Paul's Passing Thoughts

Gut Check for Evangelicalism: Control, Despair, and Fear IS the Specific Protestant Orthodoxy

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 10, 2015

51nAtlMzT7L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgOne of the memories burned into my psyche is the big picture narrative book that my dad bought me when I was a young boy about the NFL titled, “The First 50 Years.” One of the subtitles in the book is, “Pain and Injuries are in the Contract.” Of course, those who love the game know that’s one of the downsides of the game, but hardly the focal point. In boxing, pain and injury is obviously the focal point; the objective is to knock the opponent unconscious.

Here is what “Christians” need to start considering: Protestantism is boxing, not football, and that’s in the contract.

There is a book recently written by Dr. Marlene Winell titled, “Leaving the Fold – A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion” wherein she coins the term “Religious Trauma Syndrome” (RTS). In the book, she writes, “I think we can acknowledge we have a subculture now – a group of people who were once religious but have left and are reclaiming their lives. This group is special and identifiable. It’s not just exChristian; it’s exMormon, exMuslim, ex-Jehovah-Witness, ex-cult, and ex-authoritarian.” And, “Religious indoctrination can be hugely damaging, and making the break from an authoritarian kind of religion can definitely be traumatic. It involves a complete upheaval of a person’s construction of reality, including the self, other people, life, the future, everything. People unfamiliar with it, including therapists, have trouble appreciating the sheer terror it can create and the recovery needed.”

There is perhaps something that Dr. Winell herself does not understand: these very symptoms (at least in regard to Protestantism) qualify these people to be religionists par excellence. Fear, pain, and misery are in the contract. And here is something else many understand not: cultism is defined by authority and subsequent control. Ironically, most people think of cults as loosey-goosey splinter groups lacking authority structure when the opposite is true; cultism and authority ALWAYS walk together. At any rate, a pity so many leave the institutional church when they have finally come to where the church wants them: on the verge of a nervous breakdown or in the spectrum of personality disorders born of orthodoxy. Obviously, they misunderstood orthodoxy from the very beginning.

Protestant orthodoxy states in no uncertain terms that RTS is a description of the perfect Christian. This religion is one of the largest in the world, and fundamentally representative of most, especially regarding the authority issue. The founding doctrinal statement of the Protestant Reformation, the Heidelberg Disputation, insists that all life meaning must be found in suffering and death. I would cite specific theses among the forty, but every thesis in the document states such. As with most of us, it might escape Dr. Winell that the paramount icon of the Christian faith is an instrument of death and torture, the cross. The Heidelberg Disputation’s major theme gave birth to this icon for the ages as Christianity’s foremost representation. But somehow, we find the results profound in some way and in need of much research.

John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion articulated the Heidelberg Disputation. In that work, Calvin stated that constant fear of condemnation was efficacious to remaining saved and growing in one’s salvation (3.3.3-7). Furthermore, according to Calvin, if one has assurance of salvation, such fear is of no necessity and puts one’s soul in peril (3.24.6). For both Martin Luther (the author of the Heidelberg Disputation) and Calvin, the redeeming trump card is periodic experiences of joy gifted to us by God for recognizing our depravity, but both warned that these joyful experiences should not give one affirmation of future glory. This is the official Reformed doctrine of mortification and vivification. You do the math.

Yes, there is a mass exodus taking place from the institutional church because many misunderstand the premise of their faith…

…fear and pain are in the contract. And it is not just a downside, it is the name of the game.

paul

TANC 2015: Paul Dohse Session 1 – Introduction to Biblicism

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 2, 2015

Session 1: Introduction to Biblicism

Who do we think we are? Why would Western culture be immune from populous deception? In fact, history, even recent history reveals the dangers of collective logic whether by tradition or some sort of neo-movement. Moreover, examples of bad fruit coming from collective logic can be taken from the best of what Western culture has to offer.

There is one constant that shapes culture; change occurs as a result of bad fruit. The collective pain threshold begins to surpass the threshold of life value. Society then becomes split into two types of people: those with new ideas and those willing to listen.

Tyranny has always been a foolish endeavor by virtue of God’s design of things. The reason is simple: the people always outnumber the rulers, and the rulers need people to have a government, and you can only kill so many people. This is why controlling the way people think is so important; this taps into the human resource without killing the donor.

From the cradle of society, caste was the norm. Unfortunately, the consensus had always been that bad fruit had nothing to do with the system, but only those running it. The American experiment was the first successful challenge to collectivism. The definition of the words and the understanding of them are a matter of life and death on a massive scale. For example, “individualism” does not exclude cooperation and organization for the common good, but rather, asks who will determine what the common good is and how one reaches that conclusion. The assumption that individualism leads to societal chaos has in fact produced chaos in incomprehensible proportions.

Once again, history is repeating itself in many ways, but the particular aspect that TANC focuses on is Protestantism. Once again, fruit demands reevaluation because of the threshold of pain. But this time of historical reevaluation is utterly unique because it is post American Revolution. For the first time in over 500 years, Protestantism faces a reevaluation without the force of state at its disposal.

Nevertheless, Protestantism has done its job well. It yet has no fear of replacement because those who have given up on it believe there is no alternative. Hence, its utter failure has produced no competitors. The Nones and the Dones are just that, none and done. Yet, lest Protestantism would break from protocol and show mercy to its detractors, the Nones and the Dones are declared damned to hell on their way out to the wilderness of hopelessness because being a member in good standing in the institutional church is synonymous with loving Christ and being a legitimate part of His body.

We at TANC reject such an arrogant notion with extreme prejudice, and believe we understand a legitimate alternative—a return to the assembly of Christ and its priesthood of believers. A return to individual gifts, not spiritual collectivism; fellowship, not membership; leadership, not dictatorship; organization, not institutionalization; not many masters, but only one; a body, not a corporation, and finally, freedom of conscience. Individual saints with one word, one Lord, and one body. It’s a body, not a spiritual caste system, and we have but one mediator—the Lord Jesus Christ.

Biblicism

The alternative to Protestant orthodoxy is Biblicism. What is it? Let’s begin with a definition from Wikipedia. This is by far the best definition of Biblicism that I have ever found, and unfortunately listed under an alternative name for Biblicism, “Biblical Literalism.” And, as rightfully noted by Wikipedia, often used as a pejorative. Don’t you know, any Biblicist that has read Matthew 5:30 has cut off his right hand or feels guilty that he hasn’t. Let’s examine the definition:

Alternatively, the term can refer to the historical-grammatical method, a hermeneutic technique that strives to uncover the meaning of the text by taking into account not just the grammatical words, but also the syntactical aspects, the cultural and historical background, and the literary genre. It emphasizes the referential aspect of the words in the text without denying the relevance of literary aspects, genre, or figures of speech within the text (e.g., parable, allegory, simile, or metaphor).

Let me add that Biblicism starts with literalism and the plain sense of the text first, and then utilizes the elements of the historical-grammatical methods as needed to make the rendering consistent with the rest of Scripture. As one person has said, “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.” Let me also add that Biblicists would normally be impressed with a method of interpretation known as Occam’s razor. Again, we are indebted to Wiki for a definition:

…a problem-solving principle devised by William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347). It states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better.

In context of the lay person, learning is a jigsaw puzzle. I want to use this example of a jigsaw puzzle that is a map of Xenia, Ohio. Let’s say the map, to the degree that it is fitted together, represents knowledge of Xenia. Until the puzzle is completely fitted together with all of the pieces, what do we do with the pieces that we can’t get to fit into the map presently? Answer: we lay those pieces aside for the time being. Dear layman, you don’t need the scholars. In fact, please remember that we live in the Information Age. Study to show yourself approved as a “workman.”

As a parenthesis regarding interpretation, let me offer all the proof you need to know that every verse of Scripture must be interpreted in context of justification or sanctification; Christians, throughout the New Testament, are referred to as “workman.” If justification is not a finished work, the fact that we are participants in it is unavoidable, either by direct participation or intentional non-participation. Intentional non-participation is doing something. If justification is not a finished work, invariably, religious formulas for work works and faith alone works emerge. The problem here is evident: if you can lose your salvation, what do you have to do, or not do, in order to keep it?

The Dirty Little Secret

What we are talking about here is deductive/inductive study of the Bible that begins with the presupposition that man is able to reason. Here is where we must stop and state a huge historical fact in this matter that is irrefutable. Historically, there have only been two schools of thought on Bible interpretation: the historical-grammatical method, and the historical-redemptive method.

But please, if you don’t take anything else away from this first session, please know the dirty little secret in all of this: these are ALSO two different ways of interpreting reality itself. Listen: the Protestant Reformers started first with their interpretation of reality, and then extrapolated that method onto the Bible as well.

If you have been following our TANC series on the first and foundational doctrinal statement of the Reformation, the Heidelberg Disputation, you know that Martin Luther laid the foundations in that document for the historical-redemptive method of interpreting reality and consequently the Bible as well. Luther believed that all of reality is a redemptive metaphysical narrative written by God. Look out the window right now. See that car driving down the street? The only reason that just happened is because God wrote it into the script of the metaphysical narrative, what many of the Reformed call the “divine drama.” Reality is nothing but a story written by God.

Hence, salvation is only an ability to perceive or “see” the story. The unregenerate are defined by those who think they have ANY measure of freewill. To have freewill is the ability to write your own reality. Luther’s assessment of freewill is therefore called “the glory story of man.” Either one confesses that God wrote the story of history and reality, or man is foolishly trying to write his own reality.

Luther received this idea primarily from Saint Augustine and Saint Gregory, established the Protestant Reformation with its premise, and John Calvin later articulated its supposed life application in the Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion. It called for a repeat of our spiritual baptism throughout the Christian life by progressively seeing/perceiving two things: the depravity of man and the holiness of God. Plunging the depths of our sinfulness supposedly brings about humbleness and self-death resulting in a resurrection of joy regarding our original salvation. Therefore, the joy of our salvation is progressively increased throughout our Christian lives regardless of circumstance. In fact, tragedy only facilitates our ability to see our depravity and the judgement that we deserve. Tragedy is merely a part of God’s prewritten gospel narrative.

Consequently, Spirit baptism is not a onetime event, but is repeated throughout our Christian life. The Bible has one purpose and one purpose only: to aid the “believer” in continually revisiting salvation and the perpetual revisiting of Spirit baptism. This is an official Protestant doctrine called mortification and vivification. Several Protestant organizations use the chart below to illustrate this doctrine and the historical-redemptive use of the Bible:

gospel-grid

Therefore, God uses circumstances and the Bible to help us in the downward trajectory illustrated by this chart. A contrary perspective on reality is illustrated by another chart widely published by Protestant organizations:

shrinking-the-cross

What is behind the popularity of this worldview? Simply, an ability to live a carefree life without fear of unknown circumstances (with the only exception being your eternal destiny). We all know that investing in life can set us up for enhanced disappointments and suffering. This is a worldview that completely separates us from the responsibilities of life and its suffering. Don’t worry, be happy, it’s a just a divine video tape anyway, and what will be, will be. If one of your loved ones dies tragically, don’t sweat it, it’s just part of God’s divine drama prewritten before the foundation of the earth. Besides, God is using this to make the gospel bigger and you smaller. Listen, even Protestants who don’t get this function according to the same worldview: “It’s God’s will.” “I didn’t do it! God did it!” “We are all just sinners saved by grace.” All of these Protestant truisms fit the downward trajectory of the above cross chart.

As far as Biblicism, there is a huge pushback against it. A focal point of the pushback is a book written by Protestant turned Catholic Prof. Christian Smith titled, The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture. I must credit the Christian Research Institute with the following review of the book which is endorsed by many evangelical heavyweights such as Rachel Held Evans, and will help us further define Biblicism:

Smith asserts that biblicism is the constellation of ten different assumptions or beliefs: (1) The words of the Bible are identical with God’s words written inerrantly in human language. (2) The Bible represents the totality of God’s will for humanity. (3) The divine will for all issues relevant to Christian life is contained in the Bible. (4) Any reasonable person can correctly understand the plain meaning of the text. (5) The way to understand the Bible is to look at the obvious, literal sense. (6) The Bible can be understood without reliance on creeds, confessions, or historic church traditions. (7) The Bible possesses internal harmony and consistency. (8) The Bible is universally applicable for all Christians. (9) All matters of Christian belief and practice can be learned through inductive Bible study. (10) The Bible is a kind of handbook or textbook for Christian faith and practice.

While some evangelicals may downplay or deny some of these points, Smith suggests as long as you hold to some of these points, you are still a biblicist (pp. 4–5).

Before we address these points for a clearer understanding of what Biblicism is, it shouldn’t surprise us that the only alternative in the book is the Christocentric hermeneutic which is the same thing as the historical-redemptive hermeneutic. It sees the gospel or Jesus in every verse of the Bible as a result of interpreting reality itself through the suffering of the cross. It should be noted that this hermeneutic is crossing over into Catholicism as well.

(1) The words of the Bible are identical with God’s words written inerrantly in human language.

A Biblicist believes no such thing. God used fallible humans to write the Bible over 1600 years in many different languages. Because Christ warned that there would be serious consequences for tampering with God’s word, we can assume many have in fact tampered with it.

The key follows: the Bible is God’s statement on being including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics. The Bible is not without error in the transmission of these truths, but none of the truths are lost due to God’s oversight and assistance. Included is the way that the Bible was written, or its overall structure of checks and balances. As the “workman” studies to show himself approved, God’s principles become more and more apparent.

(2) The Bible represents the totality of God’s will for humanity.

This point is vague, but one assumes it speaks to the accusation that Biblicists believe the Bible speaks to every detail of life like how to fix our cars etc. While the notion is absurd, the Bible does tell us what kind of car-fixer we should be—not the details of a how-to-manual. The Bible is a manual for how we should love God and others, so while it does not give specific instructions on how to fix our wife’s Toyota, it does convey a principle of love that would prevent us from taking shortcuts on safety issues in order to save money. If it’s our wife’s car, we don’t repair the brake lines with duct tape, etc.

(3) The divine will for all issues relevant to Christian life is contained in the Bible.

This is true, and the reason for the contention is evident: the sole purpose of the Bible should be to show us how wicked we are, not instruction on loving God and others.

(4) Any reasonable person can correctly understand the plain meaning of the text.

True, with the exclusion of the straw man argument that the meaning in every text is always “plain.” The Bible states that individual study is required, and acknowledges that obtaining understanding can be difficult work.

(5) The way to understand the Bible is to look at the obvious, literal sense.

This is true as the primary organizing principle, but gain, the straw man is the assertion that Biblicists believe this is true of every verse.

(6) The Bible can be understood without reliance on creeds, confessions, or historic church traditions.

This is absolutely true because Biblicism rejects spiritual caste systems of all kinds. Teachers are a help, they are a gift to the church for purposes of equipping, NOT an office. But when it gets right down to it, in context of the apostle John addressing the Gnosticism that was wreaking havoc on the 1st century church, he stated, “You have no need for anyone to teach you.” Biblicism is predicated on collective individualism, not group-think overseen by an elite class of those who supposedly possess the “gnosis.”

(7) The Bible possesses internal harmony and consistency.

Absolutely. Again, the complexities of the Bible are used to argue against human reason as a valid epistemology for reasons of selling a redemptive interpretation of all reality.

(8) The Bible is universally applicable for all Christians.

Sure it is. Loving God and others pertains to principles that are universal.

(9) All matters of Christian belief and practice can be learned through inductive Bible study.

In regard to loving God and others, absolutely.

Note the continual distinction being made between love and law. There is a specific reason for that which we will see more of later.

(10) The Bible is a kind of handbook or textbook for Christian faith and practice.

The word “practice” factors in huge here. As previously noted, Protestantism defines salvation as an ability to see/perceive/experience APART from practice. Therefore, the Christocentric approach to interpretation of reality, and consequently the Bible as well, will reject any practice by man to be of any value to God. Therefore, the sole purpose of the Bible is to aid mankind is seeing that all righteousness is an alien righteousness completely outside of man.

So, this is an introduction to Biblicism. In the next session, we will look at the Biblicist gospel, its evaluation of law/gospel, the nature of God, the nature of man, evangelism, and the nature of sin. In the fourth session, we will examine Protestantism and the extreme contrast that it presents. I will conclude this first session with a few more principles of interpretation:

Deuteronomy 29:29 – The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Deuteronomy 30:11 – For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

Two basic interpretative principles can be drawn from these verses. First, some things we cannot know, but what we can know we are responsible for. Second, we have no need for interpretive mediators between us and God. There is only ONE mediator between God and man—Christ.

Podcast link: includes before and after discussion. 

The False Protestant Gospel of “How Much?”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 10, 2015

“At any moment, any lost person can choose to have their sins ended. It is not a question of whether or not they are elected, it is a question of whether or not they are under the law—and they are.”      

The Protestant gospel effectively denies the biblical interpretation of the new birth. Because of its Platonist metaphysical presuppositions, it denies the treasure of God’s seed dwelling in weak vessels. Hence, the new birth is redefined and confined to the ability to perceive realm manifestations apart from any ability to do a good work of any kind. As stated by some, “Sanctification is done TO you, not BY you.”

In the biblical good news schema, Christ does ONE act of obedience as His part in God’s reconciliation plan. There is no question of “how much?” because His death was all that was required.

Now enter the heinous “Reformation” gospel of confusion. A cursory observation of Reformation history reveals that the dust-up between Rome and the “Reformers” was over metaphysics first. The very first and foundational doctrinal statement of the Reformation contained 12 theses of philosophical metaphysics. Luther was miffed that Rome was moving away from its Augustinian/Platonist roots and coming under the spell of Thomism. This shift began in the 13th century via St. Thomas Aquinas and eventually incited the Reformation. The assertion that the Reformation was driven by sola scriptura is absurd.

Martin Luther introduced his metaphysical answer to Thomism and foisted his theses that supported it onto Scripture. The centerpiece eventually came to be known as double imputation. To Luther’s credit, he created a timeless soteriology based on metaphysics that continues to turn the world upside down. John Calvin articulated Luther’s foundation in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. Both were dedicated to returning the church to its Augustinian roots.

What is double imputation? Basically, it’s the idea that Christ’s role in the gospel of first importance (as set apart from God’s full counsel which is also good news) was twofold as opposed to ONE single act. This was necessary as a “biblical” doctrine that keeps the material being of man separate from Plato’s trinity: the good, true, and beautiful, ie., the invisible. The true gospel turned dualism philosophy completely on its head by infusing good into weakness and defining the true definitions of God’s creation and the state of being.

The idea that God infused His righteousness into the being of mankind is repugnant to the Reformed mindset. How repugnant? The colonial Puritans executed Quakers for even asserting an errant view of the idea.

Therefore, distorting Christ’s role in God’s elected plan of reconciliation was necessary. Christ’s redefined soteriological role removes all goodness from mankind proper and “Christians” in particular. Christ not only came to die for the sins of particular persons preselected by God, but He also came to live a perfect life in obedience to the law so that His obedience could be imputed to the “elect.”

Now the questions are begged: “How much suffering was necessary to pay the penalty for sins committed by the preselected, and how much obedience was necessary for righteousness to be imputed to the preselected as well. When a false doctrine is predicated on errant presuppositions, not only do these kinds of questions arise, but the attempted answers give rise to more questions.

And displays of nonsense. An example is the weird and embarrassing ad lib “Scream of the Damned” propagated by John Piper and CJ Mahaney at a conference hosted by John MacArthur Jr.’s Grace Community Church.* The sheer weirdness of it all even raised eyebrows within Reformed circles by the likes of Steve Camp. The premise was an adolescent-like attempt to explain how much? in regard to Christ’s death. Imagining the response from my older than dirt and probably dead father in the faith, Pastor Richard Peacock, put me on the floor rolling around while laughing uncontrollably. Only the thought of thousands of attending pastors supported by the hard work and sweat of the laity watching without a blink shocked me into the horror of reality and put an end to my shameless response.

When are people going to stop and say to themselves, “Wait a minute here; what drives this stuff? This kind of stuff just doesn’t happen for any or no reason.”

Likewise, in regard to how much?, how long did Christ have to live and how much of the law did He have to obey for the elect? Theories abound because the question itself flows from the false presuppositions of Platonism foisted on the Scriptures resulting in the doctrine of double imputation.

Christ did ONE thing to secure reconciliation for mankind: He died. How much? Answer: enough for ALL mankind. How? Answer: by ending the law. How is that possible? Answer: because all sin is against the law and imputed to the law, and Christ died to end it. Sin is not covered by Christ’s law–keeping; no, sin is not covered, it is ENDED. At any moment, any lost person can choose to have their sins ended. It is not a question of whether or not they are elected, it is a question of whether or not they are under the law—and they are.

What else did Christ do to secure our reconciliation? Answer: nothing. But wasn’t He resurrected? Answer: yes, but He didn’t do that, that was the Holy Spirit’s role in God’s plan of reconciliation. The fact that Christ would be resurrected was a promise made TO Christ and Abraham BY God. That surprises many Christians who don’t read their own Bibles for themselves, viz, most.

In other words, this is the gospel: Christ DIED to END sin. The Spirit resurrected Christ as the first fruits of those who would also be resurrected to new life and justification which is NOT merely a legal declaration, but a metaphysical fact. It does of course have a legal aspect, but it is adoption court where the Holy Spirt bears witness with us that we are the children of God. Christ  was “resurrected” for our justification” by the Holy Spirit. “Forensic Justification” does have a legal aspect, but not only in the halls of criminal court, but just as much in the court of adoption with the Holy Spirit appearing as a witness.

Obedience to the law by Christ does not justify us, the new birth justifies us because we are in fact righteous. The resurrection justifies us, not law-keeping by anyone including Christ.

True resurrection with Christ is “under grace,” but that by no means states that we are no longer under a law. It means that we are no longer under a law that condemns us. This is what strips sin of its power. This is what strips death of its sting. We must remember that the law is the Spirit’s law. He will use it to convict the world of sin and warn of the judgment to come, or he will use it to sanctify God’s children. The law is a savor of death to those who do not believe, and a savor of life as we walk in it as God’s children.

The time has come to stop dwelling in the Protestant metaphysical narrative of death, and to follow Christ in our duty to write a narrative of life.

How much? That will depend on OUR obedience as children of God. The Spirit gave us life and opportunity to use His law to love God and others. “Do’s and don’ts” are not the issue, LOVE is the issue. We do not stay at the foot of the cross while Christ loves for us; we will be rewarded for the narrative of life that we write by using the gifts granted to us when Christ sat down beside the Father and rested from justifying all who will believe in Him.

We zealously write our narrative of life without fear of condemnation because of Christ’s love for us. And our love will never be enough because of the freedom we feel. The freedom purchased by His blood that freed us from the condemnation of the law and the Master empowered by it, and the freedom to love by obeying the law of the Spirit—the perfect law of liberty. When God looks at us, He sees more than Christ, he sees one that Christ is not ashamed to call a brother—He sees one of His children. Christ doesn’t cover us, He presents us.

He is not ashamed of us. His death was enough for our life.

paul

* “Apparently, they got the concept from RC Sproul, who used to be rock solid, but now it would appear that senility has opened his mind to the nonsensical theological acrobatics of our day. Likewise, the same consideration might apply to John MacArthur who spoke at the conference and also sponsored it; he is getting up in years as well. I offer this as a possible excuse for both of them though the vision of my heart longs to see them as the gray-haired stalwarts of the faith that I thought they were.  Here is what Sproul said:

‘Once the sin of man was imputed to Him, He became the virtual incarnation of evil. The load He carried was repugnant to the Father. God is too holy to even look at iniquity. God the Father turned His back upon the Son, cursing Him to the pit of hell while on the cross. Here was the Son’s ‘descent into hell.’ Here the fury of God raged against Him. His scream was the scream of the damned. For us’ (Tabletalk magazine, My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me? April 1990, p. 6).

Steve Camp, on his blog, wrote a tame but thoroughly convincing argument against such a notion. But the fact that Camp thought such a significant expenditure of effort was needed is indicative of our day; surely, only ten years ago, such a thesis would have invoked a horrendous outcry among God’s people” (The New Calvinist License To Kill: And Did God Really Condemn Christ To Hell?, Paul’s Passing Thoughts blog, Paul Dohse, Sr., September 2, 2011).

Curing the Protestant Disease of Noanswerosis

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

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

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

The subjective power of an objective gospel.

Or…

The objective gospel.

Or…

The centrality of the objective gospel outside of us.

Or…

Definitive justification experienced subjectively.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

paul

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