People often visit my blog searching for information about the false teaching of Paul Dohse Sr. I suspect this occurs because I wrote a review a couple of years ago about a book he had written. Unfortunately, he and I have almost nothing in common theologically, and he is convinced I am a psychopathic liar who uses doublespeak to deliberately deceive people. He clearly thinks he knows better what I believe than I do and is convinced I am lying when I state my views as honestly as I can. He has recently threatened to “come after me,” whatever that means, if I ever email him or post on his blog again. Apparently, he feels he has the right to misrepresent Calvinists’ views and spew his vitriol against us without anyone questioning His Majesty. I am now banned from commenting on his blog because in response to his accusation that “Calvinists have redefined every term in the Bible”, I asked him to give me an example of a doctrine we have redefined. I also asked him to send me the authentic and authoritative list of official definitions of biblical terms so that I could see how our definitions have departed from the official list.
I was reading one of his latest posts today, “The Law and Why Calvinists are in Danger of Hell.” As I read through it, it occurred to me he hardly made a single statement I did not believe was erroneous. It would require a tome of no small magnitude even to begin to address all Mr. Dohse’s errors. Still, I thought it might be helpful to address a few of his statements in an effort to help some of those who are mystified by his enigmatic statements.
I must confess I still don’t understand what he is referring to when he states that Calvinists believe “the active obedience of Christ is imputed to a believer’s sanctification to maintain his justification.” I have asked him to explain that statement several times but he has never answered. Perhaps one of his fawning followers can drop by and explain it to us.
1. He fails to understand that nomos [law] has different meanings in Scripture. “The law of faith,” for example, does not refer to a governing standard but to a principle. Sinners are not declared right with God based on the law of works, i.e., the principle of works, “Do this and live,” but according to the principle of faith. From this error flows his neonomian error mentioned below. Believers are not saved by faith; we are saved by Christ, through faith.
Additionally, there are times nomos refers to God’s eternal righteous standard. At times, it refers to the Pentateuch. Sometimes it refers to the Old Testament Scriptures and perhaps most often it refers to the Old Covenant. Mr. Dohse’s failure to recognize properly how this term has been used causes him to make many unfortunate and fallacious statements
2. He fails to understand that “under law” in the New Testament Scriptures is a covenantal designation, not an existential one. By this I mean it refers to Israel’s period of tutelage under the old covenant, not the state of an unbeliever as opposed to the condition of a believer. He wrote, “
There are many, many, many problems with this view [that Jesus fulfilled the in the believer's place] biblically, but primarily, it keeps believers, “under the law” and NOT “under grace.” These are the ONLY two categories in the Bible that distinguishes the lost from the saved. Calvinism categorizes “believers” as lost people.
If Mr. Dohse is right, Jesus was born a lost person since Paul wrote to the Galatians that he was born of woman and born “under the law.” Additionally, there are several distinguishing categories in the Bible that distinguish the lost from the saved such as “in the flesh,” “fleshly/soulish” as opposed to “in the Spirit,” “spiritual.” Also, “perishing” as opposed to “being saved.”
3. What Mr. Dohse is articulating, though he does so inarticulately, is the doctrine of neonomianism. He writes, “No fulfilling of the law for justification was needed. We are justified by the “law of faith.” Think about it, has Christ ever needed faith? Only we need faith, not Christ. Christ didn’t fulfil [sic] any law for our justification, that law, in justification, is replaced with the law of faith because there is NO law in justification.”
William Styles defines neonomianism as,
A schemed of Divinity propounded by Daniel Williams, D.D., which held that God has receded from the demands of the Moral Law, and given up its original obligations—and that the Gospel is a New Law, but of milder requirements, in which Faith, Repentance, and sincere though imperfect Obedience, are substituted in the room of the perfect and perpetual Obedience required by the original Law. (William Styles, A Manual of Faith and Practice).
In answer to Dohse’s question, “. . .has Christ ever needed faith?” The answer is a resounding YES! His entire life on earth was one of absolute dependence on his Father.
4. Mr. Dohse states “it is the righteousness of God the Father that is imputed to us.” He rejects the idea that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to believers. The question is, where do the New Testament writers ever state that it is the righteousness of God the Father that is imputed to believers? There is no question but that God’s attribute of righteousness is resplendently displayed in the divine scheme of justification. His righteousness is revealed in the gospel, apart from the law. Paul here speaks of the revelation of God’s righteousness, not the manner in which he has established that righteousness in Christ.
When Paul used the phrase “the righteousness of God” in his Epistle to the Romans, he referred to God’s method of justification in accordance with his covenant faithfulness. This divine method involved the fulfillment, in Christ, of all his righteous demands and the satisfaction of his holy wrath against sinners. Paul’s use of the phrase “the righteousness of God” in Rom. 10:3, helps us understand how he used the phrase elsewhere. He wrote, “For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” Certainly, the Jewish people were not ignorant of God’s attribute of righteousness. In chapter two, the apostle had told us that they know his will having been instructed out of the law. The problem was they were ignorant of God’s method of justification, namely, Christ, the goal of the law for righteousness, because they were pursuing their own method of justification. The focus of the law was not law but Christ. “The righteousness of God” revealed in the gospel is a righteousness that God has wrought in his covenant faithfulness and therefore a righteousness that God approves. The law could reveal how holy and righteous God is, but only the gospel reveals how he can be righteous and at the same time declare believing sinners righteous. Faith does not replace the righteousness God demanded in the law; faith lays hold of the righteousness demanded by the law.
5. He is in error when he states that sin does not exist where there is no law. He thinks this explains why believers cannot be condemned. He does not believe the law has been fulfilled. He believes it has been voided by the death of Christ’s death. He writes,
Though the Bible continually states that the law has been voided in regard to our justification [he makes no effort to reveal where he thinks the Bible says that] , Calvinism insists the following: It’s voided because Christ fulfilled it. This is why Calvinists are constantly referring to the righteousness of Christ being imputed to us, but the Bible doesn’t say that—it states that the righteousness of God the Father was imputed to us [see above]. Christ’s death put an end to the law, not His perfect obedience. The imputation of Christ’s obedience to sanctification to keep us justified is a “relaxing” of the law, and Christ sternly warned against that [Only God knows what he means by this last statement].
Then, he argues that since the law has been voided for justification, sin does not exist and the believer cannot be condemned. The problem with this view is that Paul did not write that sin did not exist where law did not exist. In fact, he wrote just the opposite in Romans 5:13—“but before the Law, sin was in the world. . .” What Paul wrote was “where there is no law, there is no transgression.” (Romans 4:15). Transgression is not a mere missing of the mark, but an overstepping of a clearly defined boundary such as that delineated by codified law.
There can be no question in the mind of any serious student of the New Testament Scriptures that believers can still sin or that his sins require the perpetual efficacy of Christ’s redeeming work to forgive them. John wrote, “and if any man should sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins.” Those sins require forgiveness if our communion with God is to be maintained and he faithfully and righteously grants such forgiveness based on the redeeming work of Christ.
We who believe the historic doctrines of grace do not believe we must be justified again every time we sin, nor do we believe we make progress in justification or must maintain our right standing before God. We do believe in the perpetual efficacy of Christ’s redemptive work.
It seems to me Mr. Dohse believes faith is a onetime act and that the Christian no longer needs Christ for justification once he has had his ticket punched. He writes, “Justification is a done deal.” He does not believe we any longer need Jesus to maintain our right standing before God. There is no need for us to continue believing. All we must do now is “learn and do,” and apparently he believes we can do this without divine assistance. This obedience simply results from regeneration.
In our view, we stand justified before God because Jesus, the crucified, risen, and enthroned Savior, appears in God’s presence for us. In his view, justification is behind us and we no longer need Jesus as our redeemer. If this is not what he believes, he is certainly welcome to come here to correct the misrepresentation.
We agree that justification is a done deal in the sense that a believer is never any more righteous in God’s sight than he is the moment he first believes, but it is not a done deal in the sense that we have moved beyond our need for Christ’s justifying righteousness. I think one of the difference between our views is that we see faith as a continuing dependence on Christ, not a onetime decision as he seems to believe. We believe through faith we have bold access into God’s presence because Jesus now appears in God’s presence for us. What Mr. Dohse believes about approaching God is anyone’s guess.