Paul's Passing Thoughts

From the Reformation to the Third Reich: Protestantism’s Impact on Western Culture – Part 6

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 13, 2017

The following is part six of a multi-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s fifth session
at the 2014 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for introduction
Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five
Click here for part seven
Click here for part eight
Click here for conclusion

 

The Rise of National Socialism and the Assault on Capitalism

It is my conviction that the anti-Semitism and, of course, the Holocaust directly related to anti-Semitism is what obscures the larger discussion about National Socialism. I know that the eradication of a specific genetic population really hits us where we live. We know that is the one thing we can never escape, and so when there is organized, government-driven hostility towards the genetics of our creation, that’s hard to get out of your head. But you must also remember the National Socialists wiped out almost an equal number of people who were not Jews. They wiped out pretty much anybody who they decided stood in their way of whatever their statist ambitions were.

Let us begin with the champion of all Germans, Martin Luther. Little-known to people who do not pay any attention, Luther wrote a book entitled, On the Jews and Their Lies. I want to give you a few excerpts out of the introduction.

“I had made up my mind to write no more about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that those miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book so that I might be found among those who oppose such poisonous activities of the Jews and who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them…

“We propose to discuss their arguments and boast and prove convincingly before God and the world, not before Jews for, as already said, they would accept this neither from Moses nor from the Messiah himself… To this end, we quote Moses in Genesis 17… When God instituted circumcision, he said, among other things, ‘Any uncircumcised male shall be cut off from his people.’ [Genesis 17:14 ]”

Now I want you to notice Luther’s stated purpose. “We propose to discuss their arguments and boast and prove convincingly before God and the world…” He is trying to make a specific intellectual rebuttal. This is a theological treatise, and this is important. There is a common myth, one of many around us, that Luther was somehow just misled, and these are just some vague ramblings. No. This is just as important in Luther’s mind as the Heidelberg Disputation. This is just as central to Lutheran thought as the rest of his doctrinal works.

As I said, it is often stated in his defense that Luther was a victim of long-held prejudices. He was merely reacting out of his horrible biases, that it is the unfortunate writing of an ignorant soul, that he can’t really be held responsible for the actions of people 400 years in the future. I contend this is all nonsense. Luther wrote this when he was 60, and this is after a long-considered development.

Notice in his first comment he said, “I made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them.” He had a long history of dealing with the Jewish people in his mind. So he writes this at last because he ultimately believes he must organize a defense for Christianity against the Jews. So those people who actually insist that Luther is somehow not culpable here are people who are trying to wipe out reality and rewrite history.

And really, it will take you about an hour and a half to two hours to wade through, but on its face, On the Jews and Their Lies is a theological treatise with the same intentions as Bondage of the Will and the Heidelberg Disputation. The notion that he should not be responsible for the actions of people 400 years later is nonsense. The fact of the matter is that everybody expects people to conform and to act according to Luther in theology. This is a fundamental expectation. You cannot pick and choose. You cannot tell me his doctrine is what everybody should do because of his orthodoxy and then in turn tell me that something he wrote with just as much theological impact is somehow irrelevant to people’s actions. Luther was a definer of his time. He was not a victim of his time. Luther is the intellectual plumb line for all things orthodoxy, and it is expected that people conform, and it is nonsense to assume that he should not be directly accountable.

He goes on to say,

“Shame on you, you damned Jews, that you dare to apply this earnest, glorious, comforting word of God so despicably on your mortal greedy belly and that you are not ashamed to display your greed so openly. You are not worthy of looking at the outside of the Bible, much less of reading it. You should read only the Bible that is found under the sow’s tail, and eat and drink the letters that drop from there.”

Do I really have to unscramble that? This is the kind of language you would find in an elementary school. Gooey poop and pee, really? Now, I didn’t say it was a great theological treatise, and I didn’t say he was a whiz kid of theological defense. I’m only telling you he intends this to be held this way. But I do want to notice the theme that gets lost among the distraction, and that is Luther’s preoccupation with the perception of Jewish “greed”. In this short paragraph there are two references to it; “greedy belly” and “that you display your greed so openly.” Keep that in mind as you consider this next quote.

“They curse us goyim (literally means ‘nations’ but is used as a pejorative for all non-Jews). In their synagogues and in their prayers, they wish us every misfortune. They rob us of our money and goods through their usury, and they play on us every wicked trick they can. And the worst of it is that they still claim to have done right and well, that is, to have done God a service. And they teach the doing of such things. No pagan ever acted thus. In fact, no one acts thus except the devil himself, or whomever he possesses, as he has possessed the Jews.”

Beyond the entirely paranoid ramblings up here, again what is the theme? What is he really criticizing the Jews for? Their money, their wealth, their prosperity. He calls it greed. That’s designed to condemn it. But what he’s really upset about is that they have prosperity and he does not.   Notice the theme of this next quote.

“So we, the German Christians, are even at fault in not avenging all the innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they shed for 300 years after the destruction of Jerusalem. We, German Christians, are at fault for not slaying them. Rather, we allow them to live freely in our midst despite their murdering, cursing, blaspheming, lying and defaming. We protect and shield their synagogues, houses, life, and property. In this way we make them lazy and secure and encourage them to fleece us bodily of our money and goods, as well as to mock and deride us, with a view to finally overcoming us, killing us all for such great sin and robbing us all of our property. Now tell me whether they do not have every reason to be the enemies of us accursed Goyim, to curse us and to strive for our final complete and eternal ruin.”

Now I’ve spent a little bit of time searching through history, and I cannot remember any Jewish incursion to oppress the German people. I can think of no place in history where the Jews were pillaging and plundering their way to wealth. I’m being a little facetious here, but the point is I do not know where Luther gets all this. But I do want you to notice again the fundamental theme. Luther thinks that Jewish wealth and greed is a problem. With this in mind, it makes abundant sense why Adolf Hitler could say this:

“Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”

This is from page 65 in my copy of Mein Kampf. Now, it is important to note that even in its original inception, no one objected to Hitler’s thoughts published in Mein Kampf.   No one in the Christian Church thought this was a strange thing to say. There was no appreciable theological objection to Hitler equating defending himself against the Jews with being the work of the Lord and it necessarily being a Christian ideal. So what you are actually seeing here, as we roll from Luther to Hitler, is that a theologically-founded anti-Semitism was in fact considered Christian orthodoxy for most of Church history. The Christian orthodox position is what shaped how the Germans created their legislation, and this is well-documented.

Here is a guy by the name of Kirche Bischof (which is German for “church bishop”). He makes this comment in June 1933:

“If anyone can lay claim to God’s help, then it is Hitler, for without God’s benevolent, fatherly hand, without his blessing, the nation would not be where it stands today. It is an unbelievable miracle that God has bestowed on our people,”

The “unbelievable miracle” being Adolf Hitler.

Germany’s population was roughly 65 million people in 1930. I want you to notice this next quote from a pastor by the name of Mathias K. This was an interview after the war, and I want you to notice how he describes his mindset and the mindset of the German people.

“Part of my childhood memories is how the cattle were driven past my parents’ home to the cattle market. Those who had control of the cattle were the Jews. In every village it was the Jews who had the trade and traffic in their hands, and they had the cattle business, the grain train, and they had the general store where you could buy everything. The farmers had simply become slaves of the Jews, and they never got anywhere. The Jewish question ate away at those in the countryside.

“All that hatred sat deeply within the people. Strong anti-Semitic concerns were already there. It’s not at all the case that Herr Goebbels invented all of it. Rather the entire ideology and also the rhetoric were there. The Nazis had only to take it and carry it to its conclusion.

“So one can’t overlook the fact that when 1933 came and there were not a few good Christians who had no objection at all if the Jews got pushed back a bit. They didn’t start with concentration camps; it began with propaganda. But people said, ‘Oh, the cheeky Jews, let them get what is coming to them.’”

Again, I want you to notice the theme. The Lutherans equated their poverty with Jewish prosperity. They specifically resented Jewish prosperity. Jew meant prosperous. It meant upper class. This is the root of their hatred.

Here is another quote from a guy by the name of Erich Koch. He was the president of the provincial Protestant Church – actually, the president of the provincial Protestant Church synod, which means he was actually pretty important. I’m trying to think of an American variation, maybe like being the head of the Moral Majority or the Southern Baptist Convention. There will be somebody of that stature within the church.

“Externally, much has changed. But in our church the world of Christ according to the doctrine of Luther remains…Righteousness, truth and love should guide us, but not only at the level of charity but also in the joyful and active struggles for our Protestant confession of faith.”

He also said, and this is after the war in court records,

“I held the view that the Nazi idea had to develop from basic Prussian Protestant attitude and from Luther’s unfinished reformation.”

Now here’s the punch line. Erich Koch ultimately decides to resign his position as president of the synod, and he became one of the leading men to kill thousands of Jews and political dissidents, and he helped to enslave the remaining Slavic population.

This is the cover from a pamphlet called “The Cross and the Swastika.” It was created by a small church group in some Prussian province by Gerhard Hahn, president of the provincial church council. Here’s what he said:

“The cross of Christ and the swastika do not need to oppose each other. They must not do so, but rather they could and should stand together. One should not dominate the other, but rather each should maintain its own meaning and significance.

“The cross of Christ points towards heaven and admonishes us. Remember that you are Christian people carried by the eternal love of the heavenly Father, free through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, sanctified by the power of God’s Spirit.

“The swastika, however, points to the world as a divine creation and admonishes us. Remember that you are German, born in German territory to parents of German blood, filled with the German spirit and essence formed according to German nature.”

He goes on to say later in the pamphlet:

“The cross of Christ and the swastika must have a positive relationship!

The church must affirm without reservation Adolf Hitler’s total state, the last bulwark against the Satan of Bolshevism. It should not be forgotten that had it not been for Hitler, we would have long since sunk into Bolshevism and probably would no longer have churches and ministers.

The church must affirm without reservation the Fuhrer of the National Socialists, Adolf Hitler, the Chancellor of the German Reich. He expects the church to help build the Third Reich… It is the task of the Church to create and provide this foundation.”

There is no question in the mind of the Evangelical Lutheran Church that there is a synonymous action. The National Socialists and the church are only divisions in name. They are not divisions in fact. And this is very important for me to point out. The presumption is that somehow the Church was set apart and all this was done to them. This is historical error of the first order. And when I say Evangelical Lutheran Church, if you look at the Lutheran Church here in the United States, we are talking about a denomination with virtually no difference in doctrinal distinctions. The rudiments of Lutheran orthodoxy then are the rudiments of Lutheran orthodoxy today.

So let us ask the question. What causes this kind of devotion? Let us briefly explore the idea that Christians are led astray. There are three variations of this: Hitler was possessed. It was the devil. It was satanic delusion. I have heard this objection a few times, and this is one of those objections that – I’ll be blunt – you shouldn’t utter this in public. And here’s why. If there are Christians that would like to advance this excuse, I’m going to suggest that you should be quiet. You must understand what you’re really saying.

Of the 65 million people in the Germany, 40 million people named themselves “Lutheran.” So if Christians can be deceived by the devil on so massive a scale, Christians should be banned from all political action because their judgment is nonexistent. If you are going to blame this on the devil, delusion, mass delusion, mass hysteria, and say it is confined specifically to Lutheran Christians, then the logical assumption is that Lutheran Christians have no business around anything important.

Blaming mass action on demonic forces makes the governing force of man’s mind malevolent ghosts. If the devil can corrupt Christian epistemology, then the solution is to make sure Christians are kept far away from all the important decisions. There should be no Christian in the White House near the atomic nuclear button. And I guarantee you, if you want to offer this up, and you want to continue to advocate this as something that should be genuinely accepted in public, and you want to reasonably make this case, what will happen by offering this argument in public is going to guarantee that eventually legislation will be passed to prevent Christianity from being part of any public discussion.

Now here’s a variation on the same argument. I call it a kind of “Stephen Spielberg” defense. Remember in the Raiders of the Lost Ark, there was the maniacal Nazi who wanted to find Ark of the Covenant because he wanted to gain absolute power. Here, it was the idea that the Nazis led the world astray because Hitler was obsessed with cultic doctrines.   So, if Hitler had not had an obsession with cultic doctrines and held to real Christian doctrines, the Nazis would not have done these things. Well, first of all, this still means that Christians were incompetent to grasp the truth. In other words, they saw what was happening, they heard what Adolf Hitler said, and they still could not grasp what the man was saying. This, of course, still speaks to Christian epistemological incompetence.

But I want to make a secondary point, and it has to do with the source of moral action. I know that this gets to people because, as of right now, most Christians are under the expectation that the last best hope for human morality is Christianity. The Neo-Calvinist movement has set themselves up as the source of this last great hope. Without them, the United States is doomed to total moral chaos, and the reason they say this is because the Bible says thou shalt not whatever. That the Bible is the actual source of morality. And I know why people say that, but what you are really saying is that the source of morality is located in a metaphysical otherworld.

Now here’s the problem. The moment you open the door to the source of morality being in an otherworld, you have severed morality from this earth, and you have no control of what walks back through the door that leads to this otherworld. If the Christian God is the source of morality, then why can it not be the Muslim god or the Hindu god? If morality is merely the product of a transcendent religious world, then the entire spectrum of the transcendent religious world is available. But by simply repeating the mantra of “The Bible says, the Bible says, the Bible says,” Christians think that they are going to somehow gain traction.

The easiest way to defeat this argument is to say, “So what?” It is ultimately no argument, and at its root, it ultimately severs man from morality. If there is no reason to be moral, then man has no means to be moral. This is exactly historic Calvinist teaching, that because there is this transcendent world, this heavenly realm, and man is metaphysically corrupt, he cannot do good anyhow.

So at the end of the day, the Christian doctrine ultimately condemns man to the exact same place as antinomianism does.  Antinomianism says that there are no laws man is morally obligated to keep. The doctrine of pervasive depravity is effectively the same thing. The nature of man’s depravity is so vast he cannot keep the law. He cannot be moral. We are in exactly the same place. Ostensibly, Christianity is not advancing morality, and we see the prime example in National Socialist Germany.

Next I would like to actually address the assumption that the people just did not know what Hitler and the Nazis were going to do. Let me first reiterate that there really was no practical distinction between the Church and the National Socialist Party. It does not matter whether Hitler or Goebbels or any of the rest of those guys actually had a statement of orthodoxy in and of themselves. That is irrelevant. The point is that whatever the people heard from the leadership, they saw no conflict within their Christianity. This is crucial.

In 1925, the social malcontent, out-of-work painter, and a ham-fisted scribbler wrote a book about his struggles while cooling his heels in the clink. The miles and miles of rambling prose revealed a mind filled with logical conundrums, philosophical plagiarism, and dead-end German phrases. The book correctly received a cool reception, and from the few that waded through the tedious, often bellicose rants, the “Fuhrer of the Beer Hall Putsch” was a joke rat in an Austrian-Jewish punch line.

The book, of course, was Mein Kampf, and its author was Adolf Hitler. The book was not well-written. Having read it myself, I can tell you it is not compelling. On occasion you’ll run across something that is kind of cool. Since I do not speak German I cannot testify to this first-hand, but some commentators have observed that there are some sections of it in German they cannot translate because it makes no sense even in German, so it has no ability to be translated into any other language.

There are many historically inaccurate details. Hitler was fond of quoting contemporary thinkers but often quotes them inaccurately or draws erroneous conclusions. He is given to long passages that are devoid of reality. There are quite a few of those. Despite all these shortcomings, however, it sold roughly 240,000 copies by 1933, about the time he was voted chancellor.

After he was elected chancellor, Mein Kampf was a wedding gift to every newlywed couple and every soldier. By 1942, 10 million copies were in print, available to a total population of people in excess of 65 million. His ideas were not a secret. There is no way anyone could have honestly said, “I don’t know what this man is about.” He was not a master communicator. He did not have some massive Svengali-like hypnosis or Criss Angel ability to compel you to think things. I read the book, and never once was I compelled to utter, “Sieg heil,” not once.

The error behind assuming that it was Hitler’s force of personality that did this leads people to ignore the ideology. It leads people to equate tyranny with the flamboyant and the charismatic. Political action is not sustained by personality. It is always ideology. Ideology is philosophy turned into political action. There was nothing unclear about Hitler’s program.

Adolf was a shrewd judge of political actions and adversaries. He told everyone what he thought and how the political program should progress. He detailed re-armament in spite of the Treaty of Versailles, territorial expansion in spite of the Treaty of Versailles, the abolition of democracy, which at that time would have been the Weimar Republic, and a commitment to socialism.

He believed in the German state. He believed that the people born of the German blood were property of the German State. He believed in eugenics and the elimination of the Jewish threat. Now mind you, the bulk of Germany believed in eugenics, but the specific application to Jews had not manifested yet. The Final Solution hung out there, but no one ever really objected.

He detailed his contempt for the Catholic Church, because he knew German Catholics were not German first. He knew they were Catholics first, and since he knew he could never influence Rome, he knew he could never dominate them.   Since he could never dominate Rome, he knew he would never have access to their minds.

But for all of its failure, what Mein Kampf revealed was threefold:

  1. It was a crystal clear picture. It was a detailed blueprint for National Socialism.
  2. It showed a man who had an amazing capacity to size up his political adversaries and allies.
  3. Above all, it showed that he was a man who believed it was moral to build the first and exploit the second with impunity.

And this is the bottom line. The political ideal, the social ideal, the government ideal was no secret. It was available for anyone paying attention. And the people did pay attention, and they agreed. And that is the point. The people of Germany voted to put Hitler in power. And that’s because they saw no fundamental distinction between what they believed as Christians and his specific policies.

There was no mass delusion. There were no demonic forces. There was no fiendishly clever super secret plot. The German people willingly, openly, purposely took action in accord with National Socialism. From the least to the greatest, they voted for a man who pledged lies in service to despotism, and the Lutheran Church insisted that Hitler was God’s man to protect the people.

So what was the appeal of the National Socialist Party? Before I can explain the answer to that question, I have to lay one more foundation. I have to talk to you about a dirty word in America. I have to talk to you about capitalism.   But that will be in the next article.

To be continued…


Click here for introduction
Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five
Click here for part seven
Click here for part eight
Click here for conclusion

 

TANC 2014 Uncut: The Roots of Christian Anti-Semitism, John Immel

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on July 13, 2015

The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation; Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 6, 2015

Blog Radio LogoListen to the lesson or download audio file. 

Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio .com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 2 of “The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation.”

Greetings from the Potters House and TANC ministries where we are always eager to serve all of your heterodox needs. Our teaching catalogue can be found at tancpublishing.com.

If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. Remember to turn your PC volume down to prevent feedback.

Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective.

Remember, you may remain anonymous. When I say, “This is your host; you are on the air, what’s your comment or question—just start talking.

If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also email me at paul@ttanc.com. That’s Tom, Tony, Alice, Nancy, cat, paul@ttanc.com. I have my email monitor right here and can add your thoughts to the lesson without need for you to call in. You can post a question as well.

Last week we did pretty well; we began with an introduction and completed the first two theses. Tonight, we begin with thesis 3.

Thesis 3: Although the works of man always seem attractive and good, they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins.

Human works appear attractive outwardly, but within they are filthy, as Christ says concerning the Pharisees in Matt. 23:27. For they appear to the doer and others good and beautiful, yet God does not judge according to appearances but searches »the minds and hearts« (Ps. 7:9). For without grace and faith it is impossible to have a pure heart. Acts 15:9: »He cleansed their hearts by faith.«

The thesis is proven in the following way: If the works of righteous men are sins, as Thesis 7 of this disputation states, this is much more the case concerning the works of those who are not righteous. But the just speak in behalf of their works in the following way: »Do not enter into judgment with thy servant, Lord, for no man living is righteous before thee« (Ps. 143:2). The Apostle speaks likewise in Gal. 3:10, »All who rely on the works of the law are under the curse.« But the works of men are the works of the law, and the curse will not be placed upon venial sins. Therefore they are mortal sins. In the third place, Rom. 2:21 states, »You who teach others not to steal, do you steal?« St. Augustine interprets this to mean that men are thieves according to their guilty consciences even if they publicly judge or reprimand other thieves.

In this third thesis, Luther declares ALL works of men evil. That includes the works of believers as well. Again, we come to a paramount tenet of the Reformation; total depravity does not only pertain to mankind in general, but also the saints. Even though the works of men appear “good and beautiful” (eerily similar to Plato’s trinity of the good, true, and beautiful), they are evil:

If the works of righteous men are sins, as Thesis 7 of this disputation states, this is much more the case concerning the works of those who are not righteous.

By the way, this is synonymous with the Calvin Institutes 3.14.9-11. Luther hints in this thesis in regard to why all the works of men can be deemed wicked: they are under the law, and no man can keep the law perfectly:

 But the works of men are the works of the law…

This is another way of saying that Christians remain under the law just like unbelievers, and since no person can keep the law perfectly, all bets are off. The Calvin Institutes 3.14.10 is an in-depth articulation of this idea. This is amazing because it’s right here where Reformed soteriology falls completely apart and turns the whole Bible upside down. Right here, you are looking at it. It’s the idea that Christians cannot perform a good work because they are still under the law and the law demands perfect obedience.

Also, amazingly, all of the major tenets of the Reformation gospel are in this one thesis. Let’s begin with Luther’s heart theology that actually laid the foundation for the contemporary biblical counseling movement; at least what came out of Westminster’s CCEF. An illustration can be seen below.

Luther cites Matthew 23:27 and Psalms 7:9 to make the point that the outward works of men are meaningless and God looks upon the heart. In this theology, the “heart” is the seat of faith. Even though the believer can do no good work; the believer’s heart (or faith) can be pure. What Luther proffers as we move along is a purity totally disconnected from works, and purity (faith) that is strictly an ability to perceive, and depending on the Reformed camp, experience the works of God completely separate from anything man does. If we pay close attention, we see these ideas in this third thesis.

For without grace and faith it is impossible to have a pure heart.

We must continue to remember that what Luther is saying about the heart is completely disconnected from man’s ability to do a good work. Why? Because everything man does is under the law and no man can keep the law perfectly. Again…

But the works of men are the works of the law…

Everything man does whether lost or saved is under the law, and since no man can keep the law perfectly; all of his works are condemned. The next part is very important:

Acts 15:9: »He cleansed their hearts by faith.«

The heart is cleansed by faith alone, and as we will see further along in our study, Luther believed that these cleansings needed to be repeated for ongoing present sin. But a little bit of thinking will reveal it here as well. If we are still under the law, we continue to sin against the law which necessarily demands a repurification. Especially since this sin is “mortal sin.” However,

But the works of men are the works of the law, and the curse will not be placed upon venial sins. Therefore they are mortal sins.

It boils down to this: if one thinks they performed a good work or are able to perform a good work, that’s mortal (subject to death) sin. But a faith that separates itself from works is venial (forgivable) sin which must be continually sought to receive ongoing cleansing. Luther elaborates on this more in the latter theses, but note how he uses Psalm 143:2 in this regard:

 »Do not enter into judgment with thy servant, Lord, for no man living is righteous before thee«

To not completely depend on faith alone, and thinking that you can do a good work is being under the curse of the law:

Gal. 3:10, »All who rely on the works of the law are under the curse.« But the works of men are the works of the law, and the curse will not be placed upon venial sins.

So there is no middle ground; one either depends totally on faith or on works. The belief that one can do a good work is tantamount to being cursed.

This third thesis is the very heart of the Reformation: no man can do a good work, and to believe that is pure faith apart from any good works. Again, faith and good works are separated. Now you know why Luther didn’t like the book of James. The premise for this is the supposed fact that believers remain under law which is a glaring contradiction to Scripture. The “heart” is the seat of pure faith apart from any works; faith and works are mutually exclusive throughout the life of the “believer.”

Thesis 4: Although the works of God are always unattractive and appear evil, they are nevertheless really eternal merits.

That the works of God are unattractive is clear from what is said in Isa. 53:2, »He had no form of comeliness«, and in 1 Sam. 2:6, »The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.« This is understood to mean that the Lord humbles and frightens us by means of the law and the sight of our sins so that we seem in the eyes of men, as in our own, as nothing, foolish, and wicked, for we are in truth that. Insofar as we acknowledge and confess this, there is »no form or beauty« in us, but our life is hidden in God (i.e. in the bare confidence in his mercy), finding in ourselves nothing but sin, foolishness, death, and hell, according to that verse of the Apostle in 2 Cor. 6:9-10, »As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as dying, and behold we live.« And that it is which Isa. 28:21 calls the »alien work« of God »that he may do his work« (that is, he humbles us thoroughly, making us despair, so that he may exalt us in his mercy, giving us hope), just as Hab. 3:2 states, »In wrath remember mercy.« Such a man therefore is displeased with all his works; he sees no beauty, but only his depravity. Indeed, he also does those things which appear foolish and disgusting to others.

This depravity, however, comes into being in us either when God punishes us or when we accuse ourselves, as 1 Cor. 11:31 says, »If we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged by the Lord«. Deut. 32:36 also states, »The Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.« In this way, consequently, the unattractive works which God does in us, that is, those which are humble and devout, are really eternal, for humility and fear of God are our entire merit.

Here we have the Reformed mainstay doctrine of mortification and vivification. This is a major Reformed soteriological doctrine along with double imputation and the vital union. But in regard to M&V, here it is folks—right here. This is probably where this doctrine is first introduced.

But first, let’s look at the Reformation’s single perspective on the law also in this thesis. Luther makes it clear that the supposed sole purpose of the law is to bring man down into despair because of his total depravity:

This is understood to mean that the Lord humbles and frightens us by means of the law and the sight of our sins so that we seem in the eyes of men, as in our own, as nothing, foolish, and wicked, for we are in truth that. Insofar as we acknowledge and confess this, there is »no form or beauty« in us, but our life is hidden in God (i.e. in the bare confidence in his mercy), finding in ourselves nothing but sin, foolishness, death, and hell, according to that verse of the Apostle in 2 Cor. 6:9-10, »As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as dying, and behold we live.« And that it is which Isa. 28:21 calls the »alien work« of God »that he may do his work« (that is, he humbles us thoroughly, making us despair, so that he may exalt us in his mercy, giving us hope), just as Hab. 3:2 states, »In wrath remember mercy.« Such a man therefore is displeased with all his works; he sees no beauty, but only his depravity. Indeed, he also does those things which appear foolish and disgusting to others.

Once we use the law, and God uses circumstances to bring us into despair, that is the mortification part, God brings about vivification, or exaltation. As you can see, Luther uses 2Corithians 6:9,10 to make the case for that. This suffering is actually the good works of God as opposed to the evil works that look good to man; ie., good works done by men whether saved or unsaved. Later in this disputation Luther will define that as the story of man, or the glory story, viz, good and beautiful works done by man, versus the cross story, viz, the works of God that look unattractive. As we will see further along, this is Luther’s very definition of the new birth. The Christian life is a perpetual death (mortification) and resurrection (vivification) cycle that continually repeats itself experientially from despair to joy.

This is also the basis of John Piper’s Christian Hedonism doctrine. Joy must be part of the salvation experience because it is the upside of the perpetual new birth experience that keeps salvation moving forward by faith alone. If you only experience despair, that’s a half gospel. Many are confused by John Piper’s Christian Hedonism doctrine until they understand M&V, then it all makes perfect sense why joy must be part of the salvation experience. Contemporary Reformers state it this way:

Progressive sanctification has two parts: mortification and vivification, ‘both of which happen to us by participation in Christ,’ as Calvin notes….Subjectively experiencing this definitive reality signified and sealed to us in our baptism requires a daily dying and rising. That is what the Reformers meant by sanctification as a living out of our baptism….and this conversion yields lifelong mortification and vivification ‘again and again.’ Yet it is critical to remind ourselves that in this daily human act of turning, we are always turning not only from sin but toward Christ rather than toward our own experience or piety (Michael Horton: The Christian Faith; mortification and vivification, pp. 661-663 [Calvin Inst. 3.3.2-9]).

At conversion, a person begins to see God and himself as never before. This greater revelation of God’s holiness and righteousness leads to a greater revelation of self, which, in return, results in a repentance or brokenness over sin. Nevertheless, the believer is not left in despair, or he is also afforded a greater revelation of the grace of God in the face of Christ, which leads to joy unspeakable. This cycle simply repeats itself throughout the Christian life. As the years pass, the Christian sees more of God and more of self, resulting in a greater and deeper brokenness. Yet, all the while, the Christian’s joy grows in equal measure because he is privy to greater and greater revelations of the love, grace, and mercy of God in the person and work of Christ. Not only this, but a greater interchange occurs in that the Christian learns to rest less and less in his own performance and more and more in the perfect work of Christ. Thus, his joy is not only increased, but it also becomes more consistent and stable. He has left off putting confidence in the flesh, which is idolatry, and is resting in the virtue and merits of Christ, which is true Christian piety (Paul Washer: The Gospel Call and True Conversion; Part 1, Chapter 1, heading – The Essential Characteristics Of Genuine Repentance, subheading – Continuing and Deepening Work of Repentance).

Now, the next thesis is fairly interesting. In the fifth thesis, Luther distinguishes between crimes and mortal sins.

Thesis 5; The works of men are thus not mortal sins (we speak of works which are apparently good), as though they were crimes.

For crimes are such acts which can also be condemned before men, such as adultery, theft, homicide, slander, etc. Mortal sins, on the other hand, are those which seem good yet are essentially fruits of a bad root and a bad tree. Augustine states this in the fourth book of ›Against Julian‹ (Contra Julianum).

This is pretty straight forward. Criminal acts are NOT classified as mortal sins. Criminal acts are works that are condemned among men while mortal sins are the good works of man that are really “fruit of a bad tree.” Those of orthodoxy must deny that man does any good work at all that is not condemned by God. The belief that any man can do any kind of meritorious work falls under sin that will not be forgiven. This means that Reformed persons in the know would seek daily forgiveness for every, and all acts performed by them. It pretty much boils down to this quotation cited by a theological journal:

The flesh, or sinful nature of the believer is no different from that of the unbeliever. “The regenerate man is no whit different in substance from what He was before his regeneration.” — Bavinck [Reformed philosopher Herman Bavink] (Present Truth: Sanctification-Its Mainspring  Volume 16 Article 13).

At this point it is fairly easy to draw a watershed conclusion in all of this: the lynchpin idea of the Reformation was that salvation can only be obtained and maintained with a righteousness not our own, but also the exclusion of righteous acts performed by us. At this point, there is only one way forward: a mystical manifestation of works performed by deity; Martin Luther’s Alien Righteousness. This necessarily demanded and still demands a discussion of a philosophical ideology to make manifestation and realm birthing feasible. The Heidelberg Disputation not only does that, but articulates the theoretical life application and how these manifestations are experiences in reality. Luther was very concise in that regard while anticipating future objections.

Thesis 6: The works of God (we speak of those which he does through man) are thus not merits, as though they were sinless.

In Eccles. 7:20, we read, »Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.« In this connection, however, some people say that the righteous man indeed sins, but not when he does good. They may be refuted in the following manner: If that is what this verse wants to say, why waste so many words? Or does the Holy Spirit like to indulge in loquacious and foolish babble? For this meaning would then be adequately expressed by the following: »There is not a righteous man on earth who does not sin.« Why does he add »who does good,« as if another person were righteous who did evil? For no one except a righteous man does good. Where, however, he speaks of sins outside the realm of good works he speaks thus (Prov. 24:16), »The righteous man falls seven times a day.« Here he does not say: A righteous man falls seven times a day when he does good. This is a comparison: If someone cuts with a rusty and rough hatchet, even though the worker is a good craftsman, the hatchet leaves bad, jagged, and ugly gashes. So it is when God works through us.

Luther’s rusty and rough hatchet is an interesting metaphysical illustration. Notice carefully who the “’good’ craftsman” is. That can’t be us, right? Right, we are the rusty and rough hatchet. A hatchet, like all other tools, is a completely passive instrument. It has no life of its own. It only does what the craftsman does with it. Like one Reformed teacher said to me, “The Christian life is done to us not by us.”

Also, the hatchet doesn’t get any credit for the work, but only the good craftsman using the axe. This is Luther’s cardinal point of the thesis. This is a strict metaphysical dichotomy of good and evil with man defining evil and God defining good (The Calvin Institutes 1.1.1.). All manifestations of good on earth must come from above, and no good can be in man or come out of man.

Of course, this makes God the creator of rusty and rough hatchets; ie., sin and evil, but remember, as Luther stated, the good work of the craftsman only appears to be evil to us, right?

Although there is no room in this series to unravel every Scripture text that Luther twisted for his own purposes, I will speak to his use of Ecclesiastes 7:20 to make his point. All that verse is really saying is that man needs wisdom because he is not sinless and is prone to erroneous ways and death without wisdom. It’s not saying that no man does any good work. The idea in the text as noted by translations like NASB follows: no man does only good exclusively.

A thought before we go to the phones for you who are aware of our ministry’s dustup this week with the Wartburg Watch. Some folks from over there came over to PPT claiming that we have no orthodoxed credentials; therefore, apparently, our views are not relevant. Well, two things: if this is not orthodoxy, what is? And secondly, how can people claim to be advocates for the abused when they hold to this doctrine? They are either blowhards that don’t even understand what they are talking about, or they do understand. Which is it? Let’s go to the phones.

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The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation; Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 30, 2015

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Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio .com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 1 of “The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation.”

Greetings from the Potters House and TANC ministries where we are always eager to serve all of your heterodox needs. Our teaching catalogue can be found at tancpublishing.com

If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. Remember to turn your PC volume down to prevent feedback.

Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective.

Remember, you may remain anonymous. When I say, “This is your host; you are on the air, what’s your comment or question—just start talking.

If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also email me at paul@ttanc.com. That’s Tom, Tony, Alice, Nancy, cat, paul@ttanc.com. I have my email monitor right here and can add your thoughts to the lesson without need for you to call in. You can post a question as well.

In the introductory primer for this series on the link page, I stated the following:

About six months after Luther posted his 95 Theses on the front doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, he presented his doctrinal disputation to the Augustinian Order in Heidelberg, Germany. This is a timeless document that laid the foundation for Protestant doctrine and its primary principles have never been altered. This document is the very roots of the Protestant tree. The Reformed tradition has never strayed from its major tenets. To understand the Heidelberg Disputation is to understand all of Reformed tradition.

Absolutely. The Heidelberg Disputation laid the foundational worldview/philosophy/ideology of the Reformation and everything taught from a Reformed perspective flows from this document in one way or another. The introduction of this document reads as follows from the Book of Concord which are the confessions of the Lutheran Church:

Following Luther’s proposal for a disputation on the subject of indulgences, the Augustinian Order, to which Luther belonged, was generally supportive of his views. The head of the order in Germany, Johannes Staupitz, called for a formal disputation to be attended by the leadership of the order, in which Luther would be provided a chance to expand upon his concern. The disputation took place at the meeting of the Augustinian Order, in Heidelberg, in April 1518. Luther’s opponents had been hopeful that Luther would be silenced, but Staupitz wanted to give Luther a fair hearing, since he was generally sympathetic with Luther’s views. At the meeting, Luther put forward a “theology of the cross” as opposed to a “theology of glory.” The disputation is, in many ways, more significant than the 95 theses, for they advanced Luther’s growing realization that the theology of late Medieval Roman Catholicism was fundamentally and essentially at odds with Biblical theology. As a result of the disputation, John Eck proposed a debate between himself and representatives of Luther’s views, which was held in Leipzig (lighp-sig) from June to July, 1519.

Ok, so let me tell you what I did in devoted service to the saints; I suffered through a lot of the Leipzig debate between Luther and Eck (as an aside: both were vehement anti-Semites). This is a huge consideration in all of this: what specifically where the divisive issues between Luther and the Catholic Church? Well, of course, initially, they were supposedly moral; i.e., the 95 Theses.

Now, Luther held a lot of people captive in the Catholic Church because there was agreement on the moral issues. I mean, what was going on with indulgences and so forth was pretty much in your face and totally ridiculous. But what were the actual doctrinal issues? So, once again, I sought to ascertain the answers to this question, and once again, I end up right back at what I wrote in the booklet, The Reformation Myth. It’s only about 30 pages, and nails down the doctrinal issues between Catholicism and Protestantism.

Let me give you the short version. In the aforementioned booklet, I focus heavily on the fact that both camps hold to a progressive justification gospel. Basically, salvation is a process that starts at point A, and progresses to point B, and the Mother Church oversees the progression via authority granted it by God. I cite a bunch of references in the booklet to make this point.

Take note: the Reformers were very strong advocates of the imputation of authority and apostolic succession. This is why they did not want to make a complete break with the Catholic Church. Luther and Calvin both were rabid followers of St. Augustine who is a Doctor of Grace in the Catholic Church. Till this day, Protestant Reformers proudly claim Augustine as the founding father of Reformation doctrine. The late David Hunt documents this fact thoroughly in his book, What Love is This? with much incredulation. And by the way, Johannes  (yoh-hah-nis) Staupitz whom I mentioned earlier is one of many, like Augustine, who are recognized/claimed by both camps, viz, Protestants and Catholics both.

Why is this? It’s the authority issue. This is why both camps claim Augustine; he is the authoritative tie that binds. In the TANC Theological Journal, volume 2015 issues 4 and 5, I document the transition between home fellowships and the institution church and the warfare between the two. The home fellowships led by elders resisted the takeover of Christianity by the Gnostic church fathers who set up an apostolic succession authority in Rome.

The home fellowships rejected church hierarchy, and insisted that apostolic authority rested in the Scriptures alone and not men. They insisted on a cooperative body under one head, Jesus Christ. They insisted on ONE mediator between God and men—Jesus the Christ. In both Catholicism and Protestantism, the proffering of popes, priests, and pastors as additional mediators is absolutely irrefutable. You can read both of those issues online for free: http://truthaboutnewcalvinism.weebly.com/

So, what are the specific doctrinal contentions? It’s the same reason there are many, many denominations which are mostly predicated on progressive justification. The argument is always, “What is the correct way for people to get from point A to point B in the salvation process?

Catholics believe man has freewill and is able to participate in the process. Protestants believe man has no role in the salvation process at all. This is why much of the Leipzig debate was about election and the freewill of man, and a lot of haggling over what Augustine taught.

Both agreed on church authority, church hierarchy as sub-mediators, and progressive justification while the contention regarded man’s role in the process.

Again pause for a moment to take note: the argument regarding man’s role was argued from the standpoint of philosophy…PERIOD! Let me boil it down to the most common denominator: Plato versus Aristotle. Note the title of Luther’s 29th thesis in the disputation:

He who wishes to philosophize by using Aristotle without danger to his soul must first become thoroughly foolish in Christ.

In her excellent series on Plato, Augustine, and Calvin during the TANC 2013 Conference, my wife Susan stated the following about Plato:

He became acquainted with Ambrose of Milan, a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church who introduced him to the books of the Platonists. While in Milan, his encounter with Platonism provided the major turning point which reoriented his thought among the basic things that were consistent till his death. Augustine himself makes it clear that it was his encounter with the books of the Platonists that made it possible for him to view both the church and its scriptural tradition—the key word there is tradition—as having an intellectually satisfying and indeed resourceful content…

Augustine is referred to as one of the great Christian Platonists. And there’s that oxymoron again. In particular, Augustine’s interpretation of Plato dominated Christian thought for the next thousand years after his death in the 5th century. In his Confessions, Augustine openly describes the help he received from the Platonists. Platonism colored the whole future thought of Augustine, and thus this gift of Plato’s writing set a current in the thought of Western Christendom. Augustine believed that Plato lifted him to a true and almost worthy knowledge of God. And early in his Christian career he declared, “I am convinced that I shall discover among the Platonists nothing repugnant to our religion.” The Platonists are therefore the only serious antagonists just because they need so slight a change to make them Christians. Augustine’s physical, logical and moral philosophy, all this learned first and most thoroughly from Plato, and many a formula of Platonic ethics have been passed down through Augustine and Christian literature…

I’m going to quote Augustine from his writing on Christian doctrine. “If those who are called philosophers, and especially the Platonists, have said aught that is true and in harmony with our faith, we are not to shrink from it. We are to claim it for our own use from those who have unlawful possession of it.” Now I want you to know that looks good on the surface. You find something true, and you claim it. But I want you to note his phrase, “harmony with our faith,” the faith in the Roman Catholic Church, not in harmony with Scripture but harmony in the faith that he found in the Roman Catholic Church.

Getting back to Luther, notice that Luther equates philosophy with the condition of one’s soul in the cited 29th theses. And let me interpret this statement for you preemptively: Aristotle must be understood through Luther’s Platonist epistemology known as “the foolishness of the cross.” As we will see as we move along in the series, in medieval theology from which the Reformation gospel is grounded, the ancient sophists clearly were the authority. Clearly so. The theologians of this time who were little more than a brood of world philosophers, then went to the Bible to make their case; the Bible was clearly interpreted through ancient philosophy.

Apparently, Catholic theologians became “corrupted” with Thomism (the integration of theology with the philosophy of Aristotle by Saint Thomas Aquinas) after being primarily of Augustinian (Platonic) persuasion since the 5th century. Thomism made serious inroads into Catholicism. Consider what was said by Pope Pious X in the 20th century:

The capital theses in the philosophy of St. Thomas are not to be placed in the category of opinions capable of being debated one way or another, but are to be considered as the foundations upon which the whole science of natural and divine things is based; if such principles are once removed or in any way impaired, it must necessarily follow that students of the sacred sciences will ultimately fail to perceive so much as the meaning of the words in which the dogmas of divine revelation are proposed by the magistracy of the Church (Pope St. Pius X, Doctoris Angelici, 29 June 1914).

It would appear that the crux of the Reformation was an Augustinian/Platonist pushback against Thomism. Actually, a more obscure part of the Heidelberg Disputation confirms that. I have studied this document for months, and always assumed there were 28 theses. These are known as the theological theses. I assumed such because every resource or commentary I ever used in my research only spoke of the theological theses.

In preparation for this series, I find that there were actually a total of 40, and the last 12 are known as the philosophical theses. As we will see, these last 12 of the 40 primarily concern Aristotle and Plato.

This clears up a lot of whispering questions that used to float around in the back of my mind. Where is the emphasis on this document in Reformed circles? This is the doctrinal statement of the Reformation six months after the 95 Theses was nailed to the church doors in Wittenberg. It is the primary demarcation between Catholicism and Protestantism. It is the very essence of contemporary “gospel-driven” living. It also explains the life application of gospel-driven living and how it is experienced. Why then, is this document not a household name in Western culture?

Because the last 12 theses would expose the Reformation for what it really was: a philosophical debate, not a biblical one. Yes, the first 28 theses have a strong Platonist flavor if you are familiar with Platonism, but there is no direct reference to it. The last 12 leave no doubt as to what the real bone of contention was in the Reformation. In fact according to William Herman Theodore Dau in The Great Renunciation: Leaves from the Story of Luther’s Life, page 75, he states the following:

On the following day Luther declared outright to the Dominican Butzer that with these theses he had meant to strike at the entire theological activity of the Thomists and Scotists (Scotism).

This gives us a picture of the Protestant tree. The roots are Plato, the trunk is Augustine, the branches are Catholicism, and the fruit is Protestantism. This is why evangelical Baptists are really just functioning Platonists to one degree or another. Examining the fruit from the top of the tree, evangelicalism is fraught with dualist lingo that finds its roots in Platonism.

For instance: “I didn’t do it! Don’t give me the glory! It was the Holy Spirit!” So, something happened, and it appears that you did it, but you really didn’t do it, it was done by someone else from the invisible realm. Well, that’s just good old fashioned dualist realm manifestation, or realm birthing. Also, that particular example finds its bases in Luther’s venial sin versus mortal sin which will be explained in parts following.

Before we move on, from the editor’s introduction which we already read:

 At the meeting, Luther put forward a “theology of the cross” as opposed to a “theology of glory.”

Luther’s theology of the cross is a Platonist worldview. It is the interpretation of all realty via redemption. All other knowledge/reality is categorized as the “theology of glory,” or worldly wisdom. This disputation explains how this works and its application to life experience. As we evaluate each thesis one by one, the full spectrum of Reformed tradition will be understood.

Before we begin with the first thesis, I have a few remarks regarding Luther’s introduction to the Augustinian order:

Brother Martin Luther, Master of Sacred Theology, will preside, and Brother Leonhard Beyer, Master of Arts and Philosophy, will defend the following theses before the Augustinians of this renowned city of Heidelberg in the customary place, on April 26th 1518.

Distrusting completely our own wisdom, according to that counsel of the Holy Spirit, »Do not rely on your own insight« (Prov. 3:5), we humbly present to the judgment of all those who wish to be here these theological paradoxes, so that it may become clear whether they have been deduced well or poorly from St. Paul, the especially chosen vessel and instrument of Christ, and also from St. Augustine, his most trustworthy interpreter.

Leonard Beyer was a correspondent at the disputation and information about him will not be visited here. What I would like to focus on is the, “Distrusting completely our own wisdom” and the verse that is even used today to make a case for the worthlessness of worldly wisdom versus wisdom from above; that is Proverbs 3:5. Note also that St. Augustine is clearly put on the same par with the apostle Paul. And lastly, note that Luther states that this document is made up of “paradoxes.” Herein is the epitome of spiritual caste systems with Augustine as chief philosopher king dictating the paradoxes to the masses.

Thesis 1: The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life, cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but rather hinders him.

This is made clear by the Apostle in his letter to the Romans (3:21): »But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law.« St. Augustine interprets this in his book ›The Spirit and the Letter‹ (De Spiritu et Littera): »Without the law, that is, without its support.« In Rom. 5:20 the Apostle states, »Law intervened, to increase the trespass«, and in Rom. 7:9 he adds, »But when the commandment came, sin revived.« For this reason he calls the law »a law of death« and »a law of sin« in Rom. 8:2. Indeed, in 2 Cor. 3:6 he says, »the written code kills«, which St. Augustine throughout his book ›The Spirit and the Letter‹ understands as applying to every law, even the holiest law of God.

The Achilles’ heel of Protestantism is the law. Here, Luther interprets Romans 3:21 as pertaining to any righteousness that might be practiced by a believer. Remember, Luther sees justification as progressive. A onetime imputation of righteousness through the new birth that makes a person righteous apart from the law is not in view here. In other words, Luther doesn’t see this as people being made righteous apart from the law, but rather makes law the standard for righteousness. In truth, the new birth is the standard for righteousness, not the law. By the way, it is tempting to cite the Calvin Institutes as a supplement here. The Calvin Institutes are an expansion of the Heidelberg Disputation. The first sentence of the Institutes is a statement that reflects the foundational premise of Luther’s Disputation.

Therefore, since the law is the standard for righteousness, it can only hinder someone trying to use it for righteous living. Luther then cites Romans 5:20 to make the case that the law only increases sin. Well, that’s true for those who are under it (see Romans 6:14). Luther makes under grace a covering for remaining under law instead of one ceasing and being replaced by the other one. Said another way, being under grace doesn’t replace being under law, under grace is only an ongoing cure for remaining under law.

But this is what Romans 3:21 is really talking about: we are made righteous apart from the law; righteousness and law are mutually exclusive in justification. As believers, we act righteously because of the new birth, not because we are law-keepers. The law doesn’t make us righteous—the new birth does.

Paul’s reference to the law increasing sin applies to those still under it. The same goes for Luther’s twisting of 2Corinthians 3:6. The law is a ministry of death for those who are still under law, but not for those under grace. The smoking gun on this is Luther’s handing of Romans 8:2 in that he only quotes half of the verse.

This is the crux of the error regarding the Reformed view of law and its single perspective. He only cites the one perspective on the law as a ministry of death only, and not the perspective where the Spirit of life uses the same law to sanctify us (John 17:17). Observe Romans 8:2 and you can see the two perspectives on the law in that verse.

Ironically, thesis 1 is all you need to totally debunk the Reformation—the theological math doesn’t add up. But, remember, all of this errant theology flows from the philosophical argument. This makes the Reformation’s sola scriptura (sol-us script-tora) a big fat lie. Clearly, Plato was the authority starting with Augustine moving forward.

Thesis 2: Much less can human works, which are done over and over again with the aid of natural precepts, so to speak, lead to that end.

Since the law of God, which is holy and unstained, true, just, etc., is given man by God as an aid beyond his natural powers to enlighten him and move him to do the good, and nevertheless the opposite takes place, namely, that he becomes more wicked, how can he, left to his own power and without such aid, be induced to do good? If a person does not do good with help from without, he will do even less by his own strength. Therefore the Apostle, in Rom. 3:10-12, calls all persons corrupt and impotent who neither understand nor seek God, for all, he says, have gone astray.

Note that the real issue here is “natural precepts.” Because this is really a Platonist document, anything man does that can be perceived with the five senses, no matter what it is, must be evil because it can be perceived. Period.

So Reformed tradition concerning law/gospel starts right here folks. You’re looking at it right now. What did Luther do with the law and its commands to mankind in light of his Platonist philosophy? Here is what he did:

He actually made the law part of the Trinity. He actually made the law God. He made the law a co-life-giver with God. Eternal life is not granted through the new birth APART from the law; the law becomes the standard and expression of eternal life.

In Robert Brinsmead’s brilliant articulation of Luther’s soteriology in the theological journal, Present Truth, he explains it this way:

The Holy Spirit gives the sinner faith to accept the righteousness of Jesus. Standing now before the law which says, “I demand a life of perfect conformity to the commandments,” the believing sinner cries in triumph, “Mine are Christ’s living, doing, and speaking, His suffering and dying; mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, and suffered, and died as He did . . . ” (Luther). The law is well pleased with Jesus’ doing and dying, which the sinner brings in the hand of faith. Justice is fully satisfied, and God can truly say: “This man has fulfilled the law. He is justified.”

And…

We say again, Only those are justified who bring to God a life of perfect obedience to the law of God. This is what faith does—it brings to God the obedience of Jesus Christ. By faith the law is fulfilled and the sinner is justified.

So basically, what you have is Jesus not only coming to die for our sins, but to fulfill the law so that his obedience can be imputed to us in order to satisfy the law because we can’t keep the law perfectly. But that’s not why we are righteous—we are righteous because our minds are renewed by the Spirit and we are born of God’s seed. This results in a different direction, not perfection. The dynamic is found in Romans 6:20: those under law are enslaved to sin, but free to do good. Those under grace are enslaved to righteousness, but unfortunately free to sin. It’s a reversal of enslavement and freedom resulting in a different direction. The will of man is both enslaved and free. Of course, Luther contended that man’s will is in total bondage to sin.

At any rate, what you have here is also the very cradle of what the Reformed call, “double imputation,” a doctrine lauded by the Reformed in this day. Again, let me remind you, this is the very first theological theses of the Protestant Reformation, and all of the major tenets lauded by the Reformed in our day find there beginnings in this document. Also remember, these tenets necessarily flow from Luther’s Platonist worldview.

And this is why in our day you hear conservative evangelical Baptists say things like, “We have the righteousness of Christ,” “The resurrection was proof that God was pleased with Christ’s obedience,” “When God looks at us He only sees Christ,” etc., etc., etc. This is why the Baptist stripe of Protestants, and for that matter all others as well, are little more than functioning Platonists.

The fulfilment of the law for the implementation of eternal life is just a steroidal antithesis to Pauline soteriology even though Luther claims in the introduction that this disputation is based on Pauline theology. This was Paul’s whole point in Galatians chapter 3, the law cannot give life for justification.

In this particular thesis, Luther states that man is given the word as an “aid” that does NOT enlighten him, or enable him to do good. So how does it aid him? That was covered in thesis 1; it is an aid to show man how wicked he is whether saved or unregenerate. Luther then twists Romans 3:10-12 to make the point.

But again, we have an example of something we will see throughout this disputation and often in our day: the citing of verses that pertain to presalvation/justification applied to post salvation existence, or if you will, sanctification. Paul is simply citing Psalms 13:1-3 to make the point that unregenerate Jews are no better off than unregenerate Gentiles and both need Christ just as much as one does or the other.

So, someone might say, “But Paul, doesn’t that passage say that no man seeks God?” Sure it does, so what? The nature of fallen man, as exhibited by Adam and Eve, is to do what? Hide. For certain, when Adam and Eve sinned, they didn’t immediately go looking for God and say, “We messed up, how can we fix this?” No, God had to seek them out, they didn’t seek God, but once God cornered them with the truth, did they or any person after them possess an inherent inability to respond in the positive? I doubt it. Again, we see God seeking out Cain in the same way after he slew Abel.

That’s what evangelism is all about even in our day. The Spirit and we seek men out on God’s behalf. The Spirit convicts men of sin and the judgement to come, and we do the same. We have our life testimony, the word of God, the conviction of conscience either excusing or accusing men according to the works of the law written on their hearts, and the work of the Holy Spirit. They already have the works of the law written on their hearts administered by the conscience; it is our job to set that on fire with more specific revelation.

What God did in the Garden in regard to seeking out Adam and Eve is our job, that’s our duty. That’s part of what makes us like our Father.

Well, we have done pretty well tonight. We have completed the introduction and evaluated the first two theses. Let’s go to the phones.

Free-Writing Notes: “The Church’s War Against the Holy Spirit”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 25, 2014

Against Church Cover    “Church” is a word that should be associated with institution and NOT body. Much will be said in this book about the need for a body to be organized, but much will also be said about authority and attempts to invoke life from a so-called body via a spiritual caste system. Though many will find the title of this chapter shocking and absurd, the institutional church’s war against the Holy Spirit is well-defined. If Christ’s called out assembly is a body of Spirit indwelled members, and it is, that could pose significant problems for a top-down institutional authority, and it does.

    We will begin where chapter three ended with the rise of the Catholic institutional church that waged all-out war on home fellowships through academic intimidation. Finally, after a nearly 300 year effort, the church at Rome married with the state in order to enforce its orthodoxy upon the masses. Constantine The Great (AD 272-AD 337), the first Roman emperor converted to “Christianity,” consummated the marriage and his rule began the epoch of force and faith in Western culture.

    Constantine was the consummate double-minded man, and like the bishops of Rome, integrated paganism with Christianity. What Victor could only verbalize at the first church counsel in AD 193, Constantine made law in the first ecumenical church council (First Council of Nicaea AD 325); that is, the recognition of Passover versus Easter. The reason this is key follows:

“This marked a definite break of Christianity from the Judaic tradition. From then on the Roman Julian Calendar, a solar calendar, was given precedence over the lunar Hebrew Calendar among the Christian churches of the Roman Empire” (Wikipedia: Constantine The Great…citing, Life of Constantine Vol. III Ch. XVIII by Eusebius).

    The adoption of “church” nomenclature, as we shall see, was also very deliberate in marking that departure, but for purposes of this book, we would be errant to focus primarily on anti-Semitism; a major problem was the Jewish focus on body versus institution. Like all nations – and of course the Jews were and are a nation – institutions are relevant and needed, but religiously, the Jews always functioned as a body with heavy focus on the individual. A person is normally concerned with their own body parts in equal measure. If Christians are members (as in body parts) of one body, and they are, there should be equal concern and care for each member. This is much different than institutional membership. What the world needs are more functioning body members versus church member-ship. The teachings of Jesus, as well as Jewish traditions, are saturated with a focus on the individual life. When we think of Jewish worship, our minds, unfortunately, gravitate towards the formality of temple worship, but the temple was only a focal point of a broader interpersonal sharing of the faith.

    The best example of this is the tabernacle during the exodus. Obviously, the small dwelling was not a central meeting place for millions of Jews who were part of the exodus. Even then, there were elders who led small groups among the people in the learning of the word, prayer, and fellowship. Seventy of these elders were summoned to meet with God on Mt. Sinai with Moses (Exodus 24:1,9). As we know, the temple was not always available for the Jews, and was never the central place of fellowship around the learning of the word, or discipleship, but rather a place of ritual sacrifice. Historically, that was always the norm. Even when the temple existed, the Passover meal was experienced in private homes (Matthew 26:14,15). This is also indicative of the 1st century home fellowships that met together for discipleship and mutual edification. There was fellowship around a meal, a teaching and sharing from the word of God, and singing of hymns.

    There are many reasons for anti-Semitism, but one of Judaism’s foremost threats is against spiritual caste systems that have always dominated world history. Judaism emphasizes the authority of God’s word, and the ability of the individual to understand it:

Deuteronomy 29:29 – “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Deuteronomy 30:11 – “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

Herein is a major distinction between individualism and collectivism.[9] In collectivism, there is in fact an hierarchy that must “ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it… go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it.” The word, or truth, is not near to the individual, it must be brought to bear by others who are “specially gifted” to understand. Historians believe there were about 400 synagogues in Jerusalem alone during the ministry of Christ.[10] These were mostly small groups meeting in private homes. These groups were focused primarily on the reading and study of God’s word.

    This is where we begin to examine four ways in which the institutional church of Rome began to wage war on the Holy Spirit. Primarily, the newly appointed religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine sought to remove the private interpretation of the Bible from the common people. Let us remember, the word is the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph 6:17) and what the Spirit uses to sanctify (John 17:17).

    At that time, New Testament Scriptures were a far less problem than Old Testament Scriptures which were painstakingly preserved and canonized by the Jews. The Old Testament Hebrew had also been translated into Greek (the Septuagint) circa 250 BC. Greek and Latin were the most common languages during the Roman era, but Latin was the language of bureaucracy, law, and the military.

   This is when two primary theologians of the Roman church emerge and seek to demonize the people of God making a strong distinction between the Jews and Christianity. Remember, one of the primary objectives of the Holy Spirit was to make Jew and Gentile ONE body in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:11-22). This is/was one of the primary objectives of the Holy Spirt. The church’s two foundational theologians in its 4th century infancy were St. Augustine of Hippo, and St. Jerome. Both were Saints and Doctors of the Roman Catholic Church. And…

“Church Fathers like St John Chrysostom, St Ambrose, St Jerome and St Augustine (second only to St Paul as a Christian authority for the Western world) had by the end of the fourth century AD crysallised a demonic image of the Jew who combined superhuman malevolence with total spiritual blindness…The monkish, ascetic St Jerome, embittered by the spectacle of successful missionizing in Antioch by the large Jewish population, denounced the synagogue in theses terms: ‘If you call it a brothel, a den of vice, the Devil’s refuge, Satan’s fortress, a place to deprave the soul…you are still saying less than it deserves’” (Robert S. Wistrich: Anti-Semitism|The Longest Hatred; Pantheon Books 1992, p. 17 ).

“This theology is for the first time institutionalized in the fourth century AD, when Christianity becomes the official religion of the Roman Empire” (Ibid p. 19).

    To divide Jews from the body is an audacious throwing down of the gauntlet against the Holy Spirit. But Jerome and company were far from going to war with the Holy Spirit on that front alone. Jerome set out to translate the Bible in the bureaucratic language of the empire and make it inaccessible to the laity and common people via the Latin Vulgate. Eventually, Rome made it against the law to translate the Bible or even teach from it unless accredited by the Church upon pain of death. This was Rome’s mandate for about 1000 years:

Decree of the Council of Toulouse (1229 C.E.): “We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.”

Ruling of the Council of Tarragona of 1234 C.E.: “No one may possess the books of the Old and New Testaments in the Romance language, and if anyone possesses them he must turn them over to the local bishop within eight days after promulgation of this decree, so that they may be burned…”

Proclamations at the Ecumenical Council of Constance in 1415 C.E.: Oxford professor, and theologian John Wycliffe, was the first (1380 C.E.) to translate the New Testament into English to “…helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ’s sentence.” For this “heresy” Wycliffe was posthumously condemned by Arundel, the archbishop of Canterbury. By the Council’s decree “Wycliffe’s bones were exhumed and publicly burned and the ashes were thrown into the Swift River.”

Fate of William Tyndale in 1536 C.E.: William Tyndale was burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English. According to Tyndale, the Church forbid owning or reading the Bible to control and restrict the teachings and to enhance their own power and importance.

~ Source:  Huffington Post .com: Why Christians Were Denied Access to Their Bible for 1,000 Years; Bernard Starr, Ph.D. 5/20/2013.

    The Church also took it upon themselves to establish the formal canon of the New Testament which was only in the form of letters written by the apostles and others. There were many copies of these letters circulated among the laity and commonly accepted as Scripture:

2 Peter 3:15 – And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

Colossians 4:15 – Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”

1Corinthians 14:37 – If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.

Therefore, the idea that there was no agreed upon collective Scripture for New Testament era believers is unfounded, and the body of Christ hardly needed Gnostic academics to tell them what was inspired and not inspired. Nevertheless…

The Council of Nicaea called by the Emperor Constantine met in 325 C.E. to establish a unified Catholic Church. At that point no universally sanctioned Scriptures or Christian Bible existed. Various churches and officials adopted different texts and gospels. That’s why the Council of Hippo sanctioned 27 books for the New Testament in 393 C.E. Four years later the Council of Cartage confirmed the same 27 books as the authoritative Scriptures of the Church.

~ Source:  Huffington Post .com: Why Christians Were Denied Access to Their Bible for 1,000 Years; Bernard Starr, Ph.D. 5/20/2013.

And…

In 382, Pope Damascus therefore commissioned Jerome (c. 347-420) to translate the Bible into Latin, a task which took him twenty years to complete. This Bible came to be known as the versio vulgata (common translation) and became standard for the Western Church.

~ Source: gbgm-umc.org: Three Early Biblical Translations.

    Attempting to obstruct the Spirit’s work in baptizing the Jews and Gentiles into one body, and confiscating the sword of the Spirit from the laity was manifested in a third way. In translating the Bible into English from the Septuagint (LXX), and for the most part not the original Hebrew, the English translators substituted the word “assembly” for “church.” The Greek word for assembly is “ekklesia” as translated from the Hebrew word for assembly,  kahal, or edah.

    This is a very significant fact in the transition period that produced another version of the institutional Catholic Church, Protestantism. These are merely two sides of the same institutional church that waged the exact same war against the Holy Spirit and continues to do so in our day. As aforementioned, it was against the law to translate the Scriptures without the permission of the Catholic Church, but this happened anyway because of the “Lollard movement, a pre-Reformation movement that rejected many of the distinctive teachings of the Roman Catholic Church” (closed quotation from Wikipedia).

In the early Middle Ages, most Western Christian people encountered the Bible only in the form of oral versions of scriptures, verses and homilies in Latin (other sources were mystery plays, usually conducted in the vernacular, and popular iconography). Though relatively few people could read at this time, Wycliffe’s idea was to translate the Bible into the vernacular, saying “it helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ’s sentence”.

~ Source: En Wikipedia .org: Wycliffe’s Bible.

Although unauthorized, the work was popular. Wycliffite Bible texts are the most common manuscript literature in Middle English. More than 250 manuscripts of the Wycliffite Bible survive.

The association between Wycliffe’s Bible and Lollardy caused the kingdom of England and the established Catholic Church in England to undertake a drastic campaign to suppress it.

~ Source: Ibid.

    However, by no means did the Protestant Reformation abandon the core fundamentals of the institutional Church’s war against the Holy Spirit which was a devotion to the separation of Judaism from the body of Christ, and academic authority in regard to private interpretation of the Scriptures. Though the Protestants presented themselves as commendable for the distribution of Bible translations to the common people, they never believed the laity could interpret it for themselves, nor did they ever state such. To the contrary,

“The Protestant Reformers in leaving Rome did not leave all Romanism behind them. In particular, they brought with them the prosecuting principles of Rome, and worked them freely and vigorously in support of the Reformed faith. They changed the Pope but not the popedom… Persecution is the deadly sin of the Reformed churches, that which cools every honest man’s zeal for their cause, in proportion as his reading becomes more extensive—Hallam… Rightfully and nobly did the Protestant Reformers claim religious liberty for themselves; but they resolutely refused to concede it to others” (William Marshall’s The Principles of the Westminster Standards Persecuting (William Marshall, D.D., Coupar – Angus. Edinburgh: William Oliphant & Co. 1873).

    The English translators did something in the English translation of the Bible that Rome did not even do in the Latin Vulgate. They translated “assembly” as “church” which had no validity whatsoever. The Greek word for assembly and the Greek word for church are two entirely different Greek words with completely different meanings. The Hebrew words for assembly and the Greek word for assembly allowed for a connection between the Judaism of the Old Testament and the Christianity of the New. The word “church” puts forth the idea of a completely different program and plan of some sort. In the like institutional core fundamentals, the Catholics kept the Bible from the laity, while the Protestants skinned the cat a different way by taking liberty with translation. Tyndale was much more virtuous on this wise, translating assembly as “congregation,” but unfortunately was executed by the Catholics for the effort.

    We will make this point here, but will revisit this issue in a later chapter because the rendering of “assembly,” “synagogue,” and “church” in Protestant translations of the Bible present an egregious distorted dichotomy in regard to the Jewishness of God’s overall plan for the ages. It is best to delve into this while discussing the fact that the 1st century home fellowships were merely a continuation of the Jewish synagogue, and that word seems to suggest some sort of institution, or temple-like mini-institution.

    To the contrary, some sort of substructure or mini temple version would have been a blasphemous notion to the Jews. Furthermore, for the most part historically, the Jews have had little choice to do anything other than worship in the privacy of their own homes.  Moreover, synagogues were of the laity and far removed from any priestly authority whatsoever. The intended model for Christian fellowship and assembly has never changed since the exodus and before. It is a body and ground-level family unhindered by the musings of bureaucratic control. It is not a machine controlled by men, it is a body that lives and grows.

    The Protestants never sought to separate from the Catholic Church and indeed they did not. It was a protest, not a revolution by any stretch of the imagination. Institutional accreditation was vital to the Protestants, and critical to their credibility. This means they NEVER left the Catholic Church. Protestants retained solidarity with the Doctors of the Catholic Church for this reason, particularly St. Augustine. The most prominent fathers of the Reformation, Luther and Calvin, were avowed Augustinians till the day they died. No citations will be noted here due to the immense common knowledge of it. Contemporary Reformers constantly strive to outdo each other in quoting Augustine at every opportunity, but God’s people are completely unmiffed by the exaltation of this serial anti-Semite Platonist. Why?  Because what happens under the roof of an institutional church is mostly inconsequential; it is the depot that punches your ticket to heaven.

    There are four primary ways that the institutional church wages war against the Holy Spirit, and this is a joint effort that includes Catholic and Protestant alike. We have examined three of them, but the fourth is what separates the Catholic from the Protestant. This war is not as absurd as it sounds, for the permanent indwelling of the Spirit suggests ability on the part of the individual. Both sides endorse the incompetence of the individual and need for enlightened mediators between the great unwashed masses and God; in other words, an efficacious caste system.

    This fourth war strategy involves the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the new birth. The Catholic Church acknowledges the indwelling of the Spirit and the new birth, but insists that this only enables the salvation candidate to cooperate in the finishing of the salvation process; primarily by faithfulness to the Mother Church. As we discussed in the first two chapters, Rome is not shy or ambiguous about this idea. Yes, Catholicism and Protestantism alike hold to an unfinished progressive justification. Again, this was addressed in some detail in chapters one and two.

    Protestants deny the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the new birth all together. Let’s think about this: if the Holy Spirit permanently indwells the believer, salvation MUST be FINISHED, there is simply no way around that. A permanent indwelling of the Spirit makes a progressive salvation dependent on the church completely unnecessary.

    So, what are the specific differences in this fourth aberration of the Spirit’s work, and what are the specific differences in their progressive justification constructs? In addition, how does authentic Protestantism explain away the new birth, and how is the new birth redefined by them?

    In the next chapter, these questions are answered in detail.

Endnotes:

9. Collectivism defines the worth of an individual by their ability to contribute to the common good. That adds up to the “collective good” which determines the overall wellbeing of a society.

10. Talmud: Bavli Ketubot 100a; there were 394 synagogues in Jerusalem. Yerushalmi (Ketubot 8:1); there were 460 synagogues in Jerusalem. Yerushalmi (Megillah 3:1); in Jerusalem, there were 480 synagogues.

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