Paul's Passing Thoughts

John Calvin’s Gospel of Works, Fear, and NO Assurance

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 16, 2016

…Originally published December 13, 2013

ppt-jpeg4“According to Calvin, fear of future judgment is one of the primary motivations for repentance in the Christians life:”

John Calvin was pure heretic. The present-day exaltation of him by the who’s who of evangelicals is an abomination before the Lord. For Calvin, the Christian life is lived out in a progression of justification; viz, justification is not a onetime event that is a finished work by God alone. The Christian life starts with repentance and faith, and that not only justifies us in the beginning, it must continue to justify us throughout the course of our life. “Progressive sanctification” is really progressive justification. The Christian life is not lived out as a result of our salvation; we must live in the progression of salvation and stay in its status through faith and repentance alone. We must keep ourselves saved by perpetual repentance. This is the “P” in TULIP, “perseverance of the saints.” No distinction is made between repentance unto salvation and repentance as a son of God. Calvin evokes all Scriptural calls to repentance for salvation as indicative of the Christian life. Calvin cites biblical salvation verses—as verses pertaining to the Christian life throughout the Calvin Institutes.

Furthermore, Calvin insisted that Christian repentance is motivated by fear, and repentance is active, while the results of repentance, a joyful rebirth experience, is the work of God. It is a perpetual revisiting of the gospel that saved us in order to keep ourselves saved. Our only work is repenting of sin while works imputed by God to our Christian life are only experienced, and not performed.

First, Calvin defines repentance in his Institutes. Keep in mind that he is not writing about original salvation, but the Christian life. This will be confirmed after this citation:

Certain learned men, who lived long before the present days and were desirous to speak simply and sincerely according to the rule of Scripture, held that repentance consists of two parts, mortification and quickening. By mortification they mean, grief of soul and terror, produced by a conviction of sin and a sense of the divine judgment. For when a man is brought to a true knowledge of sin, he begins truly to hate and abominate sin… By quickening they mean, the comfort which is produced by faith, as when a man prostrated by a consciousness of sin, and smitten with the fear of God, afterwards beholding his goodness, and the mercy, grace, and salvation obtained through Christ, looks up, begins to breathe, takes courage, and passes, as it were, from death unto life. I admit that these terms, when rightly interpreted, aptly enough express the power of repentance; only I cannot assent to their using the term quickening, for the joy which the soul feels after being calmed from perturbation and fear. It more properly means, that desire of pious and holy living which springs from the new birth; as if it were said, that the man dies to himself that he may begin to live unto God (CI 3.33).

We must now explain the third part of the definition, and show what is meant when we say that repentance consists of two parts—viz. the mortification of the flesh, and the quickening of the Spirit (CI 3.3.8).

And for how long do we partake in this perpetual repentance (mortification) and rebirth (vivification)?

This renewal, indeed, is not accomplished in a moment, a day, or a year, but by uninterrupted, sometimes even by slow progress God abolishes the remains of carnal corruption in his elect, cleanses them from pollution, and consecrates them as his temples, restoring all their inclinations to real purity, so that during their whole lives they may practice repentance, and know that death is the only termination to this warfare…It is not denied that there is room for improvement; but what I maintain is, that the nearer any one approaches in resemblance to God, the more does the image of God appear in him. That believers may attain to it, God assigns repentance as the goal towards which they must keep running [emphasis added] during the whole course of their lives (CI 3.3.9).

Though Calvin wrote of being transformed into the “image” of God, this is part and parcel with the passive and perpetual rebirth experience by the Christian. This does not denote a change or improvement in the Christian’s nature which would lessen the need for repentance. Obviously, if you look at the chart below, raising the trajectory of repentance makes the cross smaller, so repentance leading to real change is not in focus here. Calvin’s idea of transformation regards the birthing of realms which is experienced by the Christian through joy. Hence, the new birth is perpetual through the Christian’s life and is the result of perpetual repentance. We are to repent and dwell on our own depravity, and leave any quickenings or rebirth experiences to God:

He, however, who has emptied himself (cf. Phil. 2:7) through suffering no longer does works but knows that God works and does all things in him. For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more. It is this that Christ says in John 3:7, »You must be born anew.« To be born anew, one must consequently first die and then be raised up with the Son of Man. To die, I say, means to feel death at hand (Martin Luther: Heidelberg Disputation, theses 24).

In obedience to God’s word we should fight to walk in the paths where he has promised his blessings. But when and how they come is God’s to decide, not ours. If they delay, we trust the wisdom of our Father’s timing, and we wait. In this way joy remains a gift, while we work patiently in the field of obedience and fight against the weeds and the crows and the rodents. Here is where joy will come. Here is where Christ will reveal himself (John 14:21). But that revelation and that joy will come when and how Christ chooses. It will be a gift… Heaven hangs on having the taste of joy in God. Therefore, it might not be so strange after all to think of fighting for this joy. Our eternal lives depend on it (John Piper: When I Don’t Desire God; p.43, p.34).

It is also important to note that in this construct, for the most part, repentance is something we focus on, and not something we necessarily try to do. The goal is to see our own depravity in a deeper and deeper way, and this results in a joyful rebirth experience that is totally out of our control. But yet, we must fight for this joy, or rebirth experience because “Our eternal lives depend on it.” Not only is this clearly works salvation, but it makes our eternal destiny ambiguous at best. Therefore…

Let us, therefore, embrace Christ, who is kindly offered to us, and comes forth to meet us: he will number us among his flock, and keep us within his fold. But anxiety arises as to our future state. For as Paul teaches, that those are called who were previously elected, so our Savior shows that many are called, but few chosen (Mt. 22:14). Nay, even Paul himself dissuades us from security, when he says, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” (1 Cor. 10:12). And again, “Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee,” (Rom. 11:20, 21). In fine, we are sufficiently taught by experience itself, that calling and faith are of little value without perseverance, which, however, is not the gift of all (CI 3.24.6).

There is danger on the way to salvation in heaven. We need ongoing protection after our conversion. Our security does not mean we are home free. There is a battle to be fought (John Piper: Bethlehem Baptist Church Minneapolis, Minnesota; The Elect Are Kept by the Power of God October 17, 1993).

According to Calvin, fear of future judgment is one of the primary motivations for repentance in the Christians life:

By mortification they mean, grief of soul and terror, produced by a conviction of sin and a sense of the divine judgment [sec.3]… it seems to me, that repentance may be not inappropriately defined thus: A real conversion of our life unto God, proceeding from sincere and serious fear of God; and consisting in the mortification of our flesh and the old man, and the quickening of the Spirit. In this sense are to be understood all those addresses in which the prophets first, and the apostles afterwards, exhorted the people of their time to repentance. The great object for which they labored was, to fill them with confusion for their sins and dread of the divine judgment, that they might fall down and humble themselves before him whom they had offended, and, with true repentance, retake themselves to the right path [sec.5]… The second part of our definition is, that repentance proceeds from a sincere fear of God. Before the mind of the sinner can be inclined to repentance, he must be aroused by the thought of divine judgment; but when once the thought that God will one day ascend his tribunal to take an account of all words and actions has taken possession of his mind, it will not allow him to rest, or have one moment’s peace, but will perpetually urge him to adopt a different plan of life, that he may be able to stand securely at that judgment-seat. Hence the Scripture, when exhorting to repentance, often introduces the subject of judgment, as in Jeremiah, “Lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings,” (Jer. 4:4)… The stern threatening which God employs are extorted from him by our depraved dispositions [sec.7] [from the CI 3.3.3-7].

Of course, this is all in egregious contradiction to the Scriptures; viz,

1John 4:18 – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Calvin’s false gospel requires us to run a race of perpetual repentance driven by fear of judgment in order to keep ourselves saved. The new birth is not a onetime event known as regeneration, but is only an EXPERIENCE that follows the mortification of repentance. Calvin states that these quickenings that follow mortification are accompanied by joy and subjective manifestations of God’s image. Many are called, but not all have the gift of persevering in the cycle of mortification and vivification. Therefore, assurance of salvation is dubious at best.

Beside the fact that the apostle John wrote the book of 1John so that we can “know” that we are saved, Calvin’s gospel contradicts a mass of holy writ. This subjective gospel also adds a peculiar twist if you consider Calvin’s power of the keys; ie., whatever elders bind on earth will be bound in heaven. While the soteriology lends uncertainty to one’s eternal destiny, is assurance found more in having the elder’s approval? After all, if he states that you are saved, heaven will bind it.

paul

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Revised Vital Union Chart

Indicative of What Ails the SBC: Johnny Hunt Denies the New Birth at Ohio Men’s Summit

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 24, 2015

“Hunt’s confusion concerning the new birth was further exemplified when he stated, ‘Christ died for all of your past, present, and future sins.’ This also unwittingly denies the new birth. Christ did not die for sins we committed after we were born again. This makes sin in justification the same thing as family sin in sanctification. Christ did not die to save us from sin that does not condemn us; this denies that the old us actually died with Christ and was ‘under law,’ and where there is no law there is no sin.”

Not that I get paid for it, but I will inform any SBC pastor who cares to know why the SBC is a dying unregenerate cesspool. You can hide the fact by squeezing out the smaller churches and pointing to the emotional orgies at the megachurches, but the numbers do not lie. And listen, the praise and worship format that is presently redistributing the sheep will eventually get old—this ministry is already seeing sharp declines in megachurch attendance.

The present-day SBC Neo-Calvinist surge is the same movement that has come and gone exactly five times since the Protestant Reformation. My guess is that it will die again. Susan and I recently visited churches that were on the cutting edge of this movement back in the 80’s, and the deadness that we experienced was explained this way by our teenage son: “That place is just creepy.”  The energy once associated with the format is waning because there is no underlying substance and the novelty is passing. Yet, the format continues without the energy which projects an almost surreal creepiness experienced by those who visit. For the longtime members it’s a slow leak going unnoticed, for visitors it’s a blowout.

Aside: Was all of the recent Mark Driscoll drama just cover for the fact that the Mars Hill campuses were in decline? I wonder.

Another aside: The Catholic Church has bought the defunct Crystal Cathedral. It would seem that the Catholic Church is the only institution with the money to buy defunct Protestant campuses. Why does the Catholic Church have so much money? Answer: because it has always been upfront about its salvation by institution gospel. Will the Neo-Calvinist movement begin to be more out-of-the-closet about that approach in order to save the movement? It already is. People will pay big bucks to be saved by merely giving at the office (see, “Roman Catholic Church”).

Johnny Hunt would deny that he is a Neo-Calvinist and that is probably fair, but what I heard him say at last night’s Men’s Summit at Urbancrest Baptist church in Lebanon, OH is indicative of the problem. If there is confusion among Southern Baptists regarding the role of the Holy Spirt in Christian living, and there clearly is, that should explain everything, and it does.

Look, I don’t have the mp3 yet, but a slight paraphrase of a particular sentence spoken at the summit by Hunt goes like this: “The righteousness of Christ is the only thing that gets us into heaven.” Here we have a former president of the SBC, and a premier SBC pastor for something like thirty years, and that statement is just really bad theology if not an outright false gospel.

I keep saying it and will continue to do so: the Bible never states that the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us. Though you can take a leap from one logical point to another on a few verses, why the steroidal emphasis on Christ’s righteousness when the Bible clearly states that it is the righteousness of God the Father that we possess? Is this emphasis important? It is if the Bible emphasizes the righteousness of the Father, and it does. Why not emphasize what the Scriptures emphasize?

But the concern goes way beyond semantics. In his Friday sessions, Hunt peppered that concept with the often heard idea that we don’t possess a righteousness of our own. Come now, would any of us still be working if we had a dollar for every time we heard that in SBC circles? But what is it saying?

First, if we ONLY possess the righteousness of Christ, fire insurance is the only gift and not righteousness. Follow? When you receive a gift, you take possession of it…no? Is the idea that we possess no righteousness of “our own” a backdoor way of saying we have not been made righteous and possess no personal holiness? Yes, I think it is. And by the way, forget all of the fuss about election—that idea is Calvinism in a nutshell.

Secondly, while one properly concurs that our sins were imputed to Christ because the Bible states that specifically, is it correct to say that righteousness has been “imputed” to us? I contend that this is NOT correct, and in fact is a denial of the new birth. Why? Because righteousness is not imputed to us, we are MADE righteous through the new birth. The whole “our own” business is a red herring deliciously favored at the table of demons. We don’t tell people we have no life of our own because we were born of parents. That’s just plain silly. “I have no life of my own; it was imputed to me by my parents.” No, you are alive just like your parents because they gave birth to you. In the same way, we ARE righteous because we were given life by a righteous Father through the Holy Spirit.

Hunt’s confusion concerning the new birth was further exemplified when he stated, “Christ died for all of your past, present, and future sins.” This also unwittingly denies the new birth. Christ did not die for sins we committed after we were born again. This makes sin in justification the same thing as family sin in sanctification. Christ did not die to save us from sin that does not condemn us; this denies that the old us actually died with Christ and was “under law,” and where there is no law there is no sin.

The idea that Christ died for our sin post salvation, at the very least denies the death part of the Spirit’s baptism and keeps the “believer” under law (see Romans 7:1ff). In not sparing any confusion in his lame presentation of the gospel, Hunt concurred that God chastises us for sins we commit as Christians which means God chastises us for sins Christ already died for. Hence, why wouldn’t God also chastise us for sins committed before we were Christians?

Therefore, Hunt, like most SBC pastors, flirts with John Calvin’s double imputation. This is the idea that Christ died for our justification, and lived a perfect life to fulfil the law so that His perfect righteousness can also be imputed to our sanctification. This is exactly why the “righteousness of Christ” is so strongly emphasized. The Bible is clear: this is a justification by the law that leads to antinomian living (see “a typical life in the SBC”). Why? Because we only have the righteousness of Christ and no righteousness of our own which is nearly a verbatim quote by Calvin from his Institutes of the Christian Religion (3.14.11).

This is an outright denial of the new birth and keeps the “Christian” under law. It doesn’t matter who keeps the law, even if the law was kept by Christ in our stead, it is not another seed that can give life (Galatians 3:15-21). We are like Christ because He is our brother by birth, righteousness was not imputed to us—we are MADE righteous by the new birth. We are literally new creatures, and ALL things are new.

But, if we have no ownership of righteousness through the new birth, if only our standing is exchanged and not our lives, Christ’s righteousness must be perpetually imputed to our “Christian” lives because we are still under law and not under grace. This would require a return to the same gospel that saved us in order to receive perpetual forgiveness for sins committed under the law, and this is exactly what is behind the viral mantra of “We must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday” running amuck in the SBC. Forbid that we would lose our gratitude for salvation and only limit its remembrance to the Lord’s Table for we still supposedly need that forgiveness.

And this is exactly what John Calvin believed; that new sins committed as saints removes us from grace and perpetual forgiveness must be sought which can only be found in the institutional church where we continually “revisit the gospel afresh.”  Yet, the who’s who of the SBC continually affirms that the issue with Calvinism in the SBC is a secondary issue unworthy of parting fellowship. It’s cluelessness on steroids. Calvin advocated the belief that necessarily goes hand in glove with progressive justification; and,  sanctification is the Old Testament Sabbath rest. If we do any works on our sanctification Sabbath, it’s the eternal death penalty. As a result, Christ’s perfect obedience to the law must be imputed to us. This is where antinomianism and justification by law are the same thing; a perfect keeping of the law, which we of course can’t obtain so we must let Jesus obey for us lest we have a “righteousness of our own” becomes another seed other than Christ.

At the end of one session Hunt suggested that those who made a profession of faith follow up with the elders at Urbancrest concerning their “new relationship” with Christ. New relationship? Really? It’s not just a new relationship—it’s literal death and rebirth. We don’t just add Jesus to our still under the law lives for fire insurance or as Hunt put it, in essence, daily rescue. It’s not a daily rescue because we long for the one future rescue by Christ from this mortal body where sin still resides, but our inward man has been literally raised with Christ and free to love God and others through obedience to the same law that once condemned us.

It has been suggested to me that institutional religion and the new birth mix like oil and water: “Paul, if believers are truly born again and endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit, why would they need an evangelical industrial complex?” Indeed, that may well be the money question. I have been at two institutional church gatherings this week, and in both cases pastors were held up as upper strata of spiritual caste. At Urbancrest, the emphasis was totally over the top and downright shameful. Other than handing out freebies to the pastors who attended, the senior pastor at Urbancrest talked of a program of sorts through which parishioners could show their pastor that, “I have your back.”

So, is the new birth a threat to religious institutions? Can Holy Spirit empowered ministries thrive in an institutional setting? We will not know until pastors stop denying the new birth. But nevertheless, this is a gut check for every SBC pastor and Hunt in particular. What would be the result of a poll in most churches where the following question is asked?

“Are you only positionally holy in Christ, or are you a holy person?” I fear most would answer, “I am only positionally holy because I still sin.” Yet, pastors who continually wax eloquent about Christians not having any righteousness of their own somehow expect decent behavior from their parishioners.

To his credit, Hunt did advocate obedience, but anyone who was listening closely would have found that confusing. Hunt also emphasized “finishing strong.” He even said that all of his accomplishments in ministry would be worthless if he didn’t finish well. Here is what pastors need to understand: finishing well may mean you end up pastoring a church of 25 people because you stood for the truth. It is high time that pastors draw a line in the sand and definitively define the new birth in no uncertain terms. Please tell your parishioners who they are—are they positionally holy, or are they personally holy?

Did they exchange one “standing before God” for another one, or did they exchange their old life for a new one through the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

paul

Related: https://paulspassingthoughts.com/2014/12/16/the-problem-with-church-your-pastor-doesnt-think-youre-righteous/

An Open Letter to the Board of Trustees of Southern Seminary

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on January 2, 2015

TANC LOGO

Originally posted January 2, 2014

Paul M. Dohse

TTANC L.L.C.

PO Box 583

Xenia, Ohio 45385

To Dr. Walter Price and the Board of Trustees of Southern Seminary:

Gentlemen,

It is no surprise that truth is of low value in our day; the apostle Paul informed Timothy that in the latter days people would not tolerate sound doctrine, and we are in those days. Hence, there are no expectations in regard to this letter, but nevertheless, it is a duty to proclaim the truth.

Southern Seminary now offers academic credits for attending seminars at conferences sponsored by various organizations connected with the present-day resurgence of authentic Calvinism. Though the traditions of men and antinomianism was of primary concern as stated by Christ during His earthly ministry, the evangelical academia of our day follows the crowds in wholesale acceptance of any doctrinal name brand that sells.

This blitzkrieg of resurgent conferences targets youth specifically. The resurgence seeks to turn a whole generation of youth to this doctrine. This represents the future of the American church. Evangelicals, and its academia in particular, seem indifferent to the gravity of future accountability attached to this reality.

Our organization researches the Calvin Institutes, and the trustees of Southern Seminary would do well in following our example rather than the opinions of men like Albert Mohler. Calvin’s gospel, as stated in the Institutes, is a call to keep ourselves saved through the practice of antinomianism, and has a distinctive Gnostic application. It is works salvation by Christ plus antinomianism, and reduces obedience to only experiencing the imputation of Christ’s perfect obedience to the Christian life. An example of this would be on page 215 in How People Change (2006), a book written by Paul David Tripp, speaker at the recent Cross Conference endorsed by Southern Seminary. He states the following:

When we think, desire, speak, or act in a right way, it isn’t time to pat ourselves on the back or cross it off our To Do List. Each time we do what is right, we are experiencing what Christ has supplied for us. In Chapter 11, we introduced some of the fruit Christ produces. We will expand the discussion here.

Calvin, as well as Luther, believed that all reality is interpreted through the works of Christ in the gospel, or the “objective” gospel and the imputation of those works are experienced “subjectively” in order to remove our works from sanctification. Hence, “the subjective power of an objective gospel” and other such mantras often heard among evangelicals today. This necessitates, in a manner of speaking, interpreting every verse in the Bible as a justification verse; i.e. “Biblical Theology,” a buzz word at Southern. This way of interpreting the Bible was introduced by Christian mystic Geerhardus Vos circa 1938.

Calvin also redefined the new birth as an experience of perpetual rebirth in order to keep ourselves saved by the same gospel that originally saved us. So, the new birth is not a one-time event, it is a perpetual cycle of the same repentance and new birth experience that originally saved us—that’s why we must “preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” This is the doctrine of mortification and vivification. It is part of Calvin’s systematic theology. This is factually indisputable. The Christian life focuses on our total depravity and repentance only, leading to the experience of vivification, or a joyful experience.

Therein, the human “heart” is redefined as something that is transformed only by its increased ability to experience vivification. This is why John Piper states that joy is essential to the Christian life; if vivification is not being experienced; perpetual rebirth is not taking place:

The pursuit of joy in God is not optional. It is not an ‘extra’ that a person might grow into after he comes to faith. Until your heart has hit upon this pursuit, your ‘faith’ cannot please God. It is not saving faith (Desiring God: p. 69).

Likewise, Southern Baptist Paul Washer states the following:

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 (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).

The new birth is redefined as a “cycle” rather than a one-time event like our physical birth. It is redefined as a perpetual rebirth experience as we focus on our saintly total depravity. We are only righteous positionally; regeneration is a mere experience of Christ’s perfect obedience to the law. This not only keeps Christians under law, but inadvertently calls for a rejoicing in our own supposed total depravity.

This is why authentic Calvinism dies a social death within Christianity every 100 years or so. God’s people eventually catch on to the fact that it is a false gospel. Lighter forms of it survive the rejection while maintaining the label. We are presently within the fifth resurgence since Calvin’s Geneva, and the trustees of Southern are mindless participants accordingly.

We had the wonderful privilege of meeting many, many young people at the recent Cross Conference where you promoted this false gospel. We realize that there will only be a remnant that loves the truth enough to reject this latest academic novelty. But this is a generation of young people capable of great things, and smart enough to know that they only need God Himself to accomplish His mission. We believe that American Christianity has become a mission field in and of itself; namely, YOUR resurgence movement, a movement that bears your name, and we are seeking to reach that remnant of God that loves His truth. This is our duty and calling. A gospel promoting a justification that is not finished cannot save.

Meanwhile, as stated by the apostle Paul, let those who teach another gospel be accursed whether they be angels or men of renown.

Because only truth saves and sanctifies,

Paul M. Dohse

John 17:17

Matthew 4:4

Why New Calvinist Church Discipline is Against American Laws

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on November 8, 2014

HF Potters House (2)Originally published August 17, 2013

There is something that everybody is missing in regard to so-called “Redemptive Church Discipline.” The New Calvinist movement is a return to authentic Calvinism. I read the Calvin Institutes almost daily, and I can tell you that the New Calvinists are making every effort to conform to every detail thereof. It is almost as if the Calvin Institutes are a higher authority than the Bible.

But there is a problem. Whether the Calvin Institutes or the Westminster Confession, those documents were prepared for a church/state venue. American laws are based on the separation of church and state. During the time that European government was in bed with the Reformation, the church could compel individuals to do certain things under threat of government force.

While seeking to have that same authority in the lives of American parishioners without government force, they are improvising through other means resulting in the violation of American civil liberties. When it gets right down to it, according to American law, you can’t restrict a person from the commission of a legal act by threatening to defame them publically. Church covenants with articles stating that parishioners cannot leave a church without the permission of the elders may be a violation of the law in and of itself. It’s a threat regarding loss of reputation if you exercise your legal right to leave a church. New Calvinist elders routinely tell parishioners that they cannot leave a church for doctrinal reasons. That’s against the law.

Furthermore, the so-called “Matthew 18 process” almost always ends up in excommunication if someone vacates their membership in-between one of the steps. I understand that they may be avoiding the issue in that way, but you absolutely can’t humiliate them publically for refusing to stay in the process. Leaving a church is not illegal; therefore, you can’t disparage them publically. Threatening to publically humiliate a person if they vacate membership (or any other legal act) is considered to be coercion under the kidnapping statute in most states.

I am presently doing research in preparation for a home church model. I am amazed to see how the New Testament model has a peaceful solution for almost every scenario. But in regard to this subject, the crux is fellowship versus authority. If a person leaves a church in the midst of a church discipline issue (for lack of a better term), they have merely vacated fellowship with the assembly on their own. That’s the only end result anyway if you’re in America, no? Trying to have authority over that person without government backing is where things get iffy.

Moreover, in many situations, the elders of a church really have no legal authority to ban a person from church property unless they are causing a disturbance. This has led to many ugly confrontations and legal challenges. A private home is different. If a home fellowship doesn’t want a person there for whatever reason, the homeowner can have the person removed by the local police if necessary. This is just one of many examples where home fellowships don’t find themselves in legal dilemmas.

The primary reason is that home fellowships are based on, well, fellowship and not authority. Breaking fellowship versus having some sort of authority over the person are two very different things, and the former circumvents a lot of unnecessary drama.

paul

Addendum:

“Telling it to the church” would only involve telling it to the home fellowship of maybe 20 people. Somebody showing up at another home in that network is probably going to incite a phone call to the original fellowship anyway. Secondly, it cannot be restated enough that if a “member” leaves in the middle of the Matthew 18 process, the same result of no fellowship is accomplished anyway. The institutional church creates a bunch of unnecessary drama because of its penchant for authority.

Calvinist Paul Washer: Christianity is Perpetual Death and Rebirth

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 7, 2014

In the following short clip, Paul Washer expounds on Reformed orthodox’s definition of the new birth: the Christian, which remains dead in trespasses and sin, experiences perpetual rebirth under the preaching of preordained prophets of God.  This doctrine known as mortification and vivification, or “deep repentance/new obedience,” is well articulated in the Calvin Institutes and is formal Reformed orthodoxy. Hence, when will discernment bloggers say enough is enough and stop playing footsies with “old Calvinism.” No part of a false gospel will heal. Facts used in the commission of a false gospel will not heal. Why is this so hard to understand?

And just in case you need more convincing, consider this excerpt from Michael Horton’s “Christless Christianity,”  p. 189ff:

God gathers his people together in a covenantal event to judge and to justify, to kill and to make alive. The emphasis is on God’s work for us – the Father’s gracious plan, the Son’s saving life, death, and resurrection, and the Spirit’s work of bringing life to the valley of dry bones through the proclamation of Christ. The preaching focuses on God’s work in the history of redemption from Genesis through Revelation, and sinners are swept into this unfolding drama. Trained and ordained to mine the riches of Scripture for the benefit of God’s people, ministers try to push their own agendas, opinions, and personalities to the background so that God’s Word will be clearly proclaimed. In this preaching the people once again are simply receivers – recipients of grace. Similarly, in baptism, they do not baptize themselves; they are baptized. In the Lord’s Supper, they do not prepare and cook the meal; they do not contribute to the fare; but they are guests who simply enjoy the bread of heaven.

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