Paul's Passing Thoughts

From the Reformation to the Third Reich: Protestantism’s Impact on Western Culture – Part 3

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 9, 2017

The following is part three of a multi-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s third session
at the 2014 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for introduction
Click here for part two
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
Click here for conclusion

 

The Re-Discovery of Aristotle!

St. Thomas Aquinas

In the previos two posts I have brought you up to the collapse of civilization. That collapse lasts for almost 800 years because Augustine stands virtually intellectually unopposed. There are some medieval theologians and so forth that do rise up, and some of them were pretty smart, but when it came right down to it, they had nothing important to say in the evolution of Western thought. The result is for all of their departures and all of their good ideas, they never abandon the rudiments of orthodoxy.

Then around 1250, St. Thomas Aquinas appears on the scene and reintroduces Aristotle into Western thought in 1250. Aquinas is critical because he integrated the philosophies of Aristotle into Christianity. I cannot understate the importance of this because the re-discovering of Aristotle is what makes the concepts of freedom and liberty as we know it possible. Aristotle is responsible for the coming Enlightenment Era and thinkers such as John Locke. I dare say that the United State would not have happened had it not been for Aristotle.

I want you to notice this timeline. Even with the contributions of Aquinas in 1250 AD, we do not get to freedom, liberty and knowledge until almost 1700! That means that man still spends another 500 years or so in this doleful horror story of the Dark Ages. But it is Aquinas who gives us Aristotle, and Aristotle bails us out of the madness.

The reason I want to talk about Aristotle is because because ultimately I am going to get to the impact of Neo-Calvinism on the United States of America.   By the time I get to the next two parts of this series, I want you to be absolutely aware that America is not possible without Aristotle and without John Locke.   You must know what you are about to lose and why you are about to lose it. And if you don’t understand this much, then you will never understand why I object so vehemently to Augustine and Luther and Calvin.

Aristotle_Color

Now I’m not going to go over how Aquinas integrated Aristotle into Christianity. That would be a long and tedious project. So I’m just going to start with Aristotle and the elements and roots of Aristotle. Aristotle is the most important figure in all of Western thought. Aristotle was a student of Plato and spent 20 years in Plato’s Academy. For a series of reasons, he left Athens, and eventually, those series of reasons resolve and he came back to Athens and created his own school called The Lyceum. But while he was in Plato’s Academy, he was considered one of Plato’s best students, and he was a committed Platonist.

In the beginning he accepted the premise of Platonism and its full philosophical statement from the beginning to the end. However, during his time away from Athens, he began to rethink, and he decided Plato was wrong, and not just a little wrong, catastrophically wrong. As such, he began to rethink the whole of philosophy and the whole shape and scope of philosophy.

Now in the grand scheme of intellectuals, Plato was a genius on levels that is hard to grasp for people in everyday life. Still, Plato had ideas that came before him that he built on. Aristotle had nothing before him to arrive at his conclusions. Everything before him was exactly the opposite of what he said. So for Aristotle to arrive at the conclusions that he did is illustrative of the capacity of his own genius.

Aristotle objects to Plato’s world of Forms. He rejects Plato’s metaphysics at the root. Plato created a transcendent world where everything you see is actually a shadow of the real thing, of the perfect thing.   Those perfect things were actually located in this world called the Forms. There was a perfect table in the world of Forms, and the table that you see is a shadow. It is imperfect and therefore a shadow of this perfect thing.

Aristotle rejected this idea because he believed the Forms are a useless theory because it does not explain this world. This world is filled with particulars, things that move, change, grow and act. Particulars are independent entities that can be categorized by what they have in common, such as a dog, a tree, a man, a remote control. They are self-contained and self-enclosed things, something that exists in and of itself.

This is the world that man needs to understand. Man does not need to know Plato’s static supernatural world.

Here’s an example. This world has chairs, tables, dogs, and Calvinists. Plato says that to understand this world, another world must first have chairs, tables, dogs, and Calvinists. As far as Aristotle is concerned, this creates a useless duplication. All that Plato has done is create a useless metaphor that does not address the root question, how does this world reflect the world of Forms? By what mechanism does this take place? And of course there is no answer, because by definition, all that Plato was saying is this world of Forms is somehow a bright enough light that it casts a shadow here. But yet there is still this fundamental division, which means that man is still living in a world that is somehow functionally unreal.

Here is Aristotle’s major substantive objection. To understand this objection, I need to help you understand the distinction between universals and particulars. I have already defined particulars for you. Aristotle recognized that particulars can be categorized into universals. Universals are what is common to a number of particulars. It is the characteristic possessed by many particulars. What is the common denominator of say table-ness or chair-ness or circle-ness? When men conceptualizes these things, he universalizes the concepts into an abstraction.

Let me see if I can explain this.   Consider a remote control for your television. That particular remote controls a particular device, namely your television. You can generalize “remote” into a universal concept. That concept can be abstracted to the nth degree because now you do not have to remember every single remote you have ever see in your lifetime. You can now hold in your head the concept, the abstraction, of remote, and it encompasses all of the remotes on the planet. You see, this is an enormously powerful part of human cognition. It is Aristotle’s ability to identify the process of going from a particular to the universal (concept), to the abstraction that gives Aristotle’s metaphysics and epistemology such enormous power.

What Plato did is he took the human mind’s ability to conceptualize a universal and instead said “remote” has a perfect “remote” somewhere else, and that is how we know a “remote” generally. Aristotle says that is silly. What you just did is took the abstraction, “remote-ness”, created universal perfect “remote” somewhere in another world, and then said, oh by the way, this particular remote is only a reflection. So in other words, Plato took the universal and made it a particular. This is a powerful, powerful argument. He pretty much said Plato made up this world that had no function and no purpose and that all that was necessarily important was here and now.

Here’s how Aristotle explains this. We separate common characteristics of entities, particulars, by our selective awareness, by observing the differences among them. We then reduce things to a common denominator. And this is how we go from particulars to universals. When a baby first enters the world, he looks around and sees chair, chair, chair, chair, chair, chair, but he does not understand all of these chairs. At first to him these are all somehow unique and individual events. But eventually, he begins to identify the common denominators of all chairs, and he begins to conceptualize “chair” in general, and then he abstracts to the bigger picture.

Notice Aristotle’s distinction. Just because we can perform the action of abstraction does not mean that the common denominator exists in a separate supernatural reality. Separating things in thought is very different from separating in reality. When man practices this selective process, he is performing abstraction. For example, within your room, you could identify all the shapes of the circle in the room, so you can ignore color, or if it is a part of a chair or connected to the wall you can extract the concept “circle” from each instance. But this mental process does not mean that “circle” is out there somewhere in a Form.

Aristotle called Plato’s world of Forms the “Fallacy of Reification”, literally “thing-making.” Plato is making a particular out of a human cognitive process. This is a brilliant deduction. Aristotle identifies a fundamental flaw by pointing out that this is really nothing more than how the human consciousness works. It is part of the human consciousness identity.

Now you should have some basic insight into how Aristotle conceptualizes the world. Here are the basics. Reality exists. What man perceives is reality. There is no conflict between reality and appearance. Reality is what man observes, and any formulation that says otherwise is error. Particulars are the units of reality. The things you see are particulars. As I said, anything you can physically point at, look at, identify, subtract and blank out everything else and look at, that is a particular. Everything is an individual and a concrete. Individuality is the particular’s irreducible element. The thing that individualizes it is the thing itself.

Here is Aristotle’s distinction, and this is a direct contrast to Plato. Universals are real. Universals are the objects of conceptual thought. Universals are the abstraction of particulars, but only particulars actually exist. Let me make a distinction. There was a common tool of debate that was called Zeno’s Paradox. Zeno said you couldn’t actually cross a room because you could not cross distance. You would go to half and then to half again and then to half again and then to half again and to half again, and you could not cross a room by definition. Of course, this is error because it takes the concept of infinity and turns it into a thing. You do not cross infinity. You cross an identity. And the identity is the distance of a room, 30 feet. Aristotle correctly destroyed Zeno’s Paradox by observing that the abstraction “infinity” was not real. We use it as a mental organizer, but it is not in existence like this. So can we cross a room? Absolutely. Why? Because we’re not crossing infinity. We’re crossing an identity, 30 feet.

Side Bar: Most of the conflicts that we have regarding the Neo-Calvinist group and all collectivist ideologies are the failure to grasp the distinction between concretes and particulars, concepts and abstractions. Most of our theological discussion has failed because it has misunderstood these specific distinctions. And the reason the Neo-Calvinists kick our butt so consistently is because they are masters at manipulating the difference between concept and abstraction. I’ll let you mull that over.

Aristotle said matter is the uniqueness of a particular. Form is the universalizing of those things that a particular shares with other things. So he takes over Plato’s concept of form, but he uses it entirely differently. Aristotle noted that you cannot have form without matter, and you cannot have matter without form. This is Plato’s fundamental error; he created a world of Forms without matter. This is the exact same failing in Augustinian doctrine. Augustine’s Form is the heavenly and the universal worldly godly realm. This earth has no Form. Augustine manipulates this to the nth degree throughout the entirety of his ideology.

 

Aristotle’s Metaphysics
Everybody prior to Aristotle said that consciousness was primary. Some consciousness, whether some variation of man’s consciousness or some divine consciousness, imposed its will on the world and shaped it after its fashion. Aristotle said that is backwards. It is reality that comes first and consciousness engages reality.   This is known as the Primacy of Existence, and this is the Copernican shift in philosophy, because it puts reality and consciousness as co-counterweights in the ability to define what is. It gives the ability for objective knowledge.

With the primacy of consciousness, you have no guarantee of objectivity because the first question you must ask is, whose consciousness defines reality? Is it Allah? Is it God? Is it Isis? Or if you are a follower of Hegel, is it the state that defines reality? Can the state impose its collective will on the world? With this, all you have is the term subjectivism. The primacy of consciousness is nothing more than subjectivism. But it is reality first, the primacy of existence first, the correlation of consciousness perceiving that reality that gives you the ability to have objective knowledge; it gives you a plumb line, because man has every confidence that what he sees is.

Man’s obsession to alter reality by the mind is the heart and soul of magic. And this is the primacy of consciousness’ preoccupation. This is how pond scum in the Middle Ages magically became frogs. Everything is and it is not. Everything is mutable and changeable. There is no reality and there is no causality.

Man practices the primacy of consciousness metaphysics all the time. You see something horrible and the first thing you do is start saying, “No, no, that can’t be.” The blogosphere is doing this with Calvinists all the time. They see one more manifestation of Neo-Calvinist abuse and just magically go, “No, that can’t be. It can’t be the doctrine.” They pretend the relationship between ideas and outcomes do not exist. That must mean it is not reality. This is the implication of the primacy of consciousness. They are defining the measure of truth by their own determination at a given consciousness.

 

Aristotle’s Epistemology.
One of the biggest problems with Plato’s world of Forms is if there is this other world, how does man ever get this concept of “table”? Where does that come from? If he has no ability to perceive it by any means, how does he get it? Well, the historic solution to this was the concept of innate ideas, that somehow man just knew it. Before he was born, man knew it and he remembers it as he grows. All of these things, these innate ideas, all originate pre-consciousness.

If you recall from the 2013 series on the evolution of Western thought, practically every system of thought included the idea that somehow man’s senses and his ability to perceive were impaired or invalid. Aristotle opposed this thought. He said that a man starts his existence tabula rasa, as a blank slate. Man has no innate ideas. The way man gets his knowledge is that it begins with the senses, perceptions. Man’s faculty for understanding reality is his perceptions. All formulations that write off the senses at this point are wrong.

Man sees a rainbow, and he sees it from a distance and it physically looks like it touches the ground. And so he goes to try to find where it is, and of course he can’t find it. And the more he tries to walk towards the rainbow, the harder it is to see the rainbow. Or a similar example is you take a stick. A stick is straight in the air. You stick it in the water and you look at it, and suddenly, the stick bends. The historic criticism was that the senses deceive us. We really can’t rely on the senses.

Aristotle realized that was nonsense. You simply made a crucial error. The senses gave you the correct information, but you interpreted the information wrong. You misunderstood what that information was designed to give you. The stick in the water appears bent because at some point you learn the implications of how water moves and shapes light. The stick didn’t bend. The light coming back at the senses is what changed the appearance of the stick. The same thing is true of the rainbow. A rainbow is the result of light passing through water mist which refracts the light, and so the illusion that you think you see is really the correct manifestation of the entities light and water.

Aristotle’s next epistemological advance was called concept-formation which I have already discussed at length earlier in this article. It is the ability of man to take perceptions and particulars, identify the common denominators between them, and conceptualize abstractions called universals. This is how man brings order to his perceptions and begins to classify reality by identifying identities. It is by this method that man goes from circle to wheel to cart to transportation.

This is how man builds every increasing levels of complexity. He takes the very small, the particular, and he begins to form and shape that until he gets to the broadest abstraction. The order goes this way, perception to conception to abstraction to universal. And I’m going to keep saying this because this is central to the world that we inhabit. Until you understand how this functions, it is very easy to get wrapped up in the Augustinian ideas and their specific effort to divorce the world from reality man’s mind. This is a central attack that we will see over and over again as we progress through this discussion.

To be continued…


Click here for introduction
Click here for part two
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
Click here for conclusion

The False Protestant Gospel of “How Much?”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 10, 2015

“At any moment, any lost person can choose to have their sins ended. It is not a question of whether or not they are elected, it is a question of whether or not they are under the law—and they are.”      

The Protestant gospel effectively denies the biblical interpretation of the new birth. Because of its Platonist metaphysical presuppositions, it denies the treasure of God’s seed dwelling in weak vessels. Hence, the new birth is redefined and confined to the ability to perceive realm manifestations apart from any ability to do a good work of any kind. As stated by some, “Sanctification is done TO you, not BY you.”

In the biblical good news schema, Christ does ONE act of obedience as His part in God’s reconciliation plan. There is no question of “how much?” because His death was all that was required.

Now enter the heinous “Reformation” gospel of confusion. A cursory observation of Reformation history reveals that the dust-up between Rome and the “Reformers” was over metaphysics first. The very first and foundational doctrinal statement of the Reformation contained 12 theses of philosophical metaphysics. Luther was miffed that Rome was moving away from its Augustinian/Platonist roots and coming under the spell of Thomism. This shift began in the 13th century via St. Thomas Aquinas and eventually incited the Reformation. The assertion that the Reformation was driven by sola scriptura is absurd.

Martin Luther introduced his metaphysical answer to Thomism and foisted his theses that supported it onto Scripture. The centerpiece eventually came to be known as double imputation. To Luther’s credit, he created a timeless soteriology based on metaphysics that continues to turn the world upside down. John Calvin articulated Luther’s foundation in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. Both were dedicated to returning the church to its Augustinian roots.

What is double imputation? Basically, it’s the idea that Christ’s role in the gospel of first importance (as set apart from God’s full counsel which is also good news) was twofold as opposed to ONE single act. This was necessary as a “biblical” doctrine that keeps the material being of man separate from Plato’s trinity: the good, true, and beautiful, ie., the invisible. The true gospel turned dualism philosophy completely on its head by infusing good into weakness and defining the true definitions of God’s creation and the state of being.

The idea that God infused His righteousness into the being of mankind is repugnant to the Reformed mindset. How repugnant? The colonial Puritans executed Quakers for even asserting an errant view of the idea.

Therefore, distorting Christ’s role in God’s elected plan of reconciliation was necessary. Christ’s redefined soteriological role removes all goodness from mankind proper and “Christians” in particular. Christ not only came to die for the sins of particular persons preselected by God, but He also came to live a perfect life in obedience to the law so that His obedience could be imputed to the “elect.”

Now the questions are begged: “How much suffering was necessary to pay the penalty for sins committed by the preselected, and how much obedience was necessary for righteousness to be imputed to the preselected as well. When a false doctrine is predicated on errant presuppositions, not only do these kinds of questions arise, but the attempted answers give rise to more questions.

And displays of nonsense. An example is the weird and embarrassing ad lib “Scream of the Damned” propagated by John Piper and CJ Mahaney at a conference hosted by John MacArthur Jr.’s Grace Community Church.* The sheer weirdness of it all even raised eyebrows within Reformed circles by the likes of Steve Camp. The premise was an adolescent-like attempt to explain how much? in regard to Christ’s death. Imagining the response from my older than dirt and probably dead father in the faith, Pastor Richard Peacock, put me on the floor rolling around while laughing uncontrollably. Only the thought of thousands of attending pastors supported by the hard work and sweat of the laity watching without a blink shocked me into the horror of reality and put an end to my shameless response.

When are people going to stop and say to themselves, “Wait a minute here; what drives this stuff? This kind of stuff just doesn’t happen for any or no reason.”

Likewise, in regard to how much?, how long did Christ have to live and how much of the law did He have to obey for the elect? Theories abound because the question itself flows from the false presuppositions of Platonism foisted on the Scriptures resulting in the doctrine of double imputation.

Christ did ONE thing to secure reconciliation for mankind: He died. How much? Answer: enough for ALL mankind. How? Answer: by ending the law. How is that possible? Answer: because all sin is against the law and imputed to the law, and Christ died to end it. Sin is not covered by Christ’s law–keeping; no, sin is not covered, it is ENDED. At any moment, any lost person can choose to have their sins ended. It is not a question of whether or not they are elected, it is a question of whether or not they are under the law—and they are.

What else did Christ do to secure our reconciliation? Answer: nothing. But wasn’t He resurrected? Answer: yes, but He didn’t do that, that was the Holy Spirit’s role in God’s plan of reconciliation. The fact that Christ would be resurrected was a promise made TO Christ and Abraham BY God. That surprises many Christians who don’t read their own Bibles for themselves, viz, most.

In other words, this is the gospel: Christ DIED to END sin. The Spirit resurrected Christ as the first fruits of those who would also be resurrected to new life and justification which is NOT merely a legal declaration, but a metaphysical fact. It does of course have a legal aspect, but it is adoption court where the Holy Spirt bears witness with us that we are the children of God. Christ  was “resurrected” for our justification” by the Holy Spirit. “Forensic Justification” does have a legal aspect, but not only in the halls of criminal court, but just as much in the court of adoption with the Holy Spirit appearing as a witness.

Obedience to the law by Christ does not justify us, the new birth justifies us because we are in fact righteous. The resurrection justifies us, not law-keeping by anyone including Christ.

True resurrection with Christ is “under grace,” but that by no means states that we are no longer under a law. It means that we are no longer under a law that condemns us. This is what strips sin of its power. This is what strips death of its sting. We must remember that the law is the Spirit’s law. He will use it to convict the world of sin and warn of the judgment to come, or he will use it to sanctify God’s children. The law is a savor of death to those who do not believe, and a savor of life as we walk in it as God’s children.

The time has come to stop dwelling in the Protestant metaphysical narrative of death, and to follow Christ in our duty to write a narrative of life.

How much? That will depend on OUR obedience as children of God. The Spirit gave us life and opportunity to use His law to love God and others. “Do’s and don’ts” are not the issue, LOVE is the issue. We do not stay at the foot of the cross while Christ loves for us; we will be rewarded for the narrative of life that we write by using the gifts granted to us when Christ sat down beside the Father and rested from justifying all who will believe in Him.

We zealously write our narrative of life without fear of condemnation because of Christ’s love for us. And our love will never be enough because of the freedom we feel. The freedom purchased by His blood that freed us from the condemnation of the law and the Master empowered by it, and the freedom to love by obeying the law of the Spirit—the perfect law of liberty. When God looks at us, He sees more than Christ, he sees one that Christ is not ashamed to call a brother—He sees one of His children. Christ doesn’t cover us, He presents us.

He is not ashamed of us. His death was enough for our life.

paul

* “Apparently, they got the concept from RC Sproul, who used to be rock solid, but now it would appear that senility has opened his mind to the nonsensical theological acrobatics of our day. Likewise, the same consideration might apply to John MacArthur who spoke at the conference and also sponsored it; he is getting up in years as well. I offer this as a possible excuse for both of them though the vision of my heart longs to see them as the gray-haired stalwarts of the faith that I thought they were.  Here is what Sproul said:

‘Once the sin of man was imputed to Him, He became the virtual incarnation of evil. The load He carried was repugnant to the Father. God is too holy to even look at iniquity. God the Father turned His back upon the Son, cursing Him to the pit of hell while on the cross. Here was the Son’s ‘descent into hell.’ Here the fury of God raged against Him. His scream was the scream of the damned. For us’ (Tabletalk magazine, My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me? April 1990, p. 6).

Steve Camp, on his blog, wrote a tame but thoroughly convincing argument against such a notion. But the fact that Camp thought such a significant expenditure of effort was needed is indicative of our day; surely, only ten years ago, such a thesis would have invoked a horrendous outcry among God’s people” (The New Calvinist License To Kill: And Did God Really Condemn Christ To Hell?, Paul’s Passing Thoughts blog, Paul Dohse, Sr., September 2, 2011).

The Sola Scriptura Lie

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 30, 2015
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