Paul's Passing Thoughts

Comments by “Karen” and “Jill” Capture the Fundamentals of the New Calvinist Lie and its Life Formula

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 29, 2011

Hardly anything that comes out of New Calvinism is the truth. I was reminded of this as I read  a recent comment by “Karen” on the Michael Horton Trilogy post. See no law, hear no law, speak no law:

https://paulspassingthoughts.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/%E2%80%9Cchristless-christianity%E2%80%9D-michael-hortons-lawless-trilogy/#comments

In the comment, Karen regurgitates the usual New Calvinist canned gospel along with the usual communication techniques that attempt to cover for a lack of validity; and attempts to demean those who are not on the cutting edge of the “New Reformation.” Here is the comment:

“You obviously haven’t listened to Horton on his White Horse Inn broadcasts, where he and the panel are always admonishing the church to preach the Law AND the Gospel. One must recognize the Law’s demands before one can appreciate the fact that we are not capable of achieving the righteous requirements of the Law, and therefore we NEED the Savior, who lived a perfectly righteous life which is imputed to my account at the point of justification. Horton’s cry to the church is not to abandon the imperatives of Scripture (those lists of godly behaviors in Paul’s epistles), but to practice them in light of the indicatives (what Christ has already accomplished on our behalf). Perfect case in point: Phil. 2:12 and 13 — ” . . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Most of Paul’s epistles are indicative heavy up front (Gospel) and imperative heavy following (Law). But the Good News is what keeps us from becoming frustrated in our failure to attain the righteousness that “exceeds that of the pharisees” (Matt. 5:20).”

 I. Communication

The first thing we see in Karen’s comment under “communication” is the New Calvinist (NC) prerequisite for those who are not followers of  NC. You have to read EVERY  book any particular NC has written in order to be qualified to criticize them. This is a technique often used to defend John Piper who has written about 600 books on joy.  He is the spiritual counterpart to Anne McCaffrey who wrote the mystical “Pern” series, and trust me, she couldn’t hold a candle to the first pope of NC, John Piper. Of course, this sets a standard not even foisted upon Holy Writ—the idea that you have to read the whole Bible to understand any of it. But as the fawning, Koolaid drinking writers of the Pyro blog note, “To know Piper is to understand Piper”(gag).

The second thing we see under communication is the misrepresentation of terms. Yes, Horton and the White Horse Inn gang constantly talk about law and gospel, but what they mean by those terms are not orthodox. Horton believes that the purpose of the law is to drive Christians to despair so that they will be totally dependant on Christ. Like Paul David Tripp, he also believes that any effort on our part to keep the law only breeds self righteousness. In “Another Gospel,” there will be a whole chapter dedicated to NC phraseology.

The third element in NC communication is intimidation: “You obviously haven’t…,” and “One must….” etc. Ever heard the one about what was written in the preacher’s sermon notes? “Point weak—pound pulpit here.” This works particularly well for Piper who is also helped by this because he looks like Yoda’s big brother.

II. New Calvinist Doctrine

1. The Synthesis of Justification and Sanctification.

The first element of NC doctrine can be seen in Karen’s statement as follows: “One must recognize the Law’s demands before one can appreciate the fact that we are not capable of achieving the righteous requirements of the Law,…” The goal of a believer is not to achieve righteousness for justification; that is a onetime legal declaration by God that happens when we believe. Christians seek to obey the law because “we make it our goal to please him” as colaborers with God in sanctification (2Cor. 5:9, 1Cor. 3:9, 1Thess. 3:2).

2. The Total Depravity of the Saints.

If the law has the same role in the lives of unbelievers as it does for believers, this logically speaks of ability being the same. In fact, Horton plainly writes in Christless Christianity, page 62, that justification (or, “gospel”) gives life to unbelievers in the same way that it gives life to believers when they revisit the gospel “afresh.” Horton also states on the same page that any other application besides the gospel in the Christian life results in the loss of salvation.

3. Denial of the New Birth.

Obviously, if our ability to obey the law is no more than that of an unbeliever, one must ask: “What about Christians being “new creatures”? That’s easy, NC deny the significance of the new birth. In the cradle of New Calvinism, Robert Brinsmead’s  Australian Forum (along with G. Paxton and G. Goldsworthy [the Australian 3 or “A3”]), concurred that there is a new birth, but that lending significance to that fact would eclipse  the preeminence of the gospel and the works of Jesus Christ. Example: yes, it’s true that there are planets that are 300 light years away from us, but what is the significance of them when discussing the Sun? Rick Holland uses this same hermeneutical logic in his book, “Uneclipsing The Son” to promote the NC doctrine of Gospel Sanctification. Consider this side by side comparison of quotes from G. Paxton and Michael Horton:

Paxton: “It robs Christ of His glory by putting the Spirit’s work in the believer above

and therefore against what Christ has done for the believer in His doing and dying.”

Horton: “Is the ‘Good News’ no longer Christ’s doing and dying, but our own

‘Spirit-filled’ life?”

4. The Obedient Life of Christ as Part of the Atonement.

Known as the imputed active obedience of Christ, it adds the obedience that Christ practiced during His incarnation to our account along with righteousness. Therefore, active obedience is imputed to us, and any attempt on our part to obey is a denial of a key part of the atonement. I highly recommend pastor Terry Rayburn’s sound refutation of this doctrine here (5 Part series):

http://grace-for-life.blogspot.com/2011/03/active-obedience-imputation-is-not.html

Karen’s reflection of this doctrine can be seen in this statement: “….and therefore we NEED the Savior, who lived a perfectly righteous life which is imputed to my account at the point of justification.”

5. The Imperative Command is Grounded in the Indicative Event.

Karen says: “Horton’s cry to the church is not to abandon the imperatives of Scripture (those lists of godly behaviors in Paul’s epistles), but to practice them in light of the indicatives (what Christ has already accomplished on our behalf). Perfect case in point: Phil. 2:12 and 13 — ‘ . . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.’ Most of Paul’s epistles are indicative heavy up front (Gospel) and imperative heavy following (Law).”

This is the NC teaching that the Bible demonstrates contemplation on the gospel as the key to spiritual growth by a supposed grammatical pattern that always displays the works of Christ/gospel (indicative) prior to commands (imperative). This is hardly a consistent pattern throughout Scripture. Don’t be fooled by Karen’s typical NC nuanced doublespeak. She seems to be saying that our good works are a result of being saved by Christ, but she is really toeing the classic NC line that Christ is obeying for us because His obedience was imputed to us through the atonement. Contemplating the gospel results in an effortless display of His obedience—not ours. This can be seen in this part of her statement: “(what Christ has already accomplished on our behalf).” Obviously, if Christ has already “accomplished” IT, there is nothing more for us to “accomplish.” Notice that in her citation of Phil. 2:12,13, both God and believer “work,” but her implication is: go ahead and do what Jesus did and it will be effortless because he already accomplished it. So, any works in our OWN effort is not of Christ because when it is Him doing it, it doesn’t require our effort. If you doubt that’s the take, consider this statement by “Jill” whom I was having a discussion with last night:

“When Christ lives in us, everything is effortless because it is Christ living in us doing it all through us. When we have to work in our own strength to please God, we know that we are still bound by the law.”

In Jill’s statement, all the elements of what we are discussing here can be seen.

However, we must remember: like the new birth, the will to obey God is a gift, but with all gifts, we still possess it (new creatureship and the will) regardless of the fact that it is a gift. Therefore, we are enabled to obey—have the will to obey (which does not imply that we will always feel like the will is there), and it is really us obeying/working.

6. The Pharisees were really, really good at keeping the law and look how angry God was with them, so let that be a lesson to you; if you try to keep the law, your nothing but a Pharisee. No, no, even though the Pharisees were really, really good at keeping the law, you need a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness they had—the righteousness of Christ that comes by your non-effort which shows your faith.  

This worn out, straw man eating a red herring argument used often by NC can be seen in these words by Karen: “But the Good News is what keeps us from becoming frustrated in our failure to attain the righteousness that “exceeds that of the pharisees” (Matt. 5:20).”

Again, pleasing Christ, and putting on the new creature while putting off the old, is not an attempt to secure justification as Karen suggests. And, Christ was saying the exact opposite of what NC say He is saying in Matthew 5:20. Because the Pharisees were actually antinomian law-breakers of the worse sort, Christ was saying that your life better look a whole bunch better than theirs. Christ’s beef with the Pharisees was not their supposed attempt/efforts to apply the truth to their life, but the fact that they distorted the law with their traditions, and thereby making the law “void” ( Matthew 15:6 ESV). This fact can also be clearly seen in the context of Matthew 5. The Pharisees were the ones who “relaxed” the law and taught others to do the same.

7. By attempting to keep the law, the Pharisees were only cleaning the outside of the cup and not truly dealing with the heart (Matthew 23:25-28).

Karen doesn’t touch on this, but it is the matching bookend of NC’s Pharisee angle, so I present it here as a bonus point. Supposedly, any effort on our part to keep the law only concerns the outer person. We supposedly change from the inside out by contemplating the gospel with the result being an outer manifestation of Christ’s obedience, not ours. But again, that is a distortion of what Christ was really saying. Christ was saying that outer obedience is always preceded by inner obedience, not contemplative spirituality:

“So you alsooutwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full ofhypocrisy and lawlessness.”

The word for “lawlessness” in this passage is “anomia” which means “without the law” or “anti-law” or “against the law.” The Pharisees were disobedient in regard to their inner life (thinking, reasoning, knowledge, etc). They were law-breakers on the inside and the outside both. Apparently, one of the primary reasons God destroyed mankind except for Noah’s family was: “And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

III. Conclusion

Despite the fact that NC are masters of nuance and double speak, their formula for life is simply this: Living the Christian life is an effortless endeavor that only seeks to display the works of Christ and the gospel that flow from “worship” and spiritual contemplation. It is a formula that is wreaking havoc on Christian families and will continue to do so. And although most Christians today deny this doctrine based on terminology, it is how they function in real life. This can be easily demonstrated. When one goes to college, he/she will have to labor in various ways to eventually earn a degree. Not only that, they will have to learn something NEW in every class they attend every day in order to obtain a grade that illustrates that they have the knowledge necessary to perform a trade. That’s college—not sanctification, but yet, how many Christians have that attitude about what’s necessarily for the Christian life? And regardless of the fact that the apostle Paul said: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth,” Christian leaders insist that believers make the ABC’s of Christianity the A-Z.

paul  

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