Paul's Passing Thoughts

A Foundational Position on Election

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 4, 2014

ppt-jpeg4“Incredibly, and in broad daylight, MacArthur’s kinship to Augustine’s Platonism was eerily on display. This is not a side issue; this is the meat of the total depravity gospel which invariably leads to a Reformed view of election.”

 “The idea that people can do no good work is not even true of unbelievers. But the problem for the Reformed is this: if the unbeliever can do good works, though falling far short of God’s glory in totality, one of those good works might be choosing God. That’s a huge problem for the Reformed theologian. Hence, the ability to do any good work must be eradicated; viz, total depravity.”

As anybody who visits here much at PPT knows, I have stayed clear of a specific position on election aside from discussing some inclinations about the subject. This is because I am convinced that most Christians don’t have a solid understanding of justification which is very definitive, unlike the question of election. The following makes sense to me: nail down what we can know definitively first, then perhaps the rest will fall into place.

This has worked for me; I have come to some foundational conclusions about election while knowing there is much more to learn. But the following is what I know at this time. These are difficult questions, but the very difficultly indicates an expectation by God: we are to be zealously involved in the working out of these questions.  Granted, at this time, there are some things only God will know, but we are responsible for what we can know (Due 29:29, 30:11-14). Pleading ignorance because of your awareness of God’s greatness can be a cloak for wicked laziness (Matt 25:14-30).

I was inspired yesterday to put together thoughts I have had for some time after stumbling upon John MacArthur’s speech about total depravity at the 2008 T4G conference. Coming to a resolute conclusion about MacArthur’s “Christian” worldview has been a long and hard journey for me. I know Augustine, Calvin, and Luther well as I read them daily—that’s my ministry—that’s what those who support this ministry expect me to do, and MacArthur is in league with that worldview lock, stock, and barrel.

The exception would be his eschatology which doesn’t match his Reformed soteriology, and perhaps that is why there has been a parting of the ways between MacArthur and T4G. Multiple judgments and resurrections suggest a separation between justification and sanctification, and assurance of justification which is an Augustinian anomaly.

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree  

In a court of law, information from a bad source or means is looked upon with much skepticism, and the fact is, the doctrine of election came from the Reformers; this makes the doctrine of election VERY suspect for concrete reasons. While stating that election didn’t come from the Reformers, but rather the Bible, all admit that the Reformers brought it to our attention that election is in the Bible, and then we went to look for ourselves based on the “biblical facts” they pointed to.

Indeed, we caution ourselves because a clock that doesn’t work is right twice a day, but in this case, the clock has no hands. The Reformers brought it to our attention that election is in the Bible, and then also brought it to our attention that we are worthy of death if we don’t agree with their assessment of election. Most Reformed confessions and counsels, including Westminster, included this clause, and Calvin stated it to Francis I in the prefatory address of his Institutes. This lacks Jesus likeness, and a tree is known by its fruit.

Secondly, Reformed soteriology is clearly at odds with biblical justification. First and foremost, the Reformers wanted to make a case for total depravity. If man is totally depraved and unable to choose God, obviously, God must elect. In his introduction at T4G, MacArthur notes that total depravity wasn’t invented by Calvin or Luther, but historically, it went all the way back to the fifth century and Saint Augustine. Apparently, older is better. 2008 was the first year that Neo-Calvinism was dubbed, “New Calvinism,” and I believe MacArthur wanted to make a case that it wasn’t “new,” a word that can make Evangelicals a little skittish. MacArthur et al deem total depravity to be the very bedrock of the Reformed gospel, and clearly, he was making a case for historical precedent. But there are two reasons why this leads to a Reformed Achilles’ heel on both feet.

Augustine was an avowed Neo-Platonist who would have considered the material, including man, as being evil and only the invisible/spiritual as being good. Furthermore, a just society was the paramount goal of Platonism which necessitates the marriage of church and state. And, “just” was defined as “united” by Plato which necessitates unquestionable allegiance to the ruling class, or philosophers. When Augustine, the undisputed father of Reformed soteriology merged Neo-Platonism with Christianity, another assertion that few dispute, Plato’s philosopher kings became the clergy. In the minds of the Platonist Reformed clergy, the state is ordained to enforce “orthodoxy.”

Incredibly, and in broad daylight, MacArthur’s kinship to Augustine’s Platonism was eerily on display. This is not a side issue; this is the meat of the total depravity gospel which invariably leads to a Reformed view of election. In addressing the pastors at T4G, he described them as the most important people in the world—more important than the rulers of nations, and because of their calling, the only ones adequate to proclaim the gospel. He referred to them as those who are “a savor of life to life and death to death.” The idea of elitism could not hold a candle to his address. Consequently, the idea that the lesser important government should enforce “life to life” for the betterment of the collective good could not be far behind, and historically, never has been.

In Augustine’s endeavor to integrate Christianity with Platonism, there was a glitch: mankind seems to perform good deeds from time to time whether saved or lost. This suggests that mankind is endowed with a general competency and ability to interpret reality. The solution? Make a perfect keeping of law the standard for justification and the maintenance thereof. If an act does not conform to the law perfectly, as if that wouldn’t be possible to begin with, it has no merit with God and is worthy of condemnation. And even if it were possible to do one truly good act, it is discredited by James 2:10 because if you break the law at one point, you are guilty of breaking all of it. This is Calvin’s cardinal point in 3.14.9-11 of the Calvin Institutes.

This is where Augustine shot Reformed soteriology in the other foot as well. A careful examination of Pauline theology contradicts this by way of extreme antithesis. God’s righteousness is imputed APART from the law (Rom 3:21). There is NO law that can give life (Gal 3:21). We are deemed sinless because there is NO law in justification. The law that judged our weakness in the flesh was ENDED by Christ (Rom 10:4) “…for righteousness.”  If not for the old self and the flesh, we would obey God perfectly, but the old us that was under that law (Rom 6:14) died with Christ. Therefore, being dead, that law cannot judge us (Rom 7:1-6). You can’t bring a dead person to trial.

More Poisonous Fruit

Throughout his speech at the 2008 T4G, MacArthur referred to the “sinner’s” inability to “see the evil in their good…he does not see his sin in his goodness.” MacArthur also complained about the belief that man has a “residual good,” and an ability to “contribute to his salvation.”  In true authentic Reformed style, MacArthur was deliberately ambiguous in regard to any distinction between justification and sanctification. Is a “sinner” referring to the regenerate or unregenerate or both? By “salvation,” does he mean a finished work that only pertains to the saved, or an ongoing work that encompasses the saved who are also sinners? When he used the word, “man” and “mankind,” is that mankind in general or just unbelievers?

He never said specifically, but if true to the theology of the camp where he was speaking, he meant both. He meant that believers remain totally depraved and unable to do a work that pleases God. This is indeed Calvin to a T (CI 3.14.11), and is more poisonous fruit as MacArthur, like all authentic Calvinists, talk about sanctification in a justification way. What we are really talking about is the total depravity of the saints though he never stated that outright, but that’s what it is speaking of and he knows it. This is deliberate and deceptive communication. When he spoke of “salvation,” did he mean progressive justification, or the finished work of justification? If Calvin’s title to the 14th chapter of book three (Calvin Institutes) is any indication, he meant the former (progressive justification).

That’s not only Calvin—MacArthur said something in the speech that connects all of these ideas together: salvation/ justification is progressive, total depravity also refers to the saints, and the saints can do no work pleasing to God; i.e., if the believer does not consider all of his/her works to be filthy rags, if he/she cannot see the evil in their good, they are no whit any different than the unbeliever. The only difference between a believer and an unbeliever is their ability to see how evil they are. This is revealed by his citation of a John Bunyan quote during the speech: The best prayer I ever prayed had enough sin in it to condemn the whole world. Elsewhere quoted by others: “There is enough sin in my best prayer to send the whole world to Hell.”  Any questions?

That is untrue and reveals the Reformed skewing of biblical justification. The prayers of the saints contain no sin that can condemn—believers are not under the law. Where there is no law there is no sin (Rom 5:13), and the law has nothing to say to us for justification (Rom 3:19). Bunyan was talking about transgressions that can condemn according to the law, but according to James,

The effective prayer of a righteous person has great power

Moreover, when MacArthur complained in the same speech that one who thinks he can do good works also thinks he can “contribute to his salvation”—we must assume that he was speaking of believers as well. This would also be consistent with Reformed thought.

The idea that people can do no good work is not even true of unbelievers. But the problem for the Reformed is this: if the unbeliever can do good works, though falling far short of God’s glory in totality, one of those good works might be choosing God. That’s a huge problem for the Reformed theologian. Hence, the ability to do any good work must be eradicated; viz, total depravity.

As I was preparing for this post this morning, Susan overheard MacArthur’s comments on the mp3 that there is no good in man’s goodness. She immediately became indignant and ratted off several Bible references that clearly contradict that idea. That is one of the many beauties of Scripture; it presents a historic motion picture of metaphysics. It is a history that documents reality in regard to the milieu of life. Men teach certain things that you hear, and you say to yourself,

Wait a minute; I was reading in such and such book and such and such were having a conversation about this, that or the other and that makes no sense in light of what is being taught here.

You don’t need to be a theologian per se, the Bible is a metaphysical truth statement. Often, what is being taught merely doesn’t line up with reality, mathematical-like truth notwithstanding. Jesus said evil men know how to give good gifts to their children. Yes, they are evil, but they can do good works. I am not sure what is more evident. Romans 6:20 states that the unregenerate are enslaved to unrighteousness, but are free to do good. In other words, pleasing God is not the aim of their life, but they can still do good works.

You can’t have it both ways; if believers are enslaved to righteousness and free to sin, and they are (Rom 7:25), then the opposite must be true of unbelievers. Regeneration is a reversal of slavery and freedom resulting in a change of direction, not perfection, but the change of direction is counted as true righteousness. This is because the mind of the believer is a servant of the law while the sins of his/her flesh are not counted against them in regard to justification (Rom 7:17).

MacArthur claims that total depravity is the linchpin of the gospel, but in reality, it is the foundation that makes Reformed theology utterly devoid of truth. If man is unable to choose, and God must elect in that regard, it stands to reason that Christ only went to the cross for the elect, or in other words, limited atonement, the “L” in TULIP. Dying for all men implies that the ball is in their court. Aloof is the point that no one would suggest that man could supply the means of salvation, at issue is choice. Can man choose the means that God has supplied? So, what does the Bible say about limited atonement? Well, in several places it states that Christ died for all men. The Reformed are quick to assert the following in reply: “That means ‘all kinds of men,’ not ‘all’ men.” John 3:16 poses a significant problem for this view as “world” (κόσμος kosmos) would refer to all men period. Titus 3:4 states that a “love toward man” (Baker Interlinear—φιλανθρωπία philanthrōpia) appeared. Curiously, the ESV, a Neo-Calvinist translation, translates “love toward man” as simply “kindness.”

In addition, we cannot implore people to not “neglect such a great salvation” (Heb 2:3) if there is no salvation for them to neglect in the first place. If limited atonement is true, we simply have no way of knowing whether or not that is a valid appeal. Moreover, why would the Spirit of grace be “outraged” (Heb 10:29) that people turn their backs on a salvation that is not theirs in the first place? It makes more sense that He would be outraged because people turn their backs on a sacrifice that was made for them.

Even More Poisonous Fruit 

While we are on the subject of TULIP, one wonders if Reformed ideologues like MacArthur have an apt understanding of what Calvin really taught; particularly, the relationship between the “I” and the “P.” Calvin taught that there are the non-elect, the called, or the general elect, which are temporary recipients of “irresistible grace,” and those who are granted the “gift” of perseverance. Ultimately, those who persevere show themselves to be the true elect. It is interesting that Calvin actually taught a temporary illumination/election (see CI 3.24.7,8). Frankly, I think this buffoonery speaks for itself.  While MacArthur bemoaned those who worship a god of their own making during said speech, he worships a capricious Calvinistic god that temporarily illumines and is outraged at people who reject a salvation that was never given.

I have examined several “proof texts” that support total depravity and man’s inability/unwillingness to respond to God, or choose God. By and large, the gospel call to repentance and belief, and instances of strong exhortation to believe by God, Christ and the apostles, which assume ability to choose, far outnumber passages that seem to reflect predestination because of total depravity, and the fewer passages do not state specifically that man has no ability to choose. Moreover, one is generally uncomfortable with the idea that God commands us to do things we are incapable of doing. Augustine’s profound unction of “Lord command what you will and grant what you command!” doesn’t pass the reality smell test, and has creepy similarities to the parable of the talents.

And without a doubt, many of the proof texts presented deal with man’s will/ability to participate in the means of salvation, and have little to do with man choosing the means supplied by God alone. In other words, man can believe and choose, but it goes without saying that he cannot summon the Holy Spirit to regenerate him—that is totally out of man’s control, yet a promise for believing.

Total depravity and its Reformed take on election is fruit from the poisonous tree. MacArthur further validated this by his closing comments at the 2008 T4G conference which were very disturbing to say the least. In a show of his Augustinian kinship to Platonism, MacArthur said that the gospel was a “call to the sinner to flee from all that is natural, and run to the cross.” Really? “All” that is “natural”? This smacks of Luther’s theology of cross which asserts that ALL reality is interpreted by the gospel. Also, “Reality is not on the outside—it is on the inside.” Why would MacArthur make a point of insinuating that there is no reality in the “outside” world? Those who are familiar with Platonism will immediately recognize these concepts that are also part and parcel with Plato’s stepchildren, the Gnostics.

MacArthur also closed with two “immutable truths”:  “all hearts are the same,” and “all need the same gospel—God’s work is heart work—mind work.” What does he mean by “all”? Is he saying that the heart of the unbeliever is no different than that of an unbeliever? Is he saying that both need the same gospel? Well, that would be authentic Reformed doctrine, so we must assume the answer is, “yes.”

In the final analysis, man does have a choice, but it is not that simple and this is an untapped frontier of study. For example, there is little discussion about God’s activity in our lives that aids our choices. God has promised in His word that He will not allow more in our lives than we can bear etc. As far as man being able to do works that have merit with God, it is clear that he can; for example, those who bless Israel will be blessed, and those who curse Israel will be cursed. Though a terrible reality in which to make a point, there will be degrees of eternal punishment which clearly demonstrates some kind of merit on the part of unbelievers.

The apostle Paul exhorted and implored people to be reconciled to God, and I believe he did so because he knew of man’s ability to be persuaded. Persuasion indicates choice, and let’s faces it, the belief that man has no choice does dampen evangelistic aspirations—this is unavoidable. And what is the Reformed explanation for that? Evangelism is a “savor of life to life and death to death” for God’s glory. Supposedly, both obtain glory for God.

I reject that because God, according to Him, takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. I reject that because Christ wept over Jerusalem.

And I reject that because the doctrine of total depravity is fruit from a wicked Reformed tree. MacArthur et al refuse to acknowledge the reality of Reformation history and are driven by a logic that they refuse to repent of. It is an elitist mentality that calls for “hard preaching” that makes the parishioners “soft” (Ibid 2008 T4G). If not for the almighty Reformed elder, parishioners en masse would be left to their own hard hearts.

And here we go again, the Bible NEVER states that believers have hearts that are bent towards hardness or wickedness. In the Bible, the heart is the regenerated part of the believer that is holy and righteous. If you follow MacArthur’s message closely and draw logical conclusions from his Reformed-like nuanced statements, salvation is a beginning heart work that progresses only in the believer’s ability to “see” the works of Christ without being directly involved in them. Like he said, we can take no credit or gain any merit with God by what we do. These assertions make the Bible a metaphysical train wreck.

And perhaps that is the idea—to keep the Christian masses confused and pliable.  MacArthur stated in his speech that the goal isn’t to be cool, but to be clear. This was probably a subtle statement about the YYR New Calvinist subculture, but let me be clear about what MacArthur wants to be clear: the great unwashed masses are confused, and are in desperate need of the “most important men in the world” to do the thinking for them. Preaching must be “hard” to keep parishioners softhearted pliable/controllable through fear of condemnation.

Like all of the Reformed elitists of our day, MacArthur presents himself as an angel of light, but birds of the feather flock together, and the fruit of the Reformation is undeniable, and a tree is known by its fruit.

And if you forget all else, don’t forget this: a position on election/total depravity coming from those who don’t understand the elementary principles of justification is ill-advised.



2014 “Shepherds” Conference: Speaker Jerry Wragg Leads Conference in Either Deliberate Deception or Confusion

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 7, 2014

ppt-jpeg4Laptops are wonderful. I have been running PPT while doing some major remolding on my mother’s house. I have been watching the comments on a couple of recent posts that have stirred a lot of discussion in regard to law and gospel. If it takes a while for your comment to be moderated, I am probably soldering a water pipe.  I have little time right now to jump into the fray, but what a delight to see the laity emboldened to engage this topic. The posts are in relationship to TANC’s latest realization regarding the Reformed view of atonement. I am astounded in regard to the simplicity of the crux: did Christ merely cover our sins, or did He END sin?

Obviously, according to Calvin, Christ died to merely cover sin. We have established firmly that total depravity also pertains to the saints in Reformed thought. Reformed soteriology changes the experience, not the person. This is the official Reformed doctrine of mortification and vivification. Also obvious is the idea that covering goes hand in hand with the idea that Christians are not changed in their personal righteousness. If our sins are ended, a completely different soteriology is demanded. This Sunday, I will be further supplementing our Romans series with another look at atonement, and be sure of this, John 1:29 will be mentioned:

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

What of this? Did Christ take our sin away, or did He merely cover it? Is our “just standing” merely a realm change with the same relationship to the law, or does salvation change our relationship to the law? I am awaiting a transcript of David Platt’s view of atonement that I will implement in clarifying this position.

This now brings me to the subject at hand. A brother who I have not talked to for some time sent me a tidbit of information about the 2014 “Shepherds” Conference held annually at John MacArthur’s church. Yes, the quotation marks are of the scare variety. Before I get into the tidbit, he reminds me of a longstanding reality in the institutional church. Brothers and sisters who can think for themselves are always going to be deemed a threat in the institutional church. I don’t know of his present church status, but what a joy to see the Home Fellowship movement setting brothers like him free to practice their gifts.

He reminds me very much of Andy Young who is now free to bless people with his gift of teaching, but like Andy, the gift doesn’t match the recognition and opportunity that takes place in the brick and mortar church. Seminaries are where you go to get your Reformed pedigree and certificate that confirms that you will toe the Reformed line. You pay money to get your certificate, then you can get a job as a philosopher king—that’s how the system works. Conferences reinforce the system, and the laity unwittingly pays for it. It is a sanctified caste system like no other.

Now for the tidbit. He informed me that one of the speakers, a Jerry Wragg, delivered a message at the conference entitled, “The New Antinomianism: Evaluating the Implications of Cross-centered Sanctification.” Ok, we understand that there is a bunch of confusion at The Masters’ Seminary, but is this just more confusion, or outright deception? For the most part, Christians intuitively believe that sanctification is synergistic while justification is monergistic. Even if you believe you have a choice, obviously, God alone made a way to be saved. Let me suggest that if our sins are only covered, soteriology becomes very deep and we need the philosopher kings; if our sins are ENDED—not so much.

At any rate, the herd of heretics in these last days are well aware of the intuition, and therefore merely emphasize justification resulting in the out-of-sight-out-of-mind result of “justification by faith alone” which is really sanctification by faith alone as well. James sternly warned the church against this heresy. But every now and then, this herd of supposed stalwarts of the faith that the apostles predicted would be absent in the last days to begin with, sense that the totally depraved zombie sheep are catching on and it is time for a little doublespeak.

I read the title of the message to Susan, and as she looked at me dumbfounded, I asked, “So, do you think this is confusion, or deception?” Her reply: “deception.” Perhaps, but as I have stated before, I believe many of this year’s speakers at TSC 2014 are the premier heretics of our day who are leading untold thousands to hell, in fact, I doubt hell ever looked better while MacArthur is just plain confused. An example is the maintaining of his dispensational eschatology along with his Reformed soteriology. Antinomianism usually walks hand in hand with one judgment and covering, while the former is consistent with multiple judgments for different purposes and the ending of sin resulting in new creaturehood that is personal and not realm related. It is a righteousness that is personal, not merely an imputed experience.

So, will a review of this message, when it is posted, reveal a sound interpretation of sanctification; ie., Mac-like confusion, or has this speaker been called on to calm the herd with Reformed doublespeak?

Let me close with why the title of his message is spot-on. Antinomianism, an actual biblical word as opposed to Phil Johnson’s favorite unbiblical concept of “legalism,” is both good and bad. Anti-law in justification is good while anti-law in sanctification suggests that we are still “under law” and need a continued “covering.” If our sin is still judged by the law, we need perpetual justification. And if we need a perpetual, “covering” by the blood, that obviously suggests a perpetual return to the cross; ie., “cross-centered” sanctification.

Well, humans are created to work and think both. That’s why space aliens have skinny little bodies and big heads; they create reality in a realm by thinking about stuff, you know, like Phil Johnson’s gospel contemplationism. But reality is tricky when you are created to work: how do we work to please God without it going towards our justification? See, that makes things really tricky; that’s why you need them, and that’s why they have conferences…

…if they didn’t continually remind you of that, they would have to get a real job. And besides, you pay for the reminder.


Strange Fire Conference: John MacArthur’s Insufferable Hypocrisy

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 16, 2013

ppt-jpeg4John MacArthur may go down in church history as one of the most confused pastors ever to step into a pulpit. His steroidal cognitive dissonance constantly results in insufferable hypocrisy.

For certain I thought he could not outdo himself in this regard, but he has. After writing Charismatic Chaos in 1992, he partnered with Charismatic CJ Mahaney for eight years in the Resolved conferences sponsored by his church, Grace Community in Sun Valley, California. One year after the last Resolved conference, MacArthur is hosting the 2013 Strange Fire conference that is fustigating Charismatic doctrine in no uncertain terms. The hypocrisy of it all is staggering.

MacArthur also seems to have a problem with the mysticism promoted by Charismatic theology, but yet is a close confidant of John Piper who not only has Charismatic leanings himself, but led the 2012 Passion conference in the mystic practice of Lectio Divina.

Furthermore, Geneva style Calvinists (also at the conference: Sproul, Lawson, Phil Johnson, et al) criticizing Charismatics is beyond the kettle calling the pot black. Calvin and Luther both attributed their theology to Neo-Platonist St. Augustine. The practical outcome is sanctification by faith alone through gospel contemplationism resulting in realm experience/manifestation. MacArthur himself now claims that he only explains the word of God and the Holy Spirit applies it resulting in his followers obeying God without realizing it (

Moreover, Calvinism is based on Hindu-like sanctification that posits perpetual mortification followed by vivification. As we dwell on our sin only, we are brought to despair (mortification) leading to the joy of our original rebirth (vivification).  Calvinists Paul Washer and Michael Horton have both referred to this as continually “reliving our baptism.”

In MacArthur’s keynote address at this year’s Strange Fire conference, he also criticized Charismatics for their misrepresentation and overemphasis on the Holy Spirit leading to the dishonoring of the other two Trinity members. But likewise, Calvinists do the same thing with their Christocentric approach to the Scriptures. In the forward to Rick Holland’s book, Uneclipsing The Son (an in-your-face Gnostic treatise), MacArthur stated that ANY emphasis on ANYONE or ANYTHING other than Christ hinders the sanctification of God’s people.

All in all, Charismatics are barely any different than Calvinists. They both partake in epistemology that sees the horizontal as purely subjective and the vertical as purely objective. The goal is to experience the spirit realm horizontally through mysticism. For the Calvinist it is gospel contemplationism. For the Charismatic it is speaking in tongues.

What’s the difference?


Dear Jane, I Don’t Know About NT Wright, But I do Know Phil Johnson is a Heretic

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 30, 2013


What do you think about this video about NT Wright being called a heretic by Phil Johnson?  Phil says Apostle Paul warns in Galatians about the heretic belief that denies imputed righteousness of Christ.

I think Phil is a puffed-up talking head, but curious on your take of this.



Thanks for this. Phil Johnson is a hardcore proponent of authentic Calvinist (AC) Reformed doctrine. It holds to the double imputation of Christ’s righteousness being imputed to our justification and sanctification. The Bible emphasizes that the righteousness of the Father was imputed to us APART from the law before the foundation of the world. For AC, it is important that it is specifically stated that it is Christ’s righteousness that was imputed to us because He is the only member of the Trinity that would have “kept the law” as a man. And that’s the crux of the heresy, it advocates a righteousness that is NOT APART from the law. It fuses WORKS with grace.

The cute little Calvinist end-around on that is the idea that it is alright that justification is based on perfect works because Jesus keeps the law in our stead. IF we live by the same faith-alone gospel that saved us, the perfect obedience (Christ’s righteousness) of Christ will be perpetually applied to our life and we will be found covered by the righteousness of Christ at the ONE final judgement where the law must be satisfied. The problem here is that a satisfaction of the law is in view, and that is completely antithetical to the point that the apostle Paul strives to make in the Scriptures about grace being apart from the foundation of works. WHO DOES THE WORKS IS NOT THE POINT–WORKS PERIOD IS THE POINT.

But in this false doctrine a practical problem arises. We have to keep our salvation by faith alone so that perfect works will be perpetually applied to our account in sanctification so that we can remain justified. Because of this fusion of justification and sanctification and the fusion of grace and works, our Christian life becomes focused on the ambiguous endeavor of  living by faith alone apart from works. The standard for what saved us is now the same standard for our Christian life. “It is [NOT] finished.” If our justification was not finished at the cross, what was Jesus talking about? Plainly, justification is not finished, we have to maintain it by faith alone. This is merely works salvation by proxy; ie., our faith alone in sanctification is a rectifier that imputes works to grace.

Furthermore, it requires a complicated theological system that defines what IS A WORK in sanctification versus what IS NOT a work in sanctification. Critical to the AC construct therefore is the Redemptive Historical hermeneutic that rectifies biblical commands to a faith-alone construct. Simply put, it is a way to only EXPERIENCE obedience rather than to be the actual DOER of the law in sanctification lest it become, “the GROUND of our justification.” Hence, interpreting our Bible grammatically leads to works salvation because it necessarily implies “a leap from the imperative to obedience” rather than the imperative being rectified by the progressive imputation of Christ’s obedience.

It’s backdoor works salvation.

Moreover, it makes sanctification exactly what the Reformers themselves called it: “subjective.”  That’s their words exactly, not mine. The power in our sanctification is subjective because we only experience obedience and do not participate in it. We are to meditate on the OBJECTIVE gospel and passively observe the SUBJECTIVE results by faith alone. Hence, “the subjective power of the objective gospel.” John Immel would say that this is all about control; it makes sanctification an ambiguous and fearful endeavor that beckons the saints to depend on God’s annointed to guide them through the tricky and treacherous waters of Christian living by faith alone. Of course, James addressed this very problem in his epistle.

And Immel is absolutely correct about the control issue. That’s why Phil Johnson advocates this doctrine: he is a despicable tyrant filled with lust for the need to control people. Like Calvin, he advocates this false doctrine so as the apostle Paul said, let them both be accursed.


John MacArthur: The Evil Empire Only Needs a Little Tweaking

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 4, 2011

It needs to be stated again, and again: the Emergent Church approaches Scripture the same way that New Calvinism does—as a narrative that devalues propositional truth. One searches the narrative for “pictures of Jesus” for contemplative purposes while the other seeks to emphasize what Jesus has done in the narrative, and endeavors to “enter into the gospel story” by doing what Jesus did. At least the latter has some application to their mysticism as opposed to New Calvinist contemplative spirituality. MacArthur is the pot calling the kettle black.  

John MacArthur, apparently equipped with a new motto: “Looking at the face of Jesus one verse at a time,” has some advice for the youth division of the New Calvinist movement (the Young, Restless, Reformed [YRR]). The advice, which is being doled out in a three-part series, is entitled, “Grow up. Settle Down. Keep Reforming.” The whole notion reveals how out-of-touch MacArthur has become—save the fact that the timing of this is good because he knows they have cut ties with him.

First, how can they take such advice when it would mean changing their name? This is a marketing machine, and you don’t mess with name recognition—that’s marketing 101.

Second, “keep reforming”?!! What are they reforming? The movement is wreaking havoc from coast to coast—splitting families, splitting churches, breaking hearts, spreading false doctrine, and leaving the disillusioned strewn across the Christian landscape.

Third, the very coldhearted arrogance of the movement can be seen in what MacArthur states in his article, and in a related article by Tim Challies. MacArthur cites this paragraph in his second article that obviously is fruit from a very bad tree:

Pastors must be innovative, stylish, agents of change. You have got to appeal to young people. They are the only demographic that really matters if the goal is to impact the culture.

And if elderly people in the church prove to be “resisters,” just show them the door. Give them the left foot of fellowship. After all, “There are moments when you’ve got to play hardball.”

But for heaven’s sake don’t dress for hardball. HCo. clothes and hipster hair are essential tools of contextualization. The more casual, the better. Distressed, grunge-patterned T-shirts and ripped jeans are perfect. You would not want anyone to think you take worship as seriously as, say, a wedding or a court appearance. Be cool. Which means (of course) that you mustn’t be perceived as punctilious about matters of doctrine or hermeneutics. But whatever you do, do not fail to pay careful attention to Abercrombie & Fitch.

After some research, I ascertained that this is Mac’s take on an attitude prevalent in the movement—an attitude that he chalks up to the supposed unfortunate influence of the Emergent church movement among the innocent souls of YRR. In his first part, he says this:

Five years later, the so-called Emergent Church is now in a state of serious disarray and decline. Some have suggested it’s totally dead. Virtually every offshoot of evangelicalism that consciously embraced postmodern values has either fizzled out or openly moved toward liberalism, universalism, and Socinianism. Scores of people who were active in the Emerging movement a decade ago seem to have abandoned Christianity altogether.”

It needs to be stated again, and again: the Emergent Church approaches Scripture the same way that New Calvinism does—as a narrative that devalues propositional truth. One searches the narrative for “pictures of Jesus” for contemplative purposes while the other seeks to emphasize what Jesus has done in the narrative, and endeavors to “enter into the gospel narrative” by doing what Jesus did. At least the latter has some application to their mysticism as opposed to New Calvinist contemplative spirituality. MacArthur is the pot calling the kettle black.   

Furthermore, postmodernism isn’t going anywhere, it is being integrated into New Calvinism in the same way that Sonship Theology is. Proof? No problem, just remember what grandma used to say: “Birds of the feather flock together.” Really, I am weary of Mac whining about who the YRR associate with. They associate together for a reason; namely, the antinomian ties that bind.

The arrogance of the movement can be further seen in  the Challies post:

“In my travels and in many conversations with people like you [the YRR], I have come to realize that many people discount MacArthur as a man whose time has come and gone. ‘He has finished the New Testament; he fought the theological battles of the 1980’s and 1990’s, but it’s time for him to stop. He doesn’t get it anymore. He’s stuck in the past.’”

Then, Challies, who disagrees with MacArthur, but likes him, and disagrees with the above assessment, but then sort of says that Mac’s criticism of Patrick and Driscoll (who he likes but sometimes disagrees with) confirms what he thinks their kind of wrong about above, and then quickly follows that by mentioning that his mother likes Mac a lot, and….good grief!

If only it were true that MacArthur was “stuck in the past.” Anymore, following him is like being a Cincinnati Bengals fan; you don’t know which team is going to show up—the contemplative spirituality ( Gospel Sanctification /Sonship) Mac, or the expository Mac? If he believes both are applicable, he hasn’t stated that. I suppose that would add a clarity that is out of vogue in our day. In the close to his first part, Mac says the following:

“It is a wonderful thing to come to grips with the doctrines of grace, and it is a liberating realization when we acknowledge the impotence of the human will. But embracing those truths is merely an initial step toward authentic reformation. We still have a lot of reforming to do.

This statement contradicts the theme / mantra of the movement he has now embraced: “The gospel is not the first step of Christian truth, or the ABC’s, but rather the A-Z….It is not a room in a building, it’s the whole building….it’s a hub that holds together all of the spokes and rim….the same gospel that saves us also sanctifies us….” etc. The first part of the statement is the Sonship Mac: we still have an impotent will and are totally free because now we know we can’t do anything. The second part is the expository Mac: “we” build on the foundation of the first step of understanding. “We,” who have impotent wills, “have a lot of reforming to do.” Say Mac, that wouldn’t be in a list form would it?

Behold our new Mac. Total confusion.