Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Philosophy of the Reformation and Its Historical Impact, by John Immel – Part 4

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on December 22, 2016

Taken from John Immel’s third session at the 2012 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
Published with permission
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3

(Continued from part 3)

Now I want to make a series of contrasts.

The Enlightenment begins around 1650, give or take. The Enlightenment thinkers included men such as John Locke, David Hume, and Adam Smith. From these men comes a large amount of the foundational thought of human freedom, human competence, and human liberty. Enlightenment thought influence our Founding Fathers – Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson to name a few.

Recall that the three English civil wars were religious wars. The American Civil War was not a religious war. It was a war specifically fought in pursuit of liberty and freedom.

james-madisonIn an article written in 1786 by James Madison, “A Memorial in Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” Madison weighs in against the establishment of civil government, civil patronage, and religion. I want you to notice the Founding Fathers’ clarity on the arguments against merging the state, no matter how small, with ecclesiastical establishments.

Madison begins:

“We, the subscribers, citizens of the said Commonwealth, have taken into serious consideration [that] a bill establishing provision for teachers of the Christian religion and conceiving of the same if finally armed with sanctions of law, will be a dangerous abuse of power.”

There was no illusion here. The nature of Christianity, as our Founding Fathers understood, was that it was a dangerous force to be contended with when it was merged with the power of the state. Madison then goes on to detail several reasons for this understanding.

“1. Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth that religion or the duty which we owe our Creator and the manner of discharging it can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force and violence.”

This was revolutionary. While this idea had circulated amongst any number of different sects and any number of different intellectual ties, for the first time, there was a formal effort to challenge at the root that religion could not ever be merged with the force of the state. But rather the force of government was to be tempered by intellect and reason.

This is a central Enlightenment idea.

Madison Continues:

“2. Because the rulers who are guilty of such encroachment exceed their commission from which they derive their authority and are tyrants. The people who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves.”

“3. Because the free men of America did not wait till usurped power had stricken itself by exercise and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.”

Hold that thought. I will come back to that in a moment.

“We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it. Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians in exclusion of all other sects?”

This is why the historic fight between Calvinists and Arminians gained some attraction, because we fail to identify the principle that Madison is arguing here. The issue is not necessarily the Arminian perspective versus the Calvinist perspective. The issue at central root is man’s fundamental competence to master his own life, however that may be accomplished. The reason all other doctrinal fights are useless in this instance is because, at the root, until you defend man’s right for moral existence, you have lost. Madison makes this observation in point seven.

“7. Because experience witnesses that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation.  During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, and in both, superstition, bigotry and persecutions.”

It is important to understand that our Founding Fathers had no illusions about the nature of what Christianity was and was not. They understood its broad history. They understood what Puritanism did. They understood what the Massachusetts colony theocracy did. For many of them, it was close enough to their lifetime that it would not have been lore as if we were learning it out of the book. They certainly would have been within striking distance of the religious wars in England and the tides of warfare that swept across the face of the earth.

James Madison goes on to say in Point 8.

“8. Because…what influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; and in no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people.”

This is one of the most scathing denunciations ever! Until Christians are guardians of the liberties of the people, all we are doing is perpetuating spiritual tyrants.

Madison wrote this a mere ten years from the Declaration of Independence and the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. I want you to notice that this memorial and remonstrance takes place dead square between two events: from the specific overthrow of tyranny in 1776, within ten years’ time we already have a religious movement trying to use civil authority to create patronage. In other words, you have a specific group of people seeking to create a means by which others pay taxes to support a religious organization. They were trying to use taxation to advance sectarian orthodoxy.

Madison is arguing for the supremacy of human reason, and he is denouncing the use of civil authority – the merging of religious faith and the power of the state. He is saying it is a menace. Christianity is a menace because Calvinism demands war for all who refuse to bow to its edicts. The current Calvinist defenders can pooh-pooh my point all they like, but I win this argument only because all I have to do is educate people on the public record. This is not complicated.

The Founding Fathers had no illusion about the destructive force of Christian religion, and it is the most virulent forms of Christian thought that the Founding Fathers put absolute barriers in place to curtail this acquisition of civil power.   declaration_of_independenceFor the first time in human history, men sat down and they finally said, “No, man is entitled to the sum and substance of his own life,” and they penned these words:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new governments laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers.”

Let’s do a contrast.

Puritan theology:

  • Man is incompetent.
  • Man is morally guilty.
  • Man needs the force of government to compel him to good action.
  • Government is an unquestionable manifestation of God’s appointment.
  • God is wrathful and offers man no rights of existence.
  • God appoints man to a predetermined existence of suffering and bondage.
  • God’s sovereignty appoints man to slavery.

This is the Puritan construct. This is Reformation theology. This is Calvinism. This is the most virulent form of Reformation thought.

Contrast this with what comes out of the Declaration of Independence:

  • That man is competent to understand.
  • That man can understand the world in which he lives.
  • That his epistemology is fully intact.
  • That by virtue of that ability, truth is self-evident.

The equality of human creation endows all with the same right. There is no election to specific privilege, yet in the Calvinist construct, the men standing in the pulpits today are claiming a special privilege.

Man has a right to life, liberty, and happiness, yet the Calvinist construct says there is no such thing; that any effort towards right or life or liberty or the claim to any happiness is a self-deception and a manifestation of your depraved nature. Just government is a product of human consent.

Consider this, that for almost 1,800 years, the Church had said that it was the divine right of kings to dictate government, and that government was in fact divinely appointed. Man had no right to question, for the most part. Whatever happened was in fact the product of God’s will.

The American Declaration of Independence was the first time in human existence that men articulated that just government must be the product of human consent. I am only governed in as much as I choose to let you govern me. Truth is not the property of the state. The state is in fact the servant of man’s defense. This was revolutionary.

The advances of man, the things that have eradicated human suffering across the board, are directly tied to human liberty, because when man is free, man is free to think.  Thinking men are free to create, and creating men are free to exchange value with whomever they chooses to associate. Man can better his life as he sees fit, and he can solve the problems of the beggarly elements of this earth.

I am able to do in the 21st century what a paltry number of human beings had ever been able to do, and it is directly related to the legacy of human competence, human freedom, and human liberty. You do not get this level of prosperity with the ideology of the Dark Ages. Every place this ideology has manifested itself, it has driven man back to the Dark Ages.

These exact same metaphysical assumptions that are in Calvin are in Augustine. These exact same metaphysical assumptions that are in Augustine are in Islam. Notice that if you go to any place in this world where there is a purely Islamic state you will see the dark ages in modern times: you will see the same paltry human condition from over a millennia ago in western civilization. This is true because the ideas are the same.

Liberty, freedom, thought; they are absolutely tied together. Human competence and human liberty are essential for the benefit of man.

I have now come full circle in my argument. The cohesive structure of ideas from the metaphysical premise to the epistemological ability to the ethical understanding to the political action; all of them run in a progressive line of thought.   This is the answer to my original observation:

The Gospel According to John Immel, chapter 3:1-3

1. All people act logically from their assumptions.
2. It does not matter how inconsistent the ideas or insane the rationale. They will act until that logic is fulfilled.
3. Therefore, when you see masses of people taking the same destructive actions, if you find the assumptions, you will find the cause.

Christians love to thump their ESV while laying claim to the Declaration of Independence and the Founding Fathers. They hold freedom of religion as a certainty. They love the prosperity that rational thought, logic, and industry produce. But they do not even blush at the hypocrisy when they pound that same ESV to claim solidarity with Reformation orthodoxy. They will then rate John Calvin as the great reformer of Geneva. They will speak sagely, calling Jonathan Edwards their homeboy, not once realizing the philosophical schizophrenia. These are mutually exclusive worldviews.

In the world of election and limited atonement, there is no such thing as self-appointment and self-determination. There is no such thing as self-governance, because you do not own you.

In a world of irresistible grace, there is no such thing as private property, private possessions, or even personal boundaries, because whatever good you have is a manifestation of God’s grace, and all grace is administered by His stewards of grace.

And in a world of predestination, there is no right to inquire. In a world of predestination, there is no human sensibilities to be conservative. Your pain and your suffering is irrelevant. Who are you, O man, to challenge God, to inquire the things of God, the mysteries of God! Your pain is what you should have.

In the metaphysical world of T.U.L.I.P., there is no real justice. Everything is one great big fat sin before God, because the nature of man is utterly offensive to God. If you happen to be a part of the group that gets picked, it’s all good. And if you don’t, then it sucks to be you. The threat of damnation hangs over your head like the Sword of Damocles. Your sin violates God. So, who are you to demand recompense for a violation of sins against you? How dare you speak justice? You don’t own you.

Or do you?

This is the first choice. This is the fight within the ages. Who owns man?

Father, in the name of Jesus, we must live in understanding. Never before has man been defended. We’ve defended you and we’ve swatted our own. But never have we defended man’s right to live, right to exist, right to live, right to prosperity; never have we done this successfully. To throw off the tyranny of the ages, Father, we need your wisdom and understanding. We need to have the eyes of our understanding opened, that our insides will be filled with light. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

~ John Immel


Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2
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The Philosophy of the Reformation and Its Historical Impact, by John Immel – Part 3

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on December 21, 2016

Taken from John Immel’s third session at the 2012 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
Published with permission
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here to read Part 1
Click here to read Part 2
Click here to read Part 4

In part two, I addressed the concepts of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics. Then I explained how the progression of those concepts produces specific outcomes. The principle I highlighted was that all metaphysical premises determine epistemological qualification. Epistemological qualification defines ethical standards, and ethical standards prescribe political culture. Said another way, foundational assumptions determine how effective man is to understand his world. This defines man’s moral value, and his moral values prescribe the government use of force.

Christians say polity when they talk about church government. My goal is to tie the spiritualized word polity to the reality: polity = force.   Most people fail to understand that government is nothing more than a monopoly of force. Likewise, church polity is nothing more than a monopoly of force. The reason force becomes the primary crux of these metaphysical issues is because the central fight for the whole of human existence has been the question of “who owns man?”

Historically the predominant assumption has been that man is the property of the state. Government owns man. It doesn’t really matter what government. It doesn’t matter what age that government is in, whether we are talking about Sparta, or Rome, or the Holy Roman Empire and Charlemagne, the conclusion was that the state owned man. Man’s specific function was to lead his life at the behest of the state.

Some historical background:

From AD 350 to roughly AD 450, there was a massive evolution in Christian thought. Up until about AD 300, Christianity was a marginal religion in a much broader intellectual and religious world. Then a series of events brought Christianity to the forefront, and Christianity emerged as the state religion. This merged the quest for truth with the power of the state, forever changing the face of Christianity. Follow the logic: the moment government is the arbiter of religious orthodoxy (read doctrine) the government must be in charge of reality. And if the government is in charge of reality then government is in charge of compelling people to believe specific things. Always remember government is force.

comply

We know what is best for you!

So when Christians talk about polity aka government they are trying to take the sting off what they really mean. When a man insists that he has Biblical polity, what he is ostensibly advocating is the moral right to compel everyone else there to conform to what he says.

In the unfolding drama in modern American Christianity, one of the leading doctrines is the issue of submission to authority. When truth is placed in the hands of “authority” they are claiming for themselves the right to force people to believe what they believe. The loose logic reasoning goes like this: if right ideas were enforced all the bad things would go away.

But notice that the bad things never go away.

Notice this logic played out in Islam. Islam calls itself a religion of peace because it believes that as long as Islam rules the world, it will enforce peace. The world will be at peace because Islam will brook no dissent.

Now notice the same logic from Marxists. “The reason there’s bloodshed is because those dang bourgeoisie won’t give up all their money to the proletariat. If we compel evil rich people to do what is “right” there would be no more bloodshed.” And this is the trap that this always produces. The presumption is that the utopia will occur if everybody would just get their ideas right.

But it never happens because it cannot happen.   The moment you decide that one person, even a group of people, are somehow uniquely qualified to use force to defend truth, what you have is religious orthodoxy. Religious orthodoxy and political correctness are nothing more than two heads of the same beast: one is secular orthodoxy and one is a religious orthodoxy. It is the use of government force to tyrannize people to believe the same thing.

Through marketing and packaging, religious orthodoxy tries to portray itself as being done on behalf of God. And who can argue with things that are done on behalf of God?   Since God isn’t standing here to say otherwise, it is a pretty easy thing to get away with.

So where is the plumb line? How do you know who is in charge of what?

Some insist the answer is in the “bible”. They pound the book and say, “See, it’s all said right here.” But the moment anybody stands up and says, “Well, I don’t happen to agree with what that says. I don’t happen to agree with your conclusion on that scriptural “interpretation.”…

…Then what do you do?

The dirty little secret is that nothing gets resolved until somebody points a gun. The epistemological standard requires force.

mediator-bob-listen-to-me

Baghdad Bob…Mediator Extraordinaire!

Notice that those who govern “For the glory of God” call their form of government theocracy, when in actual fact, theocracy is always oligarchy. Since God is not personally dictating what happens next, dictating his will defaults to men who have – somehow – magically transformed themselves into the recipients of divine mandate. That means you have a very, very small group of men who believe they are uniquely qualified to define truth for everyone. This is oligarchy.

So this means that there are a few men who monopolize force to define God’s existence. It is a simple matter for them to say they are doing whatever they are doing on behalf of God. They get to define God on their terms. God’s will is the subjective whim of those using force. This is why faith and force are the destroyers of the world.

By contrast when we are discussing reason, we are discussing the whole of human understanding, rationality, and logic. We are actually having the only exchange that cannot be resolved with violence. We are arguing the elements that are measurable and identifiable by anybody who chooses to enter into the conversation. So there is a right answer. There is a right conclusion. There is something out there whereby we can all arrive at the same plumb line.

The appeal to faith on the other hand is really an appeal to subjectivity. In fact the appeal to faith has become a license to subjectivity. The moment the world is subjective, force becomes the only means to compel other minds to enter in to like minded subjectivity. This is the real source of all religious wars. This is the background history that confronted our Founding Fathers. They were the first men to successfully challenge at the root the substantive cause of tyranny. For the first time in the world, these key elements were articulated:

  • Man owns himself.
  • The state is subordinated to the will of the individuals.
  • Truth can never be the property of the state.

This revolution of thought is directly tied to the Enlightenment. Remember the progression: Foundational assumptions determine how effective man is to understand his world, which defines moral value, which proscribes government force. The Founding Fathers believed in man’s competence. That was the central theme of everything for which they argued, that man was specifically competent to self-govern. This collides head-on with the Calvinist-Puritan construct: man equals incompetence.

Calvin believed this:

– Pervasive depravity has fully corrupted the whole of human existence.

– This determines that all good is a product of God’s specific sovereign action.

– This defines that man’s life is predetermined in action and outcome.

– This prescribes an elect few who are divinely appointed to shepherd the flock in God’s behalf.

The Puritans brought that mindset into the colonies. Puritanism was the most virulent strain of Christianity to come out of Europe and to land on these shores. It has always collided with the Enlightenment thought. Here is a summarization of some articles of religion from Puritan thinkers.

Puritan Leaders’ Impact On Colonial Religious Life

  • “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” is the lingering metaphysical worldview etched in the minds of men declaring God as a vindictive sovereign.
  • Whatever God’s benevolence might theoretically represent, ultimately, this worldview may seem wrathful and damning; terror is the only appropriate reaction to divine awareness.
  • Man’s depravity requires authoritarian government to stand between yourself and his lascivious impulses.
  • Pride in human ability is man’s leading vice and the outworking of wretched deception.
  • Salvation is the miracle of being approved access to heaven that this otherworldly utopia is granted or denied according to God’s mysterious plan.
  • The unintelligible nature of God’s intention in the feeble minds of men makes it capricious and malicious to every failing of human existence.
  • Men are pilgrims through this worldly realm, a hostile empire fraught with all manner of evil. Man is a depraved creature, entirely ill-suited in the bewildering environments, specifically prone to sinful self-destruction.
  • The boons of wealth and health are gifts. Therefore, man is merely the steward charged with a divine trust. The elect are then qualified to dispose of their brothers as the collective sees fit. Stewards in God’s appointment rule those siblings granted to their control.
calvins-hashtage

#religioushashtagsforcalvinists

This is why I point out the ultimate full philosophical power from metaphysics to politics. This is Calvin’s role. Very few human beings on the face of the planet have ever successfully integrated an entire philosophical statement – from metaphysics through epistemology, through ethics, all the way to politics – into something that can be digested for human consumption. While it is the single-most disastrous body of ideas ever perpetrated on man, he was still a genius.   The power of his ideas is fact that he parsed it in such a way that it was easily understandable from start to finish. Its power is its full statement.

What are the results of his ideas?

Civil War: Eventually, this body of thought becomes centered in England. Between the time of Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion in 1536, and the beginning of the Enlightenment period, England experiences three civil wars: the first from 1642-1646, the second from 1648-1649, and the third from 1649-1651. It will take a trivial amount of research for you to find the causes of the English Civil Wars: They were religious wars based on a fight over religious orthodoxy e.g. Calvin’s doctrine.

The Puritans: In modern American lore, the Puritans are everybody’s favorite Thanksgiving story. We like the Puritans because we think they are like us, but in actual fact there was a reason the Puritans were persecuted. They were militant ideologues who were determined to create a theocracy . . . somewhere. The closest they got in Europe was when Oliver Cromwell ruled as Lord Protector from 1653 to 1658. He called himself the Protestant Moses. The closest they got was to a theocracy was the Massachusetts colony.

The Act of Uniformity: The Church of England decided, after a series of wars, to dictate a specific form of public prayer, the sacraments, ordination, and church rights. The Puritans thought the Church of England was far too permissive, and when they couldn’t establish their doctrinal “purity” by force they left England because of “persecution”. They were not looking for religious freedom. They were looking for a place where they would be unopposed in setting up a religious tyranny.

The Salem Witch Trials: These occurred between 1692 and 1693. Again, a trivial amount of research will reveal these were specific religious persecutions, the merging of civil force with religious orthodoxy to create a culture of death. I know that is not popular and I’m sure that will make you nervous. That’s fine. I want you nervous. I want you to see the trend of social destruction.

Jonathan Edwards: To the Neo Reformed crowd, Jonathan Edwards is their homeboy. However, if you have ever read “Sinners in the Hands of a Angry God” you know it is a vicious piece, and you know that Jonathan Edwards was an evil little man.

(continued in part 4)


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Click here to read Part 2
Click here to read Part 4

ACCC Typical of Protestants Who Don’t Know What Protestantism Is, But New Calvinists Do Know What a Protestant Is; Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 6, 2016

tanc-vol-1The American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC) confirmed a resolution on New Calvinism at its 75th Annual Convention October 18-20, 2016. The resolution was articulated by Pastor Dan Greenfield and posted here. Part one of this evaluation can be read here. What is our primary thesis? New Calvinism is a return to authentic Protestantism and is causing controversy among evangelicals because Protestants are more confused than any other religionists in the world. Greenfield’s post is low hanging fruit in regard to the issues at hand, so let’s get started. Greenfield begins his post this way:

“In September 2006, Collin Hansen reported for Christianity Today on a new religious movement of professed Christians who took a renewed interest in Reformed theology. At that time, Hansen called the movement ‘Young, Restless, Reformed’ (YRR), but later he termed it ‘New Calvinism’ and claimed that it was a ‘revival’ of biblical Christianity. By 2009, Time Magazine declared New Calvinism to be one of the ’10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now,’ and since then, the movement’s popularity has increased. All of this success seemed to validate Hansen’s claim of another spiritual awakening.”

It’s interesting to note that TANC Ministries was the first to document the true contemporary history of New Calvinism in “The Truth About New Calvinism” (TANC Publishing 2011). At first, we were the go-to source for information on the movement until further research revealed that New Calvinism is, in fact, a return to the real deal. Protestantism had indeed lost touch with its true gospel because of the integration of Americanism. Few want to hear that message and our research is now avoided like a plague accordingly.

The integration of Americanism created a contradiction between how Protestants function and their intellectual testimony. This is why New Calvinism has all but taken over the church completely in a short span of time: the church has always been functioning New Calvinism; the movement is merely recalibrating the church and syncing its function with the intellectual confession. This was somewhat explained in part 1.

But this is what evangelicals do to cover for the embarrassment of getting it wrong for over 200 years: they compartmentalize the Protestant religion into so-called “secondary issues.” You know, the whole, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity” thing. Some nomenclatures are, “Reformed,” “evangelical,” “Calvinism,” 1-5 types of Calvinism, “Neo-Puritanism” which couldn’t be a bad thing because it has the word “Puritan” in it, etc., etc., etc.

Let’s get something straight: “Reformed” is, you know, the “Reformation” which produced “Protestantism” which was fathered by Luther and Calvin who fathered the Puritans who came to America and started a European church-state which incited the American Revolution resulting in Protestant Puritanism being integrated with Americanism which fathered the Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, Pentecostals, etc., etc., etc., but it is all the same stuff when it gets right down to it. Ok, so, the Baptists disagreed with Luther and Calvin’s position on baptismal regeneration; so what? They kept the same progressive justification. So, the Congregationalists disagreed with the Puritan/Calvinist form of church government; so what? They also kept the same progressive justification gospel.

What is really going on is total confusion because Protestants have little grasp of what Protestantism really teaches. Also, Protestant history taught in Christian schools and in homeschool curriculum is rank propaganda that would even make the Chicoms blush.

So here we go with the whole well-traveled Collin Hansen historical focal point. Am I saying that Collin Hansen has supplied historical cover for Protestantism? That’s exactly what I am saying. Supposedly, New Calvinism is a contemporary movement and its father is John Piper. And gee whiz, Piper has true Reformed theology all wrong. Not so. John Piper has Reformed theology exactly right. And trust me, I say this regardless of the fact that I don’t like him at all.

In contrast, the real father of the movement is a Seventh-day Adventist theologian named Robert Brinsmead. He started a Reformed think tank dubbed The Australian Forum which was launched in 1970 and came out of the Progressive Adventist movement (which was based on Luther’s soteriology). His rediscovery of Protestantism’s progressive justification and Luther’s “alien righteousness” turned Adventism completely upside down.

The fact is, the Forum was invited to the hallowed halls of Westminster Seminary in the latter 70’s to inform the who’s who of Reformed theology about what Protestantism really is. They listened, and the rest is contemporary church history. And be sure of this: the Reformed movers and shakers are aware of this scandalous cover-up in the name of Collin Hansen’s rewriting of contemporary church history.

And why are they covering it up? Because it totally blows up “historical precedent.” Historical precedent? More than 500 years after the fact the Protestant brain trust didn’t even know what Protestantism is; an Adventist had to re-educate them. Ouch. Right, the “Scandalous Gospel” indeed.

In his article, and typical of the ongoing propaganda, Greenfield bemoans New Calvinism’s penchant for integrating popular culture with Reformed tradition. He cites the go-to guy for this, Peter Masters who pastors the famous London Metropolitan Tabernacle formally pastored by the “Prince of Preachers,” Charles Spurgeon. Ironically, Masters doesn’t have a clue in regard to what Spurgeon really believed, but John Piper certainly does.

What’s wrong with syncing present culture with original “truth”? Nothing in my book. Greenfield cites two of the most prominent issues Protestants have with Protestants who really know what Protestantism is. Like Masters, Greenfield bemoans…

It is known for being culturally progressive and flaunts itself as such. In its worship, preaching, and evangelism, New Calvinism embraces popular culture, a man-made system of customs which is incapable of bearing the weight and gravity of the Gospel. TGC authors, in particular, blog about “redemptive” elements they supposedly have found within Hollywood films, and YRR evangelists in the vein of Tim Keller (TGC cofounder) integrate pop culture in their community outreaches, hoping to gain a better hearing from their unregenerate audiences. YRR leaders also endorse “worship music” composed by modern, pop-rock hymnists and “holy hip-hoppers” / “Reformed rappers.”

This exposes Greenfield’s (and Masters’) omni-typical misunderstanding of authentic Reformed historical-redemptive hermeneutics (HRH). Most Protestants like Greenfield and Masters believe this to be an interpretive method for Bible reading and is used alongside the historical-grammatical method (HGH) with the HRH being like, you know, stuff about the gospel. Not so. According to authentic Protestant orthodoxy, HRH was demanded in interpreting reality itself. Original Protestant orthodoxy demands that ALL of reality be interpreted through redemption in the form of a metaphysical narrative written by God. And, all HGH interpretations must come to a redemptive conclusion. Of course, this goes hand in hand with predestination. All of reality is a pre-written story or narrative written by God. This is the interpretation of reality seen as a narrative written by “the force,” “the universe,” “gods,” or in this case, God Himself.

So, why not use popular culture to reach the culture? After all, whatever culture is doing was written into the script by God and is a picture of redemption to begin with. If one truly understands what it is to be Reformed, this makes perfect sense.

Secondly, Greenfield and Masters bemoan the New Calvinist hobnobbing with Catholics. Good grief; this also displays an egregious misunderstanding of church history. Neither Luther nor Calvin ever left the Catholic Church. Note, “Reformation.” They sought to reform the Church, but never left it. Note, “Protestantism.” They protested what was going on in the Church, but they never left it. Note: and this is NOT even ambiguous church history; both Protestants and Catholics claim Saint Augustine as their Doctor of Grace. You can’t even make this stuff up; Protestant pastors will rebuke Catholicism as a false gospel and also cite Augustine regarding orthodoxy in the same sermon. A child can even see the blatant contradictions. Sometimes I think the only difference between church and asylums is social etiquette.

What was the real issue that sparked the Protestant Reformation? Augustine, the undisputed Doctor of Grace for the Catholic Church was an avowed Neo-Platonist. Again, this is not ambiguous church history. The institutional church was founded on Neo-Platonism and its orthodoxy is the integration of Scripture and Platonism. Luther and Calvin were rabid followers of Augustine. In the 13th century Catholicism began to embrace the teachings of Saint Thomas Aquinas who integrated Aristotle’s philosophy with Scripture (Thomism). By the 16th century the tension between the two schools of theology within the Catholic Church escalated into the Protestant Reformation. The whole Protestant folklore concerning the Five Solas ect. is egregiously disingenuous on every level.

In reality, authentic Protestantism only has a problem with half of the Catholic Church; the Thomism part, and far less with its Platonist/Augustinian roots. This is what’s behind New Calvinism’s acceptance of Catholicism.

Now, in addressing Greenfield’s objection to the cultural and Catholic issues we skipped an in-between paragraph concerning “Neo-Kuyperian postmillennialism, an eschatological position which claims that God has given His Church an institutional social mandate to redeem culture and promote social justice to help usher in the kingdom.”

We will address that in the next part.

paul

ACCC Typical of Protestants Who Don’t Know What Protestantism Is, But New Calvinists Do Know What a Protestant Is; Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 4, 2016

ppt-jpeg42People who know me, and happen to want to see an article posted on the TANC ministry blog only need to send me an article written by a Protestant bemoaning New Calvinism. That will do it every time. Look folks, even suicide bombers know what they believe and why they do what they do. Nothing is more uncommendable than claiming to be something and not knowing what it is.

We are greatly indebted to New Calvinism. First, its ill behavior brought attention to its claims, and proper research reveals that its claims are absolutely true. No, no, no, I do not hate New Calvinism because if not for this movement, I would still be a Protestant. Don’t get me wrong, it’s troubling that Protestants believe a false gospel; yet, they have the dubious distinction of being wrong about what they are wrong about. Few religions fit this category. Nevertheless, what New Calvinism reveals offers a grand opportunity for real revival.

The article is written by a Dan Greenfield:

“I am an undeserving sinner saved by God’s grace through Jesus Christ, a happy husband, proud father of 6 great kids, pastor of Orwell Bible Church, Executive Secretary of the American Council of Christian Churches, and member of the Ohio Bible Fellowship.”

The article is in conjunction with an edict by the ACCC denouncing New Calvinism. Right here, out of the gate, let’s take Dan’s bio and demonstrate his authentic Protestant false gospel which is also New Calvinism. Right, while denouncing New Calvinism, Dan is a New Calvinist which is also authentic Protestantism. Um, excuse me, different preferences for music and worship style doesn’t change that. This is soooooo typical of Protestants; while believing the same gospel that you believe, you are a heretic because you watch R rated movies, listen to Pink Floyd, and don’t wear a jean skirt down to your ankles.

Let’s now take Dan’s bio and demonstrate his New Calvinism that he is denouncing which is also authentic Protestantism. Dan says, “I am an undeserving sinner.” That is present tense. Ok, so, what is the biblical definition of a “sinner” in the B-I-B-L-E? Right, an unregenerate person. Dan is an unregenerate saved person. Yep, that’s orthodoxy plain and simple. We hear it all the time: “Justification is a legal declaration.” Hence, you are ONLY declared righteous while yet a “sinner.”

Let’s continue. So if Dan is still a sinner presently “saved by grace” does this mean Dan continues to need grace because he is still a sinner? Sure it does. And we hear that all the time. But hold on. What kind of grace is being spoken of here? Answer: “saved by.” So, does this mean that Dan, still a sinner who sins, and saved by grace, needs ongoing salvation for present sin? Sure it does. But would Dan also attest to once saved always saved? Probably. Is progressive salvation stated in the Protestant confessions and creeds that he claims to defend against New Calvinism? Absolutely. How can this be? Answer: because Dan, like all Protestants, is very confused.

If grace saved you because you were a sinner, and you are still a sinner, do you still need the same saving grace? Does 2+2=4? But we still sin don’t we? That won’t be answered in this first part, but it does bring up another question. If we still sin, that would be a violation of the law, right? So, is that justification “apart from the law?” No. But doesn’t the B-I-B-L-E say that we are justified apart from the law? Yes. But if Christians are not still under law (another biblical definition of a lost person) does that make us antinomians? No. We will get to all of this, but am I saying that Protestant orthodoxy defines its followers according to a biblical definition of the lost? Absolutely. And I am sure you would agree; that’s a really bad idea. Protestantism defines “under grace” as “under law” because it is a false gospel and classic justification by works. If you need ongoing grace FOR SALVATION, what do you have to do to keep the grace flowing?

Lastly, for now, and like Peter Masters, Dan disavows John Piper’s Christian Hedonism while attesting to it. Dan states that he is a sinner, and is happy about it. That’s Christian Hedonism which is based on the Protestant doctrine of Mortification and Vivification. Christian Hedonism is merely a valid twist on the Protestant doctrine of Mortification and Vivification. Praise music, non-cessationism, and joy as a confirmation of re-salvation are merely the logical outcomes of Mortification and Vivification as stated by orthodoxy.

The rest of the article written by Pastor Dan is conveniently arranged for point by point rebuttal. It is a litany of historical error and factual contradiction. That is what will be addressed moving forward.

paul

Helping Tim Challies and Other Calvinists with Evangelism

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on September 29, 2016

Originally published January 29, 2015

ChalliesYesterday, I was sent the following article about Calvinist evangelism written by blogger Tim Challies: How To Offend a Room Full of Calvinists. Miffed by the suggestion that somebody knows better than me how to offend Calvinists, I immediately read the article.

Apparently, according to Challies, Calvinists get offended when people suggest that their soteriology hinders evangelism.  According to Challies, the argument goes like this:

Many people are firmly convinced that there is a deep-rooted flaw embedded within Reformed theology that undermines evangelistic fervor. Most blame it on predestination. After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel. Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Protestants en masse think Calvinism’s greatest sin is weak evangelism, and of course, that makes them very angry because it’s supposedly the last criticism standing. I could start with the fact that Calvinism is works salvation under the guise of faith alone, or progressive justification, or salvation by antinomianism. Pick one; any of the three will work. But I have a mountain of data on that subject already; let’s do something different. Yes, let’s use Challies’ own words in the post to refute his argument. Before we call on Challies to refute his own protest, we will address his take on church history.

We go to history to show that the great missionaries, great preachers, and great revivalists of days past were Calvinists, and that Reformed theology was what fueled their mission… There are only so many times I can point to Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and the Great Awakening, or William Carey and the great missionary movement of the nineteenth century, or Charles Spurgeon and the countless thousands saved under his ministry. Sooner or later I have to stop looking at my heroes and look to myself. I can’t claim their zeal as my own. I can’t claim their obedience as my own.

In the post, Challies argues that we know that a straight line can be found from Reformed theology to evangelistic zeal because of history. Supposedly, Calvinists throughout history were driven directly by this deterministic gospel to reach thousands. It is very interesting when you consider the examples given which will aid in making my point.

The Great Awakening had absolutely nothing to do with Reformed soteriology. We should know this as a matter of common sense to begin with because the Holy Spirit doesn’t colabor with a false gospel. The Great Awakening was fueled by the ideology of the American Revolution and was expressed to a great degree in churches, especially among African Americans. Fact is, guys like Edwards and Whitefield then got on their horses and rode around the countryside bloviating and taking credit for the freedom movement tagged with “The Great Awakening” nomenclature.

Fact is, the Great Awakening was a pushback against the Puritan church state driven by Reformed soteriology that came across the pond as a European blight on American history. I would liken Challies’ assessment to our present President taking credit for things he is against when the results are positive.

What about Spurgeon? That example is just too rich because it makes the last point for me. Spurgeon, who once said Calvinism was no mere nickname but the very gospel itself, was the poster boy for getting people to come to church in order to get them saved. That’s important, hold on to that because it’s our last point.

But before we get to the last point, let’s look at the major point: Challies argues against the idea that fatalism hinders evangelism, and then confesses that he doesn’t evangelize like all of the great Calvinists in history because of…fatalism. Calvinism doesn’t cause fatalism resulting in lame evangelism, but Challies doesn’t evangelize because of fatalism.

After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel… We go to the pages of Scripture to show that God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are not incompatible, but that people truly are both free and bound, that God both chooses some while extending the free offer of the gospel to all.

So why does Challies not evangelize according to him? First, because he just doesn’t, but secondly, he is responsible:

It is my conviction—conviction rooted in close study of God’s Word—that Calvinism provides a soul-stirring motivation for evangelism, and that sharing the gospel freely and with great zeal is the most natural application of biblical truth. But it is my confession—confession rooted in the evidence of my own life—that my Calvinism too rarely stirs my soul to mission. The truths that have roared in the hearts and lives of so many others, somehow just whisper in me. The fault, I’m convinced, is not with God’s Word, or even with my understanding of God’s Word; the fault is with me.

He is responsible, but not often stirred. And what’s his solution? There isn’t one, it is what it is; he is responsible, but not called to evangelism. No corrective solution is offered in the post. Why not? Because, as he said, we are responsible, but unable. Responsibility and inability are not incompatible. So, Calvinism doesn’t hinder evangelism, but if you don’t evangelize, there is no solution. Others did it, and you don’t, the end.  Well, I suppose that approach doesn’t prevent evangelism either!

And funny he should cite Edwards. Susan is doing a session on Edwards for TANC 2015 and is studying his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. She approached me and wanted to discuss something about the sermon that she was perplexed about. Edwards spent the better part of an hour addressing the total hopelessness of man and his likelihood of ending up in an eternal hell, but in the end offers no counsel on how to escape. Why? Because if God is going to do something, he is going to do it, and man is responsible either way.

This now brings us to the final point with a bonus; we are going to help Challies with his evangelism shortcomings. There is, in fact, a solution for Tim’s lack of evangelistic zeal. He doesn’t properly understand Calvinism and its history. This isn’t about saving Tim from the false gospel of Calvinism, this is about being a good evangelist in the context of Calvinism. If I can’t save a Calvinist, I can at least teach them how to be a better Calvinist. Really, it’s disheartening when Calvinists don’t properly understand Calvinism.

This is how we will help Tim Challies. We will bring him back to the historical significance of Spurgeon using some of his own observations. First, let’s get a lay of the land; how does true Calvinistic evangelism work? First, it is the “sovereign” gospel which means the subject must not be told that they have a choice. This is some fun you can have with Calvinists. Ask them if they tell the recipients of their gospel message that they have a choice. Most will avoid answering because they don’t want to admit the answer is, “no.” By their own definition, that would be a false gospel speaking to man’s ability to choose God.

Secondly, if God does do something, if “the wind blows,” that puts the subject in two categories according to Calvin: the called and those who persevere.  The called are those that God temporarily illumines, but later blinds resulting in a greater damnation. Those of the perseverance class are the truly elect. So, the “good news” is that you have a chance to make it. But, if you don’t make it according to God’s predetermined will, your damnation is greater than the non-elect. God has either chosen you for greater damnation or the jackpot, but I guess it’s worth a try if God so chooses.

But hold on, and this is huge: all of that can be bypassed by Calvin’s “power of the keys.” What’s that? If you are a formal member of a Reformed church, and the elders like you, whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever they loose on earth is loosed in heaven.

Furthermore, according to Calvin, sins committed in the Christian life remove us from salvation, but membership in the local church and receiving the “impartations of grace” that can only be found in church membership supply a perpetual covering for sin. And here is the crux: one of those “graces” is sitting under “gospel preaching” of which Spurgeon was chief. In one way or the other, Spurgeon sold this wholesale and the results speak for themselves.

See, the solution for Challies is simple.  There is a solution for the disobedience he himself is responsible for: simply invite people to church in order to “get them under the gospel.” And that often looks like this…

Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Problem solved. That’s how Calvinism is a straight line from its theology to evangelism—you are saved by being a formal member of a Reformed church, and your salvation is sustained by remaining a faithful member of that church and obeying everything the elders tell you to do and think. But let’s not call it intellectual rape, let’s call it “keeping ourselves in the love of Jesus.” Let’s call it “preaching the gospel to ourselves every day.” Let’s call it “being faithful to the church every time the doors are opened.” Let’s call it “putting ourselves under the authority of Godly men.” Let’s call it “trusting God with our finances.”

You’re welcome Tim, glad I could help.

paul

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