Paul's Passing Thoughts

Book Review: Facing Up to John Immel’s “Blight In The Vineyard”

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on August 14, 2015

blight-in-the-vineyard-cover-5-meg-reduced3-199x300Originally posted June 19, 2012

Barb Orlowski, D.Min, and author of states the following in an introduction to said blog:

Every year dedicated Christian people leave churches because of spiritual abuse [this is epidemic in our day]. What factors contribute to dedicated and active believers in Christ leaving their churches and becoming exiting statistics? The stories of people who left their home church because of a negative and hurtful experience [more often they are shown the front door] paint a picture of a widespread occurrence, which beckons consideration by church leaders and church congregants alike.

John Immel saw the picture that Dr. Orlowski describes and even experienced it firsthand. I don’t know what his experience was exactly, and he doesn’t know much about mine either; as he said to me over dinner: “I think we are both past that now.”   Which brings me to something else Orlowski wrote in a recent article:

The church should lead the way in uncovering any of these dark behaviors.  The local church has an opportunity to be part of the solution and not part of the problem regarding these covert and dysfunctional issues in the church today.

As more people understand what spiritual abuse is and what it is not, then there can be an army of people who are able to help in clarifying many of the confusing topics that get intertangled with this issue (Dr. Barb Orlowski: What Spiritual Abuse Is and Is Not).

I dare say that John Immel has seen the picture (which is hard to miss in our day), considered it, and discovered the root cause. He has also articulated the cause/root in a way that invokes a Monopoly-like motto: “Do not pass understanding; do not collect 200 issues.”  Now all that’s left is to educate and raise the army.

Immel has clarified the issue in, Blight In The Vineyard: Exposing the Roots, Myths, and Emotional Torment of Spiritual Tyranny (2011 Presage Publishing). Therefore, the solution is easy: promote education that will lead to a rejection of the root cause. Yes, it can be complicated, but it can also be simple; when you follow and support certain philosophies, either “wittingly” or unwittingly— bad things happen. A certain philosophy, or maybe better said, idea, has always spawned the same results from the conception of Western culture. A counter idea has always yielded dramatically different results deemed favorable by those disposed towards happiness. I have come to believe that America was founded on the counter idea. Consider what Immel writes in the introduction  to Blight In The Vineyard:

Blogs made it possible for people to compare notes and connect dots. Suddenly, the pixelated events result into high definition and the picture shows a breathtaking consistency. The stories contain striking uniformity in pastoral conversations and actions. They contain profound similarities in the emotional, spiritual, and psychological pain of those who have suffered.

That set me to thinking. How was it possible that from state to state, even country to country, people could recount similar life events with stunningly consistent conversations, outcomes, and backlash? What ideas could produce such underlying fear, anxiety, and spiritual frustration?  What ironclad logic could cause masses of people to act out similar conduct that produces such invasive outcomes? What thoughts that lurk under the titles of authority would lead average men to believe they wield unchecked control over people’s lives? How could a denomination reproduce such unswerving reproducibility?

Many today ask the same questions. A reader of my blog named Charles posed the same question this way:

Have noticed this for a great many years, and my wife and I always wondered…. “What text book on abusing the sheep are all these guys reading from,” because they all acted the same.

Right here in this review we see some of what Charles is referring to. Orlowski, Immel, and Charles have never met, but note the similarities in their descriptions and even use of the same words. Nevertheless, here is where I depart for a spell and will return a little later. My perspective has been radically changed by Immel’s book and interacting with him in the arena of ideas. In fact, I have made his book required reading in the Dohse household, and have already led family devotions based on the book’s major theme. I now share my perspective based on additional study/research prompted by Immel’s assertions.

The least common denominator is the debate over the competency of man verses the incompetency of man. I believe the basic philosophy of Plato is vastly relevant to this debate. Plato saw man as utterly incompetent save those who understood that reality must be ascertained by means other than the senses. In other words, reality, goodness, and truth could not be surmised by observation of matter. He believed that the few who are able to see reality should rule over the ignorant masses who are enslaved to mere shadows/forms of the truth.  Remember also that Plato lived in a culture inhabited primarily by slaves who served the elite. Some historians estimate that 90% of the Greek citizenship during the time of Plato was slaves.

It is my contention that Augustine (a Catholic Saint) integrated Plato’s ideas with theology and more specifically, Neo-Platonism which later spawned multiple forms of Gnosticism that plagued the 1st century church. The most notable Reformers were followers of Augustine, but the backbone of their theology was the underlying assumption that man was utterly incompetent whether regenerate or unregenerate. I believe that Augustine merely exchanged Plato’s concept of reality with “gospel.”  Hence, today we have the elitist gatekeepers of the gospel ruling over the totally depraved.

Now we can return to Charles, and my reply to his comment:


John Immel answers that question in his book, “Blight In The Vineyard.” It’s a philosophy that yields natural results, so it’s like they all read from the same playbook. The basic philosophy sees freedom of ideas as a danger to civilization and the church. Initially, many buy into it for fear of chaos, but the results are always bad according to history. Ideas are very powerful, and almost always tempt the individual to act upon them. Freedom to interpret reality is a kissing cousin to freedom of ideas.

The ideas that rule the day also rule the world. Hence, the Reformation was really a spat between Rome and the Reformers about who was going to control the ideas. Both Rome and the Reformers believed that one’s freedom to interpret reality was nothing that should be tried at home by the common people. When man is seen as utterly incompetent to contribute to his own destiny, love as determinism is the only solution. Visit any of the spiritual abuse expose blogs–the trouble started when people questioned doctrine, or even spoke in way that would enable others to think for themselves. Immel uses happenings at SGM [a denomination of Reformed Charismatics] to illustrate how this philosophy plays out naturally in real life.

Later, John Immel contributed some thoughts to Charles’ comment:

Charles… I think the answer to the question is … yes, they are reading from the same book. Pastors the world over are pulling from the same intellectual traditions. They don’t pastor in a vacuum. They pastor with the whole history of Christianity hanging in their heads like a fog.

Very few people want to reinvent the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Or maybe better said very few people have the ability to challenge peanut butter and jelly orthodoxy, so they tend to review what has always been said, and emulate those foggy ideas.

While very, very few people consider themselves Calvinists… (or even know what he really preached, or practiced) with striking consistency they accept many of the Calvinist assumptions, which is to say they accept Augustinian presumptions about life, and spirituality what God intended the “gospel” to mean.

I have said this in many places… for all of Protestantism’s presumption that they are the authentic real version of Christianity that Catholicism screwed up…. at the end of the day, post Reformation Christian doctrine is metaphysically Catholic, which is to say we are foundationally committed to Augustine’s presumptions.

The ‘abuse’ is merely the logical outcomes of those foundations. The reason we are circling back around the tyranny of the ages, is because for the first time in American history, our doctrinal thinkers (en mass) without any hesitation, with full ‘moral’ clarity, are advocating the historic ideas that justified the tyranny.

So yes… they are all reading from the same book…

Today’s church can stop spiritual tyranny. But it will require agreement on the root cause. And the root cause is Reformed theology. Wherever and whenever it has been tried, despotism and despair has followed: in Calvin’s Geneva; in Colonial Calvinism; in Confederate Calvinism; in the empty promises of the SDA 1888 conference and the Awakening Movement of the 70’s; and finally, in the present-day Neo-Calvinism  Resurgence—a sectarian beast resurrected by the Reformed theological dream team of the Australian Forum.

Just like its non-religious philosophical counterparts, classic Calvinists (the original article as opposed to my “sanctified Calvinists” and Immel’s “convenient Calvinism”) think it’s a good idea that has never been done the right way. The philosophy of determinism, fatalism, and the incompetence of the common man is foisted upon the unregenerate by irreligious despots, and by Reformed elders among the saved.

Immel’s book puts feet on these generalizations. The solution is to shun the philosophy; bad things happen when bad philosophy is followed. And through education, we can raise up Orlowski’s army.

Whether Geneva Calvinism, Colonial Calvinism, Confederate Calvinism, SDA Calvinism, or Neo-Calvinism, it always has, and always will die a social death due to its gangrenous despotism. We can hasten its rightful death in our day, and prevent future rediscovery movements with the present-day “picture” following. We can give others another way to follow.

If we can face up to the blight in the vineyard.

Paul M. Dohse

Author: The Truth About New Calvinism: Its History, Doctrine, and Character

The Heavenly B-52s Can Save American Christianity from Its Present Dark Age

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on May 18, 2015

PPT HandleOriginally published February 11, 2013

We must remember that the Dark Ages were a European thing. And we must remember that Greco-Roman philosophy was the source and then it was turbocharged with the integration of European style religiosity. European religion has always been grounded in Plato’s disdain for humanity. Hence, one philosopher stated well that faith and force together are the destroyers of the modern world. One of the most notable historians of our time, K.R. Popper, fingered Plato specifically in regard to the logic that has wreaked havoc on Western culture through Communism, Islam, Catholicism, and Reformed theology. Augustine, one of the fathers of the Reformation, called Plato a pre-Christian Christian, and the juggernaut of faith and force was thus born.

And primarily, American religion was imported from Europe via the Puritans who were a European style religious political sect. They wanted to create a theocracy of their own in the new world. That’s the “religious freedom” they sought in America—a political one. Ironically, this importation of a European pandemic is romanticized by the Thanksgiving holiday. Somehow, deep in our evangelical American psyche, we think the Puritans could have led us to the religious utopia that we all lust for. And in fact, deep in our evangelical psyches, we think the war still rages between our Puritan foundations and the evils of Enlightenment philosophy. And if Enlightenment philosophy would surrender, all would be well and the heavenly Jerusalem would finally come down to Earth.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Enlightenment thought, even with its many abhorrent shortcomings, launched America to unprecedented greatness as a nation because of three basic principles that God agrees with: man is free; man is capable; and man is responsible for the sum and substance of his own life before God. Men “small and great” will all stand before God. Plato’s philosopher kings do not stand before God in our stead regardless of the priestly garb that the Reformers have adorned them with.

In the movie Moneyball, based on a true story, the General Manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team set all time league records with a meager budget and has-been players by breaking tradition with the ways big league teams have always been built. The player’s manager of the team was against the plan, and was a constant hindrance to its implementation. But when the Oakland A’s became the talk of the sports world because of the plan, the player’s manager got all of the credit. In the same way, the manager of American Christianity, the one of 95 Theses fame, Martin Luther, is given credit for America’s greatness. God has blessed America because of the Puritan missionary children that he spawned. Their roots are the lifeblood of America. We were “founded on their Christian principles.” This is a significant departure from reality.

Luther despised reason. He believed that reasoning was a dangerous stunt that the unenlightened masses shouldn’t try at home. And because they are not capable, they have to be protected from themselves; hence, neither are they free. To the degree that we are free the world is in a spree. Man must be saved from himself; by force if necessary, and for the good of the world. Martin Luther to the rescue. Stalin to the rescue. Muhammad to the rescue. The Moral Majority to the rescue. And on every Thanksgiving Day, deep, deep in our American psyche, a small still voice cries out: “Oh but for the Puritans! What could we be?” It’s all the same logic. You can dress it up in different doctrines, but it’s all the same. Logic comes in many doctrinal forms—both secular and religious.

The founding fathers of this country were children of the Enlightenment era. Until America popped up on the history radar screen, force and faith was the big league tradition. Our founding fathers proposed something different: government as the protector of man’s right to be free, capable, and responsible. And a government that served at the pleasure of the people to do so. It is a testimony to the power that is displayed when merely three ideas from God are implemented in our realty. Three ideas from God made America the envy of all world history. In the end, the motif that any child can perceive in the book of Revelation will fill the world with blood up to the horse’s bridles: force and faith. To what is said here, the proffers of force and faith, the Reformed of our day, answer in all of their Puritan glory, “I beg your pardon! Jesus Christ should be the envy of the world!” But which Jesus Christ? The Puritan Jesus Christ? And enlightened minds want to know: “Are we free to decide that for ourselves?” And: “Are we capable of even knowing that?” We fear that the answer to both of these questions is, “No.” And that is why giving you power in our lives at any level is a really bad idea.

Hence, To the degree that the Reformed Dark Age feigns, darkness in the American church does rein. And we are in that Dark Age. It came in essence as logic stowed away in the Mayflower’s diseased European rats bringing the same plague with it. I could drag out all of the apocalyptic data and its many faceted manifestations, but a recent televised top of the hour newscast introduction will suffice:

Here we go again, another sex scandal in the Evangelical church.

You notice they said, “Evangelical” and not “Catholic.” Anybody who knows the facts knows that sexual abuse and the subsequent cover-ups are just as prevalent in the Protestant Evangelical Church as it is in the Catholic Church. The scandals are the same, and the silence among clergy is the same, along with the same disregard for victims. Different doctrines—same logic—same results. Logic always has an endgame; there are many different doctrines that can get you there.

But the American Dark Age takes on a different appearance than the open fires of European religious wars and unspeakable terrors for it is tempered with freedom, capability, and responsibility. In the same way that God’s spies found refuge with a harlot, the American church has been saved from itself by Enlightenment thought. The result has been Reformed Light, and the carnage has been greatly limited. The European Reformers believed that children should be seen and not heard; American Reformed Light allows their children to play in a sandbox. Children are happier when they have a sandbox to play in, and they can form all kinds of ideas in what they make in the sand. But when it is time for dinner, it’s also time to put our little buckets and shovels away, run to the dinner bell, and obey mommy and daddy. They protect us from truth that can cause division because we are unable to handle truth, and they make truth a storybook that we can understand. They read it to us at night, and we are much comforted. We can pretend in the backyard, and we feel safe because mommy is watching from the kitchen window.

But the children of Reformed Light do not grow up. For certain, the American church is every bit like grown adults playing in a sandbox. The real Reformers now come forward and scoff at the pathetic sight, and say they are the answer. Yes, not playing with ideas at all must be the answer. Adults in a sandbox is not the problem, the sandbox is the problem. Sandboxes tempt people to play with truth. The Reformers to the rescue—those half breed Semi-Pelagian  parents be damned.

Children in adult bodies will always rape, hate, pillage and steal. It is what it is: spiritually, they were born slaves, born incapable, and born irresponsible. Reformed theology is a bus of misfits, but all believe that it is the only bus going to heaven—the bus of faith alone in Puritan sanctification. All kinds are on the bus, but the tie that binds is womb to the tomb total depravity.

Some do not persevere in accepting their total depravity and the total depravity of others. Some do not trust God’s anointed to get the bus of misfits to heaven, so an Inquisition is needed. The European Reformers used the gallows and the burning stake (if the victim was lucky), brainwashing, and orthodoxy. The American Reformers can use brainwashing and orthodoxy, but because of the founding fathers, the American Reformers must replace the gallows and burning stake with character assassination, authority to condemn eternally, and false criminality. And all of the aforementioned paints the portrait of the present-day American Dark Age in the church. There is a little metal plate on the bottom of the spectacular painting hanging in the gallery of human history, and it reads:

Here we go again.

The Bible is written for mass consumption. All Bible books, save a few, were written to assemblies and not leadership. God has also written his word on the hearts of every person ever born into the world (Romans 2:14). We are all responsible before God, free to obey Him or not Obey Him, and obviously, must exercise our minds for understanding. We also live in the information age; so, if man was without excuse in the days of the apostolic church (Romans 2:1) we are certainly without excuse today.

Nations, particularly the USA, have used heavy bombers to drop propaganda leaflets on cities before an invasion or in an attempt to turn the population at large against the enemy leadership. Each bomb usually weighs about 250 lbs. and rains about 60,000 leaflets on a given area. During the Iraq/US war, leaflet bombings resulted in the mass surrender of Iraqi soldiers. In the same way, regardless of what’s going on in the world, God has a message of truth for every person. Invariably, it is man’s responsibility to do what God wants him to do in any given situation.

God has given the truth to all men, and only the truth will set us free. We need to pick up and read the leaflet and surrender to the Chief Shepherd. The Reformation is responsible for this present Dark Age in the American church. It is a doctrine that must be rejected with prejudice, and we must disdain anything that has touched its filthy garments.

A little leaven leavens the whole lump.


Tchividjian Booted from The Gospel Coalition for Being Too Concise

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on January 8, 2015

PPT HandleOriginally posted May 21, 2014

“Tullian Tchividjian is John Calvin. Period.”   

Be sure of this: Tullian Tchividjian thoroughly understands Reformed doctrine and its gospel. Tchividjian doesn’t believe one whit different from anybody who writes or speaks for The Gospel Coalition, and they ALL know it.

The problem with TT is that he does not follow the philosopher king script of nuance for the sake of the totally depraved herd that is “not ready” for the true Reformed gospel of justification by faith…plus the dirty little secret of faith alone for both justification and sanctification. It’s like total depravity this, and total depravity that, and “oh, we forgot to mention that includes the saints as well.”

TT is not nuanced enough. In this interview here, it is absolutely clear that this is the reason he was sent packing. Because of him, The Gospel Coalition, T4G, and others have to recruit sanctification gurus Jerry Wragg, Kevin DeYoung, and Mike Fabarez to cleanup his mess and calm the mindless totally depraved zombie sheep. They are tired of cleaning up the messiness of questions raised as a result of TT’s accurate articulation of the Reformed gospel.

There is only one thing better than a rank antinomian, an honest one. Charles Spurgeon once said that Calvinism isn’t a nickname, Calvinism is the gospel. Let me take that a step further for our purposes: Tullian Tchividjian is John Calvin. Period. I will debate anyone out there who has a problem with TT’s Calvinism  and will show clearly from the Institutes that TT is spot on. Get over it. Please debate me on this, you will lose.

In my disdain for the Neo-Calvinist movement, a weird respect is floating to the top for the few who know what Calvin really believed and are honest about it. In fact, who else is there other than TT and Joseph Prince? (see here for explanation). How bad is it when I have to admit that I respect these guys because A, they know what they are talking about, and B, they are honest about it? Prince’s life application is beside the point, he understands the Reformed version of justification by faith, and the rest of the story mostly untold.

The two other camps annoy me to no end: those who think  there is a difference between New Calvinism and Old Calvinism, and for that matter, Sonship theology as well, and those who know grade-A-well that there is no difference and are lying about it. I have also lost all patience with those who think they can help the spiritually abused while retaining some supposedly respectable remnant of Reformed theology. Name one aspect that passes a grammatical interpretation of Scripture: it’s not there.

So there it is. TT is very important to this ministry because people have to know what they believe before you can convince them. We think followers of TT know what they believe. The rest? It’s really just a massively confused personality cult with a plethora of discernment bloggers adding to the confusion by dissecting all of the symptoms.

Get with the program: it’s either Tullian or something else.


Inseparable: The Reformation’s Principles of Persecution and its Gospel

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on November 26, 2014

imagesOriginally published August 31, 2013

You can’t separate the gospel of the Reformation from New Calvinism, and you can’t separate that gospel from its practice. Part and parcel with the Reformation gospel is the insistence that church and state be united for the purpose of purifying “the realm.” The church is over the spiritual and the sacraments, and the civil magistrate should enforce the edicts of the church. The civil authorities may have oversight of practical matters, but to not enforce the edicts of the church in spiritual matters is to override God’s “power of the keys.” Ultimately, the state is the servant of the church. Be sure of this: the present-day New Calvinist movement sees America as a rogue government unwilling to submit to the power of the keys. They will gravitate towards any party willing to get in bed with the church as opposed to a government that is contra principles of persecution. The Reformation was predicated on principles of persecution.

What we need to understand in situations like the SGM class action lawsuit is that Mahaney et al think they are being subjected to authority that God has not approved. They will improvise as much as possible in creating a persecuting sub-culture while working to bring America into the beginnings of a church/state government, and any kind of ugliness thereof would be better than what we have now. Also, the outright rejection of an idea that the New Calvinist tsunami is a segue to remarriage with Rome and the prophesied coming super church/state empire of the antichrist is a naïve out of hand dismissal.

The persecuting principles of the Reformers were its first cries coming forth from the womb; specifically, in Scotland where the Reformation first found formidable life. This series of posts are based on William Marshall’s The Principles of the Westminster Standards Persecuting (William Marshall, D.D., Coupar – Angus. Edinburgh: William Oliphant & Co. 1873).

The book’s inside cover quotes contemporaries of the Reformation to frame the thesis of the book:

Persecution is the deadly sin of the Reformed churches, that which cools every honest man’s zeal for their cause, in proportion as his reading becomes more extensive—Hallam.

In regard to this thesis, every holocaust has had its cowardly bystanders wearing the uniform of the prosecutors while raising a safe objection. The following statement by John Owen exemplifies such:

I know the usual pretenses for persecution. “Such a thing is blasphemy,” but search the Scriptures, look at the definitions of divines, and you will find heresy, in what head of religion soever be, and blasphemy very different. “To spread such errors will be destructive to souls.” So are many things which yet are not punishable with death. Let him who thinks so go kill Pagans and Mahometans. “Such a heresy is a canker,” but is a spiritual one, let it be prevented by spiritual means; cutting off men’s heads is no proper remedy for it. If state physicians think otherwise, I say no more, but I am not of that college—Owen.

So, I disagree, but if the state agrees with the church, well, then I have to bow to their authority, but I disagree. And such will be the commentary of some New Calvinists if they ever obtain force from the state which apparently makes the sin sanctified—the fact that there are some goodhearted souls within the movement. Good men should keep their peace while heads roll because to label the movement as tyranny would be a “generalization.” The ideology is not to blame, only the men who don’t see things exactly the way we see them. The persecuted should also understand this and shrug their shoulders in agreement while gladly placing the noose around their own neck voluntarily.

In regard to the Scottish Reformers, Marshall stated the following:

The Protestant Reformers in leaving Rome did not leave all Romanism behind them. In particular, they brought with them the prosecuting principles of Rome, and worked them freely and vigorously in support of the Reformed faith. They changed the Pope but not the popedom,


Rightfully and nobly did the Protestant Reformers claim religious liberty for themselves; but they resolutely refused to concede it to others.

John Knox, the vaunted Scottish Reformer, though primarily concerned with Catholicism, made it clear that no aberration of Reformed doctrine should be tolerated by the state. According to Marshall:

Knox, the father of the Scottish Reformation, and the presiding genius of it, brought with him to his native country the Geneva theocracy; and it was copied as closely as the differences between the Swiss republic and the Scottish monarchy would permit….Such was the Church and State system of the Scottish Reformers in those days; and hence the melancholy selections from their history which I have now to offer.

The first Parliament, in which the Reformers became ascendant, was held in 1560. It adopted a Protestant Confession; a “summary of tenets constituting the essence of the Reformed religion;” one of the “tenets” being the theocratic one, “that to kings and rulers it belongs to reform and purify religion.”

Marshall continued to state that the same Confession prohibited the practice of Catholicism or any other aberration of the Reformed gospel, and such violations would entail confiscation of goods for the first offence, “suffering” and “banishment” for the second, and “death” for the third violation. Marshall then concludes:

Thus the very first legislation of the Scottish Reformers was deeply tainted with persecution.

Marshall continues:

The same year [1561] the First Book of Discipline was framed by a Committee of the Kirk, of which John Knox was a leading member….”Seeing that Christ Jesus is He whom God the Father hath commanded onely to be heard and followed of His sheepe, we judge it necessary that His gospell be truly and openly preached in every church and assembly of this realme; and that all doctrine repugnant to the same be utterly repressed, as damnable to men’s salvation….that the obstinate maintainers and teachers of such abominations ought not to escape the punishment of the civill magistrate….We dare not prescribe unto you what penalties shall be required of such, but this we fear not to affirm, that the one and the other deserve death.”

Apart from this committee, according to Marshall, Knox stated the following in a public sermon:

None provoking the people to idolatry ought to be exempted from the punishment of death.

I will conclude this first part with Marshall’s assessment of how the Scottish Reformers took control of the Scottish press:

Our early Reformers claimed like control over the press. “Immediately after the Reformation, the General Assembly took particular notice of the four printing presses then in Scotland, and they were careful that nothing should be published, at least by ministers, till it was communicated to the brethren, and revised by persons appointed by them.”

Marshall’s book is widely available and cites extensive sources. It should have its own place on every Christian’s bookshelf. In part two, we will look at Marshall’s assessment of persecuting principles found in the Westminster Confession.


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Free-Writing Notes: “The Church’s War Against the Holy Spirit”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 25, 2014

Against Church Cover    “Church” is a word that should be associated with institution and NOT body. Much will be said in this book about the need for a body to be organized, but much will also be said about authority and attempts to invoke life from a so-called body via a spiritual caste system. Though many will find the title of this chapter shocking and absurd, the institutional church’s war against the Holy Spirit is well-defined. If Christ’s called out assembly is a body of Spirit indwelled members, and it is, that could pose significant problems for a top-down institutional authority, and it does.

    We will begin where chapter three ended with the rise of the Catholic institutional church that waged all-out war on home fellowships through academic intimidation. Finally, after a nearly 300 year effort, the church at Rome married with the state in order to enforce its orthodoxy upon the masses. Constantine The Great (AD 272-AD 337), the first Roman emperor converted to “Christianity,” consummated the marriage and his rule began the epoch of force and faith in Western culture.

    Constantine was the consummate double-minded man, and like the bishops of Rome, integrated paganism with Christianity. What Victor could only verbalize at the first church counsel in AD 193, Constantine made law in the first ecumenical church council (First Council of Nicaea AD 325); that is, the recognition of Passover versus Easter. The reason this is key follows:

“This marked a definite break of Christianity from the Judaic tradition. From then on the Roman Julian Calendar, a solar calendar, was given precedence over the lunar Hebrew Calendar among the Christian churches of the Roman Empire” (Wikipedia: Constantine The Great…citing, Life of Constantine Vol. III Ch. XVIII by Eusebius).

    The adoption of “church” nomenclature, as we shall see, was also very deliberate in marking that departure, but for purposes of this book, we would be errant to focus primarily on anti-Semitism; a major problem was the Jewish focus on body versus institution. Like all nations – and of course the Jews were and are a nation – institutions are relevant and needed, but religiously, the Jews always functioned as a body with heavy focus on the individual. A person is normally concerned with their own body parts in equal measure. If Christians are members (as in body parts) of one body, and they are, there should be equal concern and care for each member. This is much different than institutional membership. What the world needs are more functioning body members versus church member-ship. The teachings of Jesus, as well as Jewish traditions, are saturated with a focus on the individual life. When we think of Jewish worship, our minds, unfortunately, gravitate towards the formality of temple worship, but the temple was only a focal point of a broader interpersonal sharing of the faith.

    The best example of this is the tabernacle during the exodus. Obviously, the small dwelling was not a central meeting place for millions of Jews who were part of the exodus. Even then, there were elders who led small groups among the people in the learning of the word, prayer, and fellowship. Seventy of these elders were summoned to meet with God on Mt. Sinai with Moses (Exodus 24:1,9). As we know, the temple was not always available for the Jews, and was never the central place of fellowship around the learning of the word, or discipleship, but rather a place of ritual sacrifice. Historically, that was always the norm. Even when the temple existed, the Passover meal was experienced in private homes (Matthew 26:14,15). This is also indicative of the 1st century home fellowships that met together for discipleship and mutual edification. There was fellowship around a meal, a teaching and sharing from the word of God, and singing of hymns.

    There are many reasons for anti-Semitism, but one of Judaism’s foremost threats is against spiritual caste systems that have always dominated world history. Judaism emphasizes the authority of God’s word, and the ability of the individual to understand it:

Deuteronomy 29:29 – “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Deuteronomy 30:11 – “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

Herein is a major distinction between individualism and collectivism.[9] In collectivism, there is in fact an hierarchy that must “ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it… go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it.” The word, or truth, is not near to the individual, it must be brought to bear by others who are “specially gifted” to understand. Historians believe there were about 400 synagogues in Jerusalem alone during the ministry of Christ.[10] These were mostly small groups meeting in private homes. These groups were focused primarily on the reading and study of God’s word.

    This is where we begin to examine four ways in which the institutional church of Rome began to wage war on the Holy Spirit. Primarily, the newly appointed religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine sought to remove the private interpretation of the Bible from the common people. Let us remember, the word is the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph 6:17) and what the Spirit uses to sanctify (John 17:17).

    At that time, New Testament Scriptures were a far less problem than Old Testament Scriptures which were painstakingly preserved and canonized by the Jews. The Old Testament Hebrew had also been translated into Greek (the Septuagint) circa 250 BC. Greek and Latin were the most common languages during the Roman era, but Latin was the language of bureaucracy, law, and the military.

   This is when two primary theologians of the Roman church emerge and seek to demonize the people of God making a strong distinction between the Jews and Christianity. Remember, one of the primary objectives of the Holy Spirit was to make Jew and Gentile ONE body in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:11-22). This is/was one of the primary objectives of the Holy Spirt. The church’s two foundational theologians in its 4th century infancy were St. Augustine of Hippo, and St. Jerome. Both were Saints and Doctors of the Roman Catholic Church. And…

“Church Fathers like St John Chrysostom, St Ambrose, St Jerome and St Augustine (second only to St Paul as a Christian authority for the Western world) had by the end of the fourth century AD crysallised a demonic image of the Jew who combined superhuman malevolence with total spiritual blindness…The monkish, ascetic St Jerome, embittered by the spectacle of successful missionizing in Antioch by the large Jewish population, denounced the synagogue in theses terms: ‘If you call it a brothel, a den of vice, the Devil’s refuge, Satan’s fortress, a place to deprave the soul…you are still saying less than it deserves’” (Robert S. Wistrich: Anti-Semitism|The Longest Hatred; Pantheon Books 1992, p. 17 ).

“This theology is for the first time institutionalized in the fourth century AD, when Christianity becomes the official religion of the Roman Empire” (Ibid p. 19).

    To divide Jews from the body is an audacious throwing down of the gauntlet against the Holy Spirit. But Jerome and company were far from going to war with the Holy Spirit on that front alone. Jerome set out to translate the Bible in the bureaucratic language of the empire and make it inaccessible to the laity and common people via the Latin Vulgate. Eventually, Rome made it against the law to translate the Bible or even teach from it unless accredited by the Church upon pain of death. This was Rome’s mandate for about 1000 years:

Decree of the Council of Toulouse (1229 C.E.): “We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.”

Ruling of the Council of Tarragona of 1234 C.E.: “No one may possess the books of the Old and New Testaments in the Romance language, and if anyone possesses them he must turn them over to the local bishop within eight days after promulgation of this decree, so that they may be burned…”

Proclamations at the Ecumenical Council of Constance in 1415 C.E.: Oxford professor, and theologian John Wycliffe, was the first (1380 C.E.) to translate the New Testament into English to “…helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ’s sentence.” For this “heresy” Wycliffe was posthumously condemned by Arundel, the archbishop of Canterbury. By the Council’s decree “Wycliffe’s bones were exhumed and publicly burned and the ashes were thrown into the Swift River.”

Fate of William Tyndale in 1536 C.E.: William Tyndale was burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English. According to Tyndale, the Church forbid owning or reading the Bible to control and restrict the teachings and to enhance their own power and importance.

~ Source:  Huffington Post .com: Why Christians Were Denied Access to Their Bible for 1,000 Years; Bernard Starr, Ph.D. 5/20/2013.

    The Church also took it upon themselves to establish the formal canon of the New Testament which was only in the form of letters written by the apostles and others. There were many copies of these letters circulated among the laity and commonly accepted as Scripture:

2 Peter 3:15 – And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

Colossians 4:15 – Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”

1Corinthians 14:37 – If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.

Therefore, the idea that there was no agreed upon collective Scripture for New Testament era believers is unfounded, and the body of Christ hardly needed Gnostic academics to tell them what was inspired and not inspired. Nevertheless…

The Council of Nicaea called by the Emperor Constantine met in 325 C.E. to establish a unified Catholic Church. At that point no universally sanctioned Scriptures or Christian Bible existed. Various churches and officials adopted different texts and gospels. That’s why the Council of Hippo sanctioned 27 books for the New Testament in 393 C.E. Four years later the Council of Cartage confirmed the same 27 books as the authoritative Scriptures of the Church.

~ Source:  Huffington Post .com: Why Christians Were Denied Access to Their Bible for 1,000 Years; Bernard Starr, Ph.D. 5/20/2013.


In 382, Pope Damascus therefore commissioned Jerome (c. 347-420) to translate the Bible into Latin, a task which took him twenty years to complete. This Bible came to be known as the versio vulgata (common translation) and became standard for the Western Church.

~ Source: Three Early Biblical Translations.

    Attempting to obstruct the Spirit’s work in baptizing the Jews and Gentiles into one body, and confiscating the sword of the Spirit from the laity was manifested in a third way. In translating the Bible into English from the Septuagint (LXX), and for the most part not the original Hebrew, the English translators substituted the word “assembly” for “church.” The Greek word for assembly is “ekklesia” as translated from the Hebrew word for assembly,  kahal, or edah.

    This is a very significant fact in the transition period that produced another version of the institutional Catholic Church, Protestantism. These are merely two sides of the same institutional church that waged the exact same war against the Holy Spirit and continues to do so in our day. As aforementioned, it was against the law to translate the Scriptures without the permission of the Catholic Church, but this happened anyway because of the “Lollard movement, a pre-Reformation movement that rejected many of the distinctive teachings of the Roman Catholic Church” (closed quotation from Wikipedia).

In the early Middle Ages, most Western Christian people encountered the Bible only in the form of oral versions of scriptures, verses and homilies in Latin (other sources were mystery plays, usually conducted in the vernacular, and popular iconography). Though relatively few people could read at this time, Wycliffe’s idea was to translate the Bible into the vernacular, saying “it helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ’s sentence”.

~ Source: En Wikipedia .org: Wycliffe’s Bible.

Although unauthorized, the work was popular. Wycliffite Bible texts are the most common manuscript literature in Middle English. More than 250 manuscripts of the Wycliffite Bible survive.

The association between Wycliffe’s Bible and Lollardy caused the kingdom of England and the established Catholic Church in England to undertake a drastic campaign to suppress it.

~ Source: Ibid.

    However, by no means did the Protestant Reformation abandon the core fundamentals of the institutional Church’s war against the Holy Spirit which was a devotion to the separation of Judaism from the body of Christ, and academic authority in regard to private interpretation of the Scriptures. Though the Protestants presented themselves as commendable for the distribution of Bible translations to the common people, they never believed the laity could interpret it for themselves, nor did they ever state such. To the contrary,

“The Protestant Reformers in leaving Rome did not leave all Romanism behind them. In particular, they brought with them the prosecuting principles of Rome, and worked them freely and vigorously in support of the Reformed faith. They changed the Pope but not the popedom… Persecution is the deadly sin of the Reformed churches, that which cools every honest man’s zeal for their cause, in proportion as his reading becomes more extensive—Hallam… Rightfully and nobly did the Protestant Reformers claim religious liberty for themselves; but they resolutely refused to concede it to others” (William Marshall’s The Principles of the Westminster Standards Persecuting (William Marshall, D.D., Coupar – Angus. Edinburgh: William Oliphant & Co. 1873).

    The English translators did something in the English translation of the Bible that Rome did not even do in the Latin Vulgate. They translated “assembly” as “church” which had no validity whatsoever. The Greek word for assembly and the Greek word for church are two entirely different Greek words with completely different meanings. The Hebrew words for assembly and the Greek word for assembly allowed for a connection between the Judaism of the Old Testament and the Christianity of the New. The word “church” puts forth the idea of a completely different program and plan of some sort. In the like institutional core fundamentals, the Catholics kept the Bible from the laity, while the Protestants skinned the cat a different way by taking liberty with translation. Tyndale was much more virtuous on this wise, translating assembly as “congregation,” but unfortunately was executed by the Catholics for the effort.

    We will make this point here, but will revisit this issue in a later chapter because the rendering of “assembly,” “synagogue,” and “church” in Protestant translations of the Bible present an egregious distorted dichotomy in regard to the Jewishness of God’s overall plan for the ages. It is best to delve into this while discussing the fact that the 1st century home fellowships were merely a continuation of the Jewish synagogue, and that word seems to suggest some sort of institution, or temple-like mini-institution.

    To the contrary, some sort of substructure or mini temple version would have been a blasphemous notion to the Jews. Furthermore, for the most part historically, the Jews have had little choice to do anything other than worship in the privacy of their own homes.  Moreover, synagogues were of the laity and far removed from any priestly authority whatsoever. The intended model for Christian fellowship and assembly has never changed since the exodus and before. It is a body and ground-level family unhindered by the musings of bureaucratic control. It is not a machine controlled by men, it is a body that lives and grows.

    The Protestants never sought to separate from the Catholic Church and indeed they did not. It was a protest, not a revolution by any stretch of the imagination. Institutional accreditation was vital to the Protestants, and critical to their credibility. This means they NEVER left the Catholic Church. Protestants retained solidarity with the Doctors of the Catholic Church for this reason, particularly St. Augustine. The most prominent fathers of the Reformation, Luther and Calvin, were avowed Augustinians till the day they died. No citations will be noted here due to the immense common knowledge of it. Contemporary Reformers constantly strive to outdo each other in quoting Augustine at every opportunity, but God’s people are completely unmiffed by the exaltation of this serial anti-Semite Platonist. Why?  Because what happens under the roof of an institutional church is mostly inconsequential; it is the depot that punches your ticket to heaven.

    There are four primary ways that the institutional church wages war against the Holy Spirit, and this is a joint effort that includes Catholic and Protestant alike. We have examined three of them, but the fourth is what separates the Catholic from the Protestant. This war is not as absurd as it sounds, for the permanent indwelling of the Spirit suggests ability on the part of the individual. Both sides endorse the incompetence of the individual and need for enlightened mediators between the great unwashed masses and God; in other words, an efficacious caste system.

    This fourth war strategy involves the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the new birth. The Catholic Church acknowledges the indwelling of the Spirit and the new birth, but insists that this only enables the salvation candidate to cooperate in the finishing of the salvation process; primarily by faithfulness to the Mother Church. As we discussed in the first two chapters, Rome is not shy or ambiguous about this idea. Yes, Catholicism and Protestantism alike hold to an unfinished progressive justification. Again, this was addressed in some detail in chapters one and two.

    Protestants deny the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the new birth all together. Let’s think about this: if the Holy Spirit permanently indwells the believer, salvation MUST be FINISHED, there is simply no way around that. A permanent indwelling of the Spirit makes a progressive salvation dependent on the church completely unnecessary.

    So, what are the specific differences in this fourth aberration of the Spirit’s work, and what are the specific differences in their progressive justification constructs? In addition, how does authentic Protestantism explain away the new birth, and how is the new birth redefined by them?

    In the next chapter, these questions are answered in detail.


9. Collectivism defines the worth of an individual by their ability to contribute to the common good. That adds up to the “collective good” which determines the overall wellbeing of a society.

10. Talmud: Bavli Ketubot 100a; there were 394 synagogues in Jerusalem. Yerushalmi (Ketubot 8:1); there were 460 synagogues in Jerusalem. Yerushalmi (Megillah 3:1); in Jerusalem, there were 480 synagogues.