Paul's Passing Thoughts

Know Your Cuts of Calvinism

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on December 15, 2015

Originally posted July 2, 2013

1. Total Depravity: Pertains to the saints also.

2. Justification by Faith Alone: Pertains to sanctification also.

3. Mortification and Vivification: Perpetual death and rebirth for living by faith alone in sanctification to maintain justification. The reliving of our baptism “again and again.”

4. Double Imputation: Christ’s passive obedience to the cross for justification, and His active obedience as a substitution for our obedience in sanctification.

5. Deep Repentance (aka Intelligent Repentance): Seeks the death of mortification in re-experiencing our new birth.

6. New Obedience (aka New Fruit): The experience of Christ’s active obedience in sanctification (vivification).

7. The New Birth: Perpetual mortification and vivification.

8. The Objective Gospel: All reality is interpreted through the redemptive works of Christ.

9. Christ for Us: Christ died for our justification, and lived a perfect life for our sanctification.

10. The Imperative Command is Grounded in the Indicative Event: Biblical commands show forth what Christ has accomplished for us and what we are unable to do in sanctification. Works are experienced only as they flow from the indicative event of the gospel.

11. Neo-Nomianism (New Law, aka New Legalism): The belief that we can please God by obeying the law in sanctification.

12. Progressive Sanctification: The progression of justification to glorification.

13. Progressive Imputation: Whatever is seen in the gospel narrative and meditated upon is imputed to our sanctification, whether mortification or vivification.

14. The Golden Chain of Salvation: See cut 12.

15. Good Repentance: Repenting of good works.

16. In-Lawed in Christ: Christ fulfilled the law perfectly and imputed it to our sanctification.

17. Redemptive Historical Hermeneutics (the Christocentric Hermeneutic, aka the Apostle’s Hermeneutic): The Bible as historical narrative for the sole purpose of showing forth Christ’s redemptive works.

18. Faith: A neutral entity within us with no intrinsic worth that is able to reflect the object of its focus outside of us. The object of focus can be experienced within, but remains outside of us.

19. The Heart: The residence of evil desires and faith. It can be reoriented (the “reorientation of the heart” or “reorientation of desires”) to reflect Christ via mortification and vivification.

20. Flesh: The world realm where evil is manifested and experienced.

21. Spirit: The Spirit realm where the imputed works of Christ are manifested and experienced (not applied through our actions).

22. Christian Hedonism: Seeks to experience the joy of vivification.

23. Obedience of Faith: New Obedience.

24. Christ in Us: “By faith,” and faith only has substance and reality to the degree of the object it is placed in; i.e., Christ outside of us.

25. Vital Union: Makes experiencing the gospel possible. Makes mortification and vivification possible.

26. Eclipsing the Son (aka the Emphasis Hermeneutic): Focusing on anything other than Christ. Anything that is not seen through a Christocentric prism creates shadows that we live in. The obstacles that create the shadows may be truth, but they aren’t the “best truth.” “They may be good things, but not the best thing.”

27. Sabbath Rest: Sanctification. We are to “rest and feed” on Christ for our Christian life. The primary day this is done is Sunday. Through preaching and the sacraments we “kill” (mortification, or the contemplation of our evil and misery) resulting in vivification throughout the rest of the week.

28. The Subjective Power of the Gospel: The manifestation of the gospel that flows from gospel contemplationism. We never know for certain whether it is a result of our efforts or the Spirit’s work (although the Spirit’s work is always experienced by joy); hence, the power of the objective gospel is subjective (Heidelberg Disputation: Thesis 24).

29. Mortal Sin: Good works by the Christian not attended by fear that they may be of one’s own effort (HD 7).

30. Venial Sin: Good works by the Christian attended with fear (HD 7).

31. Power of the Keys (aka Protestant Absolution): Reformed elders have the authority to bind or loose sin on earth (Calvin Institutes 3.4.12).

32. Redemptive Church Discipline: In all cases to convert one to cuts 1-31. This redeems them to the only one, true faith. This can be a long process, and said person is not free to leave a given church until the elders bind or loose.

33. Preach the Gospel to Yourself: See cuts 1-32.

The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification, Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on September 12, 2015

Blog Radio LogoOriginally published March 31, 2015

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Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 2 of “The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification.”

How is 1John used to argue for a progressive salvation, and what is John really saying in his epistle? That’s what we are discussing tonight. If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective.

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.

Ok, so this whole idea is very Protestant, that we must keep going back to the same gospel that saved us in order to keep ourselves saved. But, it’s all good because we are going back to the “gospel” and the “gospel” is by faith alone so going back to the gospel is a faith alone work which isn’t really a work. So, it’s ok to do something to keep ourselves saved as long as it’s a faith alone work.

As we discussed last week, here is where the home fellowship movement stands apart from the institutional church: salvation is a finished work; salvation is NOT a progression from point A to point B. The new birth is a onetime instantaneous quickening of the believer. The believer then in fact does move on to something completely different—kingdom living, or discipleship. Central to Protestantism is the idea that moving on from the gospel to doctrinal maturity is an abomination. The who’s who of Protestantism can be cited many times in stating this in no uncertain terms.

The home fellowship movement is not a mere preference over the institutional church—it is an anti-progressive justification movement. It is a return to the true gospel of Christ. All of the institutional church either embraces progressive justification or is willing to fellowship with it and is therefore altogether guilty.

Last week, we also introduced the fact that 1John must be interpreted according to its historical context. The number one nemesis of the 1st century assemblies was Gnosticism and 1John is a treatise against it. We covered John’s introduction which was a direct pushback against the Gnostic idea that the spiritual Christ did not die on the cross. We believe that John was specifically addressing the Gnostic teachings of Cerinthus. He taught that there was more than one Christ; one born naturally of human parents that will be resurrected with all other men in the last days, and the spiritual Christ who dwells in heaven. Elsewhere, John wrote:

1John 4:1 – “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”

The very definition of antichrist teachings is the denial that the true Christ (Messiah) was part of the material world, or actually came in the flesh. Gnostic systems of thought are very complex, but the cardinal principle is that material is evil and the spiritual or invisible is good.

The important distinction is that biblically, the material creation is not inherently evil, but weak. This is an important distinction because Christ coming as man makes it possible for men to be literally recreated and part of God’s literal family. The teaching that “denies Jesus is the Christ” (Messiah: 1Jn 2:22) circumvents the new birth. Throughout this epistle, John refers to the recipients as “little offsprings”(teknion; little children). I want to dig into this a little deeper; the new birth and its relationship to apostolic succession, but first, let me address the crux issue here.

John was also addressing an aspect of Gnosticism that believed the following: sin only resides in the material, and the spiritual part of man is sinless and has never sinned. In essence, it doesn’t matter what we do in the body because the spiritual part of man is sinless and has never sinned, and that is the only part of man that is eternal anyway. Many scholars concur that this was a common form of Gnosticism. Of course, this disavows any need for Christ to die on the cross and makes the knowledge of this supposed lie salvation itself. Salvation by being made into something new is out—coming to grips with the gnosis regarding man’s inner spark of divinity is in. This backdrop now explains exactly what John was getting at in 1John 1:7-10 and 2:1,2.

1John 1:7 – “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

1John 2:1 – “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

“We” in these verses should be viewed as speaking to mankind in general while including both saved and unsaved individuals. Recognizing that Christ came to deal with man’s sin problem is efficacious to the gospel.

John is NOT stating the Protestant gospel of “deep repentance” which teaches that we keep ourselves saved (or washed) via a “lifestyle of repentance.” That would be a perpetual return to the same gospel that saved us for relief from “present sin.” That flies in the face of biblical justification. This makes “if” in these verses a conditional conjunction. That would mean that our sins continue to be forgiven, or washed, or cleansed “if” we “walk in the light” and continue to repent. That’s clearly works salvation, and clearly a reapplication of Christ’s sacrifice to present sin. As actually taught in Protestant circles, the sacrifice only happened once, but the remembrance of it continues to cleanse present and future sins.

This is the whole deal behind, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day” and the vital union doctrine. Living a “lifestyle of repentance” or deep repentance “keeps us in the love of Jesus.” This is salvation by Jesus + deep repentance to keep ourselves saved. The Reformed say, “No, it’s not works because repentance is a faith alone work,” but not even a so-called faith alone work can keep you born again—you can’t unborn yourself by not doing something. Look, here is the money point on all of this: the needed present and future forgiveness can only be found in the Protestant institutional church via baptism/formal membership. And we will be addressing that a little further along.

One of the many problems with this is, in regard to believers, follows: in order for present sin to exist, there has to be a law, and the blood of Christ ended the law—it’s a onetime cleansing. To have some need to reapply the blood of Christ to present sin implies that there is still sin, and there is not because where there is no law—there is no sin, and Christ died on the cross to end the law. This fact is found in Romans 3:19,20, 4:15, 5:13, 7:8, 10:4.

Some insist that John’s context here is fellowship, and since fellowship is the context, John is writing about repentance that is necessary to keep us in proper family relationship with God, and not a repentance that keeps us in the family of God; ie., John is talking about sanctification and not justification. Frankly, that’s the view that I used to hold to as well.

But John is talking about the onetime cleansing that justifies. Note that throughout these verses that it is a forgiveness that cleanses from “all sin” and “all unrighteousness.” That has to be justification. What John is saying is that no matter who you are in humanity, you have need to be forgiven of sin by believing that Jesus is the Christ and died for you. Note the subjects of these verses: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

However, John is also saying that this fact doesn’t give us a license to sin any more than the Gnostics, “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” But watch this: “But if anyone does sin, we [everyone] have an advocate with the Father.” Ok John, an advocate for what purpose? Answer: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” Who are the subjects? It’s obvious who the subjects are.

If this isn’t speaking to a onetime cleansing of sin, the world doesn’t need the new birth any more than Christians—they only need to ask forgiveness so the blood of Christ will be applied to the particular sin. Not only that, the new birth is also disavowed through the denial of a new creaturehood displayed by people who have passed from death to life. And John is speaking directly towards this issue as well. You see, who the “we” are and what the “if” is—is critical to interpreting these verses properly. The “we” are the “anyone.” The “if” is a cause and effect conjunction and not a conditional conjunction.

And let me tell you something, Protestant theologians rarely have any qualms about saying that God’s promises are conditional. I mean, what’s the paramount example? Replacement theology/supersessionism, right? This whole idea that Israel’s election was conditional on them holding up their end of the covenant. I just don’t know what can be more obvious, and this is their exact take on justification as well.

This is the crux. John is saying that if we walk in the light, it’s because we have been born again, not that we keep ourselves born again if we do our part by walking in the light. Walking in the light is not our part of the so-called vital union, we walk in the light because that’s what new creatures do; cows like hay and ducks like water—it’s a cause and effect conjunction not a conditional conjunction.

Now, here is where we really struggle with these verses: in verse 7, the English word in the plural strongly suggests a present continuous action. Verse 9 really isn’t that much of a problem as it’s merely saying that anyone that confesses their sin is cleansed of all unrighteousness. Note the following verse 10 that can be rendered this way: “If we say we have not [never] sinned.” The English “ed’ on the end of sin indicates past tense like, “I sinned.” That’s past tense. If John is speaking to the present continuance, why would he have not written, “if we say that we do not sin.” Right? Verse 9 simply fits into the Gnostic motif that John was arguing against.

Neither is 1John 2:1, 2 a problem. John is simply stating that anyone who recognizes their sin and wants to do something about it has an advocate in Christ who cleanses all sin. And by the way, the rest of John’s letter backs up my Pauline argument to the hilt. Just, all over the place in the rest of the letter, for example,

1John 3:3 – “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”

He came to “take away sin,” not to cover it with His own righteousness and to continue to forgive it. Christ came to end sin altogether. Are we “in Christ”? Well, in Him there is NO sin. So if we are in Him, why would we need forgiveness for present or future sin in regard to justification? In 1John 2:12-14, forgiveness of sin and overcoming the evil one is spoken of in the past tense.

The only matter at hand is the word “cleanses” in verse 7.  Let me point something out to you. Most of the English translations that we have come out of the Protestant Reformation. Therefore, and there are myriads of examples of this, the translations are tainted with progressive justification presuppositions. And unfortunately, this includes the Greek word-study helps. Here is something I read in one:

Every encounter with a command to obey, is our opportunity to jettison self-reliance and to yield to the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Supernatural commands from the supernatural God can only be carried out with reliance on His supernatural power! The Spirit is called the Helper, but don’t let His Name mislead you. To say that we need His help is to imply we have some ability of our own to obey and are in need of a little “push” so to speak.

See the problem? You can know the Greek backwards and forwards, but what good does it do if “help” doesn’t mean “help”? Look, what good have all of the Protestant Greek scholars done for us? I came to realize the problem of progressive justification by my own independent study in Romans. The basic concept easily understood regardless of the language, “where there is no law there is no sin.” That statement astounded me, but was the key to unraveling the whole mystery. Once you understand that fundamental, the rest of the Bible, when taken in context, fits together perfectly in every way. How much did any knowledge of Greek aid me in this understanding? Nada. Goose egg. Zilch. Loco zippo.

Greek can be confirming, and helpful, but the Bible is written in definitive structures that mean the same thing in all languages and that is no accident. You can translate the fact that Christ died on the cross to end the law, and where there is no law there is no sin, any way you want to—it’s going to mean the same thing in any language. Then you start seeing where the concept fits together with everything else in the Bible which enables you to nail down what the anomalies are. And a lot of the anomalies are bias towards a certain worldview.

Notice in the example I gave there is no room given for an authentic colaboring between us and the Holy Spirit. It is either all us or all of the Holy Spirit. My friends, that is the Protestant redemptive-historical worldview to a T and it is fundamentally Gnostic in its premise. Hence, when you use Greek word-study helps, you are often dealing with the same bias. This is why I eventually threw away my Kenneth Wuest expanded New Testament translation. I started seeing clear bias in how he processed the Greek verbs and I was totally done with him at that point.

I spent the better part of yesterday researching 1John 1:7 and the word “cleanses” therein. We know from biblical context that this verse cannot be saying that the one sacrifice of Christ continues to rewash us IF we continue to walk in the light; ie., Protestantism. And let me give you the thumbnail: if you remain faithful to the institutional church and its sacraments/ordinances, that keeps you saved. Even if the Greek usage indicates a present continual action there is no way to distinguish that from the simple reality of being washed once and remaining clean thereafter. In other words, there is no way to definitively distinguish between two intents: a required reapplication to reinstate a status or an unchanged status that continues in the same state without any further action.

Though “cleanses” appears to be some kind of continuing action in the ESV version of 1John 1:7 as well as many other versions, we know that this same cleansing of regeneration is clearly stated as a onetime final act in many, many other Bible passages. For example,

1 Corinthians 6:11- “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Ok, you have “were” in there four times with sinful lifestyles being in the past tense, and sanctified, justified, and “washed” being in the present tense. It is one event that happens one time and transforms us into an immutable state. Period. This is irrefutable. And by the way, if you do a New Testament word search on the exact form of the Greek word “cleanses” (other translations “cleanseth”) in 1John 1:7, it is almost always used as a onetime ceremonial cleansing.

Matthew 8:2 – “And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, ” Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” [Here in Mathew 8:2, the same exact form of the Greek word is used for past, present, and future tense. “Ed” is added to the English word “cleansed” to indicate past tense].

Note how Young’s Literal Translation has 1John 1:7.

“and if in the light we may walk, as He is in the light — we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son doth cleanse us from every sin;”

Now, not only does this simply state the fact that the blood of Christ cleanses us from every sin with a much less conditional translation, it’s interesting that the YLT picks up on something that Andy related to me yesterday in regard to the word “may”:

What is interesting is that all of the examples that John uses where he says “if” are all 3rd class conditions.  All the key verbs are in the subjunctive mood.

Here is an excerpt regarding 3rd class conditions…

“The third class condition often presents the condition as uncertain of fulfillment, but still likely.  There are, however, many exceptions to this…The third class condition encompasses a broad range of potentialities in Koine Greek. It depicts what is likely to occur in the future, what could possibly occur, or even what is only hypothetical and will not occur” (Wallace, p. 696).

So John is really posing a series of future hypothetical situations. Any place where it says “if” you should read it as “if ever in the future…” or “if at any time in the future…”

It would appear that this seems to be an exercise in reason using hypothetical examples to refute the gnostics that were among them in those assemblies. Notice that the present tense verbs are present tense because they are in the conclusion (apodosis) to the proposed hypothetical conditional premise (protasis). But the verbs in the premise (protasis) are in the subjunctive mood.

Also, you cannot read verse 7 without verse 6.  Verse 7 is an antithetical conclusion of verse 6. In other words, you can’t properly interpret vs 7 without vs 6. In fact, notice how 7 contrasts 6, AND vs 9 contrasts vs 8 also!  They are parallel arguments, and then vs 10 kind of sums it up.

This bolsters my contention that John is addressing people in general regarding the ramifications of their beliefs about sin in contrast to Gnosticism. That’s the crux here: the backdrop is the Gnosticism John is addressing. If you say that you have no sin, for whatever reason, you are making God out to be a liar. But if you confess your sin, God will cleanse you from all unrightousness. And, that will have an effect on your life because you have been cleansed. John does not hone-in on the new birth right here, but does so in chapter 3 bigtime. Really, chapter 3 clarifies exactly what is being stated in the first two chapters.

In addition, John is saying that even though those who confess their sin are cleansed of all sin, that is not a different kind of license to sin without ramifications. Hence, “…I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” But if you do recognize that you have sin, we have an advocate with the Father that is a propitiation for all sin, those who confess that they have sin, and those who may in the future confess that they have sin—this is what is going on in this passage. And by the way, this is another refutation of limited atonement as well.

Let me give another example that might help clarify all of this. One Reformed fellow (a disciple of Paul David Tripp) arguing against me in regard to all of this stated the following:

In John 4, we are to drink once, but that one drink becomes a reserve that refreshes continually. The substance that refreshes is the same (Christ’s salvation, in an ongoing manner)…For Calvin, the cleaning is ongoing, because there WILL be new sins, and 1 John tells us there are new sins. WERE IT NOT FOR the ongoing cleaning and forgiveness, we would exit the family of God, but the faithful know of a certainty that this cleansing is ongoing and present.

See the problem with not interpreting this passage in its historical context? John isn’t talking about “new sins,” he is talking about SIN period. Where is there anything stated in this passage in regard to “new sins”? What relevance does “new sins” have with the unsaved world that is one of the subjects of this passage? The unsaved have “new sins”?

Also, Christians do not have “new sins” because Christ ended the law and where there is no law there is no sin. This is exactly why the Protestant gospel keeps people under law—the whole concept of “new sin.”

In addition, notice what he states about John 4 that is a common Reformed position:

“In John 4, we are to drink once, but that one drink becomes a reserve that refreshes continually.”

This statement is a common smoking gun that damns Protestantism. In that passage, Jesus said that those who drink of the water will never… (what?) again? Right, they will NEVER “thirst” again. Christians may need refreshment against the weakness of the flesh, but we never need our justification to be refreshed—that’s just a blatant false gospel.

Moreover, note, “WERE IT NOT FOR the ongoing cleaning and forgiveness, we would exit the family of God, but the faithful know of a certainty that this cleansing is ongoing and present.” This is where the “if(s)” of 1John totally shoot Protestantism in its gospel foot. If you take this approach, the if(s) of 1John 1:7-2:2 are conditional upon confessing “new sins.” This clearly makes the cleansing of sin that makes us part of God’s family conditional. It makes the new birth conditional. “If” we don’t confess, we can be unborn.

Doesn’t it make much more sense if John is saying that we (people in general) have to recognize that men have sin in order to receive a cleansing from it? Sure it does. John is pushing back against a philosophy that taught the following: man is spirit and therefore without sin; only the material world has sin. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what people do in the body, it’s all just part of the material world that is passing away. This also rejects the new birth and its righteous lifestyle that walks in the light as Christ is in the light and there is no darkness in Him. Those who walk in the light are born of the light and they are of the light because they recognized the need to confess their sin in order to be cleansed. Hence…

John 3:2 – “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

Next week, we are going to look at how the rest of the book of 1John fits into this Pauline soteriological schema perfectly. Why does John follow our passage at hand with a discussion of love and then the new birth? How do we get from the gospel anomaly of “new sins” to “love,” and what does that have to do with the new birth? How does all of this make walking in the light synonymous with the new birth?

See you next, and now let’s go to the phones.

Know Your Cuts of Calvinism

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on August 10, 2015

Originally published June 2, 2013

1. Total Depravity: Pertains to the saints also.

2. Justification by Faith Alone: Pertains to sanctification also.

3. Mortification and Vivification: Perpetual death and rebirth for living by faith alone in sanctification to maintain justification. The reliving of our baptism “again and again.”

4. Double Imputation: Christ’s passive obedience to the cross for justification, and His active obedience as a substitution for our obedience in sanctification.

5. Deep Repentance (aka Intelligent Repentance): Seeks the death of mortification in re-experiencing our new birth.

6. New Obedience (aka New Fruit): The experience of Christ’s active obedience in sanctification (vivification).

7. The New Birth: Perpetual mortification and vivification.

8. The Objective Gospel: All reality is interpreted through the redemptive works of Christ.

9. Christ for Us: Christ died for our justification, and lived a perfect life for our sanctification.

10. The Imperative Command is Grounded in the Indicative Event: Biblical commands show forth what Christ has accomplished for us and what we are unable to do in sanctification. Works are experienced only as they flow from the indicative event of the gospel.

11. Neo-Nomianism (New Law, aka New Legalism): The belief that we can please God by obeying the law in sanctification.

12. Progressive Sanctification: The progression of justification to glorification.

13. Progressive Imputation: Whatever is seen in the gospel narrative and meditated upon is imputed to our sanctification, whether mortification or vivification.

14. The Golden Chain of Salvation: See cut 12.

15. Good Repentance: Repenting of good works.

16. In-Lawed in Christ: Christ fulfilled the law perfectly and imputed it to our sanctification.

17. Redemptive Historical Hermeneutics (the Christocentric Hermeneutic, aka the Apostle’s Hermeneutic): The Bible as historical narrative for the sole purpose of showing forth Christ’s redemptive works.

18. Faith: A neutral entity within us with no intrinsic worth that is able to reflect the object of its focus outside of us. The object of focus can be experienced within, but remains outside of us.

19. The Heart: The residence of evil desires and faith. It can be reoriented (the “reorientation of the heart” or “reorientation of desires”) to reflect Christ via mortification and vivification.

20. Flesh: The world realm where evil is manifested and experienced.

21. Spirit: The Spirit realm where the imputed works of Christ are manifested and experienced (not applied through our actions).

22. Christian Hedonism: Seeks to experience the joy of vivification.

23. Obedience of Faith: New Obedience.

24. Christ in Us: “By faith,” and faith only has substance and reality to the degree of the object it is placed in; i.e., Christ outside of us.

25. Vital Union: Makes experiencing the gospel possible. Makes mortification and vivification possible.

26. Eclipsing the Son (aka the Emphasis Hermeneutic): Focusing on anything other than Christ. Anything that is not seen through a Christocentric prism creates shadows that we live in. The obstacles that create the shadows may be truth, but they aren’t the “best truth.” “They may be good things, but not the best thing.”

27. Sabbath Rest: Sanctification. We are to “rest and feed” on Christ for our Christian life. The primary day this is done is Sunday. Through preaching and the sacraments we “kill” (mortification, or the contemplation of our evil and misery) resulting in vivification throughout the rest of the week.

28. The Subjective Power of the Gospel: The manifestation of the gospel that flows from gospel contemplationism. We never know for certain whether it is a result of our efforts or the Spirit’s work (although the Spirit’s work is always experienced by joy); hence, the power of the objective gospel is subjective (Heidelberg Disputation: Thesis 24).

29. Mortal Sin: Good works by the Christian not attended by fear that they may be of one’s own effort (HD 7).

30. Venial Sin: Good works by the Christian attended with fear (HD 7).

31. Power of the Keys (aka Protestant Absolution): Reformed elders have the authority to bind or loose sin on earth (Calvin Institutes 3.4.12).

32. Redemptive Church Discipline: In all cases to convert one to cuts 1-31. This redeems them to the only one, true faith. This can be a long process, and said person is not free to leave a given church until the elders bind or loose.

33. Preach the Gospel to Yourself: See cuts 1-32.

The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation; Part 5

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 30, 2015

Connecting the Dots: Tullian Tchividjian and Luther’s Theologian of the Cross 

Listen to audio or download audio file. 

That’s pastor Tullian Tchividjian…

…welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio .com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 5 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 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.

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.

At the beginning of tonight’s program, you heard an excerpt from a sermon via pastor Tullian. It is an example of what drives other Reformed leaders nuts, but they can complain all they want to, pastor Tullian is a Luther purest. His resignation last week from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church brought me to remembrance in regard to what an excellent example he is of Martin Luther’s application of the Heidelberg Disputation in our day. So, tonight, this is an interlude of sorts that we are going to use to solidify what we have learned to this point.

Tullian lends credence to two accusations that the Reformed fear most: the charge of progressive justification, and antinomianism. I don’t know exactly why, but these are the two accusations that set a fire under their rumps, and along with it, a flood of cognitive dissonance. Yes, we are going to examine the arguments used to refute the charge of antinomianism and progressive justification, and as we will see, the arguments are so pitiful they would be deemed ridiculous by an adolescent which should be telling.

But first, I want to unpack the opening excerpt as a segue into the program tonight. Short excerpt, but packed with Luther’s foundational theology. In that short statement, we see the Reformed doctrines of mortification and vivification, Luther’s Theology of the Cross, deep repentance, double imputation, and total depravity.

Tullian stated first that we, as Christians, don’t merely need help with our walk, but we need to be raised from the dead. Let me pause here for a moment. What we are about to discuss are facts about the Reformation and Protestant soteriology in general that Protestants don’t understand. Fact: 98% of professing Calvinists really have no idea what Calvin believed, taught, and propagated. This is why the New Calvinism movement creates so much division between so-called Old Calvinists and New Calvinists; when the original article was rediscovered, by a Seventh-Day Adventist by the way, present-day Calvinists believed it was a false gospel. I was one of them. I set out to expose the New Calvinists and discovered they are the real Calvinists. I also discovered the fact that the Reformation is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind. The facts are irrefutable. So, is there hope? Of course there is; stop listening to men, turn on the light switch of the brain God gave you for a purpose, and read the gospels, the book of Acts, and Romans for yourself. Read those books, think for yourself, and just let the words say what they say. When the meaning isn’t apparent, don’t immediately run to a book full of someone else’s thoughts, what we call a “Commentary,” do your own independent research.

Why would Tullian say that Christians continue to be raised from the dead? That’s right out of theses 16-18 of the Heidelberg Disputation (HD). As I have stated before, the HD which came about 6 months after the 95 Theses is the foundational document of the Reformation, and then Calvin articulated and expanded Luther’s foundation in the Calvin Institutes. This progressive justification component of dying and rebirthing ourselves into heaven came to be known as mortification and vivification in the Calvin institutes. This brings us to Tullian’s mention of “Christians” being confessors, or the doctrine of deep repentance; that is the mortification component of mortification and vivification. By continually seeing our sinfulness in a deeper and deeper way, and being brought to the point of despair, or what Luther called “death at hand,” we then experience resurrection, or a revisitation of the joy of our salvation. Reformed scholars such as Michael Horton call this, “reliving our original baptism.” Listen, New Calvinist mantras like “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day” do not come from nowhere. This is the source. We get to heaven by perpetually revisiting the same gospel that saved us. Those of you familiar with this ministry are worn out from me citing Michael Horton and Paul Washer on this, so let me change things up a little by quoting a guy that commented on a Tullian article posted on Justin Taylor’s blog over at TGC (The Gospel Coalition).

It’s not that complicated: the ground of all Christian obedience is the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Justification occurs EACH time a believer confesses and receives forgiveness for his sins. The pattern of justification is illustrated by Paul in Romans 4. Abraham believes in the God who justifies the ungodly (in this case gentile Abraham), David is forgiven for his adultery and murder. God’s condemnation for sin has reached into history at the cross, glorification has reached into history at conversion where believers experience a foretaste of glory. Neither Old or New Covenant obedience require moral perfection, they both require obedience of faith….so, having been justified from faithfulness we have peace with God!

Indeed it is not complicated. “Faithfulness” to “confession” continually re-justifies us. And, as a result, we experience resurrection/joy/vivification. The confession is mortification/deep repentance/death at hand, the rising from the dead that Tullian is talking about is vivification and re-justification. Tullian’s emphasis on us being no different from unbelievers is based on the following idea: the ONLY difference between the saved and unsaved is the saved start getting saved by confessional faith alone resulting in perpetual re-salvation. Then, at the final judgement, we find out who lived by faith alone well enough to be saved and who didn’t. That’s authentic Protestantism in a nutshell, and the facts supporting this reality are irrefutable. And of course, it’s an in-your-face denial of the new birth as defined biblically in 1John 3 and many other places.

This also speaks to total depravity. Throughout the short excerpt Tullian pounds home the fact of moral equivalency, or the idea that one sinner is not any worse than any other. This comes from justification being defined and based on the law. This is major in the HD, but Calvin articulates this Reformation tenet in 3.14.9,10 of the Calvin Institutes. If you break the law on one point, you are guilty of breaking all of the law. “But Paul, isn’t that what James said in James 2:10?” No, that’s not what James was talking about. James wasn’t proffering a justification based on law as its standard. That concept is really the Achilles’ heel of Reformation soteriology. James was pushing back against the idea that some tradition of some sort replaces the law of love. Only love can fulfill the law. James was pushing back against the idea that justification’s standard is the law. No, there is NO law in justification; law and justification are mutually exclusive. In essence, what James was stating follows:

You can’t live by some orthodoxy devised by men and then live anyway you want to. Whatever your tradition is, it doesn’t fulfill the law. If your justification is based on the law, you break all of the law when you break it at any given point. Only love according to the law fulfills the law. The apostle Paul called this “faith working through love” in his letter to the Galatians. The standard for justification is what? Right, the new birth, NOT law! What is the official Reformed position on justification’s standard? Right, the law. This idea is what Paul spent his whole ministry refuting—this very idea that turns the gospel completely upside down! Clearly, the Reformers redefined justification by replacing its new birth premise with the law. Again, this concept of law/gospel was Paul’s number one nemesis.

This leads us to the question of how we are justified when we are supposedly justified anew. Tullian speaks of this in the excerpt when he alludes to what Jesus has done for us, not anything we do. In the excerpt, he thanks God that the gospel is not about anything we do, but rather only what Jesus has done for us. This is the Reformed doctrine of Christ for us, or, Christ 100% for us, or…double imputation. This is a huge Reformed mainstay.

What is it? This is the idea that Christ not only came to die for our sins once and for all on the cross, but that He  also came to live a perfect life for the fulfilling of the law so that His obedience/righteousness can be imputed to us in vivification. Every time we confess, or according to Luther, “accuse ourselves,” or “visit the gospel afresh” (Michael Horton), the righteousness of Christ obtained by His perfect obedience to the law is imputed to us. Hence, every time we “visit the gospel afresh,” His propitiation and righteousness are both reapplied. This is the exact problem Paul addressed at Galatia. He argued that if the law was the standard for justification, that life is not given by the promise, but by law. He also argued that if law justifies us—there is a law that can give life while only God can give life. Making law the standard for justification is making the law a fourth member of the Trinity. That’s pretty much Paul’s argument.

In contrast, we are forgiven because the old us is dead, and no longer under the law. Look at Romans 7; one who has died is NOT under the law or its jurisdiction. This is why Christ died once: to end the law via us following Him in death. The new us is resurrected with Christ by the Spirit and able to fulfill the law through loving God and others. If perfect law-keeping, even by Christ, is the standard for justification rather than our death and resurrection through the new birth, it is impossible for us to love God and others—Christ must love for us; our love must be substituted by Christ’s love. And that in fact is the meaning of “Christ 100% for us.” Yes, Christ loves for us along with anything else that would be meritorious before God and the “righteous demands of the law.” Consequently, you often see these Reformed written motifs about sinners coming to the law with nothing in their hands but the obedience of Christ. That puts the law on a throne sitting beside the Father and the Son as a co-life-giver. That’s heresy in the extreme and a blatant denial of the new birth.

In concluding on this point, we now come Tullian’s mentioned disdain for “theologians of glory.” What’s that? That’s right out of the HD. It’s the counterpart, or one piece of the two-fold metaphysical theme of the document. The more I learn about this stuff, the more I am annoyed by Protestants who think they know what they are talking about, and we will soon be discussing one of them.

Luther divided the interpretation of all reality into two categories: the cross story and the glory story. Luther saw all of reality as a metaphysical narrative written by God with the cross being the primary epistemology; not only the cross, but the suffering of the cross in particular. Luther believed all wisdom is hidden in suffering. Luther, in keeping with Augustine’s Neo-Platonist worldview, demanded that all invisible things be interpreted through the suffering of the cross. Said Luther in theses 19:

That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the »invisible« things of God as though they were clearly »perceptible in those things which have actually happened«

Thesis 20: He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.

The manifest and visible things of God are placed in opposition to the invisible, namely, his human nature, weakness, foolishness. The Apostle in 1 Cor. 1:25 calls them the weakness and folly of God. Because men misused the knowledge of God through works, God wished again to be recognized in suffering, and to condemn »wisdom concerning invisible things« by means of »wisdom concerning visible things«, so that those who did not honor God as manifested in his works should honor him as he is hidden in his suffering.

Thesis 21: This is clear: He who does not know Christ does not know God hidden in suffering. Therefore he prefers ,works to suffering, glory to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly, and, in general, good to evil. These are the people whom the apostle calls »enemies of the cross of Christ« (Phil. 3:18), for they hate the cross and suffering and love works and the glory of works. Thus they call the good of the cross evil and the evil of a deed good. God can be found only in suffering and the cross, as has already been said Therefore the friends of the cross say that the cross is good and works are evil, for through the cross works are dethroned and the »old Adam«, who is especially edified by works, is crucified. It is impossible for a person not to be puffed up by his »good works« unless he has first been deflated and destroyed by suffering and evil until he knows that he is worthless and that his works are not his but God’s.

Thesis 22: That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened.

This has already been said. Because men do not know the cross and hate it, they necessarily love the opposite, namely, wisdom, glory, power, and so on. Therefore they become increasingly blinded and hardened by such love, for desire cannot be satisfied by the acquisition of those things which it desires. Just as the love of money grows in proportion to the increase of the money itself, so the dropsy of the soul becomes thirstier the more it drinks, as the poet says: »The more water they drink, the more they thirst for it.« The same thought is expressed in Eccles. 1:8: »The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.« This holds true of all desires.

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

Luther’s worldview calls for the condemnation of anything that can be perceived by the five senses, and that would of course include any work by mankind, in exchange for the work of faith that seeks death at hand by self-condemnation and the incessant confession of our own sin. All or any good work performed by us must be disavowed. This is the only work of faith that a Christian is to do; deep repentance that results in vivification. This is Luther’s definition of the new birth. Our only task is deep repentance resulting in only experiencing works that God may, or may not perform according to His own will. It is interesting what I am learning from Susan and her research on Jonathan Edwards. He believed that saving faith is a sixth sense that is able to perceive the works of God. That fits with what we are discussing here. Faith only confesses and then experiences the work of Christ following.

Any notion that man, saved or unsaved, can do anything at all that has merit with God is the glory story propagated by theologians of glory; this is what Tullian was referring to specifically in that sentence, no more—no less.

Before we move on, let me say this: to me, the more I study all of this, the more I am incredulous that congregations are forcing these guys caught with their hands in the cookie jar to resign. Why? It plainly shows the disconnect between the average Protestant’s understanding of their own faith and what their leaders teach. It’s totally inconsistent with the doctrine. “They sinned, well duh, so what?”

However, this is not always the case. Tullian has a close friend, also a pastor, who pretty much was fairly impious in broad daylight and never had to resign. In fact, he was the subject of a whole chapter in a book titled Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace  by Cathleen Falsani. This is where we segue into our second part. As I said, the two accusations that the Reformed camp is sensitive about are progressive justification and antinomianism. And especially in the area of antinomianism, the denial is beyond cognitive dissonance. It’s just borderline childish.

Let’s start by asking where Cathleen Falsani got the title for her book. “Sin Boldly,” do you know where she got that? It’s a quote by Martin Luther. Here is the whole quote from his letter to Philipp Melanchthon:

God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong (sin boldly), but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.

Here, we see plainly that Luther saw salvation as ongoing for condemning sin. God does not save imaginary sinners. What is the tense there? That is answered in the next sentence: “Be a sinner.” So obviously, it’s a present continuous idea; it’s progressive. And if condemning sin is present continuous, obviously salvation must be present continuous as well. You must continually deem yourself a sinner in need of salvation. Be a sinner, or else you are denying that you need salvation.

Nevertheless, the arguments we hear against the idea that Protestantism is progressive justification sound like this from John MacArthur Jr.: “Justification and sanctification cannot be separated, but are distinct.” So, the two are distinct because one is progressive and the other is not, but yet, they are not separate. This is an attempt to answer the accusation that Reformed soteriology fuses justification and sanctification together which would of course be progressive justification. MacArthur attempts to deny that Protestantism fuses the two together by stating that the two are “distinct.” But this is like saying that a cat is never separate from its catness, but distinct from its catness when it progresses by walking. A cat is never separate from its catness, but distinct when it is walking; the argument is ridiculous.

In an article I wrote on PPT titled The Gospel According to John MacArthur’s Reformation Myth, I deconstruct MacArthur’s position on this in agonizing detail. Along Reformed lines, he states that justification is solely a forensic declaration that doesn’t change the individual. He then makes a distinction between Catholicism and Protestantism. The former infuses righteousness into the individual, and according to MacArthur, that is the fusion of justification and sanctification together resulting in progressive justification. In contrast, Protestantism disavows this infusion and replaces it with the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and obedience to the believer for sanctification, or Christian living if you will. So yes, justification and sanctification are not separate, but distinct in the fact that one declares us justified while the other is the manifestation of Christ’s righteousness. They can’t be separate because both are a predication on a single dimension of the law, ie., it’s for condemnation only and can only be fulfilled by Christ in our stead.

I am not going to get into the Protestant misrepresentation of Catholicism, suffice to say for now that it is also progressive justification based on Aristotelian philosophy instead of Platonism, but both are progressive justification. However, we can pause here to define the word “antinomianism” according to the Reformed: it is the absence of law as the standard for justification. In other words, that makes me an antinomian according to them. This is in contrast to the true definition of antinomianism from the Bible: the absence of the law for faith working through love. In other words, the use of the law for love is denied. In addition, the biblical dual perspective on the law is refuted and replaced with a single perspective on the law—condemnation instead of the Spirits twofold use of the law: to convict the world of sin and the judgement to come, and for sanctifying the saints. True antinomianism circumvents the law for sanctification and deprives the saints of their calling to love God and others.

If law is the standard for justification, a perfect keeping of it must be maintained by double imputation which calls on the “believer” to use it for gospel contemplation only rather than using it to love God and others. All obedience points to justification instead of love. This is why Christ said that in the latter days the love of many will wax cold, because of an increase of “anomia” which is “antinomianism” according to the English.

It’s ironic, the Reformed camp recently had a hissy fit over a statement made by Joel Osteen’s wife during one of their services at Lakewood Church—the largest Protestant church in America boasting some 25,000 members. Apparently, she stated that we should not obey God to please God, but should obey God to please ourselves. Pray tell, a single focus on deep repentance to keep ourselves saved through double imputation is better? At least Osteen is propagating a many faceted obedience that might lobe some love at somebody. Moreover, isn’t a single focus on sin for purposes of joyful vivification, in fact, delighting in evil? Sure it is.

As some of you know, I got into a little back and forth on Twitter this week with Janet Mefferd. It started with me pushing back against her assertion in a recent article that Tullian isn’t an antinomian. My contention centered on a tweet by Tullian that read…

tt-tweet1-1

Where does that come from? That comes right out of the HD, and if you are keeping up with this series, you see this plainly. Because Tullian sees all of his works as mortal sin, even stopping the blind grandmother from walking out into traffic, all of his sin is therefore venial and can be forgiven by perpetually revisiting the gospel. Mefferd replied with the same old worn out Reformed responses. I am particularly amused by the classic one I call the cat hermeneutic. If Calvin writes in the Institutes that he saw a cat run across the road, Calvin doesn’t necessarily mean that he saw a cat run across the road. You see, you must read the whole corpus of his writing to really know for certain that he intended to say that he saw a cat run across the road. Really? Am I here right now?

Look, I could make the point very well tonight that Mefferd, like most Protestants, is completely clueless. But I think I will close with another angle. Tonight, I have picked this apart from a doctrinal standpoint, but we must remember that Jesus liked to give folks a really simple rule of thumb while they are in the process of learning the doctrine. Here it is: “By their fruits you will know them.” Yes, I am simply going to close with a comment that was posted on PPT today, and then we will go to the phones:

Sean, and others, do any of you know what Janet Mefferd’s background is? Specifically, what is her education? She obviously does not know that Luther advocated the use of state-sponsored violence, torture and murder against the Mennonites and other Anabaptists, that Luther was an anti-Semite, and had horrible demeaning attitudes towards women. On the latter, here are some quotes:

“The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.”

Martin Luther, Works 12.94

“Men have broad and large chests, and small narrow hips, and more understanding than women, who have but small and narrow breasts, and broad hips, to the end they should remain at home, sit still, keep house, and bear and bring up children.”

Martin Luther, Table Talk

“Even though they grow weary and wear themselves out with child-bearing, it does not matter; let them go on bearing children till they die, that is what they are there for.”

Martin Luther, Works 20.84

“God created Adam master and lord of living creatures, but Eve spoilt all, when she persuaded him to set himself above God’s will. ‘Tis you women, with your tricks and artifices, that lead men into error.”

“We may well lie with what seems to be a woman of flesh and blood, and yet all the time it is only a devil in the shape of a woman.”

“No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise.”

I could go on and quote his anti-semitic statements too. Oh, and Martin Luther despised reason. Here are some quotes:

“Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom … Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.”

Martin Luther, Erlangen Edition v. 16, pp. 142-148

“Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom … Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.”

Martin Luther, Erlangen Edition v. 16, pp. 142-148

“There is on earth among all dangers no more dangerous thing than a richly endowed and adroit reason… Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed.”

Martin Luther, quoted by Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic, (Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1963), p. 75

Also, Luther was an advocate of drinking alcohol in excessive amounts. I could go on, but Luther’s quotes make me ill and nauseous. Obviously, Janet Mefferd has studied Christian history well.

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The Horrible Protestant Doctrine of Mortification and Vivification

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 13, 2015

Like any other super cult, Protestantism has hijacked and redefined every biblical definition of words and concepts from front cover to back cover. Any denomination that believes the clergy has authority is by definition a cult. The clergy has no horizontal authority, but only appeals to the free conscience of man in regard to the one vertical authority. The clergy has no authority by proxy. Any religious organization that believes the Bible defines an authority that they have by proxy is by definition a cult. Those who appeal to the free conscience of men in regard to the Bible are NOT a cult.

When the grammar is completely co-opted, the group being deceived is divided into two groups: those who know what you mean by the words, and those who think they know what you mean by the words with a slow indoctrination from the latter to the former. That’s how the deception has worked from the very beginning. If you are not a definer of words—you will be misled. In the garden, Eve thought she knew what the serpent meant by the word “death” and so it goes.

A good example is this article posted by the new cult hero among Neo-Calvinists, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. On its face, few evangelicals are going to have any objection to anything written in the article because few evangelicals really know what’s behind the Reformed doctrine she underscores in the article: mortification and vivification. Remember, Reformed academics think they understand things the average parishioner can’t grasp, so Butterfield, like all Reformed philosopher queens, is going to let you assume definitions for the time being—it’s part of the indoctrination process.

So, what is the Reformed doctrine of mortification and vivification? Let’s reference two Reformed heavyweights in order to ascertain the formal definition.

“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]).

And…

“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. [mortification] Nevertheless, the believer is not left in despair, for he is also afforded a greater revelation of the grace of God in the face of Christ, which leads to joy unspeakable.[vivification] 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).

Where to begin? This is a horrible doctrine that turns true biblical soteriology completely on its head. Obviously, the least common denominator of this doctrine is a perpetual re-justification through “participation in Christ.” And how do we participate in Christ? By returning to the same gospel that saved us in a deeper and deeper way in order to keep ourselves saved.

In order for this doctrine to work, we must remain unchanged. Participation in Christ requires a deeper and deeper understanding of our present unchanged being coupled with a deeper and deeper understanding of present sin which supposedly causes deeper and deeper gratitude for the redemptive work of Christ resulting in joy. Our primary work is peeling away the layers of sin and seeing the sin under the sin (mortification) resulting in a deeper joy EXPERIENCE.

So basically, this redefines the new birth as a joy experience only and not a definitive recreation, makes the new birth a perpetual re-enactment rather than a one-time event, and makes the Christian life experience-oriented.

That’s all pretty major, but we are just getting started and an exhaustive articulation of this error would literally take several volumes of work, which we will not attempt in this post.

Mortification and vivification also correlates with the Reformed idea that present sin separates Christians from grace, or justification, and mortification, also known as “deep repentance,” rewashes the Christian and keeps them saved. The original water baptism that makes them official members of the church supplies an overall covering for sin, but if one practices mortification they will experience more of their salvation in a deeper way (vivification). But at any rate, mortification can ONLY be practiced and is only effective for re-salvation and vivification if one is a formal member of the Reformed church. This aspect of Reformed thought makes it the super cult that it is.

“Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days, but is declared to be perpetual in the Church (2 Cor. 5:18, 19). Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death—viz. ablution, satisfaction, expiation; in short, perfect obedience, by which all our iniquities are covered” (The Calvin Institutes: 3.14.11).

“Where we land on these issues is perhaps the most significant factor in how we approach our own faith and practice and communicate it to the world. If not only the unregenerate but the regenerate are always dependent at every moment on the free grace of God disclosed in the gospel, then nothing can raise those who are spiritually dead or continually give life to Christ’s flock but the Spirit working through the gospel. When this happens (not just once, but every time we encounter the gospel afresh), the Spirit progressively transforms us into Christ’s image. Start with Christ (that is, the gospel) and you get sanctification in the bargain; begin with Christ and move on to something else, and you lose both” (Michael Horton: Christless Christianity; p. 62).

“Nor by remission of sins does the Lord only once for all elect and admit us into the Church, but by the same means he preserves and defends us in it. For what would it avail us to receive a pardon of which we were afterwards to have no use? That the mercy of the Lord would be vain and delusive if only granted once, all the godly can bear witness; for there is none who is not conscious, during his whole life, of many infirmities which stand in need of divine mercy. And truly it is not without cause that the Lord promises this gift specially to his own household, nor in vain that he orders the same message of reconciliation to be daily delivered to them” (The Calvin Institutes: 4.1.21).

“To impart this blessing to us, the keys have been given to the Church (Mt. 16:19; 18:18). For when Christ gave the command to the apostles, and conferred the power of forgiving sins, he not merely intended that they should loose the sins of those who should be converted from impiety to the faith of Christ; but, moreover, that they should perpetually perform this office among believers” (The Calvin Institutes: 4.1.22).

“Secondly, This benefit is so peculiar to the Church, that we cannot enjoy it unless we continue in the communion of the Church. Thirdly, It is dispensed to us by the ministers and pastors of the Church, either in the preaching of the Gospel or the administration of the Sacraments, and herein is especially manifested the power of the keys, which the Lord has bestowed on the company of the faithful. Accordingly, let each of us consider it to be his duty to seek forgiveness of sins only where the Lord has placed it. Of the public reconciliation which relates to discipline, we shall speak at the proper place” (Ibid).

“…by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God… Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God” (John Calvin: Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles; The Calvin Translation Society 1855. Editor: John Owen, p. 165 ¶4).

The Reformed redefinition of law and gospel could also be discussed here if there was room, but let’s move on to the focus of this particular post.

It radically redefines what faith is. Instead of faith being a result of new creaturehood and working through love (Galatians 5:6), faith is narrowed to the work of repentance only to keep ourselves saved rather than endeavoring to take part in many-faceted forms of love.

Add to this the simple fact that it circumvents love in sanctification for the sake of keeping ourselves justified.

The doctrine excludes using our members for holy purposes. According to Washer, “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.” This circumvents the clear biblical mandate to use our members for holy purposes (Romans 6:13, 19, Romans 12:1).

It violates one of the primary virtues of love: not delighting in evil (1Corithians 13: 6). In mortification and vivification, focusing on sin leads to joy.

It violates the principle of one baptism (Ephesians 4:5) and replaces it with many baptism experiences.

It redefines the interpretation of reality through the gospel. “Subjectively experiencing this definitive reality.” Reality is only experienced through “this definitive reality”; i.e., the gospel.

It circumvents one of the primary causes of peace: what we dwell on (Philippians 4:8). Obviously, mortification and vivification is a call to dwell on sin, and if it’s not immediately evident, look for it via the “sin beneath the sin” (deep repentance).

In summary, this dastardly, vile doctrine claims that present sin removes us from grace, denies the new birth, empowers the institutional church to forgive sins on earth, reinterprets reality itself, makes the Christian life experience oriented, redefines biblical faith, circumvents Christian love towards God and others, violates the principle of one baptism, circumvents peace, and delights in evil.

paul

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