Paul's Passing Thoughts

Anti-Catholic or Pro Gospel: A Review of Tim Challies’ Article – Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 9, 2016

This is part one of a six part series.
Click here for part two.
Click here for part three.
Click here for part four.
Click here for part five.
Click here for Part Six.

For quite some time now, Paul’s Passing Thoughts has been saying that Protestants are the most confused group of people in the world.   They are the ones who have no idea what they believe about the gospel. Catholics on the other hand might believe a false gospel, but at least they are honest about what they believe.

I actually think Tim Challies has done us a great service. He wrote an article back in 2014 in which he attempts to show how Catholics disagree with what he believes.   But what it ironically ends up being is an indictment against Protenstantism. No one should any longer be able to come to us here at PPT and say we are misrepresenting Protestantism or Reformed theology. Challies has unwittingly made the case for us in his own words. He has provided several points of Catholic orthodoxy for us to consider. But I think it is ironic, because in his effort to show where Catholic orthodoxy rejects what he believes, it has given us an insight into just how much Protestantism actually agrees with Catholicism.

In this post, we will examine the first statement from the article, and other points will be considered in subsequent posts. From the article, point number one:

Catholicism declares –
“If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema. (Canon 9)”

We understand what is meant by the Roman Catholic Church in this regard. And I have spoken also with Catholic friends (even Eastern Orthodox) who will maintain that indeed this is what is taught by their church: that salvation begins with faith (beginning justification) and is maintained by works throughout their lives (progressive justification). It is by the performing of the sacraments that such maintaining of justification is accomplished (infant baptism, eucharist, confirmation, reconciliation/confession, anointing of the sick, marriage, holy orders[1]).

Now let’s take a look at Challies’ response

“I believe that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required and nothing else needs to be cooperated with, to obtain the grace of justification. Rome understands exactly what I believe here and rejects it. (Rom 3:20-28, Eph 2:8)”

He’s right.  Rome understands exactly what he means!  The problem is that Protestants don’t understand what he means.  At first glance it seems like a reasonable response with which you or I could agree, but his statement is disingenuous at best.   Why? Because Challies fails to point out one critical aspect. The Catholic statement on justification clearly suggests progressive justification. Something else (in addition to faith) is needed to be justified. For the Catholic, that “something else” is works through the performance of the sacraments, and these are performed over one’s lifetime. As these works are done, justification is maintained.

Challies neglects to point this out. He simply says it is faith and nothing else. This is very nuanced. In so doing, he allows his reader to assume that he is talking about justification as being a one-time event. He fails to mention that the Reformed doctrine of “faith alone” must be lived out continuously throughout the Christian life. If at any time a person ceases to live by faith alone, if he attempts to perform any works, he puts his salvation in jeopardy. Any works performed would only serve to condemn because this would be an attempt to merit righteousness. This was the major point of contention of the Reformation. Both Luther and Calvin state as much in their writings.

“Still, however, while we walk in the ways of the Lord, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, lest we should become unduly elated and forget ourselves, we have still remains of imperfection which serve to keep us humble: “There is no man who sinneth not,” says the Scripture (1Kgs 8:46). What righteousness can men obtain by their works?” ~ Calvin[2]

“First, I say, that the best thing which can be produced by them is always tainted and corrupted by the impurity of the flesh, and has, as it were, some mixture of dross in it. Let the holy servant of God, I say, select from the whole course of his life the action which he deems most excellent, and let him ponder it in all its parts; he will doubtless find in it something that saviors of the rottenness of the flesh since our alacrity in well-doing is never what it ought to be, but our course is always retarded by much weakness. Although we see that the stains by which the works of the righteous are blemished, are by no means unapparent, still, granting that they are the minutest possible, will they give no offense to the eye of God, before which even the stars are not clean?  We thus see, that even saints cannot perform one work which, if judged on its own merits, is not deserving of condemnation.” ~ Calvin[3]

“Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days, but is declared to be perpetual in the church (2Cor 5:18,19). Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death, i.e., ablution, satisfaction expiation; in short, perfect obedience, by which all our iniquities are covered. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul says not that the beginning of salvation is of grace, “but by grace are ye saved,”  “not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8,9).” ~ Calvin[4]

“It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ.

“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. Indeed, he is so presumptuous that he strives for grace in reliance on his own strength” ~ Luther[5]

“Theologically and more universally all must learn to say, “I am a sinner” and likewise never to stop saying it until Christ’s return makes it no longer true….The fundamental question of the Disputation is how to arrive at that righteousness that will enable us to stand before God” ~ Luther[6]

What Challies actually believes along with the rest of those of the Reformed Protestant tradition, is that a person not only receives salvation by justification by faith alone, but that salvation is maintained by faith alone in sanctification.

Furthermore, notice the use of the term “sinner”. Again, the reader is allowed to assume that a “sinner” is an unsaved person. But there again is the nuance. Both Catholics and Protestants teach that ALL men are sinners, even saved ones! (“Sinners saved by grace.”) In fact, in his introductory remarks at the beginning of the article, Challies states,

“We [Protestants and Catholics] agree on the problem: we are sinful people who have alienated ourselves from God and are thus in need of salvation. But we disagree in very significant ways as to how sinful people can receive that salvation.”

Challies acknowledges that he agrees with Catholics on this point.  And there is no distinction made as to who exactly the “sinful people” are here.  There is nothing specified as to who the “we” is referring.  It is clear that he includes himself and believers in that equation.  It stands to reason then that if believers are still “sinners” then they are in constant need of justification.  He says so himself in that very statement.  Salvation/justification therefore must be ongoing (progressive) in this construct.

I submit that there is ONLY one difference between Catholics and Protestants. Both believe in a progressive justification, but the dispute revolves around what happens afterward, how it is maintained. While Catholics believe it is maintained by works, Protestants believe it is originated AND maintained by “faith alone” as well. In either case, salvation is made to be a process instead of a finished work.

In this regard, Challies is exactly right. Catholics do not believe what he believes and indeed rejects it. But I would wager that if most of his readers and followers, to wit, most of Christianity, were honest with themselves and discovered what Protestantism really teaches about justification, they would reject it as well.

In part two of this series we will examine Challies’ second point from his article.

Andy


[1] http://study.com/academy/lesson/the-7-catholic-sacraments-definition-history-quiz.html

[2] John Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion edited by Henry Beveridge, pg 502

[3] ibid Pg 508

[4] ibid, pg 509

[5] The Heidelberg Disputation, Thesis 18

[6] ibid

John Immel: Examining the Historical Perspectives and Evolution of Determinism – 2015 TANC Conference: Session 5

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 28, 2016

The following is an excerpt of the transcript from John Immel’s 5th session at the 2015 TANC Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny.


 

You have got to stop appeasing these people. You have got to stop apologizing for your own achievements. You’ve got to stop hiding your own virtues. You’ve got to stop deriding your own values. And you’ve got to stop debasing your own character. When they ask you to do these things in the name of righteousness it has one purpose; to appease the “original sin” preachers.  And you have one ultimate goal, and this is to rule the world in the name of God.  Do not doubt me here. their purpose and their intent is to take over government exactly like the Puritans did in Puritan England.

But here is the dirty little secret that they never want you to understand. These men can only survive in a climate of appeasement and rational subordination.  Men like CJ Mahaney are the profiteers on the bankruptcy of intellectual appeasement. Men like CJ can only survive in an environment filled with weakness, uncertainty, self-doubt, and terror. He can only work his way into intellectual leadership by passing of virtues as vice, and turning vices into highest moral achievement. The hallmark of such men is that they surround themselves with mediocrity, all the while pretending to surround themselves with the elite. And God help you if you ever challenge the mediocrity. I speak from experience.

I want you to notice as you observe these men how they react to real achievement. Notice John MacArthur’s denigration of those who run institutions and countries and universities. That it’s somehow beneath their consideration. Notice how the New Calvinists thrive on making men small. Indeed the hallmark of success in these circles is the race to see who can be the smallest, the humblest, the most self-deprecating.

But do not be deceived, this is all theological fraud. It’s a mask that they wear to cover their hideous souls. And here is how you rip off the mask. The moment they self-deprecate or self-abdicate, the moment they pay homage to inability or stupidity or moral corruption, agree with them. Say, “You’re right. You ARE stupid. You know nothing. You are weak and impotent. You ARE morally corrupt. It is true, you are the personification of Augustine’s original sin moral monster.” And the step back and watch the fireworks! Watch how fast they defend their existence as smart and capable and important and [gasp!] good. Watch how fast they defend their achievements and abilities, and posture and strut and make pretense to being the world-shapers and the humble masters of men.

Why do you tolerate this? I’ve been talking for a little over six hours, and we’ve already got a little bit of hate male about me because I’m arrogant. Six hours I’ve been talking, and people won’t tolerate it, yet these men speak with impunity. Why do you appease?

So what is the real motive for the doctrines they preach? I’m going to tell you. This is a quote from Ayn Rand.

“Values are a necessity of any living organism’s survival. Life is the process of the self-sustaining, self-generated action; and the successful pursuit of values is a pre-condition of remaining alive. Since nature does not provide man with an automatic knowledge of the code of values he requires, there are differences in the codes which men accept and the goals they pursue. But consider the abstraction, ‘value’, apart from the particular context of any code, and ask yourself: what is the nature of a creature in which the sight of a value arouses hatred and the desire to destroy?”

The answer to her question is simple. All advocates of the Reformed construct are haters of man as such. They are perpetrators of the most disastrous body of thought ever perpetrated on human existence. And I tell you the truth; no matter the big alligator tears, and their bromides to love, and their endless cyber-hugs on sundry discernment blogs, and the love bombs when new faces walk through the church doors, no matter the marketing and packaging, these people hold man in contempt! They are lovers of death. They are arch-nihilists advocating doctrines that render man a living corpse. And this is who you give tacit approval to by your silence, by your fear, by your appeasement. But they are coming for you. The goal of all determinists is to rule the world in their own image. And if you don’t resist, you will get exactly what you deserve.


 

Watch all of John’s 5th session below.

 

Flirting With Calvinism – Some Analogies

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 14, 2015

Evil ideology is a tree that produces evil fruit according to its roots. The branches are not identical and do not always give full bloom to the tree’s fruit. Nevertheless, inconsistency in the branches should not judge the tree; the ever-present possibly of a bountiful harvest of evil should judge the tree.

In the same way, the remission of cancer doesn’t make cancer good or any less evil. The potential of utter destruction lingers because the cancer is still there.

Likewise, docile Calvinism and Reformed ideology in general is not commendable because it is in remission.

~~~

The whole notion of likable Calvinists versus “aggressive Calvinism” is egregiously naïve; like some undomesticated pets, though adorable, they can become aggressive at any moment.

~~~

Is it wise to have dinner with a disciple of Hannibal Lecter because “he doesn’t agree with everything Dr. lecter teaches”? I think not.

paul

Understanding God Requires an Exodus From the Institutional Church

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 18, 2015

I have been on a spiritual journey for eight years now. It started in 2007, and continues to this day. I was saved in 1983, and by the time 2007 came, I had lost hope that I would ever be part of a church that made a real difference in people’s lives. Indeed, as a new believer who was very zealous, I immediately found myself at odds with the institutional church on many levels. I am far from being part of a few that share this testimony.

The hardest part? Feeling alone amidst the compromise. By 2010, all of my mentors were no longer my mentors. The ones I knew personally threw me under the bus. However, I never lost hope in God. I always knew God wasn’t the problem; I knew church was the problem.

“Church” is a very valuable term. It is the common name of the institutional church which began to emerge in the 4th century. It made a distinction between itself and the Jewish model of home fellowships. Replacement theology not only proffered the idea that the Gentiles had replaced Israel as God’s chosen people, it also proffered the idea that institutions predicated on spiritual caste replaced the home fellowship model. The institutional church, or simply “church,” began with the Roman Catholic Church and its many offshoots including Protestantism.

Ancient paganism and mythological religions have always been temple based and Judaism was always the exception. I know what you are thinking, but please remember that there was always ONE holy temple that was obviously too small for corporate worship purposes. Now, each and every believer is that “temple” in which the Holy Spirit dwells, and there was only one place in the temple where God’s holiness could dwell—in the inner room, the most holy place, the Holy of Holies. God in us, the hope of glory, and if our bodies are God’s temple, then our bodies are the Holy of Holies. That is the only place God dwells in the temple.

Worship is not a place, it’s the person who is God’s temple. The institutional church makes worship a place—this is unavoidable in every regard.

Brick and mortar temple worship has always brought man low and made him the disdain of angry capricious gods, and church is no different. The undisputed hero of Protestantism, John Calvin, stated that men are but worms that crawl upon the earth. Luther and Calvin created the institutional model that thrives today among most denominations. Like all pagan gods before, the Protestant god created man for his self-glory and self-love, a god that created evil in order to glorify himself by contrast.

The most pious of Protestants beg and weep for mercy while not daring to have any promise of eternal life, but only the eternal torment they deserve. Yea, even the Christ who died for certain men will personally torment the ones he did not choose for eternity.

Though not all Protestants embrace this extreme, they pick and choose from the same orthodoxy resulting in lesser fears clothed in confusion and the debating over words.

When one believes that he/she really has the anointing of the Holy Spirit, when one turns off the Christian radio, when one makes the Bible the only authority for truth, as the seeking unfolds, a much different God emerges. What emerges is a God that is near us and in us. What emerges is a God who will leave His home in heaven and dwell among men. He is a God who created man from the dust, but became one with man in order to redeem him. God responded to sin by making man more than a creation—he responded by making man His very own family. He responded by casting our sin away into an infinite distance, and using that same infinite distance to measure His infinite oneness.

To remain a part of church is to trade God’s love for being a worm. It is tantamount to rejecting the new birth that makes God your literal Father. It rejects the gift of holiness for a weeping sinhood that falsely accuses God and appoints him with mythological tyrants.

John Piper once said that God entered history through Jesus Christ. Not so—God entered man through Jesus Christ and made it possible for man to be His literal eternal family in the here and now. We are not sinners, we are brothers with Christ and He is not ashamed to call us such.

Come out from among them and be separate. Seek to please the God who has made us family. Come to the realization of who you are as Christ’s brother and a citizen of God’s kingdom. And your brother is the king of the eternal kingdom, and He is not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters.

We are heirs and not worms—come out from among them.

paul

Line in the Sand

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 5, 2015

HF Potters House (2)

I believe the home fellowship network that we are attempting to start draws a line in the sand between two distinct gospels. I believe it is the difference between a true new birth and progressive justification. I also believe progressive justification is part and parcel with an institution by necessity. Progressive justification has no feet in a New Testament model of fellowship. At issue is the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Home fellowships believe that justification is a finished work and completely separate from the works of the believer in the Christian life. One is a gift, and the other is a reward for diligently exploiting the gifts given to us by God for the building up of the body of believers. We are free to aggressively love without fear of condemnation. We are made just by the new birth which is a onetime event completely separate from the Christian walk of sanctification.

Institutions are framed to oversee passage to heaven on God’s behalf and circumvent the priesthood of all believers. Institutions will always, at least, function like progressive justification while perhaps denying it.

We believe that we are not merely declared righteous, we are righteous, and we are made righteous by the new birth. The new birth is not a status; it makes us the literal offspring of God. We have this treasure in earthen vessels.

We also believe that the laity is the mark of God’s chosen, not academia. The credentials of men invariably rob God of glory (1Cor 1:26).

It is time to stand up for the true gospel of Jesus Christ and rediscover the rich fellowship of God’s holy nation of priests. And this we will do with God’s help.

paul

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