TANC 2017 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny. Speakers: Paul Dohse; Susan Dohse; John Immel; Andy Young.
TANC Ministries is presently working on a book project leading up to our 2016 conference in August. I guess my name will be on the book as the author, but the book is really a group project. Maybe the author should be “TANC Ministries.”
Why this project? I will cite some excerpts from the project objective:
“Those who are disillusioned with Christianity, but haven’t given up on God and are looking for answers, often ask, ‘Where do I start?’ Such people who come to PPT, and are overwhelmed by the mass of information often ask, ‘Where is the best place to start?’ Andy Young recently remarked about the multiple layers of misinformation and the question of where this ministry should start with people on our end of the question…The target audience are those looking for real and truthful answers amongst the confusion; they are those trying to make sense out of life in the confusion of Christianity as we know it in our day. The book will have a theological and philosophical bent. Protestants and Catholics alike are dumbed-down by design, think that the Reformation was a theological debate, are confused about basic elements of metaphysics and being, and need a place to start on their truth journey. Those who buy the book will have this in common: they assume reason is a necessary pathway to finding truth.”
At first, it looked like the project was off to a fast start, but what seemed like great ideas were shot down by the group, so it was suggested that I start submitting free-writing articles to the group based on the usual ministry themes, and this will result in an articulation of objectives that the group agrees with. This article is one such submission to the group.
I am not crazy about Facebook, but on the other hand, it is valuable to our ministry, and yesterday was no exception. I am not going to copy and paste the whole debate here between myself and a couple of Catholics, but I am very tempted to think that it will be the crux of our project. The excerpt that encapsulates the main point follows:
“You act as if the Pope speaking ex cathedra or the council of Bishops as an authority of truth is so absurd. I understand that you disagree with it, and you are entitled to the right to disagree. But the concept in and of itself is certainly not absurd. I have to say, if it comes down to which is less absurd, a church authority instituted by Christ is much more plausible than Jesus giving us a Bible and telling everyone they can discern truth completely (error free) by themselves. (Not saying we are completely void of discerning truth, but we will never be perfect at it). Look around you: if everyone could perfectly discern truth for themselves, then why do non-catholic churches continue to split up each and every day? I think there are like over 30,000 denominations now? We are not trying to attack you, Paul M. Dohse Sr. We are just trying to get to the truth. And I have felt misrepresented by your points, so I have to ask the tough questions.”
To me, this absolutely says it all; perhaps the project group will agree. It boils down to man’s (mankind) identity and his ability to interpret reality. Universally, the goal is man’s well-being. Is the key to well-being a proper identity? What does man’s identity have to do with evaluating truth? EVERYTHING. Suppose you identify man as a being that cannot know truth? I think that makes the point.
Now, this necessarily involves a discussion about philosophy and its four major tenets: metaphysics (state of being), epistemology (how we know), ethics (the moral application of how we perceive reality), and politics (how the ethics are communicated). But what about the Bible? From my own perspective, I see the Bible as God’s philosophical statement to mankind. If you are able to defend God’s truth, or the Gospel, you must know what the Bible states about these four tenets of philosophy. No? Really? Consider the following fact: this stream of conversation on Facebook was extremely long, and complete with Scripture stacking and citation wars, but to no avail. Why? Because truth is interpreted through the philosophical prism. A Chinese person might as well be attempting to convince an English person that Chinese is better (anything Chinese) while arguing in their perspective languages. The example that astounds me the most follows: people who seek counsel and assume the counselor shares their view of reality. No wonder so few people are helped by counseling accordingly. Another example makes its own point because few Christians will even know what I am talking about. Pastors in our day view reality from two different perspectives, redemptive or grammatical, and most parishioners are clueless in regard to where their pastors stand on that issue. They assume they know what the pastor is teaching from the pulpit, but really they are clueless.
What is the philosophy of the person that I was having the discussion with? Metaphysics: man cannot know truth PERFECTLY. Epistemology: “ex cathedra or the council of Bishops as an authority of truth.” Ethics: prevention of chaos. Politics: expected obedience to authority. Words mean things, so lets examine his words carefully. The issue with man, according to this person, is he cannot know truth “perfectly.” That’s key. So then, what is the ethic? Christ has appointed an authority on earth to prevent chaos because no man can know the truth perfectly.
But wait a minute, neither can the men whom Christ appointed as an authority; likewise, they cannot know the truth perfectly because they are also men, so what gives? This is what gives: authority for the sake of UNITY is the goal, not truth per se. In fact, UNITY defines truth itself. And where does that come from? Yep, P-l-a-t-o. Among most of the classic sophists, unity itself was truth. At least in Plato’s case, this was the definition of social justice as well. Does that ring any bells in regard to churchianity, or Western society in general? Let me further the point. What was this person’s primary argument for the authority of the Catholic Church? Right, to prevent the chaos of “30,000 denominations” the inevitable result of men being free to discern truth for themselves.
But it gets better when one considers biblical metaphysics. Again, via this person’s own words, the issue is INDIVIDUAL interpretation. But wait a minute, I thought a believer is a totally new creature indwelled by the Holy Spirit? What a minute, I thought the Bible said that the Spirit will lead us in ALL truth. So, why would members of one body with one mind in Christ, and striving for that one mind in Christ be lacking in unity? Why is such a notion “absurd.” Answer: because Catholics and Protestants both fundamentally deny the new birth, that’s why. And consequently, we also hear things from Protestant pastors such as Mark Driscoll saying, “Just keep your damn mouth shut and obey.” As Pastor Chad Bresson is fond of saying, Whether an elder is right or wrong is irrelevant to unity. For those who have the audacity to question an elder, Pastor James MacDonald suggests that they be tied to a catapult and “launched into the next county.” Why are they so passionate about being agreed with? Because obedience to authority is what unifies, not truth—authority is truth.
Moreover, with Believers, “perfection” is not the issue, but LOVE is the issue. Law as condemnation versus law as love is also the difference the new birth makes, but enough said for now. I will see if any of this gets some traction with the project group.
When Paul’s Passing Thoughts .com was started in 2009, the goal was to find out why church turned on me with a vengeance despite my best efforts. Second to that was the question, “What now, where does one go from the point of diagnosing the problem?” You have to properly diagnose the problem before you can fix it.
This article will not wear you out with points leading up to a final conclusion; I will begin by stating what I have found. Church produces the fruit of its ideology. What is wrong with church? Answer: church is what’s wrong with church. Christ’s mandate to his followers was never intended to look anything like church. The solution is to depart from church and pursue Christ’s mandate to His followers. You can’t fix church. There is nothing there that is salvageable.
Let me back up a tad because this post is not the least bit personal, but seeks to sharpen the objectives of TANC Ministries. This is some information that I have not shared before. PPT was primarily a blog for the express purpose of sharing my research. My focus was research. I had to know why—how could dozens of pastors stand by and watch Clearcreek Chapel do to my family what they did?
Clearly, obviously, from a literal interpretive standpoint in regard to the Bible, what they were doing was dead wrong and unbiblical. During the episode, I was even under the counsel of a church that was part of the same fellowship of churches that Clearcreek Chapel belongs to. The pastor, the late Rick Wilson, was a former associate pastor at CCC. The present pastor of the church, Paul Craig, was an elder at the time and according to Wilson found the situation, “unsettling.” Grace Covenant (Beavercreek, Ohio) was obviously stuck in the middle, and was also the recipient of a significant exodus of people from CCC at the time. Though I was clearly under church discipline at CCC, I was allowed to attend Grace Covenant on a regular basis. I even thought about applying for membership which would have forced the Grace Covenant elders into making a judgment regarding the veracity of CCC discipline. I should have; watching that play out would have been priceless.
Eventually, Wilson instructed me to go back and play along in order to get my wife back, but I had already tried that for four months. During that time, I was subjected to cult-like break sessions conducted by CCC elder and Psychiatrist Dr. Devon Berry. The CCC elders knew that I had overcome serious depression in the past, and it was obvious they thought they could use Berry and the circumstances they were bringing to bear in my life to drive me into debilitating despair. It was very apparent to me at the time: that is what they were trying to do.
I want to stop right here and thank God publically for something right now—I want to give Him the glory. At the time, I was working out of town and laid in bed at night before going to work the next day…in perfect peace. My favorite time of the day during that time period was bedtime. Why? I laid there in the quiet darkness, not really thinking about anything except how peaceful it was. I was doing nothing but laying there soaking up the peacefulness. Do I have any theories regarding this experience? One: I had begun a long journey in search for the truth. God is with one on such journeys. That’s my best shot at answering that question. By all reasoning, I should have been a basket case.
Let’s now pause here for some simple clarification. It all boiled down to two things:
AUTHORITY, and how I interpreted reality versus how they interpreted reality.
I have discovered something in my research—research enables you to come to a point more and more where you can explain complex problems in simple terms. In the 2500 + articles I have written on Reformed ideology, you can see the focus move from the what to the why. My first book articulated the what and how it contradicted a grammatical interpretation of reality, though I didn’t understand the latter dynamic. My second book articulated the contemporary history of the Neo-Calvinism movement and added some more data about grammatical contradictions.
My third book and subsequent booklets articulate the grammatical contradictions in regard to soteriology. They also describe the dynamics between the Old Calvinism/New Calvinism question and how the interpretation of reality drives that debate.
Including time spent prior to PPT, eight years later, I can now put all of this in simple terms. It boils down to AUTHORITY vested in the interpretation of reality.
And, the established credential thereof known as “orthodoxy.” What is the premise of orthodoxy? Nothing more or less than the claims of men that people choose to believe. You can put any number of things in place of “naked” in regard to the following question posed by God, “Who told you that you are_____?” Be very, very, very wary of what men say God told you. And that’s orthodoxy. And the place we go to get certified in orthodoxy is called “seminary.” In case you haven’t noticed, God isn’t the dean or an adjunct professor in any of these schools.
Here is something else that should be evident: you, and only you alone will answer to God. Therefore, pick your orthodoxy well. There are no attorneys in God’s court save Christ, “hear ye Him.” “God has spoken to us in these last days through His Son”, not a horde of academics.
So, what do we have in the recent dust-up between PPT and Wartburg Watch? Be advised, I am not going to rehash all of the gory details. Dee Parsons is right and I am wrong because she has college degrees, and holds to orthodoxy. Paul Dohse does not have college degrees, and does not hold to orthodoxy. Paul Dohse holds to a grammatical interpretation of realty, and therefore asks, “How can those who proclaim themselves ‘wicked’ lay claim to salvation?”
Be sure of this: NOTHING has changed since Christ ministered on earth. The primary pushback against Christ was clearly the orthodoxy of the day. Christ deliberately avoided the lauded academia of that day. I just don’t know what is more obvious. In addition, he had to personally reeducate the apostle Paul who was the only religious academic that He used for foundational purposes.
I am weary of documenting the steroidal cognitive dissonance that takes place over at Wartburg and their e-church hosted by the Barney Fife of pastors, Wade Burleson. Regardless of his credentials, from a standpoint of interpreting reality grammatically, his theological snafus are just plain embarrassing. For example, you can’t make the point that a biblical author was teaching something based on the analysis of a word that didn’t exist in the first century. This all takes place in the face of common sense for the same reason I experienced what I experienced at CCC:
AUTHORITY vested in a particular interpretation of reality.
Because one is credentialed in knowing how to lead those who cannot know reality, one should have authority over you for your own good and the common good of people in general.
In varying degrees, CHURCH, established in the 4th century by St. Augustine et al, is the expression of this primary root, and the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Chaos and drama will continue in the church with no solution in sight because of its foundational presuppositions concerning the interpretation of reality and the authority vested in its epistemology.
This ministry’s series on the Heidelberg Disputation focuses on the following fact: at issue with the Reformation was a debate about the interpretation of reality. Of course that spoke to how the Bible is interpreted, but the issue started with how reality itself is to be interpreted. Let me give you the thumbnail:
Words don’t necessarily mean things.
By and large, there are two kinds of Protestants roaming about, Calvinists and functioning Calvinists. Susan and I often have conversations with people who hate Calvinism, but verbally espouse Calvinism unawares constantly. We don’t even address the particulars anymore because we know a complete reeducation is needed. This is what we are attempting to do with the HD series. This series reexamines the roots of the poisonous tree.
This is why Dee Parsons, in the recent dust-up, insinuated that I am mentally ill. What is the definition of a person who does not properly perceive reality? Hence, the CCC elders involved a Psychiatrist in my situation because they honestly believe I am mentally ill because I interpret reality grammatically. Reformed scholars such as Geerhardus Vos have stated such openly. Pastor Russ Kennedy told me I was “mad” and begged me to allow them to “shepherd” me. I believe the guy honestly meant well and still does. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
By the way, I am not talking about grammatical interpretation that leads to a redemptive outcome. I am talking about the interpretation of reality beginning with exegetical presuppositions in the purest sense. I realize Reformed scholars interpret a verse literally when it can serve a redemptive historical outcome…
…that doesn’t make you a proponent of interpreting reality grammatically.
One of the accusations that flowed from the recent dust-up was that TANC Ministries is merely developing its own orthodoxy. Not so. Orthodoxy fundamentally interprets reality according to Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation which was expanded upon by John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. Seminary degrees guarantee that individuals will not do independent research that will reveal the real tenants of orthodoxy:
- It is a metaphysical redemptive narrative that interprets all reality through a dualism of good and evil.
- It demands the fusion of faith and force for the common good of mankind.
- It is predicated on spiritual caste that adds additional mediators between God and man other than Christ.
- All of reality progresses as predetermined by manifestations of good completely outside of man.
Dee Parsons’ response to me that “I don’t believe what you say I believe” is most likely due to her ignorance regarding the true sum and substance of the same Reformed orthodoxy that she promotes. Perhaps. While claiming to be an advocate for the spiritually abused, she picks and chooses from orthodoxy what she wants to acknowledge.
The Westminster Confession is just wonderful, but its call to control the free press and execute those who are heterodox is due to the authors being “men of the time.” Of course, their politics and ethics had nothing to do with their ideology. Perish the thought, and no, American Jurisprudence isn’t the only difference between Calvin’s Geneva and the present-day church. It’s absurd to think Dee Parsons would actually have you committed to a mental institution because she thinks you are mentally ill. It’s absurd to think Mark Driscoll would really put you in a wood chipper just because he said that’s what ought to be done. It’s absurd to think James MacDonald would catapult you into the next county, and to your certain death just because he said he wishes he could.
Church is a place where professional clergy interpret reality in a completely different way than most parishioners. Congregants follow the dictates of church leaders while being clueless in regard to their interpretation of reality. They are given elements to follow while being totally unaware as to what those elements are based on. Hence, chaos and confusion reign. Duggar-like drama is paraded before the world constantly like an out-of-control stampede of rats. Yet, that isn’t the madness; the madness is suggesting that we rethink how church is done. After all, Catholicism and Protestantism have had only 1500 + years to get it right. Not only that, the Neo-Calvinist movement has been in total control of the church for at least ten years. Growing steadily since its conceptual resurgence in 1970, discernment/spiritual abuse blogs exploded in 2009 when the movement shifted into 4th gear. Starting in 2008, a historical phenomenon of mediation organizations to keep churches out of court exploded onto the scene as well.
With all of this considered, I think I have heard the best assessment of Wartburg Watch yet:
Subconsciously or consciously, Dee uses her blog as a means to leverage her desire for a seat at the American church’s authoritarian table. Period. Whether this was an initial objective of her blog or merely a pitfall of unforeseen success, who knows? But the reality is obvious:
Dee creates better soldiers, not better souls. And the irony is thus that the “victims” who frequent her site often become the very image of that which they initially despised: manipulative self-appointed God-proxies who claim that the only legitimate doctrinal discussions are with those whom already concede their reformed hermeneutic (Muff Potter, anyone?).
My point is that the cognitive dissonance, the categorical rejection of reason as a yard stick for measuring reality (the efficacy of existence), makes contending with her an almost perfect waste of time.
So what’s the solution? I believe the solution is an utter rejection of orthodoxy and church as we know it. The immense ramifications of that is not the issue—truth is the issue. The church has had its chance to make a case for hope, and has not measured up.
I believe the task ahead is daunting, but will supply a freedom and joy beyond our wildest imaginations. It is a call for Christians to submit themselves to the one mediator Jesus Christ. It is a call for Christians to stop listening to men, and “hear ye Him.” Orthodoxy has NO authority, ALL authority has been given to Christ and no one else.
Past this, God’s people must gather together for mutual encouragement and edification in the ways prescribed by the Bible and not the traditions of men.
When is the misery and suffering produced by orthodoxy enough to make us question everything?
That time is well past.
The Bible states that there is one mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ (1Timothy 2:5). I now realize the real significance of that after eight years of research. I see “one” really means “one.” Something has happened this week that this ministry is taking note of: HBO’s documentary “Going Clear” on Scientology premiered 3/29/2015. Megan Kelly of Fox News interviewed one of the key figures featured in the documentary who shared an astonishing bit of information: members who offend leadership are locked up in a literal prison until they repent of whatever the offence is; release is contingent on signing a written confession. Kelly was incredulous that any adult would agree to such a thing and asked the guest if he could explain it. I was surprised when the guest said he could not explain it.
Maybe the explanation is too simple, but here it is: every false gospel opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ is predicated on the idea of an additional mediator between God and man other than Christ. Even if one man or women is representative of the false doctrine, it will always be expressed in the form of an institution and its authority. Rather than all authority and mediation being in Christ, a subset of Christ’s mediation and authority is claimed; a claim that has no biblical merit whatsoever. These religious institutions always claim authority to grant salvation on behalf of God as co-mediators, but will also use the authority of government whenever they can get away with it.
So why do the institutional members of “the church” agree to every insane notion proffered by these institutions? It’s not complicated in the least: their salvation depends on it. The temptation is great; people relate truth with authority and want to be told how to get to heaven. Some sort of lofty authority gives the seekers confidence that God will accept their salvific pedigree. And Scientology has all of the elements common with these institutions, especially a strong emphasis on glorious infrastructure.
This documentary is important because Scientology is indicative of institutional religion in general. It claims authority and mediation it doesn’t have, quibbles over words, and entangles itself in the frivolous affairs of the world. And another important element–a major one should be noted as well: cults are spawned by authority. Hence, religious institutions often get a pass on being cultic because people don’t understand the catalyst of cultism: authority.
The alternative is a functioning body under one head. Gifts replace rank, and fellowship replaces authority. The goal is agreement on truth as defined by Christ and agreement according to conscience determines who fellowships together. Christ said, “All authority has been given to me.” ALL means “all.” If people get together for the purpose of following an authority anyway, why not Christ as opposed to some man or institution? If the divide in regard to what Christ is saying is too wide, go start your own group–Christ is the final judge anyway. A final point: institutions focus on getting people to heaven; fellowships focus on the unfinished work of service to God and others.
The following are relevant video clips that make the point.