Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Reality of Cannot

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on April 28, 2018

Originally Published April 28, 2017

One of the things that sets man apart from all of the other creatures is his ability to observe reality and organize it. Language and words are fundamental to this end. Using words, man is able to conceptualize abstractions and understand his world. Using words, man is able to communicate with others. Using words, God communicated to man.

Therefore, when it comes to properly interpreting scripture, the words that are used are most important to communicate a specific message. The various authors used the specific words that they used so that there would be no misunderstanding by those to whom they were writing. For example, the apostle John wrote the following in 1 John 3:9:

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

Silly me, but I actually believe that when John wrote “cannot sin” he actually meant CANNOT sin!

Now you know me, I certainly won’t pass up the opportunity to examine the grammatical structure of words, being the grammaticist (is that a word?) that I am. The word translated “cannot” is the Greek word δυναμαι (dyoo-na-mai). It means to be able or possible. From this word we get our English word “dynamite”. It means to have the power or ability to do something. In the text of 1 John 3:9, “dunamai” is preceded by the negative particle “ou” which means “not”. John says that the one who is born again does NOT have the ability or the power to sin. It is not possible for him to sin!

Cannot has to do with metaphysical reality. Cannot speaks to the nature of existence. Cannot speaks to ability.

We have a tendency to be careless with the words we use. Often times when we say, “cannot,” we really mean “will not” or “do not”. One is a choice, the other is a metaphysical reality. For example, if I were to say, “I cannot play the piano,” I am not saying that I don’t have the ability to learn how to play the piano. Neither am I saying that there is something pertaining to the nature of my existence that prevents me from being able to play the piano. Now if I were to say, “I cannot fly like a bird,” what I am saying is that as a human being, I do not have the ability to fly like a bird. The metaphysical reality regarding my existence as a human being prevents me from having the ability to fly like a bird.

Consider the metaphysical two-step that Calvinists play with regard to ability, particularly with regard to their interpretation of 1 John 3:9. Let’s begin by looking at how they interpret this verse in their favorite bible, the ESV.

“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.”

Notice the two expressions I have emphasized and how they are related to each other. The Greek word for “practice” is the word πρασω (prass-oh), which means to perform repeatedly or habitually. This clearly seems to be the implied connation of the ESV translation. In other words, the believer might slip up and sin from time to time (i.e. he may occasionally forget to live by “faith alone” and think he actually did a good work), but as a “practice” his life is not characterized by habitually sinning.   By extension, it might also stand to reason that one who DOES make a practice of habitually sinning might have reason to doubt the genuineness of his salvation. (Is it any wonder why the lack of assurance runs rampant in the institutional church?)

But the problem is that John didn’t use the word “prasso”. In the original Greek manuscripts he used the word ποιεω (poi-eh-oh), which means to make or to do. If John had wanted to mean “practice sin”, he would have said, “practice sin”.

Compare the ESV above with the King James:

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

What the Calvinists have effectively done with 1 John 3:9 through their ESV bible is to make sin a function of choice and not ability. The Calvinist would have us to believe that one who is a believer makes a choice not to sin. This is step one in the metaphysical two-step. While on the one hand claiming the doctrine of election and that man has no free will, man somehow still has a choice in whether or not he can make a “practice” of sinning.

Step two requires us to consider that the doctrine of “total depravity” says that man is metaphysically evil. The question then is obvious. If man is metaphysically evil, how can he choose to not keep on sinning? The metaphysical reality of his existence would mean that he has no ability to do anything but evil. Is this not what Reformed theology would have us believe?

The contrast of what the apostle John teaches regarding the believer and sin is a direct rebuke to Reformed theology. The one who is born again does not commit sin because he cannot sin! It is a statement about the metaphysical reality of the believer’s existence with regard to ability. The believer is not able to sin because who he is makes the reality of sin non-existent.   He cannot sin because sin is not possible.

The believer is a new creature. He is the literal offspring of the Father, therefore he shares the same righteous nature as the Father. Furthermore, he is not under law because the old man who was under law is dead. The law has no more power over him. The believer cannot sin because there is no law to condemn him, and where there is no law there is no sin.  This makes the reality of sin impossible.  This is the metaphysical reality for the one who is born of God!

Reformed theology attempts to explain away the plain truth of scripture by changing the clear meaning of words in a vain attempt to wrestle it into compliance with their orthodoxy. Ironically, in their attempt to do so, they only manage to further expose the contradictions in their own twisted and evil theology.

~ Andy

We Disagree on the Premise…So How Do We Know Who’s Right?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on October 17, 2017

Moses

Originally published October 17, 2016

One can always determine the validity of a metaphysical assumption (that being the moral and thus one that is correct and true) by considering the axiomatic results the logical conclusions of such assumptions must produce.

“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil…I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life…” ~ Deuteronomy 30:15,19

In dealing with reformed/protestant theologians, at best you will only ever get them to acknowledge that the two of you are coming from differing points of view (“we agree to disagree”). What they are really saying is that they are acknowledging a difference in metaphysics (the nature of reality and existence). They do this unwittingly because such a statement is philosophical and not theological, and they are not trained in philosophy even though their theological position requires them to adopt a philosophy. In other words, they won’t couch it in philosophical language.

Second, they will reject your premise out of hand because to them “authority” always trumps reason. So even though you have a more reasonable argument, it cannot possibly be valid because it is not authoritative.

I submit that it is indeed possible to objectively determine that one metaphysical assumption is indeed true and thus the correct “moral” premise. And you do that by evaluating each one and looking at what are the end results of each. I would submit that the premise that results in life would be the correct, moral, and valid view of reality and existence.

If we understand that the Bible is God’s philosophical statement to mankind, then what God is saying is, “This is how the world works; this is the way I made it to work; this is reality.”  Therefore, if you follow this philosophy to its rational conclusion, the result is life! (This is ostensibly what God was saying to Israel in Deuteronomy 30.)

Said another way, we can reject the metaphysical premise of authentic protestant/reformed theology and its accompanying epistemology of historical-redemptive hermeneutics, because following it to its rational conclusion the result is condemnation, fear, and ultimately DEATH!

Clearly, the one that results in LIFE would be the moral ideal, and thus the correct and true one!

~ Andy

The Reality of Cannot

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on April 28, 2017

One of the things that sets man apart from all of the other creatures is his ability to observe reality and organize it. Language and words are fundamental to this end. Using words, man is able to conceptualize abstractions and understand his world. Using words, man is able to communicate with others. Using words, God communicated to man.

Therefore, when it comes to properly interpreting scripture, the words that are used are most important to communicate a specific message. The various authors used the specific words that they used so that there would be no misunderstanding by those to whom they were writing. For example, the apostle John wrote the following in 1 John 3:9:

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

Silly me, but I actually believe that when John wrote “cannot sin” he actually meant CANNOT sin!

Now you know me, I certainly won’t pass up the opportunity to examine the grammatical structure of words, being the grammaticist (is that a word?) that I am. The word translated “cannot” is the Greek word δυναμαι (dyoo-na-mai). It means to be able or possible. From this word we get our English word “dynamite”. It means to have the power or ability to do something. In the text of 1 John 3:9, “dunamai” is preceded by the negative particle “ou” which means “not”. John says that the one who is born again does NOT have the ability or the power to sin. It is not possible for him to sin!

Cannot has to do with metaphysical reality. Cannot speaks to the nature of existence. Cannot speaks to ability.

We have a tendency to be careless with the words we use. Often times when we say, “cannot,” we really mean “will not” or “do not”. One is a choice, the other is a metaphysical reality. For example, if I were to say, “I cannot play the piano,” I am not saying that I don’t have the ability to learn how to play the piano. Neither am I saying that there is something pertaining to the nature of my existence that prevents me from being able to play the piano. Now if I were to say, “I cannot fly like a bird,” what I am saying is that as a human being, I do not have the ability to fly like a bird. The metaphysical reality regarding my existence as a human being prevents me from having the ability to fly like a bird.

Consider the metaphysical two-step that Calvinists play with regard to ability, particularly with regard to their interpretation of 1 John 3:9. Let’s begin by looking at how they interpret this verse in their favorite bible, the ESV.

“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.”

Notice the two expressions I have emphasized and how they are related to each other. The Greek word for “practice” is the word πρασω (prass-oh), which means to perform repeatedly or habitually. This clearly seems to be the implied connation of the ESV translation. In other words, the believer might slip up and sin from time to time (i.e. he may occasionally forget to live by “faith alone” and think he actually did a good work), but as a “practice” his life is not characterized by habitually sinning.   By extension, it might also stand to reason that one who DOES make a practice of habitually sinning might have reason to doubt the genuineness of his salvation. (Is it any wonder why the lack of assurance runs rampant in the institutional church?)

But the problem is that John didn’t use the word “prasso”. In the original Greek manuscripts he used the word ποιεω (poi-eh-oh), which means to make or to do. If John had wanted to mean “practice sin”, he would have said, “practice sin”.

Compare the ESV above with the King James:

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

What the Calvinists have effectively done with 1 John 3:9 through their ESV bible is to make sin a function of choice and not ability. The Calvinist would have us to believe that one who is a believer makes a choice not to sin. This is step one in the metaphysical two-step. While on the one hand claiming the doctrine of election and that man has no free will, man somehow still has a choice in whether or not he can make a “practice” of sinning.

Step two requires us to consider that the doctrine of “total depravity” says that man is metaphysically evil. The question then is obvious. If man is metaphysically evil, how can he choose to not keep on sinning? The metaphysical reality of his existence would mean that he has no ability to do anything but evil. Is this not what Reformed theology would have us believe?

The contrast of what the apostle John teaches regarding the believer and sin is a direct rebuke to Reformed theology. The one who is born again does not commit sin because he cannot sin! It is a statement about the metaphysical reality of the believer’s existence with regard to ability. The believer is not able to sin because who he is makes the reality of sin non-existent.   He cannot sin because sin is not possible.

The believer is a new creature. He is the literal offspring of the Father, therefore he shares the same righteous nature as the Father. Furthermore, he is not under law because the old man who was under law is dead. The law has no more power over him. The believer cannot sin because there is no law to condemn him, and where there is no law there is no sin.  This makes the reality of sin impossible.  This is the metaphysical reality for the one who is born of God!

Reformed theology attempts to explain away the plain truth of scripture by changing the clear meaning of words in a vain attempt to wrestle it into compliance with their orthodoxy. Ironically, in their attempt to do so, they only manage to further expose the contradictions in their own twisted and evil theology.

~ Andy

The Difference Between “Conservatives” and “Liberals”

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 31, 2017

I use quotes in the title around the labels for these two political ideologies because traditionally they don’t have the same connotation that they do today.  Still, when it comes to understanding one’s politics it is necessary to understand the philosophical progression of thought that produces either an individualist or a statist/collectivist.

In summary, one’s assumptions about man and the individual determine one’s inter-personal relation with other individuals. In other words, conservatives in general believe in the individual ability of man to self-govern. Liberals in general believe that individual choice must be sacrificed for the benefit of the state/collective.

It should also be noted that while many “Christians” would claim to be “conservative” (or even libertarian) politically, such a belief is rationally inconsistent with the “religious” idea of “total depravity”, because total depravity is a liberal assumption that produces a completely different outcome. Therefore, the idea of total depravity is incompatible with the idea of man having value.

It should also be obvious that there is no philosophical difference between religion and politics. Both are the result of a philosophical progression of thought.

Is it any wonder why “Christians” are so confused?

~ Andy

 

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


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