Paul's Passing Thoughts

What Is The Answer To Life’s Most Important Question

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 2, 2018

Recently a friend of TANC Ministries emailed me and asked me the following question.

“Would like to ask you a favor. Could you summarize the gospel/new birth in a paragraph or two? …In other words, suppose someone walks up to you and asks, ‘How do I get saved? Is there any hope for me?’ Suppose this person is a stripper, prostitute. What would be the most appropriate response?”

This is a great question! Here at Paul’s Passing Thoughts and TANC Ministries we talk much about doctrine and justification and the errors of authentic Protestantism. Our focus has been primarily to those who find themselves stuck in the institutional church and those who are seeking honest solutions to the problems they perceive and have witnessed in the institutional church. In other words, our ministry focus has been geared primarily towards believers. We don’t often discuss strategies for giving the true Biblical Gospel to the unsaved.

But that is neither here nor there. So in response to our friends inquiry I sat down and put together a few thoughts about just how we should present the Gospel, not just to strippers and prostitutes, but to anyone who is under law and in desperate need of salvation for eternal condemnation. My reply follows:


This is really hard to do in a paragraph or two. I have a comprehensive essay on the Gospel that I wrote about a year ago. It is rather long and technical, but it might give you a place to start. Here’s the link:
A Comprehensive Essay on the True Gospel

I don’t know that I would necessarily present the Gospel to an unsaved person this way, but there are several points in that article that for a person who desires to be saved are necessary for them to understand.

  1. They have to understand the state of unregenerate man (that he is under law and therefore under condemnation. Incidentally, this is the reason for the guilt they may be experiencing, as well as the conviction of the Holy Spirit, which is provoking them to seek salvation.)
  2. They have to understand who God is.
  3. They have to understand that God will judge all those who are under law.
  4. They have to understand that God made a way for man to get out from under law and escape condemnation (judgment)
  5. They have to understand that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to end the law and end condemnation.
  6. They have to understand that a person who believes in Jesus (that He is God’s Son and died to end the law) is born again (“born from above”, “born of the Spirit”, “Born of the Father”).
  7. They have to understand that one who is born again is righteous as a state of being because he is now the literal offspring of God the Father.
  8. They have to understand that one who is born again is righteous because the law has been ended for him and he is no longer under condemnation. There is no judgment for him
  9. They have to understand (and this is most important) that a person who is God’s child no longer lives a lifestyle like he used to. A person who is God’s child has a love for the law and a desire to live accordingly.

I add that last point in because if we’re dealing with, as you say, a stripper or a prostitute, then implicit in the Gospel is the reality that such a person can no longer continue doing the things they were doing. This is not because it is necessary to maintain salvation but because such behavior would not be congruent with one who is no longer a slave to sin but a slave to righteousness.

This brings up another issue, because now you may be dealing with someone with whom such a profession is their only means of living. The reality of how they are going to provide for themselves if they stop being a prostitute or stripper looms over their heads. This is where I think the truth of the book of James hits home. This is where we as believers need to step in and exercise our faith. I think we need to think ahead as to how we can step in and provide a temporary solution for people such as this so that they can end this lifestyle and provide for their means until they can get back on their feet again; so there can be no excuse for them not to accept God’s gift of eternal life; so they can become a child of God and live a Godly life with no worries. This is, as James says, “pure religion and undefiled before God.”

~ Andy

 

ACCC Typical of Protestants Who Don’t Know What Protestantism Is, But New Calvinists Do Know What a Protestant Is; Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 6, 2016

tanc-vol-1The American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC) confirmed a resolution on New Calvinism at its 75th Annual Convention October 18-20, 2016. The resolution was articulated by Pastor Dan Greenfield and posted here. Part one of this evaluation can be read here. What is our primary thesis? New Calvinism is a return to authentic Protestantism and is causing controversy among evangelicals because Protestants are more confused than any other religionists in the world. Greenfield’s post is low hanging fruit in regard to the issues at hand, so let’s get started. Greenfield begins his post this way:

“In September 2006, Collin Hansen reported for Christianity Today on a new religious movement of professed Christians who took a renewed interest in Reformed theology. At that time, Hansen called the movement ‘Young, Restless, Reformed’ (YRR), but later he termed it ‘New Calvinism’ and claimed that it was a ‘revival’ of biblical Christianity. By 2009, Time Magazine declared New Calvinism to be one of the ’10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now,’ and since then, the movement’s popularity has increased. All of this success seemed to validate Hansen’s claim of another spiritual awakening.”

It’s interesting to note that TANC Ministries was the first to document the true contemporary history of New Calvinism in “The Truth About New Calvinism” (TANC Publishing 2011). At first, we were the go-to source for information on the movement until further research revealed that New Calvinism is, in fact, a return to the real deal. Protestantism had indeed lost touch with its true gospel because of the integration of Americanism. Few want to hear that message and our research is now avoided like a plague accordingly.

The integration of Americanism created a contradiction between how Protestants function and their intellectual testimony. This is why New Calvinism has all but taken over the church completely in a short span of time: the church has always been functioning New Calvinism; the movement is merely recalibrating the church and syncing its function with the intellectual confession. This was somewhat explained in part 1.

But this is what evangelicals do to cover for the embarrassment of getting it wrong for over 200 years: they compartmentalize the Protestant religion into so-called “secondary issues.” You know, the whole, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity” thing. Some nomenclatures are, “Reformed,” “evangelical,” “Calvinism,” 1-5 types of Calvinism, “Neo-Puritanism” which couldn’t be a bad thing because it has the word “Puritan” in it, etc., etc., etc.

Let’s get something straight: “Reformed” is, you know, the “Reformation” which produced “Protestantism” which was fathered by Luther and Calvin who fathered the Puritans who came to America and started a European church-state which incited the American Revolution resulting in Protestant Puritanism being integrated with Americanism which fathered the Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, Pentecostals, etc., etc., etc., but it is all the same stuff when it gets right down to it. Ok, so, the Baptists disagreed with Luther and Calvin’s position on baptismal regeneration; so what? They kept the same progressive justification. So, the Congregationalists disagreed with the Puritan/Calvinist form of church government; so what? They also kept the same progressive justification gospel.

What is really going on is total confusion because Protestants have little grasp of what Protestantism really teaches. Also, Protestant history taught in Christian schools and in homeschool curriculum is rank propaganda that would even make the Chicoms blush.

So here we go with the whole well-traveled Collin Hansen historical focal point. Am I saying that Collin Hansen has supplied historical cover for Protestantism? That’s exactly what I am saying. Supposedly, New Calvinism is a contemporary movement and its father is John Piper. And gee whiz, Piper has true Reformed theology all wrong. Not so. John Piper has Reformed theology exactly right. And trust me, I say this regardless of the fact that I don’t like him at all.

In contrast, the real father of the movement is a Seventh-day Adventist theologian named Robert Brinsmead. He started a Reformed think tank dubbed The Australian Forum which was launched in 1970 and came out of the Progressive Adventist movement (which was based on Luther’s soteriology). His rediscovery of Protestantism’s progressive justification and Luther’s “alien righteousness” turned Adventism completely upside down.

The fact is, the Forum was invited to the hallowed halls of Westminster Seminary in the latter 70’s to inform the who’s who of Reformed theology about what Protestantism really is. They listened, and the rest is contemporary church history. And be sure of this: the Reformed movers and shakers are aware of this scandalous cover-up in the name of Collin Hansen’s rewriting of contemporary church history.

And why are they covering it up? Because it totally blows up “historical precedent.” Historical precedent? More than 500 years after the fact the Protestant brain trust didn’t even know what Protestantism is; an Adventist had to re-educate them. Ouch. Right, the “Scandalous Gospel” indeed.

In his article, and typical of the ongoing propaganda, Greenfield bemoans New Calvinism’s penchant for integrating popular culture with Reformed tradition. He cites the go-to guy for this, Peter Masters who pastors the famous London Metropolitan Tabernacle formally pastored by the “Prince of Preachers,” Charles Spurgeon. Ironically, Masters doesn’t have a clue in regard to what Spurgeon really believed, but John Piper certainly does.

What’s wrong with syncing present culture with original “truth”? Nothing in my book. Greenfield cites two of the most prominent issues Protestants have with Protestants who really know what Protestantism is. Like Masters, Greenfield bemoans…

It is known for being culturally progressive and flaunts itself as such. In its worship, preaching, and evangelism, New Calvinism embraces popular culture, a man-made system of customs which is incapable of bearing the weight and gravity of the Gospel. TGC authors, in particular, blog about “redemptive” elements they supposedly have found within Hollywood films, and YRR evangelists in the vein of Tim Keller (TGC cofounder) integrate pop culture in their community outreaches, hoping to gain a better hearing from their unregenerate audiences. YRR leaders also endorse “worship music” composed by modern, pop-rock hymnists and “holy hip-hoppers” / “Reformed rappers.”

This exposes Greenfield’s (and Masters’) omni-typical misunderstanding of authentic Reformed historical-redemptive hermeneutics (HRH). Most Protestants like Greenfield and Masters believe this to be an interpretive method for Bible reading and is used alongside the historical-grammatical method (HGH) with the HRH being like, you know, stuff about the gospel. Not so. According to authentic Protestant orthodoxy, HRH was demanded in interpreting reality itself. Original Protestant orthodoxy demands that ALL of reality be interpreted through redemption in the form of a metaphysical narrative written by God. And, all HGH interpretations must come to a redemptive conclusion. Of course, this goes hand in hand with predestination. All of reality is a pre-written story or narrative written by God. This is the interpretation of reality seen as a narrative written by “the force,” “the universe,” “gods,” or in this case, God Himself.

So, why not use popular culture to reach the culture? After all, whatever culture is doing was written into the script by God and is a picture of redemption to begin with. If one truly understands what it is to be Reformed, this makes perfect sense.

Secondly, Greenfield and Masters bemoan the New Calvinist hobnobbing with Catholics. Good grief; this also displays an egregious misunderstanding of church history. Neither Luther nor Calvin ever left the Catholic Church. Note, “Reformation.” They sought to reform the Church, but never left it. Note, “Protestantism.” They protested what was going on in the Church, but they never left it. Note: and this is NOT even ambiguous church history; both Protestants and Catholics claim Saint Augustine as their Doctor of Grace. You can’t even make this stuff up; Protestant pastors will rebuke Catholicism as a false gospel and also cite Augustine regarding orthodoxy in the same sermon. A child can even see the blatant contradictions. Sometimes I think the only difference between church and asylums is social etiquette.

What was the real issue that sparked the Protestant Reformation? Augustine, the undisputed Doctor of Grace for the Catholic Church was an avowed Neo-Platonist. Again, this is not ambiguous church history. The institutional church was founded on Neo-Platonism and its orthodoxy is the integration of Scripture and Platonism. Luther and Calvin were rabid followers of Augustine. In the 13th century Catholicism began to embrace the teachings of Saint Thomas Aquinas who integrated Aristotle’s philosophy with Scripture (Thomism). By the 16th century the tension between the two schools of theology within the Catholic Church escalated into the Protestant Reformation. The whole Protestant folklore concerning the Five Solas ect. is egregiously disingenuous on every level.

In reality, authentic Protestantism only has a problem with half of the Catholic Church; the Thomism part, and far less with its Platonist/Augustinian roots. This is what’s behind New Calvinism’s acceptance of Catholicism.

Now, in addressing Greenfield’s objection to the cultural and Catholic issues we skipped an in-between paragraph concerning “Neo-Kuyperian postmillennialism, an eschatological position which claims that God has given His Church an institutional social mandate to redeem culture and promote social justice to help usher in the kingdom.”

We will address that in the next part.

paul

ACCC Typical of Protestants Who Don’t Know What Protestantism Is, But New Calvinists Do Know What a Protestant Is; Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 4, 2016

ppt-jpeg42People who know me, and happen to want to see an article posted on the TANC ministry blog only need to send me an article written by a Protestant bemoaning New Calvinism. That will do it every time. Look folks, even suicide bombers know what they believe and why they do what they do. Nothing is more uncommendable than claiming to be something and not knowing what it is.

We are greatly indebted to New Calvinism. First, its ill behavior brought attention to its claims, and proper research reveals that its claims are absolutely true. No, no, no, I do not hate New Calvinism because if not for this movement, I would still be a Protestant. Don’t get me wrong, it’s troubling that Protestants believe a false gospel; yet, they have the dubious distinction of being wrong about what they are wrong about. Few religions fit this category. Nevertheless, what New Calvinism reveals offers a grand opportunity for real revival.

The article is written by a Dan Greenfield:

“I am an undeserving sinner saved by God’s grace through Jesus Christ, a happy husband, proud father of 6 great kids, pastor of Orwell Bible Church, Executive Secretary of the American Council of Christian Churches, and member of the Ohio Bible Fellowship.”

The article is in conjunction with an edict by the ACCC denouncing New Calvinism. Right here, out of the gate, let’s take Dan’s bio and demonstrate his authentic Protestant false gospel which is also New Calvinism. Right, while denouncing New Calvinism, Dan is a New Calvinist which is also authentic Protestantism. Um, excuse me, different preferences for music and worship style doesn’t change that. This is soooooo typical of Protestants; while believing the same gospel that you believe, you are a heretic because you watch R rated movies, listen to Pink Floyd, and don’t wear a jean skirt down to your ankles.

Let’s now take Dan’s bio and demonstrate his New Calvinism that he is denouncing which is also authentic Protestantism. Dan says, “I am an undeserving sinner.” That is present tense. Ok, so, what is the biblical definition of a “sinner” in the B-I-B-L-E? Right, an unregenerate person. Dan is an unregenerate saved person. Yep, that’s orthodoxy plain and simple. We hear it all the time: “Justification is a legal declaration.” Hence, you are ONLY declared righteous while yet a “sinner.”

Let’s continue. So if Dan is still a sinner presently “saved by grace” does this mean Dan continues to need grace because he is still a sinner? Sure it does. And we hear that all the time. But hold on. What kind of grace is being spoken of here? Answer: “saved by.” So, does this mean that Dan, still a sinner who sins, and saved by grace, needs ongoing salvation for present sin? Sure it does. But would Dan also attest to once saved always saved? Probably. Is progressive salvation stated in the Protestant confessions and creeds that he claims to defend against New Calvinism? Absolutely. How can this be? Answer: because Dan, like all Protestants, is very confused.

If grace saved you because you were a sinner, and you are still a sinner, do you still need the same saving grace? Does 2+2=4? But we still sin don’t we? That won’t be answered in this first part, but it does bring up another question. If we still sin, that would be a violation of the law, right? So, is that justification “apart from the law?” No. But doesn’t the B-I-B-L-E say that we are justified apart from the law? Yes. But if Christians are not still under law (another biblical definition of a lost person) does that make us antinomians? No. We will get to all of this, but am I saying that Protestant orthodoxy defines its followers according to a biblical definition of the lost? Absolutely. And I am sure you would agree; that’s a really bad idea. Protestantism defines “under grace” as “under law” because it is a false gospel and classic justification by works. If you need ongoing grace FOR SALVATION, what do you have to do to keep the grace flowing?

Lastly, for now, and like Peter Masters, Dan disavows John Piper’s Christian Hedonism while attesting to it. Dan states that he is a sinner, and is happy about it. That’s Christian Hedonism which is based on the Protestant doctrine of Mortification and Vivification. Christian Hedonism is merely a valid twist on the Protestant doctrine of Mortification and Vivification. Praise music, non-cessationism, and joy as a confirmation of re-salvation are merely the logical outcomes of Mortification and Vivification as stated by orthodoxy.

The rest of the article written by Pastor Dan is conveniently arranged for point by point rebuttal. It is a litany of historical error and factual contradiction. That is what will be addressed moving forward.

paul

Helping Tim Challies and Other Calvinists with Evangelism

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

Originally published January 29, 2015

ChalliesYesterday, I was sent the following article about Calvinist evangelism written by blogger Tim Challies: How To Offend a Room Full of Calvinists. Miffed by the suggestion that somebody knows better than me how to offend Calvinists, I immediately read the article.

Apparently, according to Challies, Calvinists get offended when people suggest that their soteriology hinders evangelism.  According to Challies, the argument goes like this:

Many people are firmly convinced that there is a deep-rooted flaw embedded within Reformed theology that undermines evangelistic fervor. Most blame it on predestination. After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel. Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Protestants en masse think Calvinism’s greatest sin is weak evangelism, and of course, that makes them very angry because it’s supposedly the last criticism standing. I could start with the fact that Calvinism is works salvation under the guise of faith alone, or progressive justification, or salvation by antinomianism. Pick one; any of the three will work. But I have a mountain of data on that subject already; let’s do something different. Yes, let’s use Challies’ own words in the post to refute his argument. Before we call on Challies to refute his own protest, we will address his take on church history.

We go to history to show that the great missionaries, great preachers, and great revivalists of days past were Calvinists, and that Reformed theology was what fueled their mission… There are only so many times I can point to Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and the Great Awakening, or William Carey and the great missionary movement of the nineteenth century, or Charles Spurgeon and the countless thousands saved under his ministry. Sooner or later I have to stop looking at my heroes and look to myself. I can’t claim their zeal as my own. I can’t claim their obedience as my own.

In the post, Challies argues that we know that a straight line can be found from Reformed theology to evangelistic zeal because of history. Supposedly, Calvinists throughout history were driven directly by this deterministic gospel to reach thousands. It is very interesting when you consider the examples given which will aid in making my point.

The Great Awakening had absolutely nothing to do with Reformed soteriology. We should know this as a matter of common sense to begin with because the Holy Spirit doesn’t colabor with a false gospel. The Great Awakening was fueled by the ideology of the American Revolution and was expressed to a great degree in churches, especially among African Americans. Fact is, guys like Edwards and Whitefield then got on their horses and rode around the countryside bloviating and taking credit for the freedom movement tagged with “The Great Awakening” nomenclature.

Fact is, the Great Awakening was a pushback against the Puritan church state driven by Reformed soteriology that came across the pond as a European blight on American history. I would liken Challies’ assessment to our present President taking credit for things he is against when the results are positive.

What about Spurgeon? That example is just too rich because it makes the last point for me. Spurgeon, who once said Calvinism was no mere nickname but the very gospel itself, was the poster boy for getting people to come to church in order to get them saved. That’s important, hold on to that because it’s our last point.

But before we get to the last point, let’s look at the major point: Challies argues against the idea that fatalism hinders evangelism, and then confesses that he doesn’t evangelize like all of the great Calvinists in history because of…fatalism. Calvinism doesn’t cause fatalism resulting in lame evangelism, but Challies doesn’t evangelize because of fatalism.

After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel… We go to the pages of Scripture to show that God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are not incompatible, but that people truly are both free and bound, that God both chooses some while extending the free offer of the gospel to all.

So why does Challies not evangelize according to him? First, because he just doesn’t, but secondly, he is responsible:

It is my conviction—conviction rooted in close study of God’s Word—that Calvinism provides a soul-stirring motivation for evangelism, and that sharing the gospel freely and with great zeal is the most natural application of biblical truth. But it is my confession—confession rooted in the evidence of my own life—that my Calvinism too rarely stirs my soul to mission. The truths that have roared in the hearts and lives of so many others, somehow just whisper in me. The fault, I’m convinced, is not with God’s Word, or even with my understanding of God’s Word; the fault is with me.

He is responsible, but not often stirred. And what’s his solution? There isn’t one, it is what it is; he is responsible, but not called to evangelism. No corrective solution is offered in the post. Why not? Because, as he said, we are responsible, but unable. Responsibility and inability are not incompatible. So, Calvinism doesn’t hinder evangelism, but if you don’t evangelize, there is no solution. Others did it, and you don’t, the end.  Well, I suppose that approach doesn’t prevent evangelism either!

And funny he should cite Edwards. Susan is doing a session on Edwards for TANC 2015 and is studying his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. She approached me and wanted to discuss something about the sermon that she was perplexed about. Edwards spent the better part of an hour addressing the total hopelessness of man and his likelihood of ending up in an eternal hell, but in the end offers no counsel on how to escape. Why? Because if God is going to do something, he is going to do it, and man is responsible either way.

This now brings us to the final point with a bonus; we are going to help Challies with his evangelism shortcomings. There is, in fact, a solution for Tim’s lack of evangelistic zeal. He doesn’t properly understand Calvinism and its history. This isn’t about saving Tim from the false gospel of Calvinism, this is about being a good evangelist in the context of Calvinism. If I can’t save a Calvinist, I can at least teach them how to be a better Calvinist. Really, it’s disheartening when Calvinists don’t properly understand Calvinism.

This is how we will help Tim Challies. We will bring him back to the historical significance of Spurgeon using some of his own observations. First, let’s get a lay of the land; how does true Calvinistic evangelism work? First, it is the “sovereign” gospel which means the subject must not be told that they have a choice. This is some fun you can have with Calvinists. Ask them if they tell the recipients of their gospel message that they have a choice. Most will avoid answering because they don’t want to admit the answer is, “no.” By their own definition, that would be a false gospel speaking to man’s ability to choose God.

Secondly, if God does do something, if “the wind blows,” that puts the subject in two categories according to Calvin: the called and those who persevere.  The called are those that God temporarily illumines, but later blinds resulting in a greater damnation. Those of the perseverance class are the truly elect. So, the “good news” is that you have a chance to make it. But, if you don’t make it according to God’s predetermined will, your damnation is greater than the non-elect. God has either chosen you for greater damnation or the jackpot, but I guess it’s worth a try if God so chooses.

But hold on, and this is huge: all of that can be bypassed by Calvin’s “power of the keys.” What’s that? If you are a formal member of a Reformed church, and the elders like you, whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever they loose on earth is loosed in heaven.

Furthermore, according to Calvin, sins committed in the Christian life remove us from salvation, but membership in the local church and receiving the “impartations of grace” that can only be found in church membership supply a perpetual covering for sin. And here is the crux: one of those “graces” is sitting under “gospel preaching” of which Spurgeon was chief. In one way or the other, Spurgeon sold this wholesale and the results speak for themselves.

See, the solution for Challies is simple.  There is a solution for the disobedience he himself is responsible for: simply invite people to church in order to “get them under the gospel.” And that often looks like this…

Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Problem solved. That’s how Calvinism is a straight line from its theology to evangelism—you are saved by being a formal member of a Reformed church, and your salvation is sustained by remaining a faithful member of that church and obeying everything the elders tell you to do and think. But let’s not call it intellectual rape, let’s call it “keeping ourselves in the love of Jesus.” Let’s call it “preaching the gospel to ourselves every day.” Let’s call it “being faithful to the church every time the doors are opened.” Let’s call it “putting ourselves under the authority of Godly men.” Let’s call it “trusting God with our finances.”

You’re welcome Tim, glad I could help.

paul

Why Are You “Dissing” the Church?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 24, 2016

Originally published April 16, 2015

andy-profile-1Leaving the institutional church has been one of the best decisions our family has made. Granted, there are the social aspects that we miss (my wife especially, she’s a people person), but it doesn’t take much searching to admit that real friendships have to be based on more than just a weekly formal gathering. Want to know who your real friends are? Just try leaving your church for whatever reason. See how many of them still keep in contact with you. In fact, it was a comment very similar to that which I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago, which prompted quite a debate.

There is a young man with whom I am friends, let’s call him “Trevor”. I have personally known Trevor for many years. Trevor has come to me with many questions about some of the things I post on Facebook, and we have had some very edifying discussions. We’ve talked at length about the differences between Justification and Sanctification. He is genuinely seeking answers, and I am grateful for the opportunities to help disciple him.

But a few weeks ago, Trevor sent me the following private message on Facebook:

 “Hey Andy I keep seeing you dissing on churches and even though you are probably right why not use your intelligence and abilities on helping teach people about God. There are a lot of people who need God that I’m sure are reading that and when people see hostility amongst Christians towards other Christians it turns them off to it completely and isn’t that contradictory to what we want for people”

I understand the motivation behind his response, and I don’t hold it against him. It is typical from anyone who sits under the orthodoxy of the institutional church. Trevor has probably even spoken with his pastor about some of these issues I’ve brought up, and maybe this response comes after the result of one of those conversations. Either way, his tone of concern is well noted and appreciated. So below you will find my response to Trevor. I apologize that it is rather lengthy, but I hope that it will be edifying.

 Dear Trevor,

 I’m sure you will agree that it is hard to give a full-orbed treatise within the confines of a simple Facebook status message. It doesn’t lend itself well for going into details. So the goal is to try and make your point in the most direct and concise manner possible. For that reason, a simple matter-of-fact statement may come across as curt and abrasive. That is unavoidable. Nevertheless, statements such as these should prompt people to think. But often times, rather than think, people respond defensively because they automatically assume I am attacking them. I am not attacking people, I am challenging ideas. But most people are too lazy to differentiate the two because they have too much ego invested in their ideas, and therefore take any attack on an idea as a personal attack. This is true of both Christians and non-Christians alike. And actually I have found that those who call themselves “Christian” have an even greater tendency toward ego investment, and there is a very good explanation for that, which leads me to the next point.

 When you challenge what a “Christian” has traditionally been taught, you are indeed challenging their very salvation. And this is a frightening prospect for them. But it is for this very reason that these notions need to be challenged, because what it boils down to is that their faith is in a “belief system” rather than belief in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That which passes for “the church” is the very embodiment of this belief system. Is it any wonder then that people have such a knee jerk reaction? For someone to even raise the question that what they have been taught might be wrong scares the crap out of them!

 This is why I criticize the institutional church, because it embodies this system that has kept people in the spiritual dark ages for centuries! The institutional church is based on “authority”, and the system is needed to maintain the authority. But this is so contrary to scripture. There is to be no authority among the brethren of Christ. Christ is the authority! And he is the only mediator between God and man. Now that is not to say that there is not leadership, but leadership is not the same as authority. Authority implies “power”, while leadership implies “example”. But the emphasis within the traditional “church” model is predicated on power and authority, and everything that happens within the confines of these institutions is designed to maintain that power structure. It has been that way since the very early beginnings of the Roman Catholic church in the 4th century. And Protestantism is no different.

 I see many good genuine Christian people languishing away within the walls of the institutional church, and it grieves me deeply, for there are eternal consequences at stake. Not as far as salvation goes, but with regard to eternal rewards. You have spiritually illiterate Christians looking to some authority to tell them what to believe, who have never been equipped to carry out the task that was given to them from the first day they were born again- to go out and make disciples. They are not exercising their gifts. Instead they hide their talent in the ground, waiting for the Master to return and say, “here Lord, here’s what you gave me.” And there will be no eternal reward for them. And the church is purposefully keeping them in this state of immaturity. How I long for believers to realize their full potential as Children of God! But that will never happen in the “church”. The church serves itself.

 So, even having said all of that, I still haven’t fully been able to explain the depth of this all. But your concern is how this arguing among believers will turn off others. I contend that what turns of the unsaved is not the fact that they see Christians argue, but rather that Christians don’t even know what they believe.   Furthermore, what they do claim to believe is not even rational. Christianity for the past 1500 years has simply failed to produce a fully rational explanation for why someone should believe in Jesus. There must be more to it that just, “well you just have to have faith.” Faith must be grounded in reality. So we don’t simply lay aside arguments regarding contending for truth just for the sake of presenting the illusion of a unified front to the world.

 In addition, the traditional excuse for evangelism is simply nothing more than who has the better sales pitch for getting someone to attend their church versus another. This ties in directly with the notion of salvation being in the church. Christians are more interested in getting people into their church than they are with teaching people about the gospel of the Kingdom. By definition, the church cannot be comprised of unbelievers. The body of Christ, the “assembly”, is only made up of believers. The purpose of believers assembling is for edification, and that happens by four functions: instruction in the word, fellowship, sharing meals (including the Lord’s table), and praying together. (Acts 2:42). How can an unbeliever possibly be any part of that? He shares nothing in common. He is not a part of the Body. 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” Unbelievers have no part in the fellowship of God’s people.

 Now the excuse has been that we need to bring unsaved to church so that they can get saved. But that is simply a lazy excuse for evangelism. It is not what Christ’s instructions were. Believers gather in fellowship to be edified. Having then been properly equipped, WE can go OUT into the world to take the gospel TO the lost so that they can HEAR it from US. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. How then shall they believe in whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be SENT? (Romans 10:14-15, 17) Every believer is a preacher- and ambassador from God’s heavenly Kingdom – sent forth with the message of reconciliation to the world. It is our mandate as individuals, NOT the function of an institution!

 And so seeing how the “church” has utterly failed in every way in all of these areas, I hope you can better understand now why I have such disdain for it and am so critical of it. But the answer is not reform. It doesn’t need to be reformed, it needs to be defeated because it is not what God intended for His people. The answer is, to come out from among them and be separate. And that is what I have done, and that is what I want to encourage all believers to do. Come out from this institution and join in genuine fellowship with other like-minded believers and start exercising your gifts. There is no horizontal authority between men among believers. All authority is in Christ.

 Andy

 

 

 

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