Paul's Passing Thoughts

Protestants: Willing Participants in a Truman Show Reality.

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on June 2, 2017

Originally published July 12, 2016

stage liteTruman Burbank lived a seemingly normal life. He was just your regular, ordinary kind of guy. Everybody liked Truman. He had a pretty wife, a nice house, a good job. He had everything anybody could ask for. His life was perfect. Or so it seemed.

Of course, Truman Burbank isn’t a real person. He is the titular fictional character in the 1998 film The Truman Show. Those of you who are familiar with the film well know that while Truman’s story is fictional, the reality of his world in that fiction was fiction as well; a fiction engineered specifically for him. The problem was, Truman did not realize that his reality was fake. Unfortunately, just like Truman Burbank, 99% of Protestants don’t realize that their reality as they know it is just as fake, yet they willingly accept it. Truman Burbank offers a perfect philosophical metaphor, so I am using him to illustrate my point.

At the time we meet him in the movie, Truman is approximately 30 years old. From the time he was born, his entire existence has been in the world of Seahaven, FL. It is the only reality he has ever known. And up until now he has never questioned the truth of his reality. What he does not know is that this world is a carefully crafted façade, and every other person in his reality is nothing more than an actor playing a role. Their sole purpose is to make Truman believe that everything he sees around him and everything that happens to him is real. And as he goes about his daily life, hundreds of tiny hidden cameras capture his every move and broadcast his life to the world 24 hours a day. You could say that Truman was the first reality TV star.

How is it that a person can live his entire existence and not realize that his reality is fake? Because Truman’s reality consists of a very deceptive hermaneutic. Everything that happens in his life is carefully interpreted for him so that his understanding of reality remains consistent with what he observes. On this scale you can be sure that this is a very complicated feat to pull off for thirty years.

Such a task can only be maintained for so long, and eventually, unexpected “glitches” begin to occur. For example, one day a strange object falls from the sky and smashes on the ground just feet from where Truman is standing. It happens to be a stage light that is labeled, “SIRIUS (9 Canis Major)”. On another day, while listening to the radio in his car, his radio suddenly begins broadcasting the director’s instructions to the cast, and Truman realizes that the voice on the radio is describing every turn he makes in his car. Yet another time, Truman enters an elevator only to realize when the door opens that no elevator is there but instead he sees a group of stage hands on break around a snack table.

Obviously, such events would be out of the ordinary in Truman’s reality. Here is a conflict between what Truman thinks to be true about his world and what he observes, and he has no idea how to reconcile these contradictions. At this point a mediator is needed to reinterpret what Truman has observed to reconcile the contradiction and convince him that nothing is wrong, everything is as it should be. No, that wasn’t a stage light that fell from the sky, it was a part that fell off an airplane flying overhead. No, you didn’t really hear a guy on the radio announcing your every move. Our station accidentally picked up police frequencies, ha ha, sorry it sometimes happens.   Oh did you hear? There was a freak elevator accident in the building next to yours, and a woman was critically injured- no you didn’t really see a stage crew taking their break where an elevator should have been.

The producers went to great lengths to discourage Truman from leaving Seahaven, because as a boy, Truman had a longing for exploring. They posted subtle messages around town with outrageous warnings about the dangers of travel. Sometimes, drastic intervention was required. They even created a scenario one day where Truman was out on a boat with his father, and a sudden storm swept his father overboard, never to be found again. Of course, it was all an act, but to Truman it was very real, and it made quite an impression on him as a small boy. So much so that Truman developed an acute fear of the water and never thought twice about leaving Seahaven by boat, or even crossing a body of water. But as things progress, Truman’s suspicion grows. He begins to ask serious questions of those around him, who continue to simply play along with their roles in a vain attempt to deflect his suspicions.

But despite all these obstacles, Truman was determined to find answers to his questions. He discovered that he could make unusual things happen anytime he was unpredictable. Those involved with the show could not react fast enough to his spontaneity, and this would give them away, only furthering his resolve. Truman knew something was not right about his world, but he did not know why. He could not explain it, but he was no longer willing to accept the explanations given to him by those around him.

We could summarize the salient points about Truman’s reality this way:

  • Truman’s understanding of the world was based on a false assumption.
  • From time to time Truman would encounter contradictions in his reality that he could not reconcile.
  • Truman needed mediators in his life to interpret reality for him.

In much the same way, the way that Protestants understand reality is based on a false assumption. Doctrines such as total depravity (total inability), determinism and God’s sovereignty, election, and many others present man with a view of reality where man is evil and therefore cannot know truth. Believers go to church week after week so that they can be told not just what to think but also HOW to think about not just what the Bible says but also how the world itself works.

Invariably there will come a time when a believer will encounter a contradiction. It may be that he comes across passages of scripture in his Bible that seem to contradict each other. It may be that he encounters something in life that runs counter to what he was taught from the pulpit. Something that he cannot explain, like how can man have a free will if God is sovereign? “Well, you know God’s ways are higher than man’s ways, so we just have to accept that there are some things we just can’t understand and accept as true because God says so.”

Most often, contradictions are handled from a matter of interpretation. This is where the mediator steps in and reinterprets scripture for the believer in its proper “gospel context”. You see, because man is unable to know truth, he needs the authority of a mediator to explain it to him. This is the role of pastors, elders, deacons, bishops, et al.

For Truman Burbank, his mediators were not just a select few in positions of authority. It was the entire cast of characters from the crew behind the scenes, to the actress who played his wife, to the guy who sold him his daily paper at the newsstand. Every person in Truman’s life was a willing participant, regardless of how much they were aware of their overall impact in shaping his life. Extras in the cast, for example, would dutifully play their part all while being totally ignorant of the ultimate level of control the producers sought to wield over Truman’s life.

Truman himself was a willing participant in this ruse. One could argue that he was simply an innocent victim in the whole matter, but consider how much he was willing to overlook in his life for such a long time just so that he could go on living the only life he ever knew. That fact was a major point in the film, when a former cast member called the show and told the show’s creator just how wrong she thought it was the way they were using Truman for their own ends. The creator’s response was profound and powerful. He said that if Truman REALLY wanted to discover the truth, he would find a way, and that whenever that happens, there would be nothing they could do to stop him.   The point being of course was that the mere fact that Truman lived this life for so long was a statement to the reality that he really didn’t want to know the truth.

How much can the same be said of Protestants? To what extent are Protestants willing participants in their own “Truman Show” existence?   How much are we willing to overlook just so that we can be comfortable in our lives? How much abuse and evil are we going to tolerate just so that we can have some sense of security in where we think our salvation lies? Do we blame the cast of mediators who create this charade for us? Their role is obvious, and they play their parts well, wittingly or unwittingly. But the laity are playing a role as well. They shoulder just as much of the blame as those under whose self-appointed authority they have placed themselves. And they will dutifully pay their tithes and offerings each week, and they will warm their spot on the pew every time the church doors are open, and they will sing when told to sing, and they will stand when told to stand, and they will pray when told to pray, and they will outsource their minds to someone standing before them who will tell them what to think about life. And they will never ask a hard question, even when a stage light falls from the sky.

But there is hope! Because if Protestants really want to know the truth, they will find it. If they really want to find a way out of the nightmare that is the institutional church, they will discover it. And when they are determined to do so, there isn’t a thing the church can do about it!

Andy

“Trusting Jesus” In 2017 For Your Daily Re-Salvation

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 2, 2017

The institutional church has very little to offer people in the way of hope and assurance. Its orthodoxy takes away a believer’s means of showing love to God and others – obedience to the law. By making perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness, its single perspective on law keeps believers “under law” and in a constant state of fear due to condemnation. But the Bible says that there is no fear in love because perfect (mature) love casts out fear.

We have before us today yet one more example of the orthodoxy of authentic Protestantism to consider. This example happens to come from my former church, Calvary Bible Church in Columbus, OH. One of the current members snapped this image of a power point slide presented during this past Sunday’s sermon.

calvary-fodder-hebrew-12-application

This slide comes at the “application” part at the end of a sermon which used Hebrews 12:1-2 as a text.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2

Here are the four points of application for consideration:

  1. Trusting Jesus keeps us from looking to self
  2. Trusting Jesus requires trust in all He is for us
  3. Trusting Jesus is needed most when others hurt us
  4. Trusting Jesus is key to not growing weary or losing heart in life

Before I even get into addressing the points of application, a brief exegesis and word study of the passage is required.

It is important to understand that the chapter divisions in our Bibles are not there in the original texts. They were added much later as a means to aid in finding certain passages. The unfortunate result is that sometimes the chapter divisions have a tendency to break up the context. Chapter 12 of Hebrews is the concluding application of chapter 11, sometimes known as the “Hall of Faith”. The “cloud of witnesses” mentioned in verse 1 is a reference to all the saints mentioned in chapter 11, some by name, some collectively.

I want to quickly call your attention to the verbs in verse 1. I have marked them in bold.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”

This is a very poorly translated verse in both the King James and all modern English translations. While there are five verb forms in this verse, only one verb is part of the main clause and shows the action. It is the word “run”. In the Greek the word is τρεχω (trek-oh). We get our English word “trek” from this, referring to a course or trip or voyage in which we may engage.

While this verb is in the present tense, it is also in the subjunctive mood, which normally indicates a hypothetical possibility. But in this case, since we are not dealing with a conditional statement, this implies a command. It is used as a means of exhorting others to join in on a particular course of action. With this in mind, there is only one main clause in verse 1:

“wherefore, …let us engage in our course of life”

This is the reasonable conclusion the writer of Hebrews draws from the testimony of all the saints mentioned in chapter 11.

The other four verb forms are actually used as participles. A participle is a verb that is used as an adjective or adverb. In English, participles most often end in “ing”. A participle can either describe how an action is performed or it further describes the state of a noun or subject. Knowing then that the other verbs in verse 1 are participles, the verse would better read this way (notice the participles are emphasized in bold).

“Wherefore, we, having this vast cloud of witnesses encompassing us, and having put off every impediment – the sin nemesis – let us then through endurance engage in our course of life lying before us.”

Some things should be obvious in this verse. Foremost is the implication that WE are the ones running our race of life. The command is to US to engage the undertaking of our lives, and we are exhorted to do it with endurance. But also, the grammatical structure gives us the “why”. It is because:

  1. We have a group of spectators “watching” us. These are the faithful saints who have gone on before us who have given us an example of how WE are then expected to conduct our lives.
  1. We have the ABILITY to run this race of life with certainty because we have already laid off everything that would hinder us. It is not something we need to do continuously. The aorist (past) tense of the verb indicates it is something that we have already done. Because of our new birth the law is ended, the old man is dead, and sin no longer has any power over us. Sin can no longer restrict us from running as fast as we want to.

Verse 2 gives us further instruction as to “how” or “what” we should do as we run our life race. It begins with the phrase “looking unto Jesus”, but that does not indicate that we “trust Jesus” to run the race for us or even to help us run. The word in the Greek is αφοραω (ah-for-AH-oh). It literally means to perceive from a distance, but the implication means to consider attentively.

Another expression that needs to be examined is “the author and finisher of our faith”. First off, the word “our” is not found in the Greek text, neither is it implied. “Author” is the Greek word αρχηγον (arch-AY-gon), and it means “chief leader”. Jesus is not the “author” of faith as if He was the originator of it. Consider the context of the passage. In the great cloud of witnesses just mentioned in chapter 11, among all of those in that great “hall of faith”, Jesus is the Chief Leader of faith. This means that Jesus is included among all of the saints listed in chapter 11. The author of Hebrews is exhorting us to consider Jesus’ own example of faith.

Furthermore, a close look at the grammar of verse 2 reveals that the verse is not saying that our faith originates and ends with Jesus. Instead, these are two separate aspects of who Jesus is with regard to faith itself. The word translated “finisher” is the word τελειωτης (tel-ee-oh-TACE). It comes from the word “teleos” which means “maturity” or “completeness”. Jesus is the one who made “faith” complete.

If you consider that the audience of Hebrews is Jews, this aspect of Jesus completing faith takes on considerable significance. Remember that God made the promise of a “seed” to Abraham. The apostle Paul also wrote in Galatians about the law being a guardian until “faith” came. With this in mind it is fairly easy to see that Jesus was the promised “seed” and the “faith” that came to end the law. I believe this is the reference the writer of Hebrews is making when he says that Jesus is the “completer” of faith, because Jesus was the promised seed of Abraham, the “faith” that came to end the law and make the new birth possible.

So in verse two, as we run our life race, we are to give attentive consideration to the Chief Faith Leader; the Faith Completer; Jesus! Not only is “faith” completed because Jesus is that promised seed, but we are to consider His example of faith. The rest of the verse cites Jesus’ own example of faith.

“…giving attentive consideration to the Chief Leader and Completer of faith – Jesus – who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So now that we understand the correct grammatical-historical context of the passage, let us once again consider the points of application suggested to us by the pastor of Calvary Bible Church.

  1. Trusting Jesus keeps us from looking to self
  2. Trusting Jesus requires trust in all He is for us
  3. Trusting Jesus is needed most when others hurt us
  4. Trusting Jesus is key to not growing weary or losing heart in life

Please notice that the passage in Hebrews has nothing to do whatsoever about trust or trusting Jesus. This should be blatantly obvious. How does one make the leap from a context having to do with great examples of faith for us to emulate to one of “trusting Jesus”? If one uses a redemptive-historical hermeneutic, it’s fairly easy. Every verse has to be taken in its proper “gospel context”.

Authentic Protestantism is a false gospel of progressive justification. Believers are merely declared righteous while remaining totally depraved and in a constant need of re-salvation and forgiveness for “present sin”.  So then:

  • A believer then must continually “trust Jesus” for daily salvation instead of looking to himself.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” to do good works through him rather than trying to do any good works himself.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” to be his righteousness for him since the believer is only declared righteous.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” by recognizing his own sinfulness, depravity, and need for constant forgiveness rather than dwell on how other people have wronged him.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” by continuing to live by “faith alone” and persevering in the off chance that maybe he is one of the elect who endures to final justification.

Of course, if at any time you fail to somehow keep “trusting Jesus,” your very salvation may be at stake.

Sure sounds like an encouraging New Year’s message to me. Good luck with that.

~ Andy

Redemptive-Historical Interpretation of Reality Makes Presidential Elections Irrelevant

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on October 14, 2016

Those who hold to a redemptive-historical interpretation of scripture also unwittingly hold to a redemptive-historical interpretation of ALL of reality.  Such an interpretation is rationally inconsistent with regard to reality itself.  You cannot on the one hand talk about “God’s redemptive drama” and then on the other hand suggest that you have any say in the matter by any pretense of “choice”.  The cognitive dissonance created by such duplicity is the reason why so many have rejected authentic protestant orthodoxy.

Andy

Addendum 10/17/2016: New comments in the Facebook thread have been added below.

eric-rea-rhh-and-electioneric-rea-rhh-and-election-02eric-rea-rhh-and-election-03 eric-rea-rhh-and-election-04

Protestants: Willing Participants in a Truman Show Reality.

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 12, 2016

stage liteTruman Burbank lived a seemingly normal life. He was just your regular, ordinary kind of guy. Everybody liked Truman. He had a pretty wife, a nice house, a good job. He had everything anybody could ask for. His life was perfect. Or so it seemed.

Of course, Truman Burbank isn’t a real person. He is the titular fictional character in the 1998 film The Truman Show. Those of you who are familiar with the film well know that while Truman’s story is fictional, the reality of his world in that fiction was fiction as well; a fiction engineered specifically for him. The problem was, Truman did not realize that his reality was fake. Unfortunately, just like Truman Burbank, 99% of Protestants don’t realize that their reality as they know it is just as fake, yet they willingly accept it. Truman Burbank offers a perfect philosophical metaphor, so I am using him to illustrate my point.

At the time we meet him in the movie, Truman is approximately 30 years old. From the time he was born, his entire existence has been in the world of Seahaven, FL. It is the only reality he has ever known. And up until now he has never questioned the truth of his reality. What he does not know is that this world is a carefully crafted façade, and every other person in his reality is nothing more than an actor playing a role. Their sole purpose is to make Truman believe that everything he sees around him and everything that happens to him is real. And as he goes about his daily life, hundreds of tiny hidden cameras capture his every move and broadcast his life to the world 24 hours a day. You could say that Truman was the first reality TV star.

How is it that a person can live his entire existence and not realize that his reality is fake? Because Truman’s reality consists of a very deceptive hermaneutic. Everything that happens in his life is carefully interpreted for him so that his understanding of reality remains consistent with what he observes. On this scale you can be sure that this is a very complicated feat to pull off for thirty years.

Such a task can only be maintained for so long, and eventually, unexpected “glitches” begin to occur. For example, one day a strange object falls from the sky and smashes on the ground just feet from where Truman is standing. It happens to be a stage light that is labeled, “SIRIUS (9 Canis Major)”. On another day, while listening to the radio in his car, his radio suddenly begins broadcasting the director’s instructions to the cast, and Truman realizes that the voice on the radio is describing every turn he makes in his car. Yet another time, Truman enters an elevator only to realize when the door opens that no elevator is there but instead he sees a group of stage hands on break around a snack table.

Obviously, such events would be out of the ordinary in Truman’s reality. Here is a conflict between what Truman thinks to be true about his world and what he observes, and he has no idea how to reconcile these contradictions. At this point a mediator is needed to reinterpret what Truman has observed to reconcile the contradiction and convince him that nothing is wrong, everything is as it should be. No, that wasn’t a stage light that fell from the sky, it was a part that fell off an airplane flying overhead. No, you didn’t really hear a guy on the radio announcing your every move. Our station accidentally picked up police frequencies, ha ha, sorry it sometimes happens.   Oh did you hear? There was a freak elevator accident in the building next to yours, and a woman was critically injured- no you didn’t really see a stage crew taking their break where an elevator should have been.

The producers went to great lengths to discourage Truman from leaving Seahaven, because as a boy, Truman had a longing for exploring. They posted subtle messages around town with outrageous warnings about the dangers of travel. Sometimes, drastic intervention was required. They even created a scenario one day where Truman was out on a boat with his father, and a sudden storm swept his father overboard, never to be found again. Of course, it was all an act, but to Truman it was very real, and it made quite an impression on him as a small boy. So much so that Truman developed an acute fear of the water and never thought twice about leaving Seahaven by boat, or even crossing a body of water. But as things progress, Truman’s suspicion grows. He begins to ask serious questions of those around him, who continue to simply play along with their roles in a vain attempt to deflect his suspicions.

But despite all these obstacles, Truman was determined to find answers to his questions. He discovered that he could make unusual things happen anytime he was unpredictable. Those involved with the show could not react fast enough to his spontaneity, and this would give them away, only furthering his resolve. Truman knew something was not right about his world, but he did not know why. He could not explain it, but he was no longer willing to accept the explanations given to him by those around him.

We could summarize the salient points about Truman’s reality this way:

  • Truman’s understanding of the world was based on a false assumption.
  • From time to time Truman would encounter contradictions in his reality that he could not reconcile.
  • Truman needed mediators in his life to interpret reality for him.

In much the same way, the way that Protestants understand reality is based on a false assumption. Doctrines such as total depravity (total inability), determinism and God’s sovereignty, election, and many others present man with a view of reality where man is evil and therefore cannot know truth. Believers go to church week after week so that they can be told not just what to think but also HOW to think about not just what the Bible says but also how the world itself works.

Invariably there will come a time when a believer will encounter a contradiction. It may be that he comes across passages of scripture in his Bible that seem to contradict each other. It may be that he encounters something in life that runs counter to what he was taught from the pulpit. Something that he cannot explain, like how can man have a free will if God is sovereign? “Well, you know God’s ways are higher than man’s ways, so we just have to accept that there are some things we just can’t understand and accept as true because God says so.”

Most often, contradictions are handled from a matter of interpretation. This is where the mediator steps in and reinterprets scripture for the believer in its proper “gospel context”. You see, because man is unable to know truth, he needs the authority of a mediator to explain it to him. This is the role of pastors, elders, deacons, bishops, et al.

For Truman Burbank, his mediators were not just a select few in positions of authority. It was the entire cast of characters from the crew behind the scenes, to the actress who played his wife, to the guy who sold him his daily paper at the newsstand. Every person in Truman’s life was a willing participant, regardless of how much they were aware of their overall impact in shaping his life. Extras in the cast, for example, would dutifully play their part all while being totally ignorant of the ultimate level of control the producers sought to wield over Truman’s life.

Truman himself was a willing participant in this ruse. One could argue that he was simply an innocent victim in the whole matter, but consider how much he was willing to overlook in his life for such a long time just so that he could go on living the only life he ever knew. That fact was a major point in the film, when a disgruntled viewer called the show and told the show’s creator just how wrong she thought it was the way they were using Truman for their own ends. The creator’s response was profound and powerful. He said that if Truman REALLY wanted to discover the truth, he would find a way, and that when that happens, there would be nothing they could do to stop him.   The point being of course was that the mere fact that Truman lived this life for so long was a statement to the reality that he really didn’t want to know the truth.

How much can the same be said of Protestants? To what extent are Protestants willing participants in their own “Truman Show” existence?   How much are we willing to overlook just so that we can be comfortable in our lives? How much abuse and evil are we going to tolerate just so that we can have some sense of security in where we think our salvation lies? Do we blame the cast of mediators who create this charade for us? Their role is obvious, and they play their parts well, wittingly or unwittingly. But the laity are playing a role as well. They shoulder just as much of the blame as those under whose self-appointed authority they have placed themselves. And they will dutifully pay their tithes and offerings each week, and they will warm their spot on the pew every time the church doors are open, and they will sing when told to sing, and they will stand when told to stand, and they will pray when told to pray, and they will outsource their minds to someone standing before them who will tell them what to think about life. And they will never ask a hard question, even when a stage light falls from the sky.

But there is hope! Because if Protestants really want to know the truth, they will find it. If they really want to find a way out of the nightmare that is the institutional church, they will discover it. And when they are determined to do so, there isn’t a thing the church can do about it!

Andy

The Reformation Counter-Reality

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

project-2016-logo-4The Reformers claimed, sola scriptura (truth based on Scripture alone). But in every case of any claim made by the Reformers of old or new, what they mean by any given word must be clarified. How did the Reformers define Scripture?

Here we begin to examine the Reformation’s redefinition of almost every word imaginable while allowing the masses to assume the normative definitions during indoctrination. If the people assume “nine,” but you want to bring them to “five,” you only talk about the “two” and the “three.” The nine is out of sight and out of mind. But also, during the process of bringing them to five, you allow them to assume two really means “two” and three really means “three.” In Reformed reality, the two and three really mean something different than the normally excepted grammatical definitions of two and three. Otherwise, both together would not equal nine which really means five in their reality. The goal is to get the masses to agree that nine really means five.

That’s a crass simplification, yet, the general idea. It may also be stated from the onset that this is a classic cult indoctrination technique. The technique deliberately excludes facts detrimental to the thesis and redefines words to collaborate a contrary truth. Nevertheless, this is a staple mode of communication among Reformed academia. Words mean what the Reformed academics deem them to mean, and you are the last to know until you see the world their way and it no longer matters. Those who define the words control how reality is perceived, and perception determines behavior. People act according to their logic.

How do people normally interpret information? And how do people normally process the reality that they are experiencing? Most people find their way in the world through natural assumptions. Few of us are taught anything different. As we grow up and mature, we assume that the world we live in is really as we perceive it, and we accumulate conclusions about life accordingly. When we went to grade school and learned words, we assumed that “cat” really means “cat” according to what we perceive a cat to be. We learned sentences such as, “The cat walked across the street,” “See Johnny run!” etc. When we read a newspaper or magazine and see sentences, we assume reported events really took place whether we were there or not. If the writer is telling the truth, a cat really walked across the street. Perception or understanding of the event is increased with more words; the color of the cat, the breed of cat, the name of the street crossed by the cat, etc. Relevant knowledge is what we use to negotiate the world we live in. This also assumes cause and effect, ability to comprehend reality, and some degree of control over our environment. Some call this, “free will.”

If you are being taught by someone who rejects these normative assumptions in a church venue, it is safe to assume that you have little or no mutual agreement in regard to the words being communicated. The words “two” and “three” are being used, but you assume those words do not add up to nine. The someone is allowing you to assume that they interpret reality in the same way you do. And, this description is the commonplace occurrence in most present-day Protestant churches.

Without getting into the realm of metaphysical theory, the Reformed principle will be stated simply, and then it will be confirmed as the standard mode of operation widely practiced in our day. It will also be established that this mode of operation flows from the historic roots and traditions of the Protestant Reformation.

The Imperative Command is Grounded in the Indicative Event

The Reformed principle is sometimes expressed as, “The imperative command is grounded in the indicative event.” The question now following is… “What in the world does that mean!” It begins by understanding that the Reformed use words that mean things to teach that words don’t always mean things. Let’s parse the statement with words that mean things. “Imperative command” simply refers to commands found in the Bible.1 The “indicative event” refers to Christ’s life and death as a historical event.2 Few realize the gravity of the cute play on words with the definition of the word, “history” as “His-story.” This is, in fact, a thumbnail phrase that expresses a vast metaphysical/philosophical body of thought and theory. It suggests that ALL reality is interpreted through the life of Christ. It suggests, as the only objective presupposition, that all of history and reality are interpreted through the one historical event. It is history as reality, and the Christ event is the lynchpin of the story. History is a story, and the story is reality. This is NOT difficult to understand; the danger is letting the simplicity of it escape you because of presuppositions that assume complexity. What the Reformed have done is used thousands of different sub-concepts to teach this one, simple, primary concept.

The key to understanding this view of reality is a focus on perception. In the Reformed worldview, humans are only able to truly perform one function: they are able to perceive things, or see things. Everything else is mere experience. Again, just follow the meaning of the words used here and put them together for a logical conclusion, this is very simple to understand. Again, the danger is being confused by the simplicity of it due to presuppositions.

According to the Reformed worldview, reality is divided into two categories; active and passive. In other words, there is active reality and passive reality. Humans belong to the passive reality, or realm. The passive reality, or realm, includes things like water; until water is acted upon, it is dormant. Items in the passive realm only operate according to the actions of the active realm. In essence, we are dealing with two realms, and NOTHING happens in the passive realm unless it is acted upon by the active realm. Please note: according to this principle, those things in the passive realm that perceive that an action is being initiated in the passive realm are only experiencing the action, but are not performing it. Though the action is very much experienced as something initiated by the will of the being dwelling in the passive realm, it is an illusion—the action is only being experienced and not performed. Free will, and cause and effect within the passive realm are illusions. Cause and effect is split between the two realms: cause is only possible in the active realm, and all actions in the passive realm come from the active realm.

So, what is the purpose of this seemingly futile worldview? Answer: well-being. Simply, happiness. Isn’t that what we all want? To the degree that we properly perceive the reality of the passive realm, we have well-being; no circumstance can disturb our soul, all events are the will of the active realm which is always good and true regardless of how mankind perceives it. And this brings us to the Reformed/Protestant definition of saving faith: it is a true perception of reality apart from any free will, and the belief that nothing of the active realm exists within. It is like an eye that only perceives outwardly. The perception itself in no way enables anything within to act upon the passive realm, but only perceives and experiences what the active realm accomplishes in the passive realm. Faith alone is perception alone apart from any work. If water freezes, it didn’t decide to freeze itself, and did nothing to contribute to the freezing, it was acted upon by a change in temperature. Hence, as many Reformed teachers are fond of saying: “Sanctification is not done by you, it is done to you.”

Where the confusion exists in attempting to understand this worldview is demonstrated by a question such as this: “But when I am doing something, am I not really doing it?” Answer: no, the doing is also an experience. Let’s say that you are standing in the rain. You can feel the rain and experience the rain and everything that comes with standing in the rain and getting wet, but you have no control over the rain. You did not make yourself wet, you are passive; you are only now wet because you were acted upon by the active realm. However, let’s say that you decide to run from the pouring rain and into some sort of shelter. The assumption is that this act occurred because your own will decided to activate your body for purposes of using shelter. Not so, you are a purely passive being who must be acted upon. The active realm acted upon your thoughts and will. Even though you cannot experience the rain’s active motion, you can experience your own, but in either case, it no more you acting upon yourself than the rain is acting upon itself—in both cases the active realm is commanding the effects seen in the passive realm. A tree does not move itself; the active realm uses the wind to move the tree.

We are now one more simple step closer to understanding the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event. Let’s review the critical elements that make up our understanding: passive realm; active realm; history; story; faith; Bible. The active realm acts upon the passive realm to effect a story as expressed in history. Faith is the ability to see the story for what it is, and to understand that you are a passive character in the story. Of course, the story is predetermined by God, and your role is also predetermined. The Bible is a prototype of the story, or a general pattern of the story. It is a tool for helping your faith see your own life reflected in the gospel narrative. Some of the Bible narrative tells the story of other humans who dwelt in the passive realm as a way to understand your own existence in the passive realm, while other parts of the Bible tell the end of the story, what is referred to theologically as eschatology, or end-time prophecy. So, some of the Bible is history specific, and other parts are patterns of understanding exhibit reality and an understanding of it. It may be stated this way: reality is a motion picture exhibited and executed by the active realm and observed by us in the passive realm.

Now, let’s describe what the story is. It is the redemptive story of Christ, and its purpose is to glorify God. Hence, God decided to write this…what we may call a metaphysical narrative, and for the express purpose of His own glory and “self-love.” Also, EVERYTHING in the narrative glorifies God. And consequently, to the degree that we see ourselves as nothing more than characters penciled into the metaphysical narrative plot by God as either vessels of wrath or vessels for glory, we find peace and happiness. After all, reality is just a gospel narrative written by God. Why get uptight about things that we have no control over, or things that ultimately glorify God whether good or evil? And even if your prewritten destiny is eternal destruction, the Bible can help you get so lost in the splendor of God that you would, in fact, rejoice in the opportunity to suffer eternally if it glorifies God. The primary purpose of the Bible is to lift God up, and bring mankind “down to hell.” To the degree that “believers” use the Bible to do this aided by the Holy Spirit, well-being is experienced.

This brings us to a conclusion in understanding the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event. There are obviously many commands in the Bible. According to this way of understanding the Bible, ie., according to a redemptive interpretation, God presents many commands to men in order to demonstrate the futility of man obeying any command without fault and to the pleasure of God. According to this narrative prewritten by God in the active realm and displayed in the passive realm, Christ performed a passive obedience and an active obedience in what is known as the “Christ event” (His death and life). Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin, and lived a perfect life in obedience to the law for those preselected by God to receive the salvation supplied by Christ according to the narrative.

According to the narrative: the law, or the commands read in the Bible, are designed to show all people how evil they are. This shows them their need for Christ, but that need doesn’t cease with salvation. Remember, faith is merely a perception, and faith grows as the perception grows. The perception of what? Answer: the depths of, or an ever-increasing understanding of how much we need salvation. Therefore, the imperative commands are not meant for us to obey because we are not able to, but are rather designed to give us an ever-deepening understanding of how much we needed salvation. Said another way, “the law reveals our evil as set against God’s holiness.” Or…they are based on the indicative Christ event.

The imperative commands are NOT grounded in an expectation of man’s ability to obey them, or for some purpose of man’s co-laboring with God, or some means of people loving God and neighbor, but rather they are grounded in the Christ event for the express purpose of God’s glory. Using the Bible/law in this way supposedly increases understanding of our own evil leading to a gratitude for God’s infinite mercy, and subsequent happiness and well-being. This is what the Reformers really meant by sola scriptura. It is perhaps one of the most egregious misrepresentations ever perpetrated on mankind.

It is not surprising then that this use of Scripture is known as the historical-redemptive hermeneutic. Of course, presenting it as an interpretive method, or hermeneutic, when it is really a way of interpreting reality itself, is yet another flagrant deception. Consequently, what would normally be a contrasting hermeneutic, namely, the historical-grammatical hermeneutic, must now be recruited as a contending alternative to the historical-redemptive method of interpreting realty. What is this saying? It is saying that words mean what we normally understand them to mean. It means that the word “command” assumes that the person giving the command did not already obey the command for the person to whom the command is directed. It also assumes that the one giving the command assumes that the subject receiving the command has the ability to obey it. This is in contrast to the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event.

As we will see as we progress, these Reformed ideas are very ancient. They are actually grounded in ancient mythology. The imperative command is grounded in the indicative event is a more contemporary term that was borrowed from like views of secular metaphysics. For example:

It is often said that one cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”; that is to say, the imperative and the indicative deal with two radically different realms that do not intersect. The realms of fact and duty are like oil and water; they do not mix.3

This is also known as Hume’s law4 and slightly differs from the Reformed imperative/indicative in that the Reformed concur that good can be known in the passive realm, but is not able to be practiced in the material realm by passive beings. Really, it’s the same difference.

In this chapter, the principle elements of the indictment have been presented. In the next chapter, the proof will be presented that authentic Protestantism is guilty of this worldview and its fraudulent presentation. Protestant ideological cross-breeding and confusion can be measured by ignorance regarding the original worldview that the Protestant Reformation was founded on; usually expressed in various and sundry denominations. However, remnants of its ancient principles can be seen in things like let go and let God theology that are eerily similar to…

Be perfectly resigned, perfectly unconcerned; then alone can you do any true work. No eyes can see the real forces; we can only see the results. Put out self, forget it; just let God work, it is His business (Swami Vivekananda (12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902) was a teacher of Vedanta philosophy, and one of the most famous and influential spiritual leaders of Hinduism).

No significant understanding of our present-day church experience can be ascertained without understanding the ideology that produced Protestant orthodoxy. Any suggestion that Reformed tradition and thought was birthed by an exegetical interpretation of the Bible is absurd.

Moreover, it is an ideology that hates life, and will invariably lead to a culture of death, and apparently, happily so. True believers must grasp this, and as a result see what is really behind the lofty sounding theological doctrines it espouses.

3 The Void Within: An Inner Quest for Wholeness, By Arnold C. Harms, Ph.D.

%d bloggers like this: