Paul's Passing Thoughts

Authentic Protestantism (aka “New Calvinism”) is Totally Debunked by 2Peter 1:1-15

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 27, 2016

This is a revised version of an article originally published on January 16, 2012

2 Peter 1:1-14 contradicts almost all of the major tenets of authentic Protestantism: Christocentric salvation; Christocentric interpretation; double imputation; Christocentric sanctification; the total depravity of the saints; sanctification by faith alone; the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event; assurance based on gospel contemplationism; sanctification is not “in our OWN efforts”; the apostolic gospel.

Christocentric Salvation

“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ”  (v1).

Salvation is not Christocentric. Peter states that we obtained our faith by God the Father AND Jesus Christ.

Christocentric Interpretation

 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (v2).

The benefits of salvation are multiplied by the knowledge  of  both the Father and the Son. Of course, this knowledge can only come from the Scriptures. Obviously, knowledge of both is required for the multiplication of grace and peace. One may also note that when Peter restates this truth in verse 3, he only mentions the one “who called us” which of course is God the Father.

Double Imputation

 “The imputed righteousness of Christ” is an often heard slogan among reformed. But it is the righteousness of God that was imputed to us by the New Birth when we believed in Christ (see v1).  The believer is righteous because he is God’s literal offspring.  Christ lived a perfect life as a man because of who He is (the Son of God), not for the purpose of imputing obedience to us as part of the atonement in sanctification.

Christocentric Sanctification

 “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (v3).

Again, God the Father is the member of the Trinity who called us. Knowledge pertaining to the Father is efficacious in sanctification.

The Total Depravity of the Saints

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (v3,4).

“Partakers” is: koinōnos from koinos; a sharer, that is, associate: – companion, fellowship, partaker, partner. Koinos means: common, that is, (literally) shared by all or several and is derived from a primary preposition denoting union; with or together, that is, by association, companionship, process, resemblance, possession, instrumentality, addition, etc.: – beside, with. In compounds it has similar applications, including completeness.

Sanctification by Faith Alone

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love” (v 5,6,7).

Obviously, if sanctification is by faith alone, Peter wouldn’t tell us to ADD anything to it.

The Imperative Command is Grounded in the Indicative Event

“For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (v8,9,10,11).

Glorification (and one could argue assurance as well) is an indicative act, but in these verses, it is contingent and preceded by imperatives. Peter uses the conjunction “if” three times to conjoin imperatives preceding the indicative.

Assurance Based on Gospel Contemplationism

One of the more hideous teachings of the Reformation is that guilt is indicative of not understanding grace. Therefore, saints will not be told to take biblically prescribed action to relieve guilt, but will be told to further contemplate the gospel. There is barely anything more powerful in the Christian life than full assurance of salvation, and Peter tells us in no uncertain terms how to obtain it: aggressively adding certain things to our faith.

Sanctification is not “in our OWN efforts.”

Authentic Protestantism, by default, disavows our effort in sanctification by continually utilizing the either/or hermeneutic: it’s either all our effort, or all of Christ. Though we can do nothing without Christ, Peter makes it clear that peace and assurance will not take place if we do not “make every effort” (ESV).

The Apostolic Gospel

“So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things” (v12,13,14,15).

Think about it. It had been revealed to Peter that his departure was near, so his ministry was focused on what he thought was the most important thing that they needed to be continually reminded of. Where is, “The same gospel that saves us sanctifies us”? Where is, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day”? Where is, “Beholding the face of Christ as a way of becoming”?

paul

Is Contemporary Biblical Counseling Really About Change? 7 Minutes

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 15, 2015

Redemptive-Historical Hermeneutic – A Classic Example

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 4, 2015

andy-profile-1I came across an “interesting” blog article the other day. It appeared in my Facebook newsfeed because someone on my friend list commented on it when one of his friends shared it. Of course, since I am not friends with the one who originally shared it, I was unable to add my comment, thus the inspiration for this article today.

The title of the blog article in questions is, “If we sin, do we lose our salvation?” That mere fact that such a question is still posed in Christianity is indicative of just how biblically illiterate most Christians are. The fact that authors such as this one still address this question in the manner that he does is even more disturbing.

Before even addressing the issue of whether one can lose one’s salvation, the author begins his article by citing Jesus’ example of the two house builders found in Luke chapter 6. Let’s take a look at this passage ourselves before we move on.

47Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
Luke 6:47-49

Clearly, Jesus is using a metaphor, but to properly understand the metaphor we must ask ourselves, what is the context of this passage? It should be apparent that the context is a contrast between two kinds of individuals. One kind is an individual who hears AND does. The second kind is an individual who hears only. The parallel passage in Matthew 7 goes even further in marking this contrast.

24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Matthew 7:24-27

The individual who hears AND does is considered wise. The one who hears only is considered foolish. Herein is the point of this whole passage: the emphasis on hearing AND doing, which is considered to be wise. But please notice what the blog author chooses as his focus:

 Building a house is very similar to one’s experience as either a Christian believer or an unsaved nonbeliever. That is why Jesus drew a comparison between the two (Luke 6:47-49). If you start out with a good foundation that is level and built on solid ground, you can confidently add on walls and flooring and a roof and every other component that makes up a house, and be certain that, because the foundation is sound, the house will be sound. But if you lay a poor foundation that is uneven and shaky, the rest of the house will follow and all the components that are built on that poor foundation will be compromised. To have a soundly constructed house, you must have a good foundation; to have a rock-solid Christian faith, you must build it on foundational truth.”

This is one of the most intellectually incompetent and dishonest uses of the two builders that I have ever seen! This example from scripture has nothing to do with “foundations”. It has everything to do with wisdom and sanctification. The author completely ignores the part about wisdom in both hearing and doing and instead engages in what I call “spiritualizing the analogy”, making it about justification instead. He has interpreted this passage in the so-called “proper gospel context”. This is what happens when you interpret scripture using a redemptive-historical hermeneutic. Spiritualizing the analogy makes a false application of a metaphor that was never intended. It is a logical fallacy. Let’s examine what I mean by this.

If I am given the logical premises that A=B and B=C, I can logically conclude that A=C. This is the logic of the example of the two house builders.

A = B      Hearing and doing = a wise man
B = C      A wise man = building on a rock (a good foundation)
   therefore
A = C      Hearing and doing = building on a rock (will make one strong; i.e. aggressive sanctification)

The same holds true for the foolish man.

A = B      Hearing only = a foolish man
B = C      A foolish man = building on sand (a poor foundation)
therefore
A = C      Hearing only = building on sand (will make one weak; i.e. little or no sanctification)

A metaphor makes no sense in and of itself. It has no relevance outside of the initial truth that it represents. If Jesus had only said, “Make sure you build on a rock foundation and not a foundation of sand,” that would have made no sense whatsoever. But Jesus clearly stated that hearing and doing is wise, and He further emphasized that point by using the analogy of building on a rock.  Notice also that a correct logical progression in thought results in the proper application of the conclusions.  One can reasonably conclude that this not a salvation passage but rather a sanctification passage for believers.

That is the proper meaning and intention of this passage. Contrast that with what the author did in the article. He took the metaphor all by itself and made it say whatever he wanted it to say in order to make his case.  And what is his case?

“If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross to pay for your sins, and turn to God in repentance of your sins, then you will be saved… This does not mean that after this occurs, you will never sin again, or even that you will not commit the same sin repeatedly. It means that your heart has been changed toward sin so that you can now see it for what it is… Fortunately, for Paul and for you and for me, that question has a definitively glorious answer: ‘Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!’”

Plain and simple, this is progressive justification. Notice it is an ongoing deliverance, not a onetime deliverance. So, then the question remains, what do we have to do to keep the deliverance going? Well, we repent, and that saves us, BUT we still sin.  So what?  Well, the “so what” is that we need perpetual saving by Jesus.  This is what Paul David Tripp and Tim Keller and John Piper call a “daily rescue.”  This is Luther’s theology of the cross, a perpetual mortification and vivification.

This is the very reason why the emphasis on the hearing AND doing is ignored. For us “to do” would be works, at least in this construct, if this were a passage on justification and not sanctification. We must live by “faith alone” and not build on the wrong “foundation.” We can only “experience” what it is to have the right foundation, because for us to try and work and build is building on the wrong foundation which is the reformed definition of the “unsaved”. But justification is a finished work. There is nothing we can do to add to it. Because it is finished, we can aggressively “do” the things we “hear” taught to us in the Word. Time and time again, the scriptures equate for us doing good with life and doing evil with death. Good = life = wise. Evil = death = foolish. When it comes right down to it, this really isn’t that hard to figure out.

Andy

Sally Lloyd-Jones: The Wicked Witch of New Calvinism

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on February 12, 2015

12767_medium_imgOriginally published July 11, 2013

“Basically, Jones is actively indoctrinating our children to see reality in a contra-normative construct, and teaching them salvation through perseverance in antinomianism. Christ is clear on this: for those who lead children astray, it would be better for them if they were never born. And that also goes for anyone who propagates her materials.”  

It isn’t enough for the New Calvinists to lead adults into hell with a false gospel and let them have the blood of their own children on their hands. No, they have to take their false gospel directly to the children for fear that the parents cannot do the job themselves.

But targeting children with a false gospel is where I draw the line. Now that the New Calvinists have emasculated “Christian” fathers who now stand aside and give these tyrants unfettered access to their families, New Calvinist organizations are cashing in on repackaging the false gospel of progressive justification for children.

A reader sent me a post by Sally Lloyd-Jones in which she endorses her new children’s book that propagates the false gospel of progressive justification via Redemptive Historical hermeneutics; ie., the Bible as gospel metanarrative. Here, “meta” doesn’t mean “grand narrative,” but rather the interpretation of reality through narrative, or story. By seeing our wickedness as set against God’s holiness in the narrative, we experience the works of Christ that He imputed to our sanctification by His perfect fulfillment of the law while on earth. Hence, the Bible is not for instruction or rules.  Its purpose is to show the works of Christ that we are unable to perform (though Christ plainly stated that we would do more than He did [JN 14:12]). It’s a formula for living by faith alone in sanctification. This is nothing new, it is primarily what James refuted in his epistle. That’s why Luther rejected the canonicity of said epistle—it contradicts the Reformed gospel that interprets ALL reality through Christocentricity. This also defies the metaphysical reality that all rules are not morally based. “Rules” make living life itself possible in many regards. The rules for baking a cake are morally neutral, but necessary if you want an edible cake.

According to this doctrine, the experience of our obedience, or better said, the experience of “obedient faith,” is subjective because we really don’t know what we are doing in our “own efforts” versus what the Spirit is manifesting in our realm. Anything done in our “own efforts” should be repented of as “self-righteous works.” I have heard elders offer up such prayers for the congregation firsthand. If we actually believe that we can learn God’s will and perform the work ourselves as born again believers, that is “mortal sin” of a false gospel that will condemn us to hell. If all of our good works are attended with fear that they could be perceived as our own works, that’s “venial sin” that doesn’t condemn us and can be forgiven by “repenting of good works” as propagated by the likes of Dr. Tim Keller. In fact, Keller, an in-your-face and in-broad-daylight Christian mystic is Jones’ pastor.

Jones, in the promo post for her children’s book entitled, “Teaching Children the Bible,” begins with this question:

Do you read the Bible like a rulebook? Do you look at the biblical characters as heroes to emulate? Or do you read Scripture as a Story with one great Hero?

This statement is indicative of the Redemptive Historical worldview; there isn’t more than one way to look at the Bible. But most importantly, the Bible is used as a tool for a worldview that is contra-normative to interpreting reality. In this construct, there are only two ways to look at reality: the cross story or the glory story. If it is about us (the glory story), rules and heroes are applicable. But if it’s about the cross story, only Christ and His works are to be seen, “not anything we do.” “It’s not about anything we do, but what Jesus has done.”

So, supposedly, there are two ways to look at reality, and in the correct way,  the cross story, realty is only perceived in the difference between the following duality: our sinfulness as set against God’s holiness. Moreover, Jesus as hero is often presented by New Calvinists as Christ saving us from a wrathful God who still holds the law over our heads. That’s why rules are bad: we are still under the jurisdiction of the law and therefore unless we can keep the law perfectly, all bets are off—Jesus to the perpetual rescue. We are still under the law, so if we don’t keep it perfectly, we are guilty of violating all of it. To think we can keep the law in a way that pleases God is a mortal sin because when we break the law at any point, our basis for justification collapses. The basis of justification is a continued maintaining of the law. So obviously, a perpetual maintaining of the law is required to keep us saved; ie., the progressive imputation of Christ’s perfect works to our sanctification which is supposedly the road to “final justification.”

And this is clearly the problem with the Reformed gospel; the law is the standard for our justification and not the death of Christ alone. The one act of obedience is not the ground of our justification, but the perpetual and progressive imputation of Christ’s fulfillment of the law to our life by faith alone without works. This is a gospel that keeps Christians under law and redefines under grace as Christ keeping the law in our stead. But this is still, “under law.” Those under grace are justified “apart from the law.” Therefore, in the same way that we violated the law at every point when we were under it, we fulfill all of it when we love our neighbors because we are under grace and not under law.

The reader who sent me the link protested to a Facebook friend who endorsed the book on her page. Her response was that he was clueless because they were not advocating the unimportance of rules. Exactly, rules are extremely important to them because it is still the basis of our justification. The key is that Jesus keeps the law for us. But of course, this is a metaphysical sleight of hand that comes from Calvin himself and is an under law gospel. Basically, Jones is actively indoctrinating our children to see reality in a contra-normative construct, and teaching them salvation through perseverance in antinomianism. Christ is clear on this: for those who lead children astray, it would be better for them if they were never born.  And that also goes for anyone who propagates her materials.

Unbelievably, Jones is given full access to our children by brain-dead shepherds. In the promotion, she brags about how she undermines what the parents in local churches teach their children:

When I go to churches and speak to children, I often start by asking them two questions:

First, How many people here sometimes think you have to be good for God to love you? They tentatively raise their hands. I raise my hand along with them.

And second, how many people here sometimes think that if you aren’t good, God will stop loving you? Almost without fail they raise their hands. These children think they have to keep the rules or God won’t love them. They think if they mess up God will stop loving them.

These children are in Sunday schools. They know all their Bible stories. And they have missed what the Bible is all about.

They are children like I once was.

On display here is the arrogant metaphysical sleight of hand that is indicative of mystic despots that believe they understand the high mysteries of God that the masses are unable to understand. If she is confronted about undermining the parents of the church, she will insist that she was referring to the children only when she said “people” and not the parents of the church. If she is confronted about law and love being mutually exclusive, she will assert that she was only talking about justification. Here we have the diabolical communication of the New Calvinist on full display. Law and love are mutually exclusive in justification, but NOT sanctification. However, that distinction is never made as these wicked false teachers talk about sanctification in a justification way because we are still under the law according to their gospel. They incessantly teach the fusion of justification and sanctification (which equals being yet under law), and only make the distinction when they are called on it. But even then, their “progressive sanctification” is really progressive justification as they play on the assumptions of those being deceived. This is deceptive communication that comes directly from the pit of hell.

Jones continues:

Even though I came to faith as a small child, I somehow grew up thinking the Bible was filled with rules you had to keep (or God wouldn’t love you) and with heroes setting examples you had to follow (or God wouldn’t love you).

I tried to be good. I really did. I was quite good at being good and keeping the rules. But however hard I tried, I couldn’t keep the rules all the time, so I knew God must not be pleased with me.

And as far as being a hero: I certainly couldn’t ever be as brave as Daniel. I remember being tormented by that Sunday school chorus “Dare to Be a Daniel.”

Notice how our love is completely excluded from the metaphysical construct of the argument. That’s because we cannot have any love, that’s the glory story. And if we have love, that enables a dichotomy between justification and sanctification. Hence, justification is the setting of God’s love on us without merit, and our love for God in sanctification is our fatherly love as His children that is not under law but under grace. Like all Calvinists, she makes the two the same. Any ability to love God points directly back to the standard of justification and is not separated from sanctification. And law is not the standard for justification to begin with; it’s the one act of Christ’s obedience to the cross.

In the second paragraph, the idea that perfection is a requirement to MAINTAIN our justification is clearly evident. I was really, really good at keeping the law, but God requires perfection in order to be pleased with us. Therefore, Christ must keep the law for us in sanctification in order to maintain our justification. This is clearly works salvation by persevering in antinomianism. Other Christians can’t inspire us to love God in sanctification by keeping His commands—that’s the glory story.

This doctrine also denies the new birth and the fundamental difference between being under law and under grace. When we are under law, we are enslaved to sin and free to do good (ROM 6:20). That means the overall direction of our life will be law-breaking and then we will be judged by that very law in the end. Under grace is enslavement to righteousness and the freedom to sin (ROM 6:18). In salvation and the new birth, slavery and freedom are switched resulting in an overall direction of life. But our justification will not be judged by our freedom to sin because we are no longer under it. The overall direction of our sanctified life will be righteousness because we are born of God and have His seed within us. Loving God by keeping His commandments is therefore the direction of our life and not the perfection. Per the Reformed false gospel of progressive justification, perfection is still the standard because we are still under law and not born again by the biblical definition:

At the end of the story there were no other teachers around, and I panicked and went into autopilot and heard myself—to my horror—asking, “And so what can we learn from Daniel about how God wants us to live?”

And as I said those words it was as if I had literally laid a huge load on that little girl. Like I broke some spell. She crumpled right in front of me, physically slumping and bowing her head. I will never forget it.

It is a picture of what happens to a child when we turn a story into a moral lesson.

When we drill a Bible story down into a moral lesson, we make it about us. But the Bible isn’t mainly about us, and what we are supposed to be doing—it’s about God, and what he has done.

Children don’t need to be told to try harder, believe more, or do it better. That just leaves them in despair. The moral code always leaves us in despair. We can never live up to it.

I knew it as a child—I could never be good enough or brave enough.

None of that is the point unless we are still under law. The point of sanctification is not moral law, but loving God and glorifying His name and wisdom through obedience. The Reformed gospel denies our ability to please God through obedience (ROM 8:7,8). The crux is perpetual re-salvation by faith alone apart from works in sanctification. Nothing could be clearer. The new birth is redefined by, “mortification and vivification” which is a perpetual reliving of our baptism to maintain our justification. Note Jones’ statement in the same promotion:

We don’t need a moral code. We need a rescuer. And that’s why I wrote The Jesus Storybook Bible and Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, So children could know what I didn’t: That the Bible isn’t mainly about me and what I should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.

That the Bible is most of all a story—the story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

Obviously, in context, one can only conclude logically that this is a perpetual “rescue” and not a onetime event. The New Calvinist Paul David Tripp calls this an “everyday rescue.” In a sermon at Southeastern Theological Seminary (Spring 2007), referring to Romans 7:24, he made it clear that Christians need to be rescued [saved] every day. That’s the crux.

It grieves my heart that these wicked satanic minions are given free access to our children. This is where Christians should be motivated to standup against these false teachers.

If we are not motivated by the eternal wellbeing of our children, we are a disgrace to the cause of Christ.

paul

Ground Zero for Understanding the Biblical Counseling Movement

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on February 2, 2015

CWW 4

Originally published September 18, 2013

“I believe this will go down in church history as one of the most grotesque betrayals ever perpetrated on a man in the name of friendship and the gospel.” 

A Chapter Theses for Clouds Without Water: The Biblical Counseling Movement; It’s True History and Doctrine

 In the Beginning, Plato, and then Augustine.

During the first century, the upstart assemblies of the risen Christ suffered a viral affront from Gnostic sects. The first century church was made up of people from all socioeconomic strata, and the Gnostics infiltrated Christianity for that purpose. Those in the first century church well-endowed with money were a valuable resource, and this is who the Gnostic sects primarily targeted with their false doctrine.

Gnosticism has always been about elitism, power, and money. If you want to see an immaculate mural of the American church, read Philip J. Lee’s “Against the Protestant Gnostics.”

Gnosticism finds its roots in the philosophy of Plato. Every American born into the world should be thoroughly apprised of Plato the man and his philosophy. To understand Plato is to understand Western culture politically and spiritually. All the philosophers agree on this point. From there, the math is easy: Augustine was the father of Reformation doctrine, and a rabid follower of Plato. Augustine had little use for the Bible without Platonist insight, and considered Plato a Pre-Christianity Christian.

Of course, the favorite red herring is that Plato is not agreed with on every point, but the fact remains that his primary construct founded Reformed theology: the incompetence of man, and the need for a select few (the enlightened) to rule over the masses. Those with gnosis know how society best functions, and they know how the masses can find individual peace from the desires that rule over them.

The Age of Enlightenment (circa 1630) produced men who were the first to confront Plato’s construct successfully. The most formidable product of that movement was the American experiment which obviously turned out quite well. It was founded on the competence of the individual. The competition was the Platonist Puritans who unfortunately survived the voyage from Europe and wreaked havoc on the East coast. But fortunately, their worldview kept them from settling further inland. “Go west young man!” is hardly the motivational words of competence found among the purer forms of Reformed thought.

Let there be no doubt about it, the idea of merging church and state is grounded in the religion of man’s incompetence. The masses need the state to take care of them. Plato’s philosopher kings contrive orthodoxy, and the soldiers enforce it. This concept did not find its way into the Westminster Confession by accident.  Even those who think the state should be separate from the church think a utopia would arise if the church ran the state. “Separation of church and state” doesn’t mean no theocracy; theocracy would be a good thing, supposedly. The state has always had an interest in ruling over religion because ideas are dangerous, and the church has always been a willing participant if the state agrees to enforce their orthodoxy. The battle between the two for the upper hand of control is the political intrigue that is European history in a nutshell. And that is how the world as we know it will end: the zenith of church statecraft as described in the book of Revelation.

This is Western history, and the  children of the enlightenment would have no part of it on American soil. Ten years after the Declaration of Independence, James Madison successfully stopped a European style push for a church state in A Memorial in Remonstance Against Religious Assessments. For all practical purposes, it was an indictment against the fruits of European Reformed doctrine.

The Reformation’s Historical Cycle of Social Death and Resurgence

The Reformers, being children of Plato, didn’t interpret reality with a normative epistemology. Plato’s Achilles’ heel has always been the application of Eastern mysticism. Instead of reality being interpreted empirically, and a course of action being determined by discovery, conclusions are drawn by using interpretive gateways to the “pure” form of reality that is hopefully good. Plato thought it was good, but his interpretive gateway to reality rejected the five senses out of hand. Gnosis was the key.

The Reformers merely replaced gnosis with the personhood of Christ as a sort of stargate to reality. That reality was predicated on the difference between the unchangeable pure form of Christ, and the inherent evil of man dwelling in a world that constantly changes. Plato equated the pure forms with immutable objectivity, and evil matter with mutable subjectivity. Hence, today’s Platonist Reformers speak of the “objective gospel experienced subjectively.”  This is clearly Plato’s metaphysical construct based on the incompetence of man in regard to interpreting reality. Like Plato, the Reformers of old and new alike bemoan man’s attempt to understand reality “in the shadows” of all matters that “eclipse Christ.” While donning the persona of Biblicism, pastors like Steve Lawson call for pastors to “come out from the shadows.”

This is the theme of books like “Uneclipsing the Son” by John MacArthur confidant Rick Holland. In his book, he hints at why purest Reformed theology gets lost in the minds of Christians from time to time and therefore needs periodic resurgences and rediscoveries. He notes in his book that good grammar makes bad theology. The mystic heretic Paul David Tripp makes the same assertion in “How People Change,” noting that a literal interpretation of Scripture circumvents the personhood of Christ and His saving work. What’s in an interpretation method? According to Tripp—your salvation.

This is the paramount point at hand: the Reformers did not interpret the Bible grammatically, objectively, exegetically, or literally at any point; they interpreted the Bible through the dual prism of  “reality” seen in God’s holiness and our evil. The only objective truth is the person of Christ leading to a mere subjective experience of His power and  grace manifestations. Hence, many Reformed purists in our day embodied in the New Calvinist movement speak of, “spiritual growth in seeing our own evil as set against the holiness of God.” Therefore, commands in the Bible become part of the narrative that helps us see what we are unable to do rather than commands to be obeyed. We merely seek to see, and wait for the subjective experience of “vivification.” The seeing is the “mortification.” Reformed theologians like Michael Horton explain this as a continual re-experience of our original baptism as we perpetually revisit the same gospel that saved us “afresh.”

This reduces the Christian life to experiences of perpetual rebirth found in Eastern concepts Plato borrowed for “practical life application.”  This is the foundation of Historical Redemptive hermeneutics born of Reformed purism.  This is also the interpretive method that is all of the rage in our day through programs like BibleMesh.

This is not the natural bent towards interpreting truth. We are wired to interpret truth objectively, and grammatically—tools like allegory and parables notwithstanding. This is why Reformed purism dies a social death from time to time throughout history. Thus, this metaphysical anomaly experiences “rediscovery” and “resurgence” movements. Be certain of the following: this is the New Calvinist movement in our day, and in essence, a return to the exact same viral Gnosticism that plagued the New Testament church with this caveat added: we by no means possess the doctrinal intestinal fortitude of the first century church.

Ground Zero: The 1970 Resurgence

1970 is ground zero for the present landscape of American Christianity.  In that year, two movements emerged. Since colonial times, the third resurgence of Reformed purism was born through a project called the Australian Forum. In that same year, Dr. Jay E. Adams, a hybrid of Calvinism and Historical Grammatical interpretation, launched the biblical counseling movement. His movement was predicated on the competence of enabled congregants to counsel each other through the deepest of human problems. Adams also recognized the simple concept of anthropology and its relationship to helping people. Because all humans are created by God, what works well for the unsaved should work even better for the saved. If unsaved people who don’t violate their consciences are happier, this should also aid Christians in their walk with God. Bad ideas are simply bad for everyone, the ultimate need for eternal salvation notwithstanding. But that doesn’t mean you throw out the unsaved baby with the bath water of practicality. And in addition, does practicality show forth the wisdom of God and thereby point people to God? Should God not know what makes people tick? Moreover, what is the authority for interpreting human existence? Philosophy,  or the Bible?

Adams’ biblical construct produced astounding conclusions, especially in areas where a medical model covered for escape mechanisms that create another reality for realties one may not like. If Bob is in big trouble, he merely becomes Ted, or maybe even Jane. This is a bad idea for Christians. Adams created a dichotomy between salvation and the Christian life. He believed in the utter incompetence of man to save himself, but abundant competence in colaboring with God for a victorious life over sin. With Adams, it is about CHANGE for the glory of God and the happiness of His people.

Thus, with the resurgence of Reformed purism at the same time, the battle lines were drawn, and a confusion of conflict emerged in the biblical counseling movement. The one predicated on the utter incompetence of man whether saved or unsaved, and the other predicated on the competence of the Spirit-filled Christian. The one predicated on Christians only being righteous positionally, and the other predicated on the idea that Christians are also practically righteous. The one predicated on contemplationism, the other predicated on obedience. This is the civil war that has raged in the biblical counseling movement from its conception until this day. It is for the most part a civil war of servility, lest two different gospels be separate, and careerism maimed.

The Forum doctrine quickly found footing at Westminster Seminary in Pennsylvania where Adams was a professor. The initial vestige of relevant infection was found in Dr. John “Jack” Miller, also a professor at Westminster Seminary. True, Westminster was founded by Reformed purists that believed the many acts of Christ’s righteousness were part of the atonement, not just His one act of death on the cross, but for the most part, the Reformation’s metaphysical anomalies had reduced Westminster to moderate Reformed ideology. If you will, a hybrid Calvinism that interpreted reality grammatically.

Miller changed that. While the doctrine was in the process of suffering a brutal death in Reformed Baptist circles by moderate Calvinists, being labeled as antinomianism, it found resurgent life at Westminster in Miller’s Sonship Theology incubator. The forerunner of this doctrine in Reformed Baptist circles, Jon Zens, discovered the doctrine  in the early years of the Forum while he was a student at Westminster. He actually became heavily involved with the Forum in the 70’s, convincing them that everyday Covenant Theology would be a hindrance to infecting Christianity with the newly rediscovered disease. From that conversation came the birth of New Covenant Theology circa 1981. It was a significant addition to the present repertoire of elements that confuse the real crux of the issue. Till this day, few moderate Calvinists make this historical connection between New Covenant Theology and New Calvinism.

But it was a particular mentoree of Miller’s that saw Adam’s construct as a threat to the successful spread of the Forum’s rediscovery: Dr. David Powlison. Powlison, working closely with Miller, developed the Dynamics of Biblical Change which is a counseling construct based on Reformation purism. This became the counseling model for Westminster’s biblical counseling wing known as The Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF). Later, there was a proposal for an organization that would certify counselors for CCEF. Adams was opposed to it as it smacked of the kind of elitism that he was trying to avoid. Remember, Adams was all about the competence of the average congregant to counsel. But Purist Reformed ideology is all about elitism because Gnosticism is all about elitism; the two go hand in glove.

Show Me the Money

Gnosticism rejects the average man’s ability to understand reality. So, assimilation for purposes of functionality is the main concern; ie., that the masses are controlled by indoctrination that is not necessarily understood, but invokes behavioral goals. But another primary goal is the spiritual caste system that provides millions of dollars for elitist educators. In essence, these are the professional Sophists produced by Platonism. This is why Gnosticism always dwells in the upper socioeconomic strata, as Phillip J. Lee notes in the aforementioned book, Gnosticism is a rich man’s game. CCEF certified counselors are extremely rare in zip codes of average incomes less than $80,000 per year, and nowhere to be found in zip codes of $50,000 or less. This of course, is very telling. Their conferences require registration fees of  $300.00 per person or more.

Meanwhile, NANC Happens

Powlison followed a classic mode of Gnostic deception by seeking to be identified with the persona of Adams’ successful counseling construct while despising the doctrine as a supposed false gospel. To be more specific, he wanted to gain ground by being identified with Adams’ success, and with a deliberate long-term goal of destroying the historical grammatical approach to biblical counseling.

Unfortunately, and to the chagrin of Adams, the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors was born (NANC). “Nouthetic” counseling was a Greek term introduced by Adams and often associated with him. Therefore, Powlison et al were able to be identified with the tsunami like personal transformations of the Adams reformation as a jump start for their own construct, and with a long-term goal of destroying the competition. They did this so effectively that Adams was often thought of as the founder of NANC, which was never true.

Consequently, Adams experienced an increased persecution from within the contemporary biblical counseling movement that he founded. His counseling was dubbed “first generation” biblical counseling and referred to as nothing more than “producing better Pharisees.” I believe this will go down in church history as one of the most grotesque betrayals ever perpetrated on a man in the name of friendship and the gospel.

The fallout in our day is indicative of the spiritual carnage that has always been left in the path of Gnosticism. While the spiritual peasantry cries out in hopes that the elite will police their own, the Nicolaitans of our day laugh all the way to the bank. After all, subjective reality is messy business and peasants just don’t understand. The biblical counseling community has founded organizations who seek to keep them out of court and prevent the obscuring of cash flow. The New Calvinism movement is intrinsically connected by a complicated and massive network of  associations—in many cases disagreeing with each other on “secondary issues.” A prime example is the G.R.A.C.E mediatory organization headed by Boz Tchividjian.  While playing the part of advocates for the spiritually abused, they are professionally networked with serial abusers of the worst sort.

Conclusion

The biblical counseling movement embodied in New Calvinism is nothing more or less than a return to the exact same Gnosticism that plagued the first century church. The fact that Eastern mysticism is often the application can be seen by what happened at a Passion Conference where the who’s who of New Calvinism led the audience in a form of Transcendental Meditation. Tim Keller, a co-mentoree of Miller along with David Powlison in the early days, is a staunch advocate of Eastern mysticism as a practical application for Christian living.

CCEF, and NANC are the epitome of false advertising. They advertise the gospel and change, but believe in neither. Like the father of their faith, St. Augustine,  it is Plato they trust. The banner over them is not love, but a sense of elitist entitlement to be paid and supported by the unenlightened masses for their own good. Sheep that don’t get it are more than expendable; the one in 99 is expendable for the 99 who know their place and pay the Shamans their tax deductible dues.

They invent and sell orthodoxy, the layman’s manual for experiencing perpetual rebirth. On the one hand, there is a Christianity that posits the living water that is received once, the onetime washing, and the moving on to maturity from the beginning principles of baptisms, and then there is the gospel of our day that posits the perpetual rebirth of Eastern mysticism.

But this is not a mere disagreement about how to live the Christian life. How we see the Christian life reveals the gospel that we really believe. When our salvation is not a finished work, something must be done by us to finish it—even if that means doing nothing with intentionality. NOT living by a list of do’s and don’ts is the work that keeps us saved. It is playing it safe by hiding our talents in the ground and giving the Lord back what He originally gave.

Christians would do well to choose which gospel they will live by in our day.  At this point, that conversation has not arrived yet. And to be sure, many do not want the conversation to be clarified to that point. The gospel itself has become the elephant in the room.

paul