Paul's Passing Thoughts

Should Not The Shepherds Feed The Flocks?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 15, 2018

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?

‘Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.
The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.’ ” ~ Ezekiel 34:2-4

12 Reasons Why…

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 23, 2017

Originally Published August 17, 2015

With football season upon us there is a new meme that has been circulating Facebook recently.  You might have seen it.


12 reasons

Obviously, this is meant to be a passive/aggressive criticism of those who use these same excuses for not going to church.  And as usual, it gets its share of “likes” and positive comments and “amens” all around.

So, with one of our topics being all the issues wrong with the institutional church, and with our focus being that of home fellowships, and because I have a tendency to be a trouble-maker, I decided to take the above idea and run in a different direction with it.  For your consideration, I am pleased to present to you:

12 reasons why attending a sporting event is better than attending church.

  1. The coach isn’t going to kick you out of the stadium for being critical of his play-calling.
  2. The only people asking you for money are the workers at the concession stand, and at least you get a snack and a cold beverage in return.
  3. You are surrounded by total strangers, but most people will interact with you like you’ve been lifelong friends.
  4. Those same people won’t judge you for what you’re wearing.
  5. There’s no “fan covenant” to sign where you agree to support the team no matter what.
  6. Nobody is going to question your team loyalty if you show up to the stadium late or not at all.
  7. Group participation is not only allowed but encouraged!
  8. You don’t have to worry about the coach showing up at your house the next day asking you why you weren’t at the game.
  9. You don’t have to worry about the coach getting on the P.A. system to bad mouth the season ticket holders who missed last week’s game.
  10. If you get to the stadium early, that’s ok. There’s most likely several parties already going on in the parking lot, and they won’t mind if you crash in, even if you didn’t bring a dish to pass.
  11. If there is ever a team scandal, the coach doesn’t blame the fans for it.
  12. You can be fairly certain that no one will ever tell you that the outcome is pre-determined!


Of course, if you have any others that you care to add, you are welcome to do so!


Why Home Fellowships Can Help Abused Women and the Institutional Church Cannot

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 15, 2017

HF Potters House (2)

Originally published March 31, 2015

In our vision for a return to the way Judeo-Christian assemblies were done for about the first 300 years, let’s look at why home fellowships can help abused women and the institutional church cannot.

I would like to use this article as a catalyst for argumentation. The article was posted (author is not clearly stated) by Anna Wood who co-authored a book with Jeff Crippen, a Reformed pastor. The book can be found here.

The post is titled, What domestic abuse victims need from the church. My contention is that abused women cannot get what they need from “the church” as demonstrated over and over and over again. In fact, clearly, as also demonstrated over and over and over again as well, the institutional church adds to the abuse and becomes a co-abuser.

Why is this? The article offers a perspective from which to answer. This issue also speaks to the differences between home fellowships and the institutional church, hereafter “the church.” In an institution, it is easy to sign on the dotted line, give at the office, and pretend. Pastors can bark from Calvin’s Geneva pulpit all they want to; all folks have to say is, “Hey, I am a member in good standing, and as often heard, humble and incompetent—it’s not my gift and I am not qualified.” Likewise, in said article, the author’s call to “get involved” is going nowhere in the church in case anyone hasn’t noticed.

To the contrary, home fellowships are comprised of people who are sick of playing church, are weary of being mere spectators, and are not looking to walk into an arena with hungry lions, but know it could lead to that. They are also confident in the Spirit-filled laity and recognize where 500 years of academic popeism has brought us. In addition, they have a literal view of reality versus the functional dualism that drives orthodoxy. What am I saying? I am saying that home fellowships have a radically different worldview than orthodoxy and this will lead to aggressive participation in all kinds of needs.

Let me further this point by using the article at hand:

Statistics say that one out of four women in the United States experience domestic abuse of some form in their lifetime. Men can also be victims of domestic abuse. When those who have suffered are members of the Lord’s church, the faithful among them have an obligation to help them. And, if we know of someone in the community who is being abused, I also believe we have an obligation to help if we can. When, for whatever reason, we shy away from this obligation, either through ignorance or willful refusal to get involved, we lay waste to the Gospel we claim to believe. Christians are called to defend the oppressed yet when it comes to domestic violence, so few do.

What abuse victims need from their fellow Christians is pretty simple and straightforward. We need you to be Jesus to us. Do what He would do, say what He would say, were He the One ministering to us. Isn’t that what we all need from each other, anyway? Christians are called to stand in the place of Christ here on the earth and be His representative and do the works He would do. To fail in this is to fail in serving Christ.

Whoa, what a minute here! This is entirely unrealistic because of the message constantly drilled into the heads of Protestants. We are “all just sinners saved by grace.” We are, according to one prominent evangelical, “enemies of God.” According to yet another, “we hate God.” On the one hand, it is constantly drilled into the heads of those in the church that “when you are dead, you can do nothing,” but on the other hand we really think that parishioners shouldn’t think twice about getting involved in a domestic abuse situation?

First of all, getting involved in domestic violence is not “pretty simple.” Actually, it can get you killed by someone who doesn’t much appreciate your intervention. Moreover, getting the facts and evaluating the situation biblically is far from simple. Now couple that with the constant total depravity of the saints mantra heard in the church and it is little wonder that few will get involved in domestic abuse needs. The completely upside down worldview of the church makes laity involvement in domestic abuse nothing more than a pipe dream.

And, “Christians are called to defend the oppressed yet when it comes to domestic violence, so few do.” This complaint is not only a mere symptom, but is not even a symptom of the real problem. Congregants not only fail to defend the oppressed, they either turn a blind eye or defend the defender of the abusers—the church. Ever heard of SGM? Ever heard of ABWE? Ever heard of the SBC? In case you haven’t noticed, they are not only still in business, but business is booming! Why? Because regardless of what happens in the church, it is the only ticket to heaven. “What? so billions of people should go to hell because some bad things happen in the church that is made up of sinners? Well, get a grip—where there are people, there is sin!” That is in quotations because this is exactly what we hear in response to a “cry for justice.”

So far, if you are keeping notes, we have two reasons the church cannot help abused women: 1. The total depravity of the saints resulting in a few “experts” attempting to minister to a massive throng 2. Salvation is found in the institution, and therefore the institution will be defended at all cost. Better that a few suffer by themselves rather than all of humanity being sent to hell.

Before we move on to the next points, a little more clarification: why does the church defend abusers? It starts with its worldview. Without going into a lot of detail, we must first recognize that Calvin and Luther are the church’s heroes, and then recognize what their “theology of the cross” was all about. This is a philosophy that interprets all reality via the suffering of the cross. As Luther stated, “all wisdom is hidden in suffering.” Luther, as well as Calvin, split reality into two epistemologies: the cross story and the glory story. Only preordained leaders can lead the great unwashed masses in the cross story—only the preordained can save humanity from the story of man, or the glory story. As Al Mohler once said, “pastors are preordained to save God’s people from ignorance.”

fake-church-sign-first-baptistHowever, theologians of the cross and the spiritual peasantry have something in common: we are all just sinners saved by grace. So, everything going on in the material realm is fairly insignificant—it’s just the same old sin and dance anyway. But by the same token, theologians of the cross are preordained of God and invaluable. And besides, many are icons of the institution that keep the money rolling in. Sure, you can reject this theory and opt for another one, but in the process you will drive yourself nuts trying to figure out why ABWE defended and protected Donn Ketcham until the bitter end.

Need another example among myriads? What about Jack Hyles? The guy was a mafia don dressed in Bible verses and is still a spiritual hero among many Baptists. David Hyles, Jack’s son, was also a well-respected pastor in the church who had affairs with at least 19 women and is a suspect in an unsolved murder. Yet, to the best of my knowledge to date, David Hyles is still invited to speak at Baptist conferences/churches and receives robust ovations. Jack Hyles remained in the pulpit until his death in 2001 and was succeeded by his son in law Jack Schaap who is presently in prison for statutory rape. Jack Hyles is notorious for his quip, “If you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen” and is still revered among many Baptists as the best preacher since the apostle Paul.

The article continues with its list of things abuse victims need from “the church.” But the thesis of this article is that the church is not only unable to supply these things, but becomes a co-abuser. In contrast, the original Christian model for fellowship is well able to help and more likely to do just that.

First on the list is “The Pure Gospel.”

The church long ago got away from the pure gospel. We water it down, mix it up and serve it with a side of fun. No wonder it doesn’t save. It can’t save. It’s poison. We need preachers dedicated to the truth of God’s Word who are willing to stand up and preach that truth without changing it one iota. We need Christians who long after righteousness. When we have that–the pure Gospel preached and lived–we’ll see more Christians helping abuse victims and we’ll see less abusers masquerading as Christians.

Uh, ok, not sure how to add to this. It’s a stunning admission while calling on the same church to do something about the problem it has created. We don’t need “preachers” to do anything. Preachers have been preaching long and hard for thousands of years and the results are evident. We need God’s people to stand up and get back to the first works of home fellowship. The laity waiting on the experts is long traveled and worthless. More of what is beginning to happen needs to happen more and more. Ordinary Spirit-filled Christians are meeting together around the word and fellowship, and seeking God’s face in this whole matter about how church is traditionally practiced. And the fact that the church is grounded in a false gospel is something I addressed in another article posted today and Friday.

Without addressing every single point in the article other than those mentioned already, let me move on to this one:

Someone to care for their needs

Do you know what keeps a lot of abused women and children with their abusers? The lack of money to leave. If a woman is trying to get herself and her children to safety, don’t spend time telling her why she’s wrong, what you think about her decision or trying to talk her out of it. She knows what it’s like to live in abuse and you don’t. Even if she stays, chances are great that she and her children need something or maybe a lot of things. Financial abuse often accompanies other types of abuse. Instead of lecturing, get busy serving and help them.

According to the first-century model, a home fellowship network would be several small groups meeting in several homes in the same geographical area. And because of freedom from massive infrastructure cost and “tithing” versus New Testament giving based on NEED only funds and resources to help the abused would be ample. In fact, I could share an example from our very own home fellowship. We have a young lady living with us, and other people connected to our fellowship contribute financially to her needs. She is fully supported independently from anybody who might be a problem in her life. And when people live with you, trust me, you know the facts and you do a lot of listening. She will be completely self-reliant this month after living with us for about two years.

In regard to a different kind of abuse, a home fellowship network that I know of in Africa operates in the following way: the network assimilates street orphans from Nairobi into their fellowships. There is a leader from the network, equipped with the latest information about funds and availability that goes into Nairobi searching for orphans, and upon finding some, brings them back to the fellowship network where they will have a home, food, protection, and education. Let’s say that our home fellowships are connected with theirs; many of these children could be brought stateside and assimilated into fellowship here as well.

In addition to being freed from the bondage of infrastructure expense, the authority of the church’s clergy is suffocating. Clergy, more times than not, are control freaks obsessed with keeping the herd calm. They are spiritual cowboys constantly concerned with the herd being spooked. This speaks to the rest of the concerns in the post being considered here. More times than not, the laity are kept in the dark concerning the needs of those abused. There is a wall of confidentiality between the church’s “trained” counselors and the parishioners who fund the whole mess. When red flags are raised in regard to how certain situations are handled, we are told that “we should trust the elders who are closest to the situation and know all of the details.” This continually proves to be a recipe for disaster, and elders are granted NO such authority via the Scriptures.

Small groups in private homes offer intimate support and confidentiality from the other home fellowships. It is a perfect balance of intimate care and financial support if needed. All of the different gifts and experiences of Christ’s body are brought to bear on the situation.

Also, we must remember that the home fellowship movement is comprised of people from all walks of life: policemen, mental health professionals, etc., etc. These people or their areas of expertise are not separated from any situation by the professional clergy for inappropriate reasons.


The Church and its Protected Child Rape Zone

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 6, 2017

ppt-jpeg4The church as a protected child rape zone is the result of Protestant orthodoxy crossing with behavior found in historical Western tradition.  

TANC finds its humble beginnings in a familiar story circa 2007. This author who was not an author at the time was so blown away by the behavior of church elders that I had to know why they did what they did, and why everyone else in the same fellowship of churches would not confront them about it. Hence, the beginning of a relentless and tenacious journey.

Research concerning the truth and history about the institutional church can only match the 1963 “shockumentary [‘Mondo Pazzo’], presenting…bizarre behavior from around the world, including cruelty, graphic gore, and strange rituals” x 10. Hence, after ten years of research, one must pick and choose topics to focus on because this reality we live in is constrained by a thing called “time.” Should this post address Puritan urineology, or child rape as a church tradition?

Let’s talk about rape because of the four-hour phone conversation I had with a mother last night. This is indicative of the energy projected by those on the journey. The new birth does not do away with something that all humans are born with; a conscience, but it does turbo-charge it. Before the new birth, our conscience condemned us or excused us from guilt, but the new birth turns the conscience into an entity that loves justice and truth.

When you are born again, though weak in mortality awaiting the redemption of the body, you have been given God’s mind. In the home fellowship movement, we seek to bring that one mind into focus and practice among the family members. And in this new heart, we share God’s love for children. Among proponents of Protestant orthodoxy, not so much. Children in that venue are “little vipers in sanctified diapers.” The renowned Protestant Voddie Baukman once said that God makes children small so they can’t murder their parents. Really? I missed that tidbit of wisdom in the Scriptures somehow.

And in the church, this ideology of the total depravity of mankind by no means excludes children, or even newborn babies. In case you haven’t heard, newborn babies are little bundles of screaming selfishness that only have a self-concept of need. Yes indeed, their limited knowledge of existence with hunger being on the shortlist equals total depravity expressed in steroidal selfism. Who knew?

So, the rampant acceptance and cover-up of child rape in the Protestant church is somehow a big surprise to many. However, this ministry focuses on the WHY, not the WHAT. The WHAT is well documented on the many blogs that seek to save the institutional church that is well beyond saving. Even if the post American Revolution church was confused enough in regard to Enlightenment Era ideology to have some virtue, God’s family was never meant to be an institution of any sort, but rather a literal family functioning like any other family does by utilizing roles, gifts, and organization towards a common goal of love and support.

Institutions are about authority, not love. This isn’t complicated: authority has no need for leadership which persuades people regarding the truth. Authority compels by force and law; authority and leadership are mutually exclusive. The church is about authority just like any other institution, but family is about leadership.

What do we have thus far in this post? Authority, and mankind that doesn’t deserve justice due to its total depravity. In reality, by virtue of those two alone, what is that going to get you in the institutional church? See, the thousands of spiritual abuse blogs of your choice. The WHAT is firmly established and documented by gargantuan redundancy of a myriad of different cases all over the world.

And so it goes…your child was raped in the church during a church event? So what? After all, “We are all just sinners saved by grace.” Not only that, church is the only bus going to heaven, and therefore, it must be protected at all cost. No church is perfect, but the institutional church is the only means of “obtaining ongoing grace.” This is why you can’t call the police if your child is raped in the church: it will ruin the reputation of the church resulting in people not coming to said church resulting in them going to hell for eternity. Yes, what happened to your child is awful…but…you surely don’t want to be the cause of people spending eternity in hell, do you?

Besides, God is “sovereign” and this obviously happened for a reason. In all of these “unfortunate” events, they are “opportunities” to “show forth God’s forgiveness.” By not forgiving your child’s rapist, you are acting like your sins are of a lesser sort when we are all “totally depraved.” Hence you are “just like the Pharisees” that Jesus fustigated.

Does any of this sound familiar? Sure it does, unless you have been vacationing on the moon.

And why is the church full of good Germans who look the other way? Again, and again, the institutional church is supposedly the only bus going to heaven.

The church as a protected child rape zone is the result of Protestant orthodoxy crossing with behavior found in historical Western tradition. This post is not about the individual historical-grammatical interpretation of reality versus the Protestant historical-redemptive interpretation of reality which this ministry has written about extensively, but it is about the New Testament mirroring the exact same societal elements taking place in our contemporary culture.

Man-boy-love is a longstanding Western tradition intrinsically connected with religion. Knowledge empowers the individual, and it is not in the best interest of religion to have educated subjects save the indoctrination of orthodoxy with its you can’t get to heaven without us moniker. Institutional paganism and religion have always had this in common: authoritative coregency regarding eternal salvation. What could be more lucrative in a quest for power and money? In the same way that faith married with authority will always lead to cultism, Protestant orthodoxy crossing paths with a certain longstanding Western ideology will result in a child rape zone and the subsequent cover-up by the good German Protestants.

This is where we discuss the New Testament as a Western historical prototype. Basically, God’s family turned the Western world upside down through persuasion, not authority. I understand the setting is Israel, but also understand that Greco-Roman culture was the dominate world persuasion during that time. During that time, Western thought dominated the world and was defined by the great Western thinkers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. This is very much the case in our day as well. Therefore, the New Testament is going to be a historical mirror for interpreting what is going on in our day generally, and technically defined by a literal/grammatical interpretation without excluding genre in context. This follows God’s plan for individual interpretation because He holds man accountable individually. God does not hold the individual accountable while writing the Bible in a way that excludes individual interpretation and leaving the individual to sort out vast claims of authority by men. This is where “there is no mediator between God and man other than Christ” is a bit too simple for those of us that outsmart ourselves. Perhaps “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me” is also too simple. It would seem that the meaning of the word “all” would be evident.

Building on the theme of this post, part and parcel with the founding principles of Western logic established in the 5th century by the big three, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle was the practice of pederasty.

Pederasty in ancient Greece was a socially acknowledged erotic relationship between an adult male (the erastes) and a younger male (the eromenos) usually in his teens.[2] It was characteristic of the Archaic and Classical periods.[3] The influence of pederasty on Greek culture of these periods was so pervasive that it has been called “the principal cultural model for free relationships between citizens.”[4]

Some scholars locate its origin in initiation ritual, particularly rites of passage on Crete, where it was associated with entrance into military life and the religion of Zeus.[5] It has no formal existence in the Homeric epics, and seems to have developed in the late 7th century BC as an aspect of Greek homosocial culture,[6] which was characterized also by athletic and artistic nudity, delayed marriage for aristocrats, symposia, and the social seclusion of women.[7] Pederasty was both idealized and criticized in ancient literature and philosophy.[8] The argument has recently been made that idealization was universal in the Archaic period; criticism began in Athens as part of the general Classical Athenian reassessment of Archaic culture.[9]

Scholars have debated the role or extent of pederasty, which is likely to have varied according to local custom and individual inclination.[10] The English word “pederasty” in present-day usage might imply the abuse of minors in certain jurisdictions, but Athenian law, for instance, recognized consent but not age as a factor in regulating sexual behavior.[11] As classical historian Robin Osborne has pointed out, historical discussion of paiderastia is complicated by 21st-century moral standards…

…The Greek practice of pederasty came suddenly into prominence at the end of the Archaic period of Greek history; there is a brass plaque from Crete, about 650-625 BC, which is the oldest surviving representation of pederastic custom. Such representations appear from all over Greece in the next century; literary sources show it as being established custom in many cities by the 5th century BC.[30]…

…The erastes-eromenos relationship played a role in the Classical Greek social and educational system, had its own complex social-sexual etiquette and was an important social institution among the upper classes.[32] Pederasty has been understood as educative,[33] and Greek authors from Aristophanes to Pindar felt it naturally present in the context of aristocratic education (paideia).[34] In general, pederasty as described in the Greek literary sources is an institution reserved for free citizens, perhaps to be regarded as a dyadic mentorship: “pederasty was widely accepted in Greece as part of a male’s coming-of-age, even if its function is still widely debated.”[35]…

…In Crete, in order for the suitor to carry out the ritual abduction, the father had to approve him as worthy of the honor. Among the Athenians, as Socrates claims in Xenophon’s Symposium, “Nothing [of what concerns the boy] is kept hidden from the father, by an ideal[36] lover.”[37] In order to protect their sons from inappropriate attempts at seduction, fathers appointed slaves called pedagogues to watch over their sons. However, according to Aeschines, Athenian fathers would pray that their sons would be handsome and attractive, with the full knowledge that they would then attract the attention of men and “be the objects of fights because of erotic passions.”[38]


Note my bold underlined emphasis above. How prevalent was this culturally during the time of Christ and the apostles? The apostle Paul used it as an example of the law’s role in justification. I am not going to use space here to articulate Paul’s usage of the word “guardian” in Galatians chapter 3 as Andy Young has already dealt with it here, but suffice to say that the word translated “guardian” is the very word “pedagogues” in that chapter. That’s how prevalent the practice of pederasty was during New Testament times. It is also behind the apostle Paul’s disdain for the Cretans during the same time. Paul also addressed this issue in the books of first and second Corinthians.

The American Revolution drove the reality of this practice that has never left Western reality underground because Americanism emphasized the freedom, ability, and dignity of the individual, but as Americanism and Enlightenment ideals dissipate, these practices will become more prevalent and even socially accepted. Of course, the biblical ideal of objective love defined by God’s law takes the idea of freedom of conscience much further, but that’s not the specific topic here.

Here is the point of this post: when these traditions come walking into the church, the tradition is covertly married with orthodoxy for the aforementioned reasons. Certainly, the epic example of the Catholic Church makes this point entirely. Add to this the fact that despite theological and warring spats between Catholics and Protestants, they openly share the same spiritual father: Saint Augustine who was an avowed Platonist which is also not happenstance. Fact is, Martin Luther and John Calvin NEVER left the Catholic Church. And, the institutional church spawned by Augustine in the 4th century may claim that it picked Platonist goodies off the metaphysical shelf and left the rest on the shelf, things like pederasty, but that is doubtful when one considers the true history of the Church. Augustine believed that Plato was a pre-Christianity Christian, and the Bible makes no sense without Platonism (See Susan Dohse’s conference series on Plato); are we to assume then that Plato’s societal ideals have been scrubbed from the metaphysical roundtable? Very doubtful. In fact, read the newspapers. Impossible.

Why? Why did it really happened? In one case where a mother went to the police and was brought up on church discipline accordingly, a pastor walked into court and demanded that the judge dismiss the case and turn the member-rapist over to the care of the church. While the judge was astonished and perplexed, we must understand that people ALWAYS do what they do for a reason. What is the logic that led this pastor to act in this outrageous way? Again, connect the dots of the aforementioned.

And what is at least one solution? Answer: utterly reject the idea that authority over salvation has been granted to the church. No, no, “all” means “all.” With all the pontificating in the institutional church about “the glory of God alone,” these men complicit in child-rape and drunk with control lust claim to have authority granted to Christ alone.

And in regard to this authority, what is the difference between churchianity and the worship of Moloch who demanded the sacrifice of our children? Why then did “believers” sacrifice their children to Moloch? Because Moloch had authority over faith and truth and Moloch said so. Likewise, the Pope says you can buy your loved ones out of purgatory and educated people deem it such. Jim Jones told his followers to drink poison and instructed them to feed the children first, and consequently, 900 fell in one day while hugging the children they sacrificed.

But in a twisted way these sacrifices are more humane than the church’s rape zone where the victims are blamed and relegated to torment on the installment plan.

May God give His family free revelation of His mind in facilitating the healing of those victimized by the church rape zone, and may we all come home to family and deprive the Platonist institutional church of its claim on salvation. We will no longer sacrifice our children in the present for a future pseudo-salvation. We will no longer fellowship with the good Germans of Protestantism. Nazism was not the only valid nationalism then, and the church is not the only valid way to salvation in the present. In fact, it is the wide road that leads to eternal destruction.

Come home to family in a family setting. Come home to leadership and not authority. Let us wrap our arms around your victims of tyranny and weep with them. Let us rejoice together in the one mind of Christ and his coming kingdom. Let us have the freedom to be persuaded in our own minds. Let condemnation vanish and let it give way to the law of love.

Let our appeal be to Christ alone who shares His glory and authority with no man. Let God be our Father, and Christ our brother who is not ashamed of us, but will return in His glory and slay the totally depraved and those who proudly call themselves, “sinners.”


The History of Western Philosophy and Its Societal Impact on the Church – Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 30, 2017

The following is part one of an eight-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s first session at the 2013 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five
Click here for part six
Click here for part seven
Click here for part eight

john immelWe have actually talked many times before about the challenges before us. I understand our obsession. The scope of this issue is vast. It seems a little conspiratorial and a little overwhelming to put it in those terms. When we start talking about Plato and him being a pagan and what John Calvin preached, it starts to come off as if we’re trying to find the boogie man in bad places.

While our challenge is lofty, it is much more personal, because our challenge deals with what happens in the pews. You show up at church, you hear doctrine, you get some people that shake your hand and look longingly into your eyes and say, “you belong.” That is hard to resist. Most people go to church because their kids have a place to stay, or they like the music, and they genuinely like the people. But that’s not where it ends. It is personal because at some point you may have ended up on the wrong side of the pastors. Something happens, it doesn’t matter what, but originally you have been told that you are part of this grand party, and then you find yourself under scrutiny, and suddenly the marketing and packaging is all wrong. You thought you were right to object or to challenge or to just be you, and one day that just was no longer so.

The problem that you have is that you look at your Bible and show supporting references for your objection, but you are told that’s not what that really says, and it really doesn’t matter because you should be submitting to some authority. Suddenly, you look around and life is now insane. All those people that hugged you and said “ye, verily, we are glad you are with us,” have now turned on you in less than a minute. All those friends you had, where’d they go? They have no interest in what you have to say. And the crazy part is the more you try to justify or to explain your position, the worse it gets. Without fail they accuse you of being “defensive”, and of course only “defensive” people are sinners. If you were really humble you wouldn’t dare walk down this line of self-defense.

You look around and you are bewildered. After you wade through the thousand and one emotions that have come out of you in ways that you could not have begun to fathom, you stand back incredulous and wonder, what the heck just happened? “God’s church is not supposed to be this way,” we tell ourselves. And yet here we are, dead square in the middle of a conflict that is almost unintelligible.

Of course these types of experiences within Christianity have been going on for generations. But in our modern age of blogs and the internet, we now have the ability to start comparing notes. Individuals are suddenly able to tell their story about what happened to them, and somebody else will read that and affirm those experiences with their own. As the solidarity among hurt and abused individuals grew, one day we stopped and said, wait a minute, there is a systemic problem here.

This is where we sit within Christianity today. We know we have a conflict, but we haven’t been able to identify the problem. The explanations run the gamut from:

“Doctrines of men” – Well, all doctrines are doctrines of men. God does not come down here, stand up in the public square and start talking. It’s all doctrines of men. Everybody is standing around all the time talking about the content of what they think and proclaiming that in general to the masses. What they really mean is it’s not authentic. If it were true doctrine we wouldn’t have a problem.

“God is testing you” – This one is fabulous. Basically what you are saying is the manifestation of reality is God’s intent. So why then are you seeking to solve the problem? This is how God means it to be.

“All churches have problems” – This a neo reformed classic. They like to pretend that people fussing over the color of the carpet is somehow the same thing as a child being molested and the pastor covering it up and refusing to let the parents go to the authorities. As if there is a moral equivalency.

“We’re all just sinners” – The tried and true “get out of jail free” card. We can’t really fuss and moan about the fact that somebody’s done bad things.

“It’s a failure of ‘polity’” – If you had the right government structure then these bad things wouldn’t happen because we’d have checks and balances, and of course Christians have come to believe that the nature of checks and balances is really designed to restrain our sinful appetites and desires, and so that’s what would make a better government structure that would prevent these bad things from happening, never once realizing that all governments are always in service to a series of values. And so it doesn’t matter the structure you put in place, at the end of the day, if you have the same values, you will continue to govern towards those values.

“If we just had the right people” – Which is ironic considering we assume the problem is the doctrines of men. By definition, if we’re just looking for the right person, what we’re really saying is there is an idealized person out there who somehow magically gets it all right and finally gets to come down from Mt. Sinai and tell us the truth. Well, that’s nutty, because that never works.

The one thing we never challenge is the doctrine itself. There is something wrong with that picture.

Some of you have experienced this tumult. You started looking for answers, and you’ve heard all of these points belabored in endless cycles – if we loved more, if we prayed more, if we prayed louder, if we prayed quieter. Finally you heard somebody say, “No, it’s not any of that. It is the doctrine.” You heard a man named Paul Dohse say, “No, it’s the doctrine.” You heard a guy by the name of John Immel say, “No, it’s the doctrine.” That’s the problem.

And it’s not just a problem. It is EVIL!

That one is a big one for a lot of people, because they want to sustain some kind of moral equivalency between doctrines, as if to say, well, it’s got some good ideas, but, you know, there are some things here that are good, and these guys aren’t all bad from top to bottom. And so we want to parse it out. We don’t want to take a position on the content of what they teach. The doctrine is evil. It is fundamentally and substantively hostile to human existence.

But this leads people to a serious problem. If it is the doctrine, if Calvinism is error, [gasp!] how can that be so? It’s orthodoxy. This is what the church has believed for 500 years, or at least the Protestant church. We would like to pretend that we’re different from the Catholics, but hey, how can you debate orthodoxy? Reformed theology is sacred. John Calvin and Martin Luther, are you kidding? They are at the base of God’s left hand, right beside Peter, James, and the other guys. How can you possibly begin to challenge who these guys are? The reformation, my goodness, if it hadn’t been for those guys we’d all still be Catholics. And those dastardly Catholics, my goodness, they’re just corrupt, and the Pope is of the devil.

Anybody ever heard that before?

Then you have to ask yourself, if that is the problem, if the Reformation is not what we’ve all been told that it is, and the people at the top of the intellectual food chain are not who we’ve been told they are, then we have to ask the really hard question; why has this happened?

Here is my challenge to you. Take a look in the mirror. You are the reason this happens. It isn’t any more complicated than that. Now you might say to me, but isn’t that what everybody else has told me? Everybody else told me that I was a sinner and that I was the reason there was this conflict. Yes, but this isn’t for the same reason.

To understand what really happened we need to start at the beginning. But before we can start that the beginning, people must take responsibility for the content of their own mind. I will bet money that very few people have ever heard a preacher say that before. A preacher might tell you to “think”, but maybe not so much. Here’s the thing. Paul and Susan Dohse and I can detail for you the list of doctrinal failures. We can detail all of the root issues and all of the spiritual manipulations. I have been thinking about these issues for almost twenty years of my life, so I have the ability to do this. But until you personally are committed to the content of your own mind, your own life, and your own purpose, nothing I say here will matter.

Here is why.

heads-sandAt the end of the day, if you’re not willing to take responsibility for the content of your own mind, your worldview exempts you from everything that comes after that. You have capitulated. You have tossed up your hands and said, oh well, it’s not that big of a deal. At some point you’ll let your brain go tilt, you’ll shrug at the complexity of the world, and toss up your hands in surrender, and insist that Jesus’ message is just simple. All this “brainy” stuff is just added torture for your peaceful soul.

This sounds like a “churchy” answer. You will console yourself for a while, evading the reality that you are letting other men fill the blanks of your own mind. Eventually you will find someone else that will take up the cause of organizing your life yet once again. And not too long after that you will be confronted with the very same spiritual tyranny, the very same social conflicts, the very same church dynamic.

But maybe this time it’s worse. And maybe this time, the spiritual/church tyranny is actually joined with political power. Somehow the guy in front of the pulpit managed to get himself elected to office. And now, not only does he have a body of doctrine, but he has guns.

In Christianity we have failed to understand that government is force. Polity is force. When people start talking government, when people start talking about passing laws, what they are really saying that what they are entitled to do is force you, to compel you, to bring violence against you to bring a desired outcome. And then tyranny will have been joined with political power. And liberty will be dying under its assault.

What will you do then?

The options are very limited because you have already abandoned self-directed thinking. The only thing left will be a wail and a tumult of gnashing of teeth that men are just sinners and who can save us? You will toss up your hands in despair, retreat into some church where the intellectual barricades rule over the doors and you can fortify against the evil.

This all sounds very grim. That course of non-action is a dead end, and it has only one outcome. And that outcome is, you deserve what you get.

You are the reason tyranny happens, from top to bottom, throughout history. Not because you are a wretched old sinner who fails to submit to authority. The reason your interpersonal church relational problems happen is because you refuse to reason, because you refuse to be an independent mind, because you refuse to be an individual.

Now, how many people does that statement make nervous?

How many of you cringe at the notion that you should be more individualistic? How many of you think that having “ego” is deviant sin? How many of you equate being individualistic with “selfish”. How many of you equate selfishness with the greatest expression of moral failing?

what-if-i-told-youWhat if I told you that your reaction to self and “selfishness” and individuality and ego is by design? What if I told you that despots and tyrants throughout history the world over have specifically set out to persuade all of humanity that the problem is always the individual, and the only solution to the problem is sacrifice?

Disturbing thought, right?

So now we get to think. I need to bring you up to speed on some basic thoughts that most people have never heard before.

The Gospel According to John Immel, chapter 3:1-3

  1. All people act logically from their assumptions.
  2. It does not matter how inconsistent the ideas or insane the rationale. They will act until that logic is fulfilled.
  3. Therefore, when you see masses of people taking the same destructive actions, if you find the assumptions, you will find the cause.

Here is the underlying logic.

Verse 1 – Assumption + logic = action.

Verse 2 – Faulty logic, erroneous rationalizations, are still ideas that flow from one to the next, until they get to an outcome. That’s important. Just because something is “rational” doesn’t mean it’s not wrong.

Verse 3 – Mass action + destructive outcomes = common premise.

I want you to see the specific relationship between actions and ideas. I submit that man, as a rational, cognitive being, is specifically designed to operate from this standard. What makes man utterly unique in the world is his ability to cognitively and rationally approach the world. He is the only creature that does not automatically by nature adapt to an environment. The exact opposite is true. Man must adapt his environment to himself, and the only way he does that is by reason.

Once you understand that the nature of man’s existence requires him to integrate ideas, then it becomes amazingly simple to understand that the integration of ideas is what he is always after. He’s always trying to figure out how to take his ideas and put them together.

Unfortunately, most people have a big basket in their head, and they toss in this idea and that idea, and they shake it all up, and from time to time they will pull an idea out of this basket and decide, this is a good idea, and then they will act on it. It gets a little dangerous when they start pulling out two or three ideas. It doesn’t matter if they are mutually exclusive, they will try to force them together. They then look at the world, and it still makes no sense to them. Never once has it occurred to them to go back and check their premise; what is your assumption?

This study is called philosophy. Of course when I say “philosophy” in the context of Christians they immediately think of Paul’s major condemnation of “vain philosophies”, and they start to tune out because they think they have an intellectual “get out of thinking free” card.

Disciplines of Philosophy

– Metaphysics

– Epistemology

– Ethics

– Politics

These four studies drive all of human existence. The nature of existence is called metaphysics. How we know what we know is called epistemology. How we value what we know is called ethics. And how we interact with people is called politics.

Each of these disciplines of philosophy is a function of the previous one, forming a progression of thought. What you assume about man’s existence will ultimately impact what you believe man can know. What you believe man can know will ultimately impact how you think he should ethically act. How you think man should ethically act will ultimately form your government structure.

We can debate endlessly about the issues that create the problems within the church or fixing those problems with the right government structure, but government structure is always in service to ideas. This is the reason why. Politics is at the end of a philosophical progression of thought that begins with a metaphysical assumption.

Philosophy is the broad study of how man integrates his ideas. It is how we know what we know. It is where ideas come from, their objective value, and how those ideas impact our human interaction. With this in mind, you can grasp the implication of what I’m saying in the Gospel According to John Immel:

The Gospel According to John Immel, chapter 3:1-3

  1. All people act logically from their assumptions.
  2. It does not matter how inconsistent the ideas or insane the rationale. They will act until that logic is fulfilled.
  3. Therefore, when you see masses of people taking the same destructive actions, if you find the assumptions, you will find the cause.

This is why when you go to church you end up in the exact same spot. You find masses of people taking the same action. If you find their assumption, the roots of their ideas, you will find the cause of their actions.

So my goal last year at the 2012 TANC Conference was to introduce the systemic nature of human thought; to illustrate how this system dynamic impacts human action. Without this mindset it is almost impossible to understand what is happening. To be sure, without this intellectual tool, no specific doctrinal discussion will matter. It won’t matter how much we dissect sanctification, justification, and the centrality of the cross. It won’t matter how many scriptures we stack up in service to our pet doctrines. It won’t matter how much we rail against misplaced church government.

Ladies and gentlemen, that has been done over and over, council after council, synod after synod, internecine fight after internecine fight. And yet the church is a slow-motion train wreck of tyranny and counter-revolution. If you make even a cursory study of the evolution of Christianity from the mid-second century to about 1200 it is a laundry list of bloodshed and tyranny and counter-revolution.

To put this into “church speak”, church history is an endless cycle between legalism and revival. Revival in this instance is nothing more than the return of life, to revive what is actually dying, and the body politic continues to die because it keeps cycling through these same tyrannical ideas. But we have never broken out of the cycle because we have never understood the method underlying the madness.

“All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what they cannot see is the strategy out of which victory has evolved.” ~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The tyrants and the mystic despots of the ages have been winning because we have never once challenged their assumptions. In the 21st century we are once again rolling through a philosophical cycle that has repeated itself over and over in history. This cycle is of course why Christians are living through ever-increasing manifestations of abuse.

People are confronted with the same tyranny that our forefathers set out to resist. As of now, the only real response has been to toss up our hands and look mystified at the stars. We know we are impotent. We remain impotent, caught in the cycle of doctrinal fight, church splits, and human tragedy. All we can do is wail about human depravity and mumble feebly about needing more faith. Pray harder. Sacrifice more.

Blah, blah, blah.

I tell you the truth, the answer to why this is happening is as easy to diagnose as the common cold. But the first thing we must do is dare to take responsibility for the content of our own minds. Mystic despots have ruled the world with portents of disaster for anyone with the ambition to live life beyond the substantive, beyond the mediocre.

Here’s where you come in. Autocrats rely on being able to compel outcomes because no one opposes their ideas. Tyrants only succeed when men refuse to think.

In then next session we are going to learn how tyrants have been so successful at waging war against liberty. Put on your thinking caps. We’re about to jump into the deep end of the pool.

~ John

Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five
Click here for part six
Click here for part seven
Click here for part eight