Paul's Passing Thoughts

How to Debate A Calvinist: Part 1 – By John Immel

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on November 13, 2017

The following is part one of a four-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s first session at the 2017 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for part two Click here for part three

“Have you read Calvin’s Institutes today?”

I must confess, I really struggled this year with what I wanted to talk about. My brain bounced off about a dozen things. I originally thought I was going to dig deeper into the impact of John Locke on American civil government, American religion, the American Revolution. But at the end of the day it didn’t really catch and sustain my attention too much.

Then I thought I might actually discuss death and life and exegete the first four chapters of the book of Genesis. And that didn’t really stick with me very long. And I toyed with a half a dozen other things that just don’t bear mentioning.

Then about two or three months ago I was reading an interaction on Paul’s Passing Thoughts between Paul Dohse and a guy by the name of “GraceWriterRandy”. Now, trust me, this conference is not about GraceWriterRandy, but he is a fantastic anecdote. And so I decided to go ahead and talk about what he did and how that applies generally.

So here is what I noticed. And what so caught my attention was that Randy presumed to set the tone for the entire conversation, and frankly it didn’t matter what part of the conversation. He decided that he was going to dictate the moral and intellectual terms across the board. He reserved the right to make the discussion as narrow or as broad as he wanted.

And then what really bothered me is that everybody accepted the premise. Everybody tended to follow along. So if Randy reframed the conversation, everybody accepted the shift. If Randy argued scripture, everybody started stacking up scriptures. If Randy shifted to moral criticism, everybody started lobbing moral accusations. If Randy challenged a definition, everybody started parsing meanings.

And this is when I realized that I actually had my topic of conversation: Arguments with Calvinists, and trying to unravel the roots of their arguments.

And this is why no one ever gets anywhere in a debate with a Calvinist, because they let the Calvinist shape the direction of the conversation. People rarely ever challenge the Calvinist root assumptions. They let the Calvinist decide that it is their sole right to define all things moral, spiritual, and intellectual. And the foundation of all their arguments is the myth of their [Calvinists’] own authority and their entitlement to dictated force.

So I came up with a brief algebra of historic “Christian” authority:

The Algebra of Authority

Catholic Algebra:
Absolute Truth = Apostolic Authority + Scripture = Error Free Doctrine + Apostolic Succession = Papal Authority = Orthodoxy = Government Force

I want you to notice that the fulcrum of Catholic doctrine is Apostolic Authority PLUS Scripture. Everything else, how they get their doctrinal interpretations, is a direct product of this. Catholics had decided long ago that the reason that “Scripture Alone” got so much traction is because the Catholic church, specifically Papal Authority, decided that it was their job to interpret what it said. But at the end of the day, Orthodoxy is what determines Government Force. In other words, the Pope has the right to compel you to what you think.

Here’s what happened when Protestantism showed up:

Protestant Algebra:
Absolute Truth = Scriptural Authority = Predestined Elders = Error Free Doctrine + Ecclesiastical Force = Orthodoxy

It is very important that you see the relationship here. Predestined Elder inherit the implications of their own Absolute Truth. The function of Predestined Elders in the Protestant world is to compel you to think whatever it is they think they have the right to compel you to think.

This is crucial for you to understand: Authority = Force

Any time somebody says, “I am an authority,” what they are really saying is, “I have the right to force you to do something.” There is nothing elegant about it.

So then how do you debate a Calvinist?

The answer is: You challenge the roots.

This is why I insist, particularly with regard to GraceWriterRandy, no one ever successfully challenges the roots of the assertion.

I have been talking about my web of tyranny now for the last six years. This is my contribution to the world of philosophy. I have identified what I believe are the five fundamental pillars of tyranny. It doesn’t matter what the ultimate end game is, all tyrannies have these five sub-categories or arguments: Dictated Good, Universal Guilt, Abolition of Ambition, Collective Conformity, and Incompetent Masses. The function of all these sub-categories is designed to create “Utopia,” or an alternate reality.

The reason I have rendered this as a web is because it is not specifically linear. In other words, there is not specifically a logical progression of one to the other. Instead there is a dynamic tension between all five, so all of the arguments act in harmony with all of the others to compel you down the path of this alternate reality; the right to determine some other realm of thinking.

What we have never really discussed is how the arguments fit into the web. On occasion over the last few years I have made reference to when an argument sits, but I want to have an overarching view. I want to start subdividing some of the arguments that you will hear. I’ve tried to pick archetypes of the arguments, and we will try to unravel them in later sessions.

If we are going to successfully debate Calvinist, we have to get good at identifying the foundational assumptions, because:

The Gospel According to John Immel, chapter 3:1-3

  1. All people act logically from their assumptions.
  2. It does not matter how inconsistent the ideas or insane the rationale. They will act until that logic is fulfilled.
  3. Therefore, when you see masses of people taking the same destructive actions, if you find the assumptions, you will find the cause.

Frankly, I don’t think we can have any better object lesson of this truth played out in our civil discourse than the logical assumption of a group of people tearing down historic monuments over wars that were fought long ago over offenses that are entirely manufactured. They are in actuality fulfilling a body of logic that produces some action.

Ideas are what drive human action. There is body of ideas, and a fundamental integration of those ideas, that produces your actions in any given day. This integration is called Philosophy.

Disciplines of Philosophy

– Metaphysics

– Epistemology

– Ethics

– Politics

– Aesthetics (art)

The roots are your metaphysical assumptions; whatever you accept about the nature of existence. Once you actually establish your foundation of metaphysical assumptions, you move to epistemology. That is what you believe your mind can understand. Once you identify what your mind can and cannot know, you move on to ethics. These are the moral judgments that you have about your actions; what is good and what is evil. This is how we define how we interact with other people through politics. Once man is able to establish these first four disciplines, he is able to refresh his existence with artistic expression. His art is a reflection of his most deeply held values.


The Orthodoxy Happy Dance

You might begin to talk to a Calvinist by presenting to him what Luther or Calvin said regarding a certain doctrine, and all is well and good until the Calvinist encounters something he doesn’t like. At this point he might respond by saying, “Well, Calvin might have believed that, but it was really the Synod of Dort that came up with this thing called T.U.L.I.P.” At this point they have made the Synod of Dort their authority over Calvin and Luther.

So then you proceed to point out a fallacy in T.U.L.I.P or the Synod of Dort, and now they might cite the Westminster Confession as being the final authority on the matter, rejecting the Synod of Dort. Notice what they are able to do. At any point in the argument that they don’t happen to like an given intellectual conclusion, no matter where it starts, they get to dance around between any given authority that suits them at any particular moment.

Take a look at the video below. This is an excerpt from a breakout session at the 2016 Cross for the Nations Conference in Indianapolis, IN. In this clip, you will hear John Piper make a reference to being committed to “the whole Calvinistic scheme.” Watch then, as Paul Dohse challenges Piper on the matter of election, Piper proceeds to engage in this orthodoxy happy dance.

Did you catch it? What you just saw Piper do is exactly what Calvinist do with impunity. They want the right to pick any given authority as their intellectual forbearers and then disown those intellectual forbearers whenever it suits their purpose. And this is why I call it the Orthodoxy Happy Dance, because orthodoxy at the end is this amorphous concept to which they get to appeal. They make an appeal to something that has no functional definition. At the end of the day, the real root of what they are advocating is their right to their own authority.

Notice that when pressed on the Calvin Institutes, Piper immediately became a Biblicist. What you will eventually realize, if you care to pay attention, is that Calvinists don’t read the Calvin Institutes ever. They read a few select excerpt here and there and then pretend that it is their intellectual pedigree, which they then believe gives them the license to tell you what to think. You peg them down on what they think and then they just jump to some other source of intellectual pedigree.

This sort of intellectual two-step is a direct violation of Aristotle’s Law of Identity; that A is A. Something cannot be “A” and “not A” at the same time. But with Calvinists, orthodoxy can be anything they want it to be. They have no intellectual integrity. They are not committed to anything specific. This is why every time you start debating Calvinists your conversations go nowhere.

Any time you have such a conversation, what you must do is make them responsible for their intellectual pedigree. If at any point they want to reject any point of Calvinism, they are rejecting the roots of orthodoxy. You will see this comment consistently:

“Calvinists don’t believe everything that John Calvin said…The Bible says blah, blah, blah…”

This is a glittering gem of colossal ignorance. It kills me every time I see it. I guarantee if you read anybody’s blog and you take somebody to task you will get a similar response. Pay attention to this. This is the formulation. They will identify themselves as Calvinists, and then they will pretend that they don’t believe what Calvin said. Suddenly they are independent thinkers and Biblicists. This is a gambit to what they believe they control – Biblical interpretation.

The next time you hear this line of logic, what you must say is, “So, you reject John Calvin’s ideas? Excellent! We agree on something. In your copy of Calvin’s Institutes, show me specifically to what you object.” This must be the only answer you will accept, but here is the thing; they will never do it. They will want to play their gambit of Biblical interpretation because they believe they own it.

Your rebuttal when they go back to the Bible, you say, “So, you are really saying that Calvin’s ideas are not in the Bible, right?” If they have to constantly run back to the Bible, then that means they cannot find those ideas in the Calvin’s Institutes. The moment they concede that point, then the next question you ask is, “So that means that Calvin’s teachings are unbiblical, right? That would make him a heretic, right?”   Follow this progression of questioning, and don’t let them leave this point! They must commit to what they are advocating.

You want to make sure they can never escape either an acceptance of Calvin or a rejection of Calvin. They must either accept that there is a synonymous relationship between Calvin and the Bible or there is not one. The moment you drive that wedge they are stuck. They use Calvin to establish their historic pedigree – “I have authority because I believe what all these other historic thinkers think.” Yet at the same time they want to turn around and claim intellectual autonomy whenever they choose. So which is it; historical authority or your own intellectual authority? That is the fulcrum of the debate.

If the truth is defined as “authority,” then there is no such thing as “I think…” The assumption is Authority = No Doctrinal Error; that the only way you can hedge against doctrinal error is to have authority. So the reason they argue “authority” is because they insist that they are the ones who get it all right. But the moment you confront them with something that isn’t right, they want to renounce the very thing that gives them authority. This is what you can never let them get away with.

The real argument here is that they have abandoned the right to the Aristotelian Law of Identity. They are constantly trying to say that “A” can be “B” and “B” can be “A”. They want to have a “both/and” reality.

  • Both final authority and error-filled humans.
  • Both defender of orthodoxy and an individual thinker denouncing Calvin’s doctrine.
  • Both herald of God’s mystic revelation and defender of “objective” truth.
  • Both lowly unoriginal mind slave and epitome of rational judgment.
  • Both champion of God’s hard truth and pitiful victim of undeserved criticism.

The way to defeat Calvinists is to deny them their authority and hammer away at reality. Reality is their enemy. The reason they engage in the Orthodoxy Happy Dance is because the moment they are confronted with the specifics of history they are toast.

But be forewarned:

  • Try to rebuff a Calvinist’s right to define all things and they pretend that no is their equal.
  • Try to reject a Calvinist’s monopoly on moral virtue, and they snarl that no man is righteous.
  • Try to refuse to let a Calvinist define reality, and they resort to force.

…To be continued


Click here for part two  Click here for part three
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Reformed Caste System: The Puritans Saw Violation of Caste as Equal to Violation of the 5th Commandment

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on June 2, 2016

This article is updated and revised from an article originally published on October 4, 2012

“But with this considered, the Puritans believed that the idol of upward social mobility was a specific violation of the 5th commandment. Yes, wanting to improve the lot you were born into was dishonoring one’s parents.” 

There is a reason for everything. I like reasons; the “why.” I understand that “Stupid is—is stupid does,” but I want to know why people are stupid. “They’re just stupid”; that’s easy, discovering why they are stupid can enable us to save them from their stupidness and thus give them hope. See, I really am a loving, hopeful kind of guy.

Why do Protestants constantly quote and point to the Westminster Confession to make their points? And why does that irritate us so much? The second why is easy; they act like the Confession has the same authority as Scripture. An added third why changes our irritation to fear: the Westminster Confession was a standard of civil law compiled by Calvinistic Puritans at the beckoning of the Church of England. Hence, when Protestants cite the confession, they are exposing their kinship, knowingly or ignorantly, to a theocratic document (“Theocracy is a form of government in which official policy is governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or is pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religion or religious group”[and I will give you three wild guesses as to who Protestants believe are the “divinely guided” ones]).

Later, the Church of England and the Puritans had a lovers quarrel over control of European mutton, and the Puritans were labeled, “nonconformists.” Other groups of Baptist origin were labeled the same regardless of their devotion to the same totalitarian principles as the Church of England; ie., the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith which was drawn from the Westminster Confession and written by Puritans as well. After this totalitarian plague landed in America, another document was drafted from the Westminster model, this time by the “Pilgrims” (alien European Puritans): The Savoy Declaration.

These documents encompass a conviction for state and church to rule together at the supposed pleasure of God, and with all of His authority by proxy. Ooopsies and boo-boos are covered by diplomatic immunity. Be not deceived: the spirit of the Westminster Confession is the lust of every authentic Protestant. That’s the why behind their obsessive citation of it.

However, the central idea of the Westminster Confession, that totally depraved mankind must be ruled with a divine iron fist, is going to manifest itself in a number of different applicable elements. Authentic Protestants use this for cover; the “fact” that they don’t “agree with everything” in the Confession supplies cover for the fact that they are totally sold out for the central idea that is the foundation of the document. That would be the control of the totally depraved by the “Westminster divines” of whom they are kin.

The heart of the document and its sentiment is revealed in the applicable elements—one being a caste system modeled after the extreme European social caste system of that day. Misrepresenting your social class to marry into a family that was in a higher social stratum was a capital offense.  Different social classes dressed differently, and entitlements were also determined by class as well.

The Puritans were really, really big on the whole idea of being content with were God had sovereignly placed you in life. In all caste systems, your social stratum is determined by what stratum you were born into; ie, determined by the social stratum of your parents. The system disallowed mobility between the social strata, or for all practical purposes: improvement. Of course, there were rare exceptions born of the milieu of life combined with intentionality for those who dared.

Notwithstanding, the Puritans saw a desire to climb the social strata as a “heart” problem: pride, discontent, thinking that your totally-depraved-self deserves more than your sovereignly appointed lot in life—which is a magnificent gift compared to what you deserve: hell. Today’s authentic Protestant Puritan wannabes would say that you have “idols of the heart.”

But with this considered, the Puritans believed that the idol of upward social mobility was a specific violation of the 5th commandment. Yes, wanting to improve the lot you were born into was dishonoring one’s parents:

The essence of the Puritan idea of status is found in the Larger Catechism of the Westminster Confession of Faith, that comprehensive body of theology hammered out by the Puritan scholars of Cromwell’s England in the mid-1640′s. The question of status was basic to the Puritans’ interpretation of the Fifth Commandment, “honor thy father and thy mother.”

By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth…. The general scope of the fifth commandment is, the performance of those duties which we mutually owe in our several relations, as inferiors, superiors, or equals (Gary North: The Freeman; June 1974 • Volume: 24 • Issue: 6).

The logical conclusion is borne out by what the Americanized Puritans (Pilgrims) instituted as civil law in their own New England old England way. Undoubtedly, due to European influence that connected dress to status,  the Pilgrims included what is known as Sumptuary Laws (laws regarding what one may or may not wear) in their theocratic laws:

Colonial Laws of Massachusetts, 1651

Sumptuary Laws (Laws Regarding What One May or May Not Wear)

ALTHOUGH SEVERAL DECLARATIONS and orders have been made by this Court against excess in apparell, both of men and women, which have not taken that effect as were to be desired, but on the contrary, we cannot but to our grief take notice that intolerable excess and bravery have crept in upon us, and especially among people of mean condition, to the dishonor of God, the scandal of our profession, the consumption of estates, and altogether unsuitable to our poverty.  And, although we acknowledge it to be a matter of much difficulty, in regard of the blindness of men’s minds and the stubbornness of their wills, to set down exact rules to confine all sorts of persons, yet we cannot but account it our duty to commend unto all sorts of persons the sober and moderate use of those blessings which, beyond expectation, the Lord has been pleased to afford unto us in this wilderness.  And also to declare our utter detestation and dislike that men and women of mean condition should take upon them the garb gentlemen by wearing gold or silver lace, or buttons, or points at their knees, or to walk in great boots; or women of the same ran to wear silk or tiffany hoods, or scarves which, though allowable to persons of greater estates or more liberal education, we cannot but judge it intolerable. . . .

It is therefore ordered by this Court, and authority thereof, that no person within the jurisdiction, nor any of their relations depending upon them, whose visible estates, real and personal, shall not exceed the true and indifferent value of £200, shall wear any gold or silver lace, or gold and silver buttons, or any bone lace above 2s. per yard, or silk hoods, or scarves, upon the penalty of 10s.  for every such offense and every such delinquent to be presented to the grand jury. And forasmuch as distinct and particular rules in this case suitable to the estate or quality of each perrson cannot easily be given: It is furtber ordered by the authority aforesaid, that the selectmen of every town, or the major part of them, are hereby enabled and required, from time to time to have regard and take notice of the apparel of the inhabitants of their several towns respectively; and whosoever they shall judge to exceed their ranks and abilities in the costliness or fashion of their apparel in any respect, especially in the wearing of ribbons or great boots (leather being so scarce a commodity in this country) lace, points, etc., silk hoods, or scarves, the select men aforesaid shall have power to assess such persons, so offending in any of the particulars above mentioned, in the country rates, at £200 estates, according to that proportion that such men use to pay to whom such apparel is suitable and allowed; provided this law shall not extend to the restraint of any magistrate or public officer of this jurisdiction, their wives and children, who are left to their discretion in wearing of apparel, or any settled militia officer or soldier in the time of military service, or any other whose education and employment have been above the ordinary degree, or whose estate have been considerable, though now decayed.

And:

By 1674, Cotton Mather’s father, Increase Mather, was convinced that the continual violation of the Fifth Commandment — the status commandment — was the chief sin of his generation. (That someone named Increase could take this position only serves to emphasize the irony.) Inferiors were rising up against superiors in the commonwealth — in families, schools, churches. It was not an uprising that he feared, but this incessant rising up. “If there be any prevailing iniquity in New England, this is it…. And mark what I say, if ever New England be destroyed, this very sin of disobedience to the fifth commandment will be the ruin of the land.” Samuel Willard agreed with Mather.

The problem, as the Puritan divines saw it, was that men were not satisfied with their lot in life. Daniel Dension’s last sermon, appended by another famous preacher of his day, William Hubbard, to Hubbard’s funeral sermon for Denison, cities ambition as the curse of the land, along with envy:”… Ambition is restless, must raise commotions, that thereby it might have an opportunity of advancement, and employ envy to depress others, that they fancy may stand in their way….” Such ambitious men are unwilling “to abide in the calling, wherein they are set; they cannot stay for the blessing, nor believe when God hath need of their service, he will find them an employment, whatever stands in the way of their design, must give place…”(Ibid).

Of course, Protestants would reject this outwardly, but what they can’t deny is that they are merely rejecting a nuance of the central idea that they embrace with all passion.

Caste is king.

paul

Romans 12:17-21, More on Forgiveness and Enemies

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 2, 2015

ppt-jpeg4I don’t know how many articles I have written for my ongoing attempt to slay the blank check forgiveness evangelical sacred cow, but I continue to chop away at him. Despite all of the blood, the stinkin’ thing still lives.

So, let’s keep trying, but first, where does this “offering grace” blank check forgiveness stuff come from? If you followed our Heidelberg Disputation series, you know. There are two kinds of Protestants: Calvinists, and functioning Calvinists. The former hold to predestination and the soteriology, the latter function according to the soteriology while denying the specific orthodoxy.

Blank check forgiveness comes from the Reformation doctrine of total depravity which results in moral equivalency and a single perspective on justice. Basically, due to the total depravity of man, and the idea that man saved or unsaved possesses no good or righteousness within (Luther’s Alien Righteousness), everybody deserves hell; including Christians regardless of their conversion; anything other than hell or lesser than hell is “grace,” and therefore, being wronged is only valuable for showing forth the same grace that we received. Few Protestants understand the doctrine of mortification and vivification. That’s “deep theology,” so instead, they teach and apply the applications of the doctrine that are too deep for them to understand. Blank check forgiveness is one of them.

Mortification and vivification is the perpetual revisiting of our spiritual baptism. In other words, the new birth doesn’t happen once, but is experienced numerous times throughout our Christian lives. Now, Baptists can moan and cry in denial like alley cats in heat, but that’s Protestant doctrine reflected in the Westminster Confession and London Baptist confessions as well. I will keep saying it; there is no religion more confused nor pathetic than Protestantism. At least even Muslims know what they believe for crying out loud.

But back to mortification and vivification which is the primary model for change in Protestant orthodoxy. The goal is to experience our baptism as much as possible via joy. That’s the vivification part that is totally out of our control—it is the resurrection part. But it begins with our part/role in the Christian life: “dying daily,” or mortification. This is how the whole taking up our cross and dying daily verses are interpreted. According to Luther and Calvin, God helps us out with the dying part by bringing tragedy into our lives. Look, if you are, for example, a rape victim that has been counseled by ACBC or CCEF, lightbulbs are starting to turn on right about now.

Enough of that for now, let’s go to Romans 12:

“17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.’ 20 On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

This is one of the many love your enemies verses. I guess I will keep on saying it: why would Paul concede that we will have enemies in spite of our best efforts if we are to simply forgive everybody who offends us? This passage gives instructions for dealing with enemies. Furthermore, the Bible promises rewards for relating to our enemies in the biblically prescribed way; therefore, does blank check forgiveness deprive us of reward? I think it does. And moreover, there is NO forgiveness of enemies with God unless they repent. In the same way that God blesses His enemies who have not repented, we bless our enemies who have not repented, and this is what leads them to repentance (Romans 2:4). Now, I have some learning to do in regard to how this model works itself out, but that IS the model, NOT blank check forgiveness. It would appear that replacing revenge with blessings prevents bitterness and leads to repentance. It would also seem that the goodness unresponded to will lead to a greater judgment in the end by God.

So, all in all, do I think blank check forgiveness keeps people from repenting? Yes.

paul

The Interpretation of Reality and the Calvinist Swamis

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 14, 2015
Swami Albert Mohler

Swami Albert Mohler at 2011 FBC Conference: pastors are “God-appointed agents to save God’s people from ignorance.”

The fact of the matter follows when you boil it down to the least common denominator: the Protestant Reformation was a quarrel about how one should interpret reality. In other words, sola scriptura is pure propaganda. Especially in our present day, preaching for the most part uses Scripture to promote a certain view of reality. The specific studies on this are the historical-redemptive hermeneutic and what is known as Biblical Theology. These terms are egregiously misleading. Instead of the Bible being used to develop a theology with a historical-grammatical view of reality assumed, the Bible is used as a mere tool for aiding one in interpreting reality as a story, or metaphysical narrative written by a god or plethora of gods.

The concept finds its roots in good old fashioned mythology. One should not think of mythology as rank superstition; to the contrary, mythological narratives are stories written by “gifted” spiritual leaders who understand spiritual truth that the populous at large are not able to understand. The gifted leaders package these truths in bedtime stories that the totally depraved masses can understand for purposes of life application. In Protestant context, we know it as orthodoxy and “subordinate truth.” One example would be the Westminster Confession which was penned by the “Westminster Divines.”1 Ponder that one for awhile if you think words mean things.

The foundation and historical progression is not hard to follow.2 It began in the garden when the serpent attempted to present himself as a mediator between people and God. The case presented to Eve follows: there are things about God that you can’t understand, but because I am a superior being, I can guide you in them to make you more like God. At issue from the very beginning was additional mediators between mankind and God. The serpent suggested that the direct relationship between God and mankind was lacking. This is the lie that forms the foundation of all false religions. Instead of mankind at large having initial and ongoing direct access to God at all times, false teachers make the case that they are the gateway to God or some kind of utopia.

Almost immediately after the garden, the religion of spiritual caste was off and running. More than likely, Hinduism was the first formal religion of spiritual hierarchy. True salvation is a body with one head—Christ. Because we are literally born of God into His literal family, we love God and are new creatures who think like Him, and have the same mind of His Son, Christ. Unity comes from having the same mind in Christ, and coming to agreement on such.3 If there is only one mind, and there is disagreement, obviously everybody must agree that someone is right and someone is wrong. However, Scripture instructs us to leave room for the members to be convinced in their own minds and according to the development of a biblical conscience.4 Of course, this would exclude the gospel of first order that cannot be compromised.5

In spiritual caste, an elite class understands reality while the masses are unable. This is usually divided between the material and the invisible as two different realities. Fundamentally, the material is evil and the invisible is good. One may suspect that the incarnation of Christ was a direct pushback to that idea. And of course, if the elite know what’s best for the great unwashed, for the best possible well-being of humanity in general, they must rule over those enslaved to interpreting reality through their five senses. This is where authority comes in; supposedly, for the sake of mankind. So, let’s review the primary tenets of most religions:

  1. Two realities divided by truth versus illusion.
  2. Mediators between truth and illusion.
  3. The mediators should have authority for the sake of humanity.

Usually, the invisible realm is represented by virtue or some sort of deity. Mediators are the elitists in the caste system. They can be visiting deities, or those specially gifted in the material realm. And because they are part of the material realm, they are subject to it, but not to the degree that the ungifted are so…do what they say, not what they do. It’s primarily a gift of perception; because they can see things that the common man cannot see. They create understandable teachings that will best serve man in the material realm.

In most of these caste religions, predeterminism is the centerpiece. This is because in the vast majority of these caste religions, reality is a story orchestrated by the truth realm, or invisible realm. And all stories have an author. If reality is a story, the story must have an author. And if reality has an author, of course everything is predetermined by the author—this is unavoidable. So if redemption is a story as academics of the Reformed tradition constantly state as if in a manner of speaking, of course every detail of reality is predetermined because reality is a story, and all stories have an author. In addition, it may be noted that determinism and fatalism are the historical norm in general, and Protestantism is just another player in the same old song and dance.

The progression of caste started in the garden, found its first formality in Hinduism, was passed on to Plato when he studied in India, became Gnosticism, and later dictated the basic principles of the Protestant Reformation. Augustine’s City of God is a remodeled version of Plato’s Republic and Martin Luther, as well as John Calvin, were rabid followers of Augustine. Luther was a friar in the Augustinian Order, and Calvin quotes Augustine more than 400 times in the Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion. In some translations of the Institutes, that’s an average of every 2.5 pages.

In the final analysis therefore, the Reformers, especially Martin Luther, made the gospel a metaphysical story that interprets all of reality. When you go to see a movie at your local theater, you are a character in the movie watching a movie. The movie you are in was prewritten by God like all movies are prewritten by an author. Therefore, in some sense, saving faith is seeing yourself in God’s plot which is totally out of your control and would exclude all freewill. If you have any freewill at all, you are trying to write your own reality; you are writing your own story; you are trying to be your own god. In fact, this is the very primary theses of the founding doctrinal statement of the Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustinian Order. In that founding document presented to the Order six months after the 95 Theses, Luther presented reality in two parts: the cross story and the story of man. According to Luther a theologian is either a theologian of the cross, or a theologian of glory (the glory of man rather than God).

Presently in the Protestant evangelical church, the idea of Christianity being a story dominates church media. Consider the following citation by the contemporary father of historical-redemptive hermeneutics and Biblical Theology:

If the story is true, Jesus Christ is the interpretative key to every fact in the universe and, of course, the Bible is one such fact. He is thus the hermeneutic principle that applies first to the Bible as the ground for understanding, and also to the whole of reality.6

Similar quotations among evangelicals in our day are myriad. The Bible is merely a prototype of redemptive reality that describes generalities, or prisms of redemptive reality in which we see our own lives. Our own lives are part of the story, and we are to interpret our lives through the redemptive reality described in the Bible. The Bible describes the redemptive reality of the past (other lives as interpretive prisms/examples) and the future (how the story will end), and we are experiencing the present redemptive reality IF we have “entered into the plot”7 or entered the “Divine drama.”8 This is little less than the Hindu Lila.

The basic recurring theme in Hindu mythology is the creation of the world by the self-sacrifice of God—”sacrifice” in the original sense of “making sacred”—whereby God becomes the world which, in the end, becomes again God. This creative activity of the Divine is called lila, the play of God, and the world is seen as the stage of the divine play. Like most of Hindu mythology, the myth of lila has a strong magical flavour. Brahman is the great magician who transforms himself into the world and then performs this feat with his “magic creative power”, which is the original meaning of maya in the Rig Veda. The word maya—one of the most important terms in Indian philosophy—has changed its meaning over the centuries. From the might, or power, of the divine actor and magician, it came to signify the psychological state of anybody under the spell of the magic play. As long as we confuse the myriad forms of the divine lila with reality, without perceiving the unity of Brahman underlying all these forms, we are under the spell of maya. (…) In the Hindu view of nature, then, all forms are relative, fluid and ever-changing maya, conjured up by the great magician of the divine play. The world of maya changes continuously, because the divine lila is a rhythmic, dynamic play. The dynamic force of the play is karma, an important concept of Indian thought. Karma means “action”. It is the active principle of the play, the total universe in action, where everything is dynamically connected with everything else. In the words of the Gita Karma is the force of creation, wherefrom all things have their life.9

And of course, if reality is a story with an author, hard determinism is the order of the day; stories do not write themselves, nor do the characters in the story have freewill to write the story. Consequently, the notion that Calvinists derive their theology from the Bible rather than metaphysics is a misnomer, and in many cases outright deceptive. The Reformed tradition is really the same worn out deterministic mythology that has always dominated world philosophy and wreaked havoc on historical experience from the very beginning. And invariably, converts to Protestantism in the Reformed tradition will mutate from freewill, to soft determinism, and finally hard determinism. Or from “Pelagianism,” to “Semi-Pelagianism,” to “orthodoxy.”

Karma is the infant stage of Hinduism where saints believe they are responsible for their own actions, but as growth moves forward, the mature saint…

“[…] becomes convinced that God has been doing everything by using his body, mind, energy and the senses. He feels that he is only an instrument in the hands of God, and whatever God has been doing to him is for his ultimate spiritual good. At this high level of spirituality the doctrine of predestination becomes the only valid doctrine to him. To him the doctrine of karma ceases to be a valid doctrine.

Therefore, these two doctrines, even though apparently contradictory to each other, are valid for people at different stages of spiritual growth.”10

In regard to practical application, the parallels become even more vivid. The trichotomy of soul and society in Hinduism and Platonism are identical, and the same principles are mirrored in Gnosticism and Calvinism as well. The soul of each person is threefold, and predetermined by God or some other force/deity. In each person, there is the spiritual, intellectual, and instinctive. However, each person will be dominated by one of these characteristics, and society benefits to the degree that each person lives according to the predetermined dominant aspect of their souls. This is the basis for caste systems, and usually coincides with lineage. In other words, you are expected to stay within the social strata determined by birth for the good of society at large. This is jumping ahead a little, but this idea had deep roots in Puritan beliefs who were theological descendants of Calvin. To not remain in the social strata you were born into was thought to be a violation of the 5th commandment according to the Puritans—it was dishonoring your parents.11

The theory also coincides with the two realities of material and invisible, the material being evil and the invisible being truth. The spiritual are the mediators who are able to see beyond the material while the intellectuals are wise enough to know that the mediators should be trusted. They have a special love for the truth, so they love the mediators as well. Those who have souls dominated by instinct are enslaved to the material world and their five senses. To insert another connection somewhat prematurely, the Puritan Jonathan Edwards believed that salvation required a sixth sense in order to see the kingdom of God. In other words, the five senses that evaluate the material world were all but useless for salvation.12 This sixth sense, according to Edwards, is experienced by “delightful conviction” and “inward, sweet delight in God and divine things.” Well known pastor and Puritan wannabe John Piper borrowed these ideas from Edwards to form his Christian Hedonism movement.

In regard to Plato and the aforementioned metaphysical trichotomy, this is the philosopher king, warrior, and producer classes. This coincides with the Hindu Bhramin, Kshatryia/Vaishya, and Sudra/Untouchables. And, John Calvin had his own construct communicated via his election doctrine with more of a Gnostic flavor. Unbeknownst to most people who actually call themselves “Calvinists,” John Calvin propagated three classes of elect: the elect of the elect (those who persevere, the “P” in TULIP), the temporary elect (the called who do not persevere), and the non-elect. This coincides with Gnosticism as follows:

Calvinism derived its 3 classes ultimately from the 3 classes in Valentinian Gnosticism (see Ireneaus’ five books Against Heresies):

1. Pneumatics (spirituals) – The elect of the elect.

2. Psuchics (soulys) – The average elect.

3. Hylics (carnals) – The non-elect.

Meaning, the Hylics have no chance. As for the Psuchics, they are (as you put it) “entered into the race” but not given “the gift of perseverance.” And the Pneumatics, of course, are elect to the uttermost, meaning nothing they do can damn them.

In Gnosticism, this is natural selection, or election by nature according to Clement of Alexandria in Stromata: 2. 3. More specific definitions follow:

In the gnostic view, hylics, also called Somatics (from Gk σώμα (sōma) “body”), were the lowest order of the three types of human. The other two were the psychics and the pneumatics (from Gk πνεύμα (pneuma) “spirit, breath”). So humanity comprised matter-bound beings, matter-dwelling spirits and the matter-free or immaterial, souls.

Somatics were deemed completely bound to matter. Matter, the material world, was seen as “evil” in the gnostic world view. The material world was created by a demiurge, in some instances a blind, mad God, in others an army of rebellious angels as a trap for the spiritual Ennoia. The duty of (spiritual) man was to escape the material world by the aid of the hidden knowledge (gnosis). *

The pneumatics (“spiritual”, from Greek πνεῦμα, “spirit”) were, in Gnosticism, the highest order of humans, the other two orders being psychics and hylics. A pneumatic saw itself as escaping the doom of the material world via the transcendent knowledge of Sophia’s Divine Spark within the soul.†

They conceive, then, of three kinds of men, spiritual, material, and animal . . . The material goes, as a matter of course, into corruption. The animal, if it make choice of the better part, finds repose in the intermediate place; but if the worse, it too shall pass into destruction. But they assert that the spiritual principles which have been sown by Achamoth, being disciplined and nourished here from that time until now in righteous souls (because when given forth by her they were yet but weak), at last attaining to perfection, shall be given as brides to the angels of the Saviour, while their animal souls of necessity rest for ever with the Demiurge in the intermediate place. And again subdividing the animal souls themselves, they say that some are by nature good, and others by nature evil. The good are those who become capable of receiving the [spiritual] seed [and becoming pneumatic]; the evil by nature are those who are never able to receive that seed [and become hylic].—Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. I. 7, 513

Calvin held to these same three types of categories except the determinism is by God rather than nature. For Calvin, it is the non-elect, the elect, and those of the elect that are gifted with perseverance:

In fine, we are sufficiently taught by experience itself, that calling and faith are of little value without perseverance, which, however, is not the gift of all (CI 3.24.6)

The expression of our Savior, “Many are called, but few are chosen,” (Mt. 22:14), is also very improperly interpreted (see Book 3, chap. 2, sec. 11, 12). There will be no ambiguity in it, if we attend to what our former remarks ought to have made clear—viz. that there are two species of calling: for there is an universal call, by which God, through the external preaching of the word, invites all men alike, even those for whom he designs the call to be a savor of death, and the ground of a severer condemnation. Besides this there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts. Sometimes, however, he communicates it also to those whom he enlightens only for a time, and whom afterwards, in just punishment for their ingratitude, he abandons and smites with greater blindness (CI 3.24.8).14

Calvinism is nothing new; it’s the same worn out ancient mythological song and dance foisted on the Bible. Many preaching in Protestant temples in our day think that it all comes from the Bible because Protestant academics told them such. We call that “orthodoxy.” It is mythology’s noble lie of metaphysical bedtime stories for serfs. Sunday church is hosted by two kinds of pastors: those who think orthodoxy actually came from the Bible and therefore think they are teaching the Bible, and those who know what’s really going on. The former is sad enough, but those who sit under the latter are paying good money to be perceived as useful idiots.

_______________________________________________________________________

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_Assembly

2 Historical progression will be documented in detail: TTANC volume 3

3 Phil 2:2, 2:5-8, 1Cor 1:10, 2:15

4 Romans 14

5 1Cor 15:1-4

6 Graeme Goldsworthy: Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics; p.48

7 Paul David Tripp: How People Change

9 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lila_(Hinduism) Frijof Capra, The Tao of Physics (1975)

10 Swami Bhaskarananda: Chapters 9-11 The Essentials of Hinduism; Predestination

13 https://paulspassingthoughts.com/2014/01/30/predestination-and-the-gnostic-connection/

14 https://paulspassingthoughts.com/2014/01/30/predestination-and-the-gnostic-connection/

The Biblical Emphasis on Pastors and Their Authority: Where is It? Romans 15:14

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 11, 2015

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Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, “The Biblical Emphasis on Pastors and Their Authority: Where is It?” If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. Remember to turn your PC volume down to prevent feedback. Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective.

If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also email me at paul@ttanc.com. That’s Tom, Tony, Alice, Nancy, cat, paul@ttanc.com. I have my email monitor right here and can add your thoughts to the lesson without need for you to call in.

We are going to begin tonight by surveying the present landscape. The church invests billions in the education and accreditation of pastors. Of course, this is all made possible by the working class laity. Pastorate authority is expressed in church polity, and they are seen as the gatekeepers of orthodoxy. Never before in history have so many willingly paid so much for the privilege of being subservient.

Let me just pull the rabbit out of the hat right now. Let me go ahead and reveal where I am going with all of this tonight, and then I will make my case. We know that America was the first idea in human history that rejected the marriage of faith and force, and the results speak for themselves. We also know why some people deny what America has done for the world because of their ancient presuppositions concerning mankind; i.e., if mankind is allowed to self-govern, chaos will ensue.

There is that crowd, then there is the crowd that thinks mankind is just outright evil, and the American idea emphasizes life and liberty, so America is the antitheses of this whole idea that mankind is evil. And remember, this is not just a religious idea. No, no, no. This is also very prevalent among secular ideas. Some environmentalists would be included among them.

In the minds of the framers of the American Constitution, the marriage of faith and force always leads to tyranny, and history would agree. It all starts with those who are specially gifted to know truth that the masses are not able to understand, and for their own good, the masses that is, or the “great unwashed” if you will, the great seers call on the state to enforce their wisdom for the good of mankind and its overall survival. It is a striving for social justice leading to utopia.

We know that this basic presupposition about man’s ability to self-govern always leads to tyranny, and it now begs the question: culturally, in the church, if truth is married with pastoral authority, is the same tyranny inevitable? We think the answer is “yes.” The marriage of faith and authority in the church will yield the same results as the marriage of faith and force among governments. The problem is the injunction of truth on the majority by the few.

Without getting into another body of study altogether, let me answer some anticipated objections. A couple of weeks ago while Charlie Rose was interviewing the president of Syria, here is a paraphrase of what he said: “Society in general doesn’t accept the use of chemical weapons.” Interesting. What was he in essence saying albeit probably unwittingly? Answer: Romans chapters one and two. The law of God is written on the hearts of every man and his God-given conscience passes judgement on his actions. Why do we need government? For people who are deficient in regard to their faculties of conscience—that’s why.

Let’s note something important moving forward. The behavior evidenced in the church in our present day is consistent across all religions and denominations. Why? Because they all have one thing in common: they marry faith and authority. This is just another institutional church elephant in the room; the question of pastoral authority. And how churches get around this is soooo smooth:

“As pastors, our only authority is in the word of God.”

Well, that’s just wonderful because the Bible covers every nuance of life. While that answer usually assumes the Bible is boss and pastors only point people to its authority, what is really being said is the Bible determines the parameters of their authority which is without bounds if determined by the Bible.

What does this across-the-board authority look like regardless of the particular breed of church? What does it mean when we say that pastors “have authority”? It all starts with a same presupposition concerning mankind. Basically, mankind in general is not able to properly understand reality in a way that brings about social justice resulting in utopia. Man needs to be ruled over for his own good, and those who believe man can self-govern must be neutralized for the good of the many.

This is why the line between churches and liberal leftwing politics is often blurred. Why did some church, I think in New York, recently sue Walmart to ban their gun sales? Because in their mind, you just can’t have people in general running around with guns. In their minds, that’s a disaster waiting to happen.

So, it starts with that philosophy. Now, how does it seek to implement this philosophy? What system dictates the application for the greater good? Again, in ALL religions and denominations it’s the same: mediation, authority, orthodoxy, progressive justification, polity, political collectivism, resulting in the EXACT same results and behavior. This is the technical definition of “the church.” Take note of how often you hear “the church” in the everyday white noise of churchianity.

Mediation. The Bible makes it clear that there is one mediator between God and man: Christ, period. All institutional churches have a concept of what Protestants call the “power of the keys.” This is the idea that the institution represents the body of Christ on earth. Hence, institutional membership is synonymous with salvation. The institution represents Christ’s mediation on earth by proxy. Whatever the church binds on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever the church looses on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Authority. Vested in the elders/pastors of the church regardless of the fact that Christ clearly stated that ALL authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him. Pastors are men who have been preordained and specially gifted to know things that the common Christian does not know. Therefore, God has supposedly given them authority on earth for the collective good of mankind. Every institutional church has its own breed of popery.

“But Paul, I am a Southern Baptist and our churches are” …and this is so adorable… “independently autonomous.”

OK, now try to be a pastor of a Southern Baptist church without a degree from a Southern Baptist seminary. Good luck with that. If you are not credentialed, if you do not speak according to authority given you by the church, if your words do not carry authority by the aping of those credentialed, you are nothing but a little yapping mutt that will be ignored. If you tithe enough, people will put up with you and that’s about it.

For the time being, file this away: this is the exact same system Christ was up against when he came. How did He deal with it? Confirming miracles. Remember the paraplegic He healed so that people would know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth?

Orthodoxy. This is the extra-biblical authoritative body of teaching that is developed by those in authority. Since the great unwashed cannot understand truth, orthodoxy takes the higher knowledge of truth and puts it in story form for the spiritually adolescent masses. It’s exactly like story books written for children that explain reality via narratives that they can understand. In church culture, orthodoxy is synonymous with truth itself. This is why in seminary you are told straight up that the knowledge you are learning there is not anything you will be teaching at local churches—they can’t understand it. However, you will learn a lot about being a good spiritual cowboy who keeps the herd from being spooked resulting in a stampede. You will also be taught how to deal with those who think they can know truth, also known as Mad Cow disease.

Progressive justification. All religions and denominations have some form of progressive justification. This soteriology is the necessary gospel that must go hand in hand with mediation, authority, and orthodoxy. It is the teaching that salvation progresses from point A to point B, and the institutional church is the overseer of that progression. This is a hard-fast rule. The church cannot function or survive by propagating the true gospel—it’s impossible and we will look at why this is the case tonight. Why are there so many different religions and denominations? It’s all disagreement on how you get from point A to point B.

Polity. Or “church polity.” This is a soft term for “church government.” All churches have church government. It’s different levels of authority and an epistemological pecking order. In contrast, biblical contra church assemblies are based on fellowship with the Father and His Son—not authority. Historically, churches enforce polity by getting into bed with the government, but post America, the emphasis is control over your salvation.

In pre-American history, if you didn’t believe the church had the authority to take away your salvation, they would simply hang you, drown you, cut you in half, or burn you, not necessarily in that order. So, in our day, the heavy emphasis is authority and control over your eternal destiny. Why do people obey the outrageous notions that flow from the traditions of men? Because their eternal salvation depends on it, and “faith believes all things,” right? One of the favorite truisms vomited out by the clergy is this whole Lutheresque idea that “knowledge puffeth up” and makes people proud.

The real problem is that informed people are very difficult to control. Let me pull another rabbit out of the hat right now. I will make the case tonight that cultism goes hand in hand with elder authority. It is absolutely impossible to separate horizontal authority among God’s people and cultism. Religion plus horizontal authority ALWAYS equals cult. This is an unavoidable and hard-fast rule.

Political collectivism. Here is the dirty little secret: ultimate control is really in the hands of the populous. Why? It’s simple; they outnumber government. In China, if the people decide to rise up, the Chinese government is totally screwed. There are particular things common to people that the framers of the American constitution recognized such as those things that are “self-evident.” All in all, the church has merely stuck its nose in the debate over who owns truth: mankind in general or the state?

This necessarily demands a conversation about the church’s dominion theology. Is God’s kingdom presently on earth, or is it presently in heaven? If it is presently down here, then obviously the church has a dog in the fight. Therefore, since populous rule is the real power in the world, power is determined by how many people you have effectively brainwashed. The church cannot avoid being a political animal seeking to gain control by numbers and infrastructure because it believes it is a nation builder on earth.

This includes all of the trappings of doing good works to endear numbers, and formal education for the purposes of indoctrinating people. Most church hierarchies openly admit that their agenda is to take over every aspect of culture; i.e., education, the arts, etc, etc. The specific quotations abound and are not the least bit ambiguous.

Also, watch out for the “Oh my, missionaries are being persecuted for the gospel in this country, that country, or the other country.” No, many countries are more privy to the dominion aspirations of the church than their own missionaries. In many cases, it is feared that missionaries will incite an insurrection. A cursory observation of history confirms this as a valid concern. Traditionally, church missionaries not only want to get people saved, they want to quote, “transform the culture.” They say it all the time!

Let me stick this idea in here. Do you know how home fellowships could do world evangelism? We could find people gifted to be elders in other countries and bring them stateside to live for a while in the home fellowship network. They would live with a sponsoring family and learn/experience the New Testament model. As they learn and experience, they could be feeding the information back to their country of origin. This would be dirt cheap and very effective.

Do you know how expensive and ineffective world missions are in the institutional church? It’s horrific, and mostly predicated on Western arrogance. I have heard missionaries say it: “Without our academic wherewithal, effective ministry is impossible.” Behold the arrogance: after hundreds of years of trial and error and oceans of ink used in the pontification of orthodoxy, 1600 people a day leave the church and become Nones or Dones. 1500 pastors per month leave the ministry for good. But yet, the church continues to export this failed model overseas on the financial backs of the laity. It’s beyond insane.

Behavior. The results are all the same. Spiritual abuse in the church is just a symptom of the specific problem, church. Stuff happening in the church is not the problem—church is the problem. Thanks to the internet, we now know that the church produces the exact same behavior over and over and over again. We now know that the institutional church is nothing more or less than a super-cult.

Let’s begin to look at the evidence.

Yes, once again, Calvary Temple of Sterling, Va. is back in the news. Let’s listen to the recent news report by MRC TV titled “Sexual Abuse, Broken Families, and Race Cars: The Story Of An Alleged D.C.-Area Cult” dated 4/2/2015/. As you listen to this clip, make a list of the elements such as “authority,” “broken family relationships,” “control,” “divorce,” etc.

Listen, whether the HBO documentary I mentioned last week on Scientology, or my wife’s testimony in regard to her experience in the Baptist church, or what my son shared with me the other night about a Jehovah Witness that he works with and what that guy is going through with his church, or my own testimony, or myriads of testimonies that you can read via the internet discernment blogs, it is all the same basic elements in regard to behavioral outcomes.

Sure, John MacArthur Jr. isn’t going to marry a twenty-year-old and buy a dragster and a race car, he just oversees an in-house police station at Grace Community Church that will escort you out to your car if you ask too many questions in Sunday school. I know from firsthand testimony that MacArthur rules that church with an iron fist. I rubbed shoulders with some of his elders for years. In addition, accusations from relatively sound people that Grace Community Church is a cult abound. One such site is The Watchman Wakes .com / John MacArthur’s cult. Google that and the exact link should come up. Look, all one needs to know for purposes of confirming these allegations is MacArthur’s own words from last week’s sound bites; the inevitable result of the belief that elders have authority on earth is cultism.

Let’s also look at the obvious manifestation of well-behaved tyranny. Even though some church pastors would not engage in some of the more outrageous behavior, by and large, the well-behaved tyrants of the church turn a blind eye to the behavior and even cover for it. MacArthur is absolutely notorious for turning a blind eye to the atrocities committed by the institutional church. Why? The obvious answer is the church’s authority to forgive sins on earth. Without the institutional church, there is no means of salvation for anyone so the church must be saved at all cost. I am not sure what is more obvious.

Look, for example, Jack Hyles could have been shut down years ago. All it would have taken is twenty-five IFB pastors walking down the isle of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Ind. and rebuking the guy publically on a Sunday morning. Game over. Why doesn’t that ever happen even though it is the exact biblical prescription? Because the institution has to be preserved as God’s authority on earth by proxy—that’s why.

I am not going to rehearse the outrageous details of the ABWE scandal, but in reaction to ABWE refusing to deal with the situation, not one GARB church withdrew from the association in protest, and as far as I know, not one church withdrew support from ABWE. One GARB pastor that I know who was mortified by the scandal nevertheless allowed Michael Loftis, at that time the president of ABWE to speak at their church.

Why?!!!! because there is only one name under heaven by which man is saved—the institutional church and its authority on earth by proxy. This isn’t complicated. Support the church if you will, but also know that you are supporting the divine right of kings to rape, pillage and steel at will.

“But my pastor isn’t like that!” Yes he is—he turns a blind eye to it!

It’s all the same, and they all operate by the same principles; for example, let’s just take one, orthodoxy. For Baptists, what is it? The First and Second London Baptist Confessions. For Presbyterians, what is it? The Westminster Confession. For Jehovah Witnesses, what is it? The Watchtower. For Mormons, what is it? The Book of Mormon. For Islam, what is it? The Quran. It’s all the same stuff resulting in the same behavior. Read history for yourself—none of these religions acted any differently until America came along.

At any rate, the church invests billions in the education and accreditation of pastors. Their authority is expressed in church polity, and they are seen as the gatekeepers of orthodoxy. When one surveys the emphasis on pastors in the church, certainly we should expect to easily find abundant information about them in the Scriptures. A cursory observation of Scripture should reveal their purpose, scope of authority, and a description of their duties.

But in reality, the lack of biblical emphasis on pastors and elders is stunning when compared to the emphasis experienced in the institutional church. If a pastor has authority, where does that authority begin and end? While the idea of elder authority is common, any discussion of the parameters is extremely uncommon and such ambiguity can lead anywhere, and it does. Furthermore, their assumed authority is nowhere to be found in holy writ.

In regard to their importance in general, the specific gift of elder/pastor is mentioned a meager four times in Scripture.

In the most vital portions of Scripture where elders would be prevalent according to their assumed authority, they are not mentioned. In the corrective letters to Corinth where Christianity was completely off the reservation, elders are not mentioned once. In the book of Romans, the magnum opus of soteriology, again, elders are not written about.

In Paul and Peter’s mini-treatises regarding submission starting in the home, to the workplace, and society in general, again, no mention of elders (Eph 5:22-33, 1Pet 2:13-3:7).

In the protocol for solving conflict among believers in Matthew 18, the same. If a person finally refuses to repent of what he has done to a fellow brother, the passage doesn’t say to go tell the elders, it says to go tell the assembly. The process in Matthew 18 is commonly thought to be a process under the control and auspices of the elders, but if that’s the case, where are they?

Sure, when the Greek widows were treated unfairly as documented in Acts 6:1ff, the people appealed to the apostles, but who was given the responsibility to choose what I think were the first Deacons? Right, the saints in general. Not only that, notice that the solution offered by the apostles met the approval of the people. They did not go to the apostles for an edict—they sought their counsel and leadership in the situation, but it obviously needed the approval of the people.

In Philippians 4:2,3, Paul entreats the whole congregation to reconcile the two women who were in some kind of rift, and this is the same pattern found in Matthew 18 as well. Listen, we could go on and on and on and add Acts 17:11 as well, but is this sinking in? Where are the big bad elders? Where are they and their supposed authority? I do believe the apostles had authority, but clearly what they emphasized is the model that would follow after their departure; appeal to the one mind of Christ and not the dictation of authority.

Moreover, not only are elders conspicuously missing, the saints in general are told throughout the New Testament that they are qualified to do ministry that is normally attributed to elders exclusively. A good example is 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.

Another one is 1John 2:27.

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.

Clearly, when it gets right down to it, God’s people can do without elders. Eldership is a gift that is no more or less important to the body of Christ than any other gift. Yes, if God’s people are serious about furthering the testimony and deepening fellowship, they should seek out good elders. But eldership is not a horizontal authority granted by God. Eldership does not represent God’s authority on earth.

Indeed, the apostles did have some of God’s authority, and that’s why they will sit on twelve thrones judging Israel in the final days, but that authority was NOT passed on to the elders. This is why the apostles predominately appealed to the one mind of Christ and not authority.

So, what is in fact the biblical model? Let’s compare the biblical model point by point with the institutional model. Here we go.

Presuppositions concerning mankind. Simple, Romans chapters one and two. Man can know reality and is personally and individually accountable to God. Throughout history for the most part, society in general determines law and what is acceptable. But please do not underestimate the real debate underlying the more visible debates manifested in this question: does man understand the reality that he lives in. He most certainly does. Mankind does not need seers to rule over them who have special insight into a reality that the masses do not understand.

History is a vicious cycle of the masses buying into that philosophy resulting in revolts when the tyranny of it becomes more than they can bear. Life gets to the point where it is not worth living and there is an uprising. The framers of the American Constitution observed this vicious historical cycle of serfism, tyranny, war, freedom, serfism, tyranny, war, freedom, serfism, tyranny, war, freedom, and the lightbulb turned on. America is the greatest country ever because it is the first ever government by the people and for the people.

The Bible is clear, people stand before God at the judgement individually. Be sure of this: the church’s emphasis on pastors comes from the world’s debate on man’s ability to self-govern. According to the Bible, and more specifically 1John, God’s people are able to self-govern because all of them have the same anointing of the Holy Spirit. When it gets right down to it, we have no need for anyone to teach us.

Mediation. There is only one mediator between God and man—Christ. Clearly, the church posits elders as sub mediators. This does not pass biblical muster.

Orthodoxy. There isn’t any. God’s people do not need a dumbed down version of truth written by sub-mediators creating…watch it… here it is, “subordinate truth.” Really? This is absolutely nothing new and the very reason that the Bible is constantly drilling down on oneness: one truth, one mind, one mediator, one Spirit, one baptism, one anointing, one Lord, etc., etc., ect. There isn’t two minds, there is only one and one truth accordingly. And really? There is such a thing as a lesser truth? No, it is either true or it isn’t true.

Progressive justification. No institution or religious hierarchy is needed to get us from salvation point A to salvation point B. This is why we constantly hear, “We don’t believe the gospel and then move on to something else, we never leave the gospel.” “The gospel isn’t the ABCs of salvation, it’s the A-Z,” etc., etc., etc. If your salvation is finished, and you do move on to something else, guess who you no longer need?

The elements of the institutional church follow a logical progression: presuppositions concerning mankind; sub-mediation; orthodoxy or sub-truth; the gospel of progressive justification; church government (polity) because authority trumps fellowship; political activism because God’s kingdom is supposedly on earth (if it wasn’t authority would be absent), and the subsequent bad behavior ordinarily exhibited by the divine right of kings, mind control cults, and institutional ownership of truth.

Church polity (government). Christ’s assembly does not have a government structure. There is no church polity. There is a body made up of gifts that seeks to mature by “mutual edification” through fellowship under one head. There is no government, but rather organization. Here is the organization: gifted elders equip the saints for ministry, and deacons/deaconesses oversee need. There aren’t any bosses; it’s a cooperative striving for a common goal. It’s an organized body where every part is equally valued. It’s just this simple, and this is the exact same analogy seen throughout the New Testament: to the degree that your body is sound, you can accomplish work. Ephesians 4:1-16 spells it out point by point, and so does 1Corinthians chapter 12. That’s not a government—it’s an organized body.

Political collectivism. It is not the concern of Christ’s assembly to take over every aspect of culture. Our concern is to build up the body in love and let the world watch. And watch they will. Our kingdom is NOT on earth—it’s still up in heaven. That’s why we are called “ambassadors” in the Bible. What’s an “ambassador”? An ambassador doesn’t live in a country to…here it is, we hear this constantly…”take over the culture for Christ.” No, we are here to represent another kingdom that is not presently here.

Behavior. The goal is to think like our big brother Jesus Christ and do what He would do. And trust me, the world will take note.

Here are some references that you should read on your own: Matt 23:8, Psalm 133:1, Acts 4:32, Rom 12:16, Rom 14:19… Rom 15:5, 1Cor 1:10, 2Cor 13:11, Eph 4:3, Phil 1:27, Phil 2:2, Phil 3:16, 1Peter 3:8.

Elder authority, where is it? Where is the emphasis on body striving for unity in one mind? EVERYWHERE! Let’s now go to the phones.

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