Paul's Passing Thoughts

George Bernard Shaw – Poster Boy for Platonist Collectivism

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

This is what evil looks like!

“You must all know half a dozen people at least who are no use in this world; who are more trouble than they are worth. Just put them there, and say, now sir or madam, now will you be kind enough to justify your existence? If you can’t justify your existence; if you’re not pulling your weight in the social boat; if you’re not producing as much as you consume or perhaps a little more, then clearly we cannot use the big organization of our society for the purpose of keeping you alive, because your life does not benefit us, and it can’t be of very much use to yourself.”

 

TANC 2014 Susan Dohse, Session 2: Three Myths of Puritanism: Freedom, Destiny, and Worldview

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on August 19, 2015

Okay, George Santayana is credited with saying “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” How many of you have heard that? It’s very popular catchy phrase has taken on several variations. Now many moons ago when I taught high school history and social studies, I would sometimes introduce the classes by saying my teacher variation of that quote. First day of U.S. History, “Welcome to U.S. History. It is important for you to do well in this class for remember, those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” One particular year, this one poor guy in the back of the room put his head down on his desk and went, “I’m doomed! I’m doomed!” And his friend is faking compassion patted him on the back, “It’s okay, man. She always gives extra credit.” “But you don’t get it. I hate History and Mrs. [UNINTELLIGIBLE 0:01:12] is the only history teacher in the school. I’m double doomed!” Not only having to repeat history but having to have me for two years, but he did pass the class, and I do believe he still dislikes history.

But that phrase though, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” is impressive, is common and is difficult to disagree with. If it is true and if history is so ugly and objectionable, then this proverbial quote ought to be a guide to public and private policy. For example, couples who do not learn from their fights, break up. People who don’t learn from their mistakes, they don’t mature. Revolutions that give an individual absolute power inevitably end up as brutal dictatorships. After repeated wars between Germany and France, France made harsh demands on Germany and their terms of surrender after World War I, then the Second World War happened. After Stalin’s brutal regime of secret police and leader worship, Cuban revolutionary has allowed their charismatic revolutionary leader to seize absolute power, and Castro still hold the seat of dictatorial power in Cuba today. History shows that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

What about this idea? And what about those who do learn from history? Are they still doomed to repeat it? If the converse is true, then the saying has no power and adds nothing at all to the discussion. What adds power to that quote is the word “learn” because with learning, with knowledge, there’s a hope of change. But will it, can it happen? Will knowledge lead to change? Will learning what history taught us provoke us to make the changes necessary to keep it from being repeated? Can it be that all the good and bad things about people and the way we organize ourselves simply creates patterns as we make history? Could it be that we are given to a certain irrationality which leads us down paths, some disastrous, again and again?

Now consider this different approach. When you look back through history and you see man taking the exact same steps, coming to the exact same conclusions generation after generation, millennia after millennia, what were their root assumptions? “It does not matter how inconsistent the ideas. It doesn’t matter how insane the rationale. They will act until the logic is fulfilled. Therefore, when you see masses of people taking the same destructive actions, find the assumptions and you will find the cause.” That’s the gospel according to John Immel, chapter 3 verses 1 through 3. I did learn something from our first conference.

Knowing the cause should provoke us to take some kind of action, hopefully, preventative action, proactive action, and proactive changes. WXY and Z now I know my ABCs. Tell me what you think of me… Well, I think you know your ABCs. Now tell me what are you going to do with that knowledge? Will you take action and make meaning of the letters, connect them with sounds and letter combinations and create words and words that build sentences and ideas? Will you take your ABCs to that ultimate conclusion and learn to read and write? Will we learn the lessons of the history past and use that knowledge to take action to stay off those irrational and destructive past? Maybe yes maybe no. I do know some children who know their ABCs. Blaine [SOUNDS LIKE 0:06:05] knows his ABCs, but he has not yet learned to read. There are those who know history and are dooming themselves and us by repeating it or causing it to repeat.

So, are we like the Calvinists who believe and hold on so tenaciously to the doctrine that we are predestined to live in this time and space with no choice, no say in the direction we are to take and no say in how we stand, no chance for change. Are we to take up that clarion call, become like the Puritans of old and all things will be set to right? Now why not consider the assumptions and logic and end results of the Puritans? Remember what George said, “Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it” because their patterns of irrationality, their faulty root assumptions are leading the institutional church down the same disastrous paths again.

What I’ve been reading from Christian homeschool blogs and from leaders in the homeschool movement, this is what I’ve been reading. Let’s return to the Puritan way and put our children on the road to better education. I’ve read that more than once. A Southern Baptist seminary professor wrote, “We can learn from the old, namely the Puritans, for the doing of theology, for the life and health of the church today,” Stephen J. Wellum, Editorial: “Learning from the Puritans,” Theology Professor at Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. And without some understanding of Puritanism, there’s no solid understanding of dominionism, the patriarchy movement and the downward spiral of our Christian institutions. And without understanding Puritanism, you really have a partial knowledge of New Calvinism. And without understanding Puritanism, there is no solid understanding of America either.

Remember what you learned in U.S. history? The New England colonies were started under austere circumstances. Other colonies with more financial support from their mother country, more material resources, suffered collapse. The Puritans faced severe climate, a howling wilderness, yet they made themselves physically secure and began immediately to lay the foundations of government, education, thought and literature that outdid the achievements of all the other colonies. The Puritans made New England the intellectual leader of the nation at that time. Their belief in God’s sovereignty and of divine predestination provided a measure of comfort and stimulus to these early settlers. Did this consciousness that they were not ultimately responsible but that they were being led by God, have anything to do with their success? It is a shining example of human discipline and energy that in the face of circumstances would have discouraged and ruined most other adventurers. Could it be that holding fast to a doctrine that man is not free, he is a not free agent provided, them with a more powerful stimulus to exert extreme effort and a more moral force than any doctrine of human freedom?

Perhaps this is one of the ironies of history. If you compare Americans of the 18th and 19th century to the Puritans, one would have to say that the Puritans were theology-minded. Now I would say they were Calvin-minded. The doctrines of the fall of man, of sin, of salvation, predestination, election, conversion were their meat and drink. But what distinguished them is they were less interested in theology than in the application of Calvin’s theology to everyday life and especially to society. They became consumed with making the society in America embody the truth that they thought they already knew and less concerned with perfecting how they form truth. So Puritan New England was a grand and noble experiment in applied Calvinism.

A sidebar, the Puritans did not learn from history past. John Calvin tried this noble experiment in Geneva, enforced a theocracy, a holy commonwealth. If you read any part of Calvin’s Geneva experience, they did take Calvin’s faulty assumption. They applied a faulty logic and they tried to enforce their theology of theocracy, a holy commonwealth, and the end result was the same.

New England offered a rare opportunity for the Puritans in the New World. The Calvinistic theology was their point of departure when they left England, and they did not waver from it. Life in this New World was life in the wilderness, away from the great university libraries and the higher institutions of learning of their motherland. Daily threatened by hardships and the perils of a savage America, elaborating a theology and disputing its finer points was not practical. It was not the writing of books that was impossible for New England. New England flowed with an abundance of sermons, textual commentaries, collections of providences, statutes and works of history which were of themselves quite remarkable. Cotton Mather wrote 400 books.

With the exception of Roger Williams, who is not in the stream of New England orthodoxy anyway, Massachusetts Bay did not produce, I’m going to repeat, did not produce a major figure in theology until Jonathan Edwards. And when he arrived on the scene, by then the Massachusetts Bay Colony Puritanism was waning. Now during the great days of the New England Puritanism, there was not a single important dispute which was primarily theological. There were arguments over who should rule New England, whether John Winthrop or Thomas Dudley or Harry Vane should be governor, whether the power representation of different classes in the community should be changed, whether the Child Petition Act should be accepted, penalties for crimes by fixed statutes, whether outlying towns should have more representation in the general court. If they were theology-minded, what they argued about was institutions.

Let me do a comparison. At this time in history, the Puritans in England, the mother country, were discussing the fine points of their theory. What was the true nature of liberty? When should a true Puritan resist a corrupt civil government? When should diversity be tolerated? Now the debates of these topics expand the social classes in England for not only the John Miltons but the officers in Cromwell’s Puritan army reveal how different the intellectual atmosphere in England was from that of New England. Soldiers, men of action stopped to debate the theory of revolution and the philosophy of sovereignty. But let’s remember this crucial difference. Puritanism in England was more complex than Puritanism in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Puritans in good old England had representatives from a wide range of doctrines–Presbyterians, Independents, Separatists, Levellers, Millenarians. So, naturally, Puritanism in England was a matter of dispute. But consider this. In England, any community they built would have to find some space for the dozens of sects, from Quakers to Papists, because England was their home, too. Now Massachusetts Bay Colony did not possess this vigor. They possessed orthodoxy. It was organized and ran as a community of self-selected conformists.

In 1637, the general court of Massachusetts passed an order forbidding anyone from settling within the colony without first having his orthodoxy approved by the magistrates. These immigrants were required to be free from contamination. John Winthrop was bold and clear in defending this ruling. This community was formed by free consent of its members. Why should they not exclude dangerous men or men with dangerous thoughts? Now take for example Reverend Wheelwright. His brother-in-law’s wife was Anne Hutchinson. We all read about Anne Hutchinson in our history books. He and Anne accused the majority of the colony’s ministers and their magistrates of preaching a covenant of works. So, both he and Anne were banished from the colony. The Governor John Winthrop said, “If we conceive and find by sad experience that Wheelwright’s opinions are such and by his own profession cannot stand with external peace, may we not provide for our peace by keeping of such as would strengthen him and infect others with such dangerous tenets?” This was a peculiar opportunity for the Puritans of New England. Why not see what true orthodoxy could accomplish? In one unspoiled corner of the world, declare a truce on doubts and on theological debate. Here at last, man could devote their full energy to applying Christianity, not to clarifying doctrine, not to build Zion.” Puritan Nathaniel Ward wrote, “I dare take upon me to be the herald of New England so fair as to proclaim to the world in the name of our colony that all Familists, Antinomians, Anabaptists, and other enthusiasts shall have free liberty to keep away from us and such as will come be gone as fast as they can, the sooner the better,” taken from his pamphlet, Simple Cobbler, 1647.

A dissension in England would have created a new sect of Puritanism. In America, dissension simply produced another colony. In England, the Puritans had to find a way to live with dissenters. In New England, the Puritans found ways to live without them. What truly distinguished Massachusetts Bay was its refusal to develop a practice of toleration. Unlike England of the 17th century, the leaders of Massachusetts enjoyed their pure and simple orthodoxy. And that orthodoxy was conformity with established and accepted Calvinistic standards. Now let’s consider another side of the coin. Intolerance was a source of strength for the New England Puritans. This was not a philosophical enterprise they were engaging in. They were community builders. They were building the New Jerusalem. They were building Zion, a city upon a hill. All the energy their counterparts in England were using to debate and war over compulsive and restrictive powers in religion between matters essential and matters indifferent, these are still being debated today by political science students. The American Puritans put all that energy to mark off boundaries of their new towns, enforce criminal laws and to fight the Indian menace. Theology and metaphysics were not going to distract them because they had no doubt and they had no dissent. Had they spent as much energy debating with each other as their English counterparts, would they have still had the single-mindedness to overcome the perils of the wilderness and build a nation? I hold three things that held Massachusetts Bay Colony together initially made them successful–notice I said initially–no toleration, democracy was of the devil, community and unity over individual freedom.

In England the various sects of Puritanism were daring each other to extend and clarify their doctrines, but there was little of this in America. In New England, the critics, the doubters and dissenters were expelled from the community. Roger Williams, I read a wonderful book about Roger Williams. He was expelled for confronting the leaders about separation of Church and State, not doctrinal issues. He agreed in doctrine point by point by point with Calvinistic doctrine. They did not have a problem with his doctrine, but he was relentless in preaching from the pulpit and talking to the magistrates and the civil leaders in public and in private that the Church had no business in civil government, that there had to be a separation. He was expelled for confronting the leaders about this issue. Later, he established the colony of Rhode Island.

Whereas in England, the Puritans had to find ways to live together, which in turn helped to develop a theory of toleration. In New England, they transcended theological preoccupation because what was it? There were no doubts. They allowed no dissent. They just could not be distracted from these practical tasks of theology and metaphysics. In 1637, the General Court passed an order forbidding anyone from settling within the colony, and I’ve said this without having this orthodoxy approved, okay?

Number two, the goal of creating a democracy in Massachusetts had never stirred the leadership except the opposition. The idea that authority and sovereignty came from below, from the government as opposed to from above, from God was completely foreign. Winthrop believed that the magistrates even though being called freemen, we have our authority from God. And by the way, I was kind of misled in my reading when it said the freemen could vote, the freemen elected their magistrates, and then the next paragraph defined what freeman was, a member of the Puritan church. If you were not a member, you were not a freeman. Therefore, you could not vote. So, the freemen were an elite few, who made the decisions for the entire colony. “Freeman, even though being called by you freeman, we have our authority from God; therefore, they must be obeyed,” Governor John Winthrop. “So, shall your liberties be preserved in upholding the honor and power of authority among you.” And he declared, “Democracy amongst civil nations accounted the meanest and worst form of government.” He called it a breach of the Fifth Commandment and noted that history records it has always been of least continuance and fullest of troubles. Now Cotton, John Cotton wrote, “Democracy, I do not conceive that God ever did ordain as a fit government, either for a church or commonwealth. If people be governors, who shall be the governed? As for monarchy and aristocracy, both of them clearly approved and directed by Scripture.”

An example of this lack of tolerance practice is witnessed in the life of Roger Williams. He claimed the people were sovereign. I infer that the sovereign original and foundation of civil power lies in the people. Now these were hardy and rebellious ideas that ended Williams being expelled from the community in the dead of winter during the blizzard, and if it had not been for the Native Americans who rescued him, he would have perished. And he does pay them tribute for aiding him in his time, and he spent the entire winter with them, nursed back to health and taken care of.

Now consider these ideas. The Puritans were concerned with the organization of their New Jerusalem society with making their communities effective. Now three problems which worried them in New England: 1) how to select their leaders and representatives. They had to decide who were the fit rulers and how should they be selected. 2) The proper limit of power: John Cotton said it is therefore more wholesome for magistrates and officers in the church and commonwealth never to afflict more liberty and authority that will do them good and the people good. It is necessary therefore that all power that is on earth be limited. 3) And how power should be distributed between local and central [organs 0:26:21]. Now are not these three problems you hear addressed in the constitution? How to select the leaders and representatives, okay? How much power that they have and how to separate federal and state government?

Though denying democracy is a valid way to address the community’s organizational needs, they unknowingly used democratic ideas to solve these worrisome problems. To the Puritans, the American destiny was inseparable from the mission of community building. It always sounds good to say we need to build a community, you know. What’s her face said a village raises your child, you know. The community is – yeah, it takes a village. It takes a community to raise your child. So to the Puritans, this mission of community building was inseparable from the ongoing relationship among man. Individualism threatened the delicate strings that held the community together. A main component of the emerging American ideology from the Puritan through the Enlightenment was focused on keeping the community united while trying to find some place for individualism.

There was the need for community involvement in the church. They had to show unswerving devotion to the church, perform good works, have unquestioned obedience to the church leaders. Good works and charitable acts would not lead a person to salvation, but was necessary to show their natural grace to prove that they might be considered one of the elect. The concept of unity as a community was communicated, and it was sermonized aboard the Arabella on their way over crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Winthrop: “We must knit together in this work as one man, mourn together, labor, suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, our community as members of the same body.” John Winthrop: “If one part of the community was ill, then the entire community would suffer. Each individual was responsible for their actions because it would affect the entire community. A person could not do simple things without harming the community.” Well, we know we have examples of this from the Bible. Achan, in the camp of Israelites, when he took spoil from Jericho in disobedience, read the results in Joshua. That action had a devastating community result in the Book of Joshua. They lost the next battle, death, judgment from God in a sense, and then of course they had to put the family on trial, and earthquake and execution and all of that. So individuals do affect the community, but it’s not the sole reason for having a community.

Family, community, and nationalism are principles that we can find in God’s word. No person has ever been commanded to isolate themselves. No person in God’s word has been commanded to pursue total individualism, deny and forsake the community. The entire Book of Genesis shows historically how mankind as individuals they formed families, they formed communities, cities, nations. Danger comes to a community when control becomes punitive, leadership turns into tyranny, and unity, unity becomes total conformity. There’s difference in the meaning of those two words. Unity is not total conformity. The Puritans felt that conformity was essential to keeping the community together. The leaders not only felt, it demanded conformity. The leaders not only felt, it demanded conformity and enforced it. Dissention and divisiveness were silenced. The community could not thrive if too many independent thinkers attempted to change the power structure of the community. Individual beliefs and liberties would have to be sacrificed in order to promote a strongly linked community. Individual beliefs and liberties would have to be sacrificed in order to promote a strongly linked community, according to the Puritans.

Eventually out of necessity, the role of the individual evolved and was seen as an asset and not a threat, not until the Enlightenment and revolutionary eras, that’s the 1700s, was individualism recognized. The emphasis focused on individuals using their unique abilities to better the community. One of the Founding Fathers, James Madison, warned of absolute individualism in his federalist paper. In essence, he wrote that there was a delicate balance between expressing individuality and hurting another member of the community. Now during the Puritan era, individualism was suppressed in order to keep that delicate community balance, and individualism was suppressed to assert the power of the church. As the colonies grew and prospered, new ideas began to arise and some individualistic thoughts and ideas were seen as important and necessary for the growth of the community. The puzzle though, the Puritans had to put together, was how to balance individualistic expression and the welfare of the community. Intolerance grew the nation. Distaste of democracy organized their communities and community building necessitated individualism…

The Biblical Emphasis on Pastors and Their Authority: Where is It? Romans 15:14

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 11, 2015

Blog Radio LogoListen to the show audio or download the video file here. 

Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, “The Biblical Emphasis on Pastors and Their Authority: Where is It?” 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.

We are going to begin tonight by surveying the present landscape. The church invests billions in the education and accreditation of pastors. Of course, this is all made possible by the working class laity. Pastorate authority is expressed in church polity, and they are seen as the gatekeepers of orthodoxy. Never before in history have so many willingly paid so much for the privilege of being subservient.

Let me just pull the rabbit out of the hat right now. Let me go ahead and reveal where I am going with all of this tonight, and then I will make my case. We know that America was the first idea in human history that rejected the marriage of faith and force, and the results speak for themselves. We also know why some people deny what America has done for the world because of their ancient presuppositions concerning mankind; i.e., if mankind is allowed to self-govern, chaos will ensue.

There is that crowd, then there is the crowd that thinks mankind is just outright evil, and the American idea emphasizes life and liberty, so America is the antitheses of this whole idea that mankind is evil. And remember, this is not just a religious idea. No, no, no. This is also very prevalent among secular ideas. Some environmentalists would be included among them.

In the minds of the framers of the American Constitution, the marriage of faith and force always leads to tyranny, and history would agree. It all starts with those who are specially gifted to know truth that the masses are not able to understand, and for their own good, the masses that is, or the “great unwashed” if you will, the great seers call on the state to enforce their wisdom for the good of mankind and its overall survival. It is a striving for social justice leading to utopia.

We know that this basic presupposition about man’s ability to self-govern always leads to tyranny, and it now begs the question: culturally, in the church, if truth is married with pastoral authority, is the same tyranny inevitable? We think the answer is “yes.” The marriage of faith and authority in the church will yield the same results as the marriage of faith and force among governments. The problem is the injunction of truth on the majority by the few.

Without getting into another body of study altogether, let me answer some anticipated objections. A couple of weeks ago while Charlie Rose was interviewing the president of Syria, here is a paraphrase of what he said: “Society in general doesn’t accept the use of chemical weapons.” Interesting. What was he in essence saying albeit probably unwittingly? Answer: Romans chapters one and two. The law of God is written on the hearts of every man and his God-given conscience passes judgement on his actions. Why do we need government? For people who are deficient in regard to their faculties of conscience—that’s why.

Let’s note something important moving forward. The behavior evidenced in the church in our present day is consistent across all religions and denominations. Why? Because they all have one thing in common: they marry faith and authority. This is just another institutional church elephant in the room; the question of pastoral authority. And how churches get around this is soooo smooth:

“As pastors, our only authority is in the word of God.”

Well, that’s just wonderful because the Bible covers every nuance of life. While that answer usually assumes the Bible is boss and pastors only point people to its authority, what is really being said is the Bible determines the parameters of their authority which is without bounds if determined by the Bible.

What does this across-the-board authority look like regardless of the particular breed of church? What does it mean when we say that pastors “have authority”? It all starts with a same presupposition concerning mankind. Basically, mankind in general is not able to properly understand reality in a way that brings about social justice resulting in utopia. Man needs to be ruled over for his own good, and those who believe man can self-govern must be neutralized for the good of the many.

This is why the line between churches and liberal leftwing politics is often blurred. Why did some church, I think in New York, recently sue Walmart to ban their gun sales? Because in their mind, you just can’t have people in general running around with guns. In their minds, that’s a disaster waiting to happen.

So, it starts with that philosophy. Now, how does it seek to implement this philosophy? What system dictates the application for the greater good? Again, in ALL religions and denominations it’s the same: mediation, authority, orthodoxy, progressive justification, polity, political collectivism, resulting in the EXACT same results and behavior. This is the technical definition of “the church.” Take note of how often you hear “the church” in the everyday white noise of churchianity.

Mediation. The Bible makes it clear that there is one mediator between God and man: Christ, period. All institutional churches have a concept of what Protestants call the “power of the keys.” This is the idea that the institution represents the body of Christ on earth. Hence, institutional membership is synonymous with salvation. The institution represents Christ’s mediation on earth by proxy. Whatever the church binds on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever the church looses on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Authority. Vested in the elders/pastors of the church regardless of the fact that Christ clearly stated that ALL authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him. Pastors are men who have been preordained and specially gifted to know things that the common Christian does not know. Therefore, God has supposedly given them authority on earth for the collective good of mankind. Every institutional church has its own breed of popery.

“But Paul, I am a Southern Baptist and our churches are” …and this is so adorable… “independently autonomous.”

OK, now try to be a pastor of a Southern Baptist church without a degree from a Southern Baptist seminary. Good luck with that. If you are not credentialed, if you do not speak according to authority given you by the church, if your words do not carry authority by the aping of those credentialed, you are nothing but a little yapping mutt that will be ignored. If you tithe enough, people will put up with you and that’s about it.

For the time being, file this away: this is the exact same system Christ was up against when he came. How did He deal with it? Confirming miracles. Remember the paraplegic He healed so that people would know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth?

Orthodoxy. This is the extra-biblical authoritative body of teaching that is developed by those in authority. Since the great unwashed cannot understand truth, orthodoxy takes the higher knowledge of truth and puts it in story form for the spiritually adolescent masses. It’s exactly like story books written for children that explain reality via narratives that they can understand. In church culture, orthodoxy is synonymous with truth itself. This is why in seminary you are told straight up that the knowledge you are learning there is not anything you will be teaching at local churches—they can’t understand it. However, you will learn a lot about being a good spiritual cowboy who keeps the herd from being spooked resulting in a stampede. You will also be taught how to deal with those who think they can know truth, also known as Mad Cow disease.

Progressive justification. All religions and denominations have some form of progressive justification. This soteriology is the necessary gospel that must go hand in hand with mediation, authority, and orthodoxy. It is the teaching that salvation progresses from point A to point B, and the institutional church is the overseer of that progression. This is a hard-fast rule. The church cannot function or survive by propagating the true gospel—it’s impossible and we will look at why this is the case tonight. Why are there so many different religions and denominations? It’s all disagreement on how you get from point A to point B.

Polity. Or “church polity.” This is a soft term for “church government.” All churches have church government. It’s different levels of authority and an epistemological pecking order. In contrast, biblical contra church assemblies are based on fellowship with the Father and His Son—not authority. Historically, churches enforce polity by getting into bed with the government, but post America, the emphasis is control over your salvation.

In pre-American history, if you didn’t believe the church had the authority to take away your salvation, they would simply hang you, drown you, cut you in half, or burn you, not necessarily in that order. So, in our day, the heavy emphasis is authority and control over your eternal destiny. Why do people obey the outrageous notions that flow from the traditions of men? Because their eternal salvation depends on it, and “faith believes all things,” right? One of the favorite truisms vomited out by the clergy is this whole Lutheresque idea that “knowledge puffeth up” and makes people proud.

The real problem is that informed people are very difficult to control. Let me pull another rabbit out of the hat right now. I will make the case tonight that cultism goes hand in hand with elder authority. It is absolutely impossible to separate horizontal authority among God’s people and cultism. Religion plus horizontal authority ALWAYS equals cult. This is an unavoidable and hard-fast rule.

Political collectivism. Here is the dirty little secret: ultimate control is really in the hands of the populous. Why? It’s simple; they outnumber government. In China, if the people decide to rise up, the Chinese government is totally screwed. There are particular things common to people that the framers of the American constitution recognized such as those things that are “self-evident.” All in all, the church has merely stuck its nose in the debate over who owns truth: mankind in general or the state?

This necessarily demands a conversation about the church’s dominion theology. Is God’s kingdom presently on earth, or is it presently in heaven? If it is presently down here, then obviously the church has a dog in the fight. Therefore, since populous rule is the real power in the world, power is determined by how many people you have effectively brainwashed. The church cannot avoid being a political animal seeking to gain control by numbers and infrastructure because it believes it is a nation builder on earth.

This includes all of the trappings of doing good works to endear numbers, and formal education for the purposes of indoctrinating people. Most church hierarchies openly admit that their agenda is to take over every aspect of culture; i.e., education, the arts, etc, etc. The specific quotations abound and are not the least bit ambiguous.

Also, watch out for the “Oh my, missionaries are being persecuted for the gospel in this country, that country, or the other country.” No, many countries are more privy to the dominion aspirations of the church than their own missionaries. In many cases, it is feared that missionaries will incite an insurrection. A cursory observation of history confirms this as a valid concern. Traditionally, church missionaries not only want to get people saved, they want to quote, “transform the culture.” They say it all the time!

Let me stick this idea in here. Do you know how home fellowships could do world evangelism? We could find people gifted to be elders in other countries and bring them stateside to live for a while in the home fellowship network. They would live with a sponsoring family and learn/experience the New Testament model. As they learn and experience, they could be feeding the information back to their country of origin. This would be dirt cheap and very effective.

Do you know how expensive and ineffective world missions are in the institutional church? It’s horrific, and mostly predicated on Western arrogance. I have heard missionaries say it: “Without our academic wherewithal, effective ministry is impossible.” Behold the arrogance: after hundreds of years of trial and error and oceans of ink used in the pontification of orthodoxy, 1600 people a day leave the church and become Nones or Dones. 1500 pastors per month leave the ministry for good. But yet, the church continues to export this failed model overseas on the financial backs of the laity. It’s beyond insane.

Behavior. The results are all the same. Spiritual abuse in the church is just a symptom of the specific problem, church. Stuff happening in the church is not the problem—church is the problem. Thanks to the internet, we now know that the church produces the exact same behavior over and over and over again. We now know that the institutional church is nothing more or less than a super-cult.

Let’s begin to look at the evidence.

Yes, once again, Calvary Temple of Sterling, Va. is back in the news. Let’s listen to the recent news report by MRC TV titled “Sexual Abuse, Broken Families, and Race Cars: The Story Of An Alleged D.C.-Area Cult” dated 4/2/2015/. As you listen to this clip, make a list of the elements such as “authority,” “broken family relationships,” “control,” “divorce,” etc.

Listen, whether the HBO documentary I mentioned last week on Scientology, or my wife’s testimony in regard to her experience in the Baptist church, or what my son shared with me the other night about a Jehovah Witness that he works with and what that guy is going through with his church, or my own testimony, or myriads of testimonies that you can read via the internet discernment blogs, it is all the same basic elements in regard to behavioral outcomes.

Sure, John MacArthur Jr. isn’t going to marry a twenty-year-old and buy a dragster and a race car, he just oversees an in-house police station at Grace Community Church that will escort you out to your car if you ask too many questions in Sunday school. I know from firsthand testimony that MacArthur rules that church with an iron fist. I rubbed shoulders with some of his elders for years. In addition, accusations from relatively sound people that Grace Community Church is a cult abound. One such site is The Watchman Wakes .com / John MacArthur’s cult. Google that and the exact link should come up. Look, all one needs to know for purposes of confirming these allegations is MacArthur’s own words from last week’s sound bites; the inevitable result of the belief that elders have authority on earth is cultism.

Let’s also look at the obvious manifestation of well-behaved tyranny. Even though some church pastors would not engage in some of the more outrageous behavior, by and large, the well-behaved tyrants of the church turn a blind eye to the behavior and even cover for it. MacArthur is absolutely notorious for turning a blind eye to the atrocities committed by the institutional church. Why? The obvious answer is the church’s authority to forgive sins on earth. Without the institutional church, there is no means of salvation for anyone so the church must be saved at all cost. I am not sure what is more obvious.

Look, for example, Jack Hyles could have been shut down years ago. All it would have taken is twenty-five IFB pastors walking down the isle of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Ind. and rebuking the guy publically on a Sunday morning. Game over. Why doesn’t that ever happen even though it is the exact biblical prescription? Because the institution has to be preserved as God’s authority on earth by proxy—that’s why.

I am not going to rehearse the outrageous details of the ABWE scandal, but in reaction to ABWE refusing to deal with the situation, not one GARB church withdrew from the association in protest, and as far as I know, not one church withdrew support from ABWE. One GARB pastor that I know who was mortified by the scandal nevertheless allowed Michael Loftis, at that time the president of ABWE to speak at their church.

Why?!!!! because there is only one name under heaven by which man is saved—the institutional church and its authority on earth by proxy. This isn’t complicated. Support the church if you will, but also know that you are supporting the divine right of kings to rape, pillage and steel at will.

“But my pastor isn’t like that!” Yes he is—he turns a blind eye to it!

It’s all the same, and they all operate by the same principles; for example, let’s just take one, orthodoxy. For Baptists, what is it? The First and Second London Baptist Confessions. For Presbyterians, what is it? The Westminster Confession. For Jehovah Witnesses, what is it? The Watchtower. For Mormons, what is it? The Book of Mormon. For Islam, what is it? The Quran. It’s all the same stuff resulting in the same behavior. Read history for yourself—none of these religions acted any differently until America came along.

At any rate, the church invests billions in the education and accreditation of pastors. Their authority is expressed in church polity, and they are seen as the gatekeepers of orthodoxy. When one surveys the emphasis on pastors in the church, certainly we should expect to easily find abundant information about them in the Scriptures. A cursory observation of Scripture should reveal their purpose, scope of authority, and a description of their duties.

But in reality, the lack of biblical emphasis on pastors and elders is stunning when compared to the emphasis experienced in the institutional church. If a pastor has authority, where does that authority begin and end? While the idea of elder authority is common, any discussion of the parameters is extremely uncommon and such ambiguity can lead anywhere, and it does. Furthermore, their assumed authority is nowhere to be found in holy writ.

In regard to their importance in general, the specific gift of elder/pastor is mentioned a meager four times in Scripture.

In the most vital portions of Scripture where elders would be prevalent according to their assumed authority, they are not mentioned. In the corrective letters to Corinth where Christianity was completely off the reservation, elders are not mentioned once. In the book of Romans, the magnum opus of soteriology, again, elders are not written about.

In Paul and Peter’s mini-treatises regarding submission starting in the home, to the workplace, and society in general, again, no mention of elders (Eph 5:22-33, 1Pet 2:13-3:7).

In the protocol for solving conflict among believers in Matthew 18, the same. If a person finally refuses to repent of what he has done to a fellow brother, the passage doesn’t say to go tell the elders, it says to go tell the assembly. The process in Matthew 18 is commonly thought to be a process under the control and auspices of the elders, but if that’s the case, where are they?

Sure, when the Greek widows were treated unfairly as documented in Acts 6:1ff, the people appealed to the apostles, but who was given the responsibility to choose what I think were the first Deacons? Right, the saints in general. Not only that, notice that the solution offered by the apostles met the approval of the people. They did not go to the apostles for an edict—they sought their counsel and leadership in the situation, but it obviously needed the approval of the people.

In Philippians 4:2,3, Paul entreats the whole congregation to reconcile the two women who were in some kind of rift, and this is the same pattern found in Matthew 18 as well. Listen, we could go on and on and on and add Acts 17:11 as well, but is this sinking in? Where are the big bad elders? Where are they and their supposed authority? I do believe the apostles had authority, but clearly what they emphasized is the model that would follow after their departure; appeal to the one mind of Christ and not the dictation of authority.

Moreover, not only are elders conspicuously missing, the saints in general are told throughout the New Testament that they are qualified to do ministry that is normally attributed to elders exclusively. A good example is Romans 15:14.

I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Another one is 1John 2:27.

But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

Clearly, when it gets right down to it, God’s people can do without elders. Eldership is a gift that is no more or less important to the body of Christ than any other gift. Yes, if God’s people are serious about furthering the testimony and deepening fellowship, they should seek out good elders. But eldership is not a horizontal authority granted by God. Eldership does not represent God’s authority on earth.

Indeed, the apostles did have some of God’s authority, and that’s why they will sit on twelve thrones judging Israel in the final days, but that authority was NOT passed on to the elders. This is why the apostles predominately appealed to the one mind of Christ and not authority.

So, what is in fact the biblical model? Let’s compare the biblical model point by point with the institutional model. Here we go.

Presuppositions concerning mankind. Simple, Romans chapters one and two. Man can know reality and is personally and individually accountable to God. Throughout history for the most part, society in general determines law and what is acceptable. But please do not underestimate the real debate underlying the more visible debates manifested in this question: does man understand the reality that he lives in. He most certainly does. Mankind does not need seers to rule over them who have special insight into a reality that the masses do not understand.

History is a vicious cycle of the masses buying into that philosophy resulting in revolts when the tyranny of it becomes more than they can bear. Life gets to the point where it is not worth living and there is an uprising. The framers of the American Constitution observed this vicious historical cycle of serfism, tyranny, war, freedom, serfism, tyranny, war, freedom, serfism, tyranny, war, freedom, and the lightbulb turned on. America is the greatest country ever because it is the first ever government by the people and for the people.

The Bible is clear, people stand before God at the judgement individually. Be sure of this: the church’s emphasis on pastors comes from the world’s debate on man’s ability to self-govern. According to the Bible, and more specifically 1John, God’s people are able to self-govern because all of them have the same anointing of the Holy Spirit. When it gets right down to it, we have no need for anyone to teach us.

Mediation. There is only one mediator between God and man—Christ. Clearly, the church posits elders as sub mediators. This does not pass biblical muster.

Orthodoxy. There isn’t any. God’s people do not need a dumbed down version of truth written by sub-mediators creating…watch it… here it is, “subordinate truth.” Really? This is absolutely nothing new and the very reason that the Bible is constantly drilling down on oneness: one truth, one mind, one mediator, one Spirit, one baptism, one anointing, one Lord, etc., etc., ect. There isn’t two minds, there is only one and one truth accordingly. And really? There is such a thing as a lesser truth? No, it is either true or it isn’t true.

Progressive justification. No institution or religious hierarchy is needed to get us from salvation point A to salvation point B. This is why we constantly hear, “We don’t believe the gospel and then move on to something else, we never leave the gospel.” “The gospel isn’t the ABCs of salvation, it’s the A-Z,” etc., etc., etc. If your salvation is finished, and you do move on to something else, guess who you no longer need?

The elements of the institutional church follow a logical progression: presuppositions concerning mankind; sub-mediation; orthodoxy or sub-truth; the gospel of progressive justification; church government (polity) because authority trumps fellowship; political activism because God’s kingdom is supposedly on earth (if it wasn’t authority would be absent), and the subsequent bad behavior ordinarily exhibited by the divine right of kings, mind control cults, and institutional ownership of truth.

Church polity (government). Christ’s assembly does not have a government structure. There is no church polity. There is a body made up of gifts that seeks to mature by “mutual edification” through fellowship under one head. There is no government, but rather organization. Here is the organization: gifted elders equip the saints for ministry, and deacons/deaconesses oversee need. There aren’t any bosses; it’s a cooperative striving for a common goal. It’s an organized body where every part is equally valued. It’s just this simple, and this is the exact same analogy seen throughout the New Testament: to the degree that your body is sound, you can accomplish work. Ephesians 4:1-16 spells it out point by point, and so does 1Corinthians chapter 12. That’s not a government—it’s an organized body.

Political collectivism. It is not the concern of Christ’s assembly to take over every aspect of culture. Our concern is to build up the body in love and let the world watch. And watch they will. Our kingdom is NOT on earth—it’s still up in heaven. That’s why we are called “ambassadors” in the Bible. What’s an “ambassador”? An ambassador doesn’t live in a country to…here it is, we hear this constantly…”take over the culture for Christ.” No, we are here to represent another kingdom that is not presently here.

Behavior. The goal is to think like our big brother Jesus Christ and do what He would do. And trust me, the world will take note.

Here are some references that you should read on your own: Matt 23:8, Psalm 133:1, Acts 4:32, Rom 12:16, Rom 14:19… Rom 15:5, 1Cor 1:10, 2Cor 13:11, Eph 4:3, Phil 1:27, Phil 2:2, Phil 3:16, 1Peter 3:8.

Elder authority, where is it? Where is the emphasis on body striving for unity in one mind? EVERYWHERE! Let’s now go to the phones.

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