Paul's Passing Thoughts

Rick Holland’s “Uneclipsing The Son,” Part 1: John MacArthur Comes Completely Out of the Closet

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 21, 2017

Originally published July 7, 2011

July 6, 2011 is a day that will live in infamy for the rest of my life. I’m not kidding. My copy of  “Uneclipsing The Son” by Rick Holland arrived two days ago and was on my desk. Susan came and sat in a chair by my desk, observed the book, picked it up, and started reading to me the forward written by John MacArthur Jr. My worst fears were realized. MacArthur’s forward to the book is a clear, concise, mini-treatise that promotes Gospel Sanctification in no uncertain terms. He is now totally out of the closet. As the name, “Gospel Sanctification” indicates, we are supposedly sanctified by the same gospel that saved us. In other words, our spiritual growth flows from a contemplation on Christ’s personhood (whatever that means exactly) and His works. Therefore, the sole purpose of the Scriptures is to gain a deeper and deeper knowledge of Christ and His works with everything else in Scripture being a mere picture or description of what Christ has fulfilled for us. One might say that it is a hyper-Calvinistic view of monergism in justification that is also projected onto sanctification. So, if one carries the doctrine to its logical conclusion, the primary, if not sole duty in the Christian life is meditating on Christ and His works which results in the Holy Spirit elevating us to higher and higher levels of sanctification. In fact, MacArthur all but writes exactly that in the forward to Holland’s book.

First, Some Historical Background

This is not the first time in church history that contemplative spirituality using the gospel as the object has been propagated. However, what makes Gospel Sanctification unique is its unified systematic theology. Gospel Sanctification has a theory regarding a favorable method of interpreting the Scriptures, a supposed practical application, an explanation of how it is experienced emotionally, its own eschatology, and a covenant theology. More than likely, Gospel Sanctification as we know it today was conceived by Robert Brinsmead and his Australian Forum project. The clear mandate of that project was to systematize a theology that was gospel-centered sanctification. One of the concepts created by the project was the centrality of the objective gospel. It went so far as to indicate that all reality is interpreted through the gospel (objective), and anything given more priority than the gospel (subjective) was to “eclipse the Son.” The Forum’s writings are saturated with descriptions of various woes that come from “eclipsing” Christ and the gospel. Robert Brinsmead worked closely with Jon Zens (the father of New Covenant Theology) in developing the same kind of theology for a supposed biblical view of law/gospel or “New Testament ethics.” The result was New Covenant Theology and Zens tried to propagate the Theology in Reformed Baptist circles. It was met with fierce resistance, and the movement was relegated to a meager group presently known as the Continental Baptist.

However, the idea found new life through another venue where Forum doctrines were being tossed around via the fact that Zens was a student there, and Michael Horton was greatly influenced by Forum ideas—Westminster Seminary. Primarily, a professor of theology there named Jack Miller took the same ideas and formulated a doctrine known as Sonship Theology. Again, the movement was met with fierce opposition, this time in Presbyterian circles. The Sonship label was then dropped and replaced with “gospel,” ie., gospel-centered this, and gospel-driven that. This led Baptist and Presbyterian protestors to believe that the movement was all but dead for the past ten years. But really, the movement was growing covertly under the guise of the gospel nomenclature, and has recently emerged as New Calvinism—a  gargantuan movement including church networks, missionary alliances, cooperative training conferences, and “biblical” counseling organizations. The doctrine is overrunning the contemporary church like a giant tsunami and its proponents claim that it is a second Reformation.

In fact, I would probably be conceding myself, thinking, “Everyone else, and now MacArthur? It must be me—I’m missing something on this,” if not for a few souls like Walter Chantry and Dr. Jay Adams. In 1999, Adams published a book to refute Sonship Theology in the same way that Walter Chantry published a book in 1980 to refute Jon Zens’ views (and essentially that of the Forum as well). One year later  Zens coined the phrase, “New Covenant Theology.” One of many obvious connections that can be seen in all of this is the fact that two major players in the New Calvinist movement, Tim Keller and David Powlison, were disciples of Jack Miller who coined the phrase: “We must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday” which is an often-heard mantra within the movement. Another connection is the popularity of “The Goldsworthy Trilogy (Gospel and Kingdom; Gospel and Wisdom; The Gospel in Revelation)” within the New Calvinist movement—written by Graeme Goldsworthy who was one of three major participants in the Australian Forum project along with Geoffrey Paxton and Robert Brinsmead. This speaks to the likeminded beliefs regarding the gospel shared by the Forum and New Calvinist. I strongly suspect Holland’s book will bear more of the same.

On the back cover of Holland’s book, we read this statement in bold print: “Christ, The Son Of God, Has Been Eclipsed, And We’ve Made Ourselves At Home In This New Normal.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Since the 1950’s the church has been inundated with a hyper-grace mentality. This first gospel wave with a lack of emphasis on discipleship paved the way for Gospel Sanctification. Jay Adams started the true contemporary Reformation in 1970 with his book, “Competent to Counsel” which had a very strong emphasis on discipleship and true biblical counseling.  Adams often comments that during that time as he traveled about and spoke, Christians seemed to be surprised that they could actually “do something in their walk with God.” The “normal” in Christianity today is a profound ignorance regarding the sufficiency of Scripture and how to apply it to life in our walk with God. Christ hasn’t been eclipsed—we think He does it all for us. What has been eclipsed is what Jesus says—not who He is. Furthermore, Adams has suffered some significant persecution for his attempt to emphasize doing in the Christian life, especially from the New Calvinist counseling culture and David Powlison who was offended by the book Adams wrote to refute Sonship Theology. New Calvinist like Powlison describe the real contemporary Reformation via Adams (in regard to being used by God) as the “first generation of biblical counseling” in the same way that Luther’s Reformation was first generation. But now, the New Calvinist counseling culture is supposedly part of the second Reformation through the discovery of Gospel Sanctification. Of course, the notion is preposterous and takes arrogance to a new level that has never before been seen.

John MacArthur’s Coming Out

MacArthur’s  forward is fraught with blatant error and contemplative spirituality in the form of Gospel Sanctification. MacArthur begins his forward with the following:

“As Christians we have one message to declare: ‘Jesus Christ, and Him crucified’( I Corinthians 2:2). ‘For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake’ ( 2 Corinthians 4:5; cf. I Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 6:14).”

Gospel Sanctification follows the way of many other false doctrines throughout church history; specifically, the eclipsing of other members of the Trinity by overemphasizing one over the others. Jehovah’s Witnesses overemphasize the Father. Charismatics  overemphasize the Holy Spirit, etc. Christ Himself, in His mandate to the church, said to baptize in the name of all Three. The Father elects; the Son  atones, and the Spirit sanctifies—but we are to only preach Christ? Christ’s emphasis on the Father in regard to salvation saturates the Gospels, especially in the book of John:

 John 6:44
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:65
He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

Christ instructed us to pray to the Father, and according to the apostle Paul:

“Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all” (1Cor. 15:27,28).

MacArthur continues:

“Rick Holland understands that truth.  This book is an insightful, convicting reminder that no one and nothing other than Christ deserves to be the central theme of the tidings we as Christians proclaim—not only to one another and to the world, but also in the private meditations of our own hearts.”

No one, or no thing, “deserves” to be the central theme of our private devotions? This follows the Gospel Sanctification tenet that we shouldn’t seek to be instructed from the Scriptures (ie., seeking to know how to love our wives in a way that pleases God, etc). If we meditate on Christ and His works (the gospel), all that Christ commands will happen naturally. Supposedly.  I can only assume NO one and NO thing means exactly what the sentence states. But again, it begs the question: “He doesn’t mean to exclude God from that statement, right? Also note the GS teaching that our message is the same for justification AND sanctification: “….nothing other than Christ deserves to be the central theme of the tidings we as Christians proclaim—not only to one another and to the world, but also in the private meditations of our own hearts.”

MacArthur:

“Christ is the perfect image of God (Hebrews 1); the theme of Scripture (Luke 24); the author of salvation (Hebrews 12:2); the one proper object of saving faith (Romans 10:9-10); and the goal of our sanctification (Romans 8:2).  No wonder Scripture describes the amazing growth-strategy of the early church in these terms:  “They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42).  That is the only blueprint for church ministry that has any sanction from Scripture.”

Not exactly. The early church also went about preaching “the good news of the kingdom of God”:

Acts 1:3
After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

And what did that teaching by Christ also entail?:

Acts 1:6
So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

And….:

Acts 14:22
strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.

Acts 19:8
Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.

Acts 20:25
“Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.

Also, in other passages, Christ, and the kingdom of God seem to be separate subjects within the gospel:

Acts 8:12
But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Acts 28:23
They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

Acts 28:31
Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Obviously, to the first-century church, “the gospel” included the whole picture of the Trinities saving work.

MacArthur:

“The pastor who makes anything or anyone other than Christ the focus of his message is actually hindering the sanctification of the flock.  Second Corinthians 3:18 describes in simple terms how God conforms us to the image of His Son: ‘And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another’ (emphasis added).  We don’t ‘see’ Christ literally and physically, of course (I Peter 1:8). But His glory is on full display in the Word of God, and it is every minister’s duty to make that glory known above all other subjects.”

To this point in the forward in Holland’s book, MacArthur is using all of the proof texts typically used by Gospel Sanctification proponents. But in regard to 2Cor. 3:18, the correlation between gazing or “beholding the glory of the Lord” and spiritual growth has no direct correlation to being the only facilitator thereof. Such a direct cause and effect correlation is assumed. Besides, Macarthur is being disingenuous by quoting the ESV here because all other translations include the word “glass” or “mirror” with difficulty in ascertaining whether we are looking at Christ’s glory in a mirror, or “reflecting” His glory as in a mirror. Either way, mirrors of that day were polished metal and did not have the perfect reflection like modern mirrors made of class. This creates difficulty for those who want to use this text to show that our primary  duty is to gaze on Christ’s glory rather than an understanding of what He’s teaching for the purpose of obedience. However, MacArthur continues to expound on this point with his paramount coming out of the closet statement in the following excerpt:

“As believers gaze at the glory of their Lord—looking clearly, enduringly, and deeply into the majesty of His person and work—true sanctification takes place as the Holy Spirit takes that believer whose heart is fixed on Christ and elevates him from one level of glory to the next.  This is the ever-increasing reality of progressive sanctification; it happens not because believers wish it or want it or work for it in their own energy, but because the glory of Christ captures their hearts and minds.  We are transformed by that glory and we begin to reflect it more and more brightly the more clearly we see it.  That’s why the true heart and soul of every pastor’s duty is pointing the flock to Christ, the Great Shepherd.”

In these last two excerpts mentioned, we see MacArthur aping the GS belief that all of Scripture is about Christ and Christ must be seen in every passage. As Jay Adams aptly points out, several books in the Bible do not have Christ as their central theme and plainly say so; for instance, Jude initially intended to write about our common salvation, but instead was led to write an exhortation to contend for pure doctrine. In this statement, MacArthur continues to use 2Cor. 3:18 to make the following point: “As believers gaze at the glory of their Lord—looking clearly, enduringly, and deeply into the majesty of His person and work—true sanctification takes place as the Holy Spirit takes that believer whose heart is fixed on Christ and elevates him from one level of glory to the next.” How do you look “clearly”; “enduringly,” and  “deeply” by “see[ing] through a glass, darkly” (1Cor. 13:12)  which  depicts the mirrors of those days? Christ’s instruction on how we become a house that will withstand the storms of life is plainly stated in Matthew 7:24-27, we hear His words and put those words into practice.

In classic Gospel Sanctification form, MacArthur also implements the either / or  hermeneutic in this statement: “This is the ever-increasing reality of progressive sanctification; it happens not because believers wish it or want it or work for it in their own energy, but because the glory of Christ captures their hearts and minds.” Here we go again with this serving Christ by our own efforts stuff ( when Peter said, “Make every effort to add to your faith…., “ who’s effort was he talking about?!). If we are to exert effort in the sanctification process, which I’m sure MacArthur would concede, how would we know if it is our own effort or that of the Holy Spirit? And why can’t it be both? Why does it have to be either all of us or all of the Spirit? GS advocates have to create a whole theology just to deal with that question, and it’s called Christian Hedonism which is John Piper’s contribution to the movement. This is the road now traveled by MacArthur: unlike his preaching of the past, but like other Gospel Sanctification advocates, his preaching will now raise more questions than are answered; like, “what do you mean when you say that real servitude to Christ will have nothing to do with my own desires? If I am a new creature—are my desires not changed?” Depending on how far MacArthur decides to go with all of this—the answer would be “no” because GS doctrine holds t a total depravity of the saints. The logical conclusion is that Christ does it all for us as a result of contemplating the gospel. In order to say that without saying it, GS proponents have to work hard (presumably in their own efforts) to make it all fit together.

MacArthur:

“After more than four decades of pastoral ministry, I am still constantly amazed at the power of Christ-centered preaching.  It’s the reason I love preaching in the gospels. But I discovered long ago that the glory of Christ dominates Romans, Galatians, Colossians, Hebrews, Revelation—and the rest of Scripture as well. Focusing on that theme has led my own soul and our congregation to a fuller, richer knowledge of Christ—loving Him, worshipping Him, serving Him and yearning for the day when we shall be like Him, having seen Him in His glory (I John 3:2).

Our prayer is that of Paul: ‘that I may know Him!’ (Philippians 3:10). The apostle knew Him well as Savior and Lord (having been privileged to be the last person ever to see the resurrected Christ face to face, according to I Corinthians 15:8)—but never could Paul plumb the rich,  sweet depths of the glories of Christ, the inexhaustible, infinite Treasure.”

I am unmoved by MacArthur’s self-delusions and his musings concerning the ever-morphing neo-Calvinist novelties of our day. Peter said that though he and others witnessed the miracles of that age—the testimony of Scripture is more sure, and Gospel Sanctification does not align with the plain sense of Holy writ.

MacArthur:

“Far from allowing Christ to be eclipsed—even partially—by any other object or affection, every believer should pursue with relentless zeal the ‘full knowledge of the glory of God’ provided by a fervent concentration ‘on the face of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 4:6).”

In context, 2Cor. 4:6 refers to those who don’t recognize Christ as Savior in comparison to those who do, and does not prescribe John Piper’s “beholding as a way of becoming.” Christ’s prescription for loving Him is plain in John 14:15,16; we are to obey what he commands with the HELP of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit HELPS us—He doesn’t obey for us by replacing our “own” efforts with something else as a result of contemplation on nebulous concepts concerning the personhood of Christ. Such nonsense has led to all kinds of mystic speculations by New Calvinist; such as, the supposed truth that Christ experienced a suffering in darkness while in Mary’s womb as part of the atonement. Soon, MacArthur will be espousing such speculation from the pulpit if he doesn’t repent and return to orthodoxy. Also, note that he says that we don’t even want to eclipse Christ “partially.” This is like the Forum’s centrality of the objective gospel which led them to relegate the new birth to a position of insignificance because it involves a focus on us (subjective), and away from Christ / gospel (objective), and therefore “eclipses Christ.” And unlike the MacArthur of the past, we just have more questions to ask: “How do we partially eclipse Christ? So, other than Christ, what can we talk about? And will it partially eclipse Christ or not?”

In all of this, one should consider what the focus of Peter’s message was to the church when he knew his time of departure was near (2Peter. Ch.1). He plainly said that there was one thing that he wanted them to remember so that their calling and election would be sure. He said he wanted to constantly put them in remembrance of this theme so they wouldn’t forget after he was gone. What was that message? As glorious as it is, was it a laser focus on the personhood of Christ to the exclusion of all else? No, it was a focus on the saints “making every effort” to add certain things to their faith. If  contemplation on the personhood of Christ is singularly paramount to spiritual growth, how could Peter possibly say what he did?

This is certain: The apostle Paul said that even if he or an angel  came preaching another gospel—reject it, and trust me, MacArthur is no apostle Paul,  and I will not follow Gospel Sanctification—even if I am the last person on earth not to do so.

paul

John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church: Their Blatant False Statement of Faith

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 15, 2016

While doing some research this morning, I ended up on a website I have never visited before; John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church located in Sun Valley, California. Out of curiosity, I clicked on their statement of faith page. Let’s take a look. My comments are italicized.

The Gospel

What It Means to Be a Christian

Being a Christian is more than identifying yourself with a particular religion or affirming a certain value system. Being a Christian means you have embraced what the Bible says about God, mankind, and salvation. Consider the following truths found in the Bible.

Um, correction. While they would encourage “Christians” to read the Bible for themselves they continually claim to be the final authority on its interpretation. Hence, this statement is disingenuous; one does not embrace an individual understanding of the Bible, but ultimately must obey the dictates of “godly men who God has placed as an authority over your soul.”

God Is Sovereign Creator

Contemporary thinking says man is the product of evolution. But the Bible says we were created by a personal God to love, serve, and enjoy endless fellowship with Him. The New Testament reveals it was Jesus Himself who created everything (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). Therefore, He also owns and rules everything (Psalm 103:19). That means He has authority over our lives and we owe Him absolute allegiance, obedience, and worship.

Again, this statement is fraught with deliberate misinformation. As an introductory statement to those considering membership, the GCC “Gospel of Sovereignty” is deliberately nuanced in order to not be rejected out of hand by potential members. On the one hand, we are created to enjoy endless fellowship with God and everyone owes Him allegiance, obedience, and worship, but on the other hand, God Himself selects who will do that. That is left out of the statement. Instead, the idea of God’s creative purpose and what man owes God is left open-ended to allow people to assume free choice in following God accordingly. The title, “God is Sovereign Creator” should be “God is Sovereign Savior” which is a major theme of GCC ministry. This is deliberate deception.   

God Is Holy

God is absolutely and perfectly holy (Isaiah 6:3); therefore He cannot commit or approve of evil (James 1:13). God requires holiness of us as well. First Peter 1:16 says, You shall be holy, for I am holy.

According to GCC Reformed soteriology, “holiness” is defined by perfect law-keeping and not the new birth. This is the Achilles’ heel of their false gospel. True Christians are holy because they are reborn of God’s seed and His seed is in them (1John, chapter 3). A call to holiness is a call to love God and others according to the Bible and apart from its former condemnation. According to Reformed soteriology, the Spirit only has one use of the law; to condemn, and Jesus continues to protect us against that one use. True soteriology teaches the Spirit’s twofold use of the law; to condemn, and to sanctify (Romans 8:2 and John 17:17).

Mankind Is Sinful

According to Scripture, everyone is guilty of sin: There is no man who does not sin (1 Kings 8:46). That doesn’t mean we’re incapable of performing acts of human kindness. But we’re utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own (Romans 3:10-12).

Yes, many who read this will assume this statement only regards the unregenerate, but note the specific grammar carefully; this statement includes “believers” as well, and that’s just good old fashioned Reformed soteriology… “Christians” remain “sinners” who can do no good work. There is no new birth demarcation between the Spirit’s two uses of the law. “Christians” are therefore still under law (Romans 6:14) and our love must be a continued imputation of Christ’s perfect law-keeping in order to keep us saved. That is NOT… “justification APART from the law.”

Sin Demands a Penalty

God’s holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death (Ezekiel 18:4). That’s why simply changing our patterns of behavior can’t solve our sin problem or eliminate its consequences.

Of course, it can’t because “Christians” are still under the law and not under love (under grace). Instead of failing to love God and others as His literal children, our “present sin” still condemns us according to the Spirit’s one use of the law. We must then continue to appropriate Christ’s perfect law-keeping to keep ourselves saved. And of course, and plainly stated by John Calvin and Martin Luther, that continued imputation can only be found in the Protestant church. Again, the careful wording of this statement is deliberately deceptive and plays on the assumptions of dumbed-down churchians.  

Jesus Is Lord and Savior

Romans 10:9 says, If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. Even though God’s justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior who paid the penalty and died for sinners (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, and Christ’s perfect life satisfied the demands of God’s holiness (2 Corinthians 5:21), thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him (Romans 3:26).

Christ’s perfect life satisfied the demands of God’s holiness” is the smoking gun. This is a false gospel. Christ came to end the law in regard to its condemnation, and fulfill it in those who are born again via “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). True Christians are no longer under the law of sin and death and the condemnation of it; our works are love according to the Spirit’s second use of the law to sanctify, not works that attempt to justify. Justification is a finished work that is by the new birth, not perfect law-keeping.

Shockingly, even respected Reformed teachers like RC Sproul claim that Jesus gained His own righteousness through perfect law-keeping so that it can be continually imputed to us by a continued return to the same gospel that originally saved us. “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” Sound familiar? Again, this paragraph in their statement allows people to assume that our repentance unto salvation is a onetime finished work by us. No, a “lifestyle of repentance” (Paul David Tripp) must keep us saved and that can only be found via obedience to the “godly men” of the Protestant institutional church.      

The Character of Saving Faith

True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin. Repentance is agreeing with God that you are sinful, confessing your sins to Him, and making a conscious choice to turn from sin (Luke 13:3, 5; 1 Thessalonians 1:9), pursue Christ (Matthew 11: 28-30; John 17:3), and obey Him (1 John 2:3). It isn’t enough to believe certain facts about Christ. Even Satan and his demons believe in the true God (James 2:19), but they don’t love and obey Him. True saving faith always responds in obedience (Ephesians 2:10).

True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin.” Got it? “True faith” is “always” with the same repentance that saved us. Any questions? Sin is sin, under grace is a mere imputation of Christ’s loving acts to the believer and appropriated by an ongoing “lifestyle of repentance” and “living by the gospel” or “living by faith alone.” We must continue to “pursue Christ.” Ever wonder why there is a lack of love in the church? Because Jesus loves in our place lest it be justifying ourselves. The obedience that is really being spoken of here is obedience to the “godly men” of the institutional church to keep one’s salvation.

Religious Tyranny: A Case Study—Chapter 11, Family, Not Institution; Body, Not Authority

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 28, 2016

religious-tyranny-cover11City Council: Look, we think you should take all the resources you have and concentrate on the killings.

Chief Jesse Stone: I’m a cop. I’ve been a cop for a long time. I’m good at it. I know how to do this. You don’t.

City Council: Damn it, we can fire you.

Chief Jesse Stone: You can. But you can’t tell me what to do.

    Let’s be honest; institutionalized religion; i.e., church, enables power-hungry men to buy authority over the souls of people by seminary accreditation. This isn’t rocket science, and it is one of many reasons that our young people and many other people groups no longer take the whole mess seriously. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of people who will buy into the religious authority motif and believe they can buy their way into heaven through being religious lackeys and tithing. It’s salvation through man-following just because they claim God has granted them authority over the souls of mankind.

    And yes, the question of Which authority? could come to bear, but that is primarily answered by the idea that it doesn’t matter; one will go to heaven if they are “humble,” and that is determined by their willingness to submit all thinking and beliefs to some authority. In other words, the truthfulness of the authority doesn’t matter, after all, the “meek” will inherit the earth. In the world of church, nothing is more arrogant than a person who seeks God according their own understanding and conscience. As mentioned earlier, this was the exact same mentality that saturated German culture during WWII. Simply stated it is the idea that the great unwashed masses cannot know reality and must follow God-appointed seers or knowers to save mankind from itself. Hence, being a knower is very good work if you can get, and many do.

    Have you ever wondered why churches are so focused on numbers of members and building programs? Both of these speak of authority. Impressive infrastructure exudes authority. For the most part, churches don’t build people or their lives, they build buildings. So-called investment in “spiritual growth” is really an emphasis on orthodoxy that demands submission to “godly men.”

    Come now, let’s be honest; in all cases, the measure of a successful church is the size of its membership role and the glory of its infrastructure. And, here it is; the measure of a mature member is, “He/she is here supporting the church every time the doors are open.” Spiritual maturity is measured by the member’s commitment and support of the institution. This will NEVER change unless Christians stop contributing to institutions with time, money, and meetings in institutional settings. Where you meet states who you are and what you are doing there. Families don’t invest in institutional purpose builds; families gather where families live; in private homes.

    From the beginning of mankind after the deception in the garden, humanity’s worldview was dominated by the idea that individualism leads to chaos unless those appointed by the force, the universe, gods, or God rule over the great unwashed. America’s government by the people and for the people changed all of that, and the historical results clearly speak for themselves. By the way, Protestants who know what a Protestant is are anti-American accordingly. A patriotic Protestant is a confused Protestant, and yet preferable, but nevertheless confused. Individualism and authentic Protestant orthodoxy are mutually exclusive. All in all, anti-Americanism is grounded in fear that experts will be less involved in running the world resulting in annihilation of humanity, and until that happens, abject unfairness because of individual privilege of some sort.

    Please note the major concerns that will always be invoked when people return to true Christian fellowship: “What are your qualifications?” And, for the most part, “By what authority do you do these things?” Ironically, another objection often invoked is the idea that Christian meetings taking place in private homes without formal religious accreditation are “cults.” This is ironic because the exact opposite is true; the very definition of a cult is the marriage of authority and faith. Cults come into play after Americanism because the church had to resort to manipulation after it lost the enforcement of its orthodoxy by the state.

    This is why Protestantism formulated a gospel that rejects the new birth: the new birth speaks to the enablement and qualification of the individual. Humanity’s penchant for caste systems (an authority pecking order supposedly based on ability) is probably grounded in the following: one of the primary essences of sin is its desire to control others (Genesis 4:6,7). Furthermore, the new birth also speaks to the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit that seals the believer until the day of redemption (the saving of the body, not the soul). If once saved always saved is the reality, we only need the institutional church for mission and fellowship, and not salvation.

    However, It is the contention of this study that anything less than the obtaining of salvation itself does not have the financial incentive to support the gargantuan infrastructure of the institutional church. This is because people can fellowship in homes, and when it gets right down to it, individual efforts albeit collective and informal are often the most efficient in meeting real needs. If one doubts this, they only need to observe the Go Fund Me .com phenomenon. One could argue that we only have the needy person’s word for the need, but since when has that not been an issue with institutions? Besides, in home fellowship situations, the participants are probably privy to what the need really is; perhaps more so than the needy person.

    What is the biblical model for so-called “church”? First, know this; “church” is the formal term that denotes when the assembly of Christ became an institution. This happened in the fourth century; until then, the model was a body model and not an institutional model. The assembly of Christ or the visible manifestations of Christians meeting together for the purpose of edification and encouragement unto good works took place exclusively in private homes. Fellowship, edification, encouragement, and learning were the primary purposes. Even though the church claims the same thing, its primary purpose is to maintain individual salvation. That has always been its stated orthodoxy.

    Think about this for a moment; if people are busy focusing on keeping themselves saved, how much focus is really going to be on the edification of others especially when there is doubt regarding personal qualifications? What does this end up looking like? It looks a lot like church.

    Institutions function on the caste system and authority predicated on elitist credentials. Christ’s assembly is a true “household of faith” that is a literal family, not an institution, and functions as a body, not according to an authoritative caste system.

    How does a body function? It functions by mutual submission to needs. A body is a complex organic system that works together. When one body part or organ does not meet the needs of the rest of the body, substandard life occurs. Body parts and organs also meet needs in varying degrees, but all meet some sort of need that varies from efficient functioning to no function at all; i.e., death. It’s not a matter of authority at all; it’s a matter of NEED. Love meets need.

    Of course, the church makes “submission” synonymous with “authority.” Like in the case of marriage, the wife’s call to submit to the husband is made to be an authority issue. But all through the New Testament, everyone is instructed to submit to everyone else. In a sense, everyone in the body has authority because the body NEEDS every member to some degree.

    How worthless is authority? When it gets right down to it, authority can punish someone for not following the law, but authority cannot make anybody do anything. A person is often willing to accept the punishment rather than to…love. Love obeys need; not authority. True need is true law; not Protestant orthodoxy. Authority only has fear at its disposal, but love casts out fear; authority is merely the fear of judgment.

    Do you now see the difference between authority and body, and family versus institution? We will look into this deeper in the next chapter.

Religious Tyranny: A Case Study—Chapter 12; The Way Home

 

Religious Tyranny: A Case Study; Chapter 10, Clearcreek Chapel’s Super-Charged Tyranny Via New Covenant Theology. REVISED

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 28, 2016

Revision in red print. 

religious-tyranny-cover11  In the previous chapter, we examined Protestantism’s law-based gospel in contrast to biblical justification APART  from the law. Protestantism’s Covenant Theology is also a backdrop for this law-based gospel as well. The ground of true biblical justification is the new birth (1John, chapter 3).

    In keeping with Protestantism’s law-based gospel, Covenant Theology posits the idea that Adam and Eve  broke the original law covenant in the garden, and the gospel restores that original covenant. So, the gospel is all about restoring a law covenant between God and man (specifically, a “Covenant of Works”). The vast majority of Bible apologetics refutes this very idea from Genesis to Revelation. It’s almost, as it would seem, too simple; justification is APART from the law. The law is for condemning the world and sanctifying the saints, NOT justification. These are the Spirit’s two uses of the law, but the Spirit justifies through his baptism. (Galatians 3:1,2).

    As discussed previously, the Australian Forum led by Adventist theologian Robert Brinsmead rediscovered the lost Protestant gospel of salvation by perpetually returning to the same gospel that saves us in order to keep ourselves saved. In this way, Protestants can claim a salvation by faith alone because the gospel saves by faith alone, but returning perpetually to the gospel to keep ourselves saved merely turns a “faith-alone” act into works. If salvation is not finished, something must be done to maintain it; however, Protestants claim that returning to the same gospel that saved us in order to eventually finish salvation doesn’t count as works because it is a faith-alone re-appropriation of the gospel. Supposedly, our work in returning to the gospel imputes the works of Christ to our account through our faith-alone works. So, Christ is the one working, not us. And of course, this faith-alone work is only effective under the auspices of the institutional church.

    Another member of the core four of the Australian Forum, Jon Zens, saw a huge problem with the standard-bearing Covenant Theology. What problem did he see? Basically, the same problem described in chapter nine of this study. In response to his concern, Zens created New Covenant Theology (NCT) which was coined such circa 1981. How does that work? Instead of Christ justifying believers by keeping the law for them, Christ came to end the law completely and usher in a singular law of love.

    But is that not what this book advocates as opposed to authentic Protestant orthodoxy? No.

    Here is the key: NCT abrogates both biblical perspectives on the law while Covenant Theology maintains a singular perspective on the law that remains unchanged for the lost and saved both. It abrogates both of the Spirit’s uses of the law, and adds a third option: revelatory interpretation through the Spirit and confirmed by one’s conscience; i.e., “love.” In other words, Christ not only ended the condemnation of the law, He also ended the law’s use for love and replaced it with one single law: whatever the Spirit reveals to you when you interpret all reality through the gospel.

    Let’s put some feet on this. The Bible, according to NCT, has one purpose and one purpose only: to show forth the gospel, or justification. And, all of life is to be interpreted through redemption. If the Bible is used for practical living, that’s a misuse of the Scriptures according to NCT. Guidance for practical living is to come through the elders who are experts at interpreting reality through the gospel. This is known as “Christocentric hermeneutics.”

    But don’t miss the cardinal point here: elder imperatives are based on this single law of love that is unwritten and totally subjective. A mandate by the elders might totally contradict the plain sense of Scripture, but if the elders agree on a certain course of action and their consciences are clear, that is the final word on the issue and tantamount to God Himself speaking on the issue.

    Not only is the aforementioned Chad Bresson (a former elder at the Chapel) a charter disciple of  NCT, but this is the stated Chapel theology. And, this is exactly how they function. Over, and over, and over again the Chapel elders take courses of action that totally contradict the plain grammatical sense of Scripture.

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 (Chad Bresson citing Robert Brinsmead on his blog, “The Vossed World”).

[In other words, the grammatical sense of Scripture is completely irrelevant; true interpretation comes from those “apprehended by the Spirit,” viz, the church elders].

    Now consider; in addition to the fundamental Protestant principles already discussed, NCT makes elders a virtual law unto themselves with their self-proclaimed stamp of approval from the Holy Spirit.

    Protestant tyranny has persecuting principles in the Westminster Confession to begin with; the addition of NCT supercharges the tyranny, and what does that look like? It looks a lot like Clearcreek Chapel.

    Before we move on to the final chapter, this study will add one more perspective and clarify what we have discussed so far. The Bible states two uses of the law by the Holy Spirit. He uses it to condemn the lost and to sanctify the saved as they colabor with the Spirit in loving obedience to the law minus all fear of condemnation. The Spirit’s use of the law has changed in regard to the saved because of the new birth (Romans 8:2). The Spirit justifies apart from the law; the new birth is what justifies the believer.

    In Protestantism’s Covenant Theology, the law only condemns, and it is the standard for justification. Because of the law’s “righteous demands” being the standard for justification, and no person lost or saved can keep the law perfectly, the law can only condemn. Hence, Christ came to fulfill the law’s, “righteous demands.” Remember, this is the doctrine of “double imputation.” By the way, this is exactly what the apostle Paul argued against in Galatians, chapter 3. In that chapter, he argues that such a view makes the law an additional life-giving seed, but there is only ONE seed; Christ. Regardless of who obeys the law in order to fulfill its “righteous demands,” it is then the law that gives life. As Paul argues in Galatians, chapter 3, this makes the law an additional member of the Trinity.

    In NCT, Christ came to end all aspects of the law…period. Granted, NCT does not make the law a life-giver like Covenant Theology and Protestantism in general. The law was “abrogated” in totality and replaced with the “law of Christ” or the “one law of love.”  More like the biblical take on justification, one is justified because the law is gone—there is no law in which to judge or condemn a believer. But here is the huge problem with NCT: according to the Bible, there is no real love apart from the law in sanctification. The NCT concept is nothing new; this is why the Bible also states that one is justified by loving obedience to the law. Believers are not justified by loving obedience as cause and effect, but loving obedience shows that they have been justified through the new birth. In fact, NCT’s rejection of an objective grammatical application of the law as a means of love in the Christian life is the very biblical definition of antinomianism.

    So then, it could be said that Covenant Theology necessarily relaxes the law because Jesus keeps it for us, but NCT rejects it altogether for everything. But what is the replacement? Answer: the one, single, “law of love.” What’s that? Whatever the anointed elders say it is at any given time as revealed to them by the Spirit and confirmed by a clear conscience. This is why Clearcreek Chapel is so central to this study; they not only designate NCT as their primary doctrine, this is exactly how they function. And, one is justified by “hear ye Him” via the elders of the church. Hearing the elders is synonymous with hearing Christ, and of course, “My sheep hear my voice.” Again, it boils down to salvation by faithfulness to the church and putting yourself “under the authority of godly men.” And what, in reality, defines a “man of God”? Answer: anyone who has the money to get a degree at a Protestant seminary or in some instances, because Protestant elitists confirm someone who may lack formal education. CJ Mahaney would be a good example of that.

    Yet, there is one more angle on this that we should consider. Some in the Reformation tradition reject double imputation because of its obvious biblical contradictions, especially in the book of Hebrews. So what do they do with the law? Everything is pretty much the same as Covenant Theology, but the law is defined as a church marriage covenant with Christ. We have all heard this, right? The idea that the church is the “bride of Christ.” Hence, the law is our guide to be faithful to our marriage with Christ which also saves us. If we are not faithful to our marriage covenant with Christ, we are not saved, and again, since the church is Christ’s bride, salvation can only be obtained by faithfulness to the church and membership thereof. Sound familiar?

    It’s all the same common denominator; salvation by church membership.

Covenants 2.jpg

Religious Tyranny: A Case Study; Chapter 11, The Way Home. Family, Not Institution. Body, Not Authority.  

Religious Tyranny: A Case Study; Chapter 10, Clearcreek Chapel’s Super-Charged Tyranny Via New Covenant Theology

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 26, 2016

religious-tyranny-cover11  In the previous chapter, we examined Protestantism’s law-based gospel in contrast to biblical justification APART  from the law. Protestantism’s Covenant Theology is also a backdrop for this law-based gospel as well. The ground of true biblical justification is the new birth (1John, chapter 3).

    In keeping with Protestantism’s law-based gospel, Covenant Theology posits the idea that Adam and Eve  broke the original law covenant in the garden, and the gospel restores that original covenant. So, the gospel is all about restoring a law covenant between God and man (specifically, a “Covenant of Works”). The vast majority of Bible apologetics refutes this very idea from Genesis to Revelation. It’s almost, as it would seem, too simple; justification is APART from the law. The law is for condemning the world and sanctifying the saints, NOT justification. These are the Spirit’s two uses of the law, but the Spirit justifies through his baptism. (Galatians 3:1,2).

    As discussed previously, the Australian Forum led by Adventist theologian Robert Brinsmead rediscovered the lost Protestant gospel of salvation by perpetually returning to the same gospel that saves us in order to keep ourselves saved. In this way, Protestants can claim a salvation by faith alone because the gospel saves by faith alone, but returning perpetually to the gospel to keep ourselves saved merely turns a “faith-alone” act into works. If salvation is not finished, something must be done to maintain it; however, Protestants claim that returning to the same gospel that saved us in order to eventually finish salvation doesn’t count as works because it is a faith-alone re-appropriation of the gospel. Supposedly, our work in returning to the gospel imputes the works of Christ to our account through our faith-alone works. So, Christ is the one working, not us. And of course, this faith-alone work is only effective under the auspices of the institutional church.

    Another member of the core four of the Australian Forum, Jon Zens, saw a huge problem with the standard-bearing Covenant Theology. What problem did he see? Basically, the same problem described in chapter nine of this study. In response to his concern, Zens created New Covenant Theology (NCT) which was coined such circa 1981. How does that work? Instead of Christ justifying believers by keeping the law for them, Christ came to end the law completely and usher in a singular law of love.

    But is that not what this book advocates as opposed to authentic Protestant orthodoxy? No.

    Here is the key: NCT abrogates both biblical perspectives on the law while Covenant Theology maintains a singular perspective on the law that remains unchanged for the lost and saved both. It abrogates both of the Spirit’s uses of the law, and adds a third option: revelatory interpretation through the Spirit and confirmed by one’s conscience; i.e., “love.” In other words, Christ not only ended the condemnation of the law, He also ended the law’s use for love and replaced it with one single law: whatever the Spirit reveals to you when you interpret all reality through the gospel.

    Let’s put some feet on this. The Bible, according to NCT, has one purpose and one purpose only: to show forth the gospel, or justification. And, all of life is to be interpreted through redemption. If the Bible is used for practical living, that’s a misuse of the Scriptures according to NCT. Guidance for practical living is to come through the elders who are experts at interpreting reality through the gospel. This is known as “Christocentric hermeneutics.”

    But don’t miss the cardinal point here: elder imperatives are based on this single law of love that is unwritten and totally subjective. A mandate by the elders might totally contradict the plain sense of Scripture, but if the elders agree on a certain course of action and their consciences are clear, that is the final word on the issue and tantamount to God Himself speaking on the issue.

    Not only is the aforementioned Chad Bresson (a former elder at the Chapel) a charter disciple of  NCT, but this is the stated Chapel theology. And, this is exactly how they function. Over, and over, and over again the Chapel elders take courses of action that totally contradict the plain grammatical sense of Scripture.

    Now consider; in addition to the fundamental Protestant principles already discussed, NCT makes elders a virtual law unto themselves with their self-proclaimed stamp of approval from the Holy Spirit.

    Protestant tyranny has persecuting principles in the Westminster Confession to begin with; the addition of NCT supercharges the tyranny, and what does that look like? It looks a lot like Clearcreek Chapel.

    Before we move on to the final chapter, this study will add one more perspective and clarify what we have discussed so far. The Bible states two uses of the law by the Holy Spirit. He uses it to condemn the lost and to sanctify the saved as they colabor with the Spirit in loving obedience to the law minus all fear of condemnation. The Spirit’s use of the law has changed in regard to the saved because of the new birth (Romans 8:2). The Spirit justifies apart from the law; the new birth is what justifies the believer.

    In Protestantism’s Covenant Theology, the law only condemns, and it is the standard for justification. Because of the law’s “righteous demands” being the standard for justification, and no person lost or saved can keep the law perfectly, the law can only condemn. Hence, Christ came to fulfill the law’s, “righteous demands.” Remember, this is the doctrine of “double imputation.” By the way, this is exactly what the apostle Paul argued against in Galatians, chapter 3. In that chapter, he argues that such a view makes the law an additional life-giving seed, but there is only ONE seed; Christ. Regardless of who obeys the law in order to fulfill its “righteous demands,” it is then the law that gives life. As Paul argues in Galatians, chapter 3, this makes the law an additional member of the Trinity.

    In NCT, Christ came to end all aspects of the law…period. Granted, NCT does not make the law a life-giver like Covenant Theology and Protestantism in general. The law was “abrogated” in totality and replaced with the “law of Christ” or the “one law of love.”  More like the biblical take on justification, one is justified because the law is gone—there is no law in which to judge or condemn a believer. But here is the huge problem with NCT: according to the Bible, there is no real love apart from the law in sanctification. The NCT concept is nothing new; this is why the Bible also states that one is justified by loving obedience to the law. Believers are not justified by loving obedience as cause and effect, but loving obedience shows that they have been justified through the new birth. In fact, NCT’s rejection of an objective grammatical application of the law as a means of love in the Christian life is the very biblical definition of antinomianism.

    So then, it could be said that Covenant Theology necessarily relaxes the law because Jesus keeps it for us, but NCT rejects it altogether for everything. But what is the replacement? Answer: the one, single, “law of love.” What’s that? Whatever the anointed elders say it is at any given time as revealed to them by the Spirit and confirmed by a clear conscience. This is why Clearcreek Chapel is so central to this study; they not only designate NCT as their primary doctrine, this is exactly how they function. And, one is justified by “hear ye Him” via the elders of the church. Hearing the elders is synonymous with hearing Christ, and of course, “My sheep hear my voice.” Again, it boils down to salvation by faithfulness to the church and putting yourself “under the authority of godly men.” And what, in reality, defines a “man of God”? Answer: anyone who has the money to get a degree at a Protestant seminary or in some instances, because Protestant elitists confirm someone who may lack formal education. CJ Mahaney would be a good example of that.

    Yet, there is one more angle on this that we should consider. Some in the Reformation tradition reject double imputation because of its obvious biblical contradictions, especially in the book of Hebrews. So what do they do with the law? Everything is pretty much the same as Covenant Theology, but the law is defined as a church marriage covenant with Christ. We have all heard this, right? The idea that the church is the “bride of Christ.” Hence, the law is our guide to be faithful to our marriage with Christ which also saves us. If we are not faithful to our marriage covenant with Christ, we are not saved, and again, since the church is Christ’s bride, salvation can only be obtained by faithfulness to the church and membership thereof. Sound familiar?

    It’s all the same common denominator; salvation by church membership.

Covenants 2.jpg

Religious Tyranny: A Case Study; Chapter 11, The Way Home. Family, Not Institution. Body, Not Authority.  

 

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