Paul's Passing Thoughts

The “Cross Story” and Sanctified Rape in the Church

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 13, 2016

Originally published January 31, 2013

ppt-jpeg4“Be sure of it: this is how Calvinists think; this is their worldview.”

 “Don’t misunderstand: the problem of  ‘victim mentality’  is not even on the radar screen—they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary.”

 Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story.”

Martin Luther had more on his mind than silly Popes when he nailed his 95 Theses to the front door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany. That protest launched the Reformation, but six months later Luther presented the systematic theology of the Reformation to the Augustinian Order in Heidelberg. Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation laid the foundation, and John Calvin later articulated and applied its basic principles to the full spectrum of life in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

The Cross Story and the Glory Story

Luther’s cross story, or theology of the cross is the crux of the Heidelberg Disputation and introduced in the first sentence of the Calvin Institutes:

Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.

That’s Luther’s theology of the cross: a deeper and deeper knowledge of our putrid humanity as set against God’s holiness. And NOTHING in-between. All of creation, all events, and all reality contribute to deeper knowledge of one of these two, and then both as a deeper knowledge of each gives more understanding to the other; knowledge of both, and the experience of both. Hence, every blessing, including our good works which are done by the Holy Spirit to begin with, lends more understanding of God’s glory. Every evil event, sin, and tragedy lends deeper understanding in regard to our total depravity and worthlessness. But of course your mother is dying of cancer; I am amazed that God would give anyone as many years as He has given her. Who are we to think we deserve even one year of life? And what a wonderful opportunity for her to suffer the way Jesus suffered for us!

This is the cross story. See the illustration below. This is a contemporary depiction from that camp—this is their assessment:

gospelgrid1

Anything else at all that gives any credit to humanity—Christian or non-Christian is the “glory story.” That would be our glory specifically, and not Christ’s. To the degree that humanity is considered, the glory of Christ is “ECLIPSED.” This is the theses of a book written by John MacArthur associate Rick Holland: Uneclipsing The Son. Everything is perceived as speaking through one of these two perspectives. ANYTHING coming from what is perceived as the “glory story” is summarily dismissed. Be sure of it: this is how Calvinists think. This is their worldview.

In one of the former Resolved Conferences sponsored by John MacArthur and Holland, in one of his messages, Holland extols a letter written to Puritan Christopher Love by his wife as he awaited execution. Holland forgot to mention to those listening that Love was executed for espionage against the English government while letting the audience assume he was executed for loftier spiritual-like reasons. The following is excerpts from the letter:

O that the Lord would keep thee from having one troubled thought for thy relations. I desire freely to give thee up into thy Father’s hands, and not only look upon it as a crown of glory for thee to die for Christ, but as an honor to me that I should have a husband to leave for Christ…. I dare not speak to thee, nor have a thought within my own heart of my own unspeakable loss, but wholly keep my eye fixed upon thy inexpressible and inconceivable gain. Thou leavest but a sinful, mortal wife to be everlastingly married to the Lord of glory…. Thou dost but leave earth for heaven and changest a prison for a palace. And if natural affections should begin to arise, I hope that the spirit of grace that is within thee will quell them, knowing that all things here below are but dung and dross in comparison of those things that are above. I know thou keepest thine eye fixed on the hope of glory, which makes thy feet trample on the loss of earth.

Justice? That implies that humanity has some sort of value. That implies that life itself  has some sort of value. That implies that humanity should be protected through threat of punishment. That’s the glory story. Therefore, Calvin stated the following:

Those who, as in the presence of God, inquire seriously into the true standard of righteousness, will certainly find that all the works of men, if estimated by their own worth, are nothing but vileness and pollution, that what is commonly deemed justice is with God mere iniquity; what is deemed integrity is pollution; what is deemed glory is ignominy (CI 3.12.4).

Death by Biblical Counseling

The church must face up to a sobering reality in our day. The vast majority of biblical counseling that goes on in our day is based on this construct—you will be counseled from the perspective of the cross story, and anything that smacks of the glory story will be snubbed. You are not a victim. There is no such thing as a victim. Christ was the only true victim in all of history. Don’t misunderstand: the problem of “victim mentality” is not even on the radar screen—they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary. “Victim” is part of the glory story; Christ as the only victim is the cross story. I am not a victim. That’s impossible because my sin nailed Christ to the cross. Thank you oh Lord that I was raped. Thank you for this opportunity to suffer for you. Thank you for the strength to forgive the one who raped me in the same way you forgave me. What a wonderful opportunity to show forth your gospel!

Hence, when the leaders of a Reformed church came to inform parents that a young man in that church had molested their toddler, this was the opening statement:

Today, we have before us an opportunity to forgive.

The parents were then counseled to not contact the authorities. Those who do are often brought up on church discipline. Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story. And be not deceived: this is the logic that drives Reformed organizations that are supposed to be mediators in the church; specifically, Peacemaker Ministries and G.R.A.C.E. A major player in the Biblical Counseling Movement is Paul David Tripp. In 2006, he wrote a book that articulates the horizontal application of Luther’s theology of the cross: “How people Change.” Of course, the title is a lie; if he really believed people change, that would be the glory story. Notice also that it is, “How People Change” and not, “How Christians Change.” That’s because this bunch see no difference in the transforming power of the new birth and ordinary Christ-rejecting people.

In the book, Tripp, like all who propagate Luther’s theology of the cross, posits the Bible as a “big picture” narrative of our redemptive life. The Bible is a mere tool for one thing only: leading us more and more into the cross story and away from the glory story. This is accomplished by using the Bible to enter into the cross narrative and thereby seeing our preordained part in the “big picture” narrative of redemptive history. Though Tripp is not forthright about it in the book, this is known as the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic. By seeing our life through the cross story, we are empowered to live life for God’s glory. This is done by seeing ALL circumstances in life (Heat) as preordained in order to show our sinfulness (Thorns) and God’s goodness (Fruit) for the purposes of having a deeper understanding of both resulting in spiritual wellbeing. In other words, all of life’s circumstances are designed to give us a deeper understanding of the cross story: God’s holiness, and our sinfulness. I have taken his primary visual illustration from the book and drawn lines to the cross story illustration to demonstrate the relationship (click on image to enlarge):

Scott Illustration

Understanding this lends insight to Tripp citations on the Peacekeepers Ministries website:

Paul Trip wrote a great post over at The Gospel Coalition blog all about the need for pastors to pursue a culture of forgiveness in their ministry. Pastors (and anyone serving Christ) have a choice:

“You can choose for disappointment to become distance, for affection to become dislike, and for a ministry partnership to morph into a search for an escape. You can taste the sad harvest of relational détente that so many church staffs live in, or you can plant better seeds and celebrate a much better harvest. The harvest of forgiveness, rooted in God’s forgiveness of you, is the kind of ministry relationship everyone wants.”

Then he describes three ways forgiveness can shape your ministry. I’ve listed them, but you can read how he explains them in detail.

“1. Forgiveness stimulates appreciation and affection.

2. Forgiveness produces patience.

3. Forgiveness is the fertile soil in which unity in relationships grows.”

He closes with this exhortation:

“So we learn to make war, but no longer with one another. Together we battle the one Enemy who is after us and our ministries. As we do this, we all become thankful that grace has freed us from the war with one another that we used to be so good at making.”

And concerning another author, they also stated:

Last week, Steve Cornell at The Gospel Coalition blog posted some really great insight into the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. They also offered up some excellent and biblically sound steps in dealing with a situation where an offending party is hesitant to reconcile.

Here he summarizes a key distinction:

“It’s possible to forgive someone without offering immediate reconciliation. It’s possible for forgiveness to occur in the context of one’s relationship with God apart from contact with her offender. But reconciliation is focused on restoring broken relationships. And where trust is deeply broken, restoration is a process—sometimes, a lengthy one”…. His ten guidelines for those hesitant to reconcile are rooted in scripture and, I think, incredibly helpful.

1. Be honest about your motives.

2. Be humble in your attitude.

3. Be prayerful about the one who hurt you.

4. Be willing to admit ways you might have contributed to the problem.

5. Be honest with the offender.

6. Be objective about your hesitancy.

7. Be clear about the guidelines for restoration.

8. Be alert to Satan’s schemes.

9. Be mindful of God’s control.

10. Be realistic about the process.

Notice the overall blurring of distinction between the offended and offender with the subject of forgiveness.

The Cross-centered Anti-justice Pandemic is No longer Exclusively a Reformed Thing

Apart from Calvinism, the redemptive historical cross-centered approach is crossing denominational lines en masse. We at TANC see doctrines that were born of Luther’s theology of the cross in non-Reformed circles constantly; specifically, heart theology (deep repentance), exclusive interpretation of the Scriptures through a redemptive prism, Gospel Sanctification, and John Piper’s Christian hedonism. And we also see the same results. It is not beyond the pale for a pastor who has raped a parishioner to be the one counseling the victim sinner. You know, the “sinner saved by grace.”

God is a God of justice, and throughout the Scriptures He demands that we be people of justice. He demands that we come to the defense of the victim. I close with fitting words from church historian John Immel:

And this is the challenge. This is the challenge that I have as a man who is passionate about thinking: to inspire people to engage in complex ideas that drive tyranny. So here’s my challenge to those who are listening.

Do not be seduced into believing that righteousness is retreat from the world.

Do not be seduced into believing that spirituality is defined by weakness and that timid caution for fear of committing potential error is a reason to be quiet.

Do not be intimidated by vague, hazy threats of failure.

Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality. I’m going to say that again to you. This is good. Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality.

Do not mistake the simple nature of God’s love for a justification for simple-mindedness.

Do not deceive yourself with the polite notion that you are above the fray, that your right to believe is sufficient to the cause of righteousness. There is no more stunning conceit.

Do not pretend that your unwillingness to argue is the validation of truth.

Know this: Virtue in a vacuum is like the proverbial sound in the forest–irrelevant without a witness. Character is no private deed. To retreat is nothing more than a man closing his eyes and shutting his mouth to injustice.

Virtues are not estimates to be lofted gently against evil.

Virtues are not to be withheld from view in the name of grace.

Virtues are not to be politely swallowed in humble realization that we are all just sinners anyway.

Love is not a moral blank check against the endless tide of indulgent action.

Love is not blind to the cause and effect of reality.

Love is not indifference to plunder and injustice and servitude.

The time is now, you men of private virtue, to emerge from your fortress of solitude and demonstrate that you are worthy of a life that bears your name. The time is now, you men of private virtue, to answer Mick Jagger and all the nihilists that insist we are living on the edge and we cannot help but fall. It is time for you men of private virtue to take up the cause of human existence and think.

~TANC 2012 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny: John Immel; session 1, “Assumptions + Logic = Action.”

paul

Ground Zero for Understanding the Biblical Counseling Movement

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on February 2, 2015

CWW 4

Originally published September 18, 2013

“I believe this will go down in church history as one of the most grotesque betrayals ever perpetrated on a man in the name of friendship and the gospel.” 

A Chapter Theses for Clouds Without Water: The Biblical Counseling Movement; It’s True History and Doctrine

 In the Beginning, Plato, and then Augustine.

During the first century, the upstart assemblies of the risen Christ suffered a viral affront from Gnostic sects. The first century church was made up of people from all socioeconomic strata, and the Gnostics infiltrated Christianity for that purpose. Those in the first century church well-endowed with money were a valuable resource, and this is who the Gnostic sects primarily targeted with their false doctrine.

Gnosticism has always been about elitism, power, and money. If you want to see an immaculate mural of the American church, read Philip J. Lee’s “Against the Protestant Gnostics.”

Gnosticism finds its roots in the philosophy of Plato. Every American born into the world should be thoroughly apprised of Plato the man and his philosophy. To understand Plato is to understand Western culture politically and spiritually. All the philosophers agree on this point. From there, the math is easy: Augustine was the father of Reformation doctrine, and a rabid follower of Plato. Augustine had little use for the Bible without Platonist insight, and considered Plato a Pre-Christianity Christian.

Of course, the favorite red herring is that Plato is not agreed with on every point, but the fact remains that his primary construct founded Reformed theology: the incompetence of man, and the need for a select few (the enlightened) to rule over the masses. Those with gnosis know how society best functions, and they know how the masses can find individual peace from the desires that rule over them.

The Age of Enlightenment (circa 1630) produced men who were the first to confront Plato’s construct successfully. The most formidable product of that movement was the American experiment which obviously turned out quite well. It was founded on the competence of the individual. The competition was the Platonist Puritans who unfortunately survived the voyage from Europe and wreaked havoc on the East coast. But fortunately, their worldview kept them from settling further inland. “Go west young man!” is hardly the motivational words of competence found among the purer forms of Reformed thought.

Let there be no doubt about it, the idea of merging church and state is grounded in the religion of man’s incompetence. The masses need the state to take care of them. Plato’s philosopher kings contrive orthodoxy, and the soldiers enforce it. This concept did not find its way into the Westminster Confession by accident.  Even those who think the state should be separate from the church think a utopia would arise if the church ran the state. “Separation of church and state” doesn’t mean no theocracy; theocracy would be a good thing, supposedly. The state has always had an interest in ruling over religion because ideas are dangerous, and the church has always been a willing participant if the state agrees to enforce their orthodoxy. The battle between the two for the upper hand of control is the political intrigue that is European history in a nutshell. And that is how the world as we know it will end: the zenith of church statecraft as described in the book of Revelation.

This is Western history, and the  children of the enlightenment would have no part of it on American soil. Ten years after the Declaration of Independence, James Madison successfully stopped a European style push for a church state in A Memorial in Remonstance Against Religious Assessments. For all practical purposes, it was an indictment against the fruits of European Reformed doctrine.

The Reformation’s Historical Cycle of Social Death and Resurgence

The Reformers, being children of Plato, didn’t interpret reality with a normative epistemology. Plato’s Achilles’ heel has always been the application of Eastern mysticism. Instead of reality being interpreted empirically, and a course of action being determined by discovery, conclusions are drawn by using interpretive gateways to the “pure” form of reality that is hopefully good. Plato thought it was good, but his interpretive gateway to reality rejected the five senses out of hand. Gnosis was the key.

The Reformers merely replaced gnosis with the personhood of Christ as a sort of stargate to reality. That reality was predicated on the difference between the unchangeable pure form of Christ, and the inherent evil of man dwelling in a world that constantly changes. Plato equated the pure forms with immutable objectivity, and evil matter with mutable subjectivity. Hence, today’s Platonist Reformers speak of the “objective gospel experienced subjectively.”  This is clearly Plato’s metaphysical construct based on the incompetence of man in regard to interpreting reality. Like Plato, the Reformers of old and new alike bemoan man’s attempt to understand reality “in the shadows” of all matters that “eclipse Christ.” While donning the persona of Biblicism, pastors like Steve Lawson call for pastors to “come out from the shadows.”

This is the theme of books like “Uneclipsing the Son” by John MacArthur confidant Rick Holland. In his book, he hints at why purest Reformed theology gets lost in the minds of Christians from time to time and therefore needs periodic resurgences and rediscoveries. He notes in his book that good grammar makes bad theology. The mystic heretic Paul David Tripp makes the same assertion in “How People Change,” noting that a literal interpretation of Scripture circumvents the personhood of Christ and His saving work. What’s in an interpretation method? According to Tripp—your salvation.

This is the paramount point at hand: the Reformers did not interpret the Bible grammatically, objectively, exegetically, or literally at any point; they interpreted the Bible through the dual prism of  “reality” seen in God’s holiness and our evil. The only objective truth is the person of Christ leading to a mere subjective experience of His power and  grace manifestations. Hence, many Reformed purists in our day embodied in the New Calvinist movement speak of, “spiritual growth in seeing our own evil as set against the holiness of God.” Therefore, commands in the Bible become part of the narrative that helps us see what we are unable to do rather than commands to be obeyed. We merely seek to see, and wait for the subjective experience of “vivification.” The seeing is the “mortification.” Reformed theologians like Michael Horton explain this as a continual re-experience of our original baptism as we perpetually revisit the same gospel that saved us “afresh.”

This reduces the Christian life to experiences of perpetual rebirth found in Eastern concepts Plato borrowed for “practical life application.”  This is the foundation of Historical Redemptive hermeneutics born of Reformed purism.  This is also the interpretive method that is all of the rage in our day through programs like BibleMesh.

This is not the natural bent towards interpreting truth. We are wired to interpret truth objectively, and grammatically—tools like allegory and parables notwithstanding. This is why Reformed purism dies a social death from time to time throughout history. Thus, this metaphysical anomaly experiences “rediscovery” and “resurgence” movements. Be certain of the following: this is the New Calvinist movement in our day, and in essence, a return to the exact same viral Gnosticism that plagued the New Testament church with this caveat added: we by no means possess the doctrinal intestinal fortitude of the first century church.

Ground Zero: The 1970 Resurgence

1970 is ground zero for the present landscape of American Christianity.  In that year, two movements emerged. Since colonial times, the third resurgence of Reformed purism was born through a project called the Australian Forum. In that same year, Dr. Jay E. Adams, a hybrid of Calvinism and Historical Grammatical interpretation, launched the biblical counseling movement. His movement was predicated on the competence of enabled congregants to counsel each other through the deepest of human problems. Adams also recognized the simple concept of anthropology and its relationship to helping people. Because all humans are created by God, what works well for the unsaved should work even better for the saved. If unsaved people who don’t violate their consciences are happier, this should also aid Christians in their walk with God. Bad ideas are simply bad for everyone, the ultimate need for eternal salvation notwithstanding. But that doesn’t mean you throw out the unsaved baby with the bath water of practicality. And in addition, does practicality show forth the wisdom of God and thereby point people to God? Should God not know what makes people tick? Moreover, what is the authority for interpreting human existence? Philosophy,  or the Bible?

Adams’ biblical construct produced astounding conclusions, especially in areas where a medical model covered for escape mechanisms that create another reality for realties one may not like. If Bob is in big trouble, he merely becomes Ted, or maybe even Jane. This is a bad idea for Christians. Adams created a dichotomy between salvation and the Christian life. He believed in the utter incompetence of man to save himself, but abundant competence in colaboring with God for a victorious life over sin. With Adams, it is about CHANGE for the glory of God and the happiness of His people.

Thus, with the resurgence of Reformed purism at the same time, the battle lines were drawn, and a confusion of conflict emerged in the biblical counseling movement. The one predicated on the utter incompetence of man whether saved or unsaved, and the other predicated on the competence of the Spirit-filled Christian. The one predicated on Christians only being righteous positionally, and the other predicated on the idea that Christians are also practically righteous. The one predicated on contemplationism, the other predicated on obedience. This is the civil war that has raged in the biblical counseling movement from its conception until this day. It is for the most part a civil war of servility, lest two different gospels be separate, and careerism maimed.

The Forum doctrine quickly found footing at Westminster Seminary in Pennsylvania where Adams was a professor. The initial vestige of relevant infection was found in Dr. John “Jack” Miller, also a professor at Westminster Seminary. True, Westminster was founded by Reformed purists that believed the many acts of Christ’s righteousness were part of the atonement, not just His one act of death on the cross, but for the most part, the Reformation’s metaphysical anomalies had reduced Westminster to moderate Reformed ideology. If you will, a hybrid Calvinism that interpreted reality grammatically.

Miller changed that. While the doctrine was in the process of suffering a brutal death in Reformed Baptist circles by moderate Calvinists, being labeled as antinomianism, it found resurgent life at Westminster in Miller’s Sonship Theology incubator. The forerunner of this doctrine in Reformed Baptist circles, Jon Zens, discovered the doctrine  in the early years of the Forum while he was a student at Westminster. He actually became heavily involved with the Forum in the 70’s, convincing them that everyday Covenant Theology would be a hindrance to infecting Christianity with the newly rediscovered disease. From that conversation came the birth of New Covenant Theology circa 1981. It was a significant addition to the present repertoire of elements that confuse the real crux of the issue. Till this day, few moderate Calvinists make this historical connection between New Covenant Theology and New Calvinism.

But it was a particular mentoree of Miller’s that saw Adam’s construct as a threat to the successful spread of the Forum’s rediscovery: Dr. David Powlison. Powlison, working closely with Miller, developed the Dynamics of Biblical Change which is a counseling construct based on Reformation purism. This became the counseling model for Westminster’s biblical counseling wing known as The Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF). Later, there was a proposal for an organization that would certify counselors for CCEF. Adams was opposed to it as it smacked of the kind of elitism that he was trying to avoid. Remember, Adams was all about the competence of the average congregant to counsel. But Purist Reformed ideology is all about elitism because Gnosticism is all about elitism; the two go hand in glove.

Show Me the Money

Gnosticism rejects the average man’s ability to understand reality. So, assimilation for purposes of functionality is the main concern; ie., that the masses are controlled by indoctrination that is not necessarily understood, but invokes behavioral goals. But another primary goal is the spiritual caste system that provides millions of dollars for elitist educators. In essence, these are the professional Sophists produced by Platonism. This is why Gnosticism always dwells in the upper socioeconomic strata, as Phillip J. Lee notes in the aforementioned book, Gnosticism is a rich man’s game. CCEF certified counselors are extremely rare in zip codes of average incomes less than $80,000 per year, and nowhere to be found in zip codes of $50,000 or less. This of course, is very telling. Their conferences require registration fees of  $300.00 per person or more.

Meanwhile, NANC Happens

Powlison followed a classic mode of Gnostic deception by seeking to be identified with the persona of Adams’ successful counseling construct while despising the doctrine as a supposed false gospel. To be more specific, he wanted to gain ground by being identified with Adams’ success, and with a deliberate long-term goal of destroying the historical grammatical approach to biblical counseling.

Unfortunately, and to the chagrin of Adams, the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors was born (NANC). “Nouthetic” counseling was a Greek term introduced by Adams and often associated with him. Therefore, Powlison et al were able to be identified with the tsunami like personal transformations of the Adams reformation as a jump start for their own construct, and with a long-term goal of destroying the competition. They did this so effectively that Adams was often thought of as the founder of NANC, which was never true.

Consequently, Adams experienced an increased persecution from within the contemporary biblical counseling movement that he founded. His counseling was dubbed “first generation” biblical counseling and referred to as nothing more than “producing better Pharisees.” I believe this will go down in church history as one of the most grotesque betrayals ever perpetrated on a man in the name of friendship and the gospel.

The fallout in our day is indicative of the spiritual carnage that has always been left in the path of Gnosticism. While the spiritual peasantry cries out in hopes that the elite will police their own, the Nicolaitans of our day laugh all the way to the bank. After all, subjective reality is messy business and peasants just don’t understand. The biblical counseling community has founded organizations who seek to keep them out of court and prevent the obscuring of cash flow. The New Calvinism movement is intrinsically connected by a complicated and massive network of  associations—in many cases disagreeing with each other on “secondary issues.” A prime example is the G.R.A.C.E mediatory organization headed by Boz Tchividjian.  While playing the part of advocates for the spiritually abused, they are professionally networked with serial abusers of the worst sort.

Conclusion

The biblical counseling movement embodied in New Calvinism is nothing more or less than a return to the exact same Gnosticism that plagued the first century church. The fact that Eastern mysticism is often the application can be seen by what happened at a Passion Conference where the who’s who of New Calvinism led the audience in a form of Transcendental Meditation. Tim Keller, a co-mentoree of Miller along with David Powlison in the early days, is a staunch advocate of Eastern mysticism as a practical application for Christian living.

CCEF, and NANC are the epitome of false advertising. They advertise the gospel and change, but believe in neither. Like the father of their faith, St. Augustine,  it is Plato they trust. The banner over them is not love, but a sense of elitist entitlement to be paid and supported by the unenlightened masses for their own good. Sheep that don’t get it are more than expendable; the one in 99 is expendable for the 99 who know their place and pay the Shamans their tax deductible dues.

They invent and sell orthodoxy, the layman’s manual for experiencing perpetual rebirth. On the one hand, there is a Christianity that posits the living water that is received once, the onetime washing, and the moving on to maturity from the beginning principles of baptisms, and then there is the gospel of our day that posits the perpetual rebirth of Eastern mysticism.

But this is not a mere disagreement about how to live the Christian life. How we see the Christian life reveals the gospel that we really believe. When our salvation is not a finished work, something must be done by us to finish it—even if that means doing nothing with intentionality. NOT living by a list of do’s and don’ts is the work that keeps us saved. It is playing it safe by hiding our talents in the ground and giving the Lord back what He originally gave.

Christians would do well to choose which gospel they will live by in our day.  At this point, that conversation has not arrived yet. And to be sure, many do not want the conversation to be clarified to that point. The gospel itself has become the elephant in the room.

paul

Mom Wants to Know: Why I Don’t Like Mike Huckabee (and Other Adorable People)

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on January 6, 2015

PPT HandleOriginally published February 10, 2014

I am very busy and need to combine eight posts into one which is not difficult because it’s all related. I need to write about Mike Huckabee, Joni Eareckson Tada, Boz Tchividjian, K-Love, stuff happens theology, plumbing, Communism, and of course John Calvin, but not necessarily in that order.

Let’s start with a conversation that occurred over at my mom’s house about former Governor Mike Huckabee. Susan and I were over at her house overseeing the repair of her furnace. My study of medieval religion has given me a robust appreciation in regard to American ingenuity and technology. A working furnace is critical for someone my mom’s age in sub-zero weather. The furnace was repaired by a competent young man within hours of us calling, and let me add that he also laughed at my jokes.

Plumbing

When all was accomplished, Susan and I said farewell to mom and then received a call on my cellphone about four miles from her house; she reported a funny hissing sound in the kitchen. We returned, and concluded that a frozen water pipe had broken under the kitchen floor. This was totally unrelated to the furnace repair. There we were, the day well spent, and a broken water pipe shooting out gallons of water by the minute underneath the shallow crawl space of the kitchen.

Another competent repair man to the rescue, even at that hour? Maybe, but my mom is long retired and lives on a limited income. I went down to the basement and turned off the main water supply to the house and also observed the following: much cost was spared in installing shutoff valves, but the kitchen was an isolated run of two copper pipes easily accessible before entering the long and shallow crawl space under the kitchen. It became apparent that those two pipes could be sealed off and the rest of the house would have water until the broken pipe was fixed. The trade of a dishwasher and one faucet for flushing toilets etc. in the rest of the house would be a good trade indeed.

I have some past limited background in plumbing, so Susan and I drove to the nearest Lowes to buy sand paper, a propane torch, two copper end-caps, solder, flux, a small brush, a hack saw, and inner pipe brush. Then we talked to a delightful young man that informed me that American plumbing had indeed changed since fifteen years ago when I was dabbling in it here and there as a builder. He informed us that we would only need two “push fittings” and a mini pipe cutter, and about five minutes.

“Uh, let me get this straight. I just cut the pipe, and push this thing on the end of it, and I am done? ‘Right.’”

Now visualize me looking at the guy like he is the Lowes version of John Calvin as he explained how the simple contraption worked. Remember those weaved tubes that we used to put on our friends’ finger when we were kids back in the days of extreme political incorrectness? The tightness of the device around the finger increased with pull. It was the initiation ceremony of choice for all neighborhood club houses. In this case, the pipe is the finger and the water pressure is the sadistic adolescent.

Huckabee

All of this is why I don’t like Mike Huckabee. After the plumbing repair, we hung around awhile and watched the Mike Huckabee show on the Fox News channel. I informed mom and Susan that I don’t like the guy. Like many, they were astounded that anyone of Christian stripe could dislike that cornball.

“Why don’t you like Huckabee?!”

I really didn’t have an answer at the time. But I thought about it all night and realized that the answer was right under my nose the whole time—so I hereby write.

Tada

Huckabee had the mega storied Joni Eareckson Tada on his show. Both of these people are impressive and adorable. Tada has been a paraplegic since her teen years, but her life accomplishments are over the top. Both are the epitome of American pie and conservative Christianity. The reason Huckabee had Tada on his show was to discuss the “Academy’s rescinding of its Oscar nomination for ‘Best Original Song,’ which appeared in the inspirational American colonial epic, ‘Alone Yet Not Alone,’ when it was discovered that the composer, Bruce Broughton, had sent a short email bringing the song to the attention of Oscar voters.” Tada was the vocalist.

Christians en masse stand in awe of Tada, and Huckabee added to her mystique with his mainstream Christian appeal. And this is the problem with Huckabee: he doesn’t get it. Huckabee is the poster child for the Christian metaphysical treadmill. Tada is very much a part of the New Calvinism movement which is a return to authentic Reformation ideology.

Communism   

It is nothing more or less than Communism dressed in Bible verses. This is where the Huck doesn’t get it; as a political/religious conservative, he is representative of many in Christianity who allow their principles to fornicate with contrary ideology. This leads to a never ending endeavor to change society while unwittingly giving credence to the very ideologies that are the source of the problem.

In the same show, Huckabee, prior to Tada’s segment, criticized the opening ceremonies at this year’s winter Olympics in Moscow which promoted the virtues of Communism. He commented that Lenin’s murderous legacy was conveniently left out. Meanwhile, in the next segment, here comes Joni Eareckson Tada who represents a return to John Calvin purism. Granted, Tada’s extensive education came from seminaries that don’t teach the significance of how philosophy progressed through history and how that applies to the doctrine she embraces. Long story short, this leads to a contradictory motif in her own life as she benefits from an array of technological advances that has made much of her success possible (more on that later), but the larger point is that Reformation theology and Communism came from the exact same ideological source along with its presuppositions concerning mankind.

Hence, Huckabee partakes in the same hypocrisy that he criticizes. The Reformers were NO LESS murdering despots than Lenin—that’s conspicuous history plain and simple. In fact, in most cases, Lenin had people shot in the head while the Reformers wouldn’t have tolerated such a quick and painless departure by those whom they disagreed with. Huckabee is the epitome of the well-polished American do-gooder that refuses to come to terms with the fact that the Pilgrims, the Puritans, and the Reformers are not part of the ideology that made America; they are in fact part and parcel with Communist ideology. Putin needs ratings no less than Huckabee does.

The progression of philosophy and how it affects humanity is magnified in the differences between America and Russia. Huckabee, again, in the same show, pointed to the poor quality of life in Russia that is hindering the Olympics. What he doesn’t realize is that it would be much worse if it wasn’t for America. You have to have technology to eventually destroy the Great Satan, but if Russia ever succeeds, technology goes bye-bye, and the mass graves become filled with the Joni Eareckson Tada’s of the world because they can’t “contribute to the greater good of the group.” This is why Russia’s technology will never rival that of American ingenuity: Communists see technology as a necessary evil, Americans see technology as a means to accomplish good.

Really, this can be summarized in the living contradiction that is Joni Eareckson Tada. While promoting Luther’s worm theology and making one statement by God to the apostle Paul the whole enchilada, she continually pontificates, “God’s power always shows up best in weakness.” Communism asserts that the masses are hapless and incompetent; Reformation theology asserts that man defaces the glory of God through his own accomplishments. Both share the same presuppositions in regard to mankind. Tada points to her disability as set against her accomplishments as proof of Reformed doctrine while completely dismissing God’s use of technology invented by those who in many cases could care less about God. Tada has a lot of education in regard to what others told her is in the Calvin Institutes, and conveniently missing are Calvin’s vast discussions of Plato and Aristotle. I dare say that the Reformation had more to do with those two men than “justification by faith alone.”

And by the way, the Reformation wasn’t about that either; it was about cutting man completely out of the salvation process because of Plato’s philosophical presuppositions concerning mankind. This later morphed into Gnosticism.

Stuff Happens Theology

Can we summarize this dilemma with T-shirt theology? “S— Happens.” No, stuff doesn’t just happen (there is a logic that drives everything). And that’s how Huckabee functions because of his metaphysics: stuff happens and you have to relentlessly address that stuff until all of the stuff has been refuted. No, you have to stop fornicating with the logic that creates the stuff. The apostle Paul stated it this way: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” If Huckabee wants unleavened bread, he needs to take some culinary philosophy classes. And if you don’t like what you learn, stop criticizing the Communists for editing history.

And by the way, what scares the bejeebers out of me is that the average Communist on the street understands these issues as opposed to American Christians. They know exactly why their country stinks; because mankind and life stinks. Get with the caste program or it will stink even worse. It’s about the best world hospice care possible. The fray between Americanism and Communism really began when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. That’s where the rewriting of history for us began as well; “Pilgrim” is a soft term for “Puritan.” These are people who saw the likes of Benjamin Franklin as troublers who stir up the anger of the gods with their big ideas. Now they have to use those same ideas to put an end to the egregious idea that man has worth. That’s Joni Eareckson Tada metaphysics.

Hence, supposedly, technology doesn’t enable us to do more ministry. It would have been better to replace my mother’s furnace with a wood burning stove. It would have been better if my mother would have had to write me a letter about the broken water pipe instead of calling me on my cellphone. See, if we were like the Russians, we wouldn’t need plumbing anyway. For Tada, technology is a necessary evil to spread the word that we all suck. If she thinks that is an absurd evaluation of her metaphysics, she should stop promoting men who believe just that in no uncertain terms. She would know this if her reality wasn’t completely formed by the likes of John MacArthur Jr.

The Republican Party and Mike Huckabee in particular need to wake up to a new reality: New Calvinism has made the American church the New Communist Party. Again, stuff doesn’t just happen; there is a reason why many well-known New Calvinist pastors voted for Obama. Sure, they don’t agree with his stance on abortion and other issues, but there is agreement on the bigger issue at hand: mankind needs the best hospice care possible; unfortunate collateral damage can be dealt with when Calvinism is back in bed with the state. This is why the institutional church is the institutional church and partakes in many things institutional like movie production, formal education etc., etc., ect. The state gave it birth, and it will always gravitate back to its mother. This is why Christ’s assembly was never an institution.

The Boz

Let’s continue now with stuff happens theology and the adorable Boz Tchividjian aka the Boz. The Boz is another impressive guy. How can we criticize the Boz? For crying out loud, he left his station as a district attorney who prosecuted child abusers to start G.R.A.C.E, an acronym for, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment. The Boz bemoans “the continued culture of silence and protection [for child abusers] in American Evangelicalism.” This is a reality—stuff happens. No, stuff doesn’t just happen. Read the history for yourself. Seriously, people have actually written this ministry and stated, “Evangelicalism is beginning to look like Catholicism in regard to child abuse.” This is stuff happens theology.

Catholicism was founded on Platonism, and Protestantism came from Catholicism, and never left it. Augustine, an avowed Neo-Platonist, is both the father of Reformed theology and a Doctor of Grace in the Catholic Church. Later, Baptists became Protestants when the issue of infant baptism became a “secondary” issue. Apparently, after all of the Anabaptists of the home church variety were executed by a joint effort of Catholics and Protestants, the institutional breed of Baptist was accepted. After all, they paid the tithe tax. In regard to Catholics and their bastard children, there is no heresy more egregious than tax evasion. Evangelicalism became a necessary addition to Protestantism when people could no longer be compelled by force to attend church and tithe.

Again, we criticize the Communists for propaganda, but yet colonial America was a Puritan theocracy that executed people for being theologically incorrect and jailed people for not attending church and tithing. The Puritans were the first to bring slaves to America at Jamestown. The American Revolution was a pushback against colonial tyranny. While the Boz seeks to rectify the child abuse stuff in “Evangelicalism,” he holds fast to the same presuppositions concerning mankind and the divine right of kings that flows from it. He wants to rid “Evangelicalism” of the behavior, but continues to fornicate with the ideology that produces it.

This ministry, which understands Reformed ideology, has therefore continually stated that G.R.A.C.E. cannot help victims of child abuse in the church. This is because the Boz, like all of those in a Calvinist mindset, sees all of humanity as being in the same boat. Peruse if you will all of the G.R.A.C.E . literature, I was not able to find the word “justice” anywhere. And yet, didn’t the Boz come from a justice system? Though God himself demands justice for the maltreated, Calvinism holds justice in contempt because it assumes humanity deserves NOTHING more than eternity in hell.

I have written extensively on the problem of dealing with abuse in the church with Reformed ideology. The difference is the mindset that puts as much value on one life as it does all of life versus collectivism which sees the individual as expendable for the benefit of the group. This is known as collectivism. This is a big player in the Reformation’s Platonist roots. This is about philosophical metaphysics—not the Bible. While the Boz deplores the behavior of child abuse, his remedy requires that the victim and the abuser both recognize that we are all just “sinners saved by grace.” In at least one sense, he believes that the abusers would repent if the victims would admit that they are no better than their abusers. Example: while the Wartburg Watch blog portends to be an advocacy for the spiritual abused, they partner with Pastor Wade Burleson, a Calvinist, who suggested that abuse would be greatly reduced if the church was not guilty of failing to pray for abusers. Here we have yet another example of attempting to bake unleavened bread while adding leaven to the dough.

Furthermore, discernment blogs, like the Boz, have a common goal of purifying the institutional church. This gets right back to collectivism which is always dependent on the state. Plato’s Republic was about the best hospice care for humanity: government must own man and truth so that humanity can be as comfortable as possible while dying. To the contrary, Christ said He came to give eternal life and life more abundantly in the here and now. And the Christian has no fight with those who believe in a limited government that assures humanity’s right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness. This is closer to the priesthood of believers that devalues church as an institution. This is why the New Testament church was primarily home based before being driven underground in oppressive countries by necessity. To the contrary, the American church functions primarily in institutional venues: higher learning; corporate expression; missionary organizations; political organizations; and even movie making. Discipleship and citizenship to the glory of God is barely on the radar screen.

Therefore, the institutional church will always be one step away from a liaison with state. The institution is what the institution does—it collects taxes and tithes, and doesn’t much care for those who don’t contribute to the group.

Yes, all of the above is why I was able to predict the inevitable outcome of G.R.A.C.E.’s involvement in the Bob Jones University abuse scandal months beforehand. It’s a Reformed institution investigating a Reformed institution. Don’t be fooled by the good cop bad cop routine. They are all cops when it is all said and done. BJU’s final sentence of their statement in regard to firing G.R.A.C.E. after the smoke was clear says it all:

We grieve with those who have suffered abuse in their past, and we desire to minister the grace of Christ to them. Our prayer for the abused is that God will be their refuge and strength.

Yes, they ministered G.R.A.C.E. to them alright, and that message is loud and clear lest the discernment bloggers and victims cannot yet see it:

Justice isn’t the issue; who in the hell do you think you are? You think you deserve justice? If you had a smidgen of spirituality you would seek refuge in God and not the justice of men! How dare you threaten the institution wherein salvation is found because you will not accept the will of God! You were raped, big deal! Jesus hung on the cross for your sins! You are the unmerciful servant who received forgiveness but will not forgive!

K-Love

 …is a radio station that plays contemporary Gnostic Christian music. Here is what my missionary son in law posted on Facebook a couple of days ago:

We have been listening to the newest Christian music on K-Love as we travel and I am noticing an odd trend: there are several songs that ask for God to break someone or make them lonely with the expected result of being a better person. Having been broken and very lonely a couple times in life I am pretty sure they are not really aware of what they are asking for. You don’t have to be broken in order to listen to God’s voice and indeed if you learn to listen to His voice you will not break or be broken even when you do face difficult times.

It’s not odd really, but is part of the whole all reality than can be perceived with the five senses (which of course includes us) is evil and only the invisible spirit realm is good metaphysics dressed up in Bible verses. We have to understand the ideology that drives all of this stuff and stop focusing on the stuff. It explains the madness behind the music, why a pastor would vote for Obama, why someone like Tada endowed with all sorts of technical power and influence would glory in her “weakness” while being far more empowered than most Americans, and for that matter, why a Buddhist monk would set himself on fire just to make a statement.

John Calvin

…is the epicenter of all that is going on in Christianity right now, and the key to understanding the significance of Calvin and his cultural impact has little to do with the Bible and everything to do with the fact that his ideology is the premise that drives a lot of stuff across the spectrum of life and society.  Focusing on the stuff will only delay the inevitable. And per the usual, people will continue to focus on the stuff, because stuff happens, and we like to talk about it—it’s like rubber necking to get the best view that we can of a traffic accident—it’s like flirting with the voluptuous vampiress that just might bite our necks and suck all of our blood. There is no thrill in solutions like traffic safety or a silver bullet.

And what would Mike Huckabee talk about on his show? But others have a choice; we don’t have to strive in baking unleavened bread while allowing leaven. We don’t have to give mere platitudes to the suffering…

we can set them free with real truth, and be a blessing in our own little corner of the world. And when you stand before Jesus, as we all will, it’s better that way. Jesus said that whatever we do for the least of the little ones we do unto Him. With Jesus, love is about the individual—not the collective good.

paul

The “Cross Story” and Sanctified Rape in the Church

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on November 5, 2014

Originally published January 21, 2013

PPT Handle

“Be sure of it: this is how Calvinists think; this is their worldview.”

 “Don’t misunderstand: the problem of  ‘victim mentality’  is not even on the radar screen — they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary.”

 Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story.”

Martin Luther had more on his mind than silly Popes when he nailed his 95 Theses to the front door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany. That protest launched the Reformation, but six months later Luther presented the systematic theology of the Reformation to the Augustinian Order in Heidelberg. Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation laid the foundation, and John Calvin later articulated and applied its basic principles to the full spectrum of life in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

The Cross Story and the Glory Story

Luther’s cross story, or theology of the cross is the crux of the Heidelberg Disputation and introduced in the first sentence of the Calvin Institutes:

Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.

That’s Luther’s theology of the cross: a deeper and deeper knowledge of our putrid humanity as set against God’s holiness. And NOTHING in-between. All of creation, all events, and all reality contribute to deeper knowledge of one of these two, and then both as a deeper knowledge of each gives more understanding to the other; knowledge of both, and the experience of both. Hence, every blessing, including our good works which are done by the Holy Spirit to begin with, lends more understanding of God’s glory. Every evil event, sin, and tragedy lends deeper understanding in regard to our total depravity and worthlessness. But of course your mother is dying of cancer; I am amazed that God would give anyone as many years as He has given her. Who are we to think we deserve even one year of life? And what a wonderful opportunity for her to suffer the way Jesus suffered for us!

This is the cross story. See the illustration below. This is a contemporary depiction from that camp—this is their assessment:

gospelgrid1

Anything else at all that gives any credit to humanity—Christian or non-Christian is the “glory story.” That would be our glory specifically, and not Christ’s. To the degree that humanity is considered, the glory of Christ is “ECLIPSED.” This is the theses of a book written by John MacArthur associate Rick Holland: Uneclipsing The Son. Everything is perceived as speaking through one of these two perspectives. ANYTHING coming from what is perceived as the “glory story” is summarily dismissed. Be sure of it: this is how Calvinists think. This is their worldview.

In one of the former Resolved Conferences sponsored by John MacArthur and Holland, in one of his messages, Holland extols a letter written to Puritan Christopher Love by his wife as he awaited execution. Holland forgot to mention to those listening that Love was executed for espionage against the English government while letting the audience assume he was executed for loftier spiritual-like reasons. The following is excerpts from the letter:

O that the Lord would keep thee from having one troubled thought for thy relations. I desire freely to give thee up into thy Father’s hands, and not only look upon it as a crown of glory for thee to die for Christ, but as an honor to me that I should have a husband to leave for Christ…. I dare not speak to thee, nor have a thought within my own heart of my own unspeakable loss, but wholly keep my eye fixed upon thy inexpressible and inconceivable gain. Thou leavest but a sinful, mortal wife to be everlastingly married to the Lord of glory…. Thou dost but leave earth for heaven and changest a prison for a palace. And if natural affections should begin to arise, I hope that the spirit of grace that is within thee will quell them, knowing that all things here below are but dung and dross in comparison of those things that are above. I know thou keepest thine eye fixed on the hope of glory, which makes thy feet trample on the loss of earth.

Justice? That implies that humanity has some sort of value. That implies that life itself  has some sort of value. That implies that humanity should be protected through threat of punishment. That’s the glory story. Therefore, Calvin stated the following:

Those who, as in the presence of God, inquire seriously into the true standard of righteousness, will certainly find that all the works of men, if estimated by their own worth, are nothing but vileness and pollution, that what is commonly deemed justice is with God mere iniquity; what is deemed integrity is pollution; what is deemed glory is ignominy (CI 3.12.4).

Death by Biblical Counseling

The church must face up to a sobering reality in our day. The vast majority of biblical counseling that goes on in our day is based on this construct—you will be counseled from the perspective of the cross story, and anything that smacks of the glory story will be snubbed. You are not a victim. There is no such thing as a victim. Christ was the only true victim in all of history. Don’t misunderstand: the problem of “victim mentality” is not even on the radar screen—they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary. “Victim” is part of the glory story; Christ as the only victim is the cross story. I am not a victim. That’s impossible because my sin nailed Christ to the cross. Thank you oh Lord that I was raped. Thank you for this opportunity to suffer for you. Thank you for the strength to forgive the one who raped me in the same way you forgave me. What a wonderful opportunity to show forth your gospel!

Hence, when the leaders of a Reformed church came to inform parents that a young man in that church had molested their toddler, this was the opening statement:

Today, we have before us an opportunity to forgive.

The parents were then counseled to not contact the authorities. Those who do are often brought up on church discipline. Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story. And be not deceived: this is the logic that drives Reformed organizations that are supposed to be mediators in the church; specifically, Peacemaker Ministries and G.R.A.C.E. A major player in the Biblical Counseling Movement is Paul David Tripp. In 2006, he wrote a book that articulates the horizontal application of Luther’s theology of the cross: “How people Change.” Of course, the title is a lie; if he really believed people change, that would be the glory story. Notice also that it is, “How People Change” and not, “How Christians Change.” That’s because this bunch see no difference in the transforming power of the new birth and ordinary Christ-rejecting people.

In the book, Tripp, like all who propagate Luther’s theology of the cross, posits the Bible as a “big picture” narrative of our redemptive life. The Bible is a mere tool for one thing only: leading us more and more into the cross story and away from the glory story. This is accomplished by using the Bible to enter into the cross narrative and thereby seeing our preordained part in the “big picture” narrative of redemptive history. Though Tripp is not forthright about it in the book, this is known as the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic. By seeing our life through the cross story, we are empowered to live life for God’s glory. This is done by seeing ALL circumstances in life (Heat) as preordained in order to show our sinfulness (Thorns) and God’s goodness (Fruit) for the purposes of having a deeper understanding of both resulting in spiritual wellbeing. In other words, all of life’s circumstances are designed to give us a deeper understanding of the cross story: God’s holiness, and our sinfulness. I have taken his primary visual illustration from the book and drawn lines to the cross story illustration to demonstrate the relationship (click on image to enlarge):

Scott Illustration

Understanding this lends insight to Tripp citations on the Peacekeepers Ministries website:

Paul Trip wrote a great post over at The Gospel Coalition blog all about the need for pastors to pursue a culture of forgiveness in their ministry. Pastors (and anyone serving Christ) have a choice:

“You can choose for disappointment to become distance, for affection to become dislike, and for a ministry partnership to morph into a search for an escape. You can taste the sad harvest of relational détente that so many church staffs live in, or you can plant better seeds and celebrate a much better harvest. The harvest of forgiveness, rooted in God’s forgiveness of you, is the kind of ministry relationship everyone wants.”

Then he describes three ways forgiveness can shape your ministry. I’ve listed them, but you can read how he explains them in detail.

“1. Forgiveness stimulates appreciation and affection.

2. Forgiveness produces patience.

3. Forgiveness is the fertile soil in which unity in relationships grows.”

He closes with this exhortation:

“So we learn to make war, but no longer with one another. Together we battle the one Enemy who is after us and our ministries. As we do this, we all become thankful that grace has freed us from the war with one another that we used to be so good at making.”

And concerning another author, they also stated:

Last week, Steve Cornell at The Gospel Coalition blog posted some really great insight into the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. They also offered up some excellent and biblically sound steps in dealing with a situation where an offending party is hesitant to reconcile.

Here he summarizes a key distinction:

“It’s possible to forgive someone without offering immediate reconciliation. It’s possible for forgiveness to occur in the context of one’s relationship with God apart from contact with her offender. But reconciliation is focused on restoring broken relationships. And where trust is deeply broken, restoration is a process—sometimes, a lengthy one”…. His ten guidelines for those hesitant to reconcile are rooted in scripture and, I think, incredibly helpful.

1. Be honest about your motives.

2. Be humble in your attitude.

3. Be prayerful about the one who hurt you.

4. Be willing to admit ways you might have contributed to the problem.

5. Be honest with the offender.

6. Be objective about your hesitancy.

7. Be clear about the guidelines for restoration.

8. Be alert to Satan’s schemes.

9. Be mindful of God’s control.

10. Be realistic about the process.

Notice the overall blurring of distinction between the offended and offender with the subject of forgiveness.

The Cross-centered Anti-justice Pandemic is No longer Exclusively a Reformed Thing

Apart from Calvinism, the redemptive historical cross-centered approach is crossing denominational lines en masse. We at TANC see doctrines that were born of Luther’s theology of the cross in non-Reformed circles constantly; specifically, heart theology (deep repentance), exclusive interpretation of the Scriptures through a redemptive prism, Gospel Sanctification, and John Piper’s Christian hedonism. And we also see the same results. It is not beyond the pale for a pastor who has raped a parishioner to be the one counseling the victim sinner. You know, the “sinner saved by grace.”

God is a God of justice, and throughout the Scriptures He demands that we be people of justice. He demands that we come to the defense of the victim. I close with fitting words from church historian John Immel:

And this is the challenge. This is the challenge that I have as a man who is passionate about thinking: to inspire people to engage in complex ideas that drive tyranny. So here’s my challenge to those who are listening.

Do not be seduced into believing that righteousness is retreat from the world.

Do not be seduced into believing that spirituality is defined by weakness and that timid caution for fear of committing potential error is a reason to be quiet.

Do not be intimidated by vague, hazy threats of failure.

Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality. I’m going to say that again to you. This is good. Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality.

Do not mistake the simple nature of God’s love for a justification for simple-mindedness.

Do not deceive yourself with the polite notion that you are above the fray, that your right to believe is sufficient to the cause of righteousness. There is no more stunning conceit.

Do not pretend that your unwillingness to argue is the validation of truth.

Know this: Virtue in a vacuum is like the proverbial sound in the forest–irrelevant without a witness. Character is no private deed. To retreat is nothing more than a man closing his eyes and shutting his mouth to injustice.

Virtues are not estimates to be lofted gently against evil.

Virtues are not to be withheld from view in the name of grace.

Virtues are not to be politely swallowed in humble realization that we are all just sinners anyway.

Love is not a moral blank check against the endless tide of indulgent action.

Love is not blind to the cause and effect of reality.

Love is not indifference to plunder and injustice and servitude.

The time is now, you men of private virtue, to emerge from your fortress of solitude and demonstrate that you are worthy of a life that bears your name. The time is now, you men of private virtue, to answer Mick Jagger and all the nihilists that insist we are living on the edge and we cannot help but fall. It is time for you men of private virtue to take up the cause of human existence and think.

~TANC 2012 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny: John Immel; session 1, “Assumptions + Logic = Action.”

paul

The “Discernment” Blogosphere’s Celebration of Boz Tchividjian’s Hollywood Gospel

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 8, 2014

ppt-jpeg4The Boz continues to be a hero among those trying to save the institutional church from the destructive behavior of pedophilia. Notice where I have come down on this: the goal is to save the institutional church, not to prevent future abuse by getting justice for the known victims. Where is the beef justice? Why is a former prosecutor so toothless in getting anything done about this problem?

The Boz is lifted up as a contemporary heroine for the spiritually abused while those who support the pedophilia enabler CJ Mahaney occupy positions on the board of his organization, G.R.A.C.E. And unless anything has changed, this ministry struggles to find the word, “justice” in any of GRACE’s literature. “Prevention” is discussed, but far, far from the conversation is the biblical demand that Christians who behave badly suffer as wrongdoers so that other Christians will fear. For the Boz, the plain sense of Scripture does not compute. Why not?

Also, obviously, Bob Jones University played him in the exact same way that ABWE did. Who didn’t see that coming? G.R.A.C.E is a mediator for hire that represents predatory institutions by enabling the following motif: “See, we are doing something about the problem, keep the money rolling in for the sake of the gospel.” When the ledgers are back to normal and stay level for a time, G.R.A.C.E. is fired, followed by a heroic rant by the Boz. This immortalization and good pay for failure is only rivaled by American politics.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas Catholicism. Why does this surprise us? The ideology of salvation by institution is exactly the same. The major players in the present-day Neo-Calvinist revival proudly claim the Doctor of the Catholic Church as their primary philosopher: St. Augustine. On the one hand, the likes of John Piper, John MacArthur, and RC Sproul cite Augustine as a great theologian while at the same time claim that Catholicism is a false gospel, and the herd doesn’t even blink. It’s ridiculous, and even more ridiculous is the disconnect between logic and behavior. Luther and Calvin were avid followers of Augustine who solidified Catholic doctrine in the 4th century, and followed his dogma of salvation only by the universal church to a “T.” Clearly, Luther and Calvin both held to absolution—the same absolution claimed by the Neo-Calvinist power of the keys.

Shall we hurt the institution of salvation for the sake of a few raped children? Perish the thought! Better that a few are destroyed for the sake of the elect! We see the exact same mentality in the recent revelations about Hollywood as child actors are filing lawsuits and writing tell-all memoirs. Hollywood is being exposed for its secret pedophilia culture. One former child star, perhaps the most successful ever, has stated that even though there are “good people” in Hollywood, the problem of pedophilia is rampant. “Oh, does this mean Roman Polanski and Woody Allen are not isolated incidents?” Right.

And that is the crux for the church as well—the whole misguided idea that people who remain silent are “good” because they only look the other way for the sake of the Hollywood institution. Somehow, the enablers are guiltless, and what would the world do without Hollywood, or the church? (Uh, I guess what they did for almost 400 years before the institutional church existed). Reality check: ABWE did not lose the support of even one church because of the Missionary Kids scandal in which one victim was confiscated from her family for purposes of information management. Regardless of this and other sickening revelations, the Boz only whimpered when he was fired only days before the final report. Taking into consideration his significant level of respect in evangelical circles, he could have made ABWE pay big time in numerous ways. So, why didn’t he? Because the breeding ground is the source of his income, and ABWE was well aware of that—they knew they could play him.

You might notice if you are paying attention that the Boz focuses a lot on the church “coming clean” or owning up to the problem. In true Reformed fashion, justice is only “cutting off the tops of daisies” and not dealing with the “heart” or “root” of the matter. The Boz sees non-repentance as striping the church of transformative gospel power that will supposedly cure the church of the problem. In addition, he sees the demand for justice on the part of the victims as replacing grace with law.

I believe the Boz deemphasizes justice in hopes that the victims will recognize that they are “sinners” just like the perpetrators. His organization does not stand for Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment for no good reason. In Reformed thought, the concept of “justice” presumes some people are better than others; in contrast, when the definition of justice is the fact that everyone deserves hell, gospel transformation takes place. G.R.A.CE. functions on the principle of the collective psyche of “deep repentance.” I believe the focus on REPORTING is designed to bring about the deep repentance that he believes will be followed by gospel transformation. How is it working so far? In other words, the Boz sees no healing benefit from obtaining justice for the victims—regardless of the fact that this is the biblical prescription if people will not repent. Justice is redefined as only one thing: what everybody deserves, rather than God’s mandate for the oppressed.

Hence, according to the Boz, “justice” must be defined in its gospel context. This is Martin Luther’s mystical and extreme view of reality in which common sense is beneath the Christian faith and cause/effect vanquished by God’s predeterminism. Once again, the church chants, “In mysticism we trust.” Doing anything practical is “trying to be the gospel rather than showing forth the gospel.” Justice is not even on the radar screen or in any of their literature (if it is, it is far from a reoccurring theme). The goal is for the victims and the perps to be sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya to the glory of the gospel until the next opportunity to “forgive the way we have been forgiven.”

The Boz is a well-paid mystic fraud propagating false hope for the victims. Bloggers who write on this issue, but do not understand the Boz’s Reformed ideology are a party to his charlatanism. Meanwhile, ministries who deal swiftly and resolutely with such issues get little press and are deemed as simply being “Improved Pharisees.” Better for the rape to continue lest we “only cut off the tops of daisies.”

Come now, you know grade-A-well that the terms and examples I am using here are ringing familiar bells right and left. Until bloggers really understand the Boz’s ideology, they should not be singing his accolades. Again, only in the American political realm is this kind of failure so richly rewarded.

paul

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