Paul's Passing Thoughts

Holy Schmoly…Who Needs Holiness When You Have Authority?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 5, 2017

afshin-ziafatAfshin Ziafat holds the title of “lead” pastor and “elder” of Providence Church in Frisco, TX. He was part of a panel discussion along with Conrad Mbewe, John Folmar, and moderated by Kevin DeYoung at the 2016 Cross Conference in Indianapolis, IN. The clip below is an excerpt from that discussion. It happens pretty early on. There are several examples I could have used, but this particular exchange really caught my attention.

Here is a transcript of the above video clip.

KEVIN DEYOUNG: So let’s talk about some of these terms that are often given to describe church. This is sort of Ecclesiology, the study of Church 101. So sometimes there is a reference made to the four attributes of the church. One, holy, catholic, apostolic church. So just jump in who wants to just, 30 seconds, what does it mean, “one church”?

JOHN FOLMAR: Unified in the gospel. United to Christ by the power of the Spirit, and thus united to one another.

DEYOUNG: Okay. So Ephesians 4, there is one spirit, one body, one Lord, one baptism. What about “holy”? Afshin?

AFSHIN ZIAFAT: Um, I’m not sure exactly what you’re wanting from that.


I’m not the smartest person in the world, and granted, as I go back and read the transcript, DeYoung doesn’t do a very good job at articulating what he’s asking, but even I understand the question. DeYoung wants to know what it means when we say the church is holy.

Yet here is a man who is supposed to have an academic and theological pedigree which supposedly qualifies him to sit on this panel of “experts”.  Here is a man who is supposedly responsible for the “sheperding” of hundreds if not thousands of people every week.  Here is a man to whom a room full of young people are looking for guidance and direction, a man whom people are supposed to submit to his “authority”.  And yet Ziafat says he’s not sure what DeYoung is wanting?  Does he mean he does not know what it means to say the church is “holy”, or does he not even know the definition of holy?  I am beyond incredulous!

Like I said, I am not the smartest person in the world- I didn’t go to seminary, and I am not the pastor of a church of thousands. I did however give a session on the definition of holiness back at the 2014 TANC conference. Perhaps Mr. Ziafat might find it useful. Here are the links to those sessions.

TANC 2014 – Andy Young, Session 1
TANC 2014 – Andy Young, Session 2
TANC 2014 – Andy Young, Session 3

Now let’s look at the remainder of the transcript:

(ZIAFAT CONTINUING) But I would say just, you know, the fact that, if I may couple with what [FOLMAR] just said, the need for you to be in the church to be shepherded, because, as I see, you know, one catholic church, but yet there’s a need for the local church that you are involved in actually being cared for. Because from the very beginning God is known as a shepherd and His people the sheep of His pasture and Jesus taught His disciples how to shepherd and Peter tells fellow elders that you are to shepherd the flock of God among you. So all that to say, I would tell [the audience] that if they are not in a local church, that’s God’s setup for how He as the shepherd is gonna shepherd them through under-shepherds. And so I think that they need to be in that local church.

Ziafat never answers the question with respect to holiness. Instead he does what politicians do when there is a question they don’t want to answer. They try to distract you by rambling on and on over talking points that you would want to hear, hoping to impress you with their verbosity, all the while saying nothing of any substance. (Donald Trump did this very effectively during the last election campaign.)

But notice what he does choose to talk about: the authority of the church in the lives of Christians. “…the need for you to be in the church to be shepherded…”, “…need for…actually being cared for…”, a local church is how God is “gonna shepherd them through under-shepherds…”, “…they need to be in that local church.” Authority, authority, authority.

I am not the only one who notices that Ziafat doesn’t answer the question. DeYoung realized it too. But rather than put him on the spot, he bails him out by actually answering the question for him. I mean, these guys have to stick together, right?

DEYOUNG: Right, for the accountability, for, you know, if the leaders of the church are accountable before God for their people you need to have some kind of membership, or to whom or for whom are they accountable, and that holy aspect is called out ones out from the world into this fellowship, shepherded, guided…

This is just one example of how these guys perceive themselves and you. You need to be shepherded for your own good. I am reminded once again of what John Immel said at the 2012 TANC conference regarding the metaphysical assumptions of reformed theology – man is fundamentally incompetent to be able to comprehend truth and know good; he therefore needs have good dictated to him; that dictated good is accomplished by the institutional church through divine mediators who presume to stand in God’s stead. And this is all done under the pretense of being done for your own good, since you poor schlubs don’t know any better.

This was the tenor of this entire panel discussion, that we should just be so thankful that we have these “godly” men to guide us poor incompetent masses though our ignorance, and we should just listen to them so that we don’t screw up our lives. I find such arrogance and condescension appalling, especially since these men are such intellectual pinheads who couldn’t come up with an original thought among the four of them to save their lives. They are simply regurgitating what they themselves have been taught. That much is obvious from this example.

~ Andy


Paul Dohse Challenges John Piper on Election

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on December 29, 2016

The Philosophy of the 2016 Cross Conference

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on December 29, 2016

15726636_10155615171629097_752908120015090611_n It would be accurate to say that everyone has a philosophy, they just don’t recognize it as such.  The closest most people get to acknowledging philosophy is when they talk about the philosophical discipline of EthicsEthics and morals are often used interchangeably, but I submit that the two concepts are mutually exclusive; but that would be the subject for another post.

Ethics is the study of how we decide our values; how we decide what is good and what is bad.  We place value on the things that are good.  How we decide our values is a function of epistemology, which is the study of how we know what we know.  Epistemology determines man’s competency to understand reality.

Epistemology is a function of metaphysics, which is the study of the nature of existence.  So when a person enters a discussion about ethics, the context includes whatever pre-existing philosophical assumptions he has already knowingly or unknowlingly accepted on a metaphysical level.

Which brings me to the picture above.  I have yet to listen to any of the podcasts from the 2016 Cross Conference in Indianapolis, IN, but I assume this quote is taken from something Kevin DeYoung said during one of the main sessions.  At first glance, it seems to be an inspiring statement that we could all agree with: basically you cannot have ethics apart from Jesus.

But spiritual “bumper stickers” such as this are the result of a fully formed philosophical system that goes all the way back to metaphysics.  If we understand the metaphysical assumption behind such a statement, we can better understand what DeYoung really means by it.

Because DeYoung, like all the rest of these guys at the Cross Conference, are unabashed reformed theologians, their root metaphysical assumptions are the same as Augustine.  Let me take a quote from John Immel and his second session of the 2012 TANC Conference:

Augustine said “original sin” means the “fall of man.” That is the metaphysical premise. This means that man qua man is fully and entirely disqualified. His very existence is a moral affront. The nature of sin so fully corrupted who and what he is that ultimately man cannot know any good. In other words, you cannot know that water is good for you. The nature of your depravity so corrupts what you are that you cannot define good. The conclusions that arise from this assumption are of vicious nature. Primarily, man has no ethical standard because he has no good. He can never act with good on his own.

So what is the progression of reformation philosophy?  The metaphysical premise is the total depravity of man.  Because man is totally depraved he is epistemologically disqualified from being able to understand his reality.  That means, he CANNOT know what is good.  And if he CANNOT know what is good then he CANNOT ascribe value, which means he is unable to arrive at an ethical standard.

When we take DeYoung’s statement and insert it into this philosophical system, here is what he is really saying.  The ethical teachings of Jesus are meaningless to you because you cannot possibly keep them.  You are epistemologically disqualified from being able to keep any ethical standard because of your depravity.  Therefore, you need Jesus to keep the standard for you.

What DeYoung has stated without stating it is that you need Jesus to keep the law for you because you cannot keep the law perfectly.  This is a righteousness based on the law.  This is keeping man under law, which is the Biblical definition of an unsaved person.  This is why justification is never finished under authentic protestant orthodoxy.  This is a false gospel!

~ Andy

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