Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Secular World Understands Reality Better Than Protestants

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on October 12, 2017

Origandy-profile-1inally published October 12, 2016

In the eight-plus years that TANC Ministries has been researching the vile doctrine of Calvinism and the evil that is authentic Protestant orthodoxy, one fact emerges over and over again – Protestants are the most confused group of individuals that there ever was. I was reminded of that fact once again when an article appeared in my Facebook newsfeed this morning entitled, “Survey Finds Most American Christians Are Actually Heretics”. The article was published in the “Religion” section of a secular news site called “The Federalist”

Here’s the deal. Protestantism is founded in the Gnostic concept that man is totally unable to comprehend true knowledge, and as a result, man must be ruled by the select few who have the “gnosis”, the “knowledge” that man “knows nothing”. This root assumption has been the basis for every form of tyranny and spiritual abuse since the beginning of time. Protestantism is no exception, no matter how you dress it up in Bible verses.

So when I read an article that concludes that the majority of those who call themselves “Christians” have relatively little actual Bible knowledge, it comes as no surprise to me, not only because of what I know with regard to authentic Protestantism and its metaphysical assumptions, but I can recall hearing similar results of “studies” throughout my life. Funny how a system of orthodoxy that depends on a Biblically illiterate laity to maintain its control and authority publishes the results of a survey that bemoans that very thing – Biblical illiteracy.

This article is only the most recent to come to this conclusion in the past 40 years, if not the past 500 or more. Since the time of the reformation and before, “Christians” have always been woefully illiterate in their understanding of exactly what God has revealed to man in His philosophical statement on reality, also known as “The Bible”. But in today’s information age they have no excuse. Knowledge and wisdom are there for those who have the courage to seek it out!

Let’s look at some of the more interesting statements found in this article in question, beginning with one of the opening paragraphs:

“A survey of 3,000 people conducted by LifeWay Research and commissioned by Ligonier Ministries found that although Americans still overwhelmingly identify as “Christian,” startling percentages of the nation embrace ancient errors condemned by all major Christian traditions. These are not minor points of doctrine, but core ideas that define Christianity itself.”

According to their own website, “LifeWay Christian Resources is one of the world’s largest providers of Christian resources, including services, Bibles, Bible studies, research, events, church music and supplies, and digital services.”  The number of books written by the “who’s who” of mostly reformed academia is voluminous, and it grows bigger every month. Just talk to any one of your “Christian” friends and they will be sure to talk about the latest book or “devotional” written by their favorite author/elder/pastor/spiritual guru (read “Philosopher Kings”). And reformed “Christian” blogs such as “Ligonier” abound. Yet despite all of these resources and the countless amounts of money spent in the “Christian” publications industry, this article concludes, “startling percentages of the nation embrace ancient errors condemned by all major Christian traditions.” Surely this can’t be because people aren’t reading enough John Piper!

Exactly what are these “ancient errors” supposedly condemned by “Christian traditions?” Again from the article:

“Two-thirds admitted that everyone sins a little bit, but still insisted that most people are good by nature, which directly contradicts scripture (See ‘All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,’ and ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?’).”

What is probably worse than the false doctrine of “total depravity” is the outright lie that “total depravity” is unique to “orthodox Christianity”.   In fact the exact opposite is true. I need only refer you to the 2015 TANC Conference and speaker, John Immel, who gave us an outstanding survey of deterministic thought throughout history. In those 2015 sessions we learned that in every philosophical system of thought, the one major theme that was consistent over and over again was the concept of the depravity of man and some deterministic force compelling his actions. (View clip here) So to suggest that the idea of “total depravity” is a concept unique to Christianity is beyond disingenuous.

But what I find remarkable is that despite the “Christian tradition” emphasis on total depravity, man (secular, unregenerate man for the most part, but some professing “Christians” as well) still has a propensity to regard man himself as existentially good. I believe that this is the natural and correct assessment of man because it is consistent not only with what man knows to be true in and of himself but also because of what his own senses tell him in simply observing reality around him. Despite the evil that is in the world, it is man who chooses whether or not he can do good things or bad things. This is not a contradiction of scripture, this is a contradiction of a false “orthodox” interpretation of scripture.

Man is not condemned because he is “totally depraved” and cannot “do good”. Man is condemned because he is under law. The remedy is not to have One who “does good for us” so that His obedience can be vicariously imputed to our account. No, the remedy is for the law to be ended so that it can no longer condemn. This is what the New Birth accomplishes. For the one who is born again, the old man has died. In his place is a new creature who is the literal offspring of the Father, and the law has no jurisdiction over him. He cannot be judged by it, and therefore, he cannot be condemned by it. He is truly free to use the law as a means to show love to God and to others. He can love without fear of condemnation.

Furthermore, the Bible never teaches that man has a “sin nature”. The statement in Ephesians, “for all have sinned” is indeed a statement of fact. Yes, all have sinned, but that is not indicative of man’s nature.  Man is not metaphysically evil.  It simply means that the unregenerate man is under law and has transgressed that law and is therefore subject to condemnation. In contrast, the Bible teaches that man (flesh) is “weak”, but that man is able to choose how to use his flesh; to do evil or to do good. Because the unregenerate man is a slave to the Sin-master, he will have a propensity to obey the master who pays his wages. But he still is able to choose to do good. Since the Sin-master only pays wages of death, choosing to do good only results in less death, but death just the same.

This is why “Christians” are so confused. They understand that man, even “Christians”, do wrong things. Orthodoxy labels this as “sin” because all of “Christianity” has a single-perspective on sin, that is, ALL sin is condemning. This is the source of what they perceive as a contradiction. They intuitively know man is good but are taught that even the good they do is evil. And so when they “sin”, the natural response because of what they have been taught is fear of condemnation.

Here is another point from the article:

“They also saw a huge increase in evangelicals (28 percent, up from 9 percent) who indicated that the Third Person of the Trinity is not equal with God the Father or Jesus, a direct contradiction of orthodox Christianity.”

Protestantism teaches the believer to have an ever-deeper understanding of his own depravity (sin) while having an ever-growing awareness of God’s holiness. As he does this, the cross (and what Jesus does for us) gets bigger and bigger. The emphasis is always on, not just what Jesus did, but what He is still doing for the “Christian” every day, living and obeying the law in our stead so that we can have “the imputed righteousness of Christ”.

crosschart

Such orthodoxy not only keeps the “Christian” under law, but it emphasizes the role of Christ at the expense of the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Father is regarded as a vengeful monster who is to be feared, and Christ is the only one who stands in the way to deflect the Fathers wrath. The Holy Spirit is simply the agent whom God sends to the “elect” for the purpose of regenerating them to a “saving faith”. He is rarely if ever presented as the Comforter who empowers the born again believer to live a sanctified life through obedience. With the Protestant emphasis on the “Cross-Centered” gospel, or the “Christ-Centered” gospel, is there why wonder why Christians hold a diminished view of the roles of the other members of the Trinity?

The writer of the article goes on to address the issue that “Christians” don’t seem to be very well-read when it comes to the Bible, yet they would cite the Bible as being an important part of their lives, going so far as to refer to it as the primary source of authority for living. He cites the following as an example:

“Former Newsday religion reporter Kenneth Briggs recently told Religion News Service that the faith he finds in ‘mega-type churches’ is a ‘Bible-less,’ ‘alternative version of Christianity.’ Scripture, he says, has become ‘a museum exhibit, hallowed as a treasure but enigmatic and untouched.’”

Such is true not only of “mega-churches” with thousands of members, but it also holds true for the smaller community churches with membership rolls in the hundreds or less. This is not a statement on the church size or the “style of worship”. It is a testament to the fact that the Bible itself has become irrelevant when it comes to faith and Godliness. While “mega-churches” might be more inclined to a “pop-psychology” approach to teaching and preaching, in 99% of modern churches, the very truths of scripture have been replaced with orthodoxy presented by mere men who have become the self-appointed mediators between God and man. These are the “divines” who have been ordained by God to reinterpret reality for the great, unwashed masses. When the laity have become followers of men, they have no need to open their Bibles, let alone consider what the Bible itself has to say about things.

Ironic, too, that an organization such as LifeWay, who’s industry includes the publication of “Christian” literature, is incredulous that Christians spend so little time reading their Bibles. I dare say that if more and more “Christians” actually spent more time in the study of God’s word for themselves, rather than relying on someone to interpret it for them, it would be the “Christian” book stores that would eventually become irrelevant.

Christians are uninformed about Christianity for the same reason that people in secular society are uninformed about politics. In both cases the answer is because people have outsourced their brains to someone else. They are much too involved in the comforts of their own existence to care about the larger matters. They leave that for the “experts”. It is much easier to let someone else tell you how you should think about something than to do all that heavy lifting on your own. And the so-called “experts”, whether secular (politicians, pundits, “talking heads”, media) or religious (pastors, elders, academics, scholars, “popes”), take advantage of that reality for their own ends; control over the uninformed masses.

The author proposes a few possible solutions in all of this. While the survey specifically polled those who profess to be Christians, he believes that the study of the Bible is beneficial for unbelievers as well.

“For those who don’t profess Christianity, gaining a basic understanding of the creeds and Scriptures of the religion that built our civilization isn’t a bad idea, either. As Indian Christian philosopher Vishal Mangalwadi writes, the Bible created the modern world by making the West a reading and thinking civilization, and by grounding this reading and thinking in the idea that truth is knowable.”

Well, that’s not a completely honest assessment. The notion that “truth is knowable” runs counter to Protestantism and its Gnostic roots, where the only “truth” that is knowable is that you cannot “know” anything. Truth is to be for those in self-appointed authority who have been gifted to bring this “knowledge of knowing nothing” to the rest of us. Yet Protestantism lays claim to this kind of “knowledge” as being the foundational philosophy of western civilization. The reality is that it was this same kind of thinking that kept man in the Dark Ages, and it is what is responsible for our own spiritual dark age in which we presently find ourselves.

The rebirth of thought that ushered in the Age of Enlightenment of the 16th and 17th centuries happened in spite of religion, not because of it. The Bible did not create a world of reading and thinking. It was reading and thinking that enabled man to regard Biblical truth with the right interpretive assumptions. Men rejected the notion of “total depravity” and rediscovered the principles of individualism and man’s ability. These are the very premises that gave rise to “Americanism” and which made our nation the greatest the world has ever seen. Contrary to Protestant orthodoxy, the Bible speaks very highly of man’s ability. Even God Himself values the individual and his ability to reason (after all, we are all made in God’s image), so much so that He made it possible for the condemnation of the law to be ended so that man could be reconciled to Himself as members of His own family!

If Protestants are Biblically illiterate, it is because Protestantism made them that way. I dare say that the majority of “Christians” are more “secular” in their philosophy (without even knowing it) than they care to admit. The results of the survey in this article would seem to support that. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If nothing else, it offers a valid explanation for the current mass exodus from the modern institutional church. People can just no longer tolerate the rational inconsistencies they observe between reality and Protestant orthodoxy. And perhaps as a matter of consequence, many of them might actually end up taking that Bible off the shelf, blow the dust off the cover, and start reading it for themselves.

Andy

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Escaping Church and its Culture of Death

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 17, 2017

HF Potters House (2)

Originally published August 19, 2015

Week in, and week out, and days in-between, professing Christians meet at a local institutional church to further indoctrinate their families in the Protestant culture of death. It doesn’t seem like death as families cheerfully socialize together and lift up their hands as the hipster praise bands make a joyful noise to the Lord. In addition, charismatic orators speak of things that are clearly in the Bible.

But let’s talk about good old fashioned theological math found in the Bible. The Bible addresses the only two people groups that exist in the world: the lost and the saved. As professing Christians, we want to be biblically defined as saved people, no? Can a case be made in this post that present-day evangelicals define themselves according to what the Bible defines as “lost.” Yes. All in all I am sure you will agree; any religion that defines itself as unregenerate is a really bad idea.

Here is how the Bible defines the two people groups:

Romans 6:14 – For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Every person living in the world is under law or under grace; lost or saved. Protestants define themselves as under law with under grace as a covering. Romans 6:14 is defined this way:

We are under grace because the righteousness of Christ continually saves us from being under law.

So, with Protestantism, it’s both. Under grace means we are still under law but progressively saved by grace. Under law is who we are, while we “experience” grace. Under law is what we do, under grace is what we experience. Supposedly, when Paul stated that we are “not” under law, what he really meant to say is under law is the absence of grace. The lost are only under law, but the saved are under both.

Hence, we are still under the “righteous demands of the law,” but if we are under grace, Jesus keeps the law for us. This is achieved by focusing on our sinfulness against the law, and returning to the same gospel that originally saved us out of gratitude. Objections to this idea are met with accusations of indifference to Christ’s sacrifice. Therefore, the “Christian” must live a “lifestyle of repentance” and constantly seek a “greater revelation of self” which is inherently sinful. The goal is to plunge the depths of our supposed total depravity. And if you are paying attention, our sin and the original gospel that saved us are the constant drumbeats we hear in the institutional church week in and week out.

Consequently, our goal is to see more and more of our reality of being under law resulting in an increased joy regarding our original salvation. Mainline evangelical Paul Washer states it this way:

At conversion, a person begins to see God and himself as never before. This greater revelation of God’s holiness and righteousness leads to a greater revelation of self, which, in return, results in a repentance or brokenness over sin. Nevertheless, the believer is not left in despair, for he is also afforded a greater revelation of the grace of God in the face of Christ, which leads to joy unspeakable. This cycle simply repeats itself throughout the Christian life. As the years pass, the Christian sees more of God and more of self, resulting in a greater and deeper brokenness. Yet, all the while, the Christian’s joy grows in equal measure because he is privy to greater and greater revelations of the love, grace, and mercy of God in the person and work of Christ. Not only this, but a greater interchange occurs in that the Christian learns to rest less and less in his own performance and more and more in the perfect work of Christ. Thus, his joy is not only increased, but it also becomes more consistent and stable. He has left off putting confidence in the flesh, which is idolatry, and is resting in the virtue and merits of Christ, which is true Christian piety (Paul Washer: The Gospel Call and True Conversion; Part 1, Chapter 1, heading – The Essential Characteristics Of Genuine Repentance, subheading – Continuing and Deepening Work of Repentance).

This not only turns the Bible completely upside down, but leaves the Christian in a lifestyle of death while rejoicing in it. This is a true celebration of death, and church is the culture thereof. Romans 6 is clear about what it means to remain under law:

3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Obviously, if we believe our formal sinful self has been “brought to nothing,” Paul Washer’s sanctification construct is impossible, and his statement speaks to the authentic soteriology of the Protestant Reformation. How do you achieve a greater revelation of your sinful self when your former sinful self has been “brought to nothing”?

You don’t, which leaves the “believer” yet under law and in need of salvation. The “believer” needs to continually return to the same gospel that saved him/her in order to remain saved. Instead of the new birth being a onetime event that brings the former sinner to “nothing,” the new birth is defined as a joy experience resulting from revisiting the gospel afresh for forgiveness of sin that still condemns us.

This cycle simply repeats itself throughout the Christian life. As the years pass, the Christian sees more of God and more of self, resulting in a greater and deeper brokenness. Yet, all the while, the Christian’s joy grows in equal measure because he is privy to greater and greater revelations of the love, grace, and mercy of God in the person and work of Christ (Ibid).

We are asking the question, How does the gospel save believers?, not: How does the gospel get people to be believers?… Believers need to be saved. The gospel is the instrument of God’s power to save us. And we need to know how the gospel saves us believers so that we make proper use of it (John Piper: Part 2 of a series titled, “How Does the Gospel Save Believers”).

Progressive sanctification has two parts: mortification and vivification, ‘both of which happen to us by participation in Christ,’ as Calvin notes….Subjectively experiencing this definitive reality signified and sealed to us in our baptism requires a daily dying and rising. That is what the Reformers meant by sanctification as a living out of our baptism….and this conversion yields lifelong mortification and vivification ‘again and again.’ Yet it is critical to remind ourselves that in this daily human act of turning, we are always turning not only from sin but toward Christ rather than toward our own experience or piety (Michael Horton: The Christian Faith; mortification and vivification, pp. 661-663 [Calvin Inst. 3.3.2-9]).

…by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God… Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God (John Calvin: Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles; The Calvin Translation Society 1855. Editor: John Owen, p. 165 ¶4).

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 (2 Cor. 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—viz. ablution, satisfaction, expiation; in short, perfect obedience, by which all our iniquities are covered (The Calvin Institutes: 3.14.11).

Where we land on these issues is perhaps the most significant factor in how we approach our own faith and practice and communicate it to the world. If not only the unregenerate but the regenerate are always dependent at every moment on the free grace of God disclosed in the gospel, then nothing can raise those who are spiritually dead or continually give life to Christ’s flock but the Spirit working through the gospel. When this happens (not just once, but every time we encounter the gospel afresh), the Spirit progressively transforms us into Christ’s image. Start with Christ (that is, the gospel) and you get sanctification in the bargain; begin with Christ and move on to something else, and you lose both (Michael Horton: Christless Christianity; p. 62).

Nor by remission of sins does the Lord only once for all elect and admit us into the Church, but by the same means he preserves and defends us in it. For what would it avail us to receive a pardon of which we were afterwards to have no use? That the mercy of the Lord would be vain and delusive if only granted once, all the godly can bear witness; for there is none who is not conscious, during his whole life, of many infirmities which stand in need of divine mercy. And truly it is not without cause that the Lord promises this gift specially to his own household, nor in vain that he orders the same message of reconciliation to be daily delivered to them (The Calvin Institutes: 4.1.21).

Therefore, “under grace” is defined as a mere qualification to return to the same gospel that saved us; in other words, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day” in order to keep ourselves saved. How prevalent is this idea in the contemporary church? Consider this laundry list from Peter Lumpkins .com:

“As Pastors we must first preach the gospel to ourselves before we proclaim to the world the necessity of a Savior” Scott Thomas, President of Acts 29 Network.

“Yet even when we understand that our acceptance with God is based on Christ’s work, we still naturally tend to drift back into a performance mindset. Consequently, we must continually return to the gospel. To use an expression of the late Jack Miller, we must “preach the gospel to ourselves every day” Jerry Bridges, Reformed author.

“We must preach the Gospel to ourselves and one another every day” Ashland Avenue Baptist Church Distinctives, Lexington, KY

“The Gospel must be central to our lives and central to our message. Strive to keep the Gospel in the center of your worship ministry. Jerry Bridges tell us that we must preach the Gospel to ourselves everyday. It has been said that we never move on from the Cross, only to a more profound understanding of the Cross”

Dr. Greg Brewton, Associate Dean for Music and Worship Leadership at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“We must preach the Gospel to ourselves” Francis Chan, Passion 2011

“Yesterday was a powerful moment in the Word of God as we studied Romans 8:1-4. I challenged those present to learn to preach the gospel to ourselves daily. Why? If we do not preach the gospel to ourselves daily, we will return to sin, bondage, guilt, the Law, and legalism…You see, this is why we must preach the gospel to ourselves daily” Ronnie Floyd, former Chairman of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force

“I’ve been re-reading Jerry Bridges’ excellent book The Discipline of Grace…Bridges reminded me of just how important it is to “preach the gospel to ourselves everyday” if we are going to be transformed into the likeness of Christ” Tullian Tchividjian, Senior Pastor, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church

“…I once assumed…that the gospel was simply what non-Christians must believe in order to be saved… But I’ve come to realize that once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel, but to move them more deeply into it. The gospel, in other words, isn’t just the power of God to save you, it’s the power of God to grow you once you’re saved… . This idea that the gospel is just as much for Christians as it is for non-Christians may seem like a new idea to many but, in fact, it is really a very old idea” Tullian Tchividjian, Senior Pastor, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church

“We must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday… . As we preach the gospel to ourselves, we should be both encouraged and overwhelmed with gratitude, and both should give us a desire to deal with the sin in our lives” Casey Lewis, student, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

“A Prayer for Preaching the Gospel to Ourselves… . …Most gracious Lord Jesus, even as Paul was eager to preach the gospel to believers in Rome, so I’m eager to preach it to my own heart today…” Scotty Smith, Guest blogger at Justin Taylor’s The Gospel Coalition site and Pastor, Christ Community Church, Franklin, TN

“We must constantly be preaching the gospel to ourselves, filling our hearts with your beauty and bounty, Lord Jesus… . Dear heavenly Father, it’s not about “mind over matter,” or the power of positive thinking, or the pragmatic good of cognitive therapy. It’s all about preaching the gospel to ourselves every opportunity we get…” Scotty Smith, Pastor, Christ Community Church, Franklin, TN (here and here, respectively)

“We must constantly be preaching the gospel to ourselves, filling our hearts with your beauty and bounty, Lord Jesus… . Dear heavenly Father, it’s not about “mind over matter,” or the power of positive thinking, or the pragmatic good of cognitive therapy. It’s all about preaching the gospel to ourselves every opportunity we get…” Scotty Smith, Pastor, Christ Community Church, Franklin, TN (here and here, respectively)

“How can we not shift from the hope of the Gospel? By preaching the Gospel to ourselves daily… . “Preaching the Gospel to yourself” is a phrase I first ran across in The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges, and have observed for years in the life of my good friend, C.J. Mahaney. C.J. has written persuasively, biblically, and practically on this topic in his new book, Living the Cross Centered Life… . Don’t take a day off from preaching the Gospel to yourself” Bob Kaulfin, Director of Worship Development for Sovereign Grace Ministries and worship leader at Covenant Life Church led by Josh Harris.

“Far too many Christians are passive in their fight for joy…. What can I do?’ Well, God does not mean for us to be passive. He means for us to fight the fight of faith t he fight for joy. And the central strategy is to preach the gospel to yourself… . John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, p.81, as quoted by Bob Kauflin

I am thoroughly engrossed with Joe Thorn’s personal mediations on preaching the gospel to oneself” Tom J. Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, promoting Joe Thorn’s book, Note to Self: the Discipline of Preaching to Oneself

“In the few months prior to Verge God was really working on me. I’ve been doing a lot of repenting of the idols in my heart. I’ve been preaching the gospel to myself” Steve McCoy, SBC Pastor

“This may sound really selfish, but faithfully preaching the gospel to myself is actually what enables me to share it faithfully to others” Timmy Brister, SBC Associate Pastor.

“I chose not to include the response to the gospel…but just tried to focus on what the gospel actually is. I edit it regularly as I try to grasp and preach the gospel to myself” Ed Stetzer, LifeWay

This isn’t a technique for boosting our spiritual growth; this is a means of re-salvation because we are still technically lost and under law. “Under grace” merely qualifies us for perpetual re-salvation. That’s Protestantism…period!

And the culture that will result is defined in the Bible:

Romans 6:15 – What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[c] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Christ said, “You must be born again.” This is clearly a doctrine that redefines the new birth by defining the “believer” as unchanged and yet under law. Along with that is an unavoidable conclusion that this also includes a fruits unto death existence that is part and parcel with being under law.

This will, and does make sin and condemnation the focus and theme of church while the Bible emphasizes ADDING virtue to our faith in contrast to a continual re-visitation of our supposed depravity.

1Peter 4:8 – Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

2Peter 1:3 – 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. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.

In the past, Protestants were confused enough about their own soteriological traditions that the fruits unto death were minimal, but during this Neo-Reformed resurgence that we are witnessing presently, such is not the case; the institutional church is a blatant culture of death. And those who would expose their children to it are woefully undiscerning. Ask yourself this simple question: do I leave church better equipped to see something that the Bible states isn’t there or better equipped to love God and others? Am I better at seeing my own depravity, or have I learned new ways to love which covers a multitude of sins anyway?

The remedy for this malady is a return to where the gathering of believers belongs: in home fellowships where believers are equipped to love God and others as a lifestyle, NOT a “lifestyle of repentance.” The institutional church was first called “church” when it was founded in the 4th century, and it was founded on the same idea that believers remain under law. Therefore, an authoritative institution was created that supplied official re-salvation for those under law. The institutional church goes hand in glove with the idea that it supplies a place for re-salvation, i.e., those qualified to receive it by being “under grace.”

To impart this blessing to us, the keys have been given to the Church (Mt. 16:19; 18:18). For when Christ gave the command to the apostles, and conferred the power of forgiving sins, he not merely intended that they should loose the sins of those who should be converted from impiety to the faith of Christ; but, moreover, that they should perpetually perform this office among believers” (The Calvin Institutes: 4.1.22).

Secondly, This benefit is so peculiar to the Church, that we cannot enjoy it unless we continue in the communion of the Church. Thirdly, It is dispensed to us by the ministers and pastors of the Church, either in the preaching of the Gospel or the administration of the Sacraments, and herein is especially manifested the power of the keys, which the Lord has bestowed on the company of the faithful. Accordingly, let each of us consider it to be his duty to seek forgiveness of sins only where the Lord has placed it. Of the public reconciliation which relates to discipline, we shall speak at the proper place (Ibid).

Come out from among them and be separate.

Protestantism – Redefining Reality By Reinterpreting Scripture

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 7, 2017

Protestantism is more than just a false gospel. It is a redefinition of reality itself. When God created the world He used words to describe it. Words are the product of a rational mind. Since Man is made in the image of God, he also has a rational mind. Man uses the power of language to define his reality and communicate that reality to other individuals. Therefore, if one desires to create a new reality, the most effective way to get another to accept that reality is through the use of words, the redefinition of words, or in some cases the omission of words.

The meme at left is a perfect example of this because it fits the Protestant metaphysical assumption of reality. The verse is well known. Many of us were probably taught this verse in Sunday School as children. But if you look closely, something is amiss with this verse as it appears in the ESV, favorite bible of Reformed theology. Here it is in the King James, the way most of us learned it:

“We love Him, because He first loved us.” ~ 1 John 4:19

The ESV subtly leaves out the word “Him”. The question is, does one little word really make that big of a difference? Before we explore that answer, consider how the verse appears in the original manuscripts. Here is an excerpt from my interlinear Bible program which shows the Greek from the textus receptus manuscript.

It is clear from the Greek that the word “Him” appears in the manuscript and is the direct object in the first clause in this verse. God is the object of our love. Notice how the omission of the word “Him” in the ESV completely changes the meaning of the verse! There is no longer an object of our love. Instead the context of the verse is now about our ability or capacity to love in general.

So the question remains, does one little word really make that much difference in the grand scheme of things? Does it really matter that the ESV left out the object of our love: our Heavenly Father?

To answer this question we must first answer another more important question: Why? Why would Protestantism seek to marginalize the love a believer has for his Father? The answer is simple: Man’s depravity. The metaphysical assumption of Protestantism is that man is depraved and unable to love God. And since the false gospel of Protestantism is based on perfect law-keeping, this keeps believers “under law”, which means according to Protestantism, believers are no different than the unsaved. In other words, believers are just as totally depraved and unable to love God as unbelievers are.

If you think that is farfetched, then please explain to me why a word, which is clearly the manuscripts, was left out for no good reason whatsoever? Would it not seem contradictory, on the one hand, to have a philosophy rooted in the depravity of man and his inability to love God and, on the other hand, have a Bible that definitively states that man indeed loves God?

When this meme from Our Daily Bread showed up in my Facebook newsfeed the other day, the post used this verse in the context of forgiveness and loving others. But understand this, the metaphysical reality of Protestantism makes it impossible to love others because of Man’s depravity. The point according to such orthodoxy is this: unbelievers cannot really love because they don’t have Jesus. But here’s the rub. Believers can’t really love either. Any act of love they do is only experienced subjectively as Jesus does the loving for them.

Thus the omission of the word “Him”. Forget trying to love God. The assumption is that the only reason we love at all is because God had to first love us, and only those whom God sovereignly elected to salvation can show love as they subjectively experience love through them by Jesus Christ.

In fact, even Protestantism’s erroneous perspective on Law circumvents love. Believers are not only unable to love, they don’t even have any means to show love. Keeping the law is the way we show love to God and others. But the Protestant gospel says that we are to live by “faith alone”, trusting Jesus to keep the law for us. So if we aren’t supposed to keep the law, then not only are believers unable to love because of their pervasive depravity, but neither do they have the means to love even if they were able to. Double whammy!

~ Andy

Protestants: Willing Participants in a Truman Show Reality.

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on June 2, 2017

Originally published July 12, 2016

stage liteTruman Burbank lived a seemingly normal life. He was just your regular, ordinary kind of guy. Everybody liked Truman. He had a pretty wife, a nice house, a good job. He had everything anybody could ask for. His life was perfect. Or so it seemed.

Of course, Truman Burbank isn’t a real person. He is the titular fictional character in the 1998 film The Truman Show. Those of you who are familiar with the film well know that while Truman’s story is fictional, the reality of his world in that fiction was fiction as well; a fiction engineered specifically for him. The problem was, Truman did not realize that his reality was fake. Unfortunately, just like Truman Burbank, 99% of Protestants don’t realize that their reality as they know it is just as fake, yet they willingly accept it. Truman Burbank offers a perfect philosophical metaphor, so I am using him to illustrate my point.

At the time we meet him in the movie, Truman is approximately 30 years old. From the time he was born, his entire existence has been in the world of Seahaven, FL. It is the only reality he has ever known. And up until now he has never questioned the truth of his reality. What he does not know is that this world is a carefully crafted façade, and every other person in his reality is nothing more than an actor playing a role. Their sole purpose is to make Truman believe that everything he sees around him and everything that happens to him is real. And as he goes about his daily life, hundreds of tiny hidden cameras capture his every move and broadcast his life to the world 24 hours a day. You could say that Truman was the first reality TV star.

How is it that a person can live his entire existence and not realize that his reality is fake? Because Truman’s reality consists of a very deceptive hermaneutic. Everything that happens in his life is carefully interpreted for him so that his understanding of reality remains consistent with what he observes. On this scale you can be sure that this is a very complicated feat to pull off for thirty years.

Such a task can only be maintained for so long, and eventually, unexpected “glitches” begin to occur. For example, one day a strange object falls from the sky and smashes on the ground just feet from where Truman is standing. It happens to be a stage light that is labeled, “SIRIUS (9 Canis Major)”. On another day, while listening to the radio in his car, his radio suddenly begins broadcasting the director’s instructions to the cast, and Truman realizes that the voice on the radio is describing every turn he makes in his car. Yet another time, Truman enters an elevator only to realize when the door opens that no elevator is there but instead he sees a group of stage hands on break around a snack table.

Obviously, such events would be out of the ordinary in Truman’s reality. Here is a conflict between what Truman thinks to be true about his world and what he observes, and he has no idea how to reconcile these contradictions. At this point a mediator is needed to reinterpret what Truman has observed to reconcile the contradiction and convince him that nothing is wrong, everything is as it should be. No, that wasn’t a stage light that fell from the sky, it was a part that fell off an airplane flying overhead. No, you didn’t really hear a guy on the radio announcing your every move. Our station accidentally picked up police frequencies, ha ha, sorry it sometimes happens.   Oh did you hear? There was a freak elevator accident in the building next to yours, and a woman was critically injured- no you didn’t really see a stage crew taking their break where an elevator should have been.

The producers went to great lengths to discourage Truman from leaving Seahaven, because as a boy, Truman had a longing for exploring. They posted subtle messages around town with outrageous warnings about the dangers of travel. Sometimes, drastic intervention was required. They even created a scenario one day where Truman was out on a boat with his father, and a sudden storm swept his father overboard, never to be found again. Of course, it was all an act, but to Truman it was very real, and it made quite an impression on him as a small boy. So much so that Truman developed an acute fear of the water and never thought twice about leaving Seahaven by boat, or even crossing a body of water. But as things progress, Truman’s suspicion grows. He begins to ask serious questions of those around him, who continue to simply play along with their roles in a vain attempt to deflect his suspicions.

But despite all these obstacles, Truman was determined to find answers to his questions. He discovered that he could make unusual things happen anytime he was unpredictable. Those involved with the show could not react fast enough to his spontaneity, and this would give them away, only furthering his resolve. Truman knew something was not right about his world, but he did not know why. He could not explain it, but he was no longer willing to accept the explanations given to him by those around him.

We could summarize the salient points about Truman’s reality this way:

  • Truman’s understanding of the world was based on a false assumption.
  • From time to time Truman would encounter contradictions in his reality that he could not reconcile.
  • Truman needed mediators in his life to interpret reality for him.

In much the same way, the way that Protestants understand reality is based on a false assumption. Doctrines such as total depravity (total inability), determinism and God’s sovereignty, election, and many others present man with a view of reality where man is evil and therefore cannot know truth. Believers go to church week after week so that they can be told not just what to think but also HOW to think about not just what the Bible says but also how the world itself works.

Invariably there will come a time when a believer will encounter a contradiction. It may be that he comes across passages of scripture in his Bible that seem to contradict each other. It may be that he encounters something in life that runs counter to what he was taught from the pulpit. Something that he cannot explain, like how can man have a free will if God is sovereign? “Well, you know God’s ways are higher than man’s ways, so we just have to accept that there are some things we just can’t understand and accept as true because God says so.”

Most often, contradictions are handled from a matter of interpretation. This is where the mediator steps in and reinterprets scripture for the believer in its proper “gospel context”. You see, because man is unable to know truth, he needs the authority of a mediator to explain it to him. This is the role of pastors, elders, deacons, bishops, et al.

For Truman Burbank, his mediators were not just a select few in positions of authority. It was the entire cast of characters from the crew behind the scenes, to the actress who played his wife, to the guy who sold him his daily paper at the newsstand. Every person in Truman’s life was a willing participant, regardless of how much they were aware of their overall impact in shaping his life. Extras in the cast, for example, would dutifully play their part all while being totally ignorant of the ultimate level of control the producers sought to wield over Truman’s life.

Truman himself was a willing participant in this ruse. One could argue that he was simply an innocent victim in the whole matter, but consider how much he was willing to overlook in his life for such a long time just so that he could go on living the only life he ever knew. That fact was a major point in the film, when a former cast member called the show and told the show’s creator just how wrong she thought it was the way they were using Truman for their own ends. The creator’s response was profound and powerful. He said that if Truman REALLY wanted to discover the truth, he would find a way, and that whenever that happens, there would be nothing they could do to stop him.   The point being of course was that the mere fact that Truman lived this life for so long was a statement to the reality that he really didn’t want to know the truth.

How much can the same be said of Protestants? To what extent are Protestants willing participants in their own “Truman Show” existence?   How much are we willing to overlook just so that we can be comfortable in our lives? How much abuse and evil are we going to tolerate just so that we can have some sense of security in where we think our salvation lies? Do we blame the cast of mediators who create this charade for us? Their role is obvious, and they play their parts well, wittingly or unwittingly. But the laity are playing a role as well. They shoulder just as much of the blame as those under whose self-appointed authority they have placed themselves. And they will dutifully pay their tithes and offerings each week, and they will warm their spot on the pew every time the church doors are open, and they will sing when told to sing, and they will stand when told to stand, and they will pray when told to pray, and they will outsource their minds to someone standing before them who will tell them what to think about life. And they will never ask a hard question, even when a stage light falls from the sky.

But there is hope! Because if Protestants really want to know the truth, they will find it. If they really want to find a way out of the nightmare that is the institutional church, they will discover it. And when they are determined to do so, there isn’t a thing the church can do about it!

Andy

Calvinism and the Problem with Perfection

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 8, 2017

PPT HandleOriginally published November 7, 2013

Augustine, Luther, and Calvin were first and foremost Platonists. They integrated the Bible with Platonism. Plato’s theory of forms posits the idea of two worlds; the mutable material world of illusion where reality can only be partially known, and another world where the immutable objective true forms exist. This material world is a shadow world; everything is shadows of the true forms. Therefore, man can only interpret and experience this world subjectively. The tendency is to interpret reality by observing the shadows. To the degree that mankind thinks the material world is reality according to the five senses, subjectivity and chaos will abound.

Therefore, Plato’s ethic was to improve the subjective experience of this life by accessing the true forms through ideas and mathematics—things that transcend the five senses (he believed math was an unchangeable rule and therefore not part of the shadow world). He believed that those who have the capability and willingness to bring more understanding of the objective into the subjective to be an elite minority. These were Plato’s philosopher kings whom he thought should rule society in order to decrease chaos as much as possible. Without philosopher kings, the world would be awash in a sea of subjectivity, everyone living by their own subjective presuppositions based on the shadows of this world. Hence, the arch enemy of the Platonic ideal is individualism.

Plato’s world of true objective forms was his trinity of the true, good, and beautiful. Experiencing the pure form of goodness in this world is impossible—only a shadow of good can be experienced subjectively. Plato’s social engineering has a doctrine, and to the degree that doctrine is applied, a higher quality of subjective existence occurs.

The Reformers put a slightly different twist on this construct. There is no doctrine to apply, only an orthodoxy that focuses on seeing and experiencing. Their version of Plato’s philosopher kings are pastors who possess the power of the keys. Orthodoxy is mediated truth determined by “Divines,” and passed down to the masses for the purpose of experiencing the objective power of the gospel subjectively. The Reformers made the true forms “the gospel,” and reality itself the gospel, ie., the work and personhood of Jesus Christ in particular.

Therefore, in the same way Plato envisioned a society that experiences the power of the true forms subjectively through ideas and immutable disciplines like mathematics, the Reformers sought a heightened subjective experience through a deeper and deeper knowledge of their own true, good, and beautiful—the gospel. And more specifically, instead of the gateway of understanding being reason, ideas, and immutable disciplines, they made the gospel itself the interpretive prism. So: life, history, the Bible, ie., everything, is a tool for experiencing true reality (the gospel) in a higher quality subjectivity. The Bible and all life events are a gospel hermeneutic. Salvation itself is the interpretive prism. All of reality is about redemption. Salvation itself is the universal hermeneutic.

But both constructs have this in common: Pure goodness and perfection cannot exist objectively in the material world. This is where Calvinism and Platonism kiss. The Bible only agrees with this if it is a “gospel narrative.” But if it is God’s full orbed philosophical statement to all men to be interpreted grammatically and exegetically, contradictions abound. To wit, if man possesses goodness and the ability to interpret reality objectively, Platonism and its Reformed children are found wanting. If Reformation orthodoxy is not evaluated biblically with the very theses of its own orthodoxy as a hermeneutic, even more wantonness is found.

The Apostles rejected Platonism because they believed goodness and perfection could indeed be found in this material world. There is no question of the quality of goodness inside of man that enables mankind to interpret reality objectively, the quantity of goodness notwithstanding.  In contrast, a dominate theme in the Calvin Institutes is the idea that no person lost or saved can perform a good work. Like Plato’s geometric hermeneutics, the Reformers believed the Law lends understanding to man’s inability to do good because eternal perfection is the standard. The best of man’s works are tainted with sin to some degree, and therefore imperfect. Even if man could perform one perfect work, one sin makes mankind a violator of the whole law. The Reformers were adamant that no person could do any good work whether saved or lost.

Why all the fuss over this point? Why was Calvin dogmatic about this idea to the point of annoyance? Because he was first and foremost a Platonist. The idea that a pure form of good could be found within mankind was metaphysical heresy. Because such contradicts every page of the Bible, the Reformers’ Platonist theology was made the hermeneutic as well. Instead of the interpretation method producing the theology, they made the theology the method of interpretation. If all of reality is redemptive, it must be interpreted the same way.

For the Platonist, the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh poses a huge problem. He is the truth. He came to the material world in a material body. Platonism  became Gnosticism and wreaked havoc on the 1st century church. Notice how the first sentences of 1John are a direct pushback against the Gnosticism of that day:

1John 1:1 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Christ is the true, good, and beautiful, and He was touched, felt, seen, heard, and understood. Game over. This is the paramount melding of Plato’s two worlds resulting in a plenary decimation of his philosophy. Nevertheless, Calvin et al got around that by keeping mankind in a subjective realm while making the material world a gospel hermeneutic. Reality still cannot be understood unless it is interpreted by the gospel—everything else is shadows.

Martin Luther took Plato’s two worlds and made them two stories: our own subjective story, a self  “glory story” that leads to a labyrinth of subjectivism, or the “cross story” which is the objective gospel. Luther made Plato’s two worlds two stories, but still, they are two realms: one objective and one subjective. In the final analysis mankind is still incompetent, and void of any good whether saved or lost.

Whether the Reformed gospel or Platonism, the infusion of objective goodness is the heresy. Man cannot have any righteousness in and of himself, whether lost or saved. The pushback against this idea can be seen throughout the New Testament. A few examples follow:

1John 2:4 – Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.

1John 2:20 – But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

1John 2:26 – I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1John 2:29 – If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

1John 3:2 – Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Christians can know goodness, and perform righteousness objectively. This speaks to the quality of the righteousness when it is performed—it is perfect and acceptable to God. We are not limited to a mere subjective experience in regard to righteousness. When we are resurrected, the quantity thereafter will be 100%, but our present righteousness is acceptable to God when it is performed by us. If it is accepted by God, it is perfect.

Even the unregenerate know good, and can perform it. The works of the law are written on their hearts, and their consciences either accuse or excuse them (Romans 2:12-15). Though enslaved to unrighteousness, they are free to perform righteousness (Romans 6:20). The very goodness of God can be understood from observing creation as well (Romans 1:20).

The only way the Reformers can make all goodness outside of man is to make the Bible a salvation hermeneutic. It is the only way they could integrate the Bible with their Platonist philosophy.

paul

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