Paul's Passing Thoughts

Depression: My Testimony

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 14, 2016

Paul and SusanPart 2 on depression, and program 4 of our sanctification series. Paul will share his own testimony regarding depression as an unbeliever and believer. The testimony segment of the live program is posted below. Call in and comment or ask a question. Here is the live link for tonight’s program: Thursday night, January 14 @ 7pm

My story starts with fear of something that I was terrified of that was out of my control. It is a testimony of choosing death unto death. I was tricked into choosing a major death decision among many other death decisions. It starts with the importance of properly defining words. This is so very ironic that my story starts as an unbeliever 43 years ago with a major theme of this ministry today: the utter importance of properly defining words. Those who define words define reality and how you live in it; let me strongly suggest that you let God define the words that define life. We are talking about the historical grammatical interpretation of reality. Words mean things that determine life and death. No mass grave has ever been filled without the issue of realty present. No adult person laying in a mass grave is guiltless of letting others define reality and the meaning of words for them. It is also a pity that children die with them. If for no other reason, think for yourself because of our children.

This is the beginning of my testimony, and it starts with fear. As a rebellious teen, I chose my life and death carefully. I didn’t want too much death, just enough to have fun and fulfill my lustful desires without ending up dead. Of course, I didn’t have enough information to frame it that way at the time, but that’s how I functioned. Those who want to control you care little about what you understand, how you function is what they are after. That’s why you must define words for yourself. Never let anyone tell you what a word means—you must understand it in your own mind.

So, as far as taking LSD, that was too much death for me. I made sure I stayed with Death Lite. Therefore, I took a drug called “Window Pane” that was a lesser hallucinogen than LSD. I didn’t want to see monsters and stuff like that; too much death. I just wanted to see fluid running through the veins of leaves and wall paint dancing. But herein is the huge problem: Window Pane is LSD—they just changed the name. I chose a death that I would not have ordinarily chosen; I let others define the word for me, and the result was a death that I didn’t see coming.

I had an absolutely horrible “bad trip.” I was riding in a car tripping with friends and was in a trance for an undetermined amount of time. I came out of the trance upon some kind of physiological trauma experienced with vomiting colors out of my mouth. As I yelled while lurching forward, clouds of colors came out of my mouth. I suspect my heart momentarily stopped or something of the sort. My friends were delighted and wanted to know, “What did you see?! What did you see?!”

After that, I went into some sort of anxiety frenzy that had me walking and walking the same day well into the night until the trip ended. I think maybe I knew that I nearly died. Well, my drug days were over at that point and I stuck with safer death like alcohol and marijuana. Then things get even more ironic. I wasn’t aware that LSD use could lead to flashbacks. Someone handed me one of those Jack Chick-like cartoon tracks with the various and sundry narratives ( This particular one was a story of a girl who used LSD, became a Christian, and later died from an LSD flashback. I wasn’t aware that one could have LSD flashbacks. Funny, the track didn’t have its intended impact, I didn’t think, “Oh, I will become a Christian just in case I have a flashback and die.” No, I focused on the fact that I could possibly re-experience that fateful day without any warning. Of course, like most religious stupidity, the track exaggerated the flashback experience by stating that one could die as a result of a LSD flashback which is highly improbable, but I was focused on the fear of having that horrible experience again. This began my long journey of a life dictated by fear.

Why didn’t I then go to an expert to see if flashbacks could be prevented some how, or at least dealt with some way in case I had one? The answer to this is simple: experts are adults, and I didn’t want to reveal that I had taken LSD. My fear escalated into anxiety attacks and hyper-ventilation which also feel like near death experiences. Add more fear. I ended up being taken to a doctor by my grandmother who diagnosed me with an “anxiety disorder,” which “runs in the family.” Listen, in the vast majority of adolescent severe anxiety problems complete with panic attacks, this is reality: it’s caused from death choices they have made. In this kingdom, anxiety is epidemic because of death choices—period. And you know what, we just might get into the death/life sanctification paradigm in this depression segment of our Christian living series. Sooner or later we are going to do it in this series, and we just might do it in this depression segment of the series.

The doctor prescribed anxiety medication, but I wouldn’t take it because the former bad trip experience was so horrific that I was afraid of any kind of medication. Also, because one of the pranks practiced by my friends was slipping drugs into other people’s drinks, I wouldn’t drink from any container that had escaped my monitoring for any length of time. This is an example of how particular fears can lead to all kinds of paranoid behavior deemed quirky by others: “The guy takes his beverage to the bathroom with him; gee, that’s strange.”

Next I want to talk about my first panic attack. I was riding around with some new friends that had not yet initiated me into their click with their favorite prank. There was a paved road that terminated into a gravel road, but at the point of termination, the gravel road elevated sharply. Driving towards it at night, it looked like you were headed straight into a concrete wall. Of course, they made sure I was riding in the front seat for the event. Well, the joke ended up being on them as I went into severe hyper-ventilation and ended up being taken to the hospital. See how the underlying fear of other things led to this? In addition, panic attacks are also very terrifying, so that was one more thing added to my life that I was afraid of. Add more fear. See how all of this leads to a downward spiral of paralyzing fear? Not only that, I was conditioning myself to react in fearful ways. In other words, we can habituate ourselves with fear to the point where fear becomes a way of life.

So where do we go next with this? As a young man, I continued to make death decisions. Between circa 1976 and 1982, I led a very promiscuous lifestyle. Then came the news that aids had been around since 1969, and could lay dormant for ten years! Nobody knew that during the disco 70’s when one-night “hook ups” where all the rage. Ooops. Again, due to bad information, I thought I was only choosing Death Lite. In my mind, it was likely that I had contracted it when the statistics were considered. Add more fear. See how this works? There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that my lifestyle, decisions, and compounding fear coupled with a guilty conscience to boot led up to my major depression. The anxiety came first, and the experts tell us that anxiety always walks side by side with depression. I could go on and on about how decision after decision led to more and more fear in my life.

However, when I got saved, it was a pretty dramatic transformation. And I will be honest with you, I think if someone could have sat down with me and explained what I know now about justification today, I don’t think fear would have ever crept back into my life. My salvation experience was so dramatic and accompanied by so much joy that I doubt I gave much thought to sin early on. But I began to become very troubled about remaining sin in my life.

I was totally dedicated to the idea that the Bible had all answers to life’s questions, I just couldn’t find the answers. I was really, really serious about being a Christian; that’s why I joined a Southern Baptist church and attended a Southern Baptist seminary. But then orthodoxy happened. There is no doubt in my mind that my conversion was genuine, but I joined up with a religion that keeps one under law; so, in regard to how I eventually began to function, I was no whit better off than my miserable former life. In fact, I might have been worse off.

Certainly, my Christian life had far less “big sin” than before I was a believer, but Protestantism calls for the “believer” to remain under the fear of condemnation—that’s just Protestant orthodoxy plain and simple. It has now become plain to me that fear of condemnation is what led me into depression as a believer. Also, condemnation is what empowers sin. To the degree that there is doubt that you are not under condemnation, the sin within can use that to provoke you to sin; the Bible is VERY clear on this. Then, condemning sin committed just gives more fodder for further condemnation; it’s just another downward spiral of fear and condemnation. Let’s note 1Corinthians 15:56-58 on this:

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God,who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

This passage is soooo major. First, what in the world does “the power of sin is the law” mean? This is the condemnation of the law—this is being under law. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he explains how the sin within uses the law (if it condemns) to provoke us to sin.

Romans7:7 –  What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment,deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

I don’t rightly understand the ins and outs of how this works, but the Bible is clear that the possibility of eternal condemnation empowers sin. Somehow, sin uses the possibility of eternal condemnation to create desires that tempt us to sin. This is why Christ came to end the law (Rom 10:4). And this is why men fear death; the judgment that follows. Hence, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” This is what is so important about a proper understanding of the new birth. The old us that was born under law and its condemnation literally dies with Christ, and we are now free to serve another master, not the Sin master:

Romans 7:4 – Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

This is the “Therefore” in 1Corinthians 15:58; we are now totally free to aggressively love God and others without fear of condemnation. And…

1John 4:18 – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected [or matured] in love.

Fear of condemnation provokes one to sin, leading to sin, and more and more condemnation and fear. Yet, Protestant orthodoxy calls for saints to remain under law and fear of its condemnation. The Protestant formula follows: Christ continues to cover our sin if we live by faith alone in the same gospel that saved us. Sin is not ended, it is only covered. And, don’t miss this…if we are not still under condemnation, well, what do we need Christ for? This very question is posed rhetorically as if you are an idiot if you think we are not still under condemnation. Well, if you no longer “need the gospel,” you have tossed Christ aside and moved on to “something else other than the gospel.” Come now, be honest, we hear this constantly among Churchians.

Hence, we can expect that depression is just as prevalent in the institutional church as it is in the world. We can also expect more sin in the church because of double temptation. The world is only tempted to sin by the law of conscience, Churchians are tempted by both. Moreover, the prescription according to Protestant orthodoxy for condemnation is a “return to the same grace that saved you.” The likes of Jerry Bridges call for a re-contemplation of the gospel rather than a change of behavior to deal with the condemnation that shouldn’t be their in the first place. What will this effect? It will bring about a “searing of the conscience with a hot iron.” True, Christians shouldn’t be under the condemnation of the law to begin with, and true, if you change behavior while under the law, that is works righteousness, or merely lesser wages for death, but this approach is a further regression from the truth and makes Christians just as indifferent to the law as unbelievers—they are not free to love the law and to use it for love—they are still enslaved to its condemnation. LOOK! This is NOT rocket science, this is EXACTLY why the church looks like what it does.

Consider the mentality that I had as a depressed Christian. Sure, I was a huge proponent of obedience, but I had a very uneasy relationship with it. Why? I never knew for certain that my obedience wasn’t for purposes of self-justification because of my Protestant single perspective on the law and sin. And in essence how can you? You can’t. Therefore, there is always going to be some level of condemnation in your life provoking sin and leading to more and more condemnation. And going to church adds to that, no? Sure it does; week after week you go there and hear about how terrible you are, and if you are under law—that’s probably true!

Listen to what I said to the elders who interviewed me because I joined a new church in the midst of my depression: “God is the last person I want to see right now.” What’s that? Right, that’s clearly fear of condemnation! When I began counseling with the pastor of that church, consider what I came to him with in regard to how I was dealing with the problem: “I read my Bible (contemplationism) for two hours today and prayed for three hours!” Note that while I deemed myself a proponent of obedience, in reality I was a functioning Christian mystic. When the pastor started instructing me to think differently and do things differently, I expressed my concern as to whether or not “obedience is curative.” He focused on teaching me to cling to the promises of God, and to obey, but we were both confused about obedience being love and not lesser condemnation. Sure, if you cling to the promises of God, and keep a clear conscience before Him, you are going to eventually come out of the depression, and that’s what happened to me eventually, but that’s just putting a Band-Aid on the symptoms. The real problem is condemnation with fear following. A person can reap the benefits of a clear conscience while still functioning as someone who is under some degree of condemnation, but with a proper understanding of justification, there is NOW…NO condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1).

No condemnation leads to less and less sin and more and more love. Love “covers a multitude of sin” and “fulfills the whole law.”

Protestant orthodoxy calls for the “Christian” to remain under condemnation of the law and its fear of condemnation. Martin Luther believed that all works performed by Christians need to be “attended with fear” [of condemnation]. John Calvin stated the same in no uncertain terms. In Protestantism, the catalyst for sanctification is fear of condemnation and a continued need for the same gospel that saved you. That is a root source of depression. The present-day biblical counseling movement produces mental illness through its own churchianity, and then cures it by teaching people to sear their consciences with a hot iron. Protestantism produces mental illness, and then presents itself as the cure.

Next week, we will examine concrete actions that one needs to take in order to have complete victory over major depression.

A Contemporary History of Sanctification

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 18, 2014

…. It finally occurred to me after trying to fight this problem of new Calvinism with doctrine that, for almost six years now, it’s apparent it’s not going any place real quick. So first of all, I’d like to take a look at the fact that everybody functions by philosophy. This is reality. The definition of Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach, and its reliance on rational argument.

Now everybody functions on philosophy. And in fact, if you don’t want to function on a philosophy, you need a philosophy to not function on philosophy. The philosophy of I believe the pronunciation is nihilism or nihilism is the philosophy, and this was very prevalent, prevalent, a very prevalent philosophy just prior to Socrates, which would be sixth, seventh century B.C. Nihilism is the belief that values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. And by the way, this philosophy is making a comeback on our culture right now. So it’s the philosophy that you can’t know anything. There’s no objective truth. But that’s a philosophy. So if you don’t wanna live by a philosophy, it takes a philosophy to not live by a philosophy.

Our philosophy of life would determine our life. I want to make this clear: Philosophy determines life. How we think determines what we do. Now the events that Susan will be sharing throughout this conference today are things that happened in her Christian experience directly related and are driven by a philosophy that determines thinking. And thinking leads to things that happen. I’m very happy that Susan is sharing her experiences and putting with John will be talking about what I’m talking about. Susan will actually – could fit on how that way of thinking and philosophy plays out in real life and her experiences and her Christian experience, okay? So that’s critical. So we’re gonna be able to look at the thinking and how people actually experience these things in real life.

How we think controls us. Our philosophy controls our thinking. And our thinking determines what we do. Nobody but nobody robs a bank because they think they’re gonna get caught, all right? So the predominant philosophy affecting the church today is undoubtedly New Calvinism. That’s the 2009 issue of Time Magazine, and the theme of that issue is Ten Ideas Changing the World Right Now. And one of the ten is New Calvinism. In fact, I think it’s rated like third out of all the other ideas changing the world today, and that’s a secular magazine. So even the secular world is taking note of Neo Calvinism and the effect it’s having on our culture.

Like most movements, the catalyst for New Calvinism was and is due to the failure of the prior movement that came before it. That’s a catalyst for New Calvinism. The philosophy of movements, like all philosophies, eventually renders results to say that prior things start happening. And again, Susan will be sharing how that fleshes out in real life.

So what was the prior movement and its failures? What movement preceded New Calvinism and what were the failures that contribute greatly on this New Calvinist, the tsunami that we’re experiencing? And Susan and I have talked to pastors, even pastors who are in very important positions, you know, a month having lunch with a certain guy who is a over a lot of youth camps in the country. This is exactly what he said. He was drawn in to the New Calvinist philosophy because of the failures of the prior movement that was prevalent in the Christian Church.

Before I come back to that, I’m going to take a quick interlude before I move on. Here’s a quick interlude I’d like to take. New Calvinism is a false gospel. I’m going to get into that a little bit more later. And it doesn’t matter, like I said, I had a transition of thinking on this. That’s been me lately. Is the philosophy stupid? It really is. And let me explain this. Let me explain this.

Another gospel was a book that I decided not to publish. And one of the reasons that I decided not to publish it, and here it is, well over two hundred pages. A lot of pastors said this, “This is a real strong doctrinal argument against the New Calvinism.” But in my interaction on my blog and with other people, the doctrinal arguments in here just weren’t going anywhere. In our day and age, the problem that we’re having is that there’s an underlying philosophy that bypasses the doctrinal argument. For years now as a Christian, who has been heavily focused on doctrines especially regarding my contention against New Calvinism, I have seen firsthand attempting and persuading Christians with doctrinal arguments is useless. That book is published online now for free.

Why is this? Why is it? And that’s what where we come to understanding the philosophy of what I call the two gospel waves, the two gospel waves. And this is critical in understanding why this underlying philosophical belief and mentality has to be taken care of before we can start dealing with these problems doctrinally. The two gospel waves are critical in understanding this. The two gospel waves cover the last 62 years of Christianity in America. The first wave covers 1915 to 1970.

And here are the elements of the first gospel wave. One, it emphasized salvation with a much lesser emphasis on discipleship and personal holiness. Two, because of the lack of emphasis on in-depth discipleship, biblical generalities filled the gap. When there’s lack of in-depth discipleship, people were going, “Life still happens irregardless.” So people are going to start putting the bandage on things. Right? Three, the Bible was primarily good for the gospel but was not sufficient for solving the deeper problems of life. That’s three. Four, one of their favorite mottos was, still is, think about this. “I’ve said it myself. We are sinners saved by grace,” which concedes that Christians still sin as a lifestyle. If you look up sinner in the dictionary, it’s somebody who sins as a lifestyle. Huge difference between being born again Christians who sin versus a sinner saved by grace. Big difference.

MAN:  Can you go back over number three again, gospel?

The Bible was primarily good for the gospel but was not sufficient for solving the deeper problems of life.

MAN:  Okay. Good.

All right? The Bible was preached out of generalities and lived out by generalities. Henceforth, we think this is funny in our day, the Hillbilly Ten Commandments. Commandment one, ain’t but One God. Two, honor yer ma and yer pa. Three, no telling tales or gossips. And so on and so forth. Ha ha, very funny. This is guy right here ought to be the poster child for death and despair in the Christian Church. And again, Susan’s going to share with us why that is in her experiences and what she experienced.

So things like this are favorite truisms in the first gospel wave. And there’s an overlapping between the first gospel wave and the second gospel wave. But sixth, theology nor doctrine is taught in the local churches. Theology nor doctrine is taught in the local churches. And going back to the Hillbilly Ten Commandments, counseling looks something like this. So you have problems in your marriage? Well, we have next [SOUNDS LIKE] 00:14:45 commandment number five, ain’t nothing come before the Lord. Now you remember that and get up on out of here. You’ll be fine. And we’ll pray for you.

Now seven, traditionally, though parishioners desire educated pastors, it is a sin that the pastors will not teach what they’ve learned in seminary to the congregations. And I’ve seen this all my Christian life. Pastors don’t teach what they learned in seminary to their congregants. But yet, congregants rarely dream of accepting a pastor into their – leading their church without being educated.

Eight, in contradiction to Matthew 28:19, a strong emphasis on bringing people to the church to hear the gospel rather than going out to preach the gospel. This tradition illustrates the assumed incompetence of parishioners to present the gospel. And my point of the first gospel wave is this. Underlying what happened and what the first gospel wave looks like is this underlying philosophy that of incompetence, that man is incompetent, that Christians are incompetent.

MAN:  Can we go back to number five? I totally missed that.

Oh, five is favorite truisms are things such as the Hillbilly Ten Commandments. All right?

What is more representative of living by biblical generalities? We don’t need any in-depth study into the deeper meanings of how the Ten Commandments apply to life and how we learn from that, and as Jesus said, “Put it into practice,” thus forth changing our lives and the world saying that and glorifying God the Father, we don’t need to get into all that deep stuff. You just remember, honor yer ma and yer pa. Okay?

Number eight, quit your foul-mouthing. Generalities, all right? Living by biblical generalities.

Nine, by the latter ’60s, the philosophy of the first gospel wave was causing bad things to happen, and people started looking for something else. Again, Susan is going to have a lot to say how she experienced these things.

The second gospel wave was born in 1970 and continues to present day as the embodiment of New Calvinism. So New Calvinism is the embodiment of the second gospel wave, and that began in 1970. But don’t forget my major point about the first gospel wave. If you look at those elements, underlining these elements is an assumed incompetence on the part of parishioners.

Please don’t miss this. It’s probably the major point of the first gospel wave. Right now, on this day, the reason we cannot persuade Christians by doctrine is because Christians en masse have conceded the fact that they can’t understand doctrine. Underlying the first gospel wave was an assumption of incompetence on the part of parishioners in general.

So one, under second gospel wave, which is what I’m gonna go over now, it not only emphasizes salvation over discipleship like the first gospel wave does, it goes much further than that. It teaches justification and sanctification are the same thing. So the first gospel wave said what’s important is getting people saved because sinners are going to be sinners. There’s only so much you can do with their lives. Yeah, there’s a select few that come to this higher evolution of obeying God, and they actually called that disciple – there was a big movement in this first gospel wave where there two classes of Christians, the saved and the disciples, right?

So the second gospel wave involving the New Calvinism it says, “Ah, not only is discipleship not important, there isn’t any such thing. Everything is about the gospel.” Though they deny this, though they deny this, listen to their very own mottos. Listen carefully. “The same gospel that saved us also sanctifies us.” Right? How about this one? “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” These are their words, not mine.

Secondly, the Bible is presented as a gospel narrative that only serves to give believers a deeper and deeper knowledge of the same gospel that saved them. Like the first wave, using the Bible for instruction and righteousness is horrendously devalued. But the second wave goes beyond that and denies the Bible to be used for discipleship at all. Now they wouldn’t come right out admit this. But if you pay close attention, it’s what comes out in the watch. And in private conversations with New Calvinist pastors, they’ve told me that pointblank. They’ve told me that pointblank. You study the Bible for purposes of learning what it says and applying it to our life. They even have a name for it: biblicism.

The transition between the two gospel waves. Living by biblical generalities was presented to the victims of the first gospel wave as legalism by proponents of the second gospel wave, and offered an alternative to supposedly living by dos and don’ts and living by lists. Guilty as charged, all right? But again biblical generalities replaced in-depth discipleship and in-depth study of the Word of God for purposes of applying it to life’s deepest problems. Because of the lack of doctrinal education and the dumbing down of parishioners en masse during the first gospel wave, Christians were absolutely helpless in seeing through the deceptions of the second wave.

Now nobody denies that Christians in our day are dumbed down. Susan and I have talked to hundreds of people in regard to studying New Calvinism. And Susan, how many people have we met, Christians that know the difference between justification and sanctification?

SUSAN:  Very few.

I don’t remember any. Pastors have called us in regard to this conference. At least one pastor I talked to didn’t even know the difference. A pastor! Look, if you don’t know the fundamental doctrinal difference between justification and sanctification, you can’t understand the book of Galatians.

So Christianity was perfectly primed for the second wave, helpless against it because of the gross overemphasis on gospel that was indicative of the first wave. These two movements share that in common. The core philosophy that drives both of these movements is a philosophy, doctrine if you will, of humanity’s incompetence. This is the philosophy that resides deep in the psyche of western culture. This philosophy varies in scope and from secular to the spiritual but certainly in American culture. Though this philosophy is passively accepted in the secular realm, it is most definitely the idea that rules the day in American churches. Again, you can’t contend against false doctrine with doctrine because American parishioners have conceded that they don’t understand doctrine and can’t understand doctrine, and they aren’t the least bit shamed of it. And in fact, it’s a badge of honor. And I’m sure anybody would agree that if you read the Apostle Paul in the New Testament where he emphasizes “the apostle’s doctrine” and holding his exhortations to Timothy about holding a sound doctrine, if the average American parishioner has conceded to the fact and happily said that they don’t understand doctrine, are we not in big trouble?

Blatant examples display themselves in the politics of communism and socialism with things like Rush Limbaugh fight. Ironically, like the secular academic example, most American Christians will not accept this philosophy in the political arena. A dichotomy is made between the secular and spiritual. This is indicative of the dualism that comes from the ancient philosophies that spun this doctrine. Evil matter is fair game for the spiritually incompetent while understanding deep spiritual matters is a dangerous stunt that shouldn’t be tried at home.

Furthermore, many embrace this concept eagerly thinking that natural incompetence, and I think this is one of the motives, that natural incompetence in spiritual matters supersedes responsibility before God. Right? If I can’t understand spiritual things and I can’t understand doctrine, when I stand before the Lord, I can blame it on the pastor. I think that goes a long way.

MAN:  Say that sentence again, “Natural incompetence with the responsibility…”

Furthermore, many embrace this concept eagerly, thinking that natural incompetence in spiritual matters supersedes responsibility before God. There’s no doubt in my own mind that’s a big part of this. I’ve had congregants tell me in no uncertain words that, “Hey, I’m following the elders. I’m doing my duty by following. I don’t understand the deep theological stuff. I don’t understand half of what that pastor says. But you know what? I’m following and obeying them per Hebrews 13:17. And you know what? When I stand before the Lord, if they’ve done anything wrong, that’s going to be on them. I’m not culpable.” I have them say that to me. Anybody here buy that?

Let me wrap up my first session. I don’t think I did too bad on time. This is not God’s view of parishioners. It’s not even God’s view of lost people. Let me illustrate. First of all, listen to the Apostle Paul on Romans 15:14. Paul says, “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness and filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. Let me read that again. The Apostle Paul speaking to the Romans, “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers,” speaking generally to the Christians in Rome, “that you yourselves are A, full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.”

MAN:  Now where is that? Romans…?

Romans 15:14. Filled with all what? What? Knowledge. Okay? Acts 17:11, do you know it? Now these Jews were more noble. The Holy Spirit calls them noble. Why does he call them noble? Because they shine to the light of their own ability to interpret Scriptures with what an apostle was teaching. And the Holy Spirit called them noble for this. And this is okay because this will be repeated in the introduction to my next session. So that’s Acts 17.

Now let me close with this last verse in Genesis. They chose God’s attitude towards the competence of lost people in my book. Genesis 11:6-7. This is the story of the Tower of Babel, Genesis 11. “And the Lord said, ‘Behold they are one people, and they have all one language. And this is only the beginning of what they will do and nothing that they proposed to do will now be impossible for them.'” It doesn’t sound like an attitude of incompetence to me. Even the Lord God said of these vile, wicked sinners that if we don’t go down there and mess up their language, they’re not limited to anything. This underlying view of the incompetence of man is not shared by God for the lost or the saved.

And I’m not going to make a big theological issue of anything or make a lot hang on this. But you know, when the serpent came to Eve in the Garden, there’s this underlying approach that she was incapable of knowing what God really said, right? The serpent said, “Hey, I’m the expert on what God says here. You’re just Eve. Come on. ‘Cause God really said – in fact, I’ve got this higher knowledge that God’s trying to keep from you. And I’m the expert on that. So listen to me.” Wow, that is so indicative of what I think are ancient philosophies. That’s the underlying crux of where we are today in all this.

With that, I’m going to wrap up my first session. And Susan can come up next and present her part of this. And thanks for your attention.


… 1952 the same year the infamous evangelist, Billy Graham, concentrated full time on preaching. He helped to bind together a vulnerable nation through religious revival. Many believe that his success was directly related to the cultural climate of post World War II. He spoke out against communism. In 1954 Graham stated that either Communism must die or Christianity must die because it is actually a battle between Christ and the anti-Christ.

With the advent of nuclear weapons and the demonstrated fragility of life, people turned to spirituality for comfort. And Graham illuminated their path. He helped to bind together a vulnerable nation through religious revival. By glazing over the finer points of Christianity and focusing on more moderate doctrines, he made evangelism enticing, non-threatening, and easy to swallow, and in a lot of ways gave definition to easy believism. His mission to present the gospel and get people say they’re on their way to heaven permeated the focus of many fundamental churches, particularly the Southern Baptist denomination with which Billy Graham was associated.

As a result of the success of Billy Graham, many other evangelists and pastors adopted and adopted his mode of operation in order to bring in the sheep. This is often referred to as the first gospel wave that swept over America in the ’50s and continued on into the early ’70s. People, please, do not misunderstand my remarks. The biographical remarks were taken from an article written of Billy Graham. We all believed that people were genuinely saved as a result of the ministry of Billy Graham. But I want to also say that many thought they were saved as a result of his ministry as well.

Here’s the dilemma his type of evangelism created: A, genuine salvation experiences occurred, and B, professions of salvation made but no outward change in living their lifestyle, and C, lack of assurance of salvation as a result of poor follow up in discipleship. In my neck of the woods, the at least he is saved mentality, which the Billy Graham Association innocently created, helped people rationalize sinful lifestyles, making valid emotional experiences and equate them with regeneration, and issued fire insurance policies, the fire insurance policy mentality amongst churchgoing people. Just say the sinner’s prayer, and you’re guaranteed a home in heaven.

I was born and reared at the mouth of a holler called Owl’s Branch [SOUNDS LIKE] 00:03:06 in Dorton, Kentucky. After World War II, my father attended Berea College, majoring in Science, and returning to the high school from which he graduated to teach Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and coach basketball. Living in Appalachia, we were surrounded by a culture much like the one you would find in a foreign country. We were isolated from big city influences and big city opportunities. Full of traditions, superstitions, and a different way of thinking permeated the area.

It is easy to see how this culture and way of thinking and living evolved into what my dad called the hillbilly mentality. My dad’s definition of hillbilly mentality was this: A, you follow the loudest and most intimidating leader, whether right or wrong. B, education is not important; ridicule those who want to pursue higher learning. C, make the most money you can by honest or dishonest means, whichever may work for you. And D, entitlement. If you have money, you are entitled to special consideration. If you did not have money, you were entitled to special consideration.

Religion was and still is important in that area. The old regular Baptist was the primary established church. An occasional Methodist could be seen. And hark, in the big towns of Jenkins and Pikeville, there were Catholic churches. But my parents and paternal grandparents broke away from the mold and supported a mission established by the Christian and Missionary Alliance called the Beefhide Gospel Mission. My dad told our family that we were not going to be a part of the shenanigans that went on in the regular Baptist churches. My understanding of Baptist church shenanigans was singing every song to the tune of Amazing Grace, exuberant yelling, walking the aisle to get saved, long hair on women, baptismal regeneration, snake handling, the laying on of hands, and preachers who foamed at the mouth.

So I agreed with my dad and thought it was a good idea to stay away from those shenanigans, especially the snake part. The Christian and Missionary Alliance commissioned Margaret Wearley as well as other men and women missionaries to come to Eastern Kentucky and present the gospel to the hill folk and establish bible-teaching churches. Besides the chapel they organized, they ran a camp called Camp Begomi, B-E for Beefhide, G-O for gospel, and M-I for mission. It was every child and young person’s delight from all over Eastern Kentucky to spend a week there. Good food, games, swimming, crafts, bible-teaching, and tabernacle evangelistic services every evening to present the gospel and to get children saved and on the way to heaven.

The difference from other evangelical endeavors in the manner of the established regular Baptist churches was that these men and women attempted to educate their children in the Bible after we returned home from camp. Sunday school with the glorious flannelgraph stories, vacation bible school with the bible lesson and missionary story, arts and crafts, and my very favorite, pioneer girls. The year I remember so distinctly was the year my dear friend, Sandy, this is hard because Sandy passed away at the camp. She was eight. Because I was seven, I had to wait an entire year. She walked forward during one of those evangelistic meetings, got saved, and came home and told me about it. I told her that I wanted to get saved too. And her answer, “You can’t. You have to go to camp to get saved.” Well, that didn’t sit too well with me. And I got upset and I went home, knelt by my bed and prayed my version of the sinner’s Prayer. I don’t know how to get saved, but I wanna be saved. So save me. I went back to my friend, Sandy, told her what I’ve done, and she matter of factly told me that I wasn’t really saved yet.

What a long year it was until the next June. I was ready and waiting for the Camp Begomi bus at seven a.m. and was the first person down the aisle to get saved the first night of evangelistic meetings. When the counselor talked to me about why I came forward, I told her that I wanted to make sure I had done it right. Well, praise the Lord. There is a new name written down in glory, and it’s mine.

Well, I drove my brothers crazy. During the summer, our coal house was empty so I converted it into a tabernacle. I made a podium with benches for my dolls. I preached salvation to them in a variety of ways. I covered my dad’s tools with signs. Sow god into your heart. Hammer Satan out of your life. And the creek was real handy for baptismal services. My parents were concerned that I would end up in Africa as a missionary.

I attended camp for ten straight years. For six of those ten years, I went forward with tears, sincerely wanting to make sure I was doing the salvation thing right. Those blessed missionaries failed in a basic point of discipling me, the teaching of doctrine. First of all, the doctrine of justification, the doctrine of soteriology, which is the doctrine of salvation, which includes assurance of salvation, the doctrine of sanctification, and the how to live not just a saved life but a sanctified one.

When I was 14 we moved to the ends of the earth. Actually, to the other end of the state, Louisville, where my father took a teaching position at Seneca High School, the largest school in the state. My graduating class was 588. I attended a series of revival meetings with a friend. And the first night, the evangelist said, “If you can’t remember the date you got saved and have it written down in the front cover of your Bible, you are not really saved. Because salvation is such a memorial event, you will remember the time, date, month, and year.” Well, it was as if I’ve been hit by a bolt of lightning, and I began to cry. My friend asked me what was wrong. And I told her I thought I don’t think I’m saved. I remember kneeling by my bed, but Lord, what was the date? Was it in June? Was it July? Sandy came back from camp on a Saturday. Was it a Saturday that I knelt by my bed? All this time Lord, if I would have died, I would have gone to hell. So guess what I did again? Walked the aisle, knelt, and prayed the sinner’s prayer just to make sure. Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul. Again. I wrote the date of that salvation event now.

What’s wrong with this picture? The first evangelical wave, evangelistic wave, preached the gospel. Go forward. Fill out a response card. Walk the Romans Road. Pray the sinner’s prayer like a tsunami. And I was part of that spiritual damage left on the shore. How many other people were feeling the same as I? Getting people saved and on the gospel express to heaven, repeating the sinner’s prayer, walking the aisle, writing down the date on the cover of your Bible, read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow. Now what? Where was I supposed to go from here? This was a form of spiritual insanity.

I returned to camp as a counselor that summer after this new birth experience, and was asked by Ms. Wearley to give my testimony. Well, I stood up in the tabernacle and gave my testimony of how I was saved at the age of 14 on such and such date. After the service was over, Ms. Wearley asked to speak with me in her cabin. I was scared to death. That woman was to be feared. It was there in her cabin that she asked me where I had gotten the notion that I had just recently been converted. Well, the story came out. And it was then she explained to me about justification and assurance of salvation. On my walk back to my cabin, I remember saying, “Lord, why wasn’t I taught that seven years ago? Then all of the grief and heartache I had experienced over the years would never have occurred.” I had kept returning to the cross, preaching the gospel to myself, reliving the salvation experience frequently, and had missed the peace and joy of assurance of salvation, kingdom living, and abundant life in Christ. I was one of those caught in that first evangelical wave and floundering because I lacked biblical education and doctrine.

A family who lived next door to us back in the hills was the Wright family. They were the wrong family to be friends with. We children always thought that Mrs. Wright was possessed because of how she acted when we came on their property uninvited. Her seven children were meaner than junkyard dogs. Henry pushed my brother, David, off a culvert and almost broke his back. Henry stole my father’s entire paycheck. And the twins, Debbie [SOUNDS LIKE] and Tiny [SOUNDS LIKE], pushed me off a cliff. But the oldest son, Lovell, was the one everyone gave space. He was the purest definition of hillbilly mentality. He was loud, intimidating, he quit school at sixteen, ridiculed those who pursued education, and he had a definite attitude of entitlement. Oh, he had walked forward at the old regular Baptist church his parents were members of. He was baptized, and he was on his way to heaven.

Well, Lovell moved to Detroit, and it wasn’t long before the news got back to the family that Lovell will be coming home. In a casket. He was caught stealing a car, drove down a dead end alley, ran from the police, and was shot when he didn’t stop when asked. Back then funerals were held in homes. The living room of the Wright’s house was turned into a funeral parlor. Red velvet curtains were mounted behind the casket. And then the casket rested on a black and gold stand, and electric candle lobbers stood at the head of [UNINTELLIGIBLE] 00:14:39 and it give the room this eerie red glow. All of the smell of flowers mixed with cigarette smoke and it created a sicky sweet smell. It made it almost impossible to stay in the room for very long. Well, the old regular Baptist preacher stood by the casket and he preached his heart out. He foamed at the mouth. He spit into his handkerchief. He mopped the sweat off of his brow as he continued for over an hour expounding upon the goodness of Brother Lovell, how he was resting in the bosom of Abraham. In the background, Mrs. Wright was wailing and trying to climb into the casket to be buried with her son.

Lovell stayed in the living room of the Wright’s home for three days before he was laid to rest in the family cemetery at the head of Belcher Holler. The older women of the church sat together in the amen corner, amening the pastor, waving their fans that have been provided by the funeral home as briskly [SOUNDS LIKE] 00:15:36 as they could. And I heard one elder woman turn to another and say, “Well, Mrs. Coleman, [SOUNDS LIKE] at least, he was saved.”

The next day my dad and I went on an errand. And I asked daddy why the preacher lied. “Lied? Lied about what, honey?” he asked. “Well, he lied when talked about Lovell. He said Lovell was a good boy and that he loved his parents and did good things for people. Well, Lovell hurt us, and he cussed his parents out all the time. He stole from people. And the preacher said he would be waiting for his mother in the bosom of Abraham.” I know that my dad tried hard not to laugh because it took him a while before an answer. “Well, Susan, a preacher sometimes have to say things to comfort the family. Wouldn’t it have been comforting to tell the parents that Lovell was burning in hell because he was a sinful, rebellious son?” “He still shouldn’t have lied, Daddy.” That was my final answer.

“Mrs. Coleman said, At least, he was saved. Can a person be a little bit saved and still go to heaven?” I asked. “Honey, there are all kinds of opinions on whether Lovell was saved. And God has final say in the matter, not the preacher.” I have heard that phrase many times at funerals or when speaking of someone who died. “Well, at least he was saved.” So Lovell lived like the devil, but at least he had his fire insurance policy, made effective because he walked the aisle, said the sinner’s prayer, and was baptized in the Big Sandy River. But I will have to agree with my dad. Only God really knows if Lovell was genuinely saved or not and resting in the bosom of Abraham. At my funeral, I hope more will be said about me than “at least, she was saved.”

The problem of the ’50s and the ’70s, that first evangelical wave, was an overemphasis on evangelism and little or no emphasis on discipleship, doctrine, and kingdom living. The damage left behind as a result of this séance [SOUNDS LIKE] 00:17:58 decade, in doing research for this conference, I ran across many comments and answer to the question why people no longer go to church or associate with an established church. Overwhelmingly, the answer was the church has no answers other than, “Go home and pray about it.” The exodus of young people from the church when they leave home for college was and still is astounding. People leaving the church because there are no answers there. We are not teaching how to discern man’s ideas from God’s truth. We’re not counseling from God’s word to give answers to life’s problems. Church is no longer relevant in this contemporary age. Church is for children. These are reasons given by people who don’t want to give Christianity a nod of their head. When I was a child, I spoke as a child and thought as a child. And when I became a man, I put away childish things–the Elmer Gantry answer when asked why he fell from grace as a tent evangelist.

What I want you to take from my first talk, when leading a person to Christ, whether we use the Romans Road, the ABC’s of salvation or other effective plans, please take the time to explain what happens in the salvation experience. We get so eager to get the decision that helping the person understand his decision is put on the backburner. Salvation is more than one asking Jesus to come into his heart. It’s agreeing to the facts of the gospel. It is repentance. It is trusting Christ and his atoning work. These facts are what the gospel says about the spiritual need of mankind. God’s gracious provision of salvation in Christ and what the sinner must do to be saved. It is to acknowledge the truthfulness of these facts rather than just being an emotional leap into some undefined experience. Salvational faith embraces what God says in his word about Jesus and his atoning work. The presentation of these facts should be accompanied with explanation so that they may be more meaningful to the unsaved heart.

Repentance. Repentance is a change of mind and attitude toward God and the things of which the gospel seeks. This change in mind and attitude is brought about by God. Without repentance, there is no salvation.

Trusting in Christ and his atoning work is more than a general faith in God or Jesus. The devils believe and they tremble. This is to place one’s complete trust in Jesus and his atoning work for the specific purpose of being delivered from sin and receiving God’s gift to spiritual life. It is here that many miss salvation, thinking that they are saved by some physical action like the raising of a hand or walking an aisle. Depending upon an emotional experience, they fail to trust Jesus’ substitutionary work for  their salvation. They place their trust in something or someone other than him. But one’s trust must be wholly in Jesus and his atoning work, for he alone is the sinner’s substitute and savior. If any of these are missing, then one does not experience salvation.

Teach assurance of salvation. Upon receiving Christ as our savior, we are making preachers in him, possessing a new kind of life and experiencing the renewal of our inner human nature. It is impossible to have new life and to experience this change in nature without manifesting this in daily life. This manifestation of new life may vary and can be eclipsed by sin. Nevertheless, the signs of this new life will be expressed in them who have it.

There is a logical order to our salvation experience. First, we understand justification, then the new birth, regeneration, new preacherhood, sanctification, a co-laboring with God as we experience kingdom living, and ultimately, glorification.

I encourage you pastors, teachers, and parents to obey Scripture and teach the dreaded D word: doctrine. Deuteronomy 6:6-9, “The Lord spoke to Moses and to us, and you must commit yourself wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down, and when you are getting up again. Tie them to your hands as a reminder. Wear them on your forehead. Write them on the doorpost of your house and on your gates. It is vital to know and to teach doctrine as we all follow the great commission. Go and make disciples.


The Jay Adams Doing Reformation: A Study in Contrast pdf link: TANC ch 9

The Law of Sin and the Law of Faith; Romans 2:12-29 :

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Why Calvinism is False in 15 Minutes

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 17, 2014

Why Catholicism and Protestantism Both are False Gospels

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 15, 2014

“This is not mere semantics concerning the best way to grow spiritually; what we believe about sanctification shows what we believe about justification. Is it a finished work or not? And if it isn’t, what we believe about sanctification is a purely salvific discussion by default anyway. The Reformers, new and old, do not frame sanctification in salvific terms; this is disingenuous and they know it. Confusion in regard to sanctification enables them to speak of sanctification in a justification way.”

“According to the Reformers, contemplative repentance is the fuel that powers our car on the justification highway to heaven. If we try to get to heaven any other way; i.e., some sort of belief that the highway is not a highway at all but a finished declaration and present reality, we lose justification and sanctification both (Michael Horton: Christless Christianity; p. 62).

In other words, contemplative repentance as a work that we do is the only way to heaven. Reformers like Tullian Tchividjian insist that it is Christ + Nothing = Everything; but again, that is because, like Calvin, he deems contemplative repentance as a non-work in sanctification that doesn’t cause our justification car to run out of gas. In fact, the think tank that launched the present-day Reformation resurgence framed it in those exact terms.”

Protestantism, which came from Catholicism, is also a false gospel. This is because Protestantism only reformed the means of progressive justification and didn’t reject it. Both are guilty of fusing justification and sanctification together. Therefore, both are false gospels because according to both, justification is not a finished work and progresses through sanctification. Therefore, the question of what man must believe so that justification is properly finished is the difference between heaven and hell. Salvation becomes a matter of the right justification process as opposed to simply believing on a finished work by God.

If sanctification (the Christian life) is the progressive expression of justification, man is involved in the justification process, and when this is the case, it is salvation by works because doing is involved even if the doing is believing only. Sanctification becomes a discussion about what is works in sanctification and what isn’t a work in sanctification, but doing something, whether believing or breathing, is a work; it’s all work. Hence, all of the confusion, and if you will, denominations. The propagation of sanctification by faith alone is always indicative of a justification that is not finished.

In truth, nothing we do in sanctification is a work for justification because that work is already finished. And this is the crux in regard to what Paul wrote to the Galatians:

Gal 3:1 – O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

“Being perfected” can be a little misleading if one does not examine this text carefully. The word for “perfected” is epiteleō which means “to complete, bring to an end.” This is why Young’s Literal Translation has it this way:

O thoughtless Galatians, who did bewitch you, not to obey the truth — before whose eyes Jesus Christ was described before among you crucified? 2 this only do I wish to learn from you — by works of law the Spirit did ye receive, or by the hearing of faith? 3 so thoughtless are ye! having begun in the Spirit, now in the flesh do ye end? [ESV Olive Tree footnote: “Or now ending with”].

The issue at hand was the fact that the Galatians were being influenced by the “circumcision party” (Gal 2:12). They taught salvation by circumcision. Paul called it justification by the law, but understand what he meant by that. The circumcision party emphasized justification by circumcision, but relaxed the rest of the law. Christ referred to this same sort of theology in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:19). Paul’s point is that if you want to be justified by the law, all of the law must be kept perfectly in order to do so (Gal 4:2-4).

Freedom to obey the law aggressively (as love) in sanctification points to our view of justification. Aggressive obedience in sanctification points to the belief that justification is a finished work and unrelated to our work for God and others. It embraces the whole law and pursues righteousness for the sake of loving God and others truthfully. Though we fall short and that is disappointing, it cannot affect a work that is already finished: justification. Those misleading the Galatians taught that circumcision finished justification, and perhaps, as well, that any focus on the finer points of the law would circumvent the circumcision. In essence, those leading the Galatians astray were antinomians:

Gal 2:15 – We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. [parabatēs “lawbreaker”].

When justification and sanctification are fused together and sanctification is the progression of justification, invariably, some tradition or combination of traditions replaces a literal adherence to law. In other words, the law needs to be dumbed down because it is part of the justification process. So, mark it well: our attitude towards the law in sanctification reveals what we believe about justification:

Gal 5:7 – You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you.

They were “running” well. “Well” (kalōs) carries the idea of good morals. Paul was certainly NOT commending them for “running well” for justification. They replaced the law keeping of love in sanctification with the supposed fulfilment of justification by the traditions of men and their interpretation of the law. In this case, the primary tradition was circumcision. This is how the Amplified Bible states it:

Gal 3:2 – Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the [Holy] Spirit as the result of obeying the Law and doing its works, or was it by hearing [the message of the Gospel] and believing [it]? [Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith?]

The paraphrase, “observing a law of rituals” is a good one. The Galatian error involved the necessary dumbing down of the law because the Christian life is seen as an extension of justification. To the contrary, there is NO law in justification because no man can withstand its judgment for righteousness (Rom 2:12, 3:19-21, 28, 4:15, 5:13, 6:14,15, 7:1, 6, 8 “Apart from the law, sin lies dead”). However, a relaxed view of the law of love in sanctification points to a law in justification that must be fulfilled by some sort of tradition:

Gal 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. 7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

Notice that faith works (Jms 2:22) “through love,” and love fulfills the law (Rom13:8). This is a “running” by “obeying the truth.” This is why justification and sanctification must be completely separate. Justification is a finished work, and sanctification is a progressive work of love through obedience to the word of God.

Gospels that fuse justification and sanctification together always posit the idea that a striving to keep God’s law truthfully, as a way to earn salvation, is the pandemic of the day. That is not true at all. An effort to “run well” is always associated with the idea that the running has nothing to do with justification at all. Justification is God’s love to us and is finished; our love towards God and others is sanctification.

1Jn 4:19 – We love because he first loved us.

“We love” is sanctification. “He first loved us” is justification.

In both Romanism and Protestantism, justification is progressive, and sanctification is the progression of justification. This calls for a special formula that keeps us from circumventing the process. It also requires that we do something to maintain the process. “But Paul, doesn’t justification have a finished aspect and also a progressive aspect?” No, but even if that point is conceded, if justification isn’t properly finished, the beginning of it is for naught. In fact, this is exactly what John Calvin taught in regard to the perseverance of the saints. He stated that all who were chosen would not necessarily persevere to the end. Hence, their initial justification was for naught (CI 3.24.6-8).

The Protestant special formula is best exemplified in the writings of John Calvin. First, he made a perfect keeping of law the standard for justification. Justification was defined by a law standard. In the Calvin Institutes (CI), Calvin claimed that Christ obtained justification “by the whole course of his obedience” (CI 2.16.5). In the same section, Calvin interprets Christ’s one act of obedience (Rom 5:19) to the cross as pertaining to his whole life (that only refers to His obedience to the cross Pil 2:8). He also notes that Christ was “born under the law” (Gal 4:4,5) and offers that “proof” as well. But all that is saying is that Christ was born into the world like all other men: under the law. Christ is the only man born into the world that could withstand a judgment by the law—that doesn’t mean he had to keep it in order to fulfill all righteousness. For that matter, all righteousness was fulfilled when He was baptized by John the Baptist (Matt 3:15).

Calvin then goes on to explain that any law-keeping by the Christian is futile because we cannot keep it perfectly (CI 3.14. 10), and no Christian has ever done a work pleasing to God (CI 3.14.11). According to Calvin, the obedience of Christ must be continually applied to our lives until we get to heaven (Ibid). Furthermore, we must continually return to the same gospel that saved us for the forgiveness of new sins committed in the Christian life (Ibid, and CI 4.1.21,22).

So, the Protestant formula is returning to the same gospel that saved us in order to maintain our justification. Supposedly, it’s not of works because the initial repentance that saved us was by faith alone, so a perpetual returning to the same gospel maintains our justification while qualifying as faith alone. This, according to Calvin, does not circumvent the “Progressive” “Sense” of justification (see title: CI 3.14).

In this Protestant construct, Martin Luther’s alien righteousness was very important. This teaches that ALL righteousness remains outside of the believer. The believer has no righteousness of his own. This is important if you are on the justification bus going to glorification. Your inner righteousness would be part of the process that keeps the progression moving forward, perseverance if you will. This version of the Protestant formula to reach heaven by the same faith alone without works that saved/justified us can be seen in the Protestant concept of Sabbath Salvation. In the same way that the Israelites were not allowed to work on the Sabbath upon pain of death, anyone who works in their Christian life will suffer eternal death. Said Calvin:

Ezekiel is still more full, but the sum of what he says amounts to this: that the Sabbath is a sign by which Israel might know God is their sanctifier. If our sanctification consists in the mortification of our own will, the analogy between the external sign and the thing signified is most appropriate. We must rest entirely, in order that God may work in us; we must resign our own will, yield up our heart, and abandon all the lusts of the flesh. In short, we must desist from all the acts of our mind, that God working in us, we may rest in him (CI 2.8.29).

Calvin was adamant that none of God’s righteousness could be transferred to the believer (CI 3.14.11) in the “two-fold grace”(i.e., two-fold justification: Calvin deliberately used perceived synonyms to nuance what he believed) of justification and sanctification. All righteousness must remain outside of the believer. If the believer has no righteousness that is his/hers, they can continually affirm their belief in justification by faith alone and continue to receive forgiveness based on faith alone. In this way, Christ’s death and obedient life is perpetually applied to the believer in sanctification until they get to heaven (Ibid).

Therefore, it stands to reason that the only duty of the believer is to see their own sinfulness in sanctification; by doing this, they affirm they have no righteousness that is their own, and can do no work pleasing to God. According to the Protestant formula, this is the only work that is not a work. It is the “mortification of the will.” So, all work in sanctification must be the same repentance that originally saved us—this keeps us in the saving graces of God.

Contemporary Calvinists like John Piper refer to this as the Gospel continuing to save us IF we continue to “live by the gospel.” In a sermon titled, How Does the Gospel Save Believers? Part 2 Piper made the following statement:

We are asking the question, How does the gospel save believers?, not: How does the gospel get people to be believers? (August 16, 1998 by John Piper | Scripture: Romans 1:16-17 | Series: Romans: The Greatest Letter Ever Written).

So, let’s be clear, what we believe the gospel is, keeps us saved. The Protestant gospel is a sanctification defined by repentance only that keeps us saved. If we believe we have a righteousness of our own, all bets are off. Because sanctification is part of the “two-fold” grace (singular) of justification, man’s righteousness cannot participate. This is opposed to another view of the gospel that we are born again of God literally (1Jn 3:9, 5:18) and therefore righteous, and in fact full of goodness (Rom 15:14).

The fact that Christians still sin as mortals does not negate the fact that they are inherently righteous as proven by a change of direction. Certainly, perfection is the goal in sanctification, but not the standard for justification. The Bible explains it as an exchange of slavery. Those “under the law” and not “under grace” are free to do good, but enslaved to unrighteousness (Rom 6:20-22). Those under grace are enslaved to righteousness, but also free to sin (Rom 7:25). The chart below may help illustrate how this results in a change of life direction.


There is no law in justification, and it is a finished work apart from sanctification which fulfils the law by love. The law is now the standard for love in sanctification. As mentioned before, gospels that fuse justification and sanctification together in order to make justification an unfinished work often teach that obedience to the word of God circumvents the formula of salvation. In the case of Protestantism, a belief that we can please God by obeying His word assumes a righteousness that circumvents their gospel.

Hence, anything except repentance or mortification of the flesh assumes righteousness on our part. Regeneration (the new birth) must be manifested by the works of Christ alone in sanctification. There is no room here to expound on the point, but “obedience” in this construct is only an experience specifically called “vivification.” The “heart” of the believer is only changed in regard to its increased ability to experience Christ’s obedience. We experience the “active” obedience of Christ imputed to our sanctification (His “passive” obedience was His death on the cross), but we are not the ones doing it. This protestant idea can be seen in a statement by Calvinist Paul David Tripp:

When we think, desire, speak, or act in a right way, it isn’t time to pat ourselves on the back or cross it off our To Do List. Each time we do what is right, we are experiencing [underline added] what Christ has supplied for us (Paul David Tripp: How People Change; Punch Press 2006, p. 215).

John Calvin, as you will notice if you read his writings carefully, often replaced the idea of direct obedience to God with experiencing God’s works. This is very similar to the Gnostic idea of experiencing objective, or pure good subjectively. There are many variations of this throughout Protestantism, but at the very least, and in all cases, it will instigate a relaxed attitude towards the law.

And how does this relaxing of the law that Christ warned of take place? Simply stated, it takes the two-fold act of love which is sanctification, put off and put on (Eph 4:20-24), and makes them both the responsibility of Christ while we are mere experiencers of the manifestation. This is done by primarily making sanctification ALL about repentance only, but even then, it is for the purpose of more “seeing” via the “heart.” Hence, spiritual growth is defined by an increased capacity to experience Christ as opposed to being able to actually follow Him.

Therefore, the word of God is for gospel contemplationism, or better stated, repentive contemplationism, and is not actually applied to life by the kingdom citizen; that would be working for our justification. So, life application is defined as a work, and not working is defined as not a work; i.e., contemplationism is not a work. Essentially, this is the very construct Christ attacked in the Sermon on the Mount.

The Reformers, old and new, have always tried to do a metaphysical end around on this with “distinction without separation.” Unfortunately, Bible students who formidably challenged the Reformers and elicited this rebuttal in regard to the juxtaposing of justification and sanctification have been expunged from church history. The only detractors who get press were chosen by the Reformers because they had other problems theologically.

As a way to simplify this as much as possible, let’s focus on the fact that the likes of Calvin defined sanctification by repentance only. And remember, that repentance is only contemplationism as well. I will be using an article written by Cornelis P. Venema in the Mid-America Journal of Theology to make my points (Calvin’s Understanding of the “Two-Fold Grace of God” and Contemporary Ecumenical Discussion of the Gospel MJT 2007). I will underline what I want to emphasize.

The first part of Calvin’s basic formula for relating these two aspects of God’s grace [justification and sanctification] in Christ reflects his judgment that justification and sanctification concern two different questions, and denote two distinct facets of God’s relation to us. Whereas justification concerns the basis or reason for our salvation, sanctification concerns the way in which our life is converted to God (p. 79).

Note that justification is the beginning point of a “way” to “conversion” (salvation). Sanctification is the justification highway that leads to final salvation. Justification is not a finished work, it’s a starting point. The “distinction” is the beginning, or name of the highway project, and sanctification is the building project. But the Bible states that justification cannot be a building project because it is a finished work. This is not mere semantics concerning  the best way to grow spiritually; what we believe about sanctification shows what we believe about justification. Is it a finished work or not? And if it isn’t, what we believe about sanctification is a purely salvific discussion by default anyway. The Reformers, new and old, do not frame sanctification in salvific terms; this is disingenuous and they know it. Confusion in regard to sanctification enables them to speak of sanctification in a justification way.

In addition, Calvin not only made repentive contemplationism the sum and substance of sanctification, but…

Throughout all of his writings—in his Institutes, commentaries, and sermons—Calvin consistently refers to this “double grace” or twofold benefit of our reception of the grace of God in Christ as comprising the “sum of the gospel.” These two benefits, justification and sanctification (or repentance) are the “two parts” of our redemption, both of which are bestowed upon us by Christ through faith. Together they form the two ways in which the “justice of God” is communicated to us, and in which we are cleansed by the holiness of Christ and made partakers of it. They constitute that “twofold cleansing” (double lavement), or “twofold purification” (duplex purgandi), which are granted to us by the Spirit of Christ. The “twofold grace of God” answers to the two ways in which Christ lives in us, and forms the invariable content of all Christian preaching about redemption in Christ and its application to human existence (p. 70).

Calvin usually terms the second benefit of our reception of God’s grace in Christ, “regeneration” (regeneratio) or “repentance” (poenitentia). Though inseparably joined with justification and faith, this benefit must not be confused with it. “As faith is not without hope, yet faith and hope are different things, so repentance and faith, although they are held together by a permanent bond, require to be joined rather than confused” (p. 76).

The author’s heavily footnoted assertions are correct (see source), Calvin, as with all of the Reformers, made repentance (actually, repentive contemplationism/contemplative repentance) synonymous with faith, grace, redemption, justification, sanctification, hope, purification, viz, a perpetual “’justice of God’…communicated to us.”

According to the Reformers, contemplative repentance is the fuel that powers our car on the justification highway to heaven. If we try to get to heaven any other way; i.e., some sort of belief that the highway is not a highway at all but a finished declaration and present reality, we lose justification and sanctification both (Michael Horton: Christless Christianity; p. 62).

In other words, contemplative repentance as a work that we do is the only way to heaven. It’s salvation by Christ plus contemplative repentance. Reformers like Tullian Tchividjian insist that it is Christ + Nothing = Everything, but again, that is because like Calvin, he deems contemplative repentance as a non-work in sanctification that doesn’t cause our justification car to run out of gas. In fact, the think tank that launched the present-day Reformation resurgence framed it in those exact terms.

We repeat, Justification is not a thing that we pass and get behind us. As Barth rightly said, it is not like a filling station that we pass but once. As we hold to its eschatological implications, justification by faith can never become static but must remain the dynamic center of Christian existence, the continuous present. We are always sinners in our eyes, but we are always standing on God’s justification and, perhaps more importantly, moving toward it. To be justified is a present-continuous miracle to the man who present-continuously believes, knowing that he who believes possesses all things, and he who does not believe possesses nothing. Such a life is only possible where the gospel of justification is continually heard and where God’s verdict of acquittal is like those mercies which Jeremiah declared were new every morning—”great is Thy faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23) [Present Truth Magazine: Righteousness by Faith (Part 4) Chapter 8 — The Eschatological Meaning of Justification; Volume Thirty-Five — Article 3].

In regard to another topic in which there is no room here, said think tank criticized contemporary Reformed thinkers for moving away from the original Reformation gospel which was salvation by justification plus contemplative repentance in sanctification. The specific criticism was against a gospel that perceived justification as being a finished work. Throughout the years, due to a misunderstanding of Reformed epistemology, those who fancied themselves as being of the Reformed camp gravitated to a separation of justification and sanctification, and justification being a finished work, and sanctification a progressive work by the believer and the Holy Spirit.

It has often been said, especially in the Reformed stream of thought, that justification is a once-and-for-all, nonrepeatable act… What inevitably happens in this way of viewing things is that justification becomes static. It becomes relegated (as far as the believing community is concerned) to a thing of the past. There is a tendency for it to become a warm memory (Ibid).

This has led to many contemporary quarrels between “Old” Calvinists and “New” Calvinists due to the fact that New Calvinism is a return to the authentic article. Most notably, the “Sonship” debate within Presbyterian circles and the New Covenant Theology debate within Reformed Baptist circles. This misunderstanding also led to debate in the contemporary biblical counseling movement where some Calvinists heavily emphasized obedience to the word of God, while Calvinists being influenced by the Resurgence called such emphasis in sanctification, “Phariseeism.”

Does the new birth make Christians righteous? Is the Holy Spirit’s power displayed in sanctification through our cooperative obedience and following? Is justification finished or not? Does sanctification have any connection to justification? And if it does, what? These questions, and the answers should be a line in the sand between the two gospels in our day.

In the summation of this point, what Calvin wrote specifically at times is very telling. Emphasis by underline added:

“…by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God… Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God” (John Calvin: Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles; The Calvin Translation Society 1855. Editor: John Owen, p. 165 ¶4).

Nor by remission of sins does the Lord only once for all elect and admit us into the Church, but by the same means he preserves and defends us in it. For what would it avail us to receive a pardon of which we were afterwards to have no use? That the mercy of the Lord would be vain and delusive if only granted once, all the godly can bear witness; for there is none who is not conscious, during his whole life, of many infirmities which stand in need of divine mercy. And truly it is not without cause that the Lord promises this gift specially to his own household, nor in vain that he orders the same message of reconciliation to be daily delivered to them” (The Calvin Institutes: 4.1.21).

Calvin plainly states that “reconciliation” must be continually applied to cover new sins. Therefore, justification must be progressive; reconciliation IS justification—there is no justification without it. Instead of making peace with God once and entering into His family, reconciliation must be perpetual. At any given time that you think justification is a onetime event, you separate yourself from the “vital union” with Christ.

However, the Reformed end around on that is the idea that justification is a onetime event because it is both a declaration and a process. In one regard, it happened once, but in another regard, it keeps happening: “it’s a basis.” So, progressive justification is deceptively called “progressive sanctification.” Or, “Justification is the ground (basis) of our sanctification.” Right, because as stated also, “Sanctification is the fruit of justification.” This is deliberate deception. Certain words are used to mask the real Protestant gospel: salvation must be earned and maintained by a continual return to the same gospel that originally saved you.

The following chart published by those of Reformed thought illustrates how contemplative repentance works:

Cross Chart

Notice the emphasis on merely seeing (i.e., contemplationism).  Furthermore, it’s antithetical to the biblical putting off and putting on prescribed by the Scriptures.

Catholicism is little different, it also fuses justification and sanctification together; justification is not a finished work. The following are excerpts from Catechism of the Catholic Church | Part 3, Life in Christ | Section 1, Man’s Vocation Life in the Spirit | Chapter 3, God’s Salvation: Law and Grace | Article 2, Grace and Justification: section…

1987: The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” and through Baptism.

Notice that there is an ongoing communication of righteousness to the believer which is Protestantesque. This is a perpetual imputation of justification. In theology, “righteousness” and “justification” are used interchangeably.

1988: Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself.

This is nothing more or less than the Protestant doctrine of mortification and vivification (see CI 3.3.2,9). Through confession, (mortification/repentance), we partake again in Christ’s passion resulting in a perpetual new birth experience symbolized/imputed initially by water baptism.

1989: The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.

There is little ambiguity here; in Catholicism, like Protestantism, you are sanctified by justification…

1995: The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the “inner man,” justification entails the sanctification of his whole being.

So, why the major beef between Catholicism and Protestantism? It boils down to “infused righteousness.” Romanism holds to the idea that the believer is enabled to participate in his/her final justification via confession and ritual. In the minds of Protestant theologians, that makes man a participant in justification. However, if all righteousness is outside of the believer and remains so, he/she is not a participant in the justification process. The same means, through contemplative repentance to communicate justification as an ongoing process is ok, but not the idea that the righteousness of God indwells the believer. It must be Luther’s alien righteousness.  This is the way Calvinist John Piper presents the argument:

This meant the reversal of the relationship of sanctification to justification. Infused grace, beginning with baptismal regeneration, internalized the Gospel and made sanctification the basis of justification. This is an upside down Gospel (Desiring God blog: June 25, 2009; Goldsworthy on Why the Reformation Was Necessary).

When the ground of justification moves from Christ outside of us to the work of Christ inside of us, the gospel (and the human soul) is imperiled. It is an upside down gospel (Ibid).

In it [Goldsworthy’s lecture at Southern] it gave one of the clearest statements of why the Reformation was needed and what the problem was in the way the Roman Catholic church had conceived of the gospel….I would add that this ‘upside down’ gospel has not gone away—neither from Catholicism nor from Protestants (Ibid).

Romanism believes in an infused grace that enables the believer to partake in the justification process which is condoned because the beginning of justification is purely of God. The beginning of justification is pure grace, but sanctification is a “help”:

2025: We can have merit in God’s sight only because of God’s free plan to associate man with the work of his grace. Merit is to be ascribed in the first place to the grace of God, and secondly to man’s collaboration. Man’s merit is due to God.

2027: No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.

This drove the Reformers berserk. In their construct, man, saved or otherwise, can have NO merit. It is fair to say that the main contention between the Reformers and Rome was metaphysical in nature. The crux of the contention was/is: How can man be found righteous at the end of his/her salvation journey?  

This paper contends that there is NO salvation journey in regard to justification; it is a finished work. Only our lives as God’s children progress; the fact that we are part of God’s family is a complete, and settled issue. A person is born into a family once, and their growth does not increase their status as a family member; that was settled the day they were born.

Any gospel that posits justification as part of the sanctification process must necessarily involve man in the justification process, and the exclusion of works salvation is impossible. Everything becomes a work or doing something to MAINTAIN our justification. Even doing something passive that is not considered a work like thinking has a purpose, and that purpose can never be to complete a work that Christ has completed.

This is why Protestantism and Catholicism are both false gospels. It is a return to the Galatian error. Protestantism relaxes the law in sanctification to finish the finished work of justification by saying Christ obeys the law for us in sanctification if we live by faith alone in sanctification. Catholicism does its part in relaxing the law of love by replacing it with rituals in sanctification. Different means with the same purpose: to cooperate in the finishing of a finished work. That’s a false gospel.

New Calvinism’s Loveless Christianity

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 4, 2013


“…we believe that those who teach and preach the word of God are God-appointed agents to save God’s people from ignorance.” [1]

~Al Mohler

“’I only created the jinn and mankind that they might serve me’ (Koran, 51:56), i.e. that they might know me. But the greater part of men neglect this duty, except those whom God hath chosen and whose hearts He hath vivified with Himself.” [2]

~ Data Ganj Bahsh, al-Hujwiri

“† It’s all the same because it all comes from ancient caste. Hence, there is very little difference between the Reformed version of sanctification and Islamic Sufism. Both emphasize experiencing God over participating with God.  Both emphasize ‘transcendence,’ ‘manifestations,’ and ‘rebirth.’ Sanctification, in both Reformed and Islamic constructs emphasize, ‘vivification.’”

In yesterday’s post, we looked at how most false religion derives from spiritual caste. This was the foundation of false religion found in the cradle of civilization. Hence, people that believe in mythology, superstition, etc. are not stupid—they have accepted the premise that real truth is found beyond reason and empirical conclusions. Therefore, faith and reason are often dichotomized. In yesterday’s post, Moses was cited regarding the fact that some truth is beyond our reasoning abilities, but what we need to function properly as human beings is not. We also cited Moses’ concern that enlightened mediators are supposedly needed to bring truth to us from heaven or other faraway places. Moses stated that the word of God is near us, in us, and not too difficult for us.

The Tower of Babel is a good example of the idea that we have to somehow get to heaven to bring truth down to the masses. A few of the enlightened tap into God’s truth via some sort of epistemology (usually mediation), repackage it for practical application among the masses, and make it known through orthodoxy (that’s caste in a nutshell). Orthodoxy is rarely about the “why?” because it is understood that the masses don’t understand the why, it is about the what. If you ask why?, the answer is, “Because the philosopher kings say so, and you wouldn’t understand anyway.”  In contrast, the New Testament frames all of this in regard to Christ being the only mediator between God and man, and mankind being spoken to by Christ in the last days. The apostle Paul played on Moses’ concept and reiterated the fact that Christ is near to all, is in us (as Christians), and his commandments are not too difficult for us.

Spiritual caste originated in the East, and made its way into Western culture through the Sophists. Spiritual caste was solidified in the West by Plato, and was primarily integrated into Western religion by St. Augustine. Spiritual caste was the foundation of Augustine’s theory of original sin and total depravity. This can be seen in how the Catholic Church has always operated. The monks deprive themselves of the material as much as possible, get the dope from heaven through prayer and meditation, and deliver it to the popes who are Plato’s philosopher kings. It’s all basically the same gig.

The Reformation came out of Catholicism. Clearly, the Reformers didn’t reject caste ideology, they only sought to do caste in a better way.* They merely made Christ Plato’s pure form, and replaced Christ as the mediator of truth with Reformed elders. This is why there is so much emphasis in our day on the “personhood of Christ” rather than what Christ commands. The commands of Christ seen in the Bible speak to our inability to please Christ since all matter is evil to begin with. The Reformers pulled this off by making love and law the same thing in both justification and sanctification. True, there is only one love in justification, that of God. But in sanctification, we in fact love God because it is not too difficult for us. We are hindered by mortality, but “we love him because He first loved us.”

The Reformers made the definition of any valid love towards God a perfect keeping of the law. So, “If you love me, keep my commandments” must be seen in its “gospel context.” Supposedly, Christ couldn’t have been talking about us making an effort to obey as a way to please Him because He is only pleased with perfection; therefore, Christ must have been talking about something else.

This proposed construct was a form of Neo-Platonism also dubbed “Gnosticism.” In reality, the Reformation was nothing more or less than a new twist on those movements. Supposedly, it is impossible for man to live in a way that is pleasing to God, and the Bible is merely a tool for showing us how loveless we are, and in doing that, the only objective pure form of Christ can be “experienced” on earth subjectively. In other words, we can only experience goodness, but we can’t perform it. We can only “manifest” the love of Christ or “reflect” His love, but it is not us performing it. Our only way of loving Christ is through self-depravation resulting in us being lifeless vessels that show a reflection of Christ to the world. Even these “reflections” are preordained. †

But don’t lose the main point: we can’t love Christ by keeping the law. We can only love Him through a deeper and deeper understanding of how evil we are (being matter). The Reformers believed that the essence of all sin was seeing goodness in us, and this root of all sin also transcends into Christian lifelessness. This idea that Christians are not able to please God by law keeping has always been the classic definition of antinomianism (anomia: anti-law of God). The Reformers came up with their own definition of antinomianism:

The belief that the law has been abolished and has no use for the Christian.

The Reformers protested on the basis of their own redefinition. They believed the law was critical for showing us the impossibility of loving Christ. They deemed it critical for demonstrating what we can’t do. And supposedly, according to the Reformers, the realization of our own depravity as set against the holiness of God produces “vivification” (a joy experience) in the believer. Again, this is very Eastern in regard to the idea that opposites define each other; ie., light defines darkness and darkness defines light etc.

Since the garden, the primary doctrinal nemesis for heaven has always been antinomianism in the form of “gnosis,” or secret knowledge. Instead of the law being near every person, it is afar and must be retrieved by those who claim to be mediators between us and heaven. These pseudo mediators then repackage the truth in a way that can be understood by the masses (orthodoxy). Obedience to the mediators, or at least trusting them in regard to the law is the ticket to heaven. Christ has been replaced by philosopher kings. Christ simply called all of this, “the traditions of men.” From Genesis to Revelation, it begins with disobedience, and ends with “the man of lawlessness,” literally, “the man of anomia.” Incredibly, Christ predicted that the last days would be loveless “because” of “anomia.”

The Reformation was another anomia option; perhaps, the most popular since the garden.  However, the masses that were drawn up in the movement, to a large extent, didn’t get it. In order to appear as those who wanted to place a Bible in the hands of every man, woman, and child, while propagating Gnosticism, allegorical interpretation was the mainstay epistemology. A grammatical, literal interpretation is more natural. This led to the idea that man could please God by obeying the laws in Scripture, but these same people remained under the banner of the Reformation.

This has led to periodic antinomian controversies throughout church history in Reformed circles: those who believe that we can only manifest the love of Christ versus those who believe that we can actually love Christ with our own obedience. Four of these controversies will be outlined in The Truth About New Calvinism: Volume 2, but the one we will focus on here occurred at the beginning of the present-day New Calvinist movement. The movement began in 1970 with the advent of the Australian Forum. The Forum was a Reformed think tank that rediscovered the authentic Reformation gospel. The movement spread in two directions: Reformed Baptist circles and conservative Presbyterian circles via Westminster Theological Seminary. In Reformed Baptist circles, it was an antinomian controversy, but in Presbyterian circles the controversy centered on the Sonship Theology version.

While the movement was extinguished in Reformed Baptist circles, it was launched into the present-day New Calvinist movement when the name of the movement was changed from Sonship Theology to “Gospel Transformation” in Presbyterian circles. There has never been honest discussion within the Reformed camp regarding the key issue of whether or not we merely reflect love for Christ or perform it.

As discussed in yesterday’s post, spiritual caste leads to orthodoxy, and orthodoxy leads to cultish behavior. Besides New Calvinist “love bombing,” a cult hallmark, another mark of a cult is the idea that the cult knows truth that members have to be “prepared to accept.” In other words, “truth that they aren’t ready for yet.”

Therefore, few people attending New Calvinist churches know what New Calvinism is, nor do they know that they are supposedly incapable of loving Christ and others. This belief is slowly assimilated into their thinking through redefinition of terms, and the exclusion of topics like enablement and obedience. When God’s holiness and our depravity are only taught, Christians will begin to function that way unawares. We don’t practice anything that is not talked about or emphasized.

And that includes loving Christ through righteous behavior. The New Testament was written against the backdrop of an aggressive Gnostic movement. Noting this will lead to abundant understanding accordingly.


1. Albert Mohler: Sermon; First Baptist Church of Jacksonville Florida; January 30, 2011

2. From the Kashf al-mahjub (The Uncovering of the veiled) by ‘Ali ibn ‘Uthman al-Jullabi al-Hujwiri, known as Data Ganj Bakhsh in the Indo-Pakistan region. Translated by Reynold Nicholson. New Edition, London: Luzac, 1967, pp. 267-277.

*Spiritual caste is the foundation for all religions where tyranny is found. It simply posits the idea that a select few are preordained by God (or some concept of a god) to lead the unenlightened masses. Instead of ONE salvific mediator and many teachers (God’s mode of operation from the beginning), it is a system that posits multiple mediators among men that impart salvation perpetually.

† It’s all the same because it all comes from ancient caste. Hence, there is very little difference between the Reformed version of sanctification and Islamic Sufism. Both emphasize experiencing God over participating with God.  Both emphasize “transcendence,” “manifestations,” and “rebirth.” Sanctification, in both Reformed and Islamic constructs emphasize, “vivification.”