Paul's Passing Thoughts

We Forgive the Way Our Father Forgives Who Doesn’t Want to Condemn Anyone

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 17, 2015

project-2016-logo-4God doesn’t choose His enemies, he seeks to be reconciled to them.”

We have a severe identity crisis among professing Christians. Who are we and what is our specific relationship to the Father? However, there is one thing we do know that explains why we know little: the Protestant waters we swim in culturally have always been about keeping ourselves saved—not living out our true heritage.

This is why Christians live by illogical truisms. If you pay close attention, discussion and sermons will often be little more than adages strung together to make sentences. The problem with that follows: this will not bring about the righteousness that God desires. The purpose of Christ’s assembly is to create a mature body that impacts the world.

The topic of forgiveness is by no means excluded from the institutional church’s incessant pooling of ignorance leading to decadence of every sort. While stating that we should forgive others “the way we have been forgiven,” something totally different is prescribed. Per the usual with other orthodoxy as well, selected Scripture verses make the case with contradictory verses being the elephants in the room. Moreover, contradictions are trumped by the assumed authority of Protestant academics. How dare thee bring up contradictions and thereby touch God’s anointed? Thou should know that your lack of understanding only makes these deep truths appear to be contradictions!

Here is the normally accepted orthodoxy: he who is without sin throw the first stone; so, if one doesn’t forgive others unconditionally, even without repentance, we are judging ourselves sinless and qualified to judge others. Forgiveness in the church must be the norm and without any conditions. When pressed with biblical contradictions, some will make a defense for “vertical and horizontal forgiveness.” The first being a “forgiveness in the heart,” and the second being “practical forgiveness” IF one repents. The latter is nice when it happens, sort of the icing on the cake, but the former is required lest God not forgive us of our own sin. Again, you can add this to a long list of things that Protestants do to keep themselves saved, ie., forgive under all circumstances or God will not forgive you of “present sin.” This is therefore added to the Protestant Means of Grace which is salvation on the installment plan. This is why this ministry receives vitriolic pushback on this subject, we are spearing one of the sacred Means of Grace.

Presumably, this idea of heart forgiveness comes from Matthew 18:35, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” The problem with this view is the context of Matthew 18 which makes this particular heart forgiveness contingent on repentance. If the offender repents, “you have gained a brother,” ONLY then are we obligated to extend forgiveness and forgive “your brother”… “from your heart.”

Additionally, according to orthodoxy, we forgive others unconditionally because if we don’t, our anger towards the person will turn to bitterness and result in self-destruction. Hence, another popular Protestant adage is, “We don’t forgive others for them, we forgive others for ourselves.” But what is the real framework for forgiveness according to the Bible? If we don’t forgive the other person because they refuse to repent, where do we go from there?

Answer A: We forgive the way God forgives, and it’s contingent upon repentance.

Answer B: If they don’t repent, we do what God does; we seek their repentance for their sake…and ours. We seek to “gain a brother.”

This is exactly what God does. Much could be discussed here about one’s view of God, but let it be said that blank check forgiveness comes from a certain view of God, namely, that it is not God’s will or desire that all people be saved. God does good to His enemies because He wants them to know that it is NOT His desire that they perish. His constant show of goodness towards mankind as set against judgment leads them to repentance. When a professing believer sins against another Christian and refuses to repent, they show themselves as unbelievers. They are now your enemy, and God’s enemy as well. Now listen, this is all based on objective facts, not orthodox opinion.

Herein, we are like God: we now seek the repentance of our enemies. We seek their reconciliation: “be reconciled to God.” This is what God does, and we are to be like Him in the world. God doesn’t choose His enemies, he seeks to be reconciled to them.

Let me pause here and make the case. Romans chapter one clarifies God’s pending wrath against all who defy righteousness. However, let’s also clarify the context of Romans chapters one and two. The mystery of the gospel, as defined by the New Testament, is the joining together of Jews and Gentiles into one body. Jewish attitudes and traditions were mucking that up. The Jews, as God’s chosen people, refused to forgive Gentiles, considered them to be their enemies and the enemies of God as well, and therefore promoted revenge against the Gentiles whenever possible. Jewish tradition promoted “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” The Jewish sages interpreted “neighbor” as someone in good standing with the Jewish community (Luke 10: 25-37). This made the Jews little better than violent sects often found in Islam. But, “God shows no partiality” (Romans 2:11).

As we will see, much of this hinges on God’s desire to see ALL people saved, and we should have this desire as well (see the historical account of Jonah). True biblical forgiveness hinges on the idea that God doesn’t predestine people for condemnation. This also answers the question of unresolved anger. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but the subjects of the kingdom of darkness that hell was prepared for. While we may be angry at those who have sinned against us, do we really want to see them suffer in hell for eternity because of what they did to us? In most cases NO, but in fact, they will if they don’t repent. This is not to say that they would go to hell simply for offenses against us, but a lifestyle of unrepentant sin is in view here. Therefore, it is our goal to “gain a brother.” The energy produced by righteous indignation is to be used in “gaining a brother.” This means we “overcome evil with good.” This is what God does, and this is what leads people to repentance (Romans 2:4). God makes it rain and shine upon the just as well as the unjust, and we are to do the same in a manner of speaking. We hold them accountable because unrepentance puts their soul in peril, but we also treat them as we would want to be treated in that situation; we would want to be reminded that we are under judgment by God who does not wish to condemn us. Because God is love, we should be love.

In the final analysis, be angry and don’t sin. Revenge belongs to God, but He desires reconciliation over judgment. All in all, we should only have two kinds of people in our lives: brothers and those we are trying to gain as brothers. Some are our enemies, most aren’t. BUT, we gain them through repentance which comes through showing God’s desire for mercy. Therefore, we do good to them, we pray for them, we bless them, but true fellowship with the Father and the Son that we enjoy only comes through reconciliation and fruits that show repentance accordingly. Those who have truly repented will want to compensate IF possible, and those who have committed crimes against us will be willing to suffer the consequences. I vaguely remember the last words of a condemned criminal before the victim’s family who reportedly became a Christian while on death row. He said he hoped his execution and the fulfilled justice thereof would give the family some relief and closure to what he had done to them. In my book, that is indicative of true repentance.

Putting feet on forgiveness towards those who have repented is fairly simple, and again, the way God forgives. It is a promise to not bring the sin up to former offenders for purposes of condemnation. Likewise, this includes others, and ourselves. Like God, we “will remember their sin no more.” By practicing this, the initial decision to forgive based on repentance/reconciliation is solidified deeply in the heart. This is the true forgiveness in the heart.

Christians have a difficult time understanding true biblical forgiveness because the debate still rages about who God is and what He wants. If man is totally depraved and unable to respond to God’s call to sinners, moral equivalency demands blank check forgiveness. Who are we not to forgive? The only apparent reason that we are forgiven is because God chose us, and also chose His enemies. Who are we not to forgive others whether they repent or not? Whether they repent or not is God’s choice, not ours. After all, it’s God’s choice to have enemies.

But that’s not God. He desires mercy and not sacrifice. Therefore, worship by those who have circumvented reconciliation is a stench before God. In this case, those who chain the temple doors are commended by him.

And this may apply to those who demand forgiveness without reconciliation as well. Remember, by no means can the idea of reconciliation be divorced from repentance, and we dare not offer at the alter without it.

paul

Romans 12:17-21, More on Forgiveness and Enemies

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 2, 2015

ppt-jpeg4I don’t know how many articles I have written for my ongoing attempt to slay the blank check forgiveness evangelical sacred cow, but I continue to chop away at him. Despite all of the blood, the stinkin’ thing still lives.

So, let’s keep trying, but first, where does this “offering grace” blank check forgiveness stuff come from? If you followed our Heidelberg Disputation series, you know. There are two kinds of Protestants: Calvinists, and functioning Calvinists. The former hold to predestination and the soteriology, the latter function according to the soteriology while denying the specific orthodoxy.

Blank check forgiveness comes from the Reformation doctrine of total depravity which results in moral equivalency and a single perspective on justice. Basically, due to the total depravity of man, and the idea that man saved or unsaved possesses no good or righteousness within (Luther’s Alien Righteousness), everybody deserves hell; including Christians regardless of their conversion; anything other than hell or lesser than hell is “grace,” and therefore, being wronged is only valuable for showing forth the same grace that we received. Few Protestants understand the doctrine of mortification and vivification. That’s “deep theology,” so instead, they teach and apply the applications of the doctrine that are too deep for them to understand. Blank check forgiveness is one of them.

Mortification and vivification is the perpetual revisiting of our spiritual baptism. In other words, the new birth doesn’t happen once, but is experienced numerous times throughout our Christian lives. Now, Baptists can moan and cry in denial like alley cats in heat, but that’s Protestant doctrine reflected in the Westminster Confession and London Baptist confessions as well. I will keep saying it; there is no religion more confused nor pathetic than Protestantism. At least even Muslims know what they believe for crying out loud.

But back to mortification and vivification which is the primary model for change in Protestant orthodoxy. The goal is to experience our baptism as much as possible via joy. That’s the vivification part that is totally out of our control—it is the resurrection part. But it begins with our part/role in the Christian life: “dying daily,” or mortification. This is how the whole taking up our cross and dying daily verses are interpreted. According to Luther and Calvin, God helps us out with the dying part by bringing tragedy into our lives. Look, if you are, for example, a rape victim that has been counseled by ACBC or CCEF, lightbulbs are starting to turn on right about now.

Enough of that for now, let’s go to Romans 12:

“17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.’ 20 On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

This is one of the many love your enemies verses. I guess I will keep on saying it: why would Paul concede that we will have enemies in spite of our best efforts if we are to simply forgive everybody who offends us? This passage gives instructions for dealing with enemies. Furthermore, the Bible promises rewards for relating to our enemies in the biblically prescribed way; therefore, does blank check forgiveness deprive us of reward? I think it does. And moreover, there is NO forgiveness of enemies with God unless they repent. In the same way that God blesses His enemies who have not repented, we bless our enemies who have not repented, and this is what leads them to repentance (Romans 2:4). Now, I have some learning to do in regard to how this model works itself out, but that IS the model, NOT blank check forgiveness. It would appear that replacing revenge with blessings prevents bitterness and leads to repentance. It would also seem that the goodness unresponded to will lead to a greater judgment in the end by God.

So, all in all, do I think blank check forgiveness keeps people from repenting? Yes.

paul

The Gospel, Faith, and Repentance

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 12, 2015

Susan Dohse: The First Gospel Wave and Sanctification

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 28, 2014

A letter From “Bob”: How GS/Sonship Theology Affects Church in Real Life

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 10, 2011

I received the following email from a reader this week. My response follows. His name and some other details have been changed to protect his identity. Of course, not all GS/Sonship leaders are heavy-handed, but in many such churches the following post would result in church discipline. The email is modified and posted with permission from the sender.

Dear Paul: In your 31. January 2011 blog, you open by stating:

In all of my writings on gospel-driven sanctification / gospel sanctification, and its apparent mother, Sonship Theology, I have primarily addressed the error, and not its ill effects on discipleship and people’s lives. Basically, refutation of false doctrine has prevention in mind, not theological debate for entertainment purposes.” (emphasis added)

I got mixed up in the [name of church excluded], a PCA church. I had previously been involved in a Kellerite church, so I had been swimming in a sea of sonship (and taking on water from it!) for a couple of years in both places, but without ever having heard of sonship theology, (esp. not by name!), or known that that’s what was really being promoted there – it’s taught more by stealth, than openly admitted! Only when I was finally given the label – alerted to its existence by a pastor in another state. was I then able to put the dots together, and see that there was in fact a most definite method to the malaise which I had clearly perceived, but been totally ignorant of both the source, and the systematic nature of the problem!

However, until today, I’ve searched largely in vain for any solid critical material, or in-depth analyses directly addressing those errors of sonship theology that I’ve clearly experienced.

As your opening reference makes it sound like you yourself have written fairly extensively on this subject on various previous occasions, (“…all my writings…” ), I was wondering if you could therefore please be so kind as to e-mail me, or direct me to, any further details / critical analyses – both by yourself and others – of this movement, and its directly related errors?

Thanking you sincerely,

“Bob”

P.S. Can you also possibly shed any light on any particular (or non-standard) doctrine of “repentance” associated with sonship theology? (–the existence of which I’ve so far been similarly unaware of, but which I’ve just lately also begun to suspect…)

To wit: I quote some anonymized portions of an e-mail from someone else at [name of church excluded] (who claims he hasn’t been particularly exposed to their “sonship” teachings, but) who’s suddenly tried to begin invasively ‘counseling’ me in certain areas: [warning: a sudden interest in your life by elders of said churches could mean you’re asking too many questions—paul ] He wrote:

[ The content of this correspondence could reveal Bob’s identity so it has been excluded. The leader responded to Bob’s questions by asking Bob if he had applied any of their teachings to his life, and how that had been accomplished, posing the questions in such a way that called into question Bob’s humbleness and attitude toward “repentance.”]

(– His questions were in fact to a large extent totally off-base, and demonstrated a failure to have even read what I had written to him; but) some of his queries about repentance are kind of non-sequiturs, so I’m wondering if this individual may be operating from some particular understanding of “repentance” which I’m not familiar with? If he has some particular doctrine of, or expectations concerning “repenting” (how one repents, and then can testify to or document having done so?, or can measure one’s progress in having done so?) As I’m a bit mystified by his language and apparent, specific expectations, and wondering if there is also something more to this than meets the eye, at least, that of the uninitiated?

Thanks for any light you can shed!

 

My Response:

 

Bob,

My blog is dedicated to believers such as yourself for the purpose of contending for the faith and thereby pleasing the Lord. Last week, I added the Gospel Sanctification / Sonship Theology network, https://paulspassingthoughts.wordpress.com/ . Links to other material that contend against elements of this movement are in the right-hand column. Most of the writers are addressing elements but don’t understand how the elements / tenets fit together as a movement. This is because of the covert MO you mentioned that is prevalent within the movement. However, Jay Adams would be an exception to that (in regard to being opposed to the movement) and has even added a “Gospel Sanctification” archive to his blog: http://www.nouthetic.org/blog/

I have written a book that covers elements / tenets in detail that will be printed in a limited addition because I have been persuaded to write another book on GS from a different approach. The present book is in essay form and doesn’t cover the history of the movement as much as it should. The next book will be in chapter form and will include a detailed history of the movement, Lord willing, of course. The present book, which will be in print approximately four weeks from today, will stand in the gap until the next book is published.

Sadly, you are right, information regarding GS / Sonship is very scarce. First, in my opinion, I think many want to protect the integrity of Westminster Seminary, especially those who obtained their doctorate degrees there. Most of the doctrine’s elements were conceived by professors at WMTS. Secondly, there is a reluctance to stand against the “big names” in reformed circles. Thirdly, those who proffer the doctrine are deeply deceptive and ambiguous. Therefore, unraveling their deception is very labor-intensive. Fourthly, as you eluded to, they avoid labels for purposes of stealth, but invoke “THE GOSPEL” nomenclature as often as they can in their verbiage. Who wants to be perceived as being against the gospel? It’s a very effective cover. Fifthly, most reformed churches practice church discipline. Therefore, those who stand against this doctrine are in danger of being muzzled accordingly. Church discipline and excommunication have a huge stigma in reformed circles while the attitude among reformed leaders is “any Church discipline is good discipline.” They see church discipline being used as a weapon to muzzle as unfortunate collateral damage that is necessary for the betterment of the church as a whole. So, here is the point: a parishioner in church A can be placed under discipline for blogging about a reformed leader in church B. I have firsthand knowledge of a guy who pulled his blog down because the leaders of his church liked the other leader; he smelled church discipline coming.

This ministry has, and continues to counsel people on how to leave reformed churches who practice this doctrine with as little stress as possible. Furthermore, the conversation you shared with me in your correspondence is very indicative of the intimidating, heavy-handed methods of those in the movement. The Coral Ridge hostile takeover is a good example of this. Sixthly, the movement is new. It’s conception probably doesn’t date before 1980. Not only that, It started out as Sonship theology and changed to GS (gospel verbiage) when the Sonship label started taking on heavy fire. Therefore, God’s people really haven’t had time to get a full picture of the movement yet. These are six reasons among many others why I think information on this movement is scarce.

Well, that should take care of the “can I get more information?” question. Now for the “repentance” question. Yes, the movement practices an unorthodox form of repentance known as “deep repentance” or “intelligent repentance” or “repentance as a lifestyle.” Since the movement involves, as Jason Hood recently stated it, “sanctification by justification.” and justification is by faith and repentance only; hence, the only two supposed elements of sanctification must necessarily be embellished. Sonship theology has been confronted with three primary inquisitions over the years. First, “What about an ongoing practical application of the narrow concept of justification in the sanctification process?,” or, “So, what are WE supposed to do?” David Powlison answers that question with “heart theology.” The form of repentance you are talking about is part of that GS tenet. Secondly, “How do I know when I am obeying in my own efforts or yielding to Christ’s power?” John Piper answers that question with “Christian Hedonism.” And Thirdly, “How is the Bible used for justification only?” That’s answered with the Redemptive-Historical Hermeneutic.

Lastly for now, I think your letter and my response can help many people. I would like to post on this while protecting your identity. This will also involve changing you name and some details you closed with. Let me know,

May we love the Lord’s truth more than men,

Paul M. Dohse

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