Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Reformation Counter-Reality

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 15, 2016

project-2016-logo-4The Reformers claimed, sola scriptura (truth based on Scripture alone). But in every case of any claim made by the Reformers of old or new, what they mean by any given word must be clarified. How did the Reformers define Scripture?

Here we begin to examine the Reformation’s redefinition of almost every word imaginable while allowing the masses to assume the normative definitions during indoctrination. If the people assume “nine,” but you want to bring them to “five,” you only talk about the “two” and the “three.” The nine is out of sight and out of mind. But also, during the process of bringing them to five, you allow them to assume two really means “two” and three really means “three.” In Reformed reality, the two and three really mean something different than the normally excepted grammatical definitions of two and three. Otherwise, both together would not equal nine which really means five in their reality. The goal is to get the masses to agree that nine really means five.

That’s a crass simplification, yet, the general idea. It may also be stated from the onset that this is a classic cult indoctrination technique. The technique deliberately excludes facts detrimental to the thesis and redefines words to collaborate a contrary truth. Nevertheless, this is a staple mode of communication among Reformed academia. Words mean what the Reformed academics deem them to mean, and you are the last to know until you see the world their way and it no longer matters. Those who define the words control how reality is perceived, and perception determines behavior. People act according to their logic.

How do people normally interpret information? And how do people normally process the reality that they are experiencing? Most people find their way in the world through natural assumptions. Few of us are taught anything different. As we grow up and mature, we assume that the world we live in is really as we perceive it, and we accumulate conclusions about life accordingly. When we went to grade school and learned words, we assumed that “cat” really means “cat” according to what we perceive a cat to be. We learned sentences such as, “The cat walked across the street,” “See Johnny run!” etc. When we read a newspaper or magazine and see sentences, we assume reported events really took place whether we were there or not. If the writer is telling the truth, a cat really walked across the street. Perception or understanding of the event is increased with more words; the color of the cat, the breed of cat, the name of the street crossed by the cat, etc. Relevant knowledge is what we use to negotiate the world we live in. This also assumes cause and effect, ability to comprehend reality, and some degree of control over our environment. Some call this, “free will.”

If you are being taught by someone who rejects these normative assumptions in a church venue, it is safe to assume that you have little or no mutual agreement in regard to the words being communicated. The words “two” and “three” are being used, but you assume those words do not add up to nine. The someone is allowing you to assume that they interpret reality in the same way you do. And, this description is the commonplace occurrence in most present-day Protestant churches.

Without getting into the realm of metaphysical theory, the Reformed principle will be stated simply, and then it will be confirmed as the standard mode of operation widely practiced in our day. It will also be established that this mode of operation flows from the historic roots and traditions of the Protestant Reformation.

The Imperative Command is Grounded in the Indicative Event

The Reformed principle is sometimes expressed as, “The imperative command is grounded in the indicative event.” The question now following is… “What in the world does that mean!” It begins by understanding that the Reformed use words that mean things to teach that words don’t always mean things. Let’s parse the statement with words that mean things. “Imperative command” simply refers to commands found in the Bible.1 The “indicative event” refers to Christ’s life and death as a historical event.2 Few realize the gravity of the cute play on words with the definition of the word, “history” as “His-story.” This is, in fact, a thumbnail phrase that expresses a vast metaphysical/philosophical body of thought and theory. It suggests that ALL reality is interpreted through the life of Christ. It suggests, as the only objective presupposition, that all of history and reality are interpreted through the one historical event. It is history as reality, and the Christ event is the lynchpin of the story. History is a story, and the story is reality. This is NOT difficult to understand; the danger is letting the simplicity of it escape you because of presuppositions that assume complexity. What the Reformed have done is used thousands of different sub-concepts to teach this one, simple, primary concept.

The key to understanding this view of reality is a focus on perception. In the Reformed worldview, humans are only able to truly perform one function: they are able to perceive things, or see things. Everything else is mere experience. Again, just follow the meaning of the words used here and put them together for a logical conclusion, this is very simple to understand. Again, the danger is being confused by the simplicity of it due to presuppositions.

According to the Reformed worldview, reality is divided into two categories; active and passive. In other words, there is active reality and passive reality. Humans belong to the passive reality, or realm. The passive reality, or realm, includes things like water; until water is acted upon, it is dormant. Items in the passive realm only operate according to the actions of the active realm. In essence, we are dealing with two realms, and NOTHING happens in the passive realm unless it is acted upon by the active realm. Please note: according to this principle, those things in the passive realm that perceive that an action is being initiated in the passive realm are only experiencing the action, but are not performing it. Though the action is very much experienced as something initiated by the will of the being dwelling in the passive realm, it is an illusion—the action is only being experienced and not performed. Free will, and cause and effect within the passive realm are illusions. Cause and effect is split between the two realms: cause is only possible in the active realm, and all actions in the passive realm come from the active realm.

So, what is the purpose of this seemingly futile worldview? Answer: well-being. Simply, happiness. Isn’t that what we all want? To the degree that we properly perceive the reality of the passive realm, we have well-being; no circumstance can disturb our soul, all events are the will of the active realm which is always good and true regardless of how mankind perceives it. And this brings us to the Reformed/Protestant definition of saving faith: it is a true perception of reality apart from any free will, and the belief that nothing of the active realm exists within. It is like an eye that only perceives outwardly. The perception itself in no way enables anything within to act upon the passive realm, but only perceives and experiences what the active realm accomplishes in the passive realm. Faith alone is perception alone apart from any work. If water freezes, it didn’t decide to freeze itself, and did nothing to contribute to the freezing, it was acted upon by a change in temperature. Hence, as many Reformed teachers are fond of saying: “Sanctification is not done by you, it is done to you.”

Where the confusion exists in attempting to understand this worldview is demonstrated by a question such as this: “But when I am doing something, am I not really doing it?” Answer: no, the doing is also an experience. Let’s say that you are standing in the rain. You can feel the rain and experience the rain and everything that comes with standing in the rain and getting wet, but you have no control over the rain. You did not make yourself wet, you are passive; you are only now wet because you were acted upon by the active realm. However, let’s say that you decide to run from the pouring rain and into some sort of shelter. The assumption is that this act occurred because your own will decided to activate your body for purposes of using shelter. Not so, you are a purely passive being who must be acted upon. The active realm acted upon your thoughts and will. Even though you cannot experience the rain’s active motion, you can experience your own, but in either case, it no more you acting upon yourself than the rain is acting upon itself—in both cases the active realm is commanding the effects seen in the passive realm. A tree does not move itself; the active realm uses the wind to move the tree.

We are now one more simple step closer to understanding the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event. Let’s review the critical elements that make up our understanding: passive realm; active realm; history; story; faith; Bible. The active realm acts upon the passive realm to effect a story as expressed in history. Faith is the ability to see the story for what it is, and to understand that you are a passive character in the story. Of course, the story is predetermined by God, and your role is also predetermined. The Bible is a prototype of the story, or a general pattern of the story. It is a tool for helping your faith see your own life reflected in the gospel narrative. Some of the Bible narrative tells the story of other humans who dwelt in the passive realm as a way to understand your own existence in the passive realm, while other parts of the Bible tell the end of the story, what is referred to theologically as eschatology, or end-time prophecy. So, some of the Bible is history specific, and other parts are patterns of understanding exhibit reality and an understanding of it. It may be stated this way: reality is a motion picture exhibited and executed by the active realm and observed by us in the passive realm.

Now, let’s describe what the story is. It is the redemptive story of Christ, and its purpose is to glorify God. Hence, God decided to write this…what we may call a metaphysical narrative, and for the express purpose of His own glory and “self-love.” Also, EVERYTHING in the narrative glorifies God. And consequently, to the degree that we see ourselves as nothing more than characters penciled into the metaphysical narrative plot by God as either vessels of wrath or vessels for glory, we find peace and happiness. After all, reality is just a gospel narrative written by God. Why get uptight about things that we have no control over, or things that ultimately glorify God whether good or evil? And even if your prewritten destiny is eternal destruction, the Bible can help you get so lost in the splendor of God that you would, in fact, rejoice in the opportunity to suffer eternally if it glorifies God. The primary purpose of the Bible is to lift God up, and bring mankind “down to hell.” To the degree that “believers” use the Bible to do this aided by the Holy Spirit, well-being is experienced.

This brings us to a conclusion in understanding the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event. There are obviously many commands in the Bible. According to this way of understanding the Bible, ie., according to a redemptive interpretation, God presents many commands to men in order to demonstrate the futility of man obeying any command without fault and to the pleasure of God. According to this narrative prewritten by God in the active realm and displayed in the passive realm, Christ performed a passive obedience and an active obedience in what is known as the “Christ event” (His death and life). Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin, and lived a perfect life in obedience to the law for those preselected by God to receive the salvation supplied by Christ according to the narrative.

According to the narrative: the law, or the commands read in the Bible, are designed to show all people how evil they are. This shows them their need for Christ, but that need doesn’t cease with salvation. Remember, faith is merely a perception, and faith grows as the perception grows. The perception of what? Answer: the depths of, or an ever-increasing understanding of how much we need salvation. Therefore, the imperative commands are not meant for us to obey because we are not able to, but are rather designed to give us an ever-deepening understanding of how much we needed salvation. Said another way, “the law reveals our evil as set against God’s holiness.” Or…they are based on the indicative Christ event.

The imperative commands are NOT grounded in an expectation of man’s ability to obey them, or for some purpose of man’s co-laboring with God, or some means of people loving God and neighbor, but rather they are grounded in the Christ event for the express purpose of God’s glory. Using the Bible/law in this way supposedly increases understanding of our own evil leading to a gratitude for God’s infinite mercy, and subsequent happiness and well-being. This is what the Reformers really meant by sola scriptura. It is perhaps one of the most egregious misrepresentations ever perpetrated on mankind.

It is not surprising then that this use of Scripture is known as the historical-redemptive hermeneutic. Of course, presenting it as an interpretive method, or hermeneutic, when it is really a way of interpreting reality itself, is yet another flagrant deception. Consequently, what would normally be a contrasting hermeneutic, namely, the historical-grammatical hermeneutic, must now be recruited as a contending alternative to the historical-redemptive method of interpreting realty. What is this saying? It is saying that words mean what we normally understand them to mean. It means that the word “command” assumes that the person giving the command did not already obey the command for the person to whom the command is directed. It also assumes that the one giving the command assumes that the subject receiving the command has the ability to obey it. This is in contrast to the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event.

As we will see as we progress, these Reformed ideas are very ancient. They are actually grounded in ancient mythology. The imperative command is grounded in the indicative event is a more contemporary term that was borrowed from like views of secular metaphysics. For example:

It is often said that one cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”; that is to say, the imperative and the indicative deal with two radically different realms that do not intersect. The realms of fact and duty are like oil and water; they do not mix.3

This is also known as Hume’s law4 and slightly differs from the Reformed imperative/indicative in that the Reformed concur that good can be known in the passive realm, but is not able to be practiced in the material realm by passive beings. Really, it’s the same difference.

In this chapter, the principle elements of the indictment have been presented. In the next chapter, the proof will be presented that authentic Protestantism is guilty of this worldview and its fraudulent presentation. Protestant ideological cross-breeding and confusion can be measured by ignorance regarding the original worldview that the Protestant Reformation was founded on; usually expressed in various and sundry denominations. However, remnants of its ancient principles can be seen in things like let go and let God theology that are eerily similar to…

Be perfectly resigned, perfectly unconcerned; then alone can you do any true work. No eyes can see the real forces; we can only see the results. Put out self, forget it; just let God work, it is His business (Swami Vivekananda (12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902) was a teacher of Vedanta philosophy, and one of the most famous and influential spiritual leaders of Hinduism).

No significant understanding of our present-day church experience can be ascertained without understanding the ideology that produced Protestant orthodoxy. Any suggestion that Reformed tradition and thought was birthed by an exegetical interpretation of the Bible is absurd.

Moreover, it is an ideology that hates life, and will invariably lead to a culture of death, and apparently, happily so. True believers must grasp this, and as a result see what is really behind the lofty sounding theological doctrines it espouses.

3 The Void Within: An Inner Quest for Wholeness, By Arnold C. Harms, Ph.D.

Pope Francis’ Culture of Death is Looking a Lot Like Protestantism

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

TANC 2015 flyer

“Dear Christian parents, will you save your children from this philosophical culture of death?”   

The real difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is philosophical, and by no means a biblically based theological argument. If you want to discuss the difference in regard to orthodoxy for the serfs, there is no difference—both are progressive justification. Both propagate a need for the church to get people from salvation point A to salvation point B.

The functions of both camps are really determined by spiritual elitists who think they are above logic and all things material. Catholic philosopher kings tend to think knowledge beyond the material realm is within every being while Protestant philosopher kings believe all true knowledge is outside of the person.

Both appeal to Christ consciousness as the only immutable true form of goodness and truth. When it gets right down to it, you can barely slip a playing card between their definitions of faith.

Catholics seem to believe that the inner light gives everyone some potentiality for being good, while Protestants believe Christians can only see good and experience goodness that remains completely outside of them. They can experience it, but it is not a part of them. Man cannot be partially good enough to participate in his own salvation; it is a total work by God alone from beginning to end.  Catholics believe that people can have enough goodness in them to participate in the finishing of their salvation.

In both cases, salvation is a process that needs the church to finish it. Catholics believe people can be made good enough to participate in the finishing while Protestants reject the idea that man can possess any goodness.

The point here is that they share a common belief that salvation is a process overseen by the church, and that affiliation with the church is efficacious to being saved.

Of late, and more and more, they also share a belief in Martin Luther’s doctrine of death. Both interpret all reality from the standpoint of the cross; i.e., “all wisdom is hidden in suffering.”  Both see true discipleship as a complete emptying of self. Both see material as evil and only the invisible as good. Catholics believe inner goodness enables us to see ourselves as worthless, while Protestants believe faith enables us to see ourselves as worthless because we are worthless. Catholics believe good people will want to die to self and this material world, while Protestants believe we ought to die because we deserve nothing but death. But either way, it’s a culture of death.

Also, both believe that self-sacrifice shows forth the glory of the cross because all choices to sacrifice self are “living by the cross” or “walking according to the cross.” Self-denial and self-death demonstrate God’s cross-love and this is when the gospel is presented to people with power from on high. We hear this rhetoric in Protestant circles constantly.

So, what in the world inspired this post? Keep in mind that the following video is a Catholic production, and prepare yourself to be dumbfounded.

The same mentality can also be seen in Pope Francis’ collectivist views on economics and financial equality. Francis, who is loco popular with the Millennials, is leading a whole generation of our youth into socialist ideas. On the other side of the fence, the same. Collectivism gauges the total worth of people based on their ability to contribute to “the group” which is Platonic lingo for society at large.

Another aspect of death culture is the rising popularity of environmentalism among Catholic and Protestant youth.  If you are a good Catholic, you know that your evil material body exhales carbon dioxide which pollutes the air, but the good trees absorb the carbon. If you are Protestant, you assume trees are better than humans because humans are totally depraved. In this video, it is suggested that we errantly worry more about ISIS killing people than saving trees.

The video was posted on my FaceBook page by a young Christian, and this was my response:

Well, wouldn’t worry about it too much. Apparently, shortly before the return of Christ there is plenty of earth left to destroy because God destroys it. I also find the notion that trees compensate for human pollution via breathing somewhat disturbing. It’s the idea that trees are important because they filter out the product of human living: trees good–humans bad. Fact is, what we exhale is only about 4% carbon. Also note the unqualified moral equivalency between those who kill people (ISIS) and those who cut down trees. lastly, if those who propagate this message really cared about the environment rather than their ulterior political motives, they would point to the science and example of Israel who have turned that desert terrain into a rich agriculture.

Dear Christian parents, will you save your children from this philosophical culture of death? This May, I will be teaching a series on Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation on Blog Talk Radio. We will exegete this foundational document theses by theses. Let me also recommend our 2015 TANC conference where we delve into these issues as well.

paul

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

John Calvin Heresy 101: Sabbath Salvation

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on September 11, 2014

PPT Handle Originally published December 9, 2013

I often hear complaints that Reformed theology is too complicated, and therefore difficult to judge according to its truthfulness. “So, everything seems ok at the Calvinist church I attend, and they talk about the Bible.” Well, this isn’t difficult to understand: Calvin believed you keep yourself saved by living your Christian life according to the Old Testament Sabbath. In what way? Answer: by not doing any works. The Christian life must be lived out as the Sabbath Day, and in the same way that working on the Sabbath was a capital offense in the Old Testament, working in the Christian life will bring spiritual death:

Ezekiel is still more full, but the sum of what he says amounts to this: that the Sabbath is a sign by which Israel might know God is their sanctifier. If our sanctification consists in the mortification of our own will, the analogy between the external sign and the thing signified is most appropriate. We must rest entirely, in order that God may work in us; we must resign our own will, yield up our heart, and abandon all the lusts of the flesh. In short, we must desist from all the acts of our mind, that God working in us, we may rest in him, as the Apostle also teaches (Heb. 3:13; 4:3, 9). [The Calvin Institutes 2.8.29]

And how long, and to what degree should we live out the Sabbath?

Should any expect some secret meaning in the number seven, this being in Scripture the number for perfection, it may have been selected, not without cause, to denote perpetuity. In accordance with this, Moses concludes his description of the succession of day and night on the same day on which he relates that the Lord rested from his works. Another probable reason for the number may be, that the Lord intended that the Sabbath never should be completed before the arrival of the last day. We here begin our blessed rest in him, and daily make new progress in it; but because we must still wage an incessant warfare with the flesh, it should not be consummated until the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah: “From one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord,” (Isaiah 66:23); in other words, when God shall be “all in all,” (1Cor. 15:28). It may seem, therefore, that the seventh day the Lord delineated to his people the future perfection of his sabbath on the last day, that by continual meditation on the sabbath, they might throughout their whole lives aspire to this perfection. [The Calvin Institutes 2.8.30]

In other words, we “aspire” to perfection (when we are ultimately perfected at the resurrection) “by continual meditation on the sabbath.” When I was sharing these Calvin nuggets with my wife Susan, she asked, “How do you not work in the Christian life?” My answer: “By meditating on your own sin and God’s grace and holiness, and thereby allowing God to work through you.”  Her next question: “But how do you know when it is God’s work or your work?” My answer: “Everything that you do that is a good work is done by God and only EXPERIENCED by you. All sin is your doing, and is an aid to understanding how sinful you are. All the good works experienced by you are imputed or manifested by God. And, Christians are not to live by faith alone, or in other words, live by the Sabbath for the sake of the manifestations. That would be doing something other than living by faith alone”:

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…He is not righteous who does much, but he who, without work, believes much in Christ. [Martin Luther: The Heidelberg Disputation ; thesis 24,25]

Christians, according to the Reformers, are completely unable to do any good work pleasing to God:

We must strongly insist on these two things: that no believer ever performed one work which, if tested by the strict judgment of God, could escape condemnation; and, moreover, that were this granted to be possible (though it is not), yet the act being vitiated and polluted by the sins of which it is certain that the author of it is guilty, it is deprived of its merit. [The Calvin Institutes 3.14.11]

So what’s the point? What’s the payoff? Answer: JOY! The more we live by faith alone (Sabbath rest) in the Christian life by focusing on our sin and God’s Holiness, the more we experience the joy of our original salvation. Said Luther:

Now you ask: What then shall we do? Shall we go our way with indifference because we can do nothing but sin? I would reply: By no means. But, having heard this, fall down and pray for grace and place your hope in Christ in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection. For this reason we are so instructed-for this reason the law makes us aware of sin so that, having recognized our sin, we may seek and receive grace. Thus God »gives grace to the humble« (1 Pet. 5:5), and »whoever humbles himself will be exalted« (Matt. 23:12). The law humbles, grace exalts. The law effects fear and wrath, grace effects hope and mercy. Through the law comes knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20), through knowledge of sin, however, comes humility, and through humility grace is acquired… Nor does speaking in this manner give cause for despair, but for arousing the desire to humble oneself and seek the grace of Christ.

This is clear from what has been said, for, according to the gospel, the kingdom of heaven is given to children and the humble (Mark 10:14,16), and Christ loves them. They cannot be humble who do not recognize that they are damnable whose sin smells to high heaven. Sin is recognized only through the law. It is apparent that not despair, but rather hope, is preached when we are told that we are sinners. Such preaching concerning sin is a preparation for grace, or it is rather the recognition of sin and faith in such preaching. Yearning for grace wells up when recognition of sin has arisen. A sick person seeks the physician when he recognizes the seriousness of his illness. Therefore one does not give cause for despair or death by telling a sick person about the danger of his illness, but, in effect, one urges him to seek a medical cure. To say that we are nothing and constantly sin when we do the best we can does not mean that we cause people to despair (unless we are fools); rather, we make them concerned about the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. [Heidelberg Disputation: thesis 16, 17]

So, the Christian life is a cycle of seeking mercy by using the Bible (the law) to reveal our wretchedness which results in being “exalted.” It is a perpetual cycle of humbling ourselves resulting in grace (exaltation). Seek mercy—get grace—seek mercy—get grace—seek mercy—get grace. The Reformers called this “mortification and vivification.” This occurs in the Sabbath rest:

Spiritual rest is the mortification of the flesh; so that the sons of God should no longer live to themselves, or indulge their own inclination. So far as the Sabbath was a figure of this rest, I say, it was but for a season; but insomuch as it was commanded to men from the beginning that they might employ themselves in the worship of God, it is right that it should continue to the end of the world. [The Complete Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis: Jean Calvin; translated by John King, 1844-1856. Genesis 2:1-15, section 3.]

According to the Reformers, this perpetual cycle of seeking mercy and receiving the joy of grace is in fact their definition of the new birth, and this experience is a congruent deeper and deeper realization of our sinfulness coupled with more and more consistent joy. It is a perpetual reliving of our baptism and the joy thereof (Michael Horton: The Christian Faith; mortification and vivification, pp. 661-663 [Calvin Inst. 3.3.2-9], 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, The Heidelberg Disputation These 24, The Complete Biblical Commentary Collection of John Calvin 1844-1856: Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, Translated by John Owen | 1Peter 4:1-5, section 2). John Piper added some contemporary philosophical pizazz to this doctrine with his Christian Hedonism doctrine. So, the pay-off is easy believism  with the JOY bonus. However, many Calvinists contend that it is really the hard and narrow way because the essence of all sin is: to avoid repentance whether unregenerate or Christian. It is the hard way of Dr. Larry Crabb’s “inside look.” It is “peeling off the layers of sin ” prescribed by CJ Mahaney. Nevertheless, the affront to the Bible command to not rejoice in evil cannot be missed here (1Cor 13:6). Also, we must not miss the point that this is a prescription for keeping ourselves saved by living in the Reformed Sabbath:

And this emptying out of self must proceed so far that the Sabbath is violated even by good works, so long as we regard them as our own; for rightly does Augustine remark in the last chapter of the 22nd book, De Civitate Dei, ‘For even our good works themselves, since they are understood to be rather His than ours, are thus imputed to us for the attaining of that Sabbath, when we are still and see that He is God; for, if we attribute them to ourselves, they will be servile, whereas we are told as to the Sabbath, “Thou shalt not do any servile work in it.” [The Complete Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis: Jean Calvin; translated by Charles William Bingham ,1844-1856. The Harmony of the Law: Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses | Its Repetition—Deuteronomy 5:12-15. ¶2]

In essence, this is salvation by Christ + the Reformed Sabbath Rest. It is living in a cycle of seeking knowledge of our sin in order to better appreciate the cross. Our salvation is not finished, we must “keep ourselves in the love of Christ” (CJ Mahaney). We must keep ourselves in the Reformed Sabbath for the  “attaining of that Sabbath.”

paul

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