Paul's Passing Thoughts

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.


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.


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.


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)

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

The Oligarchy White Paper – Read All About It!

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on May 20, 2015

OWP FINAL LOGOPPT is excited to announce a new member to the team, Sean Williams, who has accepted the significant assignment of defining and illustrating religious and political oligarchy at our new sister blog called The Oligarchy White Paper.

Sean brings to the table a different perspective and a passion for exposing the truth about the systems which create positions of power in society. He will shed light on aspects of the government that control virtually every facet of our lives to the hierarchy of religious organizations and churches who attempt to do the same.  We invite readers to start the journey with us as he begins a series with an article entitled Oligarchy 101.

Welcome aboard, Sean!

The Greatest Threat to Civilization in the 21st Century: Protestantism’s Doctrine of Death

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 24, 2014

In researching the Reformation, one finds the “terror” of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) wanting in regard to its overall threat to civilization. Islam has always been inept in the politics of logic that despises life. Even many who agree with them will not buy into their means or politics. Per the usual since the 6th century, the likes of them only succeed in stirring up what little wrath there may be in the most passive among us.

A far greater threat, if not the threat, is Protestantism. While it is thought of by and large as a force for good in the world, if not the force for good in the world, its core logic is no whit different from Islam. Both are rooted in zero sum life value (not to be confused with life as zero sum game). The fallen creation is not merely weak by God’s metaphysical standards, it is utterly evil. If you can see it, feel it, smell it, taste it, or hear it—it is evil. The definition of faith is to believe that and nothing else, and a man’s highest calling is to set the masses free from placing value in this life. Protestant leaders are selfless souls in their own estimation, enduring the horrors of life for the sake of those who are in bondage to finding happiness here.

What people think they believe and how they function are two different things. This is where the intelligence of Martin Luther and John Calvin were far superior to their Islamic kinsmen. The latter think it important for people to know why they function the way they do; that wasn’t important to Luther or Calvin at all. In fact, they didn’t think the average person has the ability to know that anyway. Islam is considered fringe because they openly proclaim zero sum life. In contrast, Protestants claim to uphold the “sanctity of life,” but the core value is Luther’s doctrine of death. Islam is always too hasty—Protestantism is patient in its endeavor to plunge the whole world into its identity of darkness and death.

This fact is undeniable: while Protestants proclaim life, their father was a purveyor of zero sum life. Protestants have an appearance of loving life, and many actually think they do, but the core value of their hero and founder is death—this is an unavoidable metaphysical fact. We will first examine what Luther believed about life and reality, how that functions in life, and finally, why it is the greatest threat to the wellbeing of civilization in the 21st century.

The doctrine of zero sum life ALWAYS has three primary elements: material is evil and invisible is good; preordained mediators between the material world and the invisible world, and the goal of utopia. Though the varied assessments in each category are vast, the three fundamentals remain fixed with the SAME results: death and darkness. The only difference is the quality and experience in getting to the predictable end. These are ancient principles found in the cradle of civilization that play themselves out in myriad cyclic progressions of history. The Protestant Reformation was nothing new; it was a biblical version of the same worn-out caste system that has wreaked havoc on the earth since the Garden of Eden, and continues to do so in various and sundry expressions.

Obviously, the Protestant Reformation was not founded on Luther’s 95 Theses. That was a “Remember the Alamo” sort of thing. The doctrinal foundation of the Reformation came about six months later in Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation of 1518 to the Augustinian Order. In it, we find the three basic elements of ancient spiritual caste defined by zero sum life. Luther equated ALL human works with the natural and material:

Much less can human works, which are done over and over again with the aid of natural precepts, so to speak, lead to that end (Theses 2).

The manifest and visible things of God are placed in opposition to the invisible, namely, his human nature, weakness, foolishness (Theses 20).

That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened (Theses 22).

In other words, nothing that man does in this life can be based on wisdom from the invisible because he can’t comprehend it. He is enslaved to “natural precepts.” ALL visible things are defined by “human nature, weakness, foolishness.”

Because the material is supposedly evil, Luther believed that the deprecation of everything human and natural was the only way to experience wellbeing. Man cannot do anything good, but can experience wellbeing that comes from the invisible realm through suffering. Luther believed that Christ came to suffer in order to establish suffering and the annihilation of the natural as an epistemological gateway to the wellbeing of the invisible realm:

The manifest and visible things of God are placed in opposition to the invisible, namely, his human nature, weakness, foolishness. The Apostle in 1 Cor. 1:25 calls them the weakness and folly of God. Because men misused the knowledge of God through works, God wished again to be recognized in suffering, and to condemn »wisdom concerning invisible things« by means of »wisdom concerning visible things«, so that those who did not honor God as manifested in his works should honor him as he is hidden in his suffering (absconditum in passionibus). (Theses 20).

Viz, ALL knowledge of God is hidden in suffering. This is suffering as a plenary epistemology. Stated simply, spiritual wisdom cannot be known, but only experienced through suffering. The material cannot produce anything good which of course includes mankind. By the grace of God, mankind can experience the glory of heaven, but he cannot perform any work that has merit in the material realm.

This brings us to Luther’s preordained mediators for the great unwashed masses between the visible and invisible. He called them, Theologians of the Cross, or in other words, theologians of suffering:

That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the »invisible« things of God as though they were clearly »perceptible in those things which have actually happened« (Rom. 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 1:21-25).

This is apparent in the example of those who were »theologians« and still were called »fools« by the Apostle in Rom. 1:22. Furthermore, the invisible things of God are virtue, godliness, wisdom, justice, goodness, and so forth. The recognition of all these things does not make one worthy or wise (Theses 19).

He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross (Theses 20).

These are men specially gifted, if that’s your perspective, in interpreting ALL reality, or at least reality that means anything significant, through redemption or the suffering of the cross. This was Luther’s version of Plato’s philosopher kings. While Plato’s epistemology was based on immutable elements in the shadow world such as geometry and math, for Luther it was the cross of suffering. The gateway to freedom from the bondage of “natural precepts” is the study and meditation of suffering, and better yet, the experience of it.

This is where Luther prescribed law and Scripture as a tool to pursue suffering as an epistemology and way of life. The Bible’s purpose, according to Luther, is to show us the depths of our depravity and worthlessness:

The law wills that man despair of his own ability, for it »leads him into hell« and »makes him a poor man« and shows him that he is a sinner in all his works, as the Apostle does in Rom. 2 and 3:9, where he says, »I have already charged that all men are under the power of sin.« However, he who acts simply in accordance with his ability and believes that he is thereby doing something good does not seem worthless to himself, nor does he despair of his own strength (Theses 18).

Luther’s focus was on the wellbeing of the individual and not necessarily that of society, but obviously, individual wellbeing defines the collective wellbeing of community. The use of the law for self-depravation and the embrace of suffering are key to experiencing wellbeing. Humble, broken individuals lead to a humble society.

The payoff for this way of life is a well-known Reformed doctrine till this very day: Vivification. Luther saw the Christian life as a perpetual cycle of death and rebirth. As man strives to see his depravity in the Scriptures and is driven to despair, the result is a recurring and deepening experience of future glory. This is the formal Reformed doctrine of Mortification and Vivification supposedly pictured in baptism. Hence, baptism doesn’t picture a onetime transformational event—the old self dying with Christ and then resurrected to new life, it is supposedly a picture of Christian life defined by perpetual death and rebirth:

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

Protestants of our day are in no wise confused about the doctrine Mortification and Vivification:

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

At conversion, a person begins to see God and himself as never before. This greater revelation of God’s holiness and righteousness leads to a greater revelation of self, which, in return, results in a repentance or brokenness over sin. Nevertheless, the believer is not left in despair, for he is also afforded a greater revelation of the grace of God in the face of Christ, which leads to joy unspeakable. This cycle simply repeats itself throughout the Christian life. As the years pass, the Christian sees more of God and more of self, resulting in a greater and deeper brokenness. Yet, all the while, the Christian’s joy grows in equal measure because he is privy to greater and greater revelations of the love, grace, and mercy of God in the person and work of Christ. Not only this, but a greater interchange occurs in that the Christian learns to rest less and less in his own performance and more and more in the perfect work of Christ. Thus, his joy is not only increased, but it also becomes more consistent and stable. He has left off putting confidence in the flesh, which is idolatry, and is resting in the virtue and merits of Christ, which is true Christian piety” (Paul Washer: The Gospel Call and True Conversion; Part 1, Chapter 1, heading – The Essential Characteristics Of Genuine Repentance, subheading – Continuing and Deepening Work of Repentance).

This is Luther’s utopian ideal: perpetual death and rebirth towards ultimate freedom from the natural.

What is the appeal of such a belief? It is the same as it has always been: this life that we are in bondage to does not have to be taken seriously; don’t worry, be happy. Life is worthless, and we are therefore not obligated to invest in it. This life is not what really matters, so don’t sweat it. Sure, if you want to excel in the shadow world, that’s fine, but it’s not really relevant. You can experience life in a completely relaxed mode because it is all just an illusion anyway. As with all trifold spiritual caste systems, EVERYTHING is predetermined, therefore, you are really not responsible for anything that happens. Neither is this point missed among Protestants as well:

What is the appeal of such a doctrine? I think it was stated best by the popular Reformed Mockingbird blog. They wrote an article entitled, The Subjective Power of an Objective Gospel. The following is an excerpt:

What, then, is the subjective power of this message? Firstly, we find that there is real, objective freedom, the kind that, yes, can be experienced subjectively. We are freed from having to worry about the legitimacy of experiences; our claims of self-improvement are no longer seen as a basis of our witness or faith. In other words, we are freed from ourselves, from the tumultuous ebb and flow of our inner lives and the outward circumstances; anyone in Christ will be saved despite those things. We can observe our own turmoil without identifying with it. We might even find that we have compassion for others who function similarly. These fluctuations, violent as they might be, do not ultimately define us. If anything, they tell us about our need for a savior (David Zahl and Jacob Smith: Mockingbird blog). (Paul M. Dohse Sr.: Pictures of Calvinism; TANC Publishing 2013, p. 34).

When it gets right down to the crux of it, this is the appeal in a nutshell. And what are the consequences for our 21st century culture? Dire.  A return to the original articles of the Reformation and a proper understanding of it has been growing since 1970. In our day, “New Calvinism” which is a return to Reformation fundamentals has all but completely taken over the evangelical churches worldwide. The political consequences, especially in the United States, could be catastrophic.

greatest threatWhy? For the first time in world history, the American idea adopted a government for the people and by the people. It was the first government in history to reject the ancient threefold caste system of man’s inability, oligarchy, and utopia. The common three-fold caste system has never produced anything other than suffering and tyranny. Protestantism is merely one of many different versions of three-fold spiritual caste. American Protestants of the past have been a strength for freedom because of their integration with capitalism, but with Protestantism returning to its original European roots, that has already changed dramatically. New Calvinists are markedly anti-American, and this should not surprise us in the least.

Compounding the problem is the aforementioned issue of beliefs versus function. American Protestants profess to believe in individual responsibly and capability, but they function as those totally dependent on experts to understand reality. While they would verbally reject the three-fold caste system based on beliefs, they clearly function by all three elements.

This is confirmed by what evangelicals profess as set against blatant contradictions. The most glaring contradiction is the idea that America is a “Christian nation.” Worse yet, we must be a Christian nation because if we weren’t, that only leaves “secular,” and secular equals evil because, well, it’s not Christian. This is a mentality spawned from element one of spiritual caste: material is evil—invisible is good, and Christianity represents the invisible. My wife Susan, after being a Christian for more than 50 years, is beginning to recognize this. Though she would have always rejected the idea of spiritual caste as a lifelong professional educator, there was a time when she thought the only good teacher was a Christian teacher. In her mind, only Christian teachers had a proper grasp of reality. Where did she get such ideas?

In regard to groups that threaten American liberty, patriots would do well to add Protestants to the list. And unwitting Protestants who think they are patriots should wise up and do their own research. To the New Calvinists, anybody being in control is better than “We the people.” American exceptionalism is based on individual ability, not total depravity. For the most part, New Calvinists do not vote, and if they do, they vote socialist. Why? Because there is only one thing worse than communist rule in their minds: the collective will of totally depraved individuals. This ministry researches in the realm of New Calvinism, and anti-American rhetoric is a constant theme among them.

First, New Calvinism is a huge movement, and growing; second, if America goes south, so goes the world. Right now, America has, at the very least, a 45% leaning towards socialism, and the ever-growing New Calvinist movement will continue to chip away at the remaining 55%. What needs to be done?

Those who get it must stop arguing with New Calvinists on their own terms. They must be confronted in regard to their interpretation of reality and what their mentors really believed. In light of their massive and blatant contradictions to the plain sense of Scripture, why does this movement continue to grow by leaps and bounds? Answer: most Christians would say that we must interpret Scripture for ourselves, but we don’t function that way. If a leader states something that seems like a blatant contradiction to us, we chalk it up to our own inability and assume them to be the experts.

We must come to grips with the fact that these “experts” are no different from the chanting Buddhist monks sitting on the ground dressed in orange bath towels and shaved heads. Such do not benefit American freedom—you have never seen any of them in line at a voting location. New Calvinist numbers are growing at an alarming rate among what is left of evangelicalism, and that could very well tip the balance of influence and America’s future political landscape, and where America goes, so goes the world.

That’s why Protestantism is now the greatest threat to civilization in the 21st century.