Paul's Passing Thoughts

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

“< Tweet, Tweet @ Pastor Matt Higgins

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 18, 2015

PPT Called Out By Pastor Matt Higgins, and I Totally Accept the Challenge

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 17, 2015

HigginsI have been called out by the pastor of Calvary Heights Baptist Church in Martinsville, IN, and I intend to answer his challenge fully, personally, and expeditiously. In a recent post written by him, two of my articles were cited as examples of “discernment” blogging. For the other bloggers cited, see the endnotes.

Said pastor, Matt Higgins, defines “discernment bloggers” in this way: stalkers (trolls) who partake in witch hunts, and spend all of their time searching the internet for pastorate error to write about. The catchall nomenclature used by these bloggers is “heretic” which is a word Higgins claims they don’t properly understand, yet his corrective definition of “heresy” is something that I will address in this post. Also, according to Higgins, they seek to destroy ministries and force pastors to resign. Furthermore, according to Higgins, discernment bloggers are busybodies who have no right to address heresies taught in local churches they are not members of; they are sticking their noses in other people’s family matters. Moreover, according to Higgins, they are cowards who aren’t accountable to anyone and don’t have to face the pastors they criticize. They “hide behind” their PC monitors. Lastly, Higgins is calling on me to repent along with all other discernment bloggers. All in all, the crux of this probably boils down to his view of elder authority. 

Since I do not desire to be a coward, perhaps Higgins and I can meet together along with the elders or deacons at Calvary Heights Baptist Church. Since they pay his salary and have enabled him to falsely accuse me publically on the World Wide Web, maybe I will make the three hour drive out on a sunny Sunday afternoon and confront the whole lot of them. While we are at it, I could make sure the leadership of the church understands what this YRR type really believes. For certain, I am going to make sure the congregants thoroughly understand his soteriology. Trust me, especially in Southern Baptist circles, on average, 90% of a given SBC congregation has no real idea what these guys coming out of Southern or SW really believe.

First of all, let me define for Pastor Higgins what a discernment blogger is and why PPT is not discernment blogging. If he is going to bash discernment bloggers, he should know what one is.  A discernment blogger seeks to save the Protestant institutional church from harm and error. I do not believe the Protestant church is worth saving, and I can prove it was founded on the false gospel of progressive justification. I write about pastors to make that point, and could care less how many people follow them and whether or not they remain employed. However, I do believe people should have truthfully informed choices. For example, let’s make sure Higgins’ congregation really knows what he means when he speaks of the new birth just in case there may be a misunderstanding.

Secondly, if Higgins wants to bash discernment bloggers for using the word “heretic” while not knowing what it really means, he should also know what it really means before he criticizes others. The biblical definition of “heretic” follows: it is a person who belongs to a sect that divides with errant doctrine, or “sectarianism,” not the definition Higgins offered in his lame effort to correct others.

This brings to mind some things that his congregation may be interested in. I suppose it’s possible that Higgins may not qualify as a New Calvinist, but from what I gather so far, I seriously doubt it. New Calvinism is a super-sectarian movement that has split innumerable churches and families since 1970 and slowly integrates dictatorship-like leadership into local churches. The present emphasis on church membership and small groups at Calvary Heights Baptist is an all too familiar step to the iron fist control eventually demanded by New Calvinist pastors. Here is a schematic of how it works. Perhaps this is looking familiar to some at Calvary. Ironically, the discernment blog culture that Higgins decries skyrocketed in 2009 as a direct result of the New Calvinist movement which is based on gospel contemplationism and Calvin’s Sabbath Rest salvation whether the New Calvinist label is rejected or not.

Thirdly, notice how criticism of pastors and possible harm to the local church is the bottom line with Higgins and not the substance of the complaints. Why is that? Probably because like most YRR types that come out of Southern or SW, he believes the local church and the body of Christ are synonymous; ie., you’re saved by church membership and submission to “men of God.” Depending on what octane of YRR he is, he may also believe in elder absolution in the form of Calvin’s “power of the keys.” Basically, church discipline, not confined to public sins of the baser sort but rather anything that the elders deem sin, is a process that actually blots you out of the Book of Life upon elder authority.

People being excommunicated for merely asking too many questions is now an epidemic in SBC churches accordingly. If you are at Calvary and feeling pressure to become a formal member, and have not yet signed on the dotted line, you better pause and get educated as to what is going on in the SBC right now.

Note the double standard: Higgins, in the post being addressed here, bemoans discernment bloggers sticking their noses into the business of local churches, but yet, what happens if someone is excommunicated from a local SBC church in a given association? Right, they notify the other churches that the person is under discipline. See the double standard? Heresy charges against teachers who teach publically is a local issue, but grievances against parishioners who commit local sin is public? Really?

Another assertion by Higgins that didn’t make my introductory list is the idea that discernment bloggers claim infallibility. This is just more irony as Higgins argues from the standpoint of the Nicene Creed and Reformed orthodoxy in general. I doubt discernment bloggers claim infallibility, but I know they do reject Al Mohler’s assertion that Reformed elders are preordained of God to save God’s people from ignorance. If someone at Calvary can do it without being brought up on church discipline, they may simply ask Pastor Higgins, “Are you preordained by God to save me from ignorance?” If Higgins denies it, a good follow-up question would be, “So, you completely disagree with Al Mohler on that, right?”

A book could be written here if I addressed every creepy red flag raised by Higgins in his single post, but one may simply take note of his idea that pastors are ONLY accountable to “Christ and Scripture.” Calvary would do well to think about that statement and what it reveals about his mindset.

But my dog in the fight is not my disdain for the run-of-the-mill New Calvinist tyranny running amuck in the SBC (I am perfectly content to let the dead bury their own dead),  but that he came into my locale looking for a fight. His parishioners may excuse his bullying and cower under it, but I will not. He has zero authority.

So, is this what Calvary pays him for? To police discernment bloggers?

Dear friends, if he has a problem with discernment bloggers that he doesn’t even know, who apparently have not even talked about him until now, what will become of those at Calvary who dare to express an opinion?

paul

Endnotes:

https://1peter315.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/three-reasons-why-rick-warren-is-a-heretic/

https://adaughterofthereformation.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/is-n-t-wright-wrong-on-jesus/

http://surphside.blogspot.com/2012/01/matt-chandler-is-no-different-than-john.html

http://www.firstplumbline.net/html/francischan.html

https://biblicalconnection.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/quoting-heretics-tim-keller-and-others/

http://www.atruechurch.info/macarthur.html

http://truthwithsnares.org/2012/07/02/ed-stetzer-defends-mystic-francis-of-assisi/

http://www.jesusisprecious.org/wolves/billy_graham.htm

http://defendingcontending.com/2009/11/05/piper-the-slope-to-heresy/

http://ratherexposethem.blogspot.com/2013/01/wayne-grudems-pneumatology-identifies.html

http://www.onlinebaptist.com/home/topic/18042-reformed-pastors-and-the-kjv/

The Five Lies of the Five Solas: Sola Scriptura

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 6, 2014
tancpublishing.com

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Once again, as in this post, and this post, we find that people assume much about the clarion call of the Protestant Reformation: the five solas. One assumes that scripture alone means that Christianity draws all of its truth for life and godliness from an exegetical study of the Scriptures. Not so.

Scripture, according to the Reformers, cannot aid the “believer” in wisdom for living life. In fact, living life is not really the business of the believer for that would be works salvation—the Christian life must be EXPERIENCED only through the death and life of Christ.

This is the Reformed doctrine of mortification and vivification.  The Christian mustn’t seek to learn the Scriptures and apply the principles to their lives; they must rather use the Scriptures to “gaze” upon the “saving works of Christ in all of the Bible.” This “gazing” upon the salvific works of Christ in all the Scriptures then results in a subjective “reflection” of Christ’s glory. Stars are really just huge chunks of rock floating around in space that reflect the sun’s light; in the same way, we are chunks of dead stones that merely reflect Christ’s light (glory) when we fix our sight on Him alone.

Therefore, according to the Reformed camp, the Bible is merely a tool for gospel contemplationism. Its sole purpose is not to learn more of God’s truth and better ways to love God and others, but rather a gospel narrative that enables us to see our own wretchedness more and more as set against the holiness of God. This results in more and more gratitude for the cross which results in Christ’s glory being REFLECTED from our dead, worthless selves.

This is the crux of the Reformed Redemptive Historical hermeneutic. It calls for seeing and interpreting all reality through the suffering of the cross, or the works of Christ seen in the Scriptures. Biblical imperatives are not anything that we are to do, but rather show us what Christ has already done for us.

Scripture alone for seeing Christ alone, so we can live by faith alone.

paul

The Perpetual Recrucifixion of Christ by Calvinism

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 27, 2014

“Therefore, Hebrews does violence to the Reformed notion of a ‘lifestyle of repentance’ (Paul David Tripp). The lifestyle of a true believer is a lifestyle of aggressive love without fear of judgment while a ‘lifestyle of repentance’ is ‘crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.’” 

Many false religions perpetually reapply the crucifixion of Christ in an atonement colaboring. They acknowledge that Christ only died once, but propagate a needed reapplication of that death and resurrection in order to keep ourselves saved by “faith alone.” Yes, the cross-work of Christ is “finished,” but the APPLICATION of the work is NOT. And since we believe in the death and resurrection by faith alone, and since our ongoing faith is a gift, the reapplication of Christ’s atonement for sin is an act of FAITH ALONE, not works.

And that’s Calvinism in a nutshell. We keep ourselves saved by faith alone which is defined by a perpetual re-visitation of the same gospel that saved us. Hence, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” Hence, “The same gospel that saved us also sanctifies us.” Though they deny it, this makes sanctification a progression of justification. Reformed theology has a large corpus of lofty doublespeak that attempts to get around this foregone conclusion. My favorite is already, but not yet. Yes, you are already justified, IF you are justified, and you won’t know for certain until the final judgment; so, not yet. However, there is a trump card: Calvin’s power of the keys; if your local Reformed elders like you, and they say you are in, you are in.

But, more than likely, the elders are not going to proclaim you justified unless you partake in the Reformed…Vital Union. What’s that? That’s staying connected “to the vine” (Christ) by faith alone. How do you do that? Well, first, they would correct us on our use of verbs here; it’s not a doing because it’s of faith alone. The list of what you do to stay connected to the vine, what the Reformed call, “new obedience,” and “obedient faith” (obedience to faith acts is not really obedience because it focuses on the one act of faith) follows:

  1. Faithfulness to the institutional church.
  2. Regular partaking of the sacraments which “impart grace.”
  3. Sitting under the preaching of preordained elders which also “imparts grace.”
  4. Putting yourself under the authority of the institutional church.
  5. Reading the Scriptures with “an eye for all of the saving works (plural) of Jesus in all of the Scriptures” (gospel contemplationism).
  6. Partaking in “deep repentance” which results in “new obedience.” A deeper realization of how sinful we are results in a re-experience of the “joy of our salvation.” This is the Reformed doctrine of mortification and vivification which is “reliving our original baptism.”

This list is not comprehensive, and for all practical purposes would include anything added to it by the authority of local Reformed elders. Many Calvinists such as John Piper have stated on numerous occasions in no uncertain terms that the gospel did not just save us once, but continues to save us. Most stripes of Protestants would scream in protest against this idea, but the fruit doesn’t fall far from the Protestant tree; the same will often be heard saying, “Sanctification is the growing part of salvation” [salvation does NOT grow], “We are all just sinners saved by grace” etc. Others promote the idea that Christ was raised form the dead to confirm that He was the suitable sacrifice for sin which has connections to the Reformed idea of double imputation.

What’s that? In short, Jesus died for our justification and lived for our sanctification. When we “revisit the gospel afresh,” we are once again forgiven for NEW sins committed in our Christian life, and Jesus’ perfect obedience to the law is imputed to our Christian life thus keeping us justified. We keep ourselves saved by revisiting the same gospel that saved us. The Reformed get cover for this because it is assumed by many that they are merely stating that we are best sanctified by appreciating the sacrifice of Christ, and indeed, that is how it is often framed by the Reformed, but in fact, it is a construct that is a prescription for “keeping ourselves in the love of God” (CJ Mahaney). Many assume that this means, “keeping ourselves in the experience of God’s love while we grow as Christians.” No, this is keeping yourself justified by revisiting the gospel.

As an aside, let me quickly mention how the Reformed use all of this to avoid the accusation of antinomianism. They define antinomianism as rejecting all use of the law (the Bible). Because they believe the Bible has a use, viz, gospel contemplationism, they aren’t antinomians. Biblicists define antinomianism as a rejection of the Bible for instruction in righteousness and the many-faceted applications thereof in the Christian life. In short, Biblicists define antinomianism as the fusion of justification and sanctification which distorts the true application of the Bible’s  imperatives to life. Biblicists define antinomianism as any distortion of the Bible’s general application to justification and sanctification, and those specific distinctions. Biblicists object to any doctrine that obscures an aggressive obedience to Scripture without fear of condemnation, and would deem it antinomian. This is obedience unto salvation versus obedience unto love. Justification versus sanctification. Antinomianism makes obedience unto salvation the same thing as obedience unto love, and makes Christ the only one performing any act of love. Hence, a commandment to love is not really anything we do, but we only experience the love Christ performed in our stead as we contemplate His salvific acts in “all of the Bible.” ALL of the Bible is about justification, and ALL of the acts of God through Christ for that purpose. Yet, Ephesians 1:3ff. states the following:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Antinomianism denies the purpose of God that we ourselves will be righteous according to a proper understanding of the Bible’s (law) relationship to justification and sanctification. Herein is another possible definition of antinomianism:

Antinomianism misrepresents the law’s proper relationship to justification and sanctification according to God.

With all of this said, we will now examine how Calvinism, in essence, re-crucifies Christ and exposes Him to open shame. This is done by acknowledging that Christ only died once, while stating that the onetime death must now be continually re-applied to keep ourselves saved. The Bible is merely a tool for that return, and not instruction for loving God and others, and discerning good from evil and truth from error. Let us proceed:

Hebrews 5:11 – About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Hebrews 6:1 – Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. 7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

9 Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. 10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. 11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

There is no new thing under the sun. What the Hebrew writer was railing against is present-day Calvinism and Catholicism to a “T.”  We could spend a year examining this text, and it would be a joy to do it, but for purposes of this post, we will only address the major points that serve our subject at hand.

The Hebrews being addressed were guilty of parking on, or revisiting the basic fundamentals of justification. This resulted in them being undiscerning, and in general, spiritual infants. They didn’t leave the basics and move on to the “meat.” TANC, as an educational institution has operated fulltime for about four years, but the fact of the matter is, we are still laying doctrinal foundations—the meat of true biblical doctrine is a wide-open frontier. What the Hebrew writer explained is exactly what has been going on in Protestantism for more than 500 years, and they got it from the Catholics. We are in a Protestant Dark Age, and it will take a rising up of what the called out assembly of Christ was from the beginning: a laity movement. This doesn’t exclude academia, but they should definitely be the tail and not the head. Christ, His word, and the Spirit should be the head. Academia in our day has led to a woefully dumbed down assembly, and in Christ’s day, “sheep without a shepherd,” and backdoor “hirelings” that abandon sheep who don’t feed their gluttony.

What were the basics that they had not left?

  1. Repentance from dead works: this is a return to the original state of repenting of works that cannot please God. The works of the “believer” are still dead. It is a focus on repentance from fruits of death. The “believer” must continue to repent of the only thing they can do: dead works. This requires a continued covering of “new sins” committed by the Christian. In order to stay saved, a reapplication of Christ’s death must be applied via ongoing repentance for “new” sins committed.
  1. Faith towards God: faith without works because works in the Christian life are no different from works under the law.
  1. Instruction about washings: the idea that justification requires more than ONE washing.
  1. The laying on of hands: probably refers to rituals that transfer the sins of “believers” to something else, such as an animal that was set loose or sacrificed. It could also signify the laying on of hands by someone who supposedly has the authority to forgive sins.
  1. The resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment: fear of possible eternal judgment. The idea that “believers” will be present at one massive judgment following one massive resurrection that confirms the eternal fate of all people. Christians are not to fear a final judgment that determines one’s eternal destiny. That fate has already been determined and settled:

Ephesians 1:13 – In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

If I may have one more aside, I am slowly, but surely getting my mind around the concept of God’s purposes for a group being elected, and not individuals. Individuals become part of the elected purpose for a group or classification by believing. “Us” does not mean “you” specifically as far as election goes. If you believe on Christ, you become part of the elected group and its predetermined destiny. Hence, by believing, your destiny is predetermined. In that sense you are among the elect chosen for specific purposes. This may be so obvious that we miss it. When I became a Christian, I assumed that I was going to heaven. What would make me assume such? Because God has predetermined that all Christians go to heaven. This doesn’t mean that he chose each Christian individually; it means that he chose the means of salvation and the destiny of those who believe. Part of the “good news” is that the group you are joining has a predetermined destiny. We see a hint of this in the following passage:

Ephesians 2:11 – Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Notice that being separated from Christ is tantamount to being “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise.” The means of salvation, the purposes of salvation, and the promises (covenants) of salvation have a predetermined outcome which benefit those who believe. By believing, our fate and purpose is predetermined and sealed. In contrast, the idea that God preselects individuals for salvation and damnation creates massive confusion in regard to understanding the rest of the Bible.

These thoughts of mine are definitely transitional at this point and not dogmatic as more study is needed. But with that said, we do well to note that the source of deterministic orthodoxy; i.e., Calvinists, are definitively wrong in regard to justification and the gospel. This demands a complete rethinking of election with the complete disqualification of Christian academia as they have had 500 years to make their case and have failed. This is the sum of the matter: the gatekeepers of predeterminism have been found as propagators of a blatant false gospel and completely wanting.

Now, in regard to the Calvinist construct, I believe that we can apply the principles proposed by the Hebrew writer to refute the notion of a continued repentance and forgiveness for “new” sins committed by “believers.” Note what the Hebrew writer stated:

4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance,

If Christians fall away via “new” sins committed “in time,” it is “impossible” for them to partake in a VALID  saving repentance—that kind of repentance is impossible because…

since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

Yet, this ministry has documented numerous quotations by Calvinists, and John Calvin himself that state in no uncertain terms that new sins committed by Christians must be forgiven in order to maintain salvation. The Hebrew writer stated that as “impossible” because a redundant repentance cannot save. Why? It infers that the person has not really experienced the sealing of the Holy Spirit and the power of the age to come. This particular repentance of the justification class can only happen once and must be differentiated from sonship repentance. The latter restores a sense of joy and peace when the relationship between a father and son has no unresolved issues.

Therefore, Hebrews does violence to the Reformed notion of a “lifestyle of repentance” (Paul David Tripp). The lifestyle of a true believer is a lifestyle of aggressive love without fear of judgment while a “lifestyle of repentance” is “crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”

Also stated as impossible by the Hebrew writer is the possibility that a continued return to the basics of salvation can produce life:

7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

One last point before we close this post. In verse 10, the author states the following: “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” This is an astounding statement. It is saying that God would be “unjust” to overlook our “work” and “love.” If that would make God “unjust,” that means these works are both righteous and earned by us. Our works of love in kingdom living deserve some sort of recognition by God. This could NOT be speaking to justification.

And that’s why we must move on from that which justified us to that which sanctifies us. We must move on to maturity and love.

paul

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