Paul's Passing Thoughts

A Doctrinal Evaluation of the Anti-Lordship Salvation Movement: Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on November 7, 2014

Originally published August 13, 2014

Introduction and Historical Background Leading up to the Anti-Lordship Salvation Movement

Not long after I became a Christian in 1983, the Lordship Salvation (hereafter LS) controversy arose. This was a movement against “easy believism” (hereafter EB). The climate was ripe for the controversy because churches were full of professing Christians who demonstrated little if any life change. Members in good standing could be living together out of wedlock, wife abusing drunks, and shysters to name a few categories among many. Sin was not confronted in the church.

Of course, no cycle of Protestant civil war is complete without dueling book publications. Without naming all of them, the major theme was that of faith and works. John MacArthur Jr. threw gasoline on the fire with The Gospel According to Jesus published in 1988. This resulted in MacArthur being the primary target among the so-called EB crowd.

During that time as a new believer, I was heavily focused on the issue, but was like many others: I rejected outright sinful lifestyles among professing Christians while living a life of biblical generalities. In other words, like most, I was ignorant in regard to the finer points of Christian living. I resisted blatant sin, and in fact was freed from some serious temptations of the prior life, but had little wisdom in regard to successful application.

We must now pause to consider what was going in the 80’s. Christianity was characterized by two groups: the grace crowd that contended against any assessment of one’s standing with God based on behavior (EB), and the LS crowd. But, the LS group lived by biblical generalities. Hence, in general, both groups farmed out serious life problems to the secular experts. This also led to Christian Psychologist  careerism.

This led to yet another controversy among American Christians during the same time period, the sufficiency of Scripture debate. Is the Bible sufficient for life’s deepest problems? Again, MacArthur was at the forefront of the controversy with his publication of Our Sufficiency in Christ published in 1991. Between 1990-1995, the anti-Christian Psychology movement raged (ACS). The primary lightening rod during that time was a book published by Dave Hunt: The Seduction of Christianity (1985).

In circa 1965, a young Presbyterian minister named Jay E. Adams was moved by the reality of a church living by biblical generalities. The idea that the church could not help people with serious problems like schizophrenia bothered him. He was greatly influenced by the renowned secular psychologist O. Hobart Mower who fustigated institutional psychiatry as bogus. An unbeliever, Mower was critical of Christianity for not taking more of a role in helping people with serious mental problems.

Mower believed that mental illness is primarily caused by the violation of conscience and unhealthy thinking. His premise has helped more people by far than any other psychological discipline and Adams witnessed this first hand. Mower’s influence provoked Adams to look into the Scriptures more deeply for God’s counsel regarding the deeper problems of life. This resulted in the publication of Competent to Counsel in 1970, and launched what is known today as the biblical counseling movement (BCM). Please note that this movement was picking up significant steam in the latter 80’s and early 90’s.

In 1970, the same year that the BCM was born, an extraordinary Reformed think tank was established by the name of The Australian Forum Project (AFP). Its theological journal, Present Truth, had a readership that exceeded all other theological journals in the English speaking world by the latter 70’s. Though the project died out in the early 80’s, it spawned a huge grassroots movement known as the “quiet revolution” of the “gospel resurgence.” The movement believed that it had recovered the true Reformation gospel that had been lost in Western culture over time, and frankly, they were absolutely correct about that.

The movement was covert, but spawned notable personalities such as John Piper over time. Piper exploded onto to the scene in 1986 with his book The Pleasures of God which promoted his Christian Hedonism theology. Unbeknown to most, this did not make Piper unique, the book is based on the same Martin Luther metaphysics that the AFP had rediscovered; he got it from them. At this point, the official contemporary name for the rediscovered Reformation gospel, the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us (Cogous), was taking a severe beating in Reformed circles. This is because contemporary Calvinists didn’t understand what Luther and Calvin really believed about the gospel.

John Piper looked to emerge from the movement as a legend because he had no direct ties to the AFP, but during the same time frame of his emergence, Cogous was also repackaged by a professor of theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. His name was John “Jack” Miller. Using the same doctrine, the authentic gospel of the Reformation, Miller developed the Sonship discipleship program. This also took a severe beating in Presbyterian circles. In fact, Jay Adams wrote a book against the movement in 1999. This was a debate between Calvinists in regard to what real Calvinism is. At any rate, Sonship changed its nomenclature to “Gospel Transformation” and went underground (2000). This started the gospel-everything movement. Sonship was saturated with the word “gospel” as an adjective for just about every word in the English language (“gospel centered this, gospel-driven that,” etc.). If anyone refuted what was being taught, they were speaking against the gospel; this was very effective.

If not for this change in strategy, John Piper would have been the only survivor of Cogous. Instead, with the help of two disciples of John Miller, David Powlison and Tim Keller, the Gospel Transformation movement gave birth to World Harvest Missions and the Acts 29 Network. It also injected life into the Emergent Church movement. Meanwhile, most thought the Sonship movement had been eliminated, but this was not the case at all. In 2006, a group of pastors that included this author tried to get a handle on a doctrine that was wreaking havoc on churches in the U.S. and spreading like wildfire. The doctrine had no name, so we dubbed it, “Gospel Sanctification.” In 2008, the same movement was dubbed, “New Calvinism” by society at large. In 2009, spiritual abuse blogs exploded in church culture as a direct cause of New Calvinism. We know now that the present-day New Calvinism movement was birthed by the AFP.

The Protestant Legacy of Weak Sanctification 

The anti-Lordship Salvation movement came out of the controversy era of the 80’s. The following is the theses, parts 2 and 3 will articulate the theses. The theses could very well be dubbed, The Denomination Myth. All of the camps involved in these Protestant debates share the same gospel, but differ on the application. The idea that the debate involves different gospels is a misnomer.

The Protestant Reformation gospel was predicated on the idea that the Christian life is used by God to finish our salvation. The official Protestant gospel is known as justification by faith. This is one of the most misunderstood terms in human history. Justification refers to God imputing His righteousness to those whom He saves. Many call this a forensic declaration by God. At this time, I am more comfortable saying that it is the imputation of God’s righteousness to the saved person as the idea of it being forensic; it’s something I have not investigated on my own albeit it’s a popular way of stating it. This is salvation…a righteous standing before God.

Sanctification, a setting apart for God’s holy purposes, is the Christian life. The Reformers saw sanctification as the progression of justification to a final justification. In Reformed circles, this is known as the “golden chain of salvation.” So, the Christian is saved, is being saved, and will be finally saved. Christians often say, “Sanctification is the growing part of salvation.” But really it isn’t, salvation doesn’t grow, this is a Protestant idea. The Christian life grows in wisdom and stature, but our salvation doesn’t grow, the two are totally separate. One is a finished work, and the other is a progression of personal maturity.

The Reformers were steeped in the ancient philosophy of the day that propagated the idea that the common man cannot properly understand reality, and this clearly reflected on their theology. The idea that grace is infused into man and enables him to properly understand reality would have been anathema according to their spiritual caste system of Platonist origins. This resulted in their progressive justification gospel. Justification by faith is a justification process by faith alone.

Every splinter group that came out of the Reformation founded their gospel on this premise. John Calvin believed that salvation was entering into a rest from works. He believed that sanctification is the Old Testament Sabbath rest (The Calvin Institutes 2.8.29). Hence, the Christian life is a rest from works. The Christian life must be lived the same way we were saved: by faith alone. Part 2 will explain why we are called to work in sanctification, and why it is not working for justification.

Another fact of the Reformation gospel is “righteousness” is defined as a perfect keeping of the law. To remove the law’s perfect standard, and its demands for perfection from justification is the very definition of antinomianism according to the Reformers. A perfect law-keeping must be maintained for each believer if they are to remain justified. Thirdly, this requires what is known as double imputation. Christ not only died for our sins so that our sins could be imputed to Him, He lived a life of perfect obedience to the law so that His obedience could be imputed to our sanctification. So, if we live our Christian life according to faith alone, justification will be finished the same way it started; hence, justification by faith. For purposes of this series, these will be the three pillars of the Reformed gospel that we will consider:

1. An unfinished justification.

2. Sabbath rest sanctification.

3. Double imputation.

As a result of this construct, Protestant sanctification has always been passive…and confused. Why? Humans are created to work, but work in sanctification is deemed to be working for justification because sanctification is the “growing part” of justification. Reformed academics like to say, “Justification and sanctification are never separate, but distinct.” Right, they are the same with the distinction being that one is the growing of the other. A baby who has grown into an adult is not separate from what he/she once was, but distinct from being a baby. Reformed academics constantly warn Christians to not live in a way that “makes the fruit of sanctification the root of justification.” John Piper warns us that the fruits of sanctification are the fruits of justification—all works in sanctification must flow from justification. Justification is a tree; justification is the roots, and sanctification is the fruits of justification. We are warned that working in sanctification can make “the fruit the root.” In essence, we are replacing the fruits of justification with our own fruit. This is sometimes referred to as “fruit stapling.”

How was the Reformation gospel lost?

To go along with its progressive justification, the Reformers also developed an interpretation method. The sole purpose of the Bible was to show us our constant need to have the perfect works of Jesus imputed to our lives by faith alone. The purpose of Scripture reading was to gain a deeper and deeper knowledge of our original need of salvation, i.e. “You need the gospel today as much as you needed it the day you were saved.” Indeed, so that the perfect obedience of Christ will continue to be applied to the law. This also applies to new sins we commit in the Christian life as well. Since we “sin in time,” we must also continue to receive forgiveness of new sins that we commit as Christians. So, the double imputation must be perpetually applied to the Christian life by faith alone. John Piper often speaks of how Christians continue to be saved by the gospel. This is in fact the Reformation gospel.

But over time, humanity’s natural bent to interpret the Scriptures grammatically instead of redemptively resulted in looking at justification and sanctification as being more separate, and spiritual growth being more connected to obedience. This created a hybrid Protestantism even among Calvinists. Nevertheless, the best results were the aforementioned living by biblical generalities. Yes, we “should” obey, but it’s optional. A popular idea in past years was a bi-level discipleship which was also optional.

This brings us to the crux of the issue.

Since the vast majority of Protestants see justification as a golden chain of salvation, two primary camps emerged:

A. Christ obeys the law for us.

B. Salvation cannot be based on a commitment—obedience must be optional.

Model A asserts that since we cannot keep the law perfectly, we must invoke the double imputation of Christ by faith alone in order to be saved and stay saved. Model B asserts that since the same gospel that saved us also sanctifies us, any commitment included in the gospel presentation must then be executed in sanctification to keep the process of justification moving forward. Therefore, obedience in sanctification must be completely optional. A consideration of works is just fruit stapling. If the Holy Spirit decides to do a work through someone, that’s His business and none of ours, “who are we to judge?”

This is simply two different executions of the same gospel. Model A does demand obedience because it assumes that Christians have faith, and that will result in manifestations of Christ’s obedience being imputed to our lives. Because this is mixed with our sinfulness, it is “subjective.” The actual term is “justification experienced subjectively”; objective justification, subjective justification, final justification (redefined justification, sanctification, and glorification). However, model B then interprets  that as commitment that must be executed in the progressive part of salvation.

This is where the EB versus LS debate comes into play. This is a debate regarding execution of the same gospel while making the applications differing gospels. Out of this misunderstanding which came to a head in the 80’s, comes the anti-Lordship Salvation movement (ALS). Conversations with proponents of ALS reveal all of the same tenets of Cogous. First, there is the same idea of a final judgment in which sins committed by Christians will be covered by Jesus’ righteousness; “When God looks at us, all he will see is Jesus.” Secondly, there is the same idea of one law. Thirdly, there is the idea that our sins are covered and not ended.

They do differ on the “two natures.” Model A holds to the idea that Christians have the same totally depraved nature that they had when they were saved. Model B thinks the new birth supplies an additional Christ-like nature that fights with the old nature. Model A, aka Calvinists, actually think this is Romanism/Arminianism. Indeed, authentic Protestantism rejects the idea that any work of the Spirit is done IN the believer. Model B has several different takes on this including the idea that Christians are still dead, but the life of Jesus inside of them enables them to obey.

In part 2, we will examine why this construct is a false gospel, and why both parties are guilty. In part 3, we will examine the new birth and the idea that Christians have two natures.

paul

Piper, Tchividjian, Christian Counseling, and the Calvinist False Gospel: The Law of the Spirit has NO Power to Change

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on November 4, 2014

Originally posted May 22, 2014

DOING THE CROSS ONLY TO KEEP YOURSELF SAVED

DOING THE CROSS ONLY TO KEEP YOURSELF SAVED

The Bible is two different laws to the only two people groups in the world: the lost and the saved. To the lost, it is the law of sin and death. To the believer, it is the law of the Spirit of life:

Roman 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

We are no longer UNDER LAW, but UNDER GRACE, and being under grace is the same as being under the law of the Spirit of life. As Christians, the Spirit does in fact use the law to change us:

John 17:14 – I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

As I will keep proclaiming, the Achilles’ heel of Calvinism is law. Calvinism keeps the Christian under the law of sin and death. Hence, Jesus must fulfil the law of sin and death for us, and this is made up to be part of the atonement. But the law of sin and death has no part in justification—that’s why there is “no condemnation” for believers. But clearly, Calvin taught that Christians are still under the condemnation of the law and that Christ must perpetually save us from it by reapplications of the cross. In particular, note 3.14.9-11 in the Calvin Institutes. This construct turns the Bible and grace completely upside down. This is also why John Piper refers to the Bible as a book of “saving acts” (plural).

Note that John Piper, like Calvin, keeps Christians under the law of sin and death:

What Then Shall Those Who Are Justified Do with the Law of Moses?

Read it and meditate on it as those who are dead to it as the ground of your justification and the power of your sanctification. Read it and meditate on it as those for whom Christ is your righteousness and Christ is your sanctification.

Notice that Piper replaces the law of the Spirit of life with Christ alone as our sanctification. Notice also that we are to PRESENTLY read the law as those who are dead to it…[for] the power of your sanctification. Piper, like Calvin, only recognizes ONE law, the one we are dead to.

Tullian Tchividjian is more pointed about it:

So do you think the law no longer has—or should no longer have—a role in the Christian life?

No, I wouldn’t say that. While the law of God is good (Romans 7), it only has the power to reveal sin and to show the standard and image of righteous requirement—not remove sin. The law shows us what God commands (which of course is good) but the law does not possess the power to enable us to do what it says. You could put it this way: the law guides but it does not give. In other words, the law shows us what a sanctified life looks like, but it does not have sanctifying power—the law cannot change a human heart. It’s the gospel (what Jesus has done) that alone can give God-honoring animation to our obedience. The power to obey comes from being moved and motivated by the completed work of Jesus for us. The fuel to do good flows from what’s already been done. So, while the law directs us, only the gospel can drive us.

This, of course, asserts the idea, per Calvinism, that the power of our sanctification comes from justification. Per the usual, “gospel” and “Jesus” are words used to replace “justification” for cover on this issue. If our sanctification comes from justification, the law of sin and death is not ended and Jesus must continue to save us from it. The “finished” work isn’t so much finished, it needs to be perpetually applied to save us from the law of sin and death. Simply stated, Calvinism keeps us under the law of sin and death and ignores the law (“nomos”) of the Spirit of life. In other places, Tchividjian posits the idea that “the Bible never says that the law can give life.” That isn’t true,

Psalm 19:7 – The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;

Psalm 119:93 – I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

I won’t belabor the point, but Christ also said that man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God, and when Moses said to “choose life” he was talking about the law.

In the final analysis, it’s works salvation via antinomianism; we have to work hard at doing nothing but the cross to keep ourselves saved from the law of sin and death which Calvin, even from the grave, keeps poised over our heads, ready to damn us at any time unless we live by faith alone in sanctification. And of course, faithfulness to the institutional church which has the “power of the keys” is our best shot to be “ready for the judgment.” Frankly, a judgment that we will not be attending because the final judgment is according to the law of sin and death, not the law of the Spirit of life that the Spirit does in fact use to change us.

And also take note: 95% of the Christian counseling going on in the institutional church is based on Christians being yet under the law of sin and death with Christ fulfilling it in our stead as part of the atonement. Good luck with that—it’s a false gospel.

paul

Like Atheists, Like Calvinists: What’s the Difference?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 28, 2014

Very little, and arguably no applicable difference at all. Every now and then I read a post written by Dr. Jay Adams. He had a very interesting one today that examined the intent behind atheism:

The wicked arrogantly thinks “There is no accountability since God does not exist.” Psalm 10:4 (HCSB).

No doubt, no accountability is a strong motive and incentive for conveniently dismissing the existence of a just God, but are Calvinists any different? They are in regard to believing strongly in the existence of a just God, but what about accountability? In both cases, there is no accountability for sin.

The atheistic side is easy in regard to zero sum accountability, but on the Calvinist side it is a little more complicated. There is a just God who holds people accountable, and “people” would be other than Calvinist. Calvin believed law-keeping is futile because the standard is perfection; so, if you break one law, you might as well break all of it—same difference (he cited James 2:10 in order to make his case [Calvin Institutes 3.14.9,10,11]). Of course, James was talking about an attempt to keep the law for justification and not a general rule for life.

Calvin also believed new sins we commit cause us to fall from grace, so we supposedly need daily forgiveness, and that absolution can only be found in the institutional church, and baptism is efficacious for church membership. “No, no, we are not saved by baptism” Calvin would say while stating from the other side of his mouth that absolution can only be found in formal church membership…which can only be obtained by baptism (Calvin Institutes 4.15.1,3).

“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).

So, not unlike Catholicism as well, do whatever you want during the week and then obtain absolution on Sunday. Whether Protestant, Catholic, or atheist, there is no accountability.

paul

The Truth About Paul Tripp’s “How People Change”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 21, 2014

JMMHow People Change

by Paul David Tripp and Timothy S. Lane

Punch Press: Winston-Salem (2006, 2008)

Reviewed by Donn R. Arms

The Journal of Modern Ministry: Volume 8, Issue 1, Winter 2011

Jay E. Adams Founder and Senior Writer; Kevin Backus General Editor

_________________________________________________

The traditional view of the gospel’s relationship to change is that salvation is foundational to change. Once a person is justified before God by believing in Christ’s saving work on the cross, and made a new creature, he then begins the work of co-laboring with God in the growth process, also known as sanctification. The traditional view sees our role, after being made a new creature (born again), as many-faceted in regard to biblical instruction—the primary role being the learning of God’s Word and the application of it to life via obedience in how we think and behave (Matthew 7:24).

The traditional view makes a significant distinction between justification (redemption), sanctification (growing into Christ-likeness), and glorification (complete transformation). It sees justification and glorification as acts of God alone apart from human participation or monergistic, but sees sanctification as synergistic or a cooperative (but none the less dependent) work with God. Obviously, an accurate view and description of our participation is vital to affecting real and lasting change.

For Tripp and Lane, the gospel message is not only for the unregenerate, but efficacious for real and lasting change in the life of a believer. Certainly, as Christians move into our relationship with Christ as not only Savior, but also Lord, we should never leave behind an appreciation for the sacrifice of Christ that saved us. The authors claim, however, that the same elements of justification must be carried forward into sanctification without anything being added. In fact, for believers to even make an effort to align our thinking with Scripture is an act on our part that denies Christ as Savior:

. . . and the Bible does call us to change the way we think about things. But this approach again omits the person and work of Christ as Savior. Instead, it reduces our relationship to Christ to “think his thoughts” and “act the way Jesus would act” (p. 27, 2006 edn).

Throughout the book, the authors embrace parts of the traditional view, but view the traditional elements through a non-traditional prism, and give the traditional elements of change a different meaning. In this case they trade the traditional idea that Christians are to make an effort to align our thoughts with Scripture with the idea that we should do something else instead that leads to biblical thinking as a natural result of the “living Christ” acting on our behalf and apart from our initial efforts. According to the authors, the traditional approach omits the “work” of Christ in our sanctification and omits Christ as “Savior.”

Lane and Tripp do not deny that Christians have a role in the sanctification process. But what exactly is that role? If the traditional view of our exertion (effort in aligning our life with Scripture) in sanctification is out, what is in? Answer: deep repentance, the second major thrust of the book.

Repentance is a form of emptying the heart . . . Along with deep repentance, Scripture calls us to faith that rests and feeds upon the living Christ. He fills us with himself through the person of the Holy Spirit and our hearts are transformed by faith. (p 28)

Our efforts are out; a faith that “rests and feeds” is in. So, like justification, sanctification is limited to the narrow elements of faith and repentance only. We don’t apply effort to align our lives with Scripture in order to be saved, and we don’t for sanctification (real and lasting change) either.

Throughout HPC, Christ is referred to as “the living Christ.” Believers have no ability to perform works, or add works to their faith because believers are still spiritually dead, and the only life within us is Christ. On pages 64 and 65 of the 2006 edition Christians are described as being dead, powerless, enslaved, alienated from God, enemies of God, fools, and those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. In other words, our condition is not changed from what we were before salvation. Referring to believers, the authors write: “when you are dead, you can’t do anything” (p. 64). Therefore, we can’t do anything leaving only the “living Christ” to perform works on our behalf.

This is a synthesizing of justification and sanctification. Our ability to perform works pleasing to God is in the same context as those who are unregenerate. We are clearly unable. The authors illustrate this with the story of Andy:

In both phases of his Christian life, the work of Christ on the cross was radically minimized by Andy’s own efforts. The first three years evidenced a Christ-less activism that produced pride and self-sufficiency (p. 184, 2006 edn).

Andy’s “own efforts” in “his Christian life” are in direct relation (according to the authors) to how prevalent redemption (“the work of Christ on the cross”) was in Andy’s life. The fact that Andy’s efforts to obey might have been misguided is not the point that the authors are making here. The authors only cite Andy’s “own efforts” in “his Christian life” with no traditional consideration of erroneous efforts to obey that are inconsistent with the Scriptures being rightly divided.

In essence, it resembles an ongoing need to be saved (redeemed) daily through the works of Christ only. Referring to 1 Cor. 10:13-14 the authors state:

What Paul envisions here is not just the change that takes place when we come to Christ, but the lifestyle of change that results from an ongoing sense of our need for redemption (progressive sanctification) [p. 102, 06 edn].

Progressive sanctification is redefined as “an ongoing sense of our need for redemption.” However, the redemption he is speaking of is the same redemption that originally saved us (“when we came to Christ…and the ‘ongoing’ need for it”). Tripp and Lane believe that there is little difference between justification and sanctification. If we can’t do works to be saved, neither can we do works in the sanctification process.

But what about all the commands in the Bible that are obviously directed toward us? Are we not supposed to obey the principles and commands of Scripture? Yes, but . . .

. . . a behavioral approach to change is hollow because it ignores the need for Christ and his (sic) power to change first the heart and then the behavior. Instead, even the Christian version of this separates the commands of Scripture from their Christ-centered, gospel context. [p. 26]

By “Christ-centered, gospel context,” they mean obedience via the cross (works of Christ, not ours). This can also be seen in their view of the use of Scripture as instruction, or “directions” to be read and then followed:

One of the mistakes we make in handling God’s Word is that we reduce it to a set of directions on how we live. We look for directions about relationships, church life, sex, finances, marriage, happiness, parenting, and so on…..This does violence to the very nature of the Word of God and robs it of its power. The Bible is the world’s most significant story, the story of God’s cosmos-restoring work of redemption. The Bible is a “big picture” book. It introduces us to God, defines our identity, lays out the meaning and purpose of life, and shows us where to find help for the one disease that infests us all—sin. If you try to reduce the Bible to a set of directions, not only will you miss its overall wisdom, you will not make sense of the directions. They only make sense in the context of the whole story (p. 92, 2006 edn).

Seeking, then, to find in the Scriptures instruction in Godliness (2 Tim 3:16) “does violence to the very nature of the Word of God and robs it of its power.”

The second tenet advocated by Tripp and Lane is deep introspection, or “deep repentance.”

Repentance is a form of emptying the heart….Along with deep repentance, Scripture calls us to faith that rests and feeds upon the living Christ. He fills us with himself through the person of the Holy Spirit and our hearts are transformed by faith. [p. 28]

Deep repentance, also called “intelligent repentance” by the authors, is a necessarily embellished form of orthodox repentance because of the narrow approach (faith and repentance only as our role) the book’s theory takes in regard to change. Heart idols must first be identified. Then repenting of them leads to the elimination thereof, creating a void that is filled by Christ and the release of His power accordingly.

Elements of deep repentance include asking God to forgive us of our own efforts, i.e, “repenting of righteousness” (p.190, 2006), and “seeing the sin beneath the sins” (p. 190, 2006) which requires an understanding that it is impossible to violate commands 4-10 (of the 10 commandments) without first violating commands 1-3, which are the commands that speak to heart idols. Therefore, you must get to the heart of why you sinned (idols of the heart covered in commands 1-3) before the violation of all other sins can be prevented. On pages 163-165 Lane and Tripp suggest a list of “X-ray questions” to determine types of desires linked to heart idols to aid in this “deep repentance.”

The third tenet is that of “the Bible as a narrative for change.” The authors say that the Bible is a simple story that all Christians can understand, and that God uses creation to write the book in word pictures (p. 93, 2006). The very purpose of the Bible, according to the authors, is to supply believers with a model of change that involves four basic elements: heat, thorns, cross, and fruit (p. 96, 2006). The authors say the Bible is a grand gospel story that encompasses all of the necessary elements needed for life and godliness in regard to our life story. Therefore, God calls us to come to the grand story with our story, and He invites us to place our life story into the grand story, discovering where our experience of life fits into one of the four elements of heat, thorns, cross, and fruit:

This big picture model is the story of every believer. God invites us to enter into the plot!”(p. 94, 2006).

All of Scripture falls under one of these categories, and these categories form the grand gospel story, which is the sole purpose of the Bible—to present a gospel story of real change that reveals God’s grace and provision accordingly.

By seeing our circumstances in heat (circumstances of life), thorns (desires and idols of the heart that cause us to sin), fruit (Christ working in us, or the consequences of sin), and God’s provision for all three (cross), we gain wisdom, encouragement, and a mentality that seeks to know a deeper need and dependence on Christ. Using Scripture for this purpose exalts Christ in our minds, makes us desire Him more, and deepens our sense of dependence on Him. This deepening sense of our dependence on Christ, which results from using the Scriptures in this way, creates a lifestyle of change because we come to realize that we need redemption every day, not just when we were originally saved. Total dependence on Christ becomes synonymous with faith to the exclusion of almost everything else. The Bible, then, is designed for the sole purpose of aiding the believer in faith (total dependence on God) and deep repentance.

How People Change is a pronounced departure from the traditional (or nouthetic) model of biblical change. It starts by synthesizing justification and sanctification, and narrowing our role in spiritual growth to faith and repentance only. The authors then present a “big picture” model of interpretation that describes their view of the proper use of Scripture in the change process, and the role the Bible plays accordingly. Their model presents the Bible as a gospel narrative, and to the exclusion of all other purposes. The authors of HPC present a strange picture of believers who are still dead in trespasses and sins while being indwelled by Christ who is the only life within us, and therefore the only one working in the change process. Accordingly, total dependence on Christ is the key to real change—a Christ Who obeys for us!

Christ referred to the Holy Spirit as our “helper” in John 14:16. Who is he helping? And what is He helping with? The verse begins with a coordinating conjunction that connects it to the idea presented in the preceding verse, which says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to help us obey Christ. Let’s teach counselees to do just that.

PsychoHeresy Unawareness: Dr. John Street Shot the Sheriff, but He Didn’t Shoot the Deputy

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on October 9, 2014

PPT HandleOriginally posted September 30, 2012

No doubt, PAM reveals many problems with the biblical counseling movement that one may expect when it is based on a false gospel. But John Street’s real sin is his participation in a mass propagation of a false gospel.

Dr. John Street, founder of Clearcreek Chapel in Springboro, Ohio has finally made it big in the biblical counseling movement. This is evident from the fact that he has become a target of PAM (PsychoHeresy Awarness Ministries). PAM is directed by Martin and Deidre Bobgan who, without a doubt, are the most formidable critics of the “biblical” counseling movement.

John Street is an elder at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in California, and the Chair of the graduate program for biblical counseling at the seminary associated with MacArthur’s church. Also, last time I checked, Street is the president of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC).

In the most recent PAM newsletters, (http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/street_tmc&s.html and http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/street_tmc&s_2.html) Street is barbecued for practicing counseling methods that the Bobgans deem unbiblical. PAM primarily decries the biblical counseling movement’s “problem-centered counseling” verses “Christ-centered Ministry” (http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/e-books/CCMpcc-ebk.pdf ).

I am not sure what PAM means by “Christ-centered ministry,” but it seems to be a passive approach regarding the disciple’s role in sanctification:

This is why we say that those who minister to one another need to get in the way and out of the way. They need to be available, but they need to let God work rather than push their own agenda.

The idea of pushing our own agenda could mean “let go and let God” instead of pushing an agenda that just so happens to be God’s agenda. The wording is unsettling. Elsewhere the Bobgans write the following:

Christ-centered ministry encourages spiritual growth and depends on the Lord to do the work in each individual through His Word and Spirit. Therefore, one can confidently assure believers that this ministry is more effective, long-lasting, and spiritually rewarding than problem-centered counseling for those who are willing to go this way.

Depend on the Lord to do the work? At the very least, the Bobgans need to clarify their position more thoroughly because by and large, gospel contemplationism  is the primary thrust of NANC counseling. One wonders if PAM is accusing NANC of what they are guilty of: an overly passive approach to sanctification.

And, NANC, when they were (past tense) helping many people, encouraged an aggressive role in sanctification by the counselee. Christians are called to “study to show thyself approved,” and then aggressively apply that truth to their lives in order to have a life built on a rock (Matthew 7:24).

This was NANC’s approach in the past, and it did result in massive professions of faith, and real lasting change. I know; I was there; I am a firsthand witness. This was before David Powlison via CCEF and company infiltrated NANC with the gangrene of progressive justification. Unbelievably, in broad daylight, Powlison admitted (during a lecture at John Piper’s church while Piper was on sabbatical searching for different “species of idols” in his heart) that NANC’s “first generation” counseling was in contention with “second generation counseling” over the very definition of the gospel!

And this is my point: PAM is focused on the supposed evil of “problem-centered” counseling (is the gospel itself not problem-centered? The gospel did not come to solve a problem?) while the real issue is that NANC and CCEF both propagate a blatant false gospel. The counseling is based on the fusion of justification and sanctification with gospel contemplationism as its practical application.

CCEF’s counseling is based on Sonship theology. Dr. Jay E. Adams nailed that doctrine specifically as the fusion of justification and sanctification in his book, “Biblical Sonship” published in 1999. Adams, in the book, decried Sonship’s position that regeneration is powered by the finished work of justification. CCEF then effectively infiltrated NANC and took it over with the same doctrine. I use over 200 pages to document all of this in “The Truth About New Calvinism” (thetruthaboutnewcalvinism.com).

Hence, we must assume that NANC counseling yields many ill results, and I will say this: PAM points them out though they are missing the much larger issue. Case in point:

The truth is that counselors and especially counselors with an agenda (their particular approach) too often take credit for successes and attribute failures to the counselees. The trumping truth is that success is primarily in the hands of the counselees….

And worse yet, the counselee’s “failure” ends up in church discipline!

Also:

Problem-centered counseling is typically a one-to-one relationship. Sometimes couples and families are involved, but the relationship is generally artificial and restrictive. The counseling relationship itself usually does not extend outside the counseling room. The relationship lasts as long as counseling is being provided and normally does not extend to other involvement, even in most biblical counseling centers. Problem-centered counselors commonly do not involve themselves with counselees outside the counseling room. That is why both psychological and biblical counselors sometimes use intake forms requesting a great deal of personal information. Because this relationship is generally isolated, the counselor and counselee can be selective as to what they want to reveal about themselves. In fact, as we mentioned earlier, research shows that counselees often lie to their counselors and protect themselves by concealing important information.

The great advantage of Christ-centered ministry is that it is not limited to an artificial one-to-one relationship where one has the problem and the other supposedly has the solution. In the Body of Christ all are growing together. there are many opportunities to know one another and to interact in genuine relationships. When a believer is experiencing problems, more than one person may be involved in ministering to that individual. One may be teaching. One may be reminding. Another may simply be extending support and fellowship. Another may be helping in practical ways. Another may be exhorting. Another may be admonishing. And, in a few cases, some may be exercising the responsibility of disciplining a fellow believer for the sake of restoration. But, all can be praying and encouraging the individual in the direction of the Lord. And, through all this, all are growing together and the relationships may deepen with one another as well as with the Lord.

No doubt, PAM reveals many problems with the biblical counseling movement that one may expect when it is based on a false gospel. But John Street’s real sin is his participation in a mass propagation of a false gospel. It reminds me of Eric Clapton’s ode to one who objects to being accused of shooting a deputy when he really shot the sheriff.

paul