Paul's Passing Thoughts

Fact: Protestant Orthodoxy Disavows Good Behavior

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 27, 2016

ppt-jpeg4TV Shows have been dissing the integrity of church for years. I am not much of a TV watcher, but one of my clients enjoys watching “ME” TV which highlights TV shows of the past. One such show is “Reba” starring the country music legend Reba McEntire. In the plot, Reba has divorced her husband who was having an affair with “Barbara Jean” who Reba nicknamed “BJ.” Barbara Jean plays a dimwitted blonde who is totally unrepentant for destroying Reba’s marriage, and in the plot, is also a confessing Christian and faithful churchian. BJ offers up most of the punchlines in the sitcom through the character’s totally confused mindset and worldview.

Indicative of the confusion that defines churchianity, Christians wail and moan in regard to recent TV shows that continually denigrate the Christian faith. This is what makes Barbara Jean a truthful representation of Protestantism. While proudly espousing the truism that Protestants are just lowly “sinners saved by grace,” they object to being represented as…well, “sinners.” While proclaiming themselves “sinners,” they also insist on being recognized as civilization’s moral compass in regard to every category of life. While popular Protestants such a Tullian Tchividjian preached loosey-goosey grace for years dissing all things good as “moralism,” he and the many leaders like him are forced to resign when their sinful ways become public. These kinds of ridiculous contradictions highlighted the Barbara Jean motif in the “Reba” sitcom.

What’s up with all of this confusion? Well, a leading Protestant evangelical lauded by the who’s who of the evangelical community, Dr. Michael Horton, clarifies the problem in his book, “Christless Christianity.” He accurately makes the case in the book that Protestantism has never laid claim to good behavior, and in fact, rejects it. In many of his writings, he drives home the point that Protestant orthodoxy is solely a profession and not an action (this is why Martin Luther rejected the book of James as a “straw epistle”).

Salvation is defined as a mere ability to “see” the kingdom with no participation other than proclaiming it. In Horton’s book, pun intended, trying to do well is not preaching the gospel, but an attempt to “be the gospel.” In the book, he continually drives the point home that any attempt at promoting the gospel through good behavior is fruitless because on our best day we fall short of God’s perfection. This is also a favorite talking point of Dr. DA Carson lauded as one of the most “brilliant theological minds of our day.” Another evangelical, Dr. Albert Mohler, also touted as the premier intellectual theologian of our day has stated that the sole purpose of the Bible is to show us our sinful nature, not an instruction book for moralism. Horton, throughout the book, bemoans the fact that Christianity has projected a false precept of good behavior and has therefore misrepresented the true gospel. He even suggests that the idea of change from bad behavior to good behavior is just “more bad news,” not good news.

My friends, in fact, this is authentic Protestantism as stated in the founding doctrinal statements of the Reformation. This is why scandals in the church shouldn’t even be news or fodder for gossip-blogs like The Wartburg Watch. Church is fraught with scandals because the foundational precepts of the Reformation reject change as just, “more bad news.” This is why any attempt to address or confront scandal in the church or any “Cry for Justice” in the church is utterly unfounded—Protestant orthodoxy calls for a resignation to bad behavior lest we try to “be the gospel.”

Supposedly, we are to be judged solely by what we say, not what we do. And if it is God’s sovereign will, one will believe the message regardless of any behavior that goes along with it. In fact, Horton suggests in said book that if one is persuaded by our good behavior, that is what they falsely put their faith in; viz, “our doing rather than Jesus’ doing and dying” another popular refrain of the Neo-Protestant movement.

As stated by this ministry often, the catalyst for all of this is authority. The empowered individual who can really change for the better makes for a weak caste system. The issue becomes the protection of an institution at all cost that God has supposedly ordained to oversee salvation…

…versus the soundness of a body gathered together to spur one another unto “good works.”