Paul's Passing Thoughts

Ground Zero: Pope Gregory and New Calvinist Gospel Contemplationism

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on June 20, 2017

ppt-jpeg4Originally published December 13, 2012

Let’s just take one contemporary example: a Presbyterian church that is now a mere shell of what it was; the remains of a war over the arrival of a New Calvinist pastor who exhibited outrageous behavior and leadership style. Today, some parishioners stand dumbfounded that the Presbytery took positive steps to keep said pastor in place.

As TANC, our newly formed think tank that researches Reformed theology continues to journey into church history for answers, the reasons for present-day tyranny in the church become clearer every day. First, it is driven by the gospel that founded the Reformation. Simply put, it is a gospel that does not believe that people change, but are rather called to contemplate the saving works of Christ in order for His righteousness to be manifested in one of two realms. Whether Baptist, Methodist, or whatever, this Reformed seed, the idea that people really don’t change is at the core of their function though they would deny it verbally. The Western church as a whole buys into this basic concept.

Secondly, the basic concept of spiritual elitists ruling over the totally depraved. You know, the they really can’t change crowd. The Reformation clarion call of total depravity—what’s our second clue if we need one? The spiritual is accessed through the chief contemplationists, and since they have the dope directly from God, they should rule over the totally depraved. Look, I have been a Baptist since 1983, and this is how it works. Again, we wouldn’t verbalize that, but to some degree it is true of all Western denominations because we are the children of the Protestant Reformation. What were we protesting? Naughty philosopher kings; past that, not much.

If we don’t change, the church doesn’t either. Think about that. And we wonder why things are a mess. Apparent growth in numbers is being driven by something else other than a true gospel. And the Reformers deny that while pontificating total depravity. It is testimony to the depth of which this Protestant construct has dumbed down the average parishioner; i.e., the totally depraved change. And nobody blinks. The assumption is that total depravity only pertains to the unregenerate, but that’s not the case according to the Reformed gospel and its time for people to start doing the math on that. The “Nones” and the massive exodus from the evangelical church is taking place for a reason.

I’m not ready to declare Pope Gregory the Great the father of the Reformation and present-day New Calvinism just yet, but recent discoveries reveal some things that should be fairly obvious. We aren’t stupid, just trusting, and that needs to end. Christians need to take advantage of the information age and start studying for themselves as the Christian academics of our day refuse to be forthcoming. They didn’t forget to mention that sola fide is also for sanctification. They didn’t forget to mention the total depravity of mankind AND the saints. They didn’t forget to mention that the new birth is a realm and not something that happens in us—it’s deliberate deception because the Reformed gospel is “scandalous.” The totally depraved are not “ready” for what the enlightened class of philosopher kings understand. By the way, many seminary students will testify to the fact that they are told as much by their seminary professors. Seminaries are where you go to be certified for the purpose of ruling over the totally depraved in order to, in Al Mohler’s words, “save them from ignorance.” Sorry, I prefer to let the Bible and Google save me from ignorance. Thank goodness for the Gutenberg press.

Monks. That’s what we are missing here. Martin Luther. Ever heard of him? He was a monk. What is the very premise of monkism? It’s the idea that the spiritual is obtained by contemplationism. And monkism is not unique to the Catholic Church—it is the link from the Catholic Church to the ancient concept of mystic dualism. Though it pans out in various different ways, it’s the idea that matter is evil and spirit is good. In other cases, it holds to the idea that both good and evil are necessary to understand true reality. Good defines evil, and evil defines good. The more you understand both, the more “balance” you have in the universe. Then there is the goal to birth the spiritual into the physical through meditation/contemplationism. Like I said, there are many takes on the basic approach.

Monks believe that the physical or world realm is a distraction from the spiritual realm. In some cases, they believe that all matter is merely a form of the perfect, or spiritual. Hence, monasteries. Traditionally, monasteries have been clearing houses for the dope from God through contemplationism. And since they have the dope, they should rule the totally depraved for their own good. In some spiritual caste systems, the monks rule directly, in others like the Catholic Church, the monks are the Scribes and Prophets for the rulers; i.e., the Popes.

The fact that monkism would be part and parcel to any doctrine formulated by Martin Luther is a no-brainer. Mysticism is simply going to be a significant factor, and so it is with Protestantism. This becomes more apparent when you consider the core four of the Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther, John Calvin, St. Augustine, and Pope Gregory the Great. Luther’s 95 Theses was a protest against naughty Popes, but he was completely onboard with the Catholic caste system. When his 95 Theses resulted in the unexpected societal eruption that took place, he presented a doctrinal disputation to the Augustinian Order in Heidelberg. And don’t miss this:

In that Disputation, Luther postulates Pope Gregory’s take on the gospel which is the exact same calling card of present-day New Calvinism. In theses 27 of his Disputation, Luther states the following:

Thus deeds of mercy are aroused by the works through which he has saved us, as St. Gregory says: »Every act of Christ is instruction for us, indeed, a stimulant.« If his action is in us it lives through faith, for it is exceedingly attractive according to the verse, »Draw me after you, let us make haste« (Song of Sol. 1:4) toward the fragrance »of your anointing oils« (Song of Sol. 1:3), that is, »your works.«

There could not be a more concise statement in regard to the New Calvinist gospel. Deeds in the Christian life come from the same acts in which Christ saved us. Secondly, they are not our acts, but the acts of Christ applied to our Christian lives by faith alone. Thirdly, when the works of Christ are applied to our Christian lives by faith alone, it will always be experienced by the exhilarating emotions of first love—this is the mark of Christ’s active obedience being manifested in the spiritual realm through the totally depraved. We “reflect” the works of Christ by faith alone. Even John MacArthur has bought into this nonsense, claiming that obedience to the Lord is “always sweet, never bitter.” Francis Chan states that it always “feels like love.” And of course, poke John Piper’s rhetoric anywhere and this same monkish mysticism comes oozing out.

Moreover, Luther states this same concept from many different angles in his Disputation, and theses 28 is clearly the premise for John Piper’s Christian Hedonism.

No wonder then that New Calvinists of our day sing the praises of Pope Gregory. Here is what heretic David Powlison stated in an interview with Mark Dever’s 9Marks ministry:

Caring for the soul, which we try [try?] to do in biblical counseling, is not new. Two of the great pioneers in church history would be Augustine and Gregory the Great. Even secular people will credit Augustine’s Confessions as pioneering the idea that there is an inner life. Augustine did an unsurpassed  job of tearing apart the various ways in which people’s desires become  disordered. Gregory wrote the earliest textbook on pastoral care. He pioneered diverse ways of dealing with a fearful person, a brash and impulsive person, an angry person, an overly passive person. He broke out these different struggles and sought to apply explicitly biblical, Christ-centered medicine—full of Christ, full of grace, full of gospel, and full of the hard call of God’s Word to the challenges of life.

Powlison points to Pope Gregory and Augustine as the pioneers of biblical counseling using a “Christ-centered,” “full gospel” approach. And what was that approach? It was primarily contemplationism and dualism. In fact, Gregory practically saw “doing” as a necessary evil. In Roland Paul Cox’s Masters dissertation, Gregory the Great and His Book Pastoral Care as a Counseling Theory, Cox states the following:

The overall theme in Gregory’s dichotomies is balance. It is possible that this comes from Gregory’s own struggles in balancing his desire for the contemplative life of a monk versus his reluctant, but active, service as ambassador to Constantinople and pope.“The Regula Pastoralis was in large part devoted to describing how to reconcile the two types of life. He came to the conclusion eventually that while the contemplative life was the better and more desirable of the two, the active life was unavoidable, and indeed necessary in order to serve one’s fellow man.…There could be no better exemplar of the two lives than Gregory himself, but he would have been less than human had he not from time to time mourned the fact that so much of his time must be given over to the active at the expense of the contemplative” [Jeffrey Richards, Consul of God : The Life and Times of Gregory the Great (London ; Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980), 57.].

Powlison, in true Reformed tradition, invokes the either/or hermeneutic, or the either cross story or glory story hermeneutic of Luther’s Disputation by suggesting that any denial of this “Christ-Centered” approach is a wholesale denial of an “inner life.” In other words, suggesting that doing something should be emphasized as much as contemplationism is paramount to denying that there is an inner life. Such statements by Powlison are indicative of his utter lack of integrity.

In addition, Gregory’s penchant for mystic dualism is seen in the same dissertation:

Gregory’s view of health revolved around balance. In Pastoral Care 34 dichotomies are given. For each one Gregory discusses how either extreme is detrimental. The following are a few examples of Gregory’s dichotomies: poor/rich, joyful/sad, subject/superiors, wise/dull, impudent/timid, impatient/patient, kindly/envious, humble/haughty, obstinate/fickly, and gluttonous/abstemious. Further, Gregory explains how certain traits although they appear to be virtues are in reality a vice. For example, in describing the dichotomy of impatient and patient, Gregory says the following about the patient: “…those who are patient are to be admonished not to grieve in their hearts over what they suffer outwardly. A sacrifice of such great worth which they outwardly offer unimpaired, must not be spoilt by the infection of interior malice. Besides, while their sin of grieving is not observed by man, it is visible under the divine scrutiny, and will become the worse, in proportion as they claim a show of virtue in the sight of men. The patient must, therefore, be told to aim diligently at loving those whom they needs must put up with lest, if love does not wait on patient” [Pastoral Care: pp. 109, 110].

In other words, self-control is a vice. Unless cross-centered love is mystically applied according to Luther’s Disputation (theses 28), the latter evil of self-control is worse than the former sin of being offended since such offences serve to humble us (LHD theses 21).

What goes hand in metaphysical hand in all of this is good ole’ ancient spiritual caste tyranny. As Cox further observes,

Shortly after becoming pope, Gregory wrote Pastoral Care. In addition as pope, he reorganized the administration of the papal states, he maintained papal authority in the face of encroachments from the Patriarch of Constantinople, he established links with the Frankish Kingdoms, and most importantly (for these English writers), he sent a party of monks, led by Augustine, to convert the Anglo-Saxons.

Gregory was very influenced by the Rule of St. Benedict and Benedictine monks who came to Rome after the monastery that St. Benedict founded was burnt. In some letters, Gregory calls his work Pastoral Rule. “There is every reason to assume that Gregory in conceiving the plan for Liber Regulae Pastoralis [Pastoral Rule] intended to provide the secular clergy with a counterpart to this Regula [the Rule of St. Benedict].

….This culture of rulers and emperors also helps explain why Gregory saw Pastoral Care and Pastoral Rule as one in the same. By modern day standards, Gregory would be considered overly authoritarian.

A culture of “rulers and emperors” had precious little to do with it, but rather ancient spiritual caste systems that answered the supposed preordained call of God to control the totally depraved. With the sword if necessary. While many of these systems were based on mythology prior to the 6th century, Plato systematized the idea and gave it scientific dignity. But his trifold theory of soul consisting of king, soldier, and producer called for a sociological counterpart that was a mirror image to fit the need. Sir Karl Raimund Popper, considered the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, fingered Platonism as the primary catalyst for religious and secular tyranny in Western culture. And Plato’s mystic dualism (shadows and forms) added not just a little to the MO of the Reformers. According to church historian John Immel:

Calvin’s Institutes (1530) is the formal systematic institutionalization of Platonist/Augustinian syncretism that refined and conformed to Lutheran thinking and became the doctrinal blueprint for the Reformed Tradition [Blight in the Vineyard: Prestige Publishing 2011].

Christ promised us that He would build His Church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. The idea that the Reformers rescued His church from the gates of the Roman Catholic Church is both laughable and the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind. The idea that Christ needed, and continues to need the services of Plato’s philosopher kings is arrogance on steroids. Somewhere, God’s church moves forward. Let us shed the Reformed load that hinders and find our place in that true church.

paul

It’s All About the “O” – Mohler, DeYoung, Lucas: We Own You

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 6, 2017

ppt-jpeg4Originally posted September 15, 2012

Join a New Calvinist Church if you will, but let it be known: they now own you. Newsflash for the husbands: Calvinist elders believe they have the ultimate say and authority in your home. And another thing: the gospel they hold to rejects synergism in sanctification as works salvation. So, guess what? If your wife buys into that, you are now in what they call a mixed marriage. You are now dangerously close to divorce court as the divorce rate in these churches has skyrocketed.

At the TANC 2012 conference, in his third session, author John Immel nailed it—it boils down to who owns man: in the Christian realm, does Christ own you or Reformed elders? In the secular realm, does man own man or does government own man? Recently, our President stated that government owns man. Recently, in a trilogy of articles by three Reformed  pastors published by Ligonier Ministries, it was stated that the church owns Christians, and I will give you three wild guesses as to who represents the authority of the church. That would be the elders.

So it’s all about the “O.” It’s all about “ownership.”

As we shall see, these articles plainly state the Reformed tradition that came from Catholic tyranny. The Reformers never repented of the same underlying presuppositions concerning man’s need to be owned by enlightened philosopher kings. The Reformation was merely a fight for control over the mutton with the Reformers seeing themselves as the moral philosopher kings as opposed to the Romish ones. Their doctrine was just a different take on how the totally depraved are saved from themselves. But both doctrines reflect the inability of man to participate in sanctification.

The three articles posted were: Should I Stay or Should I Go? by Albert Mohler; Where and How Do We Draw the Line? by Kevin DeYoung; and, Who Draws the Line? by Sean Michael Lucas. All linked together for your indoctrination convenience.

Al Mohler states in his ownership treatise that Christians have “no right” to leave one church for another because of preferences. Emphasis by underline added:

Swami Albert Mohler

Swami Albert Mohler

Far too many church members have become church shoppers. The biblical concept of ecclesiology has given way to a form of consumerism in which individuals shop around for the church that seems most to their liking at that moment. The issue can concern worship and music, relationships, teaching, or any number of other things. The pattern is the same, however – people feel free to leave one congregation for another for virtually any reason, or no reason at all.

Church shopping violates the integrity of the church and the meaning of church membership. When members leave for insufficient reason, the fellowship of the church is broken, its witness is weakened, and the peace and unity of the congregation are sacrificed. Tragically, a superficial understanding of church membership undermines our witness to the gospel of Christ.

There is no excuse for this phenomenon. We have no right to leave a church over preferences about music, personal taste, or even programming that does not meet expectations.  These controversies or concerns should prompt the faithful Christian to consider how he might be of assistance in finding and forging a better way, rather than working to find an excuse to leave.

Where to begin? First of all, while many New Calvinist churches will bring you up on church discipline for leaving because of “unbiblical” reasons, those reasons vary from church to church. So, not only do the reasons for leaving vary among parishioners, but what constitutes proper “biblical…. ecclesiology” in regard to departure varies as well. Mohler states in the same post that doctrine is a valid reason to leave a church, but yet, one of the more prominent leaders of the New Calvinist movement (CJ Mahaney), who is strongly endorsed by Mohler, states that doctrine is not a valid reason to leave a church. CJ Mahaney substantiated that New Calvinist position and clearly indicated what New Calvinists are willing to do to enforce that position when he blackmailed the cofounder of SGM, Larry Tomczak:

Transcript of Phone Conversation between C.J., Doris and Larry Tomczak on October 3, 1997 pp. 10-11:

C.J.: Doctrine is an unacceptable reason for leaving P.D.I.

Larry: C.J., I’m not in sync with any of the T.U.L.I.P., so whether you agree or not, doctrine is one of the major reasons I believe it is God’s will to leave P.D.I. and it does need to be included in any statement put forth.

C.J.: If you do that, then it will be necessary for us to give a more detailed explanation of your sins [ie, beyond the sin of leaving for doctrinal reasons].

Larry: Justin’s name has been floated out there when there’s statements like revealing more details about my sin. What are you getting at?

C.J.: Justin’s name isn’t just floated out there – I’m stating it!

Larry: C.J. how can you do that after you encouraged Justin to confess everything; get it all out. Then when he did, you reassured him “You have my word, it will never leave this room. Even our wives won’t be told.”

I repeatedly reassured him, “C.J. is a man of his word. You needn’t worry.” Now you’re talking of publically sharing the sins of his youth?!

C.J.: My statement was made in the context of that evening. If I knew then what you were going to do, I would have re-evaluated what I communicated.

Doris: C.J., are you aware that you are blackmailing Larry? You’ll make no mention of Justin’s sins, which he confessed and was forgiven of months ago, if Larry agrees with your statement, but you feel you have to warn the folks and go national with Justin’s sins if Larry pushes the doctrinal button? C.J., you are blackmailing Larry to say what you want!―Shame on you, C.J.! As a man of God and a father, shame on you!

This will send shock waves throughout the teens in P.D.I. and make many pastors’ teens vow, “I‘ll never confess my secret sins to C.J. or any of the team, seeing that they‘ll go public with my sins if my dad doesn‘t toe the line.”―C.J., you will reap whatever judgment you make on Justin. You have a young son coming up. Another reason for my personally wanting to leave P.D.I. and never come back is this ungodly tactic of resorting to blackmail and intimidation of people!

C.J.: I can‘t speak for the team, but I want them to witness this. We’ll arrange a conference call next week with the team.

Doris: I want Justin to be part of that call. It’s his life that’s at stake.

C.J.: Fine.

(SGM Wikileaks, part 3, p.139. Online source)

Of course, this example and many others makes Mohler’s concern with the “integrity” of the church—laughable. But nevertheless, Mohler’s post and the other two are clear as to what common ground New Calvinists have on the “biblical concept of ecclesiology.”

sean-lucasBesides the fact that parishioners “have no right” to leave a church based on preference, what do New Calvinists fundamentally agree on in this regard? That brings us to the article by Sean Michael Lucas :

Because the church has authority to declare doctrine, it is the church that has authority to draw doctrinal lines and serve as the final judge on doctrinal issues. Scripture teaches us that the church serves as the “pillar and buttress of the truth.”

So, even in cases where New Calvinists believe that doctrine is an acceptable reason for leaving a church, guess who decides what true doctrine is? “But Paul, he is speaking of doctrine being determined by the church as a whole, not just the elders.” Really? Lucas continues:

In our age, this understanding—that the church has Jesus’ authority to serve as the final judge on doctrinal matters— rubs us wrong for three reasons. First, it rubs us wrong because we are pronounced individualists. This is especially the case for contemporary American Christians, who have a built-in “democratic” bias to believe that the Bible’s theology is accessible to all well-meaning, thoughtful Christians. Because theological truth is democratically available to all, such individuals can stand toe to toe with ministerial “experts” or ecclesiastical courts and reject their authority.

Creeped out yet? Well, if you are a blogger, it gets better:

Perhaps it is this individualistic, democratic perspective that has led to the rise of websites and blogs in which theology is done in public by a range of folks who may or may not be appropriately trained and ordained for a public teaching role. While the Internet has served as a “free press” that has provided important watchdog functions for various organizations, there are two downsides of the new media, which ironically move in opposite directions. On the one side, the new media (blogs, websites, podcasts, Facebook, Twitter) allow everyone to be his own theologian and judge of doctrinal matters. But because everyone is shouting and judging, the ironic other side is that those who are the most well known and have the biggest blogs gain the most market share and actually become the doctrinal arbiters of our electronic age. In this new media world, the idea that the church as a corporate body actually has authority to declare doctrine and judge on doctrinal issues is anathema.

Lucas continues to articulate the Reformed tradition that holds to the plenary authority of elders supposedly granted to them by Christ:

For some of us, again reflecting our individualism, such understanding of the church unnecessarily limits voices and perspectives that might be helpful in conversation. But restricting access to debates and judgments about theology to those who have been set apart as elders in Christ’s church and who have gathered for the purpose of study, prayer, and declaration actually ensures a more thoughtful process and a surer understanding of Christ’s Word than a pell-mell, democratic, individualistic free-for-all. Not only do we trust that a multiplicity of voices is represented by the eldership, but, above all, we trust that the single voice of the Spirit of Jesus will be heard in our midst.

So, bottom line: the priesthood of believers is a “pell-mell, democratic, individualistic free-for-all.” Still not creeped out? Then consider how they answer the question in regard to elder error:

Of course, such slow and deliberate processes do not guarantee a biblically appropriate result. After all, the Westminster Confession of Faith tells us that “all synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred” (WCF 31.3). Sometimes, entire denominations err significantly as they prayerfully consider Scripture and judge doctrine. Such error, however, does not negate Jesus’ own delegation of authority to the church and set the stage for a free-for-all.

This brings us to another issue that DeYoung propogates in his post: since Reformed elders have all authority, their creeds and confessions are authoritative and not just commentaries. Hence, they declared in the aforementioned confession cited by Lucas that even though they may be in error, they still have all authority. Whatever happened to the Apostle Paul’s appeal to only follow him as he followed Christ?

DeYoung:

deyoungThose who wrote the ancient creeds, such as the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Chalcedonian Definition, were not infallible, but these creeds have served as effective guardrails, keeping God’s people on the path of truth. It would take extraordinary new insight or extraordinary hubris to jettison these ancient formulas. They provide faithful summaries of the most important doctrines of the faith. That’s why the Heidelberg Catechism refers us to the Apostles’ Creed, “a creed beyond doubt, and confessed through the world,” when it asks, “What then must a Christian believe?” (Q&A 22–23).

FYI: If you see something in your own Bible reading that contradicts a Reformed creed or confession, you are partaking in visions of grandeur.

This is the crux of the matter, the question of authority. It is almost crazy that Christians don’t have this issue resolved in their mind before they join a church. You could be in a church that is subtly indoctrinating your family with the idea that they are owned by the government; in this case, church polity.

Let there be no doubt about it, New Calvinists are drooling over the idea of another Geneva theocracy with all the trimmings. And someone shared with me just the other day how this shows itself in real life. “Mike” is a local contractor in the Xenia, Ohio area. He is close friends with a farmer in the area who lives next door to a man and his family that attend a New Calvinist church.

One day, his new New Calvinist neighbor came over to inform him that he needed to stop working on Sunday because it is the Lord’s Day, and the noise of his machinery was disturbing their day of rest. Mike’s friend told him, in a manner of speaking, to hang it on his beak. Mike believes what transpired after that came from the neighbor’s belief that he was a superior person to his friend, and that his friend should have honored the neighbors request by virtue of who he is.

The neighbor has clout in the community, and to make a long story short—found many ways to make Mike’s friend miserable through legal wrangling about property line issues; according to my understanding, 8” worth. It was clear that Mike’s friend was going to be harassed until he submitted to this man’s perceived biblical authority.

New Calvinists have serious authority issues, and you don’t have to necessarily join in official membership to be considered under their authority. A contributor to Mark Dever’s  9 Marks blog stated that anyone who comes in the front door of a church proclaiming Christ as Lord is under the authority of that church.

It’s time for Christians to nail down the “O.” Who owns you? Are you aware of who owns you (or at least thinks so)? And are you ok with that?

paul

Why Going to Church is Disobedience Against God

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 13, 2016

eec5c9fa7c36e18aa5f7da878d739c1bGoing to church violates a plethora of biblical commandments, but this post will focus on a particular three: Philippians 4:8, 1 Corinthians 13:6, and Hebrews 10:24, 25.

Granted, the point being made by this post was arguable twenty years ago when Protestants were confused for the better, but since the Neo-Protestant resurgence is in full swing and has taken over the vast majority of evangelical churches in our day the point is now valid.

The displayed image with this post illustrates the crux of authentic Protestant sanctification. Notice that the focus is our sin, and the idea that we are a bottomless resource of unexposed sin. The downward trajectory is the focus in order to glorify God (the upward trajectory) and “make much of the gospel” (the bigger cross).

Problem is, the apostle Paul instructed us to “dwell” on what is honorable and good, not evil; ie., sin. See Philippians 4:8. Furthermore, and this addition is for free, Romans 6:6 states that in the saved person the body of sin has been brought to nothing. If that’s true, how is an application of the bottom downward trajectory even possible?

Secondly, Protestant worship at church is predicated on the official Reformation doctrine of mortification and vivification. As we repent in lieu of the sin-sniffing required at church (mortification), we once again rejoice in the saving mercy of Christ (vivification). This is facilitated by the praise and worship music presently popular in contemporary churches. In fact, the praise and worship construct of today’s evangelical churches is specifically geared towards vivification. In other words, the popularity of praise and worship music in our day didn’t just happen for any reason; it came into vogue as a result of the Neo-Protestant resurgence. This is how one John MacArthur Jr. colleague explains it:

“Progressive sanctification has two parts: mortification and vivification, ‘both of which happen to us by participation in Christ,’ as Calvin notes….Subjectively experiencing this definitive reality signified and sealed to us in our baptism requires a daily dying and rising. That is what the Reformers meant by sanctification as a living out of our baptism….and this conversion yields lifelong mortification and vivification ‘again and again.’ Yet it is critical to remind ourselves that in this daily human act of turning, we are always turning not only from sin but toward Christ rather than toward our own experience or piety” (Michael Horton: The Christian Faith; mortification and vivification, pp. 661-663 [Calvin Inst. 3.3.2-9]).

And,

“God gathers his people together in a covenantal event to judge and to justify, to kill and to make alive. The emphasis is on God’s work for us – the Father’s gracious plan, the Son’s saving life, death, and resurrection, and the Spirit’s work of bringing life to the valley of dry bones through the proclamation of Christ. The preaching focuses on God’s work in the history of redemption from Genesis through Revelation, and sinners are swept into this unfolding drama” (Christless Christianity p. 189).

So, Sunday “worship” is a “dying and raising.” We die to self via sin-sniffing resulting in the exaltation of vivification facilitated by gospel praise and worship music. We go in lowly and humble resulting in a resurrection of rejoicing.

What scripture does this violate? 1 Corinthians 13:6 which informs us that love does not rejoice in evil. In contrast, the Protestant doctrine of mortification and vivification results in a joyful resurrection from dwelling on sin.

And lastly, going to church for this reason, is in contrast to the biblical purpose for gathering together as stated by Hebrews 10:24, 25—to encourage each other unto good works.

What is the alternative? Get a Bible and assemble together weekly with like-minded believers for that very purpose, not dwelling on things that have been brought to nothing through Christ’s death on the cross.

paul

Can Protestants Obtain Ongoing Forgiveness if the Cross is Empty?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 23, 2016

ppt-jpeg42It would seem that Socrates had one thing right for certain: people primarily learn from dialogue. At the end of this post, you will see a meme that I posted last year and was reposted by Facebook’s one-year memory option. Someone on my Facebook list commented on the post: “I agree mostly—the Crucifix is a symbol of death, but the EMPTY cross shows that Jesus conquered death.”

That statement raised an interpretive question in my mind that is the title of this post. No doubt, that’s an agreeable statement, but not Protestant. However, the truthful plausibility of the statement is indicative of Protestant contradiction. Once again, I must say that at least Catholics know what they believe because their crosses usually depict Christ yet hanging on it. So, in authentic Protestantism, what does an empty cross really illustrate?

To some, an empty cross may illustrate that Christ conquered death, and that is true, but again, that’s NOT Protestantism. So what does the empty cross really illustrate according to Protestant orthodoxy? We hear it constantly in sermons and on Christian radio:

“God resurrected Jesus from the dead to confirm that His death was a sufficient sacrifice for sin.”

Nope, that’s a false gospel. Christ’s resurrection was the establishment of the second part of Spirit baptism: being born again of which Christ was the first fruits. And by the way, we are justified by the new birth (Rom 4:25, 1Jn 3:8,9). The first part of Spirit baptism is dying with Christ as He died on the cross, and being resurrected from that death with the same power that resurrected Christ from the grave. This is what makes us literal members of God’s family. A mother who conceives is full of joy upon hearing the news from the doctor—not because she experienced the conception in some dramatic way. We rejoice that we are born again because we believe the report from the word of God—the good news.

If we make the resurrection about the sufficiency of Christ’s death that might mean His death has a continued need for those who think they are following Him, and in fact, that’s the case. Hence, the resurrection is not about bringing many sons to glory in the here and now through the new birth, but rather a confirmation that “Christians” remain dead in trespasses and sin, and Christ’s death on the cross is sufficient for the forgiveness of present and future sin…

…IF we return to that cross for forgiveness.

Look folks, the who’s who of Protestantism in our day say that all of the time in broad daylight and in no uncertain terms. This is nothing more or less than good old fashioned Reformation orthodoxy. That’s the root, and vestiges of its fruit can be seen in varying degrees in every Protestant denomination.

Instead of the resurrection bringing many sons to glory as new creatures in Christ through Spirit baptism, the resurrection merely confirms one’s continued need to return to the cross for forgiveness of present sin. And here is the metaphysical sleight of hand used by the Protestant philosopher kings: “The blood of Christ is sufficient for all sin; past, present, and future.” Yes, yes, yes, absolutely, Christ only died once, BUT His blood (death) is “sufficient” for all future sin. That’s because Protestant orthodoxy deems our sin as yet condemning.

Here is where I am going with this post: this is the EXACT same heresy that the Hebrew writer addressed in the letter to the Hebrews. Said author makes the point that Christ not only died once, but His blood was ALSO ONLY applied…ONCE. While Protestant scholars attest that Christ only died once, they call for the reapplication of His blood to every future sin. The Hebrew writer said “no” to this, and added that Christ entered the Holy of Holies ONCE to sprinkle His blood on the mercy seat for all sin. This is the dominate theme in Hebrews.

Note: in the book of Hebrews, Christ’s death, blood, and ENDING of sin all go together.

Note: in the contra gospel, the blood continues to be applied for a COVERING of sin, not an ENDING of sin. Therefore, apparently, God does remember present sin (see Heb 8:12) which makes another application of Christ’s blood necessary. Of course, we can’t practice continued animal sacrifices as the Judaizes did until the razing of the Temple, so it is affected through ritual. In Protestantism, that equals, church membership, sitting under “gospel preaching” by Protestant philosopher kings, the Lord’s Table, walking forward after a sermon (altar calls), etc., otherwise known as the “means of grace.”

For example, Martin Luther and John Calvin, the two primary undisputed forefathers of the Protestant Reformation, believed that water baptism is required to make one a member of a church, and that continued membership continually reapplies the cleansing of sin affected by water baptism. Said John Calvin:

Baptism is the initiatory sign by which we are admitted to the fellowship of the Church, that being ingrafted into Christ we may be accounted children of God (CI 4.15.1) Hence those who have thought that baptism is nothing else than the badge and mark by which we profess our religion before men, in the same way as soldiers attest their profession by bearing the insignia of their commander, having not attended to what was the principal thing in baptism; and this is, that we are to receive it in connection with the promise, “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). (CI 4.15.1).

Nor is it to be supposed that baptism is bestowed only with reference to the past, so that, in regard to new lapses into which we fall after baptism, we must seek new remedies of expiation in other so-called sacraments, just as if the power of baptism had become obsolete. To this error, in ancient times, it was owing that some refused to be initiated by baptism until their life was in extreme danger, and they were drawing their last breath, that they might thus obtain pardon for all the past. Against this preposterous precaution ancient bishops frequently inveigh in their writings. We ought to consider that at whatever time we are baptised, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life. Wherefore, as often as we fall, we must recall the remembrance of our baptism, and thus fortify our minds, so as to feel certain and secure of the remission of sins. For though, when once administered, it seems to have passed, it is not abolished by subsequent sins (CI 4.15.3).

The Hebrew writer’s point? Nope, you can’t separate the ONE-TIME death of Christ from the ONE-TIME sprinkling of His blood; if you do, you are crucifying Christ again and putting Him to open shame again and again.

You can say the cross is empty all you want to, but it isn’t.

We must now once again remember the fundamental lesson pointed out by John Immel at TANC 2012; ALL actions/behavior are driven by LOGIC. No one does anything for no reason; there is logic behind it. There is a “why” behind every action. Some years ago, fundamental Baptists of every stripe went berserk because John MacArthur Jr. (while he was still only mildly confused) suggested that the blood of Christ was merely an idiom for Christ’s death. He suggested that there was nothing mystical or efficacious about the blood of Christ. The backlash seemed totally over the top. Every Baptist preacher I knew couldn’t even talk about it without every blood vessel in their neck bulging.

Why? Because in essence, MacArthur was saying that the blood of Christ was no longer needed to cover sin—that’s what was really driving the controversy and its frenzied reaction. Few recognized what was really behind all of the Scripture stacking from the book of Hebrews. In what seemed to be WWIII over mere semantics really boiled down to the separation of Christ’s death and His blood; the former happening once, but the latter needed for future sin. In his lesser confused state at the time, MacArthur suggested that the Baptist attitude toward the blood was little different than Catholicism, and he was right. Christ not only died once, He offered His blood once as our High Priest in the Holy of Holies.

The efficacy of the blood for present and future sins is, in reality, putting Christ back on the cross; this is the cardinal point of the Hebrew writer. Christ’s blood was an ending of sin, not a perpetual covering invoked by ongoing repentance to prevent condemnation. There is no longer any condemnation for God’s children and God does not remember their present or future sins. Christ took away sin when he died on the cross and offered his blood once—His blood is not a mere covering—it’s an ending.

BOTH happened ONCE, and ENDED ALL sin for ALL people for “ALL time” (Heb 9:26-28, 10:14).

And frankly, you go to the church temple to have your sins continually covered rather than meeting with family to encourage each other unto good works. You are not free to serve love; you are busy keeping yourself “covered by the righteousness of Christ, not a righteousness of your own.”

Curiously, the Hebrew writer also warns that the idea of perpetual application of Christ’s blood leads to willful sin. Why? Because what is the use in preventing sin? You are going to be at the temple every week sacrificing anyway, right? The idea of an ongoing covering rather than an ending of sin ALWAYS leads to a relaxing of the law and antinomianism (the absence of love in sanctification). This is also a major point made by Paul in the book of Galatians; those under the condemnation of the law will fulfill its demand for love through ritual rather than being free to love through a proper understanding of the new birth.

Under the reposting of the meme, I have included my Facebook response which might be helpful on another wise. But in closing, let me say that the Protestant cross is not really empty according to the Hebrew writer. For some who see it that way it is a nice and true thought, but it is not Protestant.

paul

cross-meme

Death is conquered PRESENTLY for “believers”? That’s true, BUT that is NOT Protestant Reformation orthodoxy. Nope. In Reformation doctrine, “saving faith” (note the present continuous tense) is defined as an ability for the yet spiritually dead to perceive the kingdom while remaining dead in trespasses and sin. Being baptized into church membership qualifies one for the “race of faith” which is rewarded with “final justification” for those of the preselected “perseverance” class of election. The other two predetermined classes are the “non-elect” and “the called” or temporary elect who are “not gifted with perseverance.”

Protestantism is predicated on NO ASSURANCE. The only thing one can be certain of follows: if you are not a member of a church you are of the non-elect. Church membership qualifies you to be either “called” or those gifted with perseverance and you basically don’t find out which until the final judgement.

But wait a minute! There is indeed good news according to Protestantism’s “Power of the Keys.” Whatever the elders bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever they loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. So, guess what? If the elders like you, you are probably in! You, at the very least, can claim this when you face Christ; unless of course, the elders are only acting like they like you. Do you now wonder why folks are so reluctant to cross the elders even when they are obviously dead wrong? Folks, this is the Reformation gospel in black and white, and in no uncertain terms.

So, let’s develop this even further. How do we run the race for salvation once we are entered into the race by church membership? Answer: by faith alone. But you say, “Uh Paul, how is ‘running’ by faith alone not a work; ie., by faith ALONE?” Good question. The way this works follows: you live by faith alone, and Jesus does the running. Then you ask: “But that would be a sure thing if Jesus is doing all of the running, no?” Well, that depends on how well you let Jesus do all of the running. You see, according to Protestantism, our strongest tendency as those yet dead in trespasses and sins is to think we can do a good work.

According to Martin Luther and John Calvin, the belief that any person can do a good work whether saved or lost is mortal sin (unforgivable) and the cardinal false gospel. But, if one believes that every work they do is evil, that is venial sin (forgivable) if one seeks ongoing forgiveness that can only be found within the confines of church membership.

Now you ask yet another question: “So, we just don’t do anything at all but believe?” No, you repent of everything you do, including good works; that’s doing something. Because our present sin; ie., EVERYTHING we do separates us from God’s salvation (defined by a fulfillment of the law’s constant demand for perfection), we must keep ourselves saved by continually returning to the same gospel that originally saved us (“We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day”).

And again, access to the gospel for forgiveness of present and future sin can only be found in the church. So, the only good works in our lives are done by Jesus and not us, but how in the world does that work? Well, we hear it all the time: “Jesus did it through me.” What does this mean? Here is how the Reformers explained it. The Christian life is “experienced subjectively.” In other words, we experience some works as if we are doing them, but really we aren’t. However, if we believe that everything we do is evil including what could be perceived as a good work, we believe a true gospel. Hence, our “Christian” life/experience is “subjective.” We don’t know if any good work we do is us or Jesus doing it because the two are experienced in the same way, but it is only a good work if Jesus did it because He is the perfect law-keeper.

This is because every work of every man whether lost or saved supposedly falls short of the law in some way. This is where Christian spiritual bumper stickers like “We are all just sinners saved by grace” come from. Note that “sinner” is in the present tense, and we are still saved by grace, or the same way we were originally saved. Salvation is a PROCESS, not a finished work.

The “Cross Story” and Sanctified Rape in the Church

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 13, 2016

Originally published January 31, 2013

ppt-jpeg4“Be sure of it: this is how Calvinists think; this is their worldview.”

 “Don’t misunderstand: the problem of  ‘victim mentality’  is not even on the radar screen—they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary.”

 Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story.”

Martin Luther had more on his mind than silly Popes when he nailed his 95 Theses to the front door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany. That protest launched the Reformation, but six months later Luther presented the systematic theology of the Reformation to the Augustinian Order in Heidelberg. Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation laid the foundation, and John Calvin later articulated and applied its basic principles to the full spectrum of life in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

The Cross Story and the Glory Story

Luther’s cross story, or theology of the cross is the crux of the Heidelberg Disputation and introduced in the first sentence of the Calvin Institutes:

Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.

That’s Luther’s theology of the cross: a deeper and deeper knowledge of our putrid humanity as set against God’s holiness. And NOTHING in-between. All of creation, all events, and all reality contribute to deeper knowledge of one of these two, and then both as a deeper knowledge of each gives more understanding to the other; knowledge of both, and the experience of both. Hence, every blessing, including our good works which are done by the Holy Spirit to begin with, lends more understanding of God’s glory. Every evil event, sin, and tragedy lends deeper understanding in regard to our total depravity and worthlessness. But of course your mother is dying of cancer; I am amazed that God would give anyone as many years as He has given her. Who are we to think we deserve even one year of life? And what a wonderful opportunity for her to suffer the way Jesus suffered for us!

This is the cross story. See the illustration below. This is a contemporary depiction from that camp—this is their assessment:

gospelgrid1

Anything else at all that gives any credit to humanity—Christian or non-Christian is the “glory story.” That would be our glory specifically, and not Christ’s. To the degree that humanity is considered, the glory of Christ is “ECLIPSED.” This is the theses of a book written by John MacArthur associate Rick Holland: Uneclipsing The Son. Everything is perceived as speaking through one of these two perspectives. ANYTHING coming from what is perceived as the “glory story” is summarily dismissed. Be sure of it: this is how Calvinists think. This is their worldview.

In one of the former Resolved Conferences sponsored by John MacArthur and Holland, in one of his messages, Holland extols a letter written to Puritan Christopher Love by his wife as he awaited execution. Holland forgot to mention to those listening that Love was executed for espionage against the English government while letting the audience assume he was executed for loftier spiritual-like reasons. The following is excerpts from the letter:

O that the Lord would keep thee from having one troubled thought for thy relations. I desire freely to give thee up into thy Father’s hands, and not only look upon it as a crown of glory for thee to die for Christ, but as an honor to me that I should have a husband to leave for Christ…. I dare not speak to thee, nor have a thought within my own heart of my own unspeakable loss, but wholly keep my eye fixed upon thy inexpressible and inconceivable gain. Thou leavest but a sinful, mortal wife to be everlastingly married to the Lord of glory…. Thou dost but leave earth for heaven and changest a prison for a palace. And if natural affections should begin to arise, I hope that the spirit of grace that is within thee will quell them, knowing that all things here below are but dung and dross in comparison of those things that are above. I know thou keepest thine eye fixed on the hope of glory, which makes thy feet trample on the loss of earth.

Justice? That implies that humanity has some sort of value. That implies that life itself  has some sort of value. That implies that humanity should be protected through threat of punishment. That’s the glory story. Therefore, Calvin stated the following:

Those who, as in the presence of God, inquire seriously into the true standard of righteousness, will certainly find that all the works of men, if estimated by their own worth, are nothing but vileness and pollution, that what is commonly deemed justice is with God mere iniquity; what is deemed integrity is pollution; what is deemed glory is ignominy (CI 3.12.4).

Death by Biblical Counseling

The church must face up to a sobering reality in our day. The vast majority of biblical counseling that goes on in our day is based on this construct—you will be counseled from the perspective of the cross story, and anything that smacks of the glory story will be snubbed. You are not a victim. There is no such thing as a victim. Christ was the only true victim in all of history. Don’t misunderstand: the problem of “victim mentality” is not even on the radar screen—they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary. “Victim” is part of the glory story; Christ as the only victim is the cross story. I am not a victim. That’s impossible because my sin nailed Christ to the cross. Thank you oh Lord that I was raped. Thank you for this opportunity to suffer for you. Thank you for the strength to forgive the one who raped me in the same way you forgave me. What a wonderful opportunity to show forth your gospel!

Hence, when the leaders of a Reformed church came to inform parents that a young man in that church had molested their toddler, this was the opening statement:

Today, we have before us an opportunity to forgive.

The parents were then counseled to not contact the authorities. Those who do are often brought up on church discipline. Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story. And be not deceived: this is the logic that drives Reformed organizations that are supposed to be mediators in the church; specifically, Peacemaker Ministries and G.R.A.C.E. A major player in the Biblical Counseling Movement is Paul David Tripp. In 2006, he wrote a book that articulates the horizontal application of Luther’s theology of the cross: “How people Change.” Of course, the title is a lie; if he really believed people change, that would be the glory story. Notice also that it is, “How People Change” and not, “How Christians Change.” That’s because this bunch see no difference in the transforming power of the new birth and ordinary Christ-rejecting people.

In the book, Tripp, like all who propagate Luther’s theology of the cross, posits the Bible as a “big picture” narrative of our redemptive life. The Bible is a mere tool for one thing only: leading us more and more into the cross story and away from the glory story. This is accomplished by using the Bible to enter into the cross narrative and thereby seeing our preordained part in the “big picture” narrative of redemptive history. Though Tripp is not forthright about it in the book, this is known as the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic. By seeing our life through the cross story, we are empowered to live life for God’s glory. This is done by seeing ALL circumstances in life (Heat) as preordained in order to show our sinfulness (Thorns) and God’s goodness (Fruit) for the purposes of having a deeper understanding of both resulting in spiritual wellbeing. In other words, all of life’s circumstances are designed to give us a deeper understanding of the cross story: God’s holiness, and our sinfulness. I have taken his primary visual illustration from the book and drawn lines to the cross story illustration to demonstrate the relationship (click on image to enlarge):

Scott Illustration

Understanding this lends insight to Tripp citations on the Peacekeepers Ministries website:

Paul Trip wrote a great post over at The Gospel Coalition blog all about the need for pastors to pursue a culture of forgiveness in their ministry. Pastors (and anyone serving Christ) have a choice:

“You can choose for disappointment to become distance, for affection to become dislike, and for a ministry partnership to morph into a search for an escape. You can taste the sad harvest of relational détente that so many church staffs live in, or you can plant better seeds and celebrate a much better harvest. The harvest of forgiveness, rooted in God’s forgiveness of you, is the kind of ministry relationship everyone wants.”

Then he describes three ways forgiveness can shape your ministry. I’ve listed them, but you can read how he explains them in detail.

“1. Forgiveness stimulates appreciation and affection.

2. Forgiveness produces patience.

3. Forgiveness is the fertile soil in which unity in relationships grows.”

He closes with this exhortation:

“So we learn to make war, but no longer with one another. Together we battle the one Enemy who is after us and our ministries. As we do this, we all become thankful that grace has freed us from the war with one another that we used to be so good at making.”

And concerning another author, they also stated:

Last week, Steve Cornell at The Gospel Coalition blog posted some really great insight into the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. They also offered up some excellent and biblically sound steps in dealing with a situation where an offending party is hesitant to reconcile.

Here he summarizes a key distinction:

“It’s possible to forgive someone without offering immediate reconciliation. It’s possible for forgiveness to occur in the context of one’s relationship with God apart from contact with her offender. But reconciliation is focused on restoring broken relationships. And where trust is deeply broken, restoration is a process—sometimes, a lengthy one”…. His ten guidelines for those hesitant to reconcile are rooted in scripture and, I think, incredibly helpful.

1. Be honest about your motives.

2. Be humble in your attitude.

3. Be prayerful about the one who hurt you.

4. Be willing to admit ways you might have contributed to the problem.

5. Be honest with the offender.

6. Be objective about your hesitancy.

7. Be clear about the guidelines for restoration.

8. Be alert to Satan’s schemes.

9. Be mindful of God’s control.

10. Be realistic about the process.

Notice the overall blurring of distinction between the offended and offender with the subject of forgiveness.

The Cross-centered Anti-justice Pandemic is No longer Exclusively a Reformed Thing

Apart from Calvinism, the redemptive historical cross-centered approach is crossing denominational lines en masse. We at TANC see doctrines that were born of Luther’s theology of the cross in non-Reformed circles constantly; specifically, heart theology (deep repentance), exclusive interpretation of the Scriptures through a redemptive prism, Gospel Sanctification, and John Piper’s Christian hedonism. And we also see the same results. It is not beyond the pale for a pastor who has raped a parishioner to be the one counseling the victim sinner. You know, the “sinner saved by grace.”

God is a God of justice, and throughout the Scriptures He demands that we be people of justice. He demands that we come to the defense of the victim. I close with fitting words from church historian John Immel:

And this is the challenge. This is the challenge that I have as a man who is passionate about thinking: to inspire people to engage in complex ideas that drive tyranny. So here’s my challenge to those who are listening.

Do not be seduced into believing that righteousness is retreat from the world.

Do not be seduced into believing that spirituality is defined by weakness and that timid caution for fear of committing potential error is a reason to be quiet.

Do not be intimidated by vague, hazy threats of failure.

Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality. I’m going to say that again to you. This is good. Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality.

Do not mistake the simple nature of God’s love for a justification for simple-mindedness.

Do not deceive yourself with the polite notion that you are above the fray, that your right to believe is sufficient to the cause of righteousness. There is no more stunning conceit.

Do not pretend that your unwillingness to argue is the validation of truth.

Know this: Virtue in a vacuum is like the proverbial sound in the forest–irrelevant without a witness. Character is no private deed. To retreat is nothing more than a man closing his eyes and shutting his mouth to injustice.

Virtues are not estimates to be lofted gently against evil.

Virtues are not to be withheld from view in the name of grace.

Virtues are not to be politely swallowed in humble realization that we are all just sinners anyway.

Love is not a moral blank check against the endless tide of indulgent action.

Love is not blind to the cause and effect of reality.

Love is not indifference to plunder and injustice and servitude.

The time is now, you men of private virtue, to emerge from your fortress of solitude and demonstrate that you are worthy of a life that bears your name. The time is now, you men of private virtue, to answer Mick Jagger and all the nihilists that insist we are living on the edge and we cannot help but fall. It is time for you men of private virtue to take up the cause of human existence and think.

~TANC 2012 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny: John Immel; session 1, “Assumptions + Logic = Action.”

paul

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