Paul's Passing Thoughts

God’s Acknowledgment of “Self” and the Full Circle of the Ten Commandments.

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on November 12, 2017

Originally Published May 25, 2016

“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” ~ Exodus 3:14

When Jehovah (I Am) identified Himself to Moses at the burning bush, He did more than just tell Moses His name. God made a philosophical statement about reality. God acknowledged His own existence, and in so doing He declared His intrinsic rights because of that existence. Furthermore, by acknowledging His own existence, God also recognized man’s existence. I believe this is at the heart of what the Bible means when it says that man was made in God’s image. We have a right to “self” because God has a right to “self”.   And for us to acknowledge our own right to “self” demands that we by extension must acknowledge others’ right to “self”, just as God acknowledges ours.

Do not misunderstand what I mean by “right to self”. I do not mean “self-ishness”, which the Bible clearly decries. “Selfishness” means to love oneself MORE than another. On the other hand, the Bible never teaches us to love others more than ourselves. Said another way, the Bible doesn’t teach that we should love ourselves LESS than others. It says we are to love others AS MUCH AS we love ourselves. Herein is the way in which we acknowledge another’s right to “self”, we treat others as WE would want to be treated. We see our own value as an individual and in so doing recognize that others have that same value. That value includes one’s right to existence and the means necessary to sustain that existence. The United States’ Declaration of Independence embodied that idea in this way:

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…”

“That all men are created equal” is to recognize that all men have the same basic right to “self” and to existence, and that equality of individualism is preserved in the rights to seek those things which would secure that existence. No one ever has the right to violate another’s right to “self”, EVEN GOD!

In a conversation with a close friend the other day, I posed the question, “why is stealing wrong?” My friend replied that stealing is wrong because God said so; it’s in the Ten Commandments. Stealing is wrong because God said, “Thou shalt not steal.” I then followed up with the next question, “Why did God say stealing is wrong?” For this my friend had no answer. All he could say was, “I don’t know, I never thought about it before.”

You see for my friend, as it is with most people (particularly Christians), that God “said it” was enough for him. It was nothing more than an appeal to authority. An authority says this or that, so we must do it or not do it. This is the same reasoning that led to the slaughter of 6 million Jews while millions of others gave their tacit approval. People’s behaviors are the product of their assumptions, to paraphrase John Immel. No matter how irrational the behavior may seem, if you find the assumption you will find the reason for the action.

So why DID God say that stealing is wrong? It is a simple question, and once challenged to think, my friend finally did ask it of me. Stealing is wrong because it is a violation of “self”, of the individual. Our possessions are the products of our labors which are an investment of ourselves. Your labor is an exchange of value. You enter into that exchange with an employer who trades you wages for your investment of yourself. Those wages then in turn are exchanged for those things that are necessary to further your existence – food, clothing, shelter, etc. – and if there is any surplus, luxuries – car, mobile phone, flat screen TV, etc. So in reality, everything you produce – labor, wages, food, clothing, car, TV, etc. – is a product of you as an individual. For someone to steal those things from you is to violate “you” (self) because those things represent what the individual produced as a function of “self”. You have a right to them because you produced them because you have a right to “self”.

Contrary to what people/Christians are taught, the Bible is not a theological book. It is a philosophical book. And the Ten Commandments in particular are not simply an authoritative codification of do’s and don’ts. It is a philosophical statement from God to man about the value of the individual. It is a statement about how God values Himself, and it is a statement about how God values man. Conversely it is a statement of how man is to value God and how man is to value man. God’s very first statement to man is an appeal to God’s own sense of “self” and value. God as an individual. “I am God. I exist. I have value.” Therefore, the way we show God that we value Him is to have no other gods before Him! We do not make vain attempts to conceptualize God’s sense of “self” by making an image to represent that. We do not mock God’s name because His name is intrinsically tied to who He is. To violate God’s name is to violate who He is.

Man, too, has value as “self”. Therefore, we honor our parents, we don’t murder, we don’t commit adultery, we don’t steal, we don’t lie, and we don’t covet, not because God said so, but because we acknowledge that this would violate another person’s right to “self”. This is the basis for morality. It can be said then that the definition of morality is anything that does not violate God or man as “self”.

God’s command to not covet seems all-encompassing. The last commandment perfectly reduces everything down to the root motivation for all violations of “self”. And that is self-ISHNESS. A desire to usurp for oneself that which rightfully belongs to another. And as we have said before, that is a desire caused by Sin. The Bible describes Sin as an entity that seeks to control others. It seeks to master and enslave. It seeks to violate another for it’s own benefit, to wield control over another.

The New Testament offers another perspective on covetousness.

“For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” ~ Ephesians 5:5

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” ~ Colossians 3:5

The apostle Paul had a unique insight among the other apostles in that he was a certified expert on Jewish law. This perspective gave him an ability to draw parallels between Old Testament and New Testament concepts that the others did not. Peter even declared that many of the things which Paul taught were hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16).   In these two passages in particular, Paul sees covetousness as being nothing more than idolatry. I’m not exactly sure how he gets there since he doesn’t elaborate on it.

Still, it is an interesting piece to the puzzle. Consider that one of the Ten Commandments speaks to idolatry. When one thinks of graven images, one usually thinks of idolatry. But Paul seems to suggest that idolatry involves more than just “idol worship”. It is a violation of God as “self”. Covetousness is a violation of man as “self”. What Paul has done here is to show the intrinsic relationship between the two. To violate man is to violate God, and to violate God is to violate man. Do not misunderstand, I am in no way suggesting that man IS God. But I do want to point out that there is a mutual recognition between God and man with respect to existence.

So to violate the tenth commandment is to violate the first, and thus we have come full circle. The Ten Commandments then are not statutes in and of themselves. It is not a means for God to show us “filthy rotten sinners” just how “holy He is” and how “sinful we are.”  It is a full-orbed treatise on morality and existence. It is not a law for authority’s sake. It is God instructing us on reality. What we see in the Bible is that LOVE is the motivating factor in all of this. To love someone is to ascribe value to them. Perhaps this is the relationship between idolatry and covetousness. To idolize something is to objectify it, to assign value based on its desirableness to oneself instead of an individual’s intrinsic value as another individual.

Whatever the case may be, when we show love to God and others, we have thus fulfilled the whole law because in this way we demonstrate a like view of both man and God, and we see reality the way God sees it.

Andy

God’s Acknowledgment of “Self” and the Full Circle of the Ten Commandments.

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 25, 2016

“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” ~ Exodus 3:14

When Jehovah (I Am) identified Himself to Moses at the burning bush, He did more than just tell Moses His name. God made a philosophical statement about reality. God acknowledged His own existence, and in so doing He declared His intrinsic rights because of that existence. Furthermore, by acknowledging His own existence, God also recognized man’s existence. I believe this is at the heart of what the Bible means when it says that man was made in God’s image. We have a right to “self” because God has a right to “self”.   And for us to acknowledge our own right to “self” demands that we by extension must acknowledge others’ right to “self”, just as God acknowledges ours.

Do not misunderstand what I mean by “right to self”. I do not mean “self-ishness”, which the Bible clearly decries. “Selfishness” means to love oneself MORE than another. On the other hand, the Bible never teaches us to love others more than ourselves. Said another way, the Bible doesn’t teach that we should love ourselves LESS than others. It says we are to love others AS MUCH AS we love ourselves. Herein is the way in which we acknowledge another’s right to “self”, we treat others as WE would want to be treated. We see our own value as an individual and in so doing recognize that others have that same value. That value includes one’s right to existence and the means necessary to sustain that existence. The United States’ Declaration of Independence embodied that idea in this way:

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…”

“That all men are created equal” is to recognize that all men have the same basic right to “self” and to existence, and that equality of individualism is preserved in the rights to seek those things which would secure that existence. No one ever has the right to violate another’s right to “self”, EVEN GOD!

In a conversation with a close friend the other day, I posed the question, “why is stealing wrong?” My friend replied that stealing is wrong because God said so; it’s in the Ten Commandments. Stealing is wrong because God said, “Thou shalt not steal.” I then followed up with the next question, “Why did God say stealing is wrong?” For this my friend had no answer. All he could say was, “I don’t know, I never thought about it before.”

You see for my friend, as it is with most people (particularly Christians), that God “said it” was enough for him. It was nothing more than an appeal to authority. An authority says this or that, so we must do it or not do it. This is the same reasoning that led to the slaughter of 6 million Jews while millions of others gave their tacit approval. People’s behaviors are the product of their assumptions, to paraphrase John Immel. No matter how irrational the behavior may seem, if you find the assumption you will find the reason for the action.

So why DID God say that stealing is wrong? It is a simple question, and once challenged to think, my friend finally did ask it of me. Stealing is wrong because it is a violation of “self”, of the individual. Our possessions are the products of our labors which are an investment of ourselves. Your labor is an exchange of value. You enter into that exchange with an employer who trades you wages for your investment of yourself. Those wages then in turn are exchanged for those things that are necessary to further your existence – food, clothing, shelter, etc. – and if there is any surplus, luxuries – car, mobile phone, flat screen TV, etc. So in reality, everything you produce – labor, wages, food, clothing, car, TV, etc. – is a product of you as an individual. For someone to steal those things from you is to violate “you” (self) because those things represent what the individual produced as a function of “self”. You have a right to them because you produced them because you have a right to “self”.

Contrary to what people/Christians are taught, the Bible is not a theological book. It is a philosophical book. And the Ten Commandments in particular are not simply an authoritative codification of do’s and don’ts. It is a philosophical statement from God to man about the value of the individual. It is a statement about how God values Himself, and it is a statement about how God values man. Conversely it is a statement of how man is to value God and how man is to value man. God’s very first statement to man is an appeal to God’s own sense of “self” and value. God as an individual. “I am God. I exist. I have value.” Therefore, the way we show God that we value Him is to have no other gods before Him! We do not make vain attempts to conceptualize God’s sense of “self” by making an image to represent that. We do not mock God’s name because His name is intrinsically tied to who He is. To violate God’s name is to violate who He is.

Man, too, has value as “self”. Therefore, we honor our parents, we don’t murder, we don’t commit adultery, we don’t steal, we don’t lie, and we don’t covet, not because God said so, but because we acknowledge that this would violate another person’s right to “self”. This is the basis for morality. It can be said then that the definition of morality is anything that does not violate God or man as “self”.

God’s command to not covet seems all-encompassing. The last commandment perfectly reduces everything down to the root motivation for all violations of “self”. And that is self-ISHNESS. A desire to usurp for oneself that which rightfully belongs to another. And as we have said before, that is a desire caused by Sin. The Bible describes Sin as an entity that seeks to control others. It seeks to master and enslave. It seeks to violate another for it’s own benefit, to wield control over another.

The New Testament offers another perspective on covetousness.

“For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” ~ Ephesians 5:5

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” ~ Colossians 3:5

The apostle Paul had a unique insight among the other apostles in that he was a certified expert on Jewish law. This perspective gave him an ability to draw parallels between Old Testament and New Testament concepts that the others did not. Peter even declared that many of the things which Paul taught were hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16).   In these two passages in particular, Paul sees covetousness as being nothing more than idolatry. I’m not exactly sure how he gets there since he doesn’t elaborate on it.

Still, it is an interesting piece to the puzzle. Consider that one of the Ten Commandments speaks to idolatry. When one thinks of graven images, one usually thinks of idolatry. But Paul seems to suggest that idolatry involves more than just “idol worship”. It is a violation of God as “self”. Covetousness is a violation of man as “self”. What Paul has done here is to show the intrinsic relationship between the two. To violate man is to violate God, and to violate God is to violate man. Do not misunderstand, I am in no way suggesting that man IS God. But I do want to point out that there is a mutual recognition between God and man with respect to existence.

So to violate the tenth commandment is to violate the first, and thus we have come full circle. The Ten Commandments then are not statutes in and of themselves. It is not a means for God to show us “filthy rotten sinners” just how “holy He is” and how “sinful we are.”  It is a full-orbed treatise on morality and existence. It is not a law for authority’s sake. It is God instructing us on reality. What we see in the Bible is that LOVE is the motivating factor in all of this. To love someone is to ascribe value to them. Perhaps this is the relationship between idolatry and covetousness. To idolize something is to objectify it, to assign value based on its desirableness to oneself instead of an individual’s intrinsic value as another individual.

Whatever the case may be, when we show love to God and others, we have thus fulfilled the whole law because in this way we demonstrate a like view of both man and God, and we see reality the way God sees it.

Andy

Good News for Good Friday

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 25, 2016

The Unauthorized Patience of the Elect: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 19, 2016

ppt-jpeg4One of the many callings of believers is to fully embrace and love difficult people who profess to be believers. I believe home fellowships are better equipped to do this than the institutional church by far. This culture is awash with people, many of whom are professing believers, who have personality disorders. These are people who have developed patterns and habits of thinking that cause them to be completely off the tracks socially. Since the government ran out of money and can no longer afford to institutionalize these people, they are among us. If they are older, some can be put in nursing homes where their social security will be confiscated in exchange for medicating them until they die.

Welcome to real believeism. We are not here for our best life now, we are here on assignment. We are ambassadors representing God’s kingdom. We are also literally God’s family. Thy brother may be bi-polar, ahhhmen. We are God’s elect. That doesn’t mean we were elected individually, it means God elected the means of salvation and the types of people he would primarily call. The sterilized institutional church and all of its aristocracy is an usurper—that is not what God elected. Certainly they are welcome if they want to come, but they were never the primary target in regard to what God elected.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose [elected] what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose [elected] what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose [elected] what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,31so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Look, I have been around church long enough to know that churchians don’t want to deal with the socially awkward, but I think the focus of Christ’s ministry is fairly obvious; He sought out the misfits of the world and all but completely ignored the religious academics of that time. The New Testament documents the indignation of the elitists accordingly. Come now, let’s think about this: Christianity is about conferences in Palm Springs hosted by celebrity pastors and $350.00 entry fees? And Caribbean Cruises hosted by celebrity pastors? Really? Have we lost our minds?

Church is where you get your ongoing salvation, and Christian living that glorifies God is barely on the radar screen. While the church mocks self-sufficiency, its worldly natural selection produces such. What better describes the present-day megachurch culture than, “We are rich and have need of nothing.” And don’t give me a load of crap regarding the institutional church’s token ministries for purposes of window dressing; we all know what its core constituency is. Those prone to lesser death are left to feed the ego of praise bands while those less disciplined are dumped out on the streets via ostracization for the world to deal with…while professing Christ.

So, we have a good reminder in 1Thessolonians 5:12-28 that believeism embraces the elect. That’s our calling. Like Christ, we are not looking to add Jeeesuuuus to mundane suburbia, we embrace difficult people with patience and wisdom. And it will take patience, active love, and good verbal judo. Let’s first take note of who this letter is written to; it is written to all Christians at large, as with all of God’s revelation. God writes letters addressed to mankind, and then religious academics claim that only they can properly interpret the letters. We need to stop buying into this silliness yesterday. Look at the obviousness of this:

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you…See that no one repays anyone evil for evil…I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.

First of all, obviously, this letter, like most from the apostles (note “we” throughout) is not written particularly to the leadership gifted to warn and protect God’s people from the gangrene of doctrinal error. It is written to the saints at large. Christ’s body is a unified body of gifts working together for a common cause with Him being the ONLY authority…period. That’s why God speaks to the whole family. The leaders and doctrinal discerners are merely gifted body parts, not authoritarians. In fact, note the tendency that Paul often addressed among believers at that time to not respect the ministers of the word. Also note that the word translated “over you” is the word “hymōn” which is usually translated “of you,” not “over you.” The word is simply the personal pronoun, “you.” The liberties taken by English translations that mostly come from the Reformers would be hilarious if not so scandalous in making this a case for elder authority. It’s just not there by any stretch of grammatical imagination. The Complete Jewish Bible probably captures a good sense of this verse:

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are working hard among you, those who are guiding you in the Lord and confronting you in order to help you change.

Also note who has been charged with making sure things are executed correctly: “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil,” viz, EVERYONE is to “see” to it. This same pattern saturates the New Testament. EVERYONE is responsible to see that things are done correctly before Christ—this is not the particular role of elders. I could go on and on here, but I would add counseling to that list as well (Romans 15:14).

And who is charged with making sure this letter is read to all of the brothers? Answer: all of the brothers. Any questions?

The first type of believer Paul notes is the ataktos. They are generally disorganized and unproductive. They are unmotivated in general. Paul, in representing the apostles in this letter, says to noutheteó them. In other words, counsel them. We are to stir their gift up within them. Susan and I are presently working with a precious believer that is presently unmotivated due to some significant trials in her life. One particular trial is defining her whole life. Come to find out yesterday that she is an accomplished piano player. Guess who will soon be receiving a piano? This is how it works. This is our charge.

The second type (for lack of a better term) of believer that Paul addresses is the oligopsuchos—they are faint-hearted, and given to fear. We are to paramutheomai them. That is, we are to encourage them, and make them feel protected, because we do protect them. Home fellowships are ideal environments for these tendencies and needs to be revealed.

Thirdly, Paul says to antechó the asthenés. We are to “hold fast” and “cling to” those who are weak and sickly. But guess what? These will also be prone to lack of motivation and fear. We are to “hold fast” to them. We are to “cling to them.” These characteristics often abide together through cause and effect.

And it will take patience. These are difficult people to deal with as they lash out at the world in fear and confusion. If we are not careful, we will even find ourselves, repaying evil for evil instead of holding fast to them. This is where the rubber of believeism meets the road. This is where we walk in the footsteps of Christ.

This is our calling. This is what makes us the elect. This is family. This is the kingdom. This is our apostolic charge. Aristocracy is most welcome, but check your authority at the door. We have no Lord but Christ, and our only law is love.

paul

The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification, Part 5 – Law, Gospel, and Love

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on September 28, 2015

Blog Radio LogoOriginally posted April 27, 2015

Listen to show audio or download audio file. 

Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 5 of “The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification.” If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. Remember to turn your PC volume down to prevent feedback. Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective.

If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also email me at paul@ttanc.com. That’s Tom, Tony, Alice, Nancy, cat, paul@ttanc.com. I have my email monitor right here and can add your thoughts to the lesson without need for you to call in.

This is our final segment on 1John, and next week we will be doing a book review on “How People Change” by Paul David Tripp. I will be doing an overview of each of the 16 chapters in the book according to the theses of each chapter, and then will explain how the different points of each chapter fit together to form a particular doctrine. All in all, the book represents a pretty impressive application of Reformed mysticism.

Then, the following week, starting on May 8th, I think the time has come to do an in-depth evaluation of the Heidelberg Disputation. Martin Luther’s  95 Theses launched the Reformation, but all Reformed doctrines flow from the Heidelberg Disputation. Though very subtle, our present church culture is saturated with a collectivist doctrine of death, and I want to show exactly where this culture of death came from. We will be evaluating the Heidelberg Disputation theses by theses. How many Baptists know anything about the Heidelberg Disputation? Few, if any, yet the foundation of evangelicalism flows from this document.

Last week, I got away from our Gnostic theme and showed a correlation between John’s theology and that of the apostle Paul. The focus was the new birth, which Gnosticism denies. The historical backdrop is John’s pushback against Gnosticism which denies that people change. The Gnostics of that day believed that the material realm is evil and the spiritual realm is pure.

The goal is well-being that comes from getting beyond the five senses in order to gain knowledge. The particular vein of Gnosticism that John was contending against believed that sin only occurs in the body, and man’s spirit has never sinned per se. As a result, God’s people were being taught that what they did in the body was insignificant, and man didn’t need to deal with sin. Gaining spiritual knowledge for their own well-being was the key to having a happy life.

They denied that Christ really came as a man and was God’s Son. They taught that there were two Christ’s; one born of men and a Christ that was a spiritual avatar of sorts.

At any rate, the doctrine denied Christ’s deity, that He came to die for sin, and that mankind needed forgiveness for sin. Consequently, it also denied the new birth. In the same way Protestantism obviously denies that people change, redefine the new birth as an ability to perceive realm manifestation, and have their own unique distortion of the Trinity. When it gets right down to it, authentic Protestantism posits the Father and the Spirit as shadows of Christ.

Therefore, in chapter 3, John focuses on the new birth and why it changes us. But the dominate theme of the book, especially chapters 4 and 5, concentrates on love. Why is that? Because love in action should be the primary focus of Christians. Instead, what is the primary focus of Protestantism? Right; sin, sin, sin, sin, sin. Yes, our focus must be keeping our sins covered by the perfect righteousness of Jesus. Every song you sing, every sermon you hear is about how glorious Jesus is as set against our wretched vile selves. It boils down to praising our ability to see how rotten we are in the name of Jesus. (more…)

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