Paul's Passing Thoughts

Andy Williams to Protestants: Godly Living is Possible

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 26, 2015

Choice and Evangelism

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 10, 2015

Freewill is a major metaphysical pillar of God’s creation. We like to talk about the “attributes of God,” but we must also be careful that God is not erroneously limited by our own definitions of Him.

Below, you will hear a very formidable thinker of our day decry God for creating the world a certain way; specifically, the allowing of suffering and evil. In other words, he believes God should have predetermined goodness in order to prove Himself good.

God indeed created the world according to good, but obviously, God did not predetermine choices and possibilities. Does that make freewill an evil concept? Clearly, John Calvin believed that God predetermined evil while God Himself is good, and the subject speaking in the following video states that God is evil because He didn’t predetermine an exclusion of evil. Hence, in both cases, freewill is deemed evil.

When mankind sinned, it was God’s choice to redeem mankind. Man could not choose to be reconciled to God, nor was it possible for man to devise a way of reconciliation. That could only be accomplished by God. Once man sinned, he was ashamed and hid from God. But God sought him out, and offered a solution for sin. I believe man is capable of making that choice.

What is evangelism? It is doing what God did in the garden on His behalf. Man is ashamed and hides from God, but as His ambassadors, it is our job to seek them out and present God’s plan of reconciliation. Man’s aloofness from God because of shame does not equal an inability to choose. Man’s resentment towards God because God is not predeterminist does not preclude an ability to be persuaded.

God does predetermine a happy ending through intervention, but that is not plenary determinism. God invites all men to choose God’s plan of intervention. Instead of all men being doomed, God intervened.

Wrestling with this issue creates lots of accusations. In the video, the subject accuses God of being completely selfish. And in fact, many of God’s most popular self-proclaimed pundits advocate the centrality of God’s self-love. An example of that would be Dr. John Piper and this fellow here. The same advocate the idea that God predetermined evil as a way to better highlight His holiness and bring more glory to Himself, and as another means of self-love through that enhanced glory.

God predetermined the means of salvation, and He seeks all men out and implores them to choose life. I believe every good thing and enjoyment comes from God and beckons man towards eternal life. The goodness of God and the love of God is not merely God sporting with mankind, it is meant to lead us to repentance and the full experience of God’s eternal goodness.

God clearly takes no pleasure in the death of man, so we should diligently seek out men on God’s behalf because God sent His only Son into the world…not to condemn the world, but that through His Son the world might be saved.

paul

Predestination and Fatalism: “How Much?” is the Question that Only Leaves Two Choices

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on January 26, 2015

HF Potters House (2)

Originally published May 30, 2014

“This speaks to conditional and unconditional promises by God, cause and effect, and hope. What is at stake is our very understanding of reality itself.”

“What am I saying? A am saying that predeterminism is not a paradox in and of itself, I am suggesting that we consider the idea in our study that predeterminism is a slippery slope to making all of life a paradox. In other words, it makes objective truth unknowable.”        

This is part 6 of our series on predestination. We are in the process of evaluating predestination from the viewpoint of love, promises, judgment, cause and effect, hope, commandments, obedience, fear, foreknowledge, freewill, choice, ability, total depravity, evangelism, the gospel, Bible doctrine, paradox, and salvation. In most cases, determinism creates a strained understanding of what some of these words mean to us in real life.

For instance, if God loves the world and man does not have the ability to choose, why does God choose some and not others? He is impartial, no? Why will God judge those who never had a chance to escape judgment? Would God really command us to do things that He knows we are not able to do? How is God’s love really defined? Paradox is a reality, but to what extent do we except paradox as a replacement for the common understanding of life concepts and the words that describe them? Are the simple concepts of commands, love, and choice really a paradox in spiritual matters but necessarily taken literally in the milieu of life? Does whosoever will really mean whosoever has been chosen? And if it does, why doesn’t God simply state that accordingly?

In part one, we established an important starting point: the doctrine of predestination has always been primarily framed and assimilated by Reformed theologians. That’s a problem because they had/have the gospel wrong. This is a matter of simple theological math; they were on the wrong side of the law and gospel. Therefore, the doctrine must be reexamined.

In part 2, we examined God’s will in regard to the lost and the relationship of evangelism and paradox. Evangelism is another word that becomes paradoxical in light of predestination. Obedience is a paradox, love is a paradox, judgment is a paradox, and evangelism as well because the legitimacy of the offer of salvation is called into question. Whosoever will becomes whosoever has been elected. If election is a paradox, all of the concepts connected to it are paradoxical as well.

In part 2, we established that God does not desire that any person perish. He does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. Which brings up another paradox: does God plead and exhort man to be saved while knowing that he is unable to respond? When God states, “come, let us reason together,” is he saying that while knowing that man is unable to reason?

At any rate, we concluded in part 2 that God does not desire the death of the wicked—He desires that all would be saved.

In part 3, we established that predestination was not unique with the Reformers. In fact, determinism is an ancient concept that has dominated human history. We also examined the historical bad fruit produced by its ideology, and biblical contradictions as well.

In part 4, we looked at the means by which God seeks man. Man is created with intuitive knowledge of God, man begins life in the book of life and must be blotted out if he/she perishes, and Christ died for all men, not just the elect. Though not in the study, the fact that all sins are imputed to the Old Covenant, and belief in Christ eradicates the Old Covenant and all of the sin imputed to it, it implies a readiness and desire of God to vanquish one’s sin. The imputation of all sin to a covenant is sort of the opposite of starting life in the Book of Life; God wants to keep you in the one book and get rid of the other one.

Moreover, God sent the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and the judgment to come while the works of God’s law are already written on the heart of every person. On the one hand, God has set up a gargantuan infrastructural reality to facilitate the salvation of man, but in all of this, who enters in is ultimately predetermined by Him. Why all the drama? Why all of the paradox? Why all of the confusion? Yet, another paradox that could be added is the Holy Spirit’s warning in regard to judgment along with all of God’s prophets; why offer this incentive to escape judgment to those who are unable to respond? This speaks to conditional and unconditional promises by God, cause and effect, and hope. What is at stake is our very understanding of reality itself.

In part 5, we begin to answer the question, “How much?” Let’s say that man is unable to choose God initially, but what about post new birth? Is man then able to make choices? Curiously, the Reformers say, “no.” We looked at the Reformed redemptive-historical hermeneutic that interprets all reality as a gospel metaphysical narrative. We simply put ourselves in the narrative by believing everything in life points to a truth about Christ and is predetermined. We called this plenary determinism. Also, while discussing this, we introduced the possibility that certain things are predetermined by God, while other things are not. We used the following chart to illustrate this:

Election Final Draft

Granted, we want some things to be predetermined by God. We want a happy ending. We want justice. We want the good guys to win. We want everyone to live happily ever after. In times of danger, we want our fears tempered by knowing that God is control. In the book of Revelation, for certain, the opening of the six seals will make it seem like the earth is in complete chaos and spinning out of control, but the fact will be that God is in control of every bit of that. Will that temper the fear of those who know that at the time? Sure it will.

But is everything predetermined? Does man have any role in reality at all? The main source for predestination doctrine has always been the Reformers, at least in Western culture, and they disavow choice in both the saved and unsaved state. Consequently, from an eschatological view, there is only one judgment in which both believers and unbelievers stand in to determine one’s eternal fate. Opposing eschatological views posit a separate judgment for believers and unbelievers, one for reward (believers), and one that condemns (unbelievers).

Obviously, the idea of reward strongly suggests that the reward is for something earned by making a right choice. In Reformed circles, rewards spoken of in the Bible are attributed to salvation (the reward[s] is salvation), but now we have yet another paradox because it is not really a reward that we get for something that we did! What am I saying? I am saying that predeterminism is not a paradox in and of itself, I am suggesting that we consider the idea in our study that predeterminism is a slippery slope to making all of life a paradox. In other words, it makes objective truth unknowable.

However, the Reformers state that truth can be known, and that there is no paradox at all: Man and history were created to glorify God. Everything that happens is predetermined by God (cause), and everything that happens is for God’s glory, and in fact, does glorify Him (effect). Hence, man has no ability to choose in being the cause for anything that happens. Judgment reflects God’s glory alone in simply revealing what God has preordained via good or evil. If this is not true, then how much choice does man have? That must be determined. If true, then how much choice does man not have? This must be determined as well.

At the T4G 2008 conference, John MacArthur stated the following:

The sum is that man is evil and selfish, unwilling and unable because he is dead. He loves his sin. He loves the darkness. He thrives on selfish lust. He’s happy to make a god of his own, manufacturing and convinced himself that he is good enough to satisfy that god. He may see his sin in his sin, but he does not see his sin in his goodness, and he does not see his sin in his religion, and it is his sin in his goodness that is most despicable for there is the deception and it is his sin in his religion that is most blasphemous because there it is that he worships a false god…

The contemporary idea today is that there’s some residual good left in the sinner. As this progression came from Pelagianism to Semipelagianism and then came down to sort of contemporary Arminianism and maybe got defined a little more carefully by Wesley who was a sort of a messed up Calvinist because Wesley wanted to give all the glory to God, as you well know, but he wanted to find in men some place where men could initiate salvation on his own will. That system has literally taken over and been the dominant system in evangelical Christianity. It is behind most revivalism. It is behind most evangelism. That there’s something in the sinner that can respond.

Notice how MacArthur combines ability with goodness. Ability is made to be a moral issue. Why does an ability to choose something, or make a wise choice, or desire to have something that is rooted in anthropology, have to be an issue of inherent goodness? If unregenerate man can make wise choices, or at least correct choices, and certainly he can, why couldn’t one of those wise choices be that of salvation? Yes, certainly the Bible teaches that man’s inclination is away from God, but once God seeks him out and confronts him, does he have the ability to be persuaded? Why is man able to choose to stop at a red light (cause) to prevent an accident (effect), but unable to choose God?

Throughout the same message, MacArthur asserts the following like points:

Wesley wanted to give all the glory to God, as you well know, but he wanted to find in men some place where men could initiate salvation on his own will.

Here, MacArthur makes an ability to choose equal with initiating the means of salvation and initially seeking God. Our previous lessons assert that man doesn’t initially seek God, but once God seeks him by various means, man has the ability to choose. Man has many abilities that are morally neutral, even in his weakness, why can’t the ability to choose be one of them when he/she is aided by God and convicted by the Holy Spirit? In Scripture, we have instances of men being nearly persuaded (Mark 12;34, Acts 26:25-32); what are we to surmise from this, that man has the ability to be partially persuaded, but not the ability to be fully persuaded? James suggested that some men can believe in God, but fall short of believing in a saving way (2:19). This means man has an ability to believe in God intellectually, but is unable to understand saving truth about God and make his own choice? Why would man then have the ability to believe in God at all?

According to MacArthur,

A new wave followed as people struggled to hang on to human freedom which said that Adam’s sin had “in some measure” affected and disabled all men, but sinners were left with just enough freedom of the will to make the first move of faith toward God. And then God’s grace kicked in. But sinners made the first move, and that’s what became known as semi-Pelagianism. Some would call it prevenient grace. There’s a component of grace in all human beings that gives them in the freedom of their own will the ability to initiate salvation. The idea is that depravity is real, but it is not total. Saving grace from God then becomes a divine response rather than the efficient cause of our salvation. This view is denounced, as you know, by several councils starting around 529.

How does an ability to choose equal the initiation of salvation? How does an ability to choose, or the freedom of the will to choose equal us making the first move? We by no means made the first move! Clearly, God made the first move by supplying the means of salvation, and the second move by calling all men unto salvation. After this, how does our abilty to choose constitute the “first move”? It’s not the first move, it’s a response to God’s love. And in regard to the point of our first lesson, throughout his message, MacArthur validates his points by citing St. Augustine; that is very problematic in and of itself. MacArthur then moves on in the same message to make the new birth synonymous with our ability to choose. If we have an ability to be persuaded, that is supposedly like giving birth to ourselves:

When the Bible speaks about the condition of the sinner, with what words does it speak? Well, when the Bible speaks of the sinner’s condition, it is usually in the language of death, sometimes darkness, sometimes blindness, hardness, slavery, incurable sickness, alienation, and the Bible is clear that this is a condition that affects the body, the mind, the emotion, the desire, the motive, the will, the behavior. And it is a condition that is so powerful no sinner unaided by God can ever overcome it… John 3, you are very familiar with it, Nicodemus, and no one is going to be able to see the kingdom of God unless he’s born again, Jesus said in verse 3, very interesting. Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” He is not stupid. He’s a teacher in Israel. He’s speaking metaphorically. He’s picking up on Jesus’ born again metaphor and asking the question, how does that happen? How does it happen? You can’t do it on your own. You can’t birth yourself. That’s his point. He gets it. He understands that man has no capability to bring birth to himself. Jesus follows up by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit,”

First, MacArthur’s concession, perhaps unwittingly, that “it is a condition that is so powerful no sinner unaided by God can ever overcome it” is exactly what we are saying, and not by any means that man can choose God solo. God supplies the means of salvation and seeks after man with the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the word of God. But in the end, man is able to neglect this great salvation, and to his own eternal detriment. Also, the new birth is part of the means of salvation totally out of man’s control; the new birth is a promise to those who believe, and obviously not man giving birth to himself.

When you start thinking about these things apart from Reformed orthodoxy, some observations become interesting. MacArthur used the following proof texts to make one of his points:

But let me just work you through John for a minute, John 1:12-13. “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become the children of God even to those who believed in his name who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of men, but of God.” That is unmistakable. Unmistakable. Salvation being the work of God.

First, notice that man’s role is simply to receive, and then man is “given” the “right” to become the children of God. Then MacArthur bemoans the following:

It is behind most revivalism. It is behind most evangelism. That there’s something in the sinner that can respond. And this is sort of like the right in a free country. You have to have this right. This wouldn’t be fair if God didn’t give the sinner the right to make his own decision so that the sinner unaided by the Holy Spirit must make the first move. That’s essentially Arminian theology. The sinner unaided must make the first move. And God then will respond when the sinner makes the first move.

This is exactly what the proof text that MacArthur stated says, that those who receive Christ do in fact have the “right” to become part of God’s kingdom. Also, in stating his Reformed logic in another way, he suggested that hearing the gospel message and receiving it was the same thing as preaching ourselves:

What can remedy that? We do not preach ourselves, verse 5, we preach Christ Jesus as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. We preach the gospel of Christ as lord and ourselves as slaves. And what happens? Verse 6, God who said light shall shine out of darkness, that’s taking you back to creation, God who created, who spoke light into existence is the one who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Aside from the fact that having the ability to be persuaded is not preaching ourselves rather than Christ, note that MacArthur equates creation with the gospel which insinuates that the fall was built into creation itself. This is part and parcel with the supralapsarianism that we discussed in previous lessons.

But the thrust of this lesson centers on the “how much” when it comes to any role at all for man in salvation and the logical end of it, and in the final analysis how God’s love is defined. This is a sobering consideration. In both the 2013 Shepherds’ Conference and T4G 2008, MacArthur presents the idea that John 3, regarding the new birth, is something that is done to the individual without any participation on the part of the believer. The clear message in both cases was that any decision or belief on the part of the believer was excluded also. It was very much like the following rendition of the same text:

When we consider the great teachings of Scripture, they are not there just to give us information and they are not to teach us what we can do in our own strength. In Musings 34 (http://www.godloveshimself.org/?p=2018) we looked at how believing that the doctrine of justification is true is not the same thing as being justified. The new birth was also mentioned at the end. In the passage above (John 3:3-5) Jesus speaks pointedly and with power in a way that reflects on the issue being mused on here. Jesus did not tell Nicodemus that he must know the truth about the new birth in order to enter the kingdom. Jesus also did not tell Nicodemus that he must believe the truth about the new birth in order to enter the kingdom. Instead of that, Jesus told Nicodemus that he must actually be born again in order to enter the kingdom. There is a huge difference between believing what is true and what is true actually happening to you.

If we take this as a picture or even as an example of the teachings of Scripture, we can view what it means to believe something with different eyes or with a different perspective. Neither Jesus or Paul declared that a person must believe the facts about justification in order to be justified, but simply that a person must be justified (God Loves Himself .wordpress .com: Musing 35; February 10, 2014).

So, if reality is a prewritten metaphysical narrative for the sole purpose of glorifying God in all that happens in the narrative, it only stands to reason that God is motivated by self-glorification and self-love as the highest purpose for all that he does:

Perhaps this concept that Edwards gives just above cannot be stated too strongly or emphasized too much since all true Christianity depends on the truth of it. If God is not centered upon Himself and He does not do all for His own glory, then God Himself is not holy and acts against the perfection of His own nature, wisdom, holiness, and perfect rectitude. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not keep the same standard that He commands all others to do. If God does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself, then the both the great Commandments and the Ten Commandments are not a transcript of the character of God. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not do what He requires of others in the first three petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not do all in His own name as He requires others to do so. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not do all for His own glory which He requires others to do (God Loves Himself .wordpress .com: Edwards on the God Centeredness of God; 11 December 7, 2013).

Add yet another paradox in regard to love. God didn’t send His Son to the cross because he loves mankind, he sent His Son to the cross because He loves Himself. The list of commonly understood words in a grammatical reality that have been redefined by the doctrine of determinism is now very lengthy. Why indeed did God even bother to write the Bible in a grammatical format? No wonder that Rick Holland, a former associate of John MacArthur has stated that good grammar makes bad theology. No kidding? Add yet another paradox: the idea that God is not a God of confusion. Of course, the Reformed would say that there is no confusion at all—ALL things are predetermined for God’s glory and completely out of our control—end of story.

Let’s pad this point a little more with some quotes from John Piper:

I would like to try to persuade you that the chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy himself forever. Or to put it another way: the chief end of God is to enjoy glorifying himself.

The reason this may sound strange is that we tend to be more familiar with our duties than with God’s designs. We know why we exist – to glorify God and enjoy him forever. But why does God exist? What should he love with all his heart and soul and mind and strength? Whom should he worship? Or will we deny him that highest of pleasures? It matters a lot what God’s ultimate allegiance is to! (Desiring God .org: Is God for Us or for Himself?; October 23, 1984).

Actually, the Bible states that the chief end of man is to obey God, and that God takes more pleasure in obedience than sacrifice (Ecc 12:13,14 1Sam 15:22). I am not sure that the Bible ever states any “chief end” of God. Really? God’s life has a primary purpose that we can understand? And its narcissism?

Though there seems to be many Scriptures that bolster determinism, it requires the redefining of many commonly understood word meanings, and inevitably leads to an unavoidable illogical outcome. If the doctrine of predetermination in and of itself was the only paradox, that would be different, but the problem we see here is that it makes all of reality a paradox unless you accept the mythological Reformed metaphysical narrative.

Redefinitions

The Truth About Predeterminism: A Historical and Biblical Evaluation

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 23, 2014

Blog Radio LogoGood evening and welcome to False Reformation blogtalk radio. I am your host, Paul M. Dohse Sr.

If you would like to join the discussion tonight and add to what we are learning, call 347-855-8317 and remember to mute the speakers on your laptop or PC. And by the way, the question or comment does not have to pertain to the subject at hand—it can be off-point.

I am very excited to share what my research has yielded since I began this ministry in 2006, working at it part time until April of 2010, and thereafter full time until now. Resources can also be found at tancpublishing.com.

Tonight we will be discussing the subject of predeterminism, otherwise known as God’s election or predestination. Now, I realize that election and predestination primarily speak to God preselecting who will be saved and not saved, while predeterminism deals with the wider spectrum of human events.

Let me set the table for tonight’s discussion. Starting out in Reformed beliefs can be simple enough. God preselected those who will be saved, and left the rest to their own devices. And, there seems to be Bible verses that state this plainly.

You might even believe that election and freewill are both 100% true. You might believe that this is a paradox. I heard Rick Warren tell John Piper that this is his position, since the Bible states both, both are equally true. You could also argue that paradoxes like this exist in science. Let me give you an example from Dr. Bo Grissom as stated in last year’s conference:

Consider, for example, the physics of light where two seemingly contradictory theories are used side-by-side to explain its different properties.

The wave theory is used to understand the oscillation aspects of light (e.g., Polaroid sunglasses), while at the same time the particle theory is employed to explain other applications (e.g., photoelectric solar panels).  Although these two theories are totally incompatible, each provides useful information in certain technical applications.

To date, scientists simply use the appropriate theory as needed for a particular design problem.  There is no worry about whether light actually exists as a wave, or as a particle, just because it is not yet fully understood.  This same approach may be taken in the spiritual realm and is probably the best stance to take in dealing with the apparent contradiction between individual free will and God’s total sovereignty.

When we extend this God’s predeterminism from salvation to every aspect of life, we are not just talking about election and predestination, or whether one is a 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 point Calvinist, we are now talking about determinism or predeterminism. Hence, the word used in our title tonight. And this is where we must go because Protestantism was founded on hard determinism not soft determinism.

The Protestant tradition is based on Redemptive Historical hermeneutics. What’s that? It is the belief that every facet of human life is predetermined. It is the belief that reality and the state of being is a prewritten story or grand narrative written by God. This is known as metanarrative, or metaphysical narrative, or a grand metaphysical narrative. In regard to authentic Protestantism, all of history is a predetermined gospel, or redemptive narrative also known as the “divine drama.”

This is also the basis of mythology which is NOT superstition. Mythology is merely the most ancient and basic foundations of religion. It is the idea that a force, nature, cosmos, or personal God has prewritten history. The story, as it unfolds, is the state of being. The author of being is always an invisible force who manifests his/her being in the material realm.

Mythology in its various forms also has mediators between the invisible and material. These are elitist guides who have special insight into the invisible realm that cannot be understood by the general populous. Therefore, in order to guide the masses, priests, philosophers, or whatever you want to call them, explain truth to the masses in a way that they can understand it, namely, via a story.

For the most part, people in cultures don’t take the mythological stories literally, they understand that the guides are merely repackaging what they are unable to understand in a way that they can apply it to their lives. Ancient cultures were not stupid people driven by superstition; they understood the mythological narratives to be creeds and catechisms to live by that come from purer truths that only the guides can understand.

Superstition then, is an unreasonable understanding and application of the mythological narrative. That’s what superstition is. It may also include many personal quirks applied to the superstition as well.

So, from the cradle of society comes mythology, and its orthodoxy is metanarrative. This of course requires a spiritual and social caste system or a empirical pecking order. This is why Hinduism is the most ancient of religions—because mythology is the most ancient of religions.

In this ancient construct, everything is predetermined in the story written by the force or personal God, and life is ONLY experienced. It’s like standing in the rain. You feel the rain, you experience the rain, but you have no control over the rain—the rain is a story that you only experience—your part in the narrative is only experienced.

In Hinduism, which is the best example, the spiritual strata is Bhramin, Kshatryia, Vaishya, Sudra, and Untouchables. But listen very careful to what Karma is in Hinduism. THIS IS KEY. I am citing Swami Bhaskarananda: Chapters IX to XI from the book “The Essentials of Hinduism,” Heading; “Predestination”:

Karma is the infant stage of Hinduism where saints believe they are responsible for their own actions, but as growth moves forward, the mature saint…

He becomes convinced that God has been doing everything by using his body, mind, energy and the senses. He feels that he is only an instrument in the hands of God, and whatever God has been doing to him is for his ultimate spiritual good. At this high level of spirituality the doctrine of predestination becomes the only valid doctrine to him. To him the doctrine of karma ceases to be a valid doctrine.

Therefore, these two doctrines, even though apparently contradictory to each other, are valid for people at different stages of spiritual growth.

Hang on to all of this as we are going to plug it back in later. This will all come together for you as we progress.

At this juncture, I am going to inject another key term: the total inability of man. Can we state anything other than the obvious fact that Hinduism representing the foundation of ancient religion is one soul with the total inability of man? Absolutely not.

When I first became a Christian, I was, I guess what you would call Arminian. I only borrow the term to make a point because Christianity is not either Calvinism or Arminianism, that’s perhaps the biggest red herring of all time.

I was later persuaded into believing what is often referred to as sovereign grace. Or, election.  I was never crazy about it though I believed it to be true. To me, there were certain Bible verses that made individual election unavoidable.

Fast forward to the TANC Research era. When my research found that Protestantism was founded on the false gospel of progressive justification, I pretty much deemed the election issue as a diversion from the real issue of the gospel, and pronounced the election issue irrelevant.

I then adopted the aforementioned paradox view and stuck it in my back pocket. I am not going to take the time tonight to discuss why I decided to revisit the issue, but I did. And here was my approach:

I found the issue of law and gospel to be very definitive in the Bible, what I call “theological math,” and assumed that a deeper and deeper objective understanding of law and gospel would lead to more understanding of the more subjective and mysterious biblical issues. What we know are building blocks to what we don’t know. If not, conclusions are merely leaps in logic.

Deuteronomy 29:29 makes it very clear that there are things we are responsible for knowing and doing, but to some degree we are not going to understand everything. BUT, we also need to milk the objective cow for all we can get out of it. You stick with what you know positively and see where it leads you.

And here is where I have been led: I believe freewill is a metaphysical pillar. I believe it is one of the major tenets of being. I also believe that it better answers the more difficult questions such as, “Why did God allow sin into the world?” That is, if He did in fact allow it—we must remember that is a presupposition. God is not limited in any way by perceived attributes. Example: God is omniscient, but does that mean God in unable to not know something because of His omniscience? What if God doesn’t want to know something? Is He UNABLE to not know?

I have come to believe God did not elect individuals, but rather elected the means of salvation which includes people groups and Christ Himself.  I believe God is sovereign and intervenes in the freewill affairs of men to guarantee predetermined outcomes which DOES NOT include every detail of life and history.

The Bible says that God created hell for the Devil and not man; therefore, men go to hell because they choose to go there against God’s desired will. Though the fall caused man to be ashamed and hide from God—God seeks him out and reasons with him.

This brings us to some very important reasons to consider the truthfulness of predeterminism. First, the primary pundit of predeterminism is the Protestant tradition. As we discussed prior, Protestantism is the false gospel of progressive justification. Therefore, predeterminism is fruit from the poisonous tree.

Secondly, and most importantly, the Reformed tradition has made the sovereignty of God the gospel itself. Don’t miss this; note this term: “sovereign grace.” We must understand that sovereign grace is a specified gospel. It is a soteriology or doctrine of salvation—please don’t miss this. Individual election is not a separate issue from the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ according to the Reformed camp.

A key concept of sovereign grace is the total inability of man. In 2008, Calvinist John MacArthur stated the following at a conference:

The doctrine of human unwillingness and inability is perhaps the most attacked doctrine wittingly or unwittingly. The idea that sinners are completely helpless to redeem themselves or to make any contribution to that redemption from sin and divine judgment is the most attacked because in the big picture, it is the most despised doctrine.

Consequently, it is the most distinctively Christian doctrine, contrary to all non-Christian views of men. All religions in the world are some form of a works righteousness system. And at the foundation of all those religions other than the true faith in the true gospel is the idea that people can be good and good enough to contribute to their salvation, to somehow merit favor with deity and a happy after life.

Because this is the universal foundational doctrine of all false systems of religion, it is therefore the most – because, I should say, the opposite of it is the foundation of all these religions, it is therefore the most attacked Christian doctrine. It is distinctively Christian because it affirms the absolute inability of man to do anything to contribute to his salvation.

That’s a crock. What MacArthur said is the well-traveled narrative and historical motif, but the exact opposite is true. The carte blanche religiosity most prevalent in all of human history is determinism. This has always been true in the secular realm as well. In the secular realm it is known as freewill skepticism. Somebody sent me a great video on this a couple of days ago and I found it most fascinating.

But look, mankind has been so saturated with a propensity towards determinism that its philosophical truisms pepper our speech. Quote, “Don’t tempt fate.” “It’s our destiny.” In sports: this team or that team is a “team of destiny.” “Oh well, I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.” One of the biggest hits ever was Doris Day’s  Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be). In 1964 you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing that song.

So, like the video I was sent the other day, MacArthur who I think represents the general mentality well is proffering the idea that freewill skepticism is counter intuitive—historically, the exact opposite is true. Calvinism is an extremely old shoe. It’s just a chip off the old block of ancient mythology—it follows that tradition.

So, freewill skeptic philosophers as well as Calvinists talk often about free will’s relationship to “American individualism.” And this is the next step to our discussion: determinism goes hand in hand with collectivism, and freewill goes hand in hand with individualism. Let me explain how this works.

If whatever rules the universe in the invisible realm has representatives or mediators in the material realm, that means the majority of humanity cannot know reality. The other alternative is what got Socrates executed. He taught that truth was intuitive to everybody and leveled the playing field which was a really bad idea because only 10% of the population made up the ruling class.

Therefore, his understudy Plato had to get out of Dodge and become a foreign exchange student for a while, but he studied in India and came back to Athens with a much better idea: the philosopher kings are able to obtain the gnosis and teach it to the masses, the warriors inforce the dictates of the philosopher kings, and the sole purpose of the masses is the collective good.

This was never more or less than Plato’s version of the Hindu caste system. The value of an individual is based on their ability to contribute to the common good as judged by the philosopher kings and enforced by the warriors if necessary.

Where did the crux of this system begin? In the garden with the serpent and Eve. The serpent, in essence said, “Eve, you aren’t able to correctly ascertain what God really said, you need me, a spiritually superior being, to properly interpret what God really said.” That’s where all of this starts.  It worked well in the garden, why in the world would the construct ever change, right? This also makes mediators the obvious shoe-in for social engineering or societal wellbeing.

Now we have to figure out who the mediators are, right? How do we figure that out? Who is to say? That’s where predeterminism comes in as well. The mediators are always preordained by God before the foundation of the earth. This goes hand in hand with the social class strata.

Social classes determine who the rulers are, the warrior class, and the artisans. It becomes a matter of lineage or pedigree. And as you know, this has never changed in many, many cultures. In many cases upward mobility is forbidden.

Traditionally, collectivism, again, the idea that the worth of an individual is determined by ability to contribute to the common good, is the doctrine that is always associated with determinism and its spiritual caste. The preordained mediators keep the masses in tune with good karma. Immature citizens think they can actually control their fate, while the wiser artisans and producers know that whatever force they worship is completely sovereign. Hey, if the force didn’t want that philosopher king in power, he or she wouldn’t be in power. And of course, some cultures take it a step further and deem the rulers as the actual material manifestations of a god or several gods. Examples of this would be Japanese emperor worship during WWII and the Pope (the “Holy Father” of the Catholic Church).

I am going to pause here and mention how these ancient traditions show up in the contemporary Protestant church. The president of Southern Seminary, Al Mohler, stated at a conference in Florida that pastors are God’s appointed preordained ministers to save His people from ignorance. That’s what he said. In the Puritan tradition, upward mobility was considered a violation of the fifth commandment because it didn’t honor the social class you were born into. Folks, this is all the same stuff! A book written by Calvinist Paul David Tripp, How People Change, is a 200 + page treatise on how to become part of God’s metaphysical divine drama. You are not in control of anything, you just need to be able to see the world through eyes of faith; i.e., all of life is the unfolding of a preordained redemptive narrative (see endnote at end of transcript).

In addition, Calvin’s three-fold election construct that we discussed last week is identical to the election doctrine of Gnosticism, a later version of Neo-Platonism. The hylic coincide with Calvin’s non-elect, the psychic are the partially initiated, or temporarily illumined, and the pneumatic are the fully initiated or Calvin’s lot that persevere till the end. This is all the same stuff.

Now, we are getting ready to close the first segment so anyone wanting to call in can start ramping up while I finish the first segment with individualism which is mostly identified with freewill. Individualists commonly believe that they do not need a mediator to understand God or reality. Secondly, individualists would reject predeterminism out of hand. Thirdly, they would reject social caste out of hand and deem it as tyranny. Fourthly, they believe happiness is found in accomplishment and would reject anything that hinders upward mobility. Fifthly, they would reject total inability.

However, individualism is what is counter intuitive. Individualism is a unique American experiment which finally happened after man suffered unspeakable misery for 10,000 years at the hands of collectivism. EVERYONE agrees that there has never been a country like America in the history of the world. Well, why not? Why did it take so long? Because individualism is not our natural bent—collectivism is. No? After all of the mass graves and misery amassed by collectivism, why are politicians worldwide still hell-bent on implementing it?

Ever heard of the tower of babel? We wouldn’t even have the individualism that we have now unless God confused the languages. Man was continually commanded by God to spread out, fill the whole earth and subdue it. What did they do? They all gathered in a Hindu huddle at the tower of babel.

That’s the first segment. Conclusion: Calvinism is far from being unique. It’s just the same old warn-out collectivism that has been wreaking havoc on mankind since the garden. Determinism is nothing unique, the total inability of man is not unique—IT’S ALL THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN UNTILL AMERICA CAME ALONG. Status quo religious books like the Quran are saturated with the idea of predeterminism from the front cover to the back cover. I could go on and on with example after example.

Segment 2

What about the gospel of sovereign grace? This is a gospel that is defined by predeterminism. Apart from predeterminism, all gospels are deemed false—it must have the determinism element. Freewill is tantamount to a false gospel because it leaves room for man to have a role in the salvation “process” that supposedly starts with beginning justification which is experienced subjectively and ends with final justification. It’s a process of salvation instead of the finished work of salvation being applied to the specific point in time when a person believes the gospel. The life of the born again believer now becomes part of the salvation “process.”

Supposedly, saving faith can ONLY ASK to be part of the salvation process via John Calvin’s Sabbath rest where we must rest from our works because the same gospel that saved us also sanctifies us. We must rest from our works in the Christian life because it is now part of the process. Accordingly, no saint can know positively if they are the called class of elect, or the class that perseveres. Again, this is akin to the Gnostic election classes of  hylic, psychic, and pneumatic. The called, like the psychic, are temporarily or partially illumined and have no way of knowing whether or not they will persevere until the end. Assurance is clearly ambiguous.

This is authentic Protestantism’s definition of saving faith. Ability to choose in any part of the salvation process is tantamount to the ability of man and therefore akin to works salvation. Not unlike spiritual maturity in Hinduism, as the good Protestant grows spiritually, he/she realizes more and more that they have no real role in the salvation process, but only experience God’s prewritten metaphysical narrative. Spiritual growth is defined by a progression from soft determinism to hard determinism.

In the Protestant “gospel of sovereign grace,” soft determinism is the minimal requirement because having freewill is tantamount to the ability to choose which is considered works salvation. Individuals then grow into their final salvation by evolving into hard determinism. This is by no means unique, but very prevalent among the world’s religions including movements like radical environmentalism.

Do Calvinists believe in total inability? Well, many environmentalists believe the very existence of man is detrimental to the earth!

Hard determinism is comfortable with the idea that there is no assurance of salvation which of course is a direct contradiction to the book of 1John. As far as the Reformed stating this in no uncertain terms, chapter 5 of It’s Not About Election is chock-full of citations from Calvin, Luther, and contemporary Calvinists like John Piper.

However, there is a get out of fate free card, right? What is it? The Reformed power of the keys. Simply stated, if you are a member of a Reformed church and you obey the elders and they like you, if you “humbly” put yourself under their authority with issues of error being beside the point—YOUR’RE IN because whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever they loose on earth is loosed in heaven. Do you want to go to heaven? Well then, keep your mouth shut and put your money in the plate.

Now, back to this sovereign grace gospel and the next point about it—it makes God’s sovereignty paramount to the gospel and not God’s love. If man has a choice, or freewill which speaks to ability, this would violate God’s attribute of sovereignty. It would deny God is sovereign in all matters of life and being. In other words, God’s sovereignty and freewill are mutually exclusive. Beside the point that this again limits God because of an attribute assigned to Him, the stated biblical cause of God saving the world because of love is changed to God saving the world because of His sovereignty.

This also posits the idea that sin came into the world because of God’s sovereign will and not His permissive will. The unavoidable conclusion also posits the idea that sin coming into the world was God’s desired will. In contrast, God may have chosen not to know anything about what would come out of freewill as a creative principle. The Bible never states that God knew sin was going to come into the world and decided to permit it for some reason. The Bible states that sin was “found” in Satan at some point (Ezekiel 28:15).

Built-in inherent weaknesses or propensities are not part of God’s creation. Rather, God’s attribute of freewill assumes good results because all that God creates is good. Obviously, Lucifer and Adam were created with freewill, but nevertheless, freewill is not the problem. Reformed soteriology makes freewill synonymous with sin, and makes any kind of ability sin as well.

Many in the Reformed camp deny that they believe God’s sovereignty and freewill are mutually exclusive, but total inability assumes freewill is both impossible and sinful, so they cannot have it both ways. In their minds, man is only free to sin because freewill itself is sinful.

In reality, and according to the Bible, God is capable of being sovereign, but often chooses not to be. Again, he is not limited by any of His own attributes. God flexes His sovereignty in electing outcomes (sovereign will) and keeping promises through intervention, but at times chooses not to be sovereign. There are numerous examples of this throughout the Bible.

The Bible also documents cause and effect throughout. The Bible documents God’s intervention to prevent outcomes caused by the actions of men. The Bible also documents God’s active will, passive will, and permissive will. Cause and effect is also described in context of promises and incentive; if a person does this, God promises He will do that.

Hence, the gospel of God’s sovereign grace logically turns the Bible completely upside down if you interpret it grammatically, and that’s the point. Authentic Protestant tradition does not interpret the Bible literally, but according to a metaphysical redemptive story. Reality is a prewritten metaphysical narrative. This is nothing new—it’s the same old song and dance that’s been going on since the tower of Babel.

Really, what it does, if you really think about it—it makes the literal full counsel of God secondary, and the good news of Protestant authority primary. That’s one reason why incessant theological debate in evangelical circles is acceptable—it’s all theater—if you obey your elders and put your money in the plate you’re going to heaven anyway!

Why, for years, have you stood befuddled in regard to what evangelical elders can get away with saying and doing in the church? Because it’s really about the good news of Protestant authority and nothing more or less.

We are going to close tonight in the book of Genesis. I think we see what effect sin had on man; it made man ashamed and caused him to hide from God. Then we see God seeking man out and confronting Him. Shame does not equal total inability.

And this also affects evangelism. It is our role to seek others out on behalf of God. Why has evangelism always been so anemic among Protestants? This is why: Protestants have been taught that man is not only ashamed, but totally depraved with no ability to choose God once he/she is persuaded by the preaching of the word. The incentive to evangelize is not to see people saved, but to glorify God in both death and life. It is a mere proclamation that glorifies God either way, not an attempt to persuade. God is glorified when people are saved because he chose them, and God is also glorified when people reject the gospel because their greater damnation also glorifies God.

In the same aforementioned conference, John MacArthur referred to this idea of glorifying God in evangelism as a “savor of life to life and death to death.” Either way, it is a “savor” unto the Lord. This idea is not only a disincentive; it’s not biblically true and will therefore not find the Holy Spirt cooperative. MacArthur also stated in the same message that “total depravity or unwilling and unable [is]…a gospel theme.” Again, we see God’s sovereignty and man’s inability as foundational to the gospel, not God’s love.

In fact, many Calvinists argue that any gospel presentation that contains a reference to choice is a false gospel. The gospel is to be presented and the results left to God for His glory. If a person asks, “what shall we do?” they are to be told that they can only ask and hope for the best, but God will be glorified either way.

Also, in the same message, MacArthur stated:

The Spirit and the Son are in agreement that this work is a work of divine, sovereign power. And then, of course, we commented earlier, reading John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” John 8:36, “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” It’s the work of the Son. It’s the work of the Spirit. It’s the work of the Father who draws. In none of these texts, by the way, did Jesus defend the sinner’s ability. In none of these texts did Jesus defend free will. Yes, the sinner has will, and his will is activated by the Spirit in the work of salvation, but his will is not free.

Problems with this view follow: Jesus also said that He would be lifted up in order to draw ALL men to Himself (Jn 12:32). The Spirit also convicts men of sin and the judgment to come (Jn 16:8)—the Spirit works with us in evangelism.

God sovereignly elects the means of salvation and the final outcome of world history, but he does not elect individuals. When saints are called elect, it refers to their identification with a group or purposes elected by God, not the individual per se.

God elected salvation for all men, and the plan of salvation clearly includes an invitation to all of mankind. God sends His Spirit to convict and warn all men while God’s people proclaim His gospel from the word. The goal of evangelism is to “persuade” men to believe the word of God. Faith comes to men through this joint effort between the Spirit and God’s people. The new birth, or regeneration, then comes by faith (Rom 10:17, Gal 3:5).

In contrast, proponents of the gospel of sovereign grace must implement tenets like limited atonement and total depravity to make their case. Many of these tenets are blatant contradictions to the plain sense of Scripture.

And, in regard to Hindus claiming that all religions really agree with them unawares, they just may have a point.

Endnotes

Examples abound. A placard published on Facebook read, “All of your days have been written in God’s book. When you go through disappointment, don’t stop on that page. Stay the course. Keep believing. You may be tired, discouraged and frustrated, but don’t give up on your future.”

Even the late conservative evangelical Adrian Rogers once stated in a sermon:

 “When you are surrendered to the will of God, focused on the Word of God, then the Holy Spirit begins to pray in you and through you. He energizes, motivates, and guides your prayer. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about prayer is this: the prayer that gets to Heaven is the prayer that starts in Heaven. Prayer is the Holy Spirit finding a desire in the heart of the Father, putting that desire in our heart, then sending it back to Heaven in the power of the cross. The prayer that gets to Heaven is the prayer that starts in Heaven. Our part is just to close the circuit” (online source: http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/love-worth-finding/read/articles/prayer-and-the-will-of-god-11630.html).

You can add to that a sermon by Dr. Devon Berry entitled, How to Listen to a Sermon in which he posits the idea that there is no such thing as edifying personal Bible study. The only thing that counts for receiving progressive grace is sitting under the preaching of elders because they get the word from God in the same kind of cycle described by Rogers. Berry is the chairman of the elders at Clear Creek Chapel in Springboro, Ohio which is a training center for the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation which controls at least 90% of the biblical counseling going on in the evangelical church.

CASTE

CASTE

Calvin's Race

The Truth About Predeterminism: A Historical and Biblical Evaluation

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 16, 2014
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