. And monkism is not unique to the Catholic Church—it is the link from the Catholic Church to the ancient concept of mystic dualism. Though it pans out in various different ways, it’s the idea that matter is evil and spirit is good. In other cases, it holds to the idea that both good and evil are necessary to understand true reality. Good defines evil, and evil defines good. The more you understand both, the more “balance” you have in the universe. Then there is the goal to birth the spiritual into the physical through meditation/contemplationism. Like I said, there are many takes on the basic approach.

Monks believe that the physical or world realm is a distraction from the spiritual realm. In some cases, they believe that all matter is merely a form of the perfect, or spiritual. Hence, monasteries. Traditionally, monasteries have been clearing houses for the dope from God through contemplationism. And since they have the dope, they should rule the totally depraved for their own good. In some spiritual caste systems, the monks rule directly, in others like the Catholic Church, the monks are the Scribes and Prophets for the rulers; i.e., the Popes.

The fact that monkism would be part and parcel to any doctrine formulated by Martin Luther is a no-brainer. Mysticism is simply going to be a significant factor, and so it is with Protestantism. This becomes more apparent when you consider the core four of the Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther, John Calvin, St. Augustine, and Pope Gregory the Great. Luther’s 95 Theses was a protest against naughty Popes, but he was completely onboard with the Catholic caste system. When his 95 Theses resulted in the unexpected societal eruption that took place, he presented a doctrinal disputation to the Augustinian Order in Heidelberg. And don’t miss this:

In that Disputation, Luther postulates Pope Gregory’s take on the gospel which is the exact same calling card of present-day New Calvinism. In theses 27 of his Disputation, Luther states the following:

Thus deeds of mercy are aroused by the works through which he has saved us, as St. Gregory says: »Every act of Christ is instruction for us, indeed, a stimulant.« If his action is in us it lives through faith, for it is exceedingly attractive according to the verse, »Draw me after you, let us make haste« (Song of Sol. 1:4) toward the fragrance »of your anointing oils« (Song of Sol. 1:3), that is, »your works.«

There could not be a more concise statement in regard to the New Calvinist gospel. Deeds in the Christian life come from the same acts in which Christ saved us. Secondly, they are not our acts, but the acts of Christ applied to our Christian lives by faith alone. Thirdly, when the works of Christ are applied to our Christian lives by faith alone, it will always be experienced by the exhilarating emotions of first love—this is the mark of Christ’s active obedience being manifested in the spiritual realm through the totally depraved. We “reflect” the works of Christ by faith alone. Even John MacArthur has bought into this nonsense, claiming that obedience to the Lord is “always sweet, never bitter.” Francis Chan states that it always “feels like love.” And of course, poke John Piper’s rhetoric anywhere and this same monkish mysticism comes oozing out.

Moreover, Luther states this same concept from many different angles in his Disputation, and theses 28 is clearly the premise for John Piper’s Christian Hedonism.

No wonder then that New Calvinists of our day sing the praises of Pope Gregory. Here is what heretic David Powlison stated in an interview with Mark Dever’s 9Marks ministry:

Caring for the soul, which we try [try?] to do in biblical counseling, is not new. Two of the great pioneers in church history would be Augustine and Gregory the Great. Even secular people will credit Augustine’s Confessions as pioneering the idea that there is an inner life. Augustine did an unsurpassed  job of tearing apart the various ways in which people’s desires become  disordered. Gregory wrote the earliest textbook on pastoral care. He pioneered diverse ways of dealing with a fearful person, a brash and impulsive person, an angry person, an overly passive person. He broke out these different struggles and sought to apply explicitly biblical, Christ-centered medicine—full of Christ, full of grace, full of gospel, and full of the hard call of God’s Word to the challenges of life.

Powlison points to Pope Gregory and Augustine as the pioneers of biblical counseling using a “Christ-centered,” “full gospel” approach. And what was that approach? It was primarily contemplationism and dualism. In fact, Gregory practically saw “doing” as a necessary evil. In Roland Paul Cox’s Masters dissertation, Gregory the Great and His Book Pastoral Care as a Counseling Theory, Cox states the following:

The overall theme in Gregory’s dichotomies is balance. It is possible that this comes from Gregory’s own struggles in balancing his desire for the contemplative life of a monk versus his reluctant, but active, service as ambassador to Constantinople and pope.“The Regula Pastoralis was in large part devoted to describing how to reconcile the two types of life. He came to the conclusion eventually that while the contemplative life was the better and more desirable of the two, the active life was unavoidable, and indeed necessary in order to serve one’s fellow man.…There could be no better exemplar of the two lives than Gregory himself, but he would have been less than human had he not from time to time mourned the fact that so much of his time must be given over to the active at the expense of the contemplative” [Jeffrey Richards, Consul of God : The Life and Times of Gregory the Great (London ; Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980), 57.].

Powlison, in true Reformed tradition, invokes the either/or hermeneutic, or the either cross story or glory story hermeneutic of Luther’s Disputation by suggesting that any denial of this “Christ-Centered” approach is a wholesale denial of an “inner life.” In other words, suggesting that doing something should be emphasized as much as contemplationism is paramount to denying that there is an inner life. Such statements by Powlison are indicative of his utter lack of integrity.

In addition, Gregory’s penchant for mystic dualism is seen in the same dissertation:

Gregory’s view of health revolved around balance. In Pastoral Care 34 dichotomies are given. For each one Gregory discusses how either extreme is detrimental. The following are a few examples of Gregory’s dichotomies: poor/rich, joyful/sad, subject/superiors, wise/dull, impudent/timid, impatient/patient, kindly/envious, humble/haughty, obstinate/fickly, and gluttonous/abstemious. Further, Gregory explains how certain traits although they appear to be virtues are in reality a vice. For example, in describing the dichotomy of impatient and patient, Gregory says the following about the patient: “…those who are patient are to be admonished not to grieve in their hearts over what they suffer outwardly. A sacrifice of such great worth which they outwardly offer unimpaired, must not be spoilt by the infection of interior malice. Besides, while their sin of grieving is not observed by man, it is visible under the divine scrutiny, and will become the worse, in proportion as they claim a show of virtue in the sight of men. The patient must, therefore, be told to aim diligently at loving those whom they needs must put up with lest, if love does not wait on patient” [Pastoral Care: pp. 109, 110].

In other words, self-control is a vice. Unless cross-centered love is mystically applied according to Luther’s Disputation (theses 28), the latter evil of self-control is worse than the former sin of being offended since such offences serve to humble us (LHD theses 21).

What goes hand in metaphysical hand in all of this is good ole’ ancient spiritual caste tyranny. As Cox further observes,

Shortly after becoming pope, Gregory wrote Pastoral Care. In addition as pope, he reorganized the administration of the papal states, he maintained papal authority in the face of encroachments from the Patriarch of Constantinople, he established links with the Frankish Kingdoms, and most importantly (for these English writers), he sent a party of monks, led by Augustine, to convert the Anglo-Saxons.

Gregory was very influenced by the Rule of St. Benedict and Benedictine monks who came to Rome after the monastery that St. Benedict founded was burnt. In some letters, Gregory calls his work Pastoral Rule. “There is every reason to assume that Gregory in conceiving the plan for Liber Regulae Pastoralis [Pastoral Rule] intended to provide the secular clergy with a counterpart to this Regula [the Rule of St. Benedict].

….This culture of rulers and emperors also helps explain why Gregory saw Pastoral Care and Pastoral Rule as one in the same. By modern day standards, Gregory would be considered overly authoritarian.

A culture of “rulers and emperors” had precious little to do with it, but rather ancient spiritual caste systems that answered the supposed preordained call of God to control the totally depraved. With the sword if necessary. While many of these systems were based on mythology prior to the 6th century, Plato systematized the idea and gave it scientific dignity. But his trifold theory of soul consisting of king, soldier, and producer called for a sociological counterpart that was a mirror image to fit the need. Sir Karl Raimund Popper, considered the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, fingered Platonism as the primary catalyst for religious and secular tyranny in Western culture. And Plato’s mystic dualism (shadows and forms) added not just a little to the MO of the Reformers. According to church historian John Immel:

Calvin’s Institutes (1530) is the formal systematic institutionalization of Platonist/Augustinian syncretism that refined and conformed to Lutheran thinking and became the doctrinal blueprint for the Reformed Tradition [Blight in the Vineyard: Prestige Publishing 2011].

Christ promised us that He would build His Church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. The idea that the Reformers rescued His church from the gates of the Roman Catholic Church is both laughable and the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind. The idea that Christ needed, and continues to need the services of Plato’s philosopher kings is arrogance on steroids. Somewhere, God’s church moves forward. Let us shed the Reformed load that hinders and find our place in that true church.

paul

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

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

HF Potters House (2)

Originally published March 31, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First on the list is “The Pure Gospel.”

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

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

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

Someone to care for their needs

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

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

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

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

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

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

paul

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