Paul's Passing Thoughts

With Permission: Peter Lumpkins Comment on New Calvinist Interpretation

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 2, 2011

To begin with, the phrase “preach the gospel to ourselves” is prima facie nonsensical. It apparently is a clever phrase which means something other than what it literally communicates. What is that “something other than”?

More importantly, what I see happening with the parable is laying a needless filter upon it which effectively, at least in some important ways, hides the real meaning of the text. That is, a rhythmic literary pattern is employed to glean the proper interpretation. In your case, it’s “gospel>>>righteous living.” For others in this “preach the gospel to myself everyday” community, it’s “indicative>>>imperative.”

Yet, from my perspective, this is nothing less than a direct assault on what some call the “perspicuity” of Scripture or what Wayne Grudem calls the “clarity” of Scripture. Who would have imagined the Holy Spirit wanted to communicate, from the passage you cited–or any passage for that matter–the “imperative” is “preceded by” or “grounded in” the “indicative” or some other interpretative pattern, a pattern which is not derived from standard canons of literary interpretation, but rather from theological presuppositions imposed upon the text?

My fear is, we’re substituting theology for basic Bible study. And by basic I mean neither shoddy nor surface. Rather, I mean raw, fundamental textual interpretation based upon sound exegesis.

Contrarily, to lay a “preach the gospel to myself” (i.e. indicative precedes imperative) filter upon the page of Scripture seems to me predetermines the text’s meaning before one even reads the text, before one exegetes the text.

If I am anywhere near correct, the common man or woman just got left out of actually understanding the Word of God. Why? Well, they don’t have the secret interpretative principle to guide them–the indicative precedes the imperative. And, without that filter, they’re doomed to gospel ignorance.

Yet, no where in all God’s Word do we get the impression that the Bible in general needs special filters to discern its meaning, especially filters designed by Christians hundreds and even thousands of years after the Bible was written and after so many other believers–stalwart believers, learned believers, brilliant believers–read the Bible with understanding but without the contemporary filters about which some now so desperately insist.

Indeed the Reformation began when filters were discarded not when new filters were employed. The Baptist movement was built upon a simple reading of the New Testament, not upon innovative nonsense like indicative precedes imperative created by incipient immersionists. They took the plain meaning of Scripture rather than an alleged literary pattern they discovered to read the Scripture aright.

Why, to believe some today, the whole of Christianity crumbles if we don’t perpetuate the indicative precedes the imperative gospel principle. Millions of evangelicals are lost because they don’t understand that the indicative precedes the imperative.

Where this ultimately leads only our Sovereign Lord knows for sure. I do know one thing: I want no part or parcel in this hermeneutical madness.

Maranatha. Come Lord.

With that, I am…

Great Link

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 23, 2011

Peter Lumpkins posted a great find on his blog. It is a  link to fourteen copies of Jay Adams’ book on Sonship Theology. The cost of the books reflect the fact that it is unfortunately out of print. Here is the link:


But Peter, They’re Not Really Calvinist! An Open Letter To Peter Lumpkins

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 19, 2011

Dear Peter,

I write to you as a fellow Southern Baptist.

I think real Calvinism has brought good things to Southern Baptists, but I just wanted to write you and mention that your present contention is not with real Calvinism.

They call themselves Calvinists, but that’s a lie. In fact, real Calvinists contend against them. Let me explain. The present movement you see in the SBC has a Calvinism label, but was really hatched by Jon Zens and a Seventh-day Adventist named Robert Brinsmead. Brinsmead created a project called the Australian Forum to promote the doctrine, and the two other primary contributors were Geoffrey Paxton and Graeme Goldsworthy. Their family tree, a work of mine with the help of others, can be seen in the following chart:

The basic frame of the doctrine they created is known as the centrality of the objective gospel (COG), and is what drives the present movement you see in the SBC. Apparently, the movement is now known as “New Calvinism,” and entails the T4G, The Gospel Coalition, and many, many other organizations that promote the movement.

Basically, it teaches that the gospel is something completely outside of us (objective), and that we are transformed by contemplating the depths of the gospel (or as John Piper states it: “Beholding as a way of becoming”). This outside, objective focus supposedly aids us in not being distracted by things that are subjective; for instance, even the belief that we are born again. In fact, the movement denies the significance of the new birth and teaches that Christians are still totally depraved. This can be illustrated by the video circulating on the Web called “John Piper is Bad” which doesn’t mean Piper is a cool guy, but rather that he is still a “T” in TULIP—totally depraved. Unlike real Calvinism, it projects TULIP onto sanctification as well. Piper acknowledged in an interview that he understood the video to mean exactly that and also agreed with it. Certainly, traditional Calvinism does not believe that Christians are still totally depraved.

In other words, the movement only recognizes justification (objective) and not the vital union or the new birth (subjective). We are supposedly transformed by focusing on the historical Christ event alone. This is why CJ Mahaney, one of the “core four” with Al Mohler in the T4G, always presents the gospel in the five-word epigram “Christ died for our sins.” In like manner, Piper presents a justification only gospel in “The gospel in 6 Minutes: “In a sentence….That’s the gospel.”

In 2008, one of the Australian 3, Graeme Goldsworthy, spoke at Southern Seminary (in the Australian Forum’s theological journal “Present Truth,” both Paxton and Goldsworthy declared the new birth a “false gospel”). John Piper reviewed Goldsworthy’s visit/lecture in an article posted on his Desiring God website (Piper is one of the keynote speakers at the 2012 T4G). In that article, Piper affirmed COG, and wrote the following:

“When the ground of justification moves from Christ outside of us to the work of Christ inside of us, the gospel (and the human soul) is imperiled. It is an upside down gospel [emphasis his, not mine].”

This is an interesting statement considering that Southern Baptists certainly change emphasis to our role as new creatures after we are saved. Piper is saying to do so is to put one’s soul in peril, and this is also exactly what the AF3 propagated. Furthermore, Piper seems to be saying that any emphasis on the work of Christ inside of us is a false gospel—also what the AF3 advocated. Peter, trust me, this problem is way bigger than Calvinism.

In addition, real Calvinist have fought this problem tooth and nail. As you can see from their family tree, the doctrine was repackaged by Dr. John Miller in the form of Sonship Theology while he was at Westminster Seminary. Pastors in the PCA (Calvin’s denomination) have been fighting the doctrine for years, especially Dr. Jay Adams who wrote a book against it in 1999. Tim Keller, a major figure in the New Calvinist movement, as well as David Powlison, were followers of John Miller. During a lecture at John Piper’s church, Powlison called Miller his mentor and chastised Adams for being critical of Dr. Miller for coining the phrase, “We must preach the gospel [justification] to ourselves everyday.” However, the fact that the criticism was in book form seemed to have slipped Powlison’s mind. Moreover, readers of my blog, one of which is taking the Sonship course presently, assure me that Sonship clearly teaches the total depravity of the saints, rejects the new birth, and holds to a New Covenant Theology view of the law. It is also common knowledge that Keller has taught Sonship Theology extensively.

It’s all the same doctrine. If the doctrine hadn’t found new life at Westminster, it wouldn’t have survived the brutal pushback by Reformed Baptist (more real Calvinist) such as Walter Chantry. Chantry and others adamantly called it out for what it is: “neo-antinomianism.” In the same way that COG plagued the Reformed Baptist by splitting churches and families, this doctrine continues to wreak havoc on God’s people.

Peter, worry about the real Calvinist later—these guys must go!