Paul's Passing Thoughts

Denial of the New Birth

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 8, 2016

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The Pseudo Worship of the Spiritual Tyrant: When Forgiveness Replaces Reconciliation

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 1, 2014

ppt-jpeg4Can forgiveness and fellowship be mutually exclusive? In our day, there is a whole bunch of forgiveness minus fellowship. Last I heard, the ABWE missionary kids do not fellowship much with Donn Ketchum. Yet, they are called on to forgive him for the sake of their “own healing.” “Forgive for your own sake, not your abuser.” Refusing to forgive =’s “bitterness.” Just this week, a pastor called me bitter and mentally ill for suggesting that forgiveness requires repentance. More and more, I see bitterness being used interchangeably with mental illness.

Yet, people insist on arguing for blank check forgiveness because we should “forgive others the same way we have been forgiven.” And…”Christ forgave those who crucified Him even while He suffered on the cross.”

This isn’t exactly true. God doesn’t forgive anyone unless they repent. God doesn’t forgive anyone unless they are reconciled to Him, and God does not fellowship with anyone that He is not reconciled with. And He loves His enemies. An “enemy” is someone you are not reconciled with—this would seem evident. Christ didn’t say he forgave His abusers, He asked God to forgive them, and that does not exclude repentance. But it does bring up an interesting question: why didn’t Christ simply say, “I forgive you”?

Blank check forgiveness is oxymoronic to biblical repentance, fellowship, reconciliation, and enemy love. The specific oxymorons are forgiven unrepentance, estranged forgiveness, unreconciled forgiveness, and enemyless love which excludes reward if we “only greet those whom we love.” In regard to the reconciliation process of Matthew 18, why all the fuss? Why not just forgive them and be done with it? And if they repent, “you have gained a brother.” And if they don’t repent, “treat them like a heathen.” Ok, well, “friendship with the world is enmity against God.” Any questions?

Loving our enemies is better. It creates opportunity for reconciliation, fellowship, and true repentance that will also save others from the same behavior that offended you. Clearly, the apostles called for separation from those who are unrepentant. If a whole assembly sides with an unrepentant offender, that might mean that the offended and his/her two witnesses separate from the rest of the assembly (Matthew 18:18-20*).

Letting the unrepentant be our enemies gives opportunity for us to “pour hot coals on their head.” What does that mean? It means that the original issue is continually brought up to the offender beckoning him to reconcile. If we only greet those who greet us, what reward will we have? Not a blessings that a peacemaker receives:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

As much as it depends on us, we are to be at peace with all men (Rom 12:18). But it doesn’t depend on just us, it takes two to tango. This is yet another oxymoron that we can add to the list: peaceless forgiveness. Forgiveness without peace? (being unreconciled). Is blank check forgiveness “overcoming evil”? No, leaving revenge to God and goading our enemies with opportunities for reconciliation is the answer: “The goodness of God leads us to repentance”; “We love Him because He first loved us.” Blank check forgiveness is a one-sided affair that excludes the need for a peacemaker and his/her peacemaking altogether.

It may be possible that this take on forgiveness began with the succession movement shortly after the death of Paul and Peter. The church fathers sought to solidify church authority at the church of Rome. This was a move from elder to bishop. One bishop was appointed for the church at Rome and said to be in authority over bishops appointed for all of the Christian regions. The church fathers then joined in with Rome and started implementing actions that assumed this authority over the laity. The assumption was based on the educated elite class being better equipped to lead the church. This was met with stiff resistance in several instances.

Along with this assumption was the dismissal of any idea that bishops needed to be reconciled to the laity. The laity was well able to sin against the bishops, but the bishops were of the divine right of kings and not to be questioned on any wise. This attitude can be seen clearly in 1Clement—a letter to the Corinthian church when they rejected bishop rule.

Very early in the succession movement propagated by the church fathers while the bodies of Paul and Peter were still warm, we have the very first church orthodoxy document—the  Didache. The document calls for extreme “humbleness” on the part of parishioners while any standards for leadership are conspicuously missing. The document also introduces the idea of blank check forgiveness on the part of parishioners.

1:6 Now of these words the doctrine is this.

1:7 {Bless them that curse you, and pray for} your enemies and fast for {them that persecute you;

1:8 for what thank is it, if ye love them that love you? Do not even the Gentiles the same? But do ye love them that hate you,} and ye shall not have an enemy.

But the Bible clearly states that we will have enemies. An enemy is one that we are unreconciled with. The document teaches that forgiveness and love are the same thing in regard to our enemies. But the paramount point to be made here is that carte blanche forgiveness feeds the spiritual caste monster; viz, the idea that church bishops should be reconciled to a parishioner is an anomaly. Think about it; can anyone cite a time in church history when a bishop sought to be reconciled to a parishioner? This is deemed honorable among the spiritual peasants, but rarer than fine gold in regard to a church leader seeking forgiveness from a parishioner. If one thinks the point here is that carte blanche forgiveness has fed tyranny in the church—they rightly assess.

Moreover, this has led to wholesale pseudo worship in the church. Christ said to leave our gift at the altar if we are aware that someone has ought against us. Be reconciled, and then come back and offer the gift. To say that unreconciliation between the laity and the leaders of our day is an all-time high is to state the obvious with the clear biblical ramifications following.

This shows the present-day peacemaker ministries in a peculiar biblical light. Why are thousands of dollars spent in an attempt to implement this simple biblical principle? Where do extended “investigations” by professionals fit into this picture? Are thousands of dollars being spent in order to try to make carte blanche forgiveness work? Are these organizations trying to find a resolution without the clergy doing something that they don’t do; viz, repent to the lowly laity?



*One must ask why Christ concluded the process by reintroducing the offended party and his/her two witnesses after “tell it to the church.” This also has huge ramifications in regard to the multiple likeminded home assemblies in one geography model. The three can appeal to the other home assemblies who may break fellowship with the one assembly that unrightfully stands with the offender. Or, the three, with Christ standing with them, may start their own assembly.