Paul's Passing Thoughts

God’s Philosophical Statement to Man Transcends the Need for Self-Appointed Mediators

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on October 30, 2017

Originally published October 30, 2016

“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, ‘Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, ‘Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?’ But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.”
~ Deuteronomy 30:11-14

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The Secular World Understands Reality Better Than Protestants

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on October 12, 2017

Origandy-profile-1inally published October 12, 2016

In the eight-plus years that TANC Ministries has been researching the vile doctrine of Calvinism and the evil that is authentic Protestant orthodoxy, one fact emerges over and over again – Protestants are the most confused group of individuals that there ever was. I was reminded of that fact once again when an article appeared in my Facebook newsfeed this morning entitled, “Survey Finds Most American Christians Are Actually Heretics”. The article was published in the “Religion” section of a secular news site called “The Federalist”

Here’s the deal. Protestantism is founded in the Gnostic concept that man is totally unable to comprehend true knowledge, and as a result, man must be ruled by the select few who have the “gnosis”, the “knowledge” that man “knows nothing”. This root assumption has been the basis for every form of tyranny and spiritual abuse since the beginning of time. Protestantism is no exception, no matter how you dress it up in Bible verses.

So when I read an article that concludes that the majority of those who call themselves “Christians” have relatively little actual Bible knowledge, it comes as no surprise to me, not only because of what I know with regard to authentic Protestantism and its metaphysical assumptions, but I can recall hearing similar results of “studies” throughout my life. Funny how a system of orthodoxy that depends on a Biblically illiterate laity to maintain its control and authority publishes the results of a survey that bemoans that very thing – Biblical illiteracy.

This article is only the most recent to come to this conclusion in the past 40 years, if not the past 500 or more. Since the time of the reformation and before, “Christians” have always been woefully illiterate in their understanding of exactly what God has revealed to man in His philosophical statement on reality, also known as “The Bible”. But in today’s information age they have no excuse. Knowledge and wisdom are there for those who have the courage to seek it out!

Let’s look at some of the more interesting statements found in this article in question, beginning with one of the opening paragraphs:

“A survey of 3,000 people conducted by LifeWay Research and commissioned by Ligonier Ministries found that although Americans still overwhelmingly identify as “Christian,” startling percentages of the nation embrace ancient errors condemned by all major Christian traditions. These are not minor points of doctrine, but core ideas that define Christianity itself.”

According to their own website, “LifeWay Christian Resources is one of the world’s largest providers of Christian resources, including services, Bibles, Bible studies, research, events, church music and supplies, and digital services.”  The number of books written by the “who’s who” of mostly reformed academia is voluminous, and it grows bigger every month. Just talk to any one of your “Christian” friends and they will be sure to talk about the latest book or “devotional” written by their favorite author/elder/pastor/spiritual guru (read “Philosopher Kings”). And reformed “Christian” blogs such as “Ligonier” abound. Yet despite all of these resources and the countless amounts of money spent in the “Christian” publications industry, this article concludes, “startling percentages of the nation embrace ancient errors condemned by all major Christian traditions.” Surely this can’t be because people aren’t reading enough John Piper!

Exactly what are these “ancient errors” supposedly condemned by “Christian traditions?” Again from the article:

“Two-thirds admitted that everyone sins a little bit, but still insisted that most people are good by nature, which directly contradicts scripture (See ‘All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,’ and ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?’).”

What is probably worse than the false doctrine of “total depravity” is the outright lie that “total depravity” is unique to “orthodox Christianity”.   In fact the exact opposite is true. I need only refer you to the 2015 TANC Conference and speaker, John Immel, who gave us an outstanding survey of deterministic thought throughout history. In those 2015 sessions we learned that in every philosophical system of thought, the one major theme that was consistent over and over again was the concept of the depravity of man and some deterministic force compelling his actions. (View clip here) So to suggest that the idea of “total depravity” is a concept unique to Christianity is beyond disingenuous.

But what I find remarkable is that despite the “Christian tradition” emphasis on total depravity, man (secular, unregenerate man for the most part, but some professing “Christians” as well) still has a propensity to regard man himself as existentially good. I believe that this is the natural and correct assessment of man because it is consistent not only with what man knows to be true in and of himself but also because of what his own senses tell him in simply observing reality around him. Despite the evil that is in the world, it is man who chooses whether or not he can do good things or bad things. This is not a contradiction of scripture, this is a contradiction of a false “orthodox” interpretation of scripture.

Man is not condemned because he is “totally depraved” and cannot “do good”. Man is condemned because he is under law. The remedy is not to have One who “does good for us” so that His obedience can be vicariously imputed to our account. No, the remedy is for the law to be ended so that it can no longer condemn. This is what the New Birth accomplishes. For the one who is born again, the old man has died. In his place is a new creature who is the literal offspring of the Father, and the law has no jurisdiction over him. He cannot be judged by it, and therefore, he cannot be condemned by it. He is truly free to use the law as a means to show love to God and to others. He can love without fear of condemnation.

Furthermore, the Bible never teaches that man has a “sin nature”. The statement in Ephesians, “for all have sinned” is indeed a statement of fact. Yes, all have sinned, but that is not indicative of man’s nature.  Man is not metaphysically evil.  It simply means that the unregenerate man is under law and has transgressed that law and is therefore subject to condemnation. In contrast, the Bible teaches that man (flesh) is “weak”, but that man is able to choose how to use his flesh; to do evil or to do good. Because the unregenerate man is a slave to the Sin-master, he will have a propensity to obey the master who pays his wages. But he still is able to choose to do good. Since the Sin-master only pays wages of death, choosing to do good only results in less death, but death just the same.

This is why “Christians” are so confused. They understand that man, even “Christians”, do wrong things. Orthodoxy labels this as “sin” because all of “Christianity” has a single-perspective on sin, that is, ALL sin is condemning. This is the source of what they perceive as a contradiction. They intuitively know man is good but are taught that even the good they do is evil. And so when they “sin”, the natural response because of what they have been taught is fear of condemnation.

Here is another point from the article:

“They also saw a huge increase in evangelicals (28 percent, up from 9 percent) who indicated that the Third Person of the Trinity is not equal with God the Father or Jesus, a direct contradiction of orthodox Christianity.”

Protestantism teaches the believer to have an ever-deeper understanding of his own depravity (sin) while having an ever-growing awareness of God’s holiness. As he does this, the cross (and what Jesus does for us) gets bigger and bigger. The emphasis is always on, not just what Jesus did, but what He is still doing for the “Christian” every day, living and obeying the law in our stead so that we can have “the imputed righteousness of Christ”.

crosschart

Such orthodoxy not only keeps the “Christian” under law, but it emphasizes the role of Christ at the expense of the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Father is regarded as a vengeful monster who is to be feared, and Christ is the only one who stands in the way to deflect the Fathers wrath. The Holy Spirit is simply the agent whom God sends to the “elect” for the purpose of regenerating them to a “saving faith”. He is rarely if ever presented as the Comforter who empowers the born again believer to live a sanctified life through obedience. With the Protestant emphasis on the “Cross-Centered” gospel, or the “Christ-Centered” gospel, is there why wonder why Christians hold a diminished view of the roles of the other members of the Trinity?

The writer of the article goes on to address the issue that “Christians” don’t seem to be very well-read when it comes to the Bible, yet they would cite the Bible as being an important part of their lives, going so far as to refer to it as the primary source of authority for living. He cites the following as an example:

“Former Newsday religion reporter Kenneth Briggs recently told Religion News Service that the faith he finds in ‘mega-type churches’ is a ‘Bible-less,’ ‘alternative version of Christianity.’ Scripture, he says, has become ‘a museum exhibit, hallowed as a treasure but enigmatic and untouched.’”

Such is true not only of “mega-churches” with thousands of members, but it also holds true for the smaller community churches with membership rolls in the hundreds or less. This is not a statement on the church size or the “style of worship”. It is a testament to the fact that the Bible itself has become irrelevant when it comes to faith and Godliness. While “mega-churches” might be more inclined to a “pop-psychology” approach to teaching and preaching, in 99% of modern churches, the very truths of scripture have been replaced with orthodoxy presented by mere men who have become the self-appointed mediators between God and man. These are the “divines” who have been ordained by God to reinterpret reality for the great, unwashed masses. When the laity have become followers of men, they have no need to open their Bibles, let alone consider what the Bible itself has to say about things.

Ironic, too, that an organization such as LifeWay, who’s industry includes the publication of “Christian” literature, is incredulous that Christians spend so little time reading their Bibles. I dare say that if more and more “Christians” actually spent more time in the study of God’s word for themselves, rather than relying on someone to interpret it for them, it would be the “Christian” book stores that would eventually become irrelevant.

Christians are uninformed about Christianity for the same reason that people in secular society are uninformed about politics. In both cases the answer is because people have outsourced their brains to someone else. They are much too involved in the comforts of their own existence to care about the larger matters. They leave that for the “experts”. It is much easier to let someone else tell you how you should think about something than to do all that heavy lifting on your own. And the so-called “experts”, whether secular (politicians, pundits, “talking heads”, media) or religious (pastors, elders, academics, scholars, “popes”), take advantage of that reality for their own ends; control over the uninformed masses.

The author proposes a few possible solutions in all of this. While the survey specifically polled those who profess to be Christians, he believes that the study of the Bible is beneficial for unbelievers as well.

“For those who don’t profess Christianity, gaining a basic understanding of the creeds and Scriptures of the religion that built our civilization isn’t a bad idea, either. As Indian Christian philosopher Vishal Mangalwadi writes, the Bible created the modern world by making the West a reading and thinking civilization, and by grounding this reading and thinking in the idea that truth is knowable.”

Well, that’s not a completely honest assessment. The notion that “truth is knowable” runs counter to Protestantism and its Gnostic roots, where the only “truth” that is knowable is that you cannot “know” anything. Truth is to be for those in self-appointed authority who have been gifted to bring this “knowledge of knowing nothing” to the rest of us. Yet Protestantism lays claim to this kind of “knowledge” as being the foundational philosophy of western civilization. The reality is that it was this same kind of thinking that kept man in the Dark Ages, and it is what is responsible for our own spiritual dark age in which we presently find ourselves.

The rebirth of thought that ushered in the Age of Enlightenment of the 16th and 17th centuries happened in spite of religion, not because of it. The Bible did not create a world of reading and thinking. It was reading and thinking that enabled man to regard Biblical truth with the right interpretive assumptions. Men rejected the notion of “total depravity” and rediscovered the principles of individualism and man’s ability. These are the very premises that gave rise to “Americanism” and which made our nation the greatest the world has ever seen. Contrary to Protestant orthodoxy, the Bible speaks very highly of man’s ability. Even God Himself values the individual and his ability to reason (after all, we are all made in God’s image), so much so that He made it possible for the condemnation of the law to be ended so that man could be reconciled to Himself as members of His own family!

If Protestants are Biblically illiterate, it is because Protestantism made them that way. I dare say that the majority of “Christians” are more “secular” in their philosophy (without even knowing it) than they care to admit. The results of the survey in this article would seem to support that. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If nothing else, it offers a valid explanation for the current mass exodus from the modern institutional church. People can just no longer tolerate the rational inconsistencies they observe between reality and Protestant orthodoxy. And perhaps as a matter of consequence, many of them might actually end up taking that Bible off the shelf, blow the dust off the cover, and start reading it for themselves.

Andy

Baghdad Bob – Mediator Extraordinaire!

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 25, 2017

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

Mediators

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on December 9, 2016
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