Paul's Passing Thoughts

Clay Pots Can Know Truth

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

Originally published April 11, 2016

Even though my wife and I left the institutional church for good almost 2 years ago, there are still times where I must make the obligatory visit. Going in to visit family is one of those times. I am thankful that the church in which my wife grew up is not steeped in the vileness of Calvinism. Nevertheless, Protestant orthodoxy runs far and wide. Needless to say, as a graduate of the Christian school she attended for 13 years she has nurtured many close relationships with those who were her teachers and peers. So for us the visit is merely a social call and not for purposes of “worship”. Not being a particularly “social” person myself (I am an introvert by nature, and social events suck the life force out of me) I suffer the preaching while reminding myself that it will all be over soon.

Such was the case last weekend as I found myself once again sitting in an adult Sunday School class led by a layman of the church who is without a doubt kind-hearted and well-meaning, but who knows no other way to interpret the Scriptures than what he has been taught all his life. This particular class is right now making its way through the book of 2 Corinthians. The week we were there they were up to chapter 4. Take a look particularly at verses 6 and 7.

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

If we are good Protestants, we will look at these verses and see that clearly, this passage is drawing a contrast between our weakness as fragile clay pots and the power of God, right? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And if you have been a reader of PPT for any time, what should be obvious to you are the Protestant talking points and root assumptions: man has no ability, even the saints; there is nothing good in us; we are just worthless clay pots; any good we do is simply Christ doing it through us.

Now don’t get me wrong here, aside from the assumptions of total inability and the idea of the subjectivity of objective good works being performed outside of us, we can acknowledge that God does help us through His spirit. That in and of itself would not necessarily be a wrong application to make, but in the context of this passage it is a novice approach at best. The importance of understanding scripture in the correct historical context cannot be over emphasized. And these were my exact thoughts as I sat there squirming in my pew. There is so much richness to this passage that is being lost simply because people are conditioned to faulty interpretive assumptions.

With what premise then should we begin? First, let us understand that the dominant philosophy of the 1st century was a Platonic gnosticism which was nothing more than yet one more manifestation of the dualism that had dominated all philosophy in man’s attempt to explain the world since perhaps the beginning of time (I suggest you read the transcripts from John Immel’s 2013 TANC Conference sessions if you think that’s an over-generalization).

For the most part, Gnosticism can be summed up like this. Spirit is good and flesh (the physical) is evil. Objective truth can only be found in the spiritual realm. Since man is part of the physical realm, he has no access to objective truth (the “gnosis”). The only way that man can know truth is for a select few to bring it to them. These select few are the Philosopher Kings. They are the pre-ordained ones who have been given the “gnosis” by the “divines”. Therefore, the logical conclusion is that these “mediators” then are the only ones who have the right to rule the masses by virtue of the fact that they are the only ones who can know truth. This is the root system of thought behind ALL tyrannical systems, both political AND religious, for centuries!

Having this as a basis for our study, let us now consider chapter 4 of 2 Corinthians. Verses 1 through 7 present an exercise in rhetoric though a series of contrasting hypothetical assumptions for the purpose of presenting an argument. Let’s look at verses 1 and 2.

“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:1-2

This is our first clue that the apostle Paul is offering a refutation of Gnosticism. Key words include “hidden things” and “manifestation of truth”. Understand who the audience is. Paul’s letters to the assemblies were most often written in response to address some issues that had come to his attention. Remember, one tenet of Gnostic philosophy is that truth is hidden and cannot be known. It would appear as if there were false teachers who had brought this Gnostic teaching into the assemblies there in Corinth and were trying to blend it with Christianity. Notice Paul refers to the “hidden things of dishonesty”, “walking in craftiness”, and “handling the word of God dishonestly”. These are all trademarks of Gnosticism. These false teachers were twisting the word of God to fit their Gnostic orthodoxy, all the while stating that the reason it was true was because these things were “hidden” from the masses and only they were qualified to bring it to them, and they used scripture to support their views.

What is Paul’s contrasting argument?

“…commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God…”

He left truth up to their conscience. In other words, he expected his listeners to think. Paul said, I don’t want you people just to believe me because I say so. I don’t want you to believe me because I present myself as an authority. I expect you to use the faculties of reason and come to the conclusion on your own if what I preach is true or not.

 Verse 3 is a critical statement.

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:3

This is a profound statement regarding the gospel. God did not reveal himself through His word for the purpose of keeping it hidden, revealing it only to a select few. This is a direct assault on Gnosticism. Gnosticism taught that truth is hidden from the physical realm. But God said, no, I want you to know truth because you are lost and I want to you be reconciled to Me! That is the gospel- Be reconciled to God! That means that man CAN know truth and DOES have access to it. Paul said what we preach is not some hidden truth because that would be counter-productive. It would be antithetical to God’s purpose for the doctrine. That is what distinguishes what we preach from those Gnostic false teachers.

Verse 5 brings us to yet one more distinguishing characteristic of Gnosticism, and that is a narcissistic self-promotion.

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:5

Remember, only a select few were ordained to have access to the “gnosis”. As a result, these individuals felt that they were superior to the ignorant masses, perceiving themselves as having the right to rule over them. If you want to get to heaven, if you want to have salvation, then you do what I say, or else. Notice how the truth then becomes subordinated to authority. Persuasion is not necessary where power is used. The focus shifts from the message to the one delivering it. But Paul said, I don’t come to you with any desire to promote myself. You don’t get to heaven by doing what I tell you to do. You were saved because you were born again when you believed in Jesus Christ!

And that brings us back to the passage we looked at first.

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

This is perhaps the most scathing rebuke of Gnosticism. The fact that believers are referred to as “earthen vessels” is a testament to the metaphysical reality of the New Birth. Now granted, the word “earthen” in the Greek does mean a piece of pottery. But that just makes the argument all that more powerful. A clay pot is made from the “earth”. It is a part of the physical realm. To say that something that is part of the physical realm can know truth is a slap in the face to Gnosticism!

And what is the result of that? Paul uses the word translated “excellency”. In the Greek it is the word υπερβολη (hoo-per-bol-lay) from which we get our English word “hyperbole”. Hyperbole is using extremely outrageous statements to make a point. Paul says that the truth of the gospel sounds outrageous, but it can be known because it is reasonable because physical, frail clay pots have the ability to know it. This serves to demonstrate that its power comes directly from God and not from those who would place themselves as mediators between God and man.

Think about that for a moment. The power of the gospel is in its ability to persuade. It isn’t some self-appointed authority who demands compliance through the use of force. It is God who persuades through the preaching of His word. That means man has the ability to reason and understand it. This can lead a man to be persuaded that God is who He says he is. He can be persuaded to choose to forego his present life and put his faith in God and become a born again new creature who is the righteous offspring of God.   For the apostle Paul to declare that our REAL, righteous new-creaturehood is contained in earthly, physical containers is the antithesis of Gnosticism!

Andy

Clay Pots Can Know Truth

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on April 11, 2016

Even though my wife and I left the institutional church for good almost 2 years ago, there are still times where I must make the obligatory visit. Going in to visit family is one of those times. I am thankful that the church in which my wife grew up is not steeped in the vileness of Calvinism. Nevertheless, Protestant orthodoxy runs far and wide. Needless to say, as a graduate of the Christian school she attended for 13 years she has nurtured many close relationships with those who were her teachers and peers. So for us the visit is merely a social call and not for purposes of “worship”. Not being a particularly “social” person myself (I am an introvert by nature, and social events suck the life force out of me) I suffer the preaching while reminding myself that it will all be over soon.

Such was the case last weekend as I found myself once again sitting in an adult Sunday School class led by a layman of the church who is without a doubt kind-hearted and well-meaning, but who knows no other way to interpret the Scriptures than what he has been taught all his life. This particular class is right now making its way through the book of 2 Corinthians. The week we were there they were up to chapter 4. Take a look particularly at verses 6 and 7.

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

If we are good Protestants, we will look at these verses and see that clearly, this passage is drawing a contrast between our weakness as fragile clay pots and the power of God, right? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And if you have been a reader of PPT for any time, what should be obvious to you are the Protestant talking points and root assumptions: man has no ability, even the saints; there is nothing good in us; we are just worthless clay pots; any good we do is simply Christ doing it through us.

Now don’t get me wrong here, aside from the assumptions of total inability and the idea of the subjectivity of objective good works being performed outside of us, we can acknowledge that God does help us through His spirit. That in and of itself would not necessarily be a wrong application to make, but in the context of this passage it is a novice approach at best. The importance of understanding scripture in the correct historical context cannot be over emphasized. And these were my exact thoughts as I sat there squirming in my pew. There is so much richness to this passage that is being lost simply because people are conditioned to faulty interpretive assumptions.

With what premise then should we begin? First, let us understand that the dominant philosophy of the 1st century was a Platonic gnosticism which was nothing more than yet one more manifestation of the dualism that had dominated all philosophy in man’s attempt to explain the world since perhaps the beginning of time (I suggest you watch all 5 of John Immel’s sessions from last year’s 2015 TANC conference if you think that’s an over-generalization).

For the most part, Gnosticism can be summed up like this. Spirit is good and flesh (the physical) is evil. Objective truth can only be found in the spiritual realm. Since man is part of the physical realm, he has no access to objective truth (the “gnosis”). The only way that man can know truth is for a select few to bring it to them. These select few are the Philosopher Kings. They are the pre-ordained ones who have been given the “gnosis” by the “divines”. Therefore, the logical conclusion is that these “mediators” then are the only ones who have the right to rule the masses by virtue of the fact that they are the only ones who can know truth. This is the root system of thought behind ALL tyrannical systems, both political AND religious, for centuries!

Having this as a basis for our study, let us now consider chapter 4 of 2 Corinthians. Verses 1 through 7 present an exercise in rhetoric though a series of contrasting hypothetical assumptions for the purpose of presenting an argument. Let’s look at verses 1 and 2.

“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:1-2

This is our first clue that the apostle Paul is offering a refutation of Gnosticism. Key words include “hidden things” and “manifestation of truth”. Understand who the audience is. Paul’s letters to the assemblies were most often written in response to address some issues that had come to his attention. Remember, one tenet of Gnostic philosophy is that truth is hidden and cannot be known. It would appear as if there were false teachers who had brought this Gnostic teaching into the assemblies there in Corinth and were trying to blend it with Christianity. Notice Paul refers to the “hidden things of dishonesty”, “walking in craftiness”, and “handling the word of God dishonestly”. These are all trademarks of Gnosticism. These false teachers were twisting the word of God to fit their Gnostic orthodoxy, all the while stating that the reason it was true was because these things were “hidden” from the masses and only they were qualified to bring it to them, and they used scripture to support their views.

What is Paul’s contrasting argument?

“…commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God…”

He left truth up to their conscience. In other words, he expected his listeners to think. Paul said, I don’t want you people just to believe me because I say so. I don’t want you to believe me because I present myself as an authority. I expect you to use the faculties of reason and come to the conclusion on your own if what I preach is true or not.

 Verse 3 is a critical statement.

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:3

This is a profound statement regarding the gospel. God did not reveal himself through His word for the purpose of keeping it hidden, revealing it only to a select few. This is a direct assault on Gnosticism. Gnosticism taught that truth is hidden from the physical realm. But God said, no, I want you to know truth because you are lost and I want to you be reconciled to Me! That is the gospel- Be reconciled to God! That means that man CAN know truth and DOES have access to it. Paul said what we preach is not some hidden truth because that would be counter-productive. It would be antithetical to God’s purpose for the doctrine. That is what distinguishes what we preach from those Gnostic false teachers.

Verse 5 brings us to yet one more distinguishing characteristic of Gnosticism, and that is a narcissistic self-promotion.

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:5

Remember, only a select few were ordained to have access to the “gnosis”. As a result, these individuals felt that they were superior to the ignorant masses, perceiving themselves as having the right to rule over them. If you want to get to heaven, if you want to have salvation, then you do what I say, or else. Notice how the truth then becomes subordinated to authority. Persuasion is not necessary where power is used. The focus shifts from the message to the one delivering it. But Paul said, I don’t come to you with any desire to promote myself. You don’t get to heaven by doing what I tell you to do. You were saved because you were born again when you believed in Jesus Christ!

And that brings us back to the passage we looked at first.

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

This is perhaps the most scathing rebuke of Gnosticism. The fact that believers are referred to as “earthen vessels” is a testament to the metaphysical reality of the New Birth. Now granted, the word “earthen” in the Greek does mean a piece of pottery. But that just makes the argument all that more powerful. A clay pot is made from the “earth”. It is a part of the physical realm. To say that something that is part of the physical realm can know truth is a slap in the face to Gnosticism!

And what is the result of that? Paul uses the word translated “excellency”. In the Greek it is the word υπερβολη (hoo-per-bol-lay) from which we get our English word “hyperbole”. Hyperbole is using extremely outrageous statements to make a point. Paul says that the truth of the gospel sounds outrageous, but it can be known because it is reasonable because physical, frail clay pots have the ability to know it. This serves to demonstrate that its power comes directly from God and not from those who would place themselves as mediators between God and man.

Think about that for a moment. The power of the gospel is in its ability to persuade. It isn’t some self-appointed authority who demands compliance through the use of force. It is God who persuades through the preaching of His word. That means man has the ability to reason and understand it. This can lead a man to be persuaded that God is who He says he is. He can be persuaded to choose to forego his present life and put his faith in God and become a born again new creature who is the righteous offspring of God.   For the apostle Paul to declare that our REAL, righteous new-creaturehood is contained in earthly, physical containers is the antithesis of Gnosticism!

Andy

Why Mark Dever Hates America and Old People

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on January 22, 2016

Dever_bwOriginally published July 3, 2013

“But yet, his ministry confronted me for using a logo similar to his T4G logo. Actually, legal action was implied. He will fight for what his logo represents, but anybody who wants an American flag in the sanctuary is a pathetic person stupid enough to think Christians need a flag to worship. And yet, many are miffed by my utter disgust for these people.”  

Well, tomorrow is the Fourth of July and the Calvinist bloggers, per the usual, are typing away about the evils of eclipsing the Son by celebrating America. I was sent one such article by a reader of PPT entitled, “Removing Old Glory for God’s Glory.” Apparently, the all-sovereign God dropped the ball when He made America great and created competition for himself. The metaphysical insanity of Calvinism truly staggers the imagination. The article highlighted heretic Mark Dever who rules his Southern Baptist church in D.C. with an iron fist. Dever, who represents the Neo-Calvinist mentality on this, stated the following:

When I was coming to the church in Washington DC, I requested the flag be left out of the sanctuary. Over a year later, an older member of the church asked me where the flag was. I said, “What flag?” She was asking where the American and Christian flags were because Memorial Day was coming up, and we needed a flag. When we gather in the church we’re more fundamentally Christian than American. We have much more in common with the Nigerian who is in Christ than the non-Christian across the street. She was not happy and it was taken to the church leadership. I told the deacons we could leave the flag but it’s a fairly new custom and in this age things are so politicized that the flag looks like a right wing political statement. We want to reach democrats too with the Gospel. After tearful discussion, we decided to keep them out of the sanctuary.

This statement reflects why I have so much disdain for Calvinists. Aside from their hideous false gospel, they are cold-blooded Stoic control freaks. However, my deepest resentment of them, aside from their false gospel of progressive justification, comes from my experience as a fire inspector. My work involved nursing homes, and the abuse that I saw has really left me with a penchant for despising those who disrespect the elderly and their honorable legacies. For one, never talk to an elderly person like you are talking to a young child due to their declining mental capabilities. This is a real pet peeve of mine. If I see you do it, I will not slap you on your silly face, but only because it would be against the law. Focus on what they do understand and address them as a peer. If you could read their minds, what they think of your stupidity and disrespect might be surprising.

These are people with a story. These are people who have paid the dues of life. God has them here for a reason. In our country, anybody in their 70’s or 80’s could be someone who lost half of their family (or all of it) to WWII so that you can  have the freedom to eat what you want, read want you want, work where you want, drive what you want, and think what you want. Show some respect. You can quote me on this: one reason I despise Mark Dever is his pattern of disrespecting the elderly. Frankly, this pattern is also indicative of the Neo-Calvinist movement in general. Notice that he is compelled to refer to one of his victims as, “an older member.” Why is that relevant to the issue in his mind?

The American flag means a lot to our contemporary elder population because of what it represents. It represents a people who saved the world from tyranny. It represents a people who refused to give in to their fears in the face of formidable evil beasts never before encountered; an evil that seemed to be otherworldly. They knew for such an evil to prevail would leave an earth unfit for habitation. Courage told them that death or liberty were the only two options. They hold their hand over their heart with streaming tears on their face because that flag waving in the wind represents the termination of killing fields throughout contemporary history. Killing fields that showed no pity for the baby, the child, the fair damsel or the elderly. They paid the price so that Mark Dever has the freedom to look in the mirror and admire his in-vogue unshaven GQ Magazine look; the freedom to stand before thousands of naive youth with hearts muttering, “It’s the voice of a god, and not man.”

And what was his answer to the “older” member?

What flag?

Indeed Mr. Mark Dever.

He then couches his indifference to this parishioner’s perspective by implementing the “tearful” resolution. What is more despicable than the cold indifference of a Calvinist? Perhaps the disingenuous sympathy that insults the intelligence of a child. Dever, while calling himself a pastor, has no ability to possess empathy for those who disagree with him. His social instincts are those of a predatory animal. Notice his further demeaning of the “older” person by suggesting that said person posited the idea that Christians “needed” the flag. Dever makes no distinction between the parishioner’s concern for what the flag represents and a supposed “need.” But yet, his ministry confronted me for using a logo similar to his T4G logo. Actually, legal action was implied. He will fight for what his logo represents, but anybody who wants an American flag in the sanctuary is a pathetic person stupid enough to think Christians need a flag to worship. His minion that contacted me complained about what it costed them to design the logo, but what of the price paid in order for the American flag to stand? And yet, many are miffed by my utter disgust for these people. Much more could be discussed here in regard to Dever’s reality disconnect and incompetence; for example, his suggestion that the American flag is only loved by conservative Republicans.

But where does this mentality come from? It comes from Dever’s Calvinistic philosophy. Augustine, Luther, and Calvin predicated their theology on Platonism. Susan Dohse presented the irrefutable evidence for this at TANC 2013 using the words from Augustine’s own mouth. It’s an ideology that despises life in general. It’s an ideology that seeks to separate itself from life as much as possible and only regard an ambiguous eternity in the Spirit realm. Good works of men are completely irrelevant because they are of this life. The story of the Boy Scout who throws himself in front of a car to save the elderly pedestrian is a gospel of death unless mixed with fear that one would believe that this is a good deed, for only God is good and to believe the deed is good is a mortal sin. To shrink back in terror that the deed is perceived as good is only a venial sin.

This philosophy is the foundation of the Reformation as represented in Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustinian Order. Calvin then took Luther’s dualist construct and applied it to a full-orbed worldview via the Calvin Institutes. The construct ONLY sees reality from TWO perspectives: the glory story (any perspective of human existence good or bad) or the cross story. America is the glory story. There are only two realities in the Calvinist worldview. It’s either the glory story or the cross story. And each focus yields a certain result. Dever wanted the flag out because it hinders the cross story. That’s it in a nutshell. His other stated reasons are lies. There is a method to his mystic despotism.

Plato disdained those who insisted on interpreting reality through the five senses. He perceived them as ignorant morons who didn’t know the difference between the true forms and the shadows of the forms. He believed the true forms were accessed through ideas and thinking. Those who are born as philosophers should therefore rule over the unenlightened who insist on being enslaved to the material world. The Reformers merely made Christ and His works the true forms. The glory story is the material; the cross story is Spirit. Likewise, Dever has no patience for stupid old fogies who insist on living in the shadows. No patience for those who take away from the cross story for some other glory. Hence, the title of said post:

Removing Old Glory for God’s Glory.

In the world of the Reformers, there is no room for both. And each focus yields a certain result. Actually, this philosophy has ruled the Western world for centuries in either Platonic secular mode (communism etc.) or integrated religions. The purveyors of each have a common bind: the enlightened must rule the world for this is humanities only hope. In the minds of the Reformed, the only thing worse than a Marxist is one who interprets life by the shadows. Therefore, the Reformer sees the Marxist as a cut above the common man which does not bode well for anything Americana.

The framers of our constitution were the first in history to say “no” to European determinism whether secular or religious. As John Immel pointed out in this year’s conference, their minds were endowed with knowledge concerning the results of “truth” by force or utopia by force. I think the reader who sent me the link added apt thoughts to the reality of that pushback:

The apostle Paul was probably the biggest patriot in the NT.  He was very proud of his nationality and grieved for his people, the Jews!  You can easily make a case for that.

Oh yeah, it’s easy to see that their same disdain for the freedom represented by the flag is the same disdain for freedom of the laity.

It represents freedom of the individual, which is the last thing a tyrant wants, spiritual or otherwise, free-thinking individuals.

Luther and Calvin disdained free thought. Read Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation for yourself. And that’s Dever’s problem with the flag; what it represents. The T4G logo is not a problem because it represents the control he thinks he should have over those who live in the shadows exemplified by unbiblicaly excommunicating 256 church members for non-attendance. Think about this: couple that with Calvin’s power of the keys which his elders have often written about; the idea that elders have the power to bind and loose salvation on earth. He thought he was condemning 256 people to hell that day.

And that is the difference between Mark Dever and every bloodthirsty tyrant that ever walked the earth, the representation of the flag, but a difference in character as razor thin as a playing card. His associates dream of launching people into the air with catapults and running them over with gospel buses, they even plainly say so in public. The flag represents a restraint that deprives them of their psychotic visions of grandeur.

So tomorrow, on July 4th, eat lots of hotdogs, and say a prayer for freedom. And pray that God would continue to save America from Calvin’s legacy of bloodshed in the name of Christianity.

paul

The Problem With Protestant Election

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 22, 2015

Blog Radio LogoListen to the program or download audio file. 

Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio .com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul Dohse. Tonight, another Paul Dohse parenthesis in our Heidelberg Disputation series, “The Problem With Protestant Election.”

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

If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. Remember to turn your PC volume down to prevent feedback over your cellphone. If you choose to use Skype to listen to the show, my advice is to just dial direct from your Skype account without using any of the Blogtalk links. It’s the same number, 347-855-8317.

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

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

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

Before we get started tonight, I must implement our new policy here at False Reformation. I think as recovering Protestants, we must embrace our fears and failures. One example is the sin minefield. Whenever disciples endeavor to embark on some new project, deep introspection ensues. Could the project cause us to sin? Pray tell, what are our true motives? And overall, we deem it our duty to recognize the major weaknesses of the other disciples, and for me, that is, “going off on rabbit trails all the time.”

Therefore, as a recovering Protestant, I have decided to embrace this failure as one no longer under condemnation. Yes, whenever I go down a rabbit trail, I want to make it a memorial of remembrance that I am not condemned for going down that rabbit trail. Hence, from now on, just prior to going down a rabbit trail in this show, the rabbit trail will be introduced with the following song:

So basically, when you hear an excerpt of that song on the program, you know that it is a rabbit trail coming. The upbeat introduction is also a remembrance that I need not seek forgiveness for the rabbit trail least I be condemned. Ahmen.

What is the major problem with the Protestant view of election? It is tenfold. First, as thoroughly documented by TANC ministries, the Protestant Reformation is dead wrong on salvation. The second point exacerbates the problem: all positions on election come from Protestantism, and all positions are framed by Protestant scholars. In other words, Protestant academia controls the context in which the issue is debated. Think about the insanity of this: all arguments about election start with a Protestant context; the so-called 5 points of Calvinism. In the same way that a “Band-Aid” viz, a brand defines what something is, Protestants of the authentic Reformed tradition have completely co-opted the context and framework of the argument which virtually guarantees the outcome that they want; either capitulation, or confusion which only bolsters their worldview that mankind cannot comprehend reality.

Thirdly, while there are many verses in the Bible that seem to indicate an individual preselection for salvation and damnation, there are also many that indicate that mankind is able to choose or reject salvation. There is obviously a contradiction which is written off as paradox, BUT, with one side of the paradox being the engine of existence. What am I saying here? They claim paradox, but only one side of the paradox is applicable—the sovereign side.

Fourthly, Protestantism deliberately uses a process of assimilation based on allowing the saints to assume things about orthodoxy at its progressive points. As the saints are gradually assimilated into full blown Platonism dressed in biblical garb, they are allowed to assume that “faith alone” does not include sanctification, and that “total depravity” does not include the saints, and that God does not preselect people for eternal damnation. This is a 500 year-old system of assimilation that is evil genius. And they know exactly what they are doing. How do they condone it? Well, we must not teach things that the great unwashed masses are not yet “ready for.” Nevertheless, in the same way that pot leads to harder drugs, hardcore Protestant Platonists invariably move from a grudging soft determinism to soft determinism, ie., so-called 3 or 4 point Calvinism, but eventually become advocates of hard determinism.

Fifthly, we are allowing a religion that continually produces bad fruit to dictate the confines of the debate and define the interpretive terms and words. Protestant orthodoxy has effectively defined all of the biblical terms in which our reality is interpreted, and be sure of it, those who effectively define the definition of words control reality. We have allowed a religion that continually produces rotten fruit to co-opt the grammar. That’s a really, really bad idea.

Sixth, a casual reading of Scripture is tortured because of the overall biblical dialogue found by independent reading. If God preselects some for salvation and others for damnation for his glory and self-love, why do we have Christ weeping over Jerusalem, why do we have God saying, “come let us reason together saith the Lord,” why do we have the apostle Paul expending all kinds of energy to “persuade” people in regard to the gospel? If individual determinism is true, the Bible makes NO sense whatsoever. Let’s look at a specific example of this:

Luke 16:19 –  “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried,23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No,father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Ok, so, the guy asks Abraham to send Lazarus over to give him relief from his suffering, and Abraham’s answer includes nothing about preselection; why not? If the guy is over there suffering for God’s glory, what’s all of this other discussion about? And why do they discuss the best means of persuasion? If the point is preselection, how people might be best persuaded is certainly a mute point, no? What is problematic is the Bible’s constant passing on making the preselection angle the main point when such opportunities appear over and over again throughout the Bible. Let’s look at another example. Matthew 26:24.

The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Well, doesn’t God always want what’s best? Consider this verse in context of what love is via 1Corinthians chapter 13. Love ALWAYS seeks what’s best for others. Bottom line: if preselection is true, the Bible is nothing more than a convoluted quagmire of confusion. But God is NOT a God of confusion.

Here is another thought. The Reformed love to talk about the potter and the clay deal in Romans 9. The potter has a right to make some vessels for wrath and others for salvation and He is glorified by both. But then there is this also…

2Timothy 2:20 – Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. 22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

Here, what kind of vessel you are is determined by “cleansing” yourself. We will not be discussing Romans 9 tonight, but it will be covered in a series of articles I am presently writing.

Seventh, Biblicism rejects plenary paradox as an interpretive method because of interpretive presuppositions demanded by Scripture itself: God is NOT a God of confusion. Though paradox is a biblical reality, it is rare, and always suspect. It is guilty until proven innocent.

Eighth, individual HOPE is an acid test for truth. If something lacks individual assurance or hope, it is extremely suspect. And regardless of Protestant squealing of denial in epic volume, the engine of its progressive salvation is predicated on the so-called Christian being under a greater awareness of condemnation and fear—not a soteriology that escapes the terrible-two.

Ninth, because of the way the Bible is written, Protestant paradox demands an inconsistent method of interpretation. In some verses paradox is employed while in others grammar is employed without any determinate principle whatsoever except orthodox presuppositions. In other words, interpretive methodology demanded by the context is ignored and exchanged for orthodoxy. I suppose the classic example of this is Romans 8:2 where the same word for “law” used twice in that verse is interpreted both as a written standard and a realm. Once you break an interpretive rule of that sort, anything goes; you can interpret the Bible any way you want to.

Lastly, the injection of chapters and verses into the Bible by the Protestant Reformers has made it possible to proof-text orthodoxy without considering the corpus of Scripture. Furthermore, it suits preaching and not the necessity of reading the corpus without elements being emphasized through a numbering system. It is incredible to consider that chapters and verses were deemed unnecessary until the 16th century. It should not only seem suspect, it should be deemed such. Chapters and verses make it possible to sell a doctrine with a collection of biblical one-liners.

Therefore, an alternative to the traditional view of election must be sought, and the traditional definition of the words used to discuss this issue must be traded for their biblical assessment.

Indeed, there are many verses in the Bible that seem to indicate that people are preselected for salvation; after all, the word “elect” is in the Bible, but there are just as many or more verses that seem to indicate people are able to believe or reject the gospel. You can understand why we are still at a stalemate 500 years later. But again, is this because we are constrained by Protestant rules of engagement? Unfortunately, for the most part, logic enters in based on subjective criteria rather than conclusions drawn from the objective definition of words. And again, if one buys into the paradox argument, they are merely on their way to being full-blown predeterminists.

Before we get into the meat of our study, let’s serve up a few appetizers. First, the word “elect” or often translated “chosen” does not always apply to people who need salvation or people at all for that matter. The word “election” sometimes applies to deity, ie., Christ, or the holy angels, or a thing such as the nation of Israel. The nation Israel spoken of as being elect is a major Old Testament theme.* Not only that, in Romans 11:2, Israel is spoken of in the exact same way that elected individuals are spoken of in Romans 8:29. This should alert us that something is up with all of this.

Secondly, the definition of “called” creates critical problems for the 5 points of Calvinism (TULIP) with the other points attempting to cover for the one fundamental flaw. Again, this has to do with the definition of “called.” God calls all people because Christ died for everybody. In the minds of the Reformers, if God preselected some for salvation and others for damnation, He could not have possibly died for the sins of the damned. If He died for their sins, they are forgiven, and only need to accept the pardon. If Christ died for all sin, this suggests a choosing by men rather than God. Hence, the Reformed called for a limited atonement (the “L” in TULIP) effected by an “effectual calling” (Irresistible grace [the “I” in TULIP]).

Herein is the problem: Christ died to end the law, and how many people are under the law? Right, everyone. So, Romans 10:4 alone completely blows up the leading authority on predeterminism; the 5 points of Calvinism. Or…

Colossians 2:11 – In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God,who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Instead of Christ dying for everyone, which throws a large monkey wrench into the 5 points of Calvinism, the Reformed merely keep the so-called “saints” under the law and its “legal demands.” This takes care of the problem of the law being ended because everyone remains under it while those who are preselected receive a perpetual forgiveness from Christ for their ongoing sin. This makes limited atonement possible. According to the Synod of Dort  and the Canons of Dort in 1618 and 1619 which codified the 5 points of Calvinism:

For it was the entirely free plan and very gracious will and intention of God the Father that the enlivening and saving effectiveness of his Son’s costly death should work itself out in all his chosen ones, in order that he might grant justifying faith to them only and thereby lead them without fail to salvation. In other words, it was God’s will that Christ through the blood of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father; that he should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit’s other saving gifts, he acquired for them by his death); that he should cleanse them by his blood from all their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before or after their coming to faith; that he should faithfully preserve them to the very end; and that he should finally present them to himself, a glorious people, without spot or wrinkle. (Christ’s Death and Human Redemption Through It, Article 8)

Here is the point: the leading authority on Protestant election is the 5 points of Calvinism which is plainly wrong and defines the saints as unbelievers according to the biblical definition of under law versus under grace.

Verses that assume choice more or less speak for themselves—let’s examine verses that seem to indicate preselection, and we will start with the book of Ephesians:

1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Let’s begin by defining who the “we” and the “us” are. In context, it is the Jews. When Paul wrote that “he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” he is talking about the predestination of the Jews as a group, not individuals. Hence…

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

The first to hope in Christ and obtain an inheritance are the Jews. The “you also” are the Gentiles to whom Paul is writing. Keeping in mind that Christ is elect, note the following:

In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

It’s Christ and the plan of salvation that is in Christ, or the “mystery of the gospel”** that is preordained—not individuals. But, how do individuals obtain this “inheritance”?

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

“You also” is the Gentiles in general, “when you heard the word of truth, and believed in him” is how the inheritance is obtained: by individual faith. At the time one believes they receive a “guarantee.” This is why Christ is elect, and why Israel is also elect: national Israel is also part of the salvation plan and the mystery of the gospel.

Ephesians 2:11 – Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Other than the fact that this passage makes being part of the commonwealth of Israel synonymous with salvation, we see that “we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” This speaks of two groups, not individuals who have access to the father through the Spirit. God’s clear purpose in election was to unite both Jew and Gentile into one body, not the preselection of some individuals over others.

There are many, many other verses we could discuss, but we will close with a couple of tough ones in this whole discussion. First, the dreaded Acts 13:48.

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

First of all, as Andy Young aptly pointed out in his Acts series, the context of Acts 13 is a historical account of Romans 11 in full action. Second, many who contend against preselection of individuals quibble about the actual meaning of the word “appointed” or “ordained” in said verse. For example, here is what the late Dave Hunt said about it:

Some claim that the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as comments from early church writers, indicate
that the first 15 chapters of Acts were probably written first in Hebrew. The Greek would be a
translation… going back to a “redacted Hebrew” version, based upon word-for-word Greek-Hebrew equivalents, would render Acts 13:48 more like “as many as submitted to, needed, or wanted salvation, were saved (Dave Hunt, What Love is This? 3rd Edition, 2006, page 264).

Perhaps, but I think there is a better explanation. Go with me to Romans 13:1ff.

 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good.

See the word, “appointed” in this verse? It is the same word for “appointed” in Acts 13:48. In fact, I believe, if I am not mistaken, these are the only two places in the NT where the word is used in the exact same form (tense, voice, etc., etc.). It is the governmental authorities that are ordained for a specific purpose plainly stated in the context. Now, let me ask you a question: does that mean everyone who works in government didn’t have a choice to do so? Does this mean that everyone who works in government was preselected to do so and had no choice? Or, did their own decision to work in government make them the appointed authority? You see that God appoints the means to an end and not necessarily those who choose to be part of the means. Likewise, as many Gentiles who believed became God’s appointed heirs to the commonwealth of Israel in Christ. That doesn’t mean they had no choice in the matter.

Let’s look at this from yet another angle. If an appointed means necessarily means that all of the individuals that are a part of the means were also preselected, does that mean all government officials were chosen to be such by God? Did God choose Adolf Hitler for your good? That’s the stated purpose for governmental authorities, no?

But thirdly, why are the Reformed so keen on using this verse anyway? By their very doctrine, those who presently believe do not necessarily possess ETERNAL life. If you presently have eternal life, it’s eternal, right? Because of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints (the “P” in TULIP), the jury is out on whether you get eternal life or not at “the tribunal” as Calvin called it.

In closing, what am I saying here? Am I saying that this proposition is the definitive answer to Protestant determinism? No, so what am I saying? I am saying that the purveyors of a false gospel have dictated the definitions and confines of the debate for 500 years, and the time for an honest discussion is now, and that discussion must be divorced from Protestant orthodoxy found egregiously wanting. I do believe that this proposition, ie., God preselects the means and not individuals, is a good starting point.

With that, let’s go to the phones.

________________________________________________________________

* Deuteronomy 7:6

“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

Exodus 19:4-6

‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”

Psalms 135:4

For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His own possession.

Isaiah 41:8-9

“But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend, You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its remotest parts And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you.

Isaiah 43:10

“You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.

Isaiah 44:1-2

“But now listen, O Jacob, My servant, And Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus says the LORD who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you, ‘Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen.

Isaiah 45:4

“For the sake of Jacob My servant, And Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor Though you have not known Me.

Amos 3:2

“You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”

** Ephesians 3:1 – For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

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

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

Blog Radio LogoListen to the lesson or download audio file. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: