Paul's Passing Thoughts

Rick Holland’s “Uneclipsing The Son,” Part 1: John MacArthur Comes Completely Out of the Closet

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 21, 2017

Originally published July 7, 2011

July 6, 2011 is a day that will live in infamy for the rest of my life. I’m not kidding. My copy of  “Uneclipsing The Son” by Rick Holland arrived two days ago and was on my desk. Susan came and sat in a chair by my desk, observed the book, picked it up, and started reading to me the forward written by John MacArthur Jr. My worst fears were realized. MacArthur’s forward to the book is a clear, concise, mini-treatise that promotes Gospel Sanctification in no uncertain terms. He is now totally out of the closet. As the name, “Gospel Sanctification” indicates, we are supposedly sanctified by the same gospel that saved us. In other words, our spiritual growth flows from a contemplation on Christ’s personhood (whatever that means exactly) and His works. Therefore, the sole purpose of the Scriptures is to gain a deeper and deeper knowledge of Christ and His works with everything else in Scripture being a mere picture or description of what Christ has fulfilled for us. One might say that it is a hyper-Calvinistic view of monergism in justification that is also projected onto sanctification. So, if one carries the doctrine to its logical conclusion, the primary, if not sole duty in the Christian life is meditating on Christ and His works which results in the Holy Spirit elevating us to higher and higher levels of sanctification. In fact, MacArthur all but writes exactly that in the forward to Holland’s book.

First, Some Historical Background

This is not the first time in church history that contemplative spirituality using the gospel as the object has been propagated. However, what makes Gospel Sanctification unique is its unified systematic theology. Gospel Sanctification has a theory regarding a favorable method of interpreting the Scriptures, a supposed practical application, an explanation of how it is experienced emotionally, its own eschatology, and a covenant theology. More than likely, Gospel Sanctification as we know it today was conceived by Robert Brinsmead and his Australian Forum project. The clear mandate of that project was to systematize a theology that was gospel-centered sanctification. One of the concepts created by the project was the centrality of the objective gospel. It went so far as to indicate that all reality is interpreted through the gospel (objective), and anything given more priority than the gospel (subjective) was to “eclipse the Son.” The Forum’s writings are saturated with descriptions of various woes that come from “eclipsing” Christ and the gospel. Robert Brinsmead worked closely with Jon Zens (the father of New Covenant Theology) in developing the same kind of theology for a supposed biblical view of law/gospel or “New Testament ethics.” The result was New Covenant Theology and Zens tried to propagate the Theology in Reformed Baptist circles. It was met with fierce resistance, and the movement was relegated to a meager group presently known as the Continental Baptist.

However, the idea found new life through another venue where Forum doctrines were being tossed around via the fact that Zens was a student there, and Michael Horton was greatly influenced by Forum ideas—Westminster Seminary. Primarily, a professor of theology there named Jack Miller took the same ideas and formulated a doctrine known as Sonship Theology. Again, the movement was met with fierce opposition, this time in Presbyterian circles. The Sonship label was then dropped and replaced with “gospel,” ie., gospel-centered this, and gospel-driven that. This led Baptist and Presbyterian protestors to believe that the movement was all but dead for the past ten years. But really, the movement was growing covertly under the guise of the gospel nomenclature, and has recently emerged as New Calvinism—a  gargantuan movement including church networks, missionary alliances, cooperative training conferences, and “biblical” counseling organizations. The doctrine is overrunning the contemporary church like a giant tsunami and its proponents claim that it is a second Reformation.

In fact, I would probably be conceding myself, thinking, “Everyone else, and now MacArthur? It must be me—I’m missing something on this,” if not for a few souls like Walter Chantry and Dr. Jay Adams. In 1999, Adams published a book to refute Sonship Theology in the same way that Walter Chantry published a book in 1980 to refute Jon Zens’ views (and essentially that of the Forum as well). One year later  Zens coined the phrase, “New Covenant Theology.” One of many obvious connections that can be seen in all of this is the fact that two major players in the New Calvinist movement, Tim Keller and David Powlison, were disciples of Jack Miller who coined the phrase: “We must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday” which is an often-heard mantra within the movement. Another connection is the popularity of “The Goldsworthy Trilogy (Gospel and Kingdom; Gospel and Wisdom; The Gospel in Revelation)” within the New Calvinist movement—written by Graeme Goldsworthy who was one of three major participants in the Australian Forum project along with Geoffrey Paxton and Robert Brinsmead. This speaks to the likeminded beliefs regarding the gospel shared by the Forum and New Calvinist. I strongly suspect Holland’s book will bear more of the same.

On the back cover of Holland’s book, we read this statement in bold print: “Christ, The Son Of God, Has Been Eclipsed, And We’ve Made Ourselves At Home In This New Normal.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Since the 1950’s the church has been inundated with a hyper-grace mentality. This first gospel wave with a lack of emphasis on discipleship paved the way for Gospel Sanctification. Jay Adams started the true contemporary Reformation in 1970 with his book, “Competent to Counsel” which had a very strong emphasis on discipleship and true biblical counseling.  Adams often comments that during that time as he traveled about and spoke, Christians seemed to be surprised that they could actually “do something in their walk with God.” The “normal” in Christianity today is a profound ignorance regarding the sufficiency of Scripture and how to apply it to life in our walk with God. Christ hasn’t been eclipsed—we think He does it all for us. What has been eclipsed is what Jesus says—not who He is. Furthermore, Adams has suffered some significant persecution for his attempt to emphasize doing in the Christian life, especially from the New Calvinist counseling culture and David Powlison who was offended by the book Adams wrote to refute Sonship Theology. New Calvinist like Powlison describe the real contemporary Reformation via Adams (in regard to being used by God) as the “first generation of biblical counseling” in the same way that Luther’s Reformation was first generation. But now, the New Calvinist counseling culture is supposedly part of the second Reformation through the discovery of Gospel Sanctification. Of course, the notion is preposterous and takes arrogance to a new level that has never before been seen.

John MacArthur’s Coming Out

MacArthur’s  forward is fraught with blatant error and contemplative spirituality in the form of Gospel Sanctification. MacArthur begins his forward with the following:

“As Christians we have one message to declare: ‘Jesus Christ, and Him crucified’( I Corinthians 2:2). ‘For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake’ ( 2 Corinthians 4:5; cf. I Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 6:14).”

Gospel Sanctification follows the way of many other false doctrines throughout church history; specifically, the eclipsing of other members of the Trinity by overemphasizing one over the others. Jehovah’s Witnesses overemphasize the Father. Charismatics  overemphasize the Holy Spirit, etc. Christ Himself, in His mandate to the church, said to baptize in the name of all Three. The Father elects; the Son  atones, and the Spirit sanctifies—but we are to only preach Christ? Christ’s emphasis on the Father in regard to salvation saturates the Gospels, especially in the book of John:

 John 6:44
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:65
He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

Christ instructed us to pray to the Father, and according to the apostle Paul:

“Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all” (1Cor. 15:27,28).

MacArthur continues:

“Rick Holland understands that truth.  This book is an insightful, convicting reminder that no one and nothing other than Christ deserves to be the central theme of the tidings we as Christians proclaim—not only to one another and to the world, but also in the private meditations of our own hearts.”

No one, or no thing, “deserves” to be the central theme of our private devotions? This follows the Gospel Sanctification tenet that we shouldn’t seek to be instructed from the Scriptures (ie., seeking to know how to love our wives in a way that pleases God, etc). If we meditate on Christ and His works (the gospel), all that Christ commands will happen naturally. Supposedly.  I can only assume NO one and NO thing means exactly what the sentence states. But again, it begs the question: “He doesn’t mean to exclude God from that statement, right? Also note the GS teaching that our message is the same for justification AND sanctification: “….nothing other than Christ deserves to be the central theme of the tidings we as Christians proclaim—not only to one another and to the world, but also in the private meditations of our own hearts.”

MacArthur:

“Christ is the perfect image of God (Hebrews 1); the theme of Scripture (Luke 24); the author of salvation (Hebrews 12:2); the one proper object of saving faith (Romans 10:9-10); and the goal of our sanctification (Romans 8:2).  No wonder Scripture describes the amazing growth-strategy of the early church in these terms:  “They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42).  That is the only blueprint for church ministry that has any sanction from Scripture.”

Not exactly. The early church also went about preaching “the good news of the kingdom of God”:

Acts 1:3
After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

And what did that teaching by Christ also entail?:

Acts 1:6
So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

And….:

Acts 14:22
strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.

Acts 19:8
Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.

Acts 20:25
“Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.

Also, in other passages, Christ, and the kingdom of God seem to be separate subjects within the gospel:

Acts 8:12
But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Acts 28:23
They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

Acts 28:31
Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Obviously, to the first-century church, “the gospel” included the whole picture of the Trinities saving work.

MacArthur:

“The pastor who makes anything or anyone other than Christ the focus of his message is actually hindering the sanctification of the flock.  Second Corinthians 3:18 describes in simple terms how God conforms us to the image of His Son: ‘And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another’ (emphasis added).  We don’t ‘see’ Christ literally and physically, of course (I Peter 1:8). But His glory is on full display in the Word of God, and it is every minister’s duty to make that glory known above all other subjects.”

To this point in the forward in Holland’s book, MacArthur is using all of the proof texts typically used by Gospel Sanctification proponents. But in regard to 2Cor. 3:18, the correlation between gazing or “beholding the glory of the Lord” and spiritual growth has no direct correlation to being the only facilitator thereof. Such a direct cause and effect correlation is assumed. Besides, Macarthur is being disingenuous by quoting the ESV here because all other translations include the word “glass” or “mirror” with difficulty in ascertaining whether we are looking at Christ’s glory in a mirror, or “reflecting” His glory as in a mirror. Either way, mirrors of that day were polished metal and did not have the perfect reflection like modern mirrors made of class. This creates difficulty for those who want to use this text to show that our primary  duty is to gaze on Christ’s glory rather than an understanding of what He’s teaching for the purpose of obedience. However, MacArthur continues to expound on this point with his paramount coming out of the closet statement in the following excerpt:

“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.”

In these last two excerpts mentioned, we see MacArthur aping the GS belief that all of Scripture is about Christ and Christ must be seen in every passage. As Jay Adams aptly points out, several books in the Bible do not have Christ as their central theme and plainly say so; for instance, Jude initially intended to write about our common salvation, but instead was led to write an exhortation to contend for pure doctrine. In this statement, MacArthur continues to use 2Cor. 3:18 to make the following point: “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.” How do you look “clearly”; “enduringly,” and  “deeply” by “see[ing] through a glass, darkly” (1Cor. 13:12)  which  depicts the mirrors of those days? Christ’s instruction on how we become a house that will withstand the storms of life is plainly stated in Matthew 7:24-27, we hear His words and put those words into practice.

In classic Gospel Sanctification form, MacArthur also implements the either / or  hermeneutic in this statement: “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.” Here we go again with this serving Christ by our own efforts stuff ( when Peter said, “Make every effort to add to your faith…., “ who’s effort was he talking about?!). If we are to exert effort in the sanctification process, which I’m sure MacArthur would concede, how would we know if it is our own effort or that of the Holy Spirit? And why can’t it be both? Why does it have to be either all of us or all of the Spirit? GS advocates have to create a whole theology just to deal with that question, and it’s called Christian Hedonism which is John Piper’s contribution to the movement. This is the road now traveled by MacArthur: unlike his preaching of the past, but like other Gospel Sanctification advocates, his preaching will now raise more questions than are answered; like, “what do you mean when you say that real servitude to Christ will have nothing to do with my own desires? If I am a new creature—are my desires not changed?” Depending on how far MacArthur decides to go with all of this—the answer would be “no” because GS doctrine holds t a total depravity of the saints. The logical conclusion is that Christ does it all for us as a result of contemplating the gospel. In order to say that without saying it, GS proponents have to work hard (presumably in their own efforts) to make it all fit together.

MacArthur:

“After more than four decades of pastoral ministry, I am still constantly amazed at the power of Christ-centered preaching.  It’s the reason I love preaching in the gospels. But I discovered long ago that the glory of Christ dominates Romans, Galatians, Colossians, Hebrews, Revelation—and the rest of Scripture as well. Focusing on that theme has led my own soul and our congregation to a fuller, richer knowledge of Christ—loving Him, worshipping Him, serving Him and yearning for the day when we shall be like Him, having seen Him in His glory (I John 3:2).

Our prayer is that of Paul: ‘that I may know Him!’ (Philippians 3:10). The apostle knew Him well as Savior and Lord (having been privileged to be the last person ever to see the resurrected Christ face to face, according to I Corinthians 15:8)—but never could Paul plumb the rich,  sweet depths of the glories of Christ, the inexhaustible, infinite Treasure.”

I am unmoved by MacArthur’s self-delusions and his musings concerning the ever-morphing neo-Calvinist novelties of our day. Peter said that though he and others witnessed the miracles of that age—the testimony of Scripture is more sure, and Gospel Sanctification does not align with the plain sense of Holy writ.

MacArthur:

“Far from allowing Christ to be eclipsed—even partially—by any other object or affection, every believer should pursue with relentless zeal the ‘full knowledge of the glory of God’ provided by a fervent concentration ‘on the face of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 4:6).”

In context, 2Cor. 4:6 refers to those who don’t recognize Christ as Savior in comparison to those who do, and does not prescribe John Piper’s “beholding as a way of becoming.” Christ’s prescription for loving Him is plain in John 14:15,16; we are to obey what he commands with the HELP of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit HELPS us—He doesn’t obey for us by replacing our “own” efforts with something else as a result of contemplation on nebulous concepts concerning the personhood of Christ. Such nonsense has led to all kinds of mystic speculations by New Calvinist; such as, the supposed truth that Christ experienced a suffering in darkness while in Mary’s womb as part of the atonement. Soon, MacArthur will be espousing such speculation from the pulpit if he doesn’t repent and return to orthodoxy. Also, note that he says that we don’t even want to eclipse Christ “partially.” This is like the Forum’s centrality of the objective gospel which led them to relegate the new birth to a position of insignificance because it involves a focus on us (subjective), and away from Christ / gospel (objective), and therefore “eclipses Christ.” And unlike the MacArthur of the past, we just have more questions to ask: “How do we partially eclipse Christ? So, other than Christ, what can we talk about? And will it partially eclipse Christ or not?”

In all of this, one should consider what the focus of Peter’s message was to the church when he knew his time of departure was near (2Peter. Ch.1). He plainly said that there was one thing that he wanted them to remember so that their calling and election would be sure. He said he wanted to constantly put them in remembrance of this theme so they wouldn’t forget after he was gone. What was that message? As glorious as it is, was it a laser focus on the personhood of Christ to the exclusion of all else? No, it was a focus on the saints “making every effort” to add certain things to their faith. If  contemplation on the personhood of Christ is singularly paramount to spiritual growth, how could Peter possibly say what he did?

This is certain: The apostle Paul said that even if he or an angel  came preaching another gospel—reject it, and trust me, MacArthur is no apostle Paul,  and I will not follow Gospel Sanctification—even if I am the last person on earth not to do so.

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

Love Does Not Enable Evil; A Clarification and Follow-up

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 30, 2016

ppt-jpeg41As I have said before and will continue to say, professing Christians in our culture know very little about the Bible. By the way, I include myself in that assessment. After partaking in independent study for nearly ten years this ministry has discovered some basics about biblical truth that I believe are good building blocks, but for the most part, God’s family in our culture remains biblically illiterate or maybe better stated; we suffer from serious wisdom deprivation.

There are a lot of questions concerning the deep waters of Christian living that remain undiscovered and unlearned, and the only way learning will take place is faith to faith; when God’s family collectively studies the word in order to show themselves approved of God. What others say the Bible says must be confirmed by our own hearts indwelled by the Spirit who will lead us in all truth if that’s what we are really after.

So, of late, here come the accusations from posts I have written like this one: “Dohse is an antinomian.” “Dohse believes you always turn the other cheek even if your spouse hired a professional hitman to take you out.” “Dohse believes that you never file for divorce under any circumstance,” etc., etc., etc.

No, what I am saying is spouses, according to the apostle Paul, are called to peace and not suffering. That’s first. Second, spouses need to “dwell” on love, not sin. In the Bible, the “mature” (often translated, “perfect”) focus on love—not the law’s condemnation. Do you want to get rid of sin in your life? Start loving more; you can’t love and sin at the same time unless you’re a Calvinist.

In contrast, if your focus is sin and seeing the “sin beneath the sin” as a way to return to the same gospel that saved you resulting in Jesus imputing His own perfect law-keeping to your life, your own active love will obviously diminish more and more. What does such a gospel make a marriage look like? See, “Protestant.” Other than a very large percentage of Protestant marriages that are bastions of misery, we have…

“Hey honey! I just got back from being counseled by Heath Lambert and I have very good news! We both suck! We are just two unregenerate sinners living together and shouldn’t expect anything from each other except the exaltation of Christ and Him crucified! How dare I expect to be loved by you when I only deserve hell! How dare you expect to be loved by me! It’s not about anything we do, but what Jesus has done! After all, are we the gospel or is Jesus the gospel?”

In other words, “good” Protestant marriages rejoice in evil which the apostle Paul said was the antithesis of love.

Can bad Protestant marriages be fixed? Yes, when the spouse who gets it assumes the role of adult in the marriage. I mean, let’s think about this. If your spouse believes he/she can do no good work, and all of their works are as filthy rags, you have a serious marriage problem. Treating you poorly is just another grand opportunity to repent and return to the cross resulting in “vivification.” At the very least this attitude towards the law is what Jesus condemned as “relaxing” the least of all commandments. This is what Jesus accused the Pharisees of specifically; having a relaxed attitude towards using the law to love God and others.

eec5c9fa7c36e18aa5f7da878d739c1bSo, does sin cause repentance or does love cause repentance? According to Calvinists, it’s not about us, yet our sin supposedly magnifies the cross and brings glory to Christ. Clearly, throughout the Bible, it is our love that glorifies the Father, not our sin. It seems to me that Protestantism boasts the exact same error that Christ condemns throughout the Sermon on the Mount specifically and the New Testament in general.

Hence, the loving spouse does not facilitate this kind of evil error. The adult spouse who is maturing in love must refuse to be defined as unregenerate and unable to please the Father. If the Protestant spouse pushes the issue in an accusatory way resulting in such things as church discipline and other forms of persecution, the mature spouse should at least separate until the errant spouse grows up.

Simply stated, there is no hope for change unless the mature spouse refuses to facilitate this false gospel or accept it in any way. Bringing a spouse up on church discipline with the cooperation of the other spouse (over a false gospel to begin with), declaring them an unbeliever, and calling for the shunning of a spouse is tantamount to divorce. In my book, the unbelieving spouse has already divorced the believing spouse. The believing spouse should leave until the unbelieving spouse either repents or files for legal divorce. In such cases, the believing spouse is not obligated to stay in the marriage.

If the situation falls short of this, the believing spouse should model the true gospel of love before the Protestant spouse. Refuse to capitulate to a false gospel that seeks to glorify the Father through sin rather than love. This is how the world knows that we are His true disciples; we love each other, we don’t look for sin under the sin and we don’t repent of good works.

Granted, there is much hard study to be done in recognizing the many-faceted ways that this truth should be applied, so let’s get busy.

paul

 

 

The Unborn Charge Us From Heaven: It’s Not About Remembering; It’s About Honoring Life

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 1, 2016

ppt-jpeg4As a former Reformed pastor, viz, a Protestant, viz, a Calvinist, viz, a Lutheran, viz, an Augustinian, and all other roots of the poisonous tree that make up the Institutional church, I had no comfort for those who suffered the loss of their unborn and infants. I usually let the more expert pastors speak in those situations; you know, the ones with the seminary degrees.

“Is my baby in heaven? ‘We don’t know, but we trust that God is righteous in all that He does.’”

“Why did God allow this to happen? ‘We don’t know, but perhaps to save the child from some worse death.’” That is, something worse than the toddler getting run over in the driveway by their best friend.

Have you ever noticed? Despite trillions of dollars invested in Protestant education, and over 500 years to get it right, Protestants don’t know a lot of stuff. Remember, Jay Adams’ biblical counseling construct introduced in 1970 was considered to be revolutionary. One well-known evangelical even asked, “Could the Bible really be this practical?” Think about it: 1970. That’s how many years after the supposed brilliance of the Reformation?

Not long after 1970, an Adventist theologian named Robert Brinsmead was invited to the hallowed halls of Westminster seminary to inform the who’s who of Protestantism in regard to what a Protestant really is. Now go to Westminster and pay $80,000 for a degree; ya, do that, brilliant. They didn’t even know what the true Protestant gospel was until Brinsmead came along, and they are the experts? Really? So, don’t give me any of that crap about “historical precedent.”

Shortly thereafter, Brinsmead’s revelation was repackaged into things like the Sonship Discipleship Bible Study program and “second generation biblical counseling.” The latter was hatched by Dr. David Powlison who was mentored by another Westminster hack, Dr. John “Jack” Miller. This was the beginning of the New Calvinist movement and launched a Calvinist theological civil war that ended up being won by the New Calvinists who now control Protestantism for the most part. The only holdouts are small Baptist churches that pride themselves on theological ignorance which by the way is a Lutheran Gnostic concept.

But of course, Baptists put a hillbilly twist on that: “We don’t know nuttin about none of that-thar thee-ology stuff. All you do is talk in them 50-cent thee-o-logical words.” Well, at least they know they are ignorant and profess it openly.

Anyway, don’t miss the point: over 500 years after the Reformation Calvinist scholars were arguing about what the true Protestant gospel is. New Calvinism has taken over the evangelical church because no one could ultimately deny that Brinsmead was right. In a presentation at Dr. John Piper’s church, David Powlison stated openly that the difference between first generation biblical counseling and second generation biblical counseling is two different gospels. You do the math. The church is supporting confused men who can’t even agree on what the gospel is.

By the way; babies, born or unborn, go to heaven because they are not under the law. They are born under the law, but they are not susceptible to its condemnation until their consciences are developed. It’s not rocket science, unless your mind is warped with “the gospel of sovereignty.” Don’t bother looking for that in your concordance; it’s not there.

Other than learning real truth from being faithful Bereans, live events teach us well. This week, between our annual TANC conference and the death of my 3rd grandson, I learned a lot more about death. Already in heaven his body was released from what was the comfort of his mother’s womb. His name is now Isaiah, and his short life has taught me much.

The procedure was performed at Kettering hospital in Dayton, Ohio named after Charles F. Kettering the inventor. John Immel spoke of him during this year’s conference. One would do well to read about this man’s astounding life. It is evident at Kettering that they strive to live up to the name for which their facility is named. That’s a very high calling.

But why do we do what we do? Although Isaiah only lived 13 weeks and made no appearance outside of his mother’s womb, Kettering supplies numerous services to honor the life of the unborn. They have a team that focuses on the stillborn exclusively. When Isaiah’s body was delivered, he was placed in a little knit baby crib made by volunteers. Kettering also has a memorial garden for the unborn where ceremonies are held.

Why am I a part of the medical profession where billions of dollars are spent to serve the severely disabled? After all, what can they contribute to others? Why are there so many cemeteries? Wouldn’t it just be easier and cheaper to cremate everybody? For some reason, cemeteries often have “memory” in their names, but I have learned this week from Isaiah that it is not about memory at all. It is rather about defending life and honoring it.

Those who we know and love cannot be forgotten. They become a part of our lives and being. When we lose family and friends, truly the part of our lives they contributed to is lost for the time being. We never completely get over any loss in this lifetime. With each new day we regain more of our happiness and begin functioning according to a new normal of wellbeing. Our mind will find balance, but not because we forget anything. Loss is part of overall homeostasis. There will never be complete closure until the final enemy of God is defeated: death. Christ defeated sin on the cross by ending the law, sickness will be defeated in the Millennial Kingdom, and death will be completely defeated at the new heaven and new earth.

We do what we do because we stand for life. That’s why I no longer think cremation is ok, because of what Isaiah taught me this week. Something is defective in our thinking when dad is sitting on a bookshelf with the family pets. Pets are important, but our lives are worth more than sparrows according to Christ. This is why some cultures have cemeteries, and others just have mass graves. But it’s not about memory, it’s about honoring life—nobody forgets the part of them that is gone.

May I be frank? This is why my knowledge of the Protestant Reformation has caused me to set my face completely against it. If you have followed my teachings on the founding documents of the Protestant Reformation, you know that it is an ideology of zero-sum-life and a doctrine of death. Martin Luther and Charles F. Kettering represent the antithesis of two ideologies in regard to state of being. One loved life so much that he only wanted to know about problems so he could solve them to make life better; the other cursed life and despised anything that improved the quality of it, calling such improvements “the glory of man story” as opposed to the “cross story.” When Christians come to me and Susan for counseling via the electric starter invented by Charles Kettering and end up lecturing us about how spiritual wellbeing only comes from suffering, where does this come from? It comes from the root of the tree. No matter how old a tree is, the fruit is determined by the roots.

We make much ado about the dead because they once lived. We don’t honor their memory—we honor their life. Their memory charges us that when times are good they would have us rejoice, but when times are bad, we are to consider because the creator of life is watching. In this way they speak from the grave.

Sin hates life and brought death. And its advocates despise the idea that man can choose life because they believe he has no right to it. As I walked through the hallways of Kettering Medical Center yesterday I thought about Martin Luther. I thought about how much he would hate that place if he were here today. I thought about how he would rail against it as the “glory of Charles Kettering story” and not the “cross of suffering story.” How he would despise the comfort my daughter received there and its subsequent circumvention of real knowledge in his Book of Concord. This is a vile misrepresentation of the true gospel of life.

But Isaiah and his horde speak of a better testimony…one of life and the upholding of it.

paul

When Christian Husbands Should Ask the Divorce Question

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 18, 2016

TANC M2The Protestant church is returning to its medieval orthodoxy. This transition is very subtle but causing controversy and conflict. The transition is extraordinarily efficient because Protestantism is already primed for it. A misguided (from a true Protestant perspective) historical-grammatical interpretation of the Bible created a Protestant hybrid for about 200 years, but the rediscovered true Protestant gospel has returned.

And that means Protestant pastors claim all authority on earth over salvation and people’s lives. That’s just plain black and white Protestant orthodoxy. Before Protestants became confused between 1776 and 1970, they were just another warring faction among all the other church-states and pagan-states that ruled the world. Part of the confusion was integrating Americanism with Protestantism, but in reality, the two are mutually exclusive.

So, this is what our ministry deals with; contentious Protestant marriages over the authority issue. One spouse subscribes to pastoral authority while the other doesn’t. This post primarily focuses on husbands—probably because three out of the four situations we are presently dealing with involve husbands that are seeking counsel.

In these situations, the wife has a problem with the husband because he “doesn’t respect the elders” or “refuses to submit to the elders.” If a husband is guilty of this grave sin, he has lost all credibility as a husband and the right to be one…while in most cases he is yet paying the bills.

Even though the wife has completely stripped the husband’s status as leader of the home and given it to the elders of the church, we hesitate to counsel any husband to file for divorce, but we do think that it is time for the “divorce conversation.”

Due to the fact that the wife has ignored the clear teachings of Ephesians 5:22-33 and 1Corinthians 11:3, and has chosen to listen to mere men instead, she may be treated as if she is an unbeliever. Her authority is men, not Christ. This is when the husband needs to have the “divorce conversation” to ascertain whether or not the wife is pleased to remain married to said husband. The conversation could go something like this:

Husband: Do you want a divorce?

Wife: No, why would I want a divorce?

Husband: Because you have taken away my role as a husband and given it to the elders of the church, that is, except for paying all of the bills. This is an unacceptable existence.

Wife: But you should be willing to submit to the authority of godly men.

Husband: No, I will submit to Christ and no other, so what do you want to do?

Based on the outcome of this conversation, the husband may encourage the wife to put feet on her beliefs and file for divorce (1Corintians 7:15). This is because she will never respect her husband as a husband until he obeys men rather than God. That’s a huge problem, and frankly, not reconcilable.

This puts the wife in a position where she has to verbalize a position instead of having it both ways. “yes, I totally disrespect you because you will not obey the elders, but I still want the financial security that you supply and occasional sex.” If she will not admit it, verbalize it for her and let her present a case of denial. But at any rate, it can be pointed out that the elders get to be the boss while not putting their money where their mouth is. They and the wife are picking and choosing what role the husband is allowed to execute. It’s an absurd state of affairs.

As a ministry, we are treading new territory in regard to utterly rejecting the authority of Protestant orthodoxy. Christ’s assembly is a body that operates via organized gifts, not via the glory of arrogant men. There is ONE head of the body…period. Perhaps this “divorce question” conversation is a sound beginning to needed solutions.

paul

 

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