Paul's Passing Thoughts

Religious Tyranny: A Case Study—Chapter 11, Family, Not Institution; Body, Not Authority

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 28, 2016

religious-tyranny-cover11City Council: Look, we think you should take all the resources you have and concentrate on the killings.

Chief Jesse Stone: I’m a cop. I’ve been a cop for a long time. I’m good at it. I know how to do this. You don’t.

City Council: Damn it, we can fire you.

Chief Jesse Stone: You can. But you can’t tell me what to do.

    Let’s be honest; institutionalized religion; i.e., church, enables power-hungry men to buy authority over the souls of people by seminary accreditation. This isn’t rocket science, and it is one of many reasons that our young people and many other people groups no longer take the whole mess seriously. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of people who will buy into the religious authority motif and believe they can buy their way into heaven through being religious lackeys and tithing. It’s salvation through man-following just because they claim God has granted them authority over the souls of mankind.

    And yes, the question of Which authority? could come to bear, but that is primarily answered by the idea that it doesn’t matter; one will go to heaven if they are “humble,” and that is determined by their willingness to submit all thinking and beliefs to some authority. In other words, the truthfulness of the authority doesn’t matter, after all, the “meek” will inherit the earth. In the world of church, nothing is more arrogant than a person who seeks God according their own understanding and conscience. As mentioned earlier, this was the exact same mentality that saturated German culture during WWII. Simply stated it is the idea that the great unwashed masses cannot know reality and must follow God-appointed seers or knowers to save mankind from itself. Hence, being a knower is very good work if you can get, and many do.

    Have you ever wondered why churches are so focused on numbers of members and building programs? Both of these speak of authority. Impressive infrastructure exudes authority. For the most part, churches don’t build people or their lives, they build buildings. So-called investment in “spiritual growth” is really an emphasis on orthodoxy that demands submission to “godly men.”

    Come now, let’s be honest; in all cases, the measure of a successful church is the size of its membership role and the glory of its infrastructure. And, here it is; the measure of a mature member is, “He/she is here supporting the church every time the doors are open.” Spiritual maturity is measured by the member’s commitment and support of the institution. This will NEVER change unless Christians stop contributing to institutions with time, money, and meetings in institutional settings. Where you meet states who you are and what you are doing there. Families don’t invest in institutional purpose builds; families gather where families live; in private homes.

    From the beginning of mankind after the deception in the garden, humanity’s worldview was dominated by the idea that individualism leads to chaos unless those appointed by the force, the universe, gods, or God rule over the great unwashed. America’s government by the people and for the people changed all of that, and the historical results clearly speak for themselves. By the way, Protestants who know what a Protestant is are anti-American accordingly. A patriotic Protestant is a confused Protestant, and yet preferable, but nevertheless confused. Individualism and authentic Protestant orthodoxy are mutually exclusive. All in all, anti-Americanism is grounded in fear that experts will be less involved in running the world resulting in annihilation of humanity, and until that happens, abject unfairness because of individual privilege of some sort.

    Please note the major concerns that will always be invoked when people return to true Christian fellowship: “What are your qualifications?” And, for the most part, “By what authority do you do these things?” Ironically, another objection often invoked is the idea that Christian meetings taking place in private homes without formal religious accreditation are “cults.” This is ironic because the exact opposite is true; the very definition of a cult is the marriage of authority and faith. Cults come into play after Americanism because the church had to resort to manipulation after it lost the enforcement of its orthodoxy by the state.

    This is why Protestantism formulated a gospel that rejects the new birth: the new birth speaks to the enablement and qualification of the individual. Humanity’s penchant for caste systems (an authority pecking order supposedly based on ability) is probably grounded in the following: one of the primary essences of sin is its desire to control others (Genesis 4:6,7). Furthermore, the new birth also speaks to the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit that seals the believer until the day of redemption (the saving of the body, not the soul). If once saved always saved is the reality, we only need the institutional church for mission and fellowship, and not salvation.

    However, It is the contention of this study that anything less than the obtaining of salvation itself does not have the financial incentive to support the gargantuan infrastructure of the institutional church. This is because people can fellowship in homes, and when it gets right down to it, individual efforts albeit collective and informal are often the most efficient in meeting real needs. If one doubts this, they only need to observe the Go Fund Me .com phenomenon. One could argue that we only have the needy person’s word for the need, but since when has that not been an issue with institutions? Besides, in home fellowship situations, the participants are probably privy to what the need really is; perhaps more so than the needy person.

    What is the biblical model for so-called “church”? First, know this; “church” is the formal term that denotes when the assembly of Christ became an institution. This happened in the fourth century; until then, the model was a body model and not an institutional model. The assembly of Christ or the visible manifestations of Christians meeting together for the purpose of edification and encouragement unto good works took place exclusively in private homes. Fellowship, edification, encouragement, and learning were the primary purposes. Even though the church claims the same thing, its primary purpose is to maintain individual salvation. That has always been its stated orthodoxy.

    Think about this for a moment; if people are busy focusing on keeping themselves saved, how much focus is really going to be on the edification of others especially when there is doubt regarding personal qualifications? What does this end up looking like? It looks a lot like church.

    Institutions function on the caste system and authority predicated on elitist credentials. Christ’s assembly is a true “household of faith” that is a literal family, not an institution, and functions as a body, not according to an authoritative caste system.

    How does a body function? It functions by mutual submission to needs. A body is a complex organic system that works together. When one body part or organ does not meet the needs of the rest of the body, substandard life occurs. Body parts and organs also meet needs in varying degrees, but all meet some sort of need that varies from efficient functioning to no function at all; i.e., death. It’s not a matter of authority at all; it’s a matter of NEED. Love meets need.

    Of course, the church makes “submission” synonymous with “authority.” Like in the case of marriage, the wife’s call to submit to the husband is made to be an authority issue. But all through the New Testament, everyone is instructed to submit to everyone else. In a sense, everyone in the body has authority because the body NEEDS every member to some degree.

    How worthless is authority? When it gets right down to it, authority can punish someone for not following the law, but authority cannot make anybody do anything. A person is often willing to accept the punishment rather than to…love. Love obeys need; not authority. True need is true law; not Protestant orthodoxy. Authority only has fear at its disposal, but love casts out fear; authority is merely the fear of judgment.

    Do you now see the difference between authority and body, and family versus institution? We will look into this deeper in the next chapter.

Religious Tyranny: A Case Study—Chapter 12; The Way Home

 

Religious Tyranny: A Case Study; Chapter 10, Clearcreek Chapel’s Super-Charged Tyranny Via New Covenant Theology. REVISED

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 28, 2016

Revision in red print. 

religious-tyranny-cover11  In the previous chapter, we examined Protestantism’s law-based gospel in contrast to biblical justification APART  from the law. Protestantism’s Covenant Theology is also a backdrop for this law-based gospel as well. The ground of true biblical justification is the new birth (1John, chapter 3).

    In keeping with Protestantism’s law-based gospel, Covenant Theology posits the idea that Adam and Eve  broke the original law covenant in the garden, and the gospel restores that original covenant. So, the gospel is all about restoring a law covenant between God and man (specifically, a “Covenant of Works”). The vast majority of Bible apologetics refutes this very idea from Genesis to Revelation. It’s almost, as it would seem, too simple; justification is APART from the law. The law is for condemning the world and sanctifying the saints, NOT justification. These are the Spirit’s two uses of the law, but the Spirit justifies through his baptism. (Galatians 3:1,2).

    As discussed previously, the Australian Forum led by Adventist theologian Robert Brinsmead rediscovered the lost Protestant gospel of salvation by perpetually returning to the same gospel that saves us in order to keep ourselves saved. In this way, Protestants can claim a salvation by faith alone because the gospel saves by faith alone, but returning perpetually to the gospel to keep ourselves saved merely turns a “faith-alone” act into works. If salvation is not finished, something must be done to maintain it; however, Protestants claim that returning to the same gospel that saved us in order to eventually finish salvation doesn’t count as works because it is a faith-alone re-appropriation of the gospel. Supposedly, our work in returning to the gospel imputes the works of Christ to our account through our faith-alone works. So, Christ is the one working, not us. And of course, this faith-alone work is only effective under the auspices of the institutional church.

    Another member of the core four of the Australian Forum, Jon Zens, saw a huge problem with the standard-bearing Covenant Theology. What problem did he see? Basically, the same problem described in chapter nine of this study. In response to his concern, Zens created New Covenant Theology (NCT) which was coined such circa 1981. How does that work? Instead of Christ justifying believers by keeping the law for them, Christ came to end the law completely and usher in a singular law of love.

    But is that not what this book advocates as opposed to authentic Protestant orthodoxy? No.

    Here is the key: NCT abrogates both biblical perspectives on the law while Covenant Theology maintains a singular perspective on the law that remains unchanged for the lost and saved both. It abrogates both of the Spirit’s uses of the law, and adds a third option: revelatory interpretation through the Spirit and confirmed by one’s conscience; i.e., “love.” In other words, Christ not only ended the condemnation of the law, He also ended the law’s use for love and replaced it with one single law: whatever the Spirit reveals to you when you interpret all reality through the gospel.

    Let’s put some feet on this. The Bible, according to NCT, has one purpose and one purpose only: to show forth the gospel, or justification. And, all of life is to be interpreted through redemption. If the Bible is used for practical living, that’s a misuse of the Scriptures according to NCT. Guidance for practical living is to come through the elders who are experts at interpreting reality through the gospel. This is known as “Christocentric hermeneutics.”

    But don’t miss the cardinal point here: elder imperatives are based on this single law of love that is unwritten and totally subjective. A mandate by the elders might totally contradict the plain sense of Scripture, but if the elders agree on a certain course of action and their consciences are clear, that is the final word on the issue and tantamount to God Himself speaking on the issue.

    Not only is the aforementioned Chad Bresson (a former elder at the Chapel) a charter disciple of  NCT, but this is the stated Chapel theology. And, this is exactly how they function. Over, and over, and over again the Chapel elders take courses of action that totally contradict the plain grammatical sense of Scripture.

That which makes the Bible the Bible is the gospel. That which makes the Bible the Word of God is its witness to Christ. When the Spirit bears witness to our hearts of the truth of the Bible, this is an internal witness concerning the truth of the gospel. We need to be apprehended by the Spirit, who lives in the gospel, and then judge all things by that Spirit even the letter of Scripture (Chad Bresson citing Robert Brinsmead on his blog, “The Vossed World”).

[In other words, the grammatical sense of Scripture is completely irrelevant; true interpretation comes from those “apprehended by the Spirit,” viz, the church elders].

    Now consider; in addition to the fundamental Protestant principles already discussed, NCT makes elders a virtual law unto themselves with their self-proclaimed stamp of approval from the Holy Spirit.

    Protestant tyranny has persecuting principles in the Westminster Confession to begin with; the addition of NCT supercharges the tyranny, and what does that look like? It looks a lot like Clearcreek Chapel.

    Before we move on to the final chapter, this study will add one more perspective and clarify what we have discussed so far. The Bible states two uses of the law by the Holy Spirit. He uses it to condemn the lost and to sanctify the saved as they colabor with the Spirit in loving obedience to the law minus all fear of condemnation. The Spirit’s use of the law has changed in regard to the saved because of the new birth (Romans 8:2). The Spirit justifies apart from the law; the new birth is what justifies the believer.

    In Protestantism’s Covenant Theology, the law only condemns, and it is the standard for justification. Because of the law’s “righteous demands” being the standard for justification, and no person lost or saved can keep the law perfectly, the law can only condemn. Hence, Christ came to fulfill the law’s, “righteous demands.” Remember, this is the doctrine of “double imputation.” By the way, this is exactly what the apostle Paul argued against in Galatians, chapter 3. In that chapter, he argues that such a view makes the law an additional life-giving seed, but there is only ONE seed; Christ. Regardless of who obeys the law in order to fulfill its “righteous demands,” it is then the law that gives life. As Paul argues in Galatians, chapter 3, this makes the law an additional member of the Trinity.

    In NCT, Christ came to end all aspects of the law…period. Granted, NCT does not make the law a life-giver like Covenant Theology and Protestantism in general. The law was “abrogated” in totality and replaced with the “law of Christ” or the “one law of love.”  More like the biblical take on justification, one is justified because the law is gone—there is no law in which to judge or condemn a believer. But here is the huge problem with NCT: according to the Bible, there is no real love apart from the law in sanctification. The NCT concept is nothing new; this is why the Bible also states that one is justified by loving obedience to the law. Believers are not justified by loving obedience as cause and effect, but loving obedience shows that they have been justified through the new birth. In fact, NCT’s rejection of an objective grammatical application of the law as a means of love in the Christian life is the very biblical definition of antinomianism.

    So then, it could be said that Covenant Theology necessarily relaxes the law because Jesus keeps it for us, but NCT rejects it altogether for everything. But what is the replacement? Answer: the one, single, “law of love.” What’s that? Whatever the anointed elders say it is at any given time as revealed to them by the Spirit and confirmed by a clear conscience. This is why Clearcreek Chapel is so central to this study; they not only designate NCT as their primary doctrine, this is exactly how they function. And, one is justified by “hear ye Him” via the elders of the church. Hearing the elders is synonymous with hearing Christ, and of course, “My sheep hear my voice.” Again, it boils down to salvation by faithfulness to the church and putting yourself “under the authority of godly men.” And what, in reality, defines a “man of God”? Answer: anyone who has the money to get a degree at a Protestant seminary or in some instances, because Protestant elitists confirm someone who may lack formal education. CJ Mahaney would be a good example of that.

    Yet, there is one more angle on this that we should consider. Some in the Reformation tradition reject double imputation because of its obvious biblical contradictions, especially in the book of Hebrews. So what do they do with the law? Everything is pretty much the same as Covenant Theology, but the law is defined as a church marriage covenant with Christ. We have all heard this, right? The idea that the church is the “bride of Christ.” Hence, the law is our guide to be faithful to our marriage with Christ which also saves us. If we are not faithful to our marriage covenant with Christ, we are not saved, and again, since the church is Christ’s bride, salvation can only be obtained by faithfulness to the church and membership thereof. Sound familiar?

    It’s all the same common denominator; salvation by church membership.

Covenants 2.jpg

Religious Tyranny: A Case Study; Chapter 11, The Way Home. Family, Not Institution. Body, Not Authority.  

Religious Tyranny: A Case Study; Chapter 10, Clearcreek Chapel’s Super-Charged Tyranny Via New Covenant Theology

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 26, 2016

religious-tyranny-cover11  In the previous chapter, we examined Protestantism’s law-based gospel in contrast to biblical justification APART  from the law. Protestantism’s Covenant Theology is also a backdrop for this law-based gospel as well. The ground of true biblical justification is the new birth (1John, chapter 3).

    In keeping with Protestantism’s law-based gospel, Covenant Theology posits the idea that Adam and Eve  broke the original law covenant in the garden, and the gospel restores that original covenant. So, the gospel is all about restoring a law covenant between God and man (specifically, a “Covenant of Works”). The vast majority of Bible apologetics refutes this very idea from Genesis to Revelation. It’s almost, as it would seem, too simple; justification is APART from the law. The law is for condemning the world and sanctifying the saints, NOT justification. These are the Spirit’s two uses of the law, but the Spirit justifies through his baptism. (Galatians 3:1,2).

    As discussed previously, the Australian Forum led by Adventist theologian Robert Brinsmead rediscovered the lost Protestant gospel of salvation by perpetually returning to the same gospel that saves us in order to keep ourselves saved. In this way, Protestants can claim a salvation by faith alone because the gospel saves by faith alone, but returning perpetually to the gospel to keep ourselves saved merely turns a “faith-alone” act into works. If salvation is not finished, something must be done to maintain it; however, Protestants claim that returning to the same gospel that saved us in order to eventually finish salvation doesn’t count as works because it is a faith-alone re-appropriation of the gospel. Supposedly, our work in returning to the gospel imputes the works of Christ to our account through our faith-alone works. So, Christ is the one working, not us. And of course, this faith-alone work is only effective under the auspices of the institutional church.

    Another member of the core four of the Australian Forum, Jon Zens, saw a huge problem with the standard-bearing Covenant Theology. What problem did he see? Basically, the same problem described in chapter nine of this study. In response to his concern, Zens created New Covenant Theology (NCT) which was coined such circa 1981. How does that work? Instead of Christ justifying believers by keeping the law for them, Christ came to end the law completely and usher in a singular law of love.

    But is that not what this book advocates as opposed to authentic Protestant orthodoxy? No.

    Here is the key: NCT abrogates both biblical perspectives on the law while Covenant Theology maintains a singular perspective on the law that remains unchanged for the lost and saved both. It abrogates both of the Spirit’s uses of the law, and adds a third option: revelatory interpretation through the Spirit and confirmed by one’s conscience; i.e., “love.” In other words, Christ not only ended the condemnation of the law, He also ended the law’s use for love and replaced it with one single law: whatever the Spirit reveals to you when you interpret all reality through the gospel.

    Let’s put some feet on this. The Bible, according to NCT, has one purpose and one purpose only: to show forth the gospel, or justification. And, all of life is to be interpreted through redemption. If the Bible is used for practical living, that’s a misuse of the Scriptures according to NCT. Guidance for practical living is to come through the elders who are experts at interpreting reality through the gospel. This is known as “Christocentric hermeneutics.”

    But don’t miss the cardinal point here: elder imperatives are based on this single law of love that is unwritten and totally subjective. A mandate by the elders might totally contradict the plain sense of Scripture, but if the elders agree on a certain course of action and their consciences are clear, that is the final word on the issue and tantamount to God Himself speaking on the issue.

    Not only is the aforementioned Chad Bresson (a former elder at the Chapel) a charter disciple of  NCT, but this is the stated Chapel theology. And, this is exactly how they function. Over, and over, and over again the Chapel elders take courses of action that totally contradict the plain grammatical sense of Scripture.

    Now consider; in addition to the fundamental Protestant principles already discussed, NCT makes elders a virtual law unto themselves with their self-proclaimed stamp of approval from the Holy Spirit.

    Protestant tyranny has persecuting principles in the Westminster Confession to begin with; the addition of NCT supercharges the tyranny, and what does that look like? It looks a lot like Clearcreek Chapel.

    Before we move on to the final chapter, this study will add one more perspective and clarify what we have discussed so far. The Bible states two uses of the law by the Holy Spirit. He uses it to condemn the lost and to sanctify the saved as they colabor with the Spirit in loving obedience to the law minus all fear of condemnation. The Spirit’s use of the law has changed in regard to the saved because of the new birth (Romans 8:2). The Spirit justifies apart from the law; the new birth is what justifies the believer.

    In Protestantism’s Covenant Theology, the law only condemns, and it is the standard for justification. Because of the law’s “righteous demands” being the standard for justification, and no person lost or saved can keep the law perfectly, the law can only condemn. Hence, Christ came to fulfill the law’s, “righteous demands.” Remember, this is the doctrine of “double imputation.” By the way, this is exactly what the apostle Paul argued against in Galatians, chapter 3. In that chapter, he argues that such a view makes the law an additional life-giving seed, but there is only ONE seed; Christ. Regardless of who obeys the law in order to fulfill its “righteous demands,” it is then the law that gives life. As Paul argues in Galatians, chapter 3, this makes the law an additional member of the Trinity.

    In NCT, Christ came to end all aspects of the law…period. Granted, NCT does not make the law a life-giver like Covenant Theology and Protestantism in general. The law was “abrogated” in totality and replaced with the “law of Christ” or the “one law of love.”  More like the biblical take on justification, one is justified because the law is gone—there is no law in which to judge or condemn a believer. But here is the huge problem with NCT: according to the Bible, there is no real love apart from the law in sanctification. The NCT concept is nothing new; this is why the Bible also states that one is justified by loving obedience to the law. Believers are not justified by loving obedience as cause and effect, but loving obedience shows that they have been justified through the new birth. In fact, NCT’s rejection of an objective grammatical application of the law as a means of love in the Christian life is the very biblical definition of antinomianism.

    So then, it could be said that Covenant Theology necessarily relaxes the law because Jesus keeps it for us, but NCT rejects it altogether for everything. But what is the replacement? Answer: the one, single, “law of love.” What’s that? Whatever the anointed elders say it is at any given time as revealed to them by the Spirit and confirmed by a clear conscience. This is why Clearcreek Chapel is so central to this study; they not only designate NCT as their primary doctrine, this is exactly how they function. And, one is justified by “hear ye Him” via the elders of the church. Hearing the elders is synonymous with hearing Christ, and of course, “My sheep hear my voice.” Again, it boils down to salvation by faithfulness to the church and putting yourself “under the authority of godly men.” And what, in reality, defines a “man of God”? Answer: anyone who has the money to get a degree at a Protestant seminary or in some instances, because Protestant elitists confirm someone who may lack formal education. CJ Mahaney would be a good example of that.

    Yet, there is one more angle on this that we should consider. Some in the Reformation tradition reject double imputation because of its obvious biblical contradictions, especially in the book of Hebrews. So what do they do with the law? Everything is pretty much the same as Covenant Theology, but the law is defined as a church marriage covenant with Christ. We have all heard this, right? The idea that the church is the “bride of Christ.” Hence, the law is our guide to be faithful to our marriage with Christ which also saves us. If we are not faithful to our marriage covenant with Christ, we are not saved, and again, since the church is Christ’s bride, salvation can only be obtained by faithfulness to the church and membership thereof. Sound familiar?

    It’s all the same common denominator; salvation by church membership.

Covenants 2.jpg

Religious Tyranny: A Case Study; Chapter 11, The Way Home. Family, Not Institution. Body, Not Authority.  

 

Advocate for the Spiritually Abused? Then Wade Burleson Should Denounce Election in Sanctification

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on June 5, 2015

PPT HandleOriginally published March 11, 2013

“This is because Western culture has never adequately exposed Reformed theology for what it really is. As long as Protestantism clings to the Reformation myth, it will never completely break free from its bondage to anemic sanctification.”

 “If Burleson wants to be an advocate for the spiritually abused he should denounce his Reformed gospel of spiritual tyranny. While he may help some people heal from abuse, he will go back to his pulpit and produce twice as many abusers.”  

Last night at our evening Bible study we discussed election. Not election for justification (salvation), but election in sanctification (our Christian life). This is the Reformed idea that God sovereignly elects all of our good works in our Christian life in the same way that he elects some to be saved and passes over others. This leaves them to the choice that is inevitable if God doesn’t intervene: man will never choose God on his own. In the same way concerning sanctification, man is still totally depraved, and unless God intervenes will only do works that are filthy rags before God. In salvation, God only changes man’s position, not his nature. Therefore, in sanctification, God imputes His own good works to our life via intervention and leaves us to our own total depravity in the rest. Choice in justification; works in sanctification; God completely sovereign in both.

Though the application of this is somewhat complex, it boils down to the Reformation’s definition of double imputation: Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us positionally by His death, and the perfect obedience He demonstrated in His life is imputed to our sanctification as a way to keep our justification intact until glorification. Hence, to not believe in sanctified sovereignly elected works in our Christian life is paramount to works salvation. “The same gospel that saved us also sanctifies us.” Sanctification must be a continual revisiting of salvation by faith alone in order to maintain our justification. This is the very heart of Calvinism. Yes, we do something in sanctification: we continually revisit our need for the gospel, and as we do that, the works of Christ are imputed to us by faith alone in sanctification. This is the theses of the Reformation’s magnum opus, Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustinian Order, and articulated by John Calvin in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. This opposes Biblicism which sees double imputation as our sins imputed to Christ and God’s righteousness imputed to us and sanctification being an entirely different consideration.

We discussed how this authentic doctrine of the Reformation has wreaked havoc on the church. When God is seen as completely sovereign in sanctification, ideological conclusions are then drawn from what actually happens in real life. Rape is God’s will, and the perpetrator is seen as one who is acting out expected behavior where God has not intervened. “But for the grace of God, there go I.” We have all said it. No? All of grace in salvation—all of grace in sanctification. The only difference between you and a rapist is grace; therefore, who are you to judge? Even if you are the victim. Luther and Calvin thought righteous indignation a joke, and Calvin called justice, “mere iniquity.” Luther’s theology of the cross deemed suffering as the most valuable asset of the Reformation’s inner-nihilist theology:

He, however, who has emptied himself (cf. Phil. 2:7) through suffering no longer does works but knows that God works and does all things in him. For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more. It is this that Christ says in John 3:7, »You must be born anew.« To be born anew, one must consequently first die and then be raised up with the Son of Man. To die, I say, means to feel death at hand (Heidelberg Disputation: Theses 24).

Note that this constant seeking after suffering and self-deprivation leads to being “raised up” in the Christian life. This constant seeking after death leads to joyful rebirths when Christ’s obedience is imputed to us. This is the basis of John Piper’s Christian Hedonism which also implements Theses 28 of the Disputation. As you can see, it’s what they call the new birth. The new birth is something that continually reoccurs in salvation when Christ’s obedience is imputed to us.

The indifference towards suffering that this theology breeds cannot be overstated. It is such that Calvin’s beseechment of the Geneva counsel to have a detractor beheaded rather than burned with green wood is a supposed act of compassion that is Reformed folklore. And be absolutely positive of this: the roots of authentic Calvinism are %99.99 responsible for the spiritual tyranny in the contemporary church—especially among New Calvinists.

This is why I have a problem with Pastor Wade Burleson being postured as a spiritual abuse advocate. I realize that he is a well-known pastor and therefore a valuable advocate for a cause, but promoting him as a defender of the spiritually abused separates logic from consequences.  It encourages a hypothetical idea that because all Nazis didn’t execute Jews, Nazism doesn’t necessarily lead to the persecution of Jews. Right, not in all cases, but for every person Burleson helps his doctrine will produce twice the indifference and abuse in other people. Many members of the present-day Nazi party are seemingly quality people who could be utilized in good causes, but the possibility is remote because Western culture has been properly educated in regard to Nazi ideology. Such is not the case with Reformed theology. While a Nazi might make a good carpenter you would likely not hire one as an advocate for the Anti-Defamation League. There are Nazis who would do a fine job in that role but the ideology would do more harm than good in the long run.

We also discussed how authentic Calvinism dies a social death from time to time because of the tyranny that it produces and then experiences resurgence paved by the weak sanctification left in its wake. This is because Western culture has never adequately exposed Reformed theology for what it really is. As long as Protestantism clings to the Reformation myth, it will never completely break free from its bondage to anemic sanctification.

Reformation History

Burleson strongly endorses one of the core four individuals who helped found the present-day New Calvinist movement, Jon Zens:

One of my favorite theologians is Jon Zens. Jon edits the quarterly periodical called Searching Together, formerly known as the Baptist Reformation Review. Jon is thoroughly biblical, imminently concerned with the Scriptures …. The best $10.00 you will ever spend is the yearly subscription to Searching Together (http://www.wadeburleson.org/2010/09/searching-together-edited-by-jon-zens.html).

Zens, who has also been known as an advocate for the spiritually abused, was a key contributor to the Reformed think tank that launched present-day New Calvinism (The Australian Forum) of which some Burleson promoters refer to as the “Calvinistas.” It’s not meant as a compliment. But yet, Burleson’s theology is one and the same with them:

Those who have read Grace and Truth to You for any amount of time know that this author is persuaded the Bible teaches that the eternal rewards of Christians are those rewards–and only those rewards–which are earned by Christ. It is Christ’s obedience to the will and law of the Father that obtains for God’s adopted children our inheritance. It is Christ’s perfect obedience which brings to sinners the Father’s enduring favor and guarantees for us our position as co-heirs with Christ (http://www.wadeburleson.org/2011/11/therefore-knowing-terror-of-lord-we.html).

Those who have faith in Christ will never appear at any future judgment of God, or be rewarded for their good behavior. Our sins were judged at the cross, and the behavior for which we are rewarded is Christ’s behavior (Ibid).

Obviously, other than the previous points made, Burleson’s statement proclaiming Zens as “thoroughly biblical” and his outright rejection of 1COR 3:10-15 and 2COR 5:9-10 are troubling to say the least. Burleson also holds strongly to the exact same method of interpretation that makes elected works in sanctification possible among the “Calvinistas.” That would be the Bible as gospel meta narrative approach. It uses the Bible as a tool for gospel contemplationism which results in the works of Christ being imputed to our sanctification when we “make our story His story.” Luther got the concept from Pope Gregory the Great who believed that meditating on Christ’s works in the Scriptures endears us to Him romantically and thus inspires joyful obedience. It’s all the same rotten mysticism propagated today by John Piper and Francis Chan. It’s a mystical (actually Gnostic) approach to the Bible that makes elected works in sanctification possible.

As a cute way of propagating this nonsense, Burleson has named his para-church ministry “Istoria Ministries Blog.” His blog subheading noted that istoria is a Greek word that combines the idea of history and story:

Istoria is a Greek word that can be translated as both story and history. Istoria Ministries, led by Wade and Rachelle Burleson, helps people experience the life transforming power of Jesus Christ so that their story may become part of His story.

This ministry called him out on the fact that the word istoria does not appear anywhere in the Scriptures which led him to change the subheading a couple of days later. He then changed the subheading to a citation (GAL 1:18) that is the only place in the Bible where the word appears. Only thing is, even then, it’s not “istoria,” it’s “historeo”:

g2477. ιστορεω historeo; from a derivative of 1492; to be knowing (learned), i. e. (by implication) to visit for information (interview):— see.

This citation has nothing to do with his original point of naming his ministry as such. It’s simply the only reference he could find that proves that the word is in the Bible. Kinda, as I said, even then the word is not “istoria.” Istoria is a more contemporary Greek word that in fact can be used as “history” or “story.” But the earliest use of the word seems to be circa 1300, and is most prevalent in referring to the “story paintings” of medieval times. It’s just a lame, almost adolescent attempt to argue for this approach to the Bible.

If Burleson wants to be an advocate for the spiritually abused he should denounce his Reformed gospel of spiritual tyranny. While he may help some people heal from abuse, he will go back to his pulpit and produce twice as many abusers.

paul

Ground Zero for Understanding the Biblical Counseling Movement

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on February 2, 2015

CWW 4

Originally published September 18, 2013

“I believe this will go down in church history as one of the most grotesque betrayals ever perpetrated on a man in the name of friendship and the gospel.” 

A Chapter Theses for Clouds Without Water: The Biblical Counseling Movement; It’s True History and Doctrine

 In the Beginning, Plato, and then Augustine.

During the first century, the upstart assemblies of the risen Christ suffered a viral affront from Gnostic sects. The first century church was made up of people from all socioeconomic strata, and the Gnostics infiltrated Christianity for that purpose. Those in the first century church well-endowed with money were a valuable resource, and this is who the Gnostic sects primarily targeted with their false doctrine.

Gnosticism has always been about elitism, power, and money. If you want to see an immaculate mural of the American church, read Philip J. Lee’s “Against the Protestant Gnostics.”

Gnosticism finds its roots in the philosophy of Plato. Every American born into the world should be thoroughly apprised of Plato the man and his philosophy. To understand Plato is to understand Western culture politically and spiritually. All the philosophers agree on this point. From there, the math is easy: Augustine was the father of Reformation doctrine, and a rabid follower of Plato. Augustine had little use for the Bible without Platonist insight, and considered Plato a Pre-Christianity Christian.

Of course, the favorite red herring is that Plato is not agreed with on every point, but the fact remains that his primary construct founded Reformed theology: the incompetence of man, and the need for a select few (the enlightened) to rule over the masses. Those with gnosis know how society best functions, and they know how the masses can find individual peace from the desires that rule over them.

The Age of Enlightenment (circa 1630) produced men who were the first to confront Plato’s construct successfully. The most formidable product of that movement was the American experiment which obviously turned out quite well. It was founded on the competence of the individual. The competition was the Platonist Puritans who unfortunately survived the voyage from Europe and wreaked havoc on the East coast. But fortunately, their worldview kept them from settling further inland. “Go west young man!” is hardly the motivational words of competence found among the purer forms of Reformed thought.

Let there be no doubt about it, the idea of merging church and state is grounded in the religion of man’s incompetence. The masses need the state to take care of them. Plato’s philosopher kings contrive orthodoxy, and the soldiers enforce it. This concept did not find its way into the Westminster Confession by accident.  Even those who think the state should be separate from the church think a utopia would arise if the church ran the state. “Separation of church and state” doesn’t mean no theocracy; theocracy would be a good thing, supposedly. The state has always had an interest in ruling over religion because ideas are dangerous, and the church has always been a willing participant if the state agrees to enforce their orthodoxy. The battle between the two for the upper hand of control is the political intrigue that is European history in a nutshell. And that is how the world as we know it will end: the zenith of church statecraft as described in the book of Revelation.

This is Western history, and the  children of the enlightenment would have no part of it on American soil. Ten years after the Declaration of Independence, James Madison successfully stopped a European style push for a church state in A Memorial in Remonstance Against Religious Assessments. For all practical purposes, it was an indictment against the fruits of European Reformed doctrine.

The Reformation’s Historical Cycle of Social Death and Resurgence

The Reformers, being children of Plato, didn’t interpret reality with a normative epistemology. Plato’s Achilles’ heel has always been the application of Eastern mysticism. Instead of reality being interpreted empirically, and a course of action being determined by discovery, conclusions are drawn by using interpretive gateways to the “pure” form of reality that is hopefully good. Plato thought it was good, but his interpretive gateway to reality rejected the five senses out of hand. Gnosis was the key.

The Reformers merely replaced gnosis with the personhood of Christ as a sort of stargate to reality. That reality was predicated on the difference between the unchangeable pure form of Christ, and the inherent evil of man dwelling in a world that constantly changes. Plato equated the pure forms with immutable objectivity, and evil matter with mutable subjectivity. Hence, today’s Platonist Reformers speak of the “objective gospel experienced subjectively.”  This is clearly Plato’s metaphysical construct based on the incompetence of man in regard to interpreting reality. Like Plato, the Reformers of old and new alike bemoan man’s attempt to understand reality “in the shadows” of all matters that “eclipse Christ.” While donning the persona of Biblicism, pastors like Steve Lawson call for pastors to “come out from the shadows.”

This is the theme of books like “Uneclipsing the Son” by John MacArthur confidant Rick Holland. In his book, he hints at why purest Reformed theology gets lost in the minds of Christians from time to time and therefore needs periodic resurgences and rediscoveries. He notes in his book that good grammar makes bad theology. The mystic heretic Paul David Tripp makes the same assertion in “How People Change,” noting that a literal interpretation of Scripture circumvents the personhood of Christ and His saving work. What’s in an interpretation method? According to Tripp—your salvation.

This is the paramount point at hand: the Reformers did not interpret the Bible grammatically, objectively, exegetically, or literally at any point; they interpreted the Bible through the dual prism of  “reality” seen in God’s holiness and our evil. The only objective truth is the person of Christ leading to a mere subjective experience of His power and  grace manifestations. Hence, many Reformed purists in our day embodied in the New Calvinist movement speak of, “spiritual growth in seeing our own evil as set against the holiness of God.” Therefore, commands in the Bible become part of the narrative that helps us see what we are unable to do rather than commands to be obeyed. We merely seek to see, and wait for the subjective experience of “vivification.” The seeing is the “mortification.” Reformed theologians like Michael Horton explain this as a continual re-experience of our original baptism as we perpetually revisit the same gospel that saved us “afresh.”

This reduces the Christian life to experiences of perpetual rebirth found in Eastern concepts Plato borrowed for “practical life application.”  This is the foundation of Historical Redemptive hermeneutics born of Reformed purism.  This is also the interpretive method that is all of the rage in our day through programs like BibleMesh.

This is not the natural bent towards interpreting truth. We are wired to interpret truth objectively, and grammatically—tools like allegory and parables notwithstanding. This is why Reformed purism dies a social death from time to time throughout history. Thus, this metaphysical anomaly experiences “rediscovery” and “resurgence” movements. Be certain of the following: this is the New Calvinist movement in our day, and in essence, a return to the exact same viral Gnosticism that plagued the New Testament church with this caveat added: we by no means possess the doctrinal intestinal fortitude of the first century church.

Ground Zero: The 1970 Resurgence

1970 is ground zero for the present landscape of American Christianity.  In that year, two movements emerged. Since colonial times, the third resurgence of Reformed purism was born through a project called the Australian Forum. In that same year, Dr. Jay E. Adams, a hybrid of Calvinism and Historical Grammatical interpretation, launched the biblical counseling movement. His movement was predicated on the competence of enabled congregants to counsel each other through the deepest of human problems. Adams also recognized the simple concept of anthropology and its relationship to helping people. Because all humans are created by God, what works well for the unsaved should work even better for the saved. If unsaved people who don’t violate their consciences are happier, this should also aid Christians in their walk with God. Bad ideas are simply bad for everyone, the ultimate need for eternal salvation notwithstanding. But that doesn’t mean you throw out the unsaved baby with the bath water of practicality. And in addition, does practicality show forth the wisdom of God and thereby point people to God? Should God not know what makes people tick? Moreover, what is the authority for interpreting human existence? Philosophy,  or the Bible?

Adams’ biblical construct produced astounding conclusions, especially in areas where a medical model covered for escape mechanisms that create another reality for realties one may not like. If Bob is in big trouble, he merely becomes Ted, or maybe even Jane. This is a bad idea for Christians. Adams created a dichotomy between salvation and the Christian life. He believed in the utter incompetence of man to save himself, but abundant competence in colaboring with God for a victorious life over sin. With Adams, it is about CHANGE for the glory of God and the happiness of His people.

Thus, with the resurgence of Reformed purism at the same time, the battle lines were drawn, and a confusion of conflict emerged in the biblical counseling movement. The one predicated on the utter incompetence of man whether saved or unsaved, and the other predicated on the competence of the Spirit-filled Christian. The one predicated on Christians only being righteous positionally, and the other predicated on the idea that Christians are also practically righteous. The one predicated on contemplationism, the other predicated on obedience. This is the civil war that has raged in the biblical counseling movement from its conception until this day. It is for the most part a civil war of servility, lest two different gospels be separate, and careerism maimed.

The Forum doctrine quickly found footing at Westminster Seminary in Pennsylvania where Adams was a professor. The initial vestige of relevant infection was found in Dr. John “Jack” Miller, also a professor at Westminster Seminary. True, Westminster was founded by Reformed purists that believed the many acts of Christ’s righteousness were part of the atonement, not just His one act of death on the cross, but for the most part, the Reformation’s metaphysical anomalies had reduced Westminster to moderate Reformed ideology. If you will, a hybrid Calvinism that interpreted reality grammatically.

Miller changed that. While the doctrine was in the process of suffering a brutal death in Reformed Baptist circles by moderate Calvinists, being labeled as antinomianism, it found resurgent life at Westminster in Miller’s Sonship Theology incubator. The forerunner of this doctrine in Reformed Baptist circles, Jon Zens, discovered the doctrine  in the early years of the Forum while he was a student at Westminster. He actually became heavily involved with the Forum in the 70’s, convincing them that everyday Covenant Theology would be a hindrance to infecting Christianity with the newly rediscovered disease. From that conversation came the birth of New Covenant Theology circa 1981. It was a significant addition to the present repertoire of elements that confuse the real crux of the issue. Till this day, few moderate Calvinists make this historical connection between New Covenant Theology and New Calvinism.

But it was a particular mentoree of Miller’s that saw Adam’s construct as a threat to the successful spread of the Forum’s rediscovery: Dr. David Powlison. Powlison, working closely with Miller, developed the Dynamics of Biblical Change which is a counseling construct based on Reformation purism. This became the counseling model for Westminster’s biblical counseling wing known as The Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF). Later, there was a proposal for an organization that would certify counselors for CCEF. Adams was opposed to it as it smacked of the kind of elitism that he was trying to avoid. Remember, Adams was all about the competence of the average congregant to counsel. But Purist Reformed ideology is all about elitism because Gnosticism is all about elitism; the two go hand in glove.

Show Me the Money

Gnosticism rejects the average man’s ability to understand reality. So, assimilation for purposes of functionality is the main concern; ie., that the masses are controlled by indoctrination that is not necessarily understood, but invokes behavioral goals. But another primary goal is the spiritual caste system that provides millions of dollars for elitist educators. In essence, these are the professional Sophists produced by Platonism. This is why Gnosticism always dwells in the upper socioeconomic strata, as Phillip J. Lee notes in the aforementioned book, Gnosticism is a rich man’s game. CCEF certified counselors are extremely rare in zip codes of average incomes less than $80,000 per year, and nowhere to be found in zip codes of $50,000 or less. This of course, is very telling. Their conferences require registration fees of  $300.00 per person or more.

Meanwhile, NANC Happens

Powlison followed a classic mode of Gnostic deception by seeking to be identified with the persona of Adams’ successful counseling construct while despising the doctrine as a supposed false gospel. To be more specific, he wanted to gain ground by being identified with Adams’ success, and with a deliberate long-term goal of destroying the historical grammatical approach to biblical counseling.

Unfortunately, and to the chagrin of Adams, the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors was born (NANC). “Nouthetic” counseling was a Greek term introduced by Adams and often associated with him. Therefore, Powlison et al were able to be identified with the tsunami like personal transformations of the Adams reformation as a jump start for their own construct, and with a long-term goal of destroying the competition. They did this so effectively that Adams was often thought of as the founder of NANC, which was never true.

Consequently, Adams experienced an increased persecution from within the contemporary biblical counseling movement that he founded. His counseling was dubbed “first generation” biblical counseling and referred to as nothing more than “producing better Pharisees.” I believe this will go down in church history as one of the most grotesque betrayals ever perpetrated on a man in the name of friendship and the gospel.

The fallout in our day is indicative of the spiritual carnage that has always been left in the path of Gnosticism. While the spiritual peasantry cries out in hopes that the elite will police their own, the Nicolaitans of our day laugh all the way to the bank. After all, subjective reality is messy business and peasants just don’t understand. The biblical counseling community has founded organizations who seek to keep them out of court and prevent the obscuring of cash flow. The New Calvinism movement is intrinsically connected by a complicated and massive network of  associations—in many cases disagreeing with each other on “secondary issues.” A prime example is the G.R.A.C.E mediatory organization headed by Boz Tchividjian.  While playing the part of advocates for the spiritually abused, they are professionally networked with serial abusers of the worst sort.

Conclusion

The biblical counseling movement embodied in New Calvinism is nothing more or less than a return to the exact same Gnosticism that plagued the first century church. The fact that Eastern mysticism is often the application can be seen by what happened at a Passion Conference where the who’s who of New Calvinism led the audience in a form of Transcendental Meditation. Tim Keller, a co-mentoree of Miller along with David Powlison in the early days, is a staunch advocate of Eastern mysticism as a practical application for Christian living.

CCEF, and NANC are the epitome of false advertising. They advertise the gospel and change, but believe in neither. Like the father of their faith, St. Augustine,  it is Plato they trust. The banner over them is not love, but a sense of elitist entitlement to be paid and supported by the unenlightened masses for their own good. Sheep that don’t get it are more than expendable; the one in 99 is expendable for the 99 who know their place and pay the Shamans their tax deductible dues.

They invent and sell orthodoxy, the layman’s manual for experiencing perpetual rebirth. On the one hand, there is a Christianity that posits the living water that is received once, the onetime washing, and the moving on to maturity from the beginning principles of baptisms, and then there is the gospel of our day that posits the perpetual rebirth of Eastern mysticism.

But this is not a mere disagreement about how to live the Christian life. How we see the Christian life reveals the gospel that we really believe. When our salvation is not a finished work, something must be done by us to finish it—even if that means doing nothing with intentionality. NOT living by a list of do’s and don’ts is the work that keeps us saved. It is playing it safe by hiding our talents in the ground and giving the Lord back what He originally gave.

Christians would do well to choose which gospel they will live by in our day.  At this point, that conversation has not arrived yet. And to be sure, many do not want the conversation to be clarified to that point. The gospel itself has become the elephant in the room.

paul

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