Author Archive for Randy Seiver

09
Sep
14

Free Choice vs. “Free Will”

Regrettably, it has been necessary for me to delete one of the comments of a person who visits my blog from time to time. Not only does he fail to follow the rules; he has stated that he does not intend to do so. I will not allow any comments that are demeaning and degrading.

I will comment on the issue he addressed since it is an important one. It concerns the comment Born4battle made yesterday concerning the distinction between free choice and free will. The commenter has accused us of making a distinction where no difference exists.

If all he means by “free will” is that people have the ability to make choices, we would be in full agreement with him. We believe people choose freely apart from external constraint. A person who bows to Christ’s sovereign Lordship does so because he truly wants to. A person who chooses to reject Christ and the gospel does so because he truly wants to. God does not drag anyone into the kingdom kicking and screaming and rebelling against the gospel. Instead, he, by sovereign grace, makes sinners willing to do his will. This idea is expressed well in the promises of Ezek. 26:25-27

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

This describes what theologically speaking is called “regeneration.” This work of God does not force people to obey contrary to their desires. If God causes people to walk in his statutes, does this not indicate they would not do so otherwise? Yet, those who obey God’s rules do so because they genuinely choose to do so.

Every person who comes to genuine faith in Christ does so because he freely chooses to do so. Every person who chooses to reject Christ and continue in his sins does so because he genuinely desires and freely chooses to do so.
The issue in the discussion of “free will” is completely different. It concerns whether the will, unlike the other elements of human personality, is autonomous [self-governing] or not. Does the will act independently of nature or does the nature of a person determine his choices. In a sense, the discussion brings us back to a very basic question. Are we sinners because we sin, or do we sin because we are sinners? This question expresses the decisive difference between Pelagianism and Calvinism. We Calvinists believe we think what we think, feel what we feel, choose what we choose, because we are what we are. If this is not the case, it doesn’t matter whether regeneration causes faith or faith causes regeneration. Such a work of God would be superfluous. If sinners are able to obey any command of God [the command to repent and believe], we are able to obey every command of God and don’t need God tinkering around with our hearts.

The biblical writers represent sinners as hostile toward God, his law, and his gospel. Additionally, they assign the reason for this recalcitrance and obduracy to sinful nature. People don’t come to Christ because they don’t want to come to Christ. All we are saying is that a person in a state of sinful nature will not and therefore cannot choose that for which he has no desire and to which he is absolutely averse. His will is held captive by his nature.

08
Sep
14

Where Have All The Thinkers Gone?

I have known a few Southern Baptist pastors who have had their heads screwed on properly in regard to sound theology. Thanks to the efforts of Ernie Reisinger, Tom Ascol et.al. their tribe is increasing. Still, there are those in the SBC who call themselves “traditionalists” who imagine they have found a middle road between Calvinism and Arminianism, semi-Pelagianism, or Pelagianism.

According to their own statement, if they are not actually Pelagians, they would at least fall on the Pelagian side of Arminianism. Even the original Arminians did not believe sinners are born with a “free will.” They agreed with the Calvinists that sinners are born in a state of total depravity. They did believe God gives prevenient grace to all without exception, enabling all to accept Christ or reject him. I have yet to hear anyone venture a guess as to when God grants this supposed ability. There are a number of mysteries that surround this teaching that no one seems to wish to address. I would like to pose several questions that need to be answered before the discussion between Calvinists and Traditionals (hereafter referred to as TSB’s) can progress to a meaningful conclusion. The following are a few of them:

1. How do TSB’s define “free will?” Do they merely mean that sinners act freely in making their choices, or to they mean a person is able to choose that for which he has absolutely no desire and to which he is thoroughly averse? Do they mean a person’s nature has no bearing on his choices? If a will is to be truly free, it cannot be affected by anything, even nature.

2. If “prevenient [preceding] grace” cancels the effects of inherited depravity, does it essentially place the sinner in a state of neutrality? If so, are the recipient’s desire’s equally balanced between an affinity toward sin and hostility toward God and an affinity toward righteousness and love toward God? If so, what tips the balance? How can one ever make a decisive choice if his desires are absolutely contradictory but equally balanced?

3. In receiving this divine favor, has the sinner already received all the enabling God intends to give him? If he is left in such a state, could his condition be described as anything other than a dissociative disorder?

4. These people believe “Fallen man inherits a sinful nature.” This is part of the “O” in their acrostic “POINSETTIA.” When does that nature cease to be sinful and begin to be neutral? At what point is “free will” granted to the sinner? If it is granted at birth, why do biblical writers describe the unregenerate as rebels against God? If it is granted when a person hears the gospel, how can it be universal since all do not hear the gospel?

5. If God is not totally without control in his universe, could he not have caused that all would hear the gospel? In Acts 16:6-10, we learn that Paul and his companions tried to go into Bithynia to preach the gospel, but the Spirit did not allow them to go, sending them to Macedonia instead. Given the assumptions of the TBS’s, one would have to assume a God of love would see to it that every creature under heaven would hear the gospel? If he could have assured a universal proclamation of the gospel and didn’t, is he not being unfair? I speak as a fool.

6. If a sinner has the ability to love God, choose to obey his commandments, believe the gospel etc., why does he need to be regenerated at all?

The TSB’s have made a list of statements they with which they seem to assume Calvinists would disagree. Indeed, we would disagree with many of them, but much of their propensity to get their panties in a wad is based on their misunderstanding or misrepresentation of our beliefs.

Such people as Norman Geisler should be intelligent enough and careful enough to avoid the making brain dead statements. Yet, much of what he and others say in regard to this controversy has little to do with the real issues. He states that Jesus died for all sinners. Does he mean Jesus death is of sufficient value to save any and all who will believe? Does he mean we are warranted to proclaim the good news that Jesus died for sinners to every sinner with which we come in contact? Does he mean it was God’s intention in sending his Son to save sinners who had already perished in unbelief before Jesus died? He should be informed well enough to understand that the issue in the controversy over the atonement is not whether any sinner who believed would be saved by Christ’s death. It is whether Jesus’ death was effective in redeeming all God had intended to save.

The truth is that his problem is not with limited atonement, but with the sovereignty of God in salvation. The issue is whether salvation is all of God and all of grace or a cooperative effort between God and the sinner.

All he says is a misrepresentation of our beliefs. For him to claim Calvinists do not believe in the eternal security of the believer betrays one of two things about him. Either his scholarship is not to be trusted since he clearly has not investigated our beliefs adequately, or after having investigated our views, he has deliberately misrepresented what we believe.

Of course, we believe in the eternal security of the true believer in Christ. What we do not believe is the eternal security of everyone who has made a profession of faith. We believe “once saved, always saved,” but one must be once saved to be always saved.

I challenge some of these people to engage in a discussion of these issues. Please attempt an answer to some of these questions? Learn the real issues, and then confront them. Don’t spend your time burning straw men.

18
Jun
14

Some Were Tortured–Hebrews 11:35b-38

In Hebrews 11:35b-38 we read,  

Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated-of whom the world was not worthy-wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

It is easy to talk about faith in ways that betray a profound misunderstanding of the biblical concept. One often gets the impression that people of faith will enjoy a safe, healthy and trouble free existence. We are led to believe that if we have sufficient faith, we will never be sick or suffer deprivation. Some would have us believe that God wants us to have our best life now, and if we have sufficient faith to visualize it, we can make it happen. This is contrary to the biblical teaching about faith, and these verses are evidence of this fact.

In the verse that follows these words (v. 39), the writer tells us “ALL THESE” were commended for their faith. Included in “all these” are not only those whom God used to accomplish valiant victories and those he delivered from death and suffering but those who were tortured and killed. Those who have lived in kings’ palaces were no greater men and women of faith than those who were destitute, afflicted, deprived, and mistreated.

Faith is not a matter of believing God will always deliver us from sickness and suffering and give us everything we can visualize or request. Faith is trusting God to be faithful to fulfill his promises even though it seems from all the sensory evidence available to us that he has turned against us.

We must never forget that many of God’s most favored people were, nevertheless, suffering people. Some were tortured and refused to accept release because they knew that to do so would have required their infidelity to God. They understood that genuine faith is an overcoming faith. They knew that to cling to this life by acting in unbelief and infidelity to God would involve forfeiting a better life to come.

Others were mocked and subjected to brutality, flogged and imprisoned. Some were stoned to death. Stoning was a typically a Jewish form of execution. Jesus referred to official Jerusalem as those who stoned those messengers that God had sent to it (Matt. 23:37). This was likely the manner in which Jeremiah was executed. Others were sawn in two. Tradition tells us that Isaiah was put to death in this manner. Others suffered death at the point of a sword. The writer’s intent was to show that men and women of faith are not exempt from suffering and death at the hands of wicked men. We must never be led to think that men and women of faith will have their best life now or that suffering, sickness and trials indicate our lack of faith. We should consider faithful pastor of a small and struggling rural church no less a man of faith than those who minister the Word to thousands. We must regard those who are perpetually plagued with illness as no less people of faith than those who are never ill.

We must always remember that those men and women of faith who were little known and soon forgotten were no less men and women of faith than those whose noble exploits were celebrated in this grand roster of the faithful. The writer tells us the world that took little note of them was not worthy of them. These were not the wealthy and powerful who are so often lauded as examples of success, but heaven acknowledged them as men and women of faith. Though not adorned with fine clothing or housed in mansions and though destitute, despised and forsaken by the world, they appear here as those whose faithfulness is acknowledged in heaven.

The sentiments of the faithful are well expressed in the words of Henry F. Lyte who wrote,

Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be:
Perish every fond ambition,
All I sought, or hoped, or known:
Yet how rich is my condition;
God and heav’n are still my own.

Man may trouble and distress me,
’Twill but drive me to thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me,
Heav’n will bring me sweeter rest:
O ’tis not in grief to harm me
While thy love is left to me;
O ’twere not in joy to charm me,
Were that joy unmixed with thee.

 

11
Apr
14

Comments on Dohse’s Delusions–Part Two

Paul Dohse Sr. and his ilk provide us with wonderful negative examples regarding biblical interpretation. Perhaps blinded by his bitterness over perceived wrongs done to him, he regularly violates accepted canons of interpretation in his campaign to topple Calvinism, his perceived enemy. In reality, he is his own worst enemy since he continues to write such ludicrous articles that prevent any intelligent student of Scripture taking him seriously. He regularly accuses me of believing he and his fawning followers are biblically ignorant–a charge to which I must plead guilty. My concern is not for the intelligent and well-informed student of the Scriptures but for the average bench warmer who may stumble on his blog and be influenced by it. He must feel terribly insecure about his views since he regularly censors opposing opinions.

Additionally, if he provides any documentation at all, he quotes people out of context to make it appear they intended something other than their actual teaching.

Yesterday, he posted an article titled “Predestination is Not True: 2Peter 3:1-13.” 2 Peter 3:9 was the sole passage on which he based this pontification as if there are no other passages in the Scriptures that bear on this issue. He proceeded to accuse the ESV translators of theological bias since they translated “toward you” instead of the AV “to us ward” [granted "usward" is a term we all use everyday, NOT!]. A little investigation would have revealed that the difference is not translational but textual. The translators were not controlled by theological bias, but by the text they saw before them.

In this article, he has violated several accepted hermeneutical canons. Unless you are one of his followers who scoffs at biblical inerrancy, you will follow the rule that Scripture does not contradict itself. A hortatory passage will not contradict a theological passage. We must seek harmonization between clear theological passages and those passages that seem to contradict the clear teaching of the rest of Scripture.

One of the first questions one must ask when approaching any passage concerns the writer’s purpose in writing it. Peter’s concern was clearly not to answer the question whether predestination is true or not, but to explain why the Lord’s return has, in the view of deliberate sinners and lustful scoffers, been so long in coming. The passage is not intended to teach the sinner’s autonomy [if God is not the sovereign planner and controller of all events, that is where we are left] and God’s ineffectual wish to save sinners who just won’t let him, but to teach that God is merciful and long-suffering, giving the most hardened sinner opportunity to repent. It is God’s expressed will that sinners repent. Since he is holy, he cannot but wish that all his creatures be holy as well. This says nothing about whether he has decreed the salvation of some and not others. That is a totally separate issue.

09
Apr
14

Comments on Dohse’s Delusions

I never cease to be amazed by the abysmal ignorance of many who fancy themselves fountains of all wisdom and knowledge. Paul Dohse Sr. recently posted an article that he titled “the Foul Points of Calvinism.” It brings to light once again the startling fact that those who, in their arrogance, argue against these doctrines are, in reality, mind numbingly ignorant. Mr. Dohse’s article reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from C.H. Spurgeon. In a sermon titled, “How to Meet the Doctrine of Election,” he said,

The doctrine of election has been made into a great bugbear by its unscrupulous opponents and its injudicious friends. I have read some very wonderful sermons against this doctrine in which the first thing that was evident was that the person speaking was totally ignorant of his subject. The usual way of composing a sermon against the doctrine of grace is this: first exaggerate and belie the doctrine, and then argue against it. If you state the sublime truth as it is found in the Bible, why, you cannot say much against it. But if you collect a number of silly expressions from hot-headed partisans and denounce these, then your task will be easier. Nobody ever believed the doctrine of election as I have heard it stated by Arminian controversialists. I venture to say that nobody out of Bedlam ever did believe that which has been imputed to us. Is it surprising that we are as eager to denounce the dogmas imputed to us as ever our opponents can be? Why do they earnestly set themselves to confute what no one defends? Our friends abhor the doctrine as it is stated by themselves, and we are much of their mind, though the doctrine itself, as we would state it, is dear to us as life itself.

I would like to reproduce the text of Mr. Dohse’s remarks and intersperse comments of my own about what he has written. My comments will appear in bold font.

Mr. Dohse wrote:

1. Total Depravity

As written about often here at PPT, the Calvinist view of total depravity also pertains to the saints. However, total depravity isn’t even true in regard to the unregenerate. All born into the world have the works of the law written on their hearts with a conscience that either accuses or excuses their behavior. Romans 6:20 states that unbelievers are free in regard to righteousness. Total depravity posits the idea that mankind cannot do any work that falls short of condemnation. Works for justification are not the issue entirely; if man can do any good work, one of those good works could be choosing God which Calvinism rejects. Hence, the doctrine of total depravity is essential for them.

In my view, Pastor Tchividijan should simply have used the term “remaining sin.” I have written about this matter on my blog. I believe he is correct in stating that every facet of the human personality continues to be affected by sin. If that is all a person means by the term “total depravity,” I would have to agree that believers continue to be totally depraved. If defined as I have done in the following definition, then it is inaccurate to refer to believers as “totally depraved.”

Perhaps I can best define what I mean by total depravity by first stating the negative.
By “total depravity” I do not mean:

1. Sinners act as badly as they are capable of acting.
2. Sinners are incapable of deeds that are good in the sight of other people.
3. Sinners are incapable of rational thought.
4. Sinners are incapable of recognizing the logical relationship between cause and effect and design and designer.
5. Sinners have no consciousness of the existence of God and their guilt before him.
6. Sinners have no ability to understand the facts of the gospel and give mental assent to it.
7. Sin has totally destroyed God’s image in the unregenerate.
8. Sinners are incapable of acting morally. Not every unregenerate sinner is perverted and degenerate.
9. Sinners have no ability to make choices.
10. Sinners do not have a knowledge of right and wrong, based on God’s law written on their hearts.
11. Sinners are not completely free to choose anything they wish. If they wish to choose to leave their sins and follow Christ, they are completely free to do so.

By “total depravity” I mean:

1. The nature of every person, in Adam, has been radically affected by the fall so that every person is, at heart, equal to every other person in estrangement from God. If one sinner acts better than another it is due to God’s common, restraining grace alone.

2. Sinful nature has radically affected every facet of the sinner’s personality. The result is that he does not think rightly about God and the gospel; he does not feel right emotions toward God and the gospel; and he does not make right choices with reference to God and the gospel. Every facet of the sinner’s personality is controlled by sinful nature.

3. Though sinners are capable of understanding the facts of the gospel, they regard it as foolish and weak. They may know truth but do not welcome it (1 Cor. 2:14). They do not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved (2 Thess. 2:10).

4. Sinners are hostile toward God and the gospel. Whenever they are confronted with God’s self-revelation their response will always be to suppress it and turn from it. Sinners love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil and everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light lest their deeds should be exposed (John 3: 19-20). A person will never choose that for which he has no desire and to which he is totally averse.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the way Calvinists have consistently defined “total depravity.” Accordingly, most Calvinists would not refer to believers as “totally depraved.” What I would agree with is the idea that believers in a regenerate state have no ability to progress in sanctification independently. If God’s Spirit does not continue to prompt our desire to obey God and enable us to do so, we can do nothing.

You will notice that nothing in my statement denies that sinners have God’s law written on their hearts. Nothing in it denies that unbelievers are free in regard to righteousness. Commenting on Romans 6:20, Douglas Moo made the following helpful comment,

. . .They are free from the power and influence of conduct that pleases God; they are deaf to God’s righteous demands and incapable of responding to them even if they were to hear and respect them. For Paul makes clear that those outside Christ, to varying degrees, can recognize right and wrong (Cf. Rom. 1:18-32; 2:14-15); but the power to do the right and turn from the wrong is not present (Moo, Romans, p. 422).

The real issue in regard to the “goodness” of the sinner’s works is not whether it is possible for unregenerate people to live in a moral and upright manner or whether they may perform deeds that are good and profitable in the sight of other people. No one disagrees that the unregenerate may be involved in eleemosynary projects that bring great acclaim to themselves and great benefit to mankind. Additionally, it is not an issue of whether it is better for sinners to live in a moral manner rather than in an immoral manner.

The issue is whether the unregenerate have any desire to please to God by submitting themselves to his method of justifying sinners. Additionally, the question of the “goodness” of the sinner’s works may not be determined in the court of public opinion but must be determined by the divine tribunal. God’s verdict is “there is none who does good, not even one.”

2. Unconditional Election

This is not exactly right either, though less egregious than the other four points. God does choose according to some conditions and for His purposes. One example is God’s choosing of the poor and un-noble so that he will get the credit for the power He displays through them (1Cor 1:26-29). His specific purpose for this is to shame the “wise” and the “strong.” He elected Israel because they are the smallest of nations (Due 7:7). The condition is smallness.

Most Calvinists do not believe God’s choice of certain sinners was made without reason. Still, the fact that God has chosen the poor and ignoble of the world does not mean poverty and meanness of life circumstances were the bases or conditions of God’s choice. If that were the case, there would be no rich or high-born believers. God did not choose Israel for its smallness but in spite of it.

When we talk about “unconditional” election, we mean that God’s choice of certain sinners was not conditioned on his foresight of our faith or final perseverance.

3. Limited Atonement

Christ clearly died for all people. The word used in John 3:16 is “kosmos.” “God so loved the world….” I believe this word was used deliberately to circumvent the idea that Christ died for “all kinds of men” and not ALL men

The real issue in respect to so-called “limited atonement” is not so much for whom Christ died as it is the effectual nature of Christ’s redemptive work. Here is the issue– If Jesus died for every single individual since the beginning of time, what did he accomplish for them? The issue was never sufficiency. Calvinists believe Christ’s death was of sufficient value to redeem everyone if they should believe the gospel. The issue is that Christ accomplished [actually secured] eternal redemption for all his chosen people.

To cite John 3:16 as a proof-text is just silly. Biblical writers seldom used the word “kosmos” to refer to every single individual on the face of the earth. In Romans 11, Paul used the word of the Gentiles in contrast to the people of Israel. In this particular case (John 3:16), it more than likely referred to believers from among the Gentiles as well as the Jews. The point is that Jesus did not come to redeem Israel and condemn the world, i.e., Gentiles. God loved the world–Jews and Gentiles alike. It is also likely John had in mind the evil and rebellious character of the objects of Gods love. In using the word “kosmos,” he meant to emphasize God’s inestimable condescension in setting his love on his enemies and demonstrating that love by sending his uniquely begotten to die for sinners.

Additionally, in this verse, the stated purpose for God’s sending his Son is that everyone who believes will have everlasting life. The text says absolutely nothing about God’s desire to save everyone without exception. God sent his Son to save believers. Robert Haldane wrote, “It is the good news that Jesus died for the most guilty sinner who will believe, not that he died for every sinner whether he will believe or not.”

My point is that it would require much more than the citation of a few proof-texts to demonstrate Mr. Dohse’s contention. One must answer the question, “What did Jesus accomplish for those for whom he died?”

4. Irresistible Grace

Man can resist the Holy Spirit. The Bible is clear on this: Acts 7:51, John 16:8, John 12:32.

No one questions whether the Holy Spirit can be resisted. The issue is that the Holy Spirit is ALWAYS resisted (See Acts 7:51) until God the Father calls sinners effectually and the Spirit grants them new life.

5. Perseverance of the Saints

Calvin taught a three-fold election: non-elect, temporary elect (those who lose their election, the “called”), and the final elect, or those who persevere to the end (chosen). In an effort to proof text this error, “perseverance” is always associated with salvation, and rewards are not considered. At any rate, it is clear that believers do not always persevere (1Cor 5:4,5).

The issue is not what Calvin taught or did not teach. There are several areas in which those who believe the doctrines of grace have departed from Calvin’s teachings and writings. The issue is what the Bible teaches. I can find no evidence of Mr. Dohse’s claim that Calvin taught “a three-fold election.” What Calvinists consistently teach is that those who fail to persevere in faith give evidence they were never true believers. One of Mr. Dohse’s errors seems to stem from his failure to understand the nature of saving faith.

For a fuller treatment of the topic of perseverance, I would refer you to my post, “The Calvinists’ Doctrine of Perseverance.”

15
Mar
14

The Authority of the Scriptures

The term, “Bible Thumper” has been used in a pejorative way of those who appeal to the Bible as their authority. Admittedly, there are times when such persons have done so by taking proof-texts out of context and using them for a pretext, but at least they understood we are to appeal to the Scriptures as our final authority in matters of belief and practice.

I was recently accused on another blog site of saying we don’t need the Holy Spirit to lead us because we have the Scriptures. The same person said I was placing the Scriptures above God’s authority and was in danger of “bibliolatry.” Of course, I am not suggesting that the Scriptures have an authority that is not God’s authority, or that we do not need the Spirit to guide us by illuminating the Scriptures. What I am saying is that the Scriptures are God’s revelation of his authoritative standard for all we believe and do.

To seek to discuss issues of doctrine or ethics with a person who does not accept the inspiration, inerrancy and trustworthiness of the Scriptures will always prove to be a futile endeavor. I am not suggesting we can claim inerrancy for our interpretations. We may differ in what we believe the authoritative standard prescribes, but we must agree the Bible is our sole standard and final authority.

Jesus tells us we are truly his disciples if we continue in his Word. It is important for us to understand his Word extends not only to his personal utterances but also to his Word spoken through apostles to whom he had granted authority to write the New Testament Scriptures. Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 14:37,”If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.” Red letter editions of the Bible send a wrong message. They give the impression that the words Jesus spoke carry more weight than the other words of Scripture. The reality is though every verse of Scripture may not be equally important, every word of Scripture is equally inspired by God. Christians are responsible to believe and practice all that is taught or commanded in the New Testament Scriptures, but we must reject every teaching or practice that has no biblical authority or precedent.

I recently wrote an article titled “Evangelistic Drivel,” in which I listed several phrases that are used in modern evangelism but that are never found in the biblical record. It had been my hope that readers would have responded by examining the Scriptures to see if these popular phrases bore even a faint resemblance to the teaching of Jesus and the apostles. Instead, I fear many have opted to continue in their comfortable paths because it would just require too much effort to develop a biblical pattern of evangelism. Additionally, why should we change our message and methods if we are getting countable results from what we have been doing? Pragmatism [If it works it must be right] trumps Scripture again.

There are certain thoughts that should never enter a believer’s mind, much less pass his lips. We should never think or say:

1. I know what the Bible says, but . . . .

2. It must be right because it gets results.

3. I see what the Bible says, but it just doesn’t feel good to me.

4. I know the Bible doesn’t teach it, but this is the way we have always done it.

5. I can’t cite any biblical passage to support what I believe, but this is what I have always been taught.

It is time for believers diligently to examine our beliefs and practices in the light of God’s authoritative standard and conform ourselves to that standard. “Paul wrote, “Put everything to the test, hold tightly to that which is good.”

25
Feb
14

The False Doctrine of Paul Dohse Sr.

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.




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