Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Gospel According to John MacArthur’s Reformation Myth

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

Originally published September 8, 2012

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

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

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

  1. Ordinary men.

  2. Thinkers who constantly wrestle with understanding.

  3. Wholly devoted to truth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Could the Reformers have been wrong?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The History of the Reformation Motif / Myth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And,

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

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

How in the World Does COGOUS Work in Real Life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Ernest Reisinger

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

Classic Reformed Kettles Calling the Pot Black

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

Roman Catholicism blends its doctrines of sanctification and justification.

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

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

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

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

JM continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addendum:

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

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

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

paul

Why The Slandering of My Character Gives Me So Much Joy

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 20, 2016

ppt-jpeg41Really, I have much to do this morning but another correspondence came in, one of many this week (and the week is yet young), that goes something like this: “I was talking to someone who is warning me about you. What really happened at Clearcreek Chapel? Why did they bring you up on church discipline? Did you commit adultery or something like that? It’s alright if you did, just tell me so I will be ready when people discuss you.”

This is the game played by the Protestant Resurgent Church. Many of the congregants are not fully boiled yet so they can’t be told the elders have God’s very authority and can excommunicate someone for anything deemed sin by them—the cardinal one being; questioning their authority. So, they just excommunicate someone publically for say, not loving his wife like Christ loves the church, whisper: the standard is the perfection of the law, not love.

Therefore, EVERYONE under the condemnation of the law (see, “Protestant”) is guilty of everything under the law all of the time. This is why Mark Dever et al say that you are technically in the discipline batter’s box the day you join the church. You are fodder for discipline at all times, so keep your mouth shut and put your temple tax in the plate. Verily, ahhhhmen.

Hence, this actually makes the elders look gracious as the parishioners are left to their assumptions that the husband did something not even named among the Gentiles. Pretty slick: they look above the fray of gossip while avoiding the truth about the authority they claim and leaving the congregation to their own imaginations resulting in the ultimate character assassination. That’s a lot of heavy work accomplished in one sitting. Perhaps we should complement their efficiency.

But this is all good news for me, and I write this post full of joy. Please, if you have heard something bad about me, do share. I know that it goes on a lot behind closed doors, but how is one to be encouraged if you only talk of him secretly? Look, I know that your bundle of encouragement probably pales to what is out there, viz, I tried to murder the Clearcreek elders, I committed adultery, I moved to Indiana to hide from the IRS (this accusation was presented by an elder that owed the IRS over $100,000 and had his assets frozen), I am a drunkard, I abandoned my family, presumably with my mistress and left no forwarding address or money to live on, etc., etc., etc., but do tell anyway. Just ask the guy who shared last week by telephone how hard I was laughing.

The Bible states plainly that laughter is good for the bones. Why deprive me of such joy? When I began this ministry, it was founded on my first morsel of truth obtained as a recovering Protestant: the Spirit only uses truth, and eventually, the hammer of truth will start making a dent. Seek truth, truth, truth, and leave the results to the Spirit. This is what kept me going when only 20 people were coming to my blog per day. The standard was one, so 20 was pretty good to me. Since then, views range from 150 to 800, and we have hit 2000 on at least one day. We still haven’t figured out what the trends are, but the higher numbers used to be event-driven, but that is no longer the case. BUT…NOTHING spells e-f-f-e-c-t-i-v-e-n-e-s-s like slander. I will take the slander over numbers any day.

Nevertheless, let me make the vetting of these various and sundry accusations very simple. Several formidable evangelicals who know the Clearcreek Chapel elders personally not only fellowshipped with me after the fact, but invited me to participate in their ministries. Why? They know the discipline was totally bogus. One of these men, a former associate pastor at Clearcreek Chapel, even tried to get Peacemaker Ministries involved in the situation. In addition, and again, after the fact, some of these ministries shared very sensitive inside information with me concerning ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors) that would be gut-wrenching if made public. That clearly speaks to trust.

So obviously, it doesn’t add up. But, I can go public with this stuff at any given time. However, again, this wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying as the slander.

Slander is confirmation that truth is a big problem for them. Nothing is more satisfying than to see the wild animals of falsehood cornered with the truth and lashing out in desperation.

paul

 

Moving On As a Contemporary Child of God; All Those Who Do So Have Their Own Blessed Broken Road

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 11, 2016

HF Potters House (2)“The Protestant teachers proudly proclaim themselves as bad people and even laugh about it, but yet the simplicity of cause and effect somehow escapes us.”

“In all cases, orthodoxy is the knowledge handed down to the spiritual peasants to inform them on how to be progressively saved by the institution.”

“…in the final judgment followers will stand alone before God.”

Recently, the host and domain address for eldersresolution.org came up for renewal. With everything I have going on with TANC Ministries the due date slipped between the cracks and the site is temporarily down although there are other extensions of the site online (clearcreekchapel.com).

Looking through the information that the site documents was a defining moment and one of deep reflection. I decided to renew the domain address and move it to another site that I will develop sometime in the near future. Perhaps this very post will be the centerpiece.

Before I move on to the primary ideas of this post, let me say that eldersresolution.org, which can now be found in pdf format at http://clearcreekchapeleldersresolution.weebly.com/ was the work of my son-in-law, Pastor David Ingram, and pioneered the concept of using websites to hold the institutional church accountable in a public way. He came up with the idea as a way to take a stand in my situation (circa 2008), and to my knowledge there were no such sites on the internet at that time. It would seem that the Bangladesh missionary kids (https://bangladeshmksspeak.wordpress.com/) were also innovators in regard to the concept early on. In 2009, the concept went viral in response to the heavy-handed leadership mode of the New Calvinist movement which had finally come of age after 39 years of covert growth; what many called the “Quite Revolution” (http://founders.org/library/quiet/).

Reviewing the information made me cringe as it revisited what a weak and confused person I was at the time. With that said, it was also a major turning point in my life that I find impossible to regret. How many times did I dismiss the numerous and serious problems I saw in the church with, “What else is there?” For 27 years I struggled to find relevance in the church.

The turning point was the New Calvinist movement, and specifically the New Calvinists that covertly obtained control of Clearcreek Chapel (Springboro, Ohio). I had been a member there for 20-years-plus and a former elder.  As these leaders began transforming Clearcreek from Reformation Light to Reformation Lager, I wondered if I had finally stumbled upon the answers to why Protestant sanctification is so anemic, illogical, and irrelevant.

Like the Protestant leaders I had rubbed shoulders with in the past, they couldn’t answer the hard questions, but this time I really pressed the issue because they were just adding more confusion to the confusion I had found a way to live with. That was troubling to me. Then, when they started responding to my persistence with passive forms of aggression, and later not so passive, I figured I was on to something.

Funny, one question I kept asking publically in Sunday school seemed to be the lightning rod: “How do we know when we are trying to please God ‘in our own efforts’ and what exactly does that mean to begin with? How should we do effort?” It was very obvious to the congregation that they didn’t want to answer the question, but I kept pushing the issue and that’s when all of the trouble started. It would seem that in my search for Protestant relevance, I had finally found the right question. If Christians are to rightly partake in a right effort versus a wrong effort, how is that determined?*

And of course, now I know why they didn’t want to answer the question. Protestantism teaches that sanctification is a “Sabbath rest” in which we “rest in what Jesus has done—not anything we do.” This is what Protestant Light formally criticized as let go and let God theology. But of course in the scheme of things, the folly of this construct is fully realized: not doing things is a metaphysical impossibility; so, what we are talking about is two different types of works. That would be, not working work and working work. Or if you may, faith alone works and work work.

This boils down to Protestant orthodoxy classifying works according to the traditions of men. They determine what faith alone works are as opposed to works that are “self-justifying.” It boils down to the following: obedience to their definitions determine your salvation. Non-self-justifying works pertain to Protestant ritual that keeps you saved. And of course, the sacrament of tithing keeps the money pouring in for infrastructure that bolsters the aurora of authority. What will people pay for their eternal salvation? Observe the splendor of Protestant temples and institutions that pollute the landscape everywhere.

Eldersresolution.org is merely a documenting of the symptoms. The domain will always be there, but I am not really sure why it is a good idea. It was originally constructed to warn others about the Clearcreek Chapel elders who had supposedly distorted Protestant orthodoxy and done really bad things to other people.  What I know now is that Protestantism itself is the bad thing. Bad things happen in church because church is bad. In fact, one of the premier leaders of the present-day Protestant church, Dr. John Piper, brags about being bad (https://youtu.be/6-GxkAJ1OBU). The Protestant teachers proudly proclaim themselves as bad people and even laugh about it, but yet the simplicity of cause and effect somehow escapes us.**

Other mediators other than Christ necessarily demand institutional salvation based on what is supposedly God’s authority by proxy. This is why the body of Christ is a literal family and NOT an institution in any way, shape, or form. It is a literal family that one is literally born into by the baptism of the Spirit otherwise known as being “born again.” It is the literal “household of God” and the family of God the Father—not an institution any more than any family is an institution. Christ’s mandate to His assemblies is to be carried out through a family format—the literal family of God. Any vestige of institutionalism will cripple the cause of Christ to the degree that it exists within the assemblies of Christ expressed where families dwell: in homes, not institutional purpose buildings.

ALL institutional churches and religions have these things in common: mediators other than Christ or mediators in addition to Christ. There is a claim of authority other than Christ or a shared authority with Christ, and finally, there is always a gnosis caste system; the haves and have-nots in regard to the ability to know truth owned by the institution. In all cases, orthodoxy is the knowledge handed down to the spiritual peasants to inform them on how to be progressively saved by the institution.

False religion is always a broken road, but unfortunately, the pain of that road will rarely lead people to other places. But when it does, the pain of that road becomes an irrelevant and distant concern. It is a pain that is finished and its purpose completed. It is swallowed up by the experience of where the road has taken you. The story of your broken road will rarely warn others of danger or save anyone; people will forgive or look the other way in many, many things in order to gain eternal life. In the minds of the “good Germans” during WWII Germany was not perfect, but what else was there? In their minds; nothing.

In the mind of a good Protestant or Catholic what else is there? Nothing. It may be a nasty bus, but it’s the only bus going to heaven because the authority of men says so. But in the final judgment followers will stand alone before God.

And so it is. The broken road has led me to a place that makes its potholes and highway robbers a distant and irrelevant memory. Their work is finished. When experience teaches you a new way, and you begin to live in that new way, that’s healing.

Staying on the broken road and revisiting its experiences will never heal. Never. When pain is a finished work…you are healed. It is little different than Christ’s obedience to the cross which He despised and bore for the joy that was set ahead.

It is finished.

paul

*Chad Bresson, an elder at Clearcreek Chapel once prayed before the congregation: “Lord, we know that we have tried to please you in our own efforts this week, please forgive us.”

**The father of the Reformation, Martin Luther, stated in a letter to Philip Melanchthon: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin.  God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners.  Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.  We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides.”

 

 

What’s Wrong with Church? According to the Church; They Aren’t About Morals

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 27, 2016

MoralsI am becoming reacquainted with the characters who plied their evil trade along the blessed broken road that led me to my present life. One such evil character is now plying his trade as a church elder in Texas. Like another former elder at Clearcreek Chapel in Springboro, Ohio, the real stories behind their departures are aloof.

At any rate, Chad Bresson’s Facebook page is a treasure trove of Protestant bumper stickers indicative of what finally brought me to an ultimate standoff with institutional salvation or salvation by institutional religion in general. The first meme takes the errant Protestant view of total depravity (any good work of any person only appears to be good but is really evil) and uses it to propagate James’ contention against faith without works. Why do the masses continue to be faithful to an institution that blatantly contradicts the plain sense of Scripture? The answer is too simple: salvation comes through obedience to the authority of the institution. Viz, note the second meme.

Are you perplexed by the evil you see in church? Why? They openly proclaim that moralism is supposedly a biblical anomaly.

Keller

Utterly Shameless: Egotism of Local Pastors Far More Important Than People’s Lives

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 10, 2015

CCCRegardless of the outrageous behavior of Clearcreek Chapel located in Springboro, Ohio, local pastors continue to associate with the Chapel elders and participate in its “ministry.” The well documented creepiness of the leadership aside, first and foremost is the concern regarding reports that this ministry still receives from people who have entered the “biblical” counseling program at CCC. The Chapel elders, particularly its director Greg Cook, continue to snuff out marriages that arrive there as smoldering wicks. And apparently, Cook is still living up to his reputation for verbally abusing counselees. Cook’s penchant for rubbing his eyes while aping a baby crying as a way to mock husbands continues to be a report that we hear of since circa 2007.

At issue is their view of church authority: they clearly believe they have authority over families who have been referred to them. Imagine a pastor counseling a wife alone and telling her that her husband’s theology is “180 degrees” from the truth. No pastor, I repeat, no pastor has the right to diminish a woman’s view of her husband in any way, shape, or form. Any counselor worth their salt knows that spouses need little help in that area, and it is not beneficial to any marriage in any way.

The pattern over eight years has become abundantly clear: the CCC elders first ascertain which spouse is going to submit to their authority, and then work to separate the “foolish” spouse from the other. Sadly, some go there seeking to merely make their marriage better, and end up on the verge of divorce six months later. The errant spouse who would dare question the CCC anointed, usually the husband, is then slandered in various and malicious ways to gain assumptions from the congregations that are involved.

One of their favorite tactics is to ask flock groups for a love offering on behalf of the poor abused wife when no such financial need exists. Obviously, it sends the message that said husband is not supporting his family. Existing side by side financial documentation supports this accusation, and I assume CCC continues to use this ploy. This was employed by Greg Cook in 2008 against a counselee while he himself was indebted to the IRS for, according to one source, 180,000 dollars. Another favorite tactic is to exaggerate family problems and suggest that a family member live with a parishioner for awhile. Particularly when it is a daughter, the assumptions that result are evident. And of course, no repertoire of sanctified slander would be complete without the public “unspoken prayer request” for the spouse chained to another who does not appreciate the superior mantle placed on Reformed elders by the Almighty.

In short, the CCC elders have a long and documented history of character assassination that would have made Adolf Hitler blush. At least in two cases, husbands took their families and fled the state of Ohio while two other attempts by others failed. In these attempts to get one’s family away from CCC, the CCC elders counter by claiming abandonment. These are wicked tyrants who should be avoided at all cost.

The CCC elders enjoyed evangelical fame as a counseling center for many years after the departure of the founding pastor, Dr. John Street who built the ministry on Jay Adams so-called first generation biblical counseling. After Street’s departure, Russ Kennedy (CCC pastor of “spiritual vision”) and company quickly moved to totally gut and reconstruct the counseling program. A group of families who had come to CCC to covertly take it over quickly moved into leadership. This group was led by the creepy New Covenant Theology guru and cultist Chad Bresson. This group, behind the scenes, despised John Street and were waiting to pounce upon his departure. The covert persecution of those whom they perceived as a threat was relentless. This is a leadership that has amassed numerous unresolved conflicts with many, many professing Christians, and the lending of credibility to them by other pastors is unconscionable.

In addition, and in true CCC form, they still allow counselees who come there to believe that they hold to Jay Adams first generation counseling when in reality, they despise Adams. As one who had breakfast with Greg Cook every Monday morning for the better part of a year, you can trust me on that one.

So then, following is a list of local pastors who insist on supporting CCC and their continued destruction of families. I deem it my duty to warn others about them because birds of the feather flock together. These pastors are endeared to CCC for one reason or another. More than likely, they are just feeding their egos on what is left of CCC’s status in biblical counseling circles, but at any rate, their associations with CCC make them a concern to the well being of hurting families.

Tim Pasma, pastor at LaRue Baptist Church, LaRue, Ohio. Continues to support CCC’s bogus counseling program.

Jim Koerber, pastor at New Covenant Life Church, Blanchester, Ohio. Continues to support the counseling program at CCC.

Danny Wright, Greenville Grace, Clayton, Ohio. Will speak at a conference hosted by CCC in March of 2016.

Joe Godwin, pastor at Patterson Park Church, Dayton, Ohio. Will speak at a conference hosted by CCC in March of 2016.

Greg Birdwell, pastor at Providence Bible Fellowship, West Chester, Ohio. Will speak at a conference hosted by CCC in March of 2016. Greg Birdwell is well aware of the numerous controversies surrounding CCC and their unreconciled status with many Christian families.  Yet, he unabashedly fellowships with them and supports them. Lest these men would pass on any opportunity to mock God, the theme of the conference hosted by CCC is, “Cultivating Companionship.”

Paul Dohse

TANC Ministries

12/10/2016

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