Paul's Passing Thoughts

Calvinism and the Problem with Perfection

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 8, 2017

PPT HandleOriginally published November 7, 2013

Augustine, Luther, and Calvin were first and foremost Platonists. They integrated the Bible with Platonism. Plato’s theory of forms posits the idea of two worlds; the mutable material world of illusion where reality can only be partially known, and another world where the immutable objective true forms exist. This material world is a shadow world; everything is shadows of the true forms. Therefore, man can only interpret and experience this world subjectively. The tendency is to interpret reality by observing the shadows. To the degree that mankind thinks the material world is reality according to the five senses, subjectivity and chaos will abound.

Therefore, Plato’s ethic was to improve the subjective experience of this life by accessing the true forms through ideas and mathematics—things that transcend the five senses (he believed math was an unchangeable rule and therefore not part of the shadow world). He believed that those who have the capability and willingness to bring more understanding of the objective into the subjective to be an elite minority. These were Plato’s philosopher kings whom he thought should rule society in order to decrease chaos as much as possible. Without philosopher kings, the world would be awash in a sea of subjectivity, everyone living by their own subjective presuppositions based on the shadows of this world. Hence, the arch enemy of the Platonic ideal is individualism.

Plato’s world of true objective forms was his trinity of the true, good, and beautiful. Experiencing the pure form of goodness in this world is impossible—only a shadow of good can be experienced subjectively. Plato’s social engineering has a doctrine, and to the degree that doctrine is applied, a higher quality of subjective existence occurs.

The Reformers put a slightly different twist on this construct. There is no doctrine to apply, only an orthodoxy that focuses on seeing and experiencing. Their version of Plato’s philosopher kings are pastors who possess the power of the keys. Orthodoxy is mediated truth determined by “Divines,” and passed down to the masses for the purpose of experiencing the objective power of the gospel subjectively. The Reformers made the true forms “the gospel,” and reality itself the gospel, ie., the work and personhood of Jesus Christ in particular.

Therefore, in the same way Plato envisioned a society that experiences the power of the true forms subjectively through ideas and immutable disciplines like mathematics, the Reformers sought a heightened subjective experience through a deeper and deeper knowledge of their own true, good, and beautiful—the gospel. And more specifically, instead of the gateway of understanding being reason, ideas, and immutable disciplines, they made the gospel itself the interpretive prism. So: life, history, the Bible, ie., everything, is a tool for experiencing true reality (the gospel) in a higher quality subjectivity. The Bible and all life events are a gospel hermeneutic. Salvation itself is the interpretive prism. All of reality is about redemption. Salvation itself is the universal hermeneutic.

But both constructs have this in common: Pure goodness and perfection cannot exist objectively in the material world. This is where Calvinism and Platonism kiss. The Bible only agrees with this if it is a “gospel narrative.” But if it is God’s full orbed philosophical statement to all men to be interpreted grammatically and exegetically, contradictions abound. To wit, if man possesses goodness and the ability to interpret reality objectively, Platonism and its Reformed children are found wanting. If Reformation orthodoxy is not evaluated biblically with the very theses of its own orthodoxy as a hermeneutic, even more wantonness is found.

The Apostles rejected Platonism because they believed goodness and perfection could indeed be found in this material world. There is no question of the quality of goodness inside of man that enables mankind to interpret reality objectively, the quantity of goodness notwithstanding.  In contrast, a dominate theme in the Calvin Institutes is the idea that no person lost or saved can perform a good work. Like Plato’s geometric hermeneutics, the Reformers believed the Law lends understanding to man’s inability to do good because eternal perfection is the standard. The best of man’s works are tainted with sin to some degree, and therefore imperfect. Even if man could perform one perfect work, one sin makes mankind a violator of the whole law. The Reformers were adamant that no person could do any good work whether saved or lost.

Why all the fuss over this point? Why was Calvin dogmatic about this idea to the point of annoyance? Because he was first and foremost a Platonist. The idea that a pure form of good could be found within mankind was metaphysical heresy. Because such contradicts every page of the Bible, the Reformers’ Platonist theology was made the hermeneutic as well. Instead of the interpretation method producing the theology, they made the theology the method of interpretation. If all of reality is redemptive, it must be interpreted the same way.

For the Platonist, the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh poses a huge problem. He is the truth. He came to the material world in a material body. Platonism  became Gnosticism and wreaked havoc on the 1st century church. Notice how the first sentences of 1John are a direct pushback against the Gnosticism of that day:

1John 1:1 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Christ is the true, good, and beautiful, and He was touched, felt, seen, heard, and understood. Game over. This is the paramount melding of Plato’s two worlds resulting in a plenary decimation of his philosophy. Nevertheless, Calvin et al got around that by keeping mankind in a subjective realm while making the material world a gospel hermeneutic. Reality still cannot be understood unless it is interpreted by the gospel—everything else is shadows.

Martin Luther took Plato’s two worlds and made them two stories: our own subjective story, a self  “glory story” that leads to a labyrinth of subjectivism, or the “cross story” which is the objective gospel. Luther made Plato’s two worlds two stories, but still, they are two realms: one objective and one subjective. In the final analysis mankind is still incompetent, and void of any good whether saved or lost.

Whether the Reformed gospel or Platonism, the infusion of objective goodness is the heresy. Man cannot have any righteousness in and of himself, whether lost or saved. The pushback against this idea can be seen throughout the New Testament. A few examples follow:

1John 2:4 – Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.

1John 2:20 – But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

1John 2:26 – I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1John 2:29 – If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

1John 3:2 – Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Christians can know goodness, and perform righteousness objectively. This speaks to the quality of the righteousness when it is performed—it is perfect and acceptable to God. We are not limited to a mere subjective experience in regard to righteousness. When we are resurrected, the quantity thereafter will be 100%, but our present righteousness is acceptable to God when it is performed by us. If it is accepted by God, it is perfect.

Even the unregenerate know good, and can perform it. The works of the law are written on their hearts, and their consciences either accuse or excuse them (Romans 2:12-15). Though enslaved to unrighteousness, they are free to perform righteousness (Romans 6:20). The very goodness of God can be understood from observing creation as well (Romans 1:20).

The only way the Reformers can make all goodness outside of man is to make the Bible a salvation hermeneutic. It is the only way they could integrate the Bible with their Platonist philosophy.

paul

The Five Lies of the Five Solas: Sola Scriptura

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on February 6, 2016

Gospel T Copy_0Originally published October 6, 2014

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

Calvinism and the Problem with Perfection

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on August 11, 2015

PPT HandleOriginally published November 7, 2013

Augustine, Luther, and Calvin were first and foremost Platonists. They integrated the Bible with Platonism. Plato’s theory of forms posits the idea of two worlds; the mutable material world of illusion where reality can only be partially known, and another world where the immutable objective true forms exist. This material world is a shadow world; everything is shadows of the true forms. Therefore, man can only interpret and experience this world subjectively. The tendency is to interpret reality by observing the shadows. To the degree that mankind thinks the material world is reality according to the five senses, subjectivity and chaos will abound.

Therefore, Plato’s ethic was to improve the subjective experience of this life by accessing the true forms through ideas and mathematics—things that transcend the five senses (he believed math was an unchangeable rule and therefore not part of the shadow world). He believed that those who have the capability and willingness to bring more understanding of the objective into the subjective to be an elite minority. These were Plato’s philosopher kings whom he thought should rule society in order to decrease chaos as much as possible. Without philosopher kings, the world would be awash in a sea of subjectivity, everyone living by their own subjective presuppositions based on the shadows of this world. Hence, the arch enemy of the Platonic ideal is individualism.

Plato’s world of true objective forms was his trinity of the true, good, and beautiful. Experiencing the pure form of goodness in this world is impossible—only a shadow of good can be experienced subjectively. Plato’s social engineering has a doctrine, and to the degree that doctrine is applied, a higher quality of subjective existence occurs.

The Reformers put a slightly different twist on this construct. There is no doctrine to apply, only an orthodoxy that focuses on seeing and experiencing. Their version of Plato’s philosopher kings are pastors who possess the power of the keys. Orthodoxy is mediated truth determined by “Divines,” and passed down to the masses for the purpose of experiencing the objective power of the gospel subjectively. The Reformers made the true forms “the gospel,” and reality itself the gospel, ie., the work and personhood of Jesus Christ in particular.

Therefore, in the same way Plato envisioned a society that experiences the power of the true forms subjectively through ideas and immutable disciplines like mathematics, the Reformers sought a heightened subjective experience through a deeper and deeper knowledge of their own true, good, and beautiful—the gospel. And more specifically, instead of the gateway of understanding being reason, ideas, and immutable disciplines, they made the gospel itself the interpretive prism. So: life, history, the Bible, ie., everything, is a tool for experiencing true reality (the gospel) in a higher quality subjectivity. The Bible and all life events are a gospel hermeneutic. Salvation itself is the interpretive prism. All of reality is about redemption. Salvation itself is the universal hermeneutic.

But both constructs have this in common: Pure goodness and perfection cannot exist objectively in the material world. This is where Calvinism and Platonism kiss. The Bible only agrees with this if it is a “gospel narrative.” But if it is God’s full orbed philosophical statement to all men to be interpreted grammatically and exegetically, contradictions abound. To wit, if man possesses goodness and the ability to interpret reality objectively, Platonism and its Reformed children are found wanting. If Reformation orthodoxy is not evaluated biblically with the very theses of its own orthodoxy as a hermeneutic, even more wantonness is found.

The Apostles rejected Platonism because they believed goodness and perfection could indeed be found in this material world. There is no question of the quality of goodness inside of man that enables mankind to interpret reality objectively, the quantity of goodness notwithstanding.  In contrast, a dominate theme in the Calvin Institutes is the idea that no person lost or saved can perform a good work. Like Plato’s geometric hermeneutics, the Reformers believed the Law lends understanding to man’s inability to do good because eternal perfection is the standard. The best of man’s works are tainted with sin to some degree, and therefore imperfect. Even if man could perform one perfect work, one sin makes mankind a violator of the whole law. The Reformers were adamant that no person could do any good work whether saved or lost.

Why all the fuss over this point? Why was Calvin dogmatic about this idea to the point of annoyance? Because he was first and foremost a Platonist. The idea that a pure form of good could be found within mankind was metaphysical heresy. Because such contradicts every page of the Bible, the Reformers’ Platonist theology was made the hermeneutic as well. Instead of the interpretation method producing the theology, they made the theology the method of interpretation. If all of reality is redemptive, it must be interpreted the same way.

For the Platonist, the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh poses a huge problem. He is the truth. He came to the material world in a material body. Platonism  became Gnosticism and wreaked havoc on the 1st century church. Notice how the first sentences of 1John are a direct pushback against the Gnosticism of that day:

1John 1:1 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Christ is the true, good, and beautiful, and He was touched, felt, seen, heard, and understood. Game over. This is the paramount melding of Plato’s two worlds resulting in a plenary decimation of his philosophy. Nevertheless, Calvin et al got around that by keeping mankind in a subjective realm while making the material world a gospel hermeneutic. Reality still cannot be understood unless it is interpreted by the gospel—everything else is shadows.

Martin Luther took Plato’s two worlds and made them two stories: our own subjective story, a self  “glory story” that leads to a labyrinth of subjectivism, or the “cross story” which is the objective gospel. Luther made Plato’s two worlds two stories, but still, they are two realms: one objective and one subjective. In the final analysis mankind is still incompetent, and void of any good whether saved or lost.

Whether the Reformed gospel or Platonism, the infusion of objective goodness is the heresy. Man cannot have any righteousness in and of himself, whether lost or saved. The pushback against this idea can be seen throughout the New Testament. A few examples follow:

1John 2:4 – Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.

1John 2:20 – But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

1John 2:26 – I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1John 2:29 – If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

1John 3:2 – Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Christians can know goodness, and perform righteousness objectively. This speaks to the quality of the righteousness when it is performed—it is perfect and acceptable to God. We are not limited to a mere subjective experience in regard to righteousness. When we are resurrected, the quantity thereafter will be 100%, but our present righteousness is acceptable to God when it is performed by us. If it is accepted by God, it is perfect.

Even the unregenerate know good, and can perform it. The works of the law are written on their hearts, and their consciences either accuse or excuse them (Romans 2:12-15). Though enslaved to unrighteousness, they are free to perform righteousness (Romans 6:20). The very goodness of God can be understood from observing creation as well (Romans 1:20).

The only way the Reformers can make all goodness outside of man is to make the Bible a salvation hermeneutic. It is the only way they could integrate the Bible with their Platonist philosophy.

paul

Curing the Protestant Disease of Noanswerosis

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 1, 2015

As one crawling out of the present Protestant Dark Age, a focus on sanctification rather than keeping myself saved by not working has revealed a disease that infects all Protestants: Noanswerosis (pronounced no-anser-osis).

This is a word that joins, no—answer—osis. When a Protestant is “saved,” their brain is immediately infected with this disease. In fact, contemporary terms that refer to the Protestant gospel state such explicitly.

The subjective power of an objective gospel.

Or…

The objective gospel.

Or…

The centrality of the objective gospel outside of us.

Or…

Definitive justification experienced subjectively.

What are these terms saying? Well, these are contemporary terms that define the foundational document of the Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustinian Order (1518). Luther’s 95 Theses was a moral disputation, his Heidelberg Disputation defined the worldview of the Reformation and was penned about 6 months after the 95 Theses. John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion further defines Luther’s foundational premise.

What’s the gist of it all? First, God is completely sovereign over everything. Reality is a movie produced and scripted by God. History is a meta-narrative, or metaphysical narrative prewritten by God. Also, this movie (reality) is a 3D movie and requires special glasses in order to see it.

In other words, without the 3D glasses the movie (reality) will be blurred and distorted. And, the 3D glasses are…the gospel. All of reality, according to authentic Reformed ideology, is a gospel story. Seeing yourself in the role of how it all plays out as a mere character in a prewritten play is a matter of faith. If you see yourself as in control of anything, you are making yourself God and attempting to write your own reality.

Therefore, the gospel is the only reality that is…objective. EVERYTHING in life that happens is part of the gospel narrative, or… “his-story” (history).

So, how in the world does this supposedly work in real life? Before we get to that, let’s discuss the immense benefits from seeing reality in this way. Basically, there is no use in getting stressed out about anything because it is just all a prewritten narrative by God that you have no control over. In some sense, more accurately, in a big way, you can step back and separate yourself from what is going on in the world. Don’t worry—be happy. There is no need to get upset about an event, it’s all part of God’s gospel narrative that helps us in seeing reality more clearly.

Stop right there. That’s key. The goal is more seeing. There is a reason for this madness; what else but the primary goal of all philosophies? Happiness or joy or wellbeing or peace or however else you want to frame it. “Faith” is defined as SEEING ONLY. In Luther’s construct, ALL doing is part of the material world and inherently evil. If you can see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, feel it, or DO it—it’s evil, period.

Seeing life more and more as a prewritten narrative that glorifies the gospel that you have no role in leads to more and more wellbeing. Hey, no matter what happens, to God be the glory. Every life event says something about the gospel. Actually, there is a specific interpretive paradigm, or if you will, the 3D glasses: “The holiness of God as set against the sinfulness of man.” Every life event lends more understanding to the depths of our own depravity versus the holiness of God. When something good happens to us “worms crawling upon the earth” (Calvin), that’s grace, that’s astounding mercy. When something bad happens, we are merely getting what we deserve.

That’s life, but what about the Bible? The Bible is an aid in seeing our depravity more and more and God’s holiness more and more. The Bible is the script of the gospel narrative. According to the Reformed academics that really understand Reformed ideology, the Bible is a gospel narrative that displays the fundamental narratives that play out in life. When you read the Bible, it is therefore your story also as seen in narrative archetypes.

So, a life of faith is really about seeing only, all of the doing has been predetermined by God. This is how we live our lives by faith alone; life is seeing and not doing. The doing is ONLY EXPERIENCED.

Now we are getting into how this philosophy actually functions in real life, supposedly that is. Pretty much, go ahead and live out your life… and here it comes… “subjectively.” This is an affirmation that everything you do is evil, even your good works, and you really have no way of knowing whether it is you doing the work or God. Take note: in understanding this philosophy, it is important to distinguish between personal works and what happens in reality. Everything that happens is predetermined by God as part of His prewritten historical narrative. But, how we see or perceive life events determines whether we are living by faith or not. There must be a distinction between actual events and perception.

Bible study, or teaching in general is focused on perception, and then we go about living our lives subjectively. Yes, we make an effort to live life, but in our effort to live life we confess that it is a subjective experience. What does that mean? Luther split subjective life into two categories: venial sin and mortal sin. If we believe that we can do a good work, that’s mortal sin. If we confess that even our good works are evil, that’s venial sin. Life is subjective because when we see our works in the world, we have no way of knowing whether it is God doing the work through us or ourselves doing a work…and you hear this often… “in our own efforts.” All of the incessant moaning you hear in church over “works done in our own efforts” is right out of the Heidelberg Disputation.

The Reformed have three schools of thought in regard to how the subjective life works. Theory one states that the subjective life of faith is a combination of manifestation and our actual works. Manifestation is realm manifestation. This is when the invisible realm births an event in the material realm. It is like the rain. You feel the rain, you experience the rain, but you have no control over the rain. The rain comes from heaven—you didn’t make it rain, you only experience the rain. This school holds to the idea that it is impossible to distinguish between our actual efforts and realm birthing, or realm manifestation. As long as the person believes that everything that he/she does is evil, and anything good that happened came from God—that’s venial sin and will be forgiven IF we confess that our good works are evil. It is a subjective life because we have no way of knowing what our works are and what the Spirit’s works are. We only confess that if anything we experience is actually a good work, we didn’t do it.

The second school is John Calvin’s Sabbath Rest Sanctification paradigm. If all of our works are sanctified by contemplation on the gospel, ie., our sinfulness as set against God’s holiness, we will be less tempted by our “good” works. In other words, we will be less tempted towards mortal sin—the belief that we actually did a good work. This is closely related to the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event. The more we contemplate the gospel, the more we are able to see that anything in our life that appears to be a good work is a work that flows from the gospel event. This is also connected to the Reformed doctrine of double imputation.  Christ came to fulfil the law so that His obedience to the law during the time He lived on earth can be imputed to our lives by faith alone. So, if we experience any good work in our life and believe it is a manifestation of Christ’s obedience imputed to us—we are under venial sin and not mortal sin.

Venial sin is forgivable, but we must be faithful to the institutional church and return to the same gospel that saved us in order to receive a reapplication of Christ’s penal substitution and righteous obedience. They use 1John 1:9 and other Scriptures as a proof text for this doctrine. A perpetual return to the same gospel that saved us keeps us in the “vital union” with Christ which is yet another Reformed soteriological doctrine.

The third school emphasizes the Reformed doctrine of mortification and vivification.  This doctrine encompasses the other two schools as well. Its contemporary expression is John Piper’s Christian Hedonism. This is also the official Reformed definition of the new birth. The new birth is mortification and vivification. Mortification entails a focus on our sinfulness and wormism. This is the death part of our baptism. This results in resurrection, or vivification. This is the resurrection part of our baptism. As we see the gospel narrative more deeply, we experience the joy of vivification in a deeper and deeper way. Seeing the depths of our sinfulness as set against God’s holiness (mortification) leads to a deeper and deeper experience of joy in our Christian lives (vivification). Hence, the new birth is not a onetime event in the Christians life, the Christian must continually return to the new birth process that leads to the ultimate goal of a joyful Christian life. Question. In the final analysis, is this not a rejoicing in evil that Paul stated as an antithesis of love?

Therefore, believing that the new birth is a onetime event assumes Christians move on to something else other than the gospel which also assumes Christians can do good works. That’s mortal sin. Also, a literal interpretation of the Bible assumes that biblical commands can be obeyed by the believer, that is also mortal sin according to Reformed ideology. This means that a grammatical historical view of the Bible is conducive to mortal sin while the historical redemptive view of Scripture keeps the “believer” under the auspices of forgivable venial sin.

This all translates into a dramatic devaluing of wisdom for living life in an effective way. This is what has been going on for hundreds of years. Obviously, answers are not the point or anywhere in the ballpark of life. Answers are not merely in the back seat—they aren’t even in the car. The only answer for an unfixable life is to be “joyful no matter what your circumstances are.”

This is where Noanswerosis comes from. What are the symptoms? When you counsel someone and give them solid answers from the Scriptures, they just sit there and look at you dumfounded. They will actually depart without acknowledging that the conversation actually happened. As Protestants, we are so accustomed to not having answers that the answers are now paralyzing us. It’s Noanswerosis.

Noanswerosis is caused by believing that having answers is mortal sin and applying the answers will condemn you to hell. Now you better understand where the Bible is coming from. Faith is not just seeing—it’s doing (see James). Happiness does not come from mere seeing—the blessing is IN the doing (James 1:25). Seeing only is a life built upon sand, a life of having answers and applying them is a life built upon a rock.

We have the answers, let’s keep learning and putting what we learn into practice while it is still daylight for the darkness is coming when no man can work.

paul

Bible as Story? Have We Lost Our Minds?

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on March 6, 2015

PPT HandleOriginally published February 6, 2013

Here at The Potter’s House we do family readings. Right now, we are reading through the novel The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. The book is what we call a historical novel. These are fictional books that attempt to convey the experience of historical facts. Historical novels attempt to put you into the historical event experientially.  So, historical novels aren’t “just facts,” but attempt to enable you to understand how people in said historical event experienced it.

This is done well in Speare’s Blackbird Pond. You feel Kit’s angst as she peruses the Puritan shoreline of America for the first time. She senses the abysmal aura as set against the colorful structures in Barbados. And for anybody who knows Puritan history, Kit’s suspicions that something is culturally array in the new land is truly chilling. You want to say, “Run!” But, of course, it’s just a story. Historical novels “put you in the story.” The counterpart is academic history which focuses on facts and is not concerned with personal experience.

Vestiges of the concept can be found in mythology and Plato’s concept of Genre which Aristotle and others helped him develop. The concept was integrated into biblical hermeneutics circa 180AD. The idea of Bible as historical narrative was eventually dubbed Biblical Theology by Johann Philipp Gabler (circa 1785) and further developed by Geerhardus Vos in the 19th century. It was known as Redemptive Historical Hermeneutics in the Dutch Reformed churches during the 1940’s. In the secular realm the debate rages as to which approach educates more effectively (http://goo.gl/zo7zp).

And here we are today. The propagation of Bible as a history narrative is in Blitzkrieg mode. The Bible is not to be researched grammatically, but is to be approached like a novel; our goal is to enter into the “unfolding drama of God’s redemptive story.” Those are the words that are actually used. With any novel, it is the writer’s burden to draw the reader into the plot; in this case, the Holy Spirit. All that is necessary is to approach the Bible as gospel narrative, and the Holy Spirit will do the rest. In fact, many Reformed teachers assert that the Holy Spirit will not teach unless you are reading your Bible as a gospel narrative:

That which makes the Bible the Bible is the gospel. That which makes the Bible the Word of God is its witness to Christ. When the Spirit bears witness to our hearts of the truth of the Bible, this is an internal witness concerning the truth of the gospel. We need to be apprehended by the Spirit, who lives in the gospel, and then judge all things by that Spirit even the letter of Scripture.

I want you to feel the truth and depth and wonder that awaits your lifelong labor of love in pondering the inexhaustible portraits of Jesus given us by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Nothing can raise those who are spiritually dead or continually give life to Christ’s flock but the Spirit working through the gospel. When this happens (not just once, but every time we encounter the gospel afresh), the Spirit progressively transforms us into Christ’s image (Quotations noted by Paul M. Dohse: The Truth About New Calvinism pp. 99, 100).

Recently, I made some observations  about Wade Burleson’s blog Istoria Ministries:

“If the Bible is God’s revelation to man, and it is, be sure that he will also reveal how he wants his word to be interpreted. Fact is, the Bible has built-in rules for interpretation throughout. ANY rules of interpretation for a text must be validated by the Bible itself. So, what about Bible as story or narrative? After an exhaustive study on what the Bible would state about this interpretive model, it begs the question: where is it?”

On that note, let’s start with a blog named “Istoria Ministries” by Reformed teacher/pastor Wade Burleson. The subtitle reads as follows:

Istoria is a Greek word that can be translated as both story and history. Istoria Ministries, led by Wade and Rachelle Burleson, helps people experience the life transforming power of Jesus Christ so that their story may become part of His story.

Burleson is right, it is a Greek word, but is it in the Greek New Testament? After hours of research, I cannot find it anywhere. In fact, Hebrew or Greek canon words that project the English idea of history, narrative, or story are either extremely scarce or nonexistent. The closest idea is the word “parable” which is a story that helps define truth. It’s a teaching tool. But in every case where a parable is implemented as a teaching method, the Bible plainly introduces it as such beforehand. It doesn’t appear that parables in the Bible are meant to be stories that explain the story.”

The next day, Burleson changed the subtitle to the blog as follows:

“I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Greek: istoria) with Cephas.” Paul’s words in Galatians 1:18.

Only thing is, the word is not “istoria,” it is “historeo.” Istoria seems to be a word that, in fact, can be interpreted as story and history both, but is primarily a Greek word of contemporary origin. Not only that, according to Spiros Zodhiates, historeo appears in the Greek New Testament ONCE; specifically, the verse Burleson cites in his revised subtitle. A Strongs number search with Olive Tree software confirms such as well.

We don’t obey novels. We don’t obey narratives. We don’t obey stories. And the Lord wants us to experience what we learn in the Bible by applying it to our lives (James 1:25). Parables in the Bible are teaching tools that aid us in understanding the primary points—a history parable is not the sole interpretive genre that makes the Bible what it is.

You do not build a life on a rock by reading novels—you do it by putting what the Lord teaches into practice (Matthew 7:24). If Christ wanted us to read “these words of mine” as a story why would He have not plainly said so? If we live by the redemption story, why wouldn’t Christ plainly state that instead of, “every word that comes from the mouth of God?” If it’s a story, why would Christ call it “all that I have commanded”?

Have we lost our minds?

paul

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