Paul's Passing Thoughts

Anti-Catholic or Pro Gospel: A Review of Tim Challies’ Article – Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 10, 2016

This is part two of a six part series.
Click here for part one.
Click here for part three.
Click here for part four.
Click here for part five.

Yesterday we began to take an in-depth look at an article written by Tim Challies back in 2014. Our assertion here at PPT is that there is fundamentally no difference between Catholics and Protestants in terms of doctrine, particularly the doctrine of justification. The mantra of “faith-alone” has been the hallmark of Protestant orthodoxy from the beginning of the Reformation, but very few Protestants truly understand what the reformers meant by that. That misunderstanding is perpetuated to this day by the who’s who of Protestant big dogs for the purpose of keeping the laity ignorant and uninformed. But Challies has allowed us a peek inside the elite world of academics who truly understand authentic Protestantism.

Challies’ purpose is to explore the ways in which Catholics reject what he believes in the way of Protestantism. His attempt at apologetics is really nothing more than a back-door polemic, but are their views really all that different? We continue to unpack this gift given to us by examining the second point of his article.

“If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in divine mercy, which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone that justifies us, let him be anathema. (Canon 12)”

Before we go on we need to examine this statement more closely. Canon 12 makes a declaration about what it believes justification is NOT; it is not merely confidence in divine mercy alone, or “faith alone”. That being said, the question we need to ask ourselves then is, if it’s not confidence in divine mercy, or confidence alone that justifies, then what DO Catholics teach is the basis or standard of justification? If Challies is going to claim that Catholics reject what he believes, it is important for us to know what the contrasting view is. Why does Rome reject the Protestant view of justification being a mere “faith alone”?

Interestingly enough, the answer can be found from the very same council of Trent. Specifically, the canons that Challies cite are from a larger work entitled, The Sixth Session of the Council of Trent, published January 13, 1547[i]. It contains three sections:

  • Decree Concerning Justification
  • Canons Concerning Justification
  • Decree Concerning Reform

To answer our question we must refer to the first section, the “Decree Concerning Justification.” In Chapter IV we read the following:

CHAPTER IV

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE JUSTIFICATION OF THE SINNER AND ITS MODE IN THE STATE OF GRACE

In which words is given a brief description of the justification of the sinner, as being a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace and of the adoption of the sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior. This translation however cannot, since promulgation of the Gospel, be effected except through the laver of regeneration or its desire, as it is written: Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

 Do you see that? Roman Catholicism teaches that the standard for justification is the new birth! Moreover, the new birth is propagated by a desire of one to be born again. This requires a conscious effort of the individual to make a choice. Chapter V goes on to make this clear.

CHAPTER V

THE NECESSITY OF PREPARATION FOR JUSTIFICATION IN ADULTS, AND WHENCE IT PROCEEDS

It is furthermore declared that in adults the beginning of that justification must proceed from the predisposing grace of God through Jesus Christ, that is, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits on their part, they are called; that they who by sin had been cut off from God, may be disposed through His quickening and helping grace to convert themselves to their own justification by freely assenting to and cooperating with that grace; so that, while God touches the heart of man through the illumination of the Holy Ghost, man himself neither does absolutely nothing while receiving that inspiration, since he can also reject it, nor yet is he able by his own free will and without the grace of God to move himself to justice in His sight. Hence, when it is said in the sacred writings: Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you,19 we are reminded of our liberty; and when we reply: Convert us, O Lord, to thee, and we shall be converted,20 we confess that we need the grace of God.

To be clear, the Catholic view of justification begins with the new birth, defined in their own words as being a supernatural translation from one state of being to another. A literal change. The new birth is what starts you on your way. That justification is then maintained, as the believer cooperates with the Holy Spirit, throughout his life. “Faith alone” is not enough.

Challies says that the Catholic view is contrary to what he believes. In responding to Canon 12 he states,

“I believe this! I believe that justifying faith is confidence in God’s divine mercy which remits sin for the sake of Christ and on the basis of the work of Christ. It is this—faith—and nothing else that justifies us. (Rom 3:28, John 1:12)”

In other words, Challies believes that there is no cooperating with the Spirit through works to maintain justification. It is “faith alone” and nothing else. Once again, this is a statement that you or I might agree with. But the devil is in the details. The key is in this phrase:

“…justifying faith is confidence in God’s divine mercy which remits sin for the sake of Christ and on the basis of the work of Christ.”

We are again allowed to assume that “faith alone” refers to initial salvation. What Challies fails to mention is that Protestantism believes that this “work of Christ” is on-going throughout the life of the believer as a covering for “present sin”. Moreover, in stating that Catholics reject his view of justification, he has unwittingly admitted that Catholics also reject his view of the new birth. Said another way, Catholics believe that the new birth is a literal change of being, and Challies does not!  The new birth is defined as merely and ability to “see” his sinfulness and need of salvation rather than a literal change of being.

The Bible, however, teaches that when a person believes, he is changed. The old man dies. He is crucified with Christ. A new creature is born in his place who is the literal offspring of God who CANNOT sin (1 John 3:9). The reason he cannot sin is because when the old man dies, the law can now no longer condemn him. The new, born again creature is not under the condemnation of the law (Romans 8:1). Therefore there is no sin, because where there is no law there is no sin (Romans 4:15, 5:13). And if there is no sin, there is no “present sin” and therefore no need of a “covering”.

If a believer is still defined as a sinner, then he indeed would be in constant need of some work of “grace” to cover that sin. In the Protestant construct, that work of grace is effected by Christ, known as the “active obedience of Christ”. Christ obeying the law in our place is imputed to the believer as a covering for present sin.   But if that is the case, then according to Protestantism, the standard for justification is not the new birth but the law. Such a doctrine keeps a believer under the law. Being “under law” is the Biblical definition of an unsaved person. Furthermore, the apostle Paul said in Galatians 5:4, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” In other words, Christ’s work to END the law with His death on the cross becomes pointless!

Furthermore, if a continual “covering” is needed to maintain one’s righteous standing, then that means justification is an ongoing process. Even if the effecting of the “covering” is obtained by “faith alone” throughout one’s life rather than a co-laboring, it still makes justification progressive, instead of a one-time event in the life of a believer.

So once again we see that BOTH Catholics and Protestants hold to a progressive justification, and that the ONLY difference is the means of maintaining it, works vs. “faith alone”. Catholics make no equivocation about this. It is Protestants who are confused. But that confusion is the result of such duplicitous double-speak from the likes of men such as Tim Challies.

In the next article we will examine point number three.

Andy


[i] https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=5392

PPT Series: Blogger Tim Challies; An Archetype of Protestant Deception

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 10, 2016

Challies DarkRecently, Andy Young, a co-author here at PPT, brought this article to my attention written by Reformed blogger Tim Challies in 2014. This article is a paramount example of Protestant doublespeak and its progressive justification false gospel.

In the following weeks, we are going to drill down on this article and unpack it from several different angles. Susan and I have decided to finish our series on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Blog Talk Radio) by including the topic in our upcoming childrearing series. We have already done an introduction to this new Challies series here on Blog Talk, and the transcript of the program will be available soon. It is our Understanding that Andy will be writing six articles on the Challies post as well.

Tagged with:

Anti-Catholic or Pro Gospel: A Review of Tim Challies’ Article – Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 9, 2016

This is part one of a six part series.
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.

For quite some time now, Paul’s Passing Thoughts has been saying that Protestants are the most confused group of people in the world.   They are the ones who have no idea what they believe about the gospel. Catholics on the other hand might believe a false gospel, but at least they are honest about what they believe.

I actually think Tim Challies has done us a great service. He wrote an article back in 2014 in which he attempts to show how Catholics disagree with what he believes.   But what it ironically ends up being is an indictment against Protenstantism. No one should any longer be able to come to us here at PPT and say we are misrepresenting Protestantism or Reformed theology. Challies has unwittingly made the case for us in his own words. He has provided several points of Catholic orthodoxy for us to consider. But I think it is ironic, because in his effort to show where Catholic orthodoxy rejects what he believes, it has given us an insight into just how much Protestantism actually agrees with Catholicism.

In this post, we will examine the first statement from the article, and other points will be considered in subsequent posts. From the article, point number one:

Catholicism declares –
“If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema. (Canon 9)”

We understand what is meant by the Roman Catholic Church in this regard. And I have spoken also with Catholic friends (even Eastern Orthodox) who will maintain that indeed this is what is taught by their church: that salvation begins with faith (beginning justification) and is maintained by works throughout their lives (progressive justification). It is by the performing of the sacraments that such maintaining of justification is accomplished (infant baptism, eucharist, confirmation, reconciliation/confession, anointing of the sick, marriage, holy orders[1]).

Now let’s take a look at Challies’ response

“I believe that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required and nothing else needs to be cooperated with, to obtain the grace of justification. Rome understands exactly what I believe here and rejects it. (Rom 3:20-28, Eph 2:8)”

He’s right.  Rome understands exactly what he means!  The problem is that Protestants don’t understand what he means.  At first glance it seems like a reasonable response with which you or I could agree, but his statement is disingenuous at best.   Why? Because Challies fails to point out one critical aspect. The Catholic statement on justification clearly suggests progressive justification. Something else (in addition to faith) is needed to be justified. For the Catholic, that “something else” is works through the performance of the sacraments, and these are performed over one’s lifetime. As these works are done, justification is maintained.

Challies neglects to point this out. He simply says it is faith and nothing else. This is very nuanced. In so doing, he allows his reader to assume that he is talking about justification as being a one-time event. He fails to mention that the Reformed doctrine of “faith alone” must be lived out continuously throughout the Christian life. If at any time a person ceases to live by faith alone, if he attempts to perform any works, he puts his salvation in jeopardy. Any works performed would only serve to condemn because this would be an attempt to merit righteousness. This was the major point of contention of the Reformation. Both Luther and Calvin state as much in their writings.

“Still, however, while we walk in the ways of the Lord, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, lest we should become unduly elated and forget ourselves, we have still remains of imperfection which serve to keep us humble: “There is no man who sinneth not,” says the Scripture (1Kgs 8:46). What righteousness can men obtain by their works?” ~ Calvin[2]

“First, I say, that the best thing which can be produced by them is always tainted and corrupted by the impurity of the flesh, and has, as it were, some mixture of dross in it. Let the holy servant of God, I say, select from the whole course of his life the action which he deems most excellent, and let him ponder it in all its parts; he will doubtless find in it something that saviors of the rottenness of the flesh since our alacrity in well-doing is never what it ought to be, but our course is always retarded by much weakness. Although we see that the stains by which the works of the righteous are blemished, are by no means unapparent, still, granting that they are the minutest possible, will they give no offense to the eye of God, before which even the stars are not clean?  We thus see, that even saints cannot perform one work which, if judged on its own merits, is not deserving of condemnation.” ~ Calvin[3]

“Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days, but is declared to be perpetual in the church (2Cor 5:18,19). Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death, i.e., ablution, satisfaction expiation; in short, perfect obedience, by which all our iniquities are covered. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul says not that the beginning of salvation is of grace, “but by grace are ye saved,”  “not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8,9).” ~ Calvin[4]

“It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ.

“The law wills that man despair of his own ability, for it »leads him into hell« and »makes him a poor man« and shows him that he is a sinner in all his works, as the Apostle does in Rom. 2 and 3:9, where he says, »I have already charged that all men are under the power of sin.« However, he who acts simply in accordance with his ability and believes that he is thereby doing something good does not seem worthless to himself, nor does he despair of his own strength. Indeed, he is so presumptuous that he strives for grace in reliance on his own strength” ~ Luther[5]

“Theologically and more universally all must learn to say, “I am a sinner” and likewise never to stop saying it until Christ’s return makes it no longer true….The fundamental question of the Disputation is how to arrive at that righteousness that will enable us to stand before God” ~ Luther[6]

What Challies actually believes along with the rest of those of the Reformed Protestant tradition, is that a person not only receives salvation by justification by faith alone, but that salvation is maintained by faith alone in sanctification.

Furthermore, notice the use of the term “sinner”. Again, the reader is allowed to assume that a “sinner” is an unsaved person. But there again is the nuance. Both Catholics and Protestants teach that ALL men are sinners, even saved ones! (“Sinners saved by grace.”) In fact, in his introductory remarks at the beginning of the article, Challies states,

“We [Protestants and Catholics] agree on the problem: we are sinful people who have alienated ourselves from God and are thus in need of salvation. But we disagree in very significant ways as to how sinful people can receive that salvation.”

Challies acknowledges that he agrees with Catholics on this point.  And there is no distinction made as to who exactly the “sinful people” are here.  There is nothing specified as to who the “we” is referring.  It is clear that he includes himself and believers in that equation.  It stands to reason then that if believers are still “sinners” then they are in constant need of justification.  He says so himself in that very statement.  Salvation/justification therefore must be ongoing (progressive) in this construct.

I submit that there is ONLY one difference between Catholics and Protestants. Both believe in a progressive justification, but the dispute revolves around what happens afterward, how it is maintained. While Catholics believe it is maintained by works, Protestants believe it is originated AND maintained by “faith alone” as well. In either case, salvation is made to be a process instead of a finished work.

In this regard, Challies is exactly right. Catholics do not believe what he believes and indeed rejects it. But I would wager that if most of his readers and followers, to wit, most of Christianity, were honest with themselves and discovered what Protestantism really teaches about justification, they would reject it as well.

In part two of this series we will examine Challies’ second point from his article.

Andy


[1] http://study.com/academy/lesson/the-7-catholic-sacraments-definition-history-quiz.html

[2] John Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion edited by Henry Beveridge, pg 502

[3] ibid Pg 508

[4] ibid, pg 509

[5] The Heidelberg Disputation, Thesis 18

[6] ibid

Helping Tim Challies and Other Calvinists with Evangelism

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 29, 2015

ChalliesYesterday, I was sent the following article about Calvinist evangelism written by blogger Tim Challies: How To Offend a Room Full of Calvinists. Miffed by the suggestion that somebody knows better than me how to offend Calvinists, I immediately read the article.

Apparently, according to Challies, Calvinists get offended when people suggest that their soteriology hinders evangelism.  According to Challies, the argument goes like this:

Many people are firmly convinced that there is a deep-rooted flaw embedded within Reformed theology that undermines evangelistic fervor. Most blame it on predestination. After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel. Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Protestants en masse think Calvinism’s greatest sin is weak evangelism, and of course, that makes them very angry because it’s supposedly the last criticism standing. I could start with the fact that Calvinism is works salvation under the guise of faith alone, or progressive justification, or salvation by antinomianism. Pick one; any of the three will work. But I have a mountain of data on that subject already; let’s do something different. Yes, let’s use Challies’ own words in the post to refute his argument. Before we call on Challies to refute his own protest, we will address his take on church history.

We go to history to show that the great missionaries, great preachers, and great revivalists of days past were Calvinists, and that Reformed theology was what fueled their mission… There are only so many times I can point to Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and the Great Awakening, or William Carey and the great missionary movement of the nineteenth century, or Charles Spurgeon and the countless thousands saved under his ministry. Sooner or later I have to stop looking at my heroes and look to myself. I can’t claim their zeal as my own. I can’t claim their obedience as my own.

In the post, Challies argues that we know that a straight line can be found from Reformed theology to evangelistic zeal because of history. Supposedly, Calvinists throughout history were driven directly by this deterministic gospel to reach thousands. It is very interesting when you consider the examples given which will aid in making my point.

The Great Awakening had absolutely nothing to do with Reformed soteriology. We should know this as a matter of common sense to begin with because the Holy Spirit doesn’t colabor with a false gospel. The Great Awakening was fueled by the ideology of the American Revolution and was expressed to a great degree in churches, especially among African Americans. Fact is, guys like Edwards and Whitefield then got on their horses and rode around the countryside bloviating and taking credit for the freedom movement tagged with “The Great Awakening” nomenclature.

Fact is, the Great Awakening was a pushback against the Puritan church state driven by Reformed soteriology that came across the pond as a European blight on American history. I would liken Challies’ assessment to our present President taking credit for things he is against when the results are positive.

What about Spurgeon? That example is just too rich because it makes the last point for me. Spurgeon, who once said Calvinism was no mere nickname but the very gospel itself, was the poster boy for getting people to come to church in order to get them saved. That’s important, hold on to that because it’s our last point.

But before we get to the last point, let’s look at the major point: Challies argues against the idea that fatalism hinders evangelism, and then confesses that he doesn’t evangelize like all of the great Calvinists in history because of…fatalism. Calvinism doesn’t cause fatalism resulting in lame evangelism, but Challies doesn’t evangelize because of fatalism.

After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel… We go to the pages of Scripture to show that God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are not incompatible, but that people truly are both free and bound, that God both chooses some while extending the free offer of the gospel to all.

So why does Challies not evangelize according to him? First, because he just doesn’t, but secondly, he is responsible:

It is my conviction—conviction rooted in close study of God’s Word—that Calvinism provides a soul-stirring motivation for evangelism, and that sharing the gospel freely and with great zeal is the most natural application of biblical truth. But it is my confession—confession rooted in the evidence of my own life—that my Calvinism too rarely stirs my soul to mission. The truths that have roared in the hearts and lives of so many others, somehow just whisper in me. The fault, I’m convinced, is not with God’s Word, or even with my understanding of God’s Word; the fault is with me.

He is responsible, but not often stirred. And what’s his solution? There isn’t one, it is what it is; he is responsible, but not called to evangelism. No corrective solution is offered in the post. Why not? Because, as he said, we are responsible, but unable. Responsibility and inability are not incompatible. So, Calvinism doesn’t hinder evangelism, but if you don’t evangelize, there is no solution. Others did it, and you don’t, the end.  Well, I suppose that approach doesn’t prevent evangelism either!

And funny he should cite Edwards. Susan is doing a session on Edwards for TANC 2015 and is studying his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. She approached me and wanted to discuss something about the sermon that she was perplexed about. Edwards spent the better part of an hour addressing the total hopelessness of man and his likelihood of ending up in an eternal hell, but in the end offers no counsel on how to escape. Why? Because if God is going to do something, he is going to do it, and man is responsible either way.

This now brings us to the final point with a bonus; we are going to help Challies with his evangelism shortcomings. There is, in fact, a solution for Tim’s lack of evangelistic zeal. He doesn’t properly understand Calvinism and its history. This isn’t about saving Tim from the false gospel of Calvinism, this is about being a good evangelist in the context of Calvinism. If I can’t save a Calvinist, I can at least teach them how to be a better Calvinist. Really, it’s disheartening when Calvinists don’t properly understand Calvinism.

This is how we will help the Challies. We will bring him back to the historical significance of Spurgeon using some of his own observations. First, let’s get a lay of the land; how does true Calvinistic evangelism work? First, it is the “sovereign” gospel which means the subject must not be told that they have a choice. This is some fun you can have with Calvinists. Ask them if they tell the recipients of their gospel message that they have a choice. Most will avoid answering because they don’t want to admit the answer is, “no.” By their own definition, that would be a false gospel speaking to man’s ability to choose God.

Secondly, if God does do something, if “the wind blows,” that puts the subject in two categories according to Calvin: the called and those who persevere.  The called are those that God temporarily illumines, but later blinds resulting in a greater damnation. Those of the perseverance class are the truly elect. So, the “good news” is that you have a chance to make it. But, if you don’t make it according to God’s predetermined will, your damnation is greater than the non-elect. God has either chosen you for greater damnation or the jackpot, but I guess it’s worth a try if God so chooses.

But hold on, and this is huge: all of that can be bypassed by Calvin’s “power of the keys.” What’s that? If you are a formal member of a Reformed church, and the elders like you, whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever they loose on earth is loosed in heaven.

Furthermore, according to Calvin, sins committed in the Christian life remove us from salvation, but membership in the local church and receiving the “impartations of grace” that can only be found in church membership supply a perpetual covering for sin. And here is the crux: one of those “graces” is sitting under “gospel preaching” of which Spurgeon was chief. In one way or the other, Spurgeon sold this wholesale and the results speak for themselves.

See, the solution for Challies is simple.  There is a solution for the disobedience he himself is responsible for: simply invite people to church in order to “get them under the gospel.” And that often looks like this…

Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Problem solved. That’s how Calvinism is a straight line from its theology to evangelism—you are saved by being a formal member of a Reformed church, and your salvation is sustained by remaining a faithful member of that church and obeying everything the elders tell you to do and think. But let’s not call it intellectual rape, let’s call it “keeping ourselves in the love of Jesus.” Let’s call it “preaching the gospel to ourselves every day.” Let’s call it “being faithful to the church every time the doors are opened.” Let’s call it “putting ourselves under the authority of Godly men.” Let’s call it “trusting God with our finances.”

You’re welcome Tim, glad I could help.

paul

Not on my Watch Tim | Challies Tries to Rewrite New Calvinist History

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 26, 2014

FINAL DRAFT COVERA reader of PPT sent me a timeline chart produced by Tim Challies that supposedly traces the history and source of New Calvinism. The reader sent me the link yesterday because he thought I “might be interested” in it. Yes, he would be correct about that, I am VERY interested.

History is a paramount teacher and a protector of civilization. It protects us from those who are hell-bent on foisting their worldview on the masses because it is the “right way that has never been rightly applied.” If you want to understand how this works, see John Immel’s presentation at the 2012 TANK conference here. Tyrants always want to rewrite history because people might get the wrong idea about how their logic has been inappropriately applied in past history yielding bad results. Hence, an accurate portrait of what happened, in their minds, misrepresents their logic.

That’s a dangerous precedent. The rewriting of history has always been Propaganda 101 for the tyrant. Bottom line: the explosion of discernment blogs, especially those of the spiritual abuse/spiritual tyranny sort are a direct result of the New Calvinist movement; therefore, Tim Challies has now taken his place as the Joseph Goebbels of New Calvinism.

I suppose if nothing else, I have served mankind with an in-depth appraisal of New Calvinism’s TRUE contemporary history, and no Tim, John Piper is not the father of New Calvinism, a Seventh Day Adventist theologian by the name of Robert Brinsmead is the true father of New Calvinism. Colleague John Immel is probably right, that knowledge will more than likely do little to avert people from “New” Calvinism, but just the same, we will keep it on the record for giggles if nothing else. This is why I am abundantly pleased that TTANC 1 will go beyond being self-published in the near future. Immel wonders aloud why New Calvinists care that people know who the real father of the movement is, but obviously, they do care or they wouldn’t be rewriting history. Below is the true illustrative chart that appears on page 92 of TTANC 1. TTANC 2 will delve even deeper into the history as well.

Updated Geneology Chart

 

The theological journal written by Robert Brinsmead, Present Truth Magazine, was the most widely published theological journal in the world during the 70’s. The rediscovery/resurgence project that sought to bring back authentic Reformed soteriology to the church was known as the Australian Forum. They had their own core four: Robert Brinsmead, Graeme Goldsworthy, Geoffrey Paxton, and the father of New Covenant Theology, Jon Zens. Brinsmead and Zens worked together on NCT which is a slightly different twist on the law than Covenant Theology, but both hold firmly to Augustine’s Neo-Platonism. That is, those who really understand what the Reformers propagated.

More than likely, John Piper got his theology from Present Truth Magazine.  During the 70’s, and regardless of denomination, only pastors who resided on the moon had never heard of the journal or read it. Piper himself uses terminally that was uniquely that of the Australian Forum. In fact, the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us was a Forum distinctive. The Forum also developed the root and fruit/tree paradigm so often used among New Calvinists. They also developed the emphasis hermeneutic as well; i.e., “a good thing is not the best thing and to the degree that you talk about good things, you take away from the best thing.” This is the Gnostic concept of sun versus shadows; shadows are true, but they can’t give life like the sun, so we don’t want to emphasize shadows. The Forum, and Graeme Goldsworthy in particular, used this hermeneutic to redefine the new birth. These four men, whatever you think of them, were master thinkers and able to repackage complex theological ideas in an understandable way.

New Calvinism has not strayed far from the model they established, including a strong focus on pastors’ conferences. As noted in chapter 4 of TTANC 1, when Goldsworthy was invited to lecture at Southern Seminary, John Piper couldn’t help himself and wrote an article about Goldsworthy’s lecture. Until then, Piper’s kinship to the Forum was extremely difficult to establish.

Brinsmead and other notable Adventist theologians hoped to reform the Seventh Day Adventist church with authentic Reformed soteriology. The question of the final judgment has always been a sticky wicket for Adventists, and the Reformed gospel offers a solution: Jesus stands in the judgment for us. The Awakening movement that Brinsmead started in 1969 still lives in Adventist circles, and they archived all 53 volumes of Present Truth Magazine. The Forum also wrote extensively on the fact that Ellen White was a student of Luther’s writings and also wanted to solve the problem of the final judgment with authentic Reformed soteriology. This is what led Brinsmead to research the writings of the Reformers in order to solve the final judgment debate that had plagued Adventism for many years. In both Adventism and Reformed theology, the law is the standard for justification; therefore, the problem with the law being fulfilled is found in Christ fulfilling the law and “covering” the believer with the perfect obedience of Christ.

In contrast regarding the Reformation gospel and Adventism both, the Christian’s sin, in regard to justification, is not covered—it’s ENDED, and we will not stand in any judgment that determines justification.

Truly, a book could be written on the fallacies of this bogus history chart authored by Challies, but in closing I will only mention one more: the following misrepresentation by Kevin DeYoung (2008 on the timeline); the Emergent church isn’t Reformed. Why this is a big fat lie can be explained via this free booklet. Other than that, Challies’ timeline is peppered with the who’s who of the Emergent church movement, while the aforementioned notable event on the timeline denies Emergent connections. I am not sure that there has ever been a movement with more followers with an inability to think.

It’s true: I did think that New Calvinism’s connection to Adventism would be a game changer, but more significant is the fact that New Calvinism is old Calvinism, and that is also a history that has been completely rewritten. The accepted history of the Reformation and its impact on western civilization is propaganda that could only pass in the church or a Communist country.

And for whatever it is worth, and for whatever it might accomplish, that is why we are here, and it is why we do what we do, and we will do it for an audience of One if that is all that ever becomes of it.

But be sure of this: I will not stand silent while yuppie heretics rewrite history. Not while the Lord gives me breathe on this watch.

paul

 

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