17
Dec
11

Review of “The Truth About New Calvinism” By Paul Dohse

I just finished reading The Truth About New Calvinism by Paul M. Dohse Sr. The author was kind enough to send it to me for review. Given his kindness, I would be delighted to be able to say very nice things about what he has written. Unfortunately, the best comments I can make are that the book is well written, easy to read, and provides interesting information about the history of Jon Zen’s association with Brinsmead, Westminster Seminary etc.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was reared in a Fundamentalist Baptist home. I studied Church History under the Fundamentalist, Dr. George W. Dollar and his sidekick Dr. Robert Delney. Dr. Dollar used to claim he and Dr. Charles Woodbridge were the only two real Fundamentalist left. He was clearly struck with the same club that Elijah had encountered. I never was sure where that left his friend and colleague Dr. Delney. At the time, the enemy of God and truth was a new movement called, “neo-evangelicalism.” We were taught certain catch phrases to look for. Anyone who used these phrases was to be castigated and avoided as an enemy of the truth. We were able to pigeon hole most anyone we met just by listening to the phrases they used. It didn’t actually matter if they really didn’t believe what we had detected. We knew they must be guilty if for no other reason than that they associated with people who, had some sort of nebulous relationship with someone who had eaten breakfast with someone who was associated with anti-fundamentalism. I cannot shake the feeling that the spirit of George Dollar’s Fundamentalism has risen from the grave and inhabited the body of Paul Dohse.

When I first began to post on Paul’s blog, he learned that I believed in New Covenant Theology. From that point on, Paul began to tell me what I believed. It did not matter that I didn’t believe what he though I believed. I had to believe what he thought I believed because it was the only thing that would fit his preconceived model.

Paul views everything from his narrow understanding of Theology and his preconceived notions about New Covenant Theology and its supposed relationship with New Calvinism. The reality is that though the two may have some doctrines in common, they are neither dependant on one another nor synonymous with one another. In Paul’s world, if they use any of the same vocabulary, they must be the same.

He is convinced that the Greek word “anomia” refers to antinominism. He brands anyone who understands that God’s eternal and universal law has been given different expressions under different divine covenants as an antinomian. Somehow he has convinced himself that when the New Testament writers spoke about lawlessness, they were speaking about antinomianism. There is a difference between anomia and antinomia [n]. One is a doctrine that may or may not manifest itself in lawless behavior , the other is a lawless attitude that manifests itself in rebellious acts against God. In order for one to be truly an antinomian in the theological sense, he would have to declare that a believer has no duty to obey God’s eternal and universal righteous standard. The apostle Paul makes it clear that the Mosaic expression of that Law was neither universal nor eternal. Otherwise, he could not have spoken of the Gentiles who “do not have the Law,” and who “have sinned without the Law” and “will be judged without the Law.” It seems to me, that leaves us with two exegetical choices: 1. The Gentiles were without God’s law altogether, or 2. The Gentiles were without the Mosaic codified expression of that Law. Since the apostle also tells us the Law entered at a specific point (“the Law came in alongside so that the offense might overflow” Rom 5 “It [the Mosaic Law] was added for the sake of transgressions” Gal. 3) and was given “til the Seed [Christ] came to whom the promises were made.” Gal 3), it could not have been eternal.

If a person argues that that covenantal expression of God’s eternal and universal righteous standard has been replaced by a new expression of the same standard, that does not mean he is against God’s Law or will encourage people to break God’s Law. Thus, the charge of antinomianism is an unfounded charge unless it is made against a person who argues that we are absolutely without obligation to obey God’s revealed will.

Let me be clear. I do not consider myself a New Calvinist. In fact, were it not for what I believe the Scriptures teach I would not consider myself a Calvinist at all. There are probably as many areas of the Reformed Faith with which I find disagreement as there are areas in which I find agreement. I am not even an advocate for New Calvinism. Frankly, all I know about New Calvinism is what I have read in magazine articles. What I do know is that the evidence Paul Dohse has compiled is not convincing. His book is woefully deficient in the area of documentation. He offers many end notes, but his references usually do not say what he claims they say. He regularly confuses justification and sanctification. Somehow, he has the idea that justification is salvation. It is something that happens to us, and then we get beyond it. Anyone who has the most casual acquaintance with theology understands that justification is only one part of God’s salvation.

For him, sanctification is simply a matter of obedience. In his view, we are given the equipment in regeneration and the rest is up to us. Once we are underway, God will help us, but the idea that any desire for obedience or ability to obey comes from God seems foreign to his concept of sanctification. He regularly confuses the idea that we are motivated by God’s love in justifying us with the idea that there is now no need for us to obey God since Jesus obeys for us. We are justified because Jesus obeyed for us. That does not mean we are not expected to obey him.

For some strange reason, Paul has a problem with the rectitude by which we are declared righteous in God’s sight being an alien righteousness, a righteousness that is totally outside of us–an objective righteousness. The truth is, this is simply the gospel. If we believe we are justified by our improvement of an infused righteousness that flows to us as a result of Jesus’ death, we don’t understand the gospel at all. Additionally, Paul has a problem with the idea that our sanctification is accomplished by the redemptive work of Christ as much as our justification was accomplished by his redemptive work. He talks about people fusing justification and sanctification because he doesn’t seem to understand the biblical teaching about either justification or sanctification.

Paul is muddled in this thinking. He spins statements to make them say what he wants them to say. He totally misrepresents New Covenant Theology and insists that anyone who subscribes to it must be a New Calvinist. He gives a great deal of interesting history, but fails to accurately connect the dots. There are at least three ridiculous statements in the book. One has to do with Ernest Reisinger’s supposed fusion of justification and sanctification. p. 157 “The Lordship teaching puts the order of salvation as follows: 1) Regeneration, 2) Faith (which includes repentance), 3) Justification, 4). Sanctification (distinct from but always joined to justification), and 5) Glorification.”

How does that “fuse” justification and sanctification. (It states that sanctification is distinct from justification). There can be no question at all that both justification and sanctification result from Christ’s redemptive work. A person who is not being sanctified has never been justified. This is neither a New Calvinist position nor a New Covenant Theology position. It is a biblical position. I doubt there was a single old Calvinist who didn’t believe this truth. Additionally, I knew Ernest Reisinger, and he was neither a New Calvinist nor a New Covenant Theologian.

The second concerns a resolution that was offered by Tom Ascol to the Southern Baptist Convention in 2008. It urges the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to repent of the failure among us to live up to our professed commitment to regenerate church membership. . . . p. 160. Granted, the statement would have been clearer if Ascol had inserted an “a” before regenerate church membership, i. e. a regenerate church membership. Baptist have always believed not in a sacral society but in a regenerate membership. Paul, wrongly interprets this statement to mean that church discipline regenerates. In other words he understands the word “regenerate” as a verb rather than as an adjective. Ascol was talking about the kind of church membership to which Baptist have always been committed, not to what regenerates the church membership. A man with any understanding of Baptist beliefs and of theology in general would have known this. Instead, Paul wrote, “Notice the implication that church discipline regenerates.” It is just ignorance on fire. I pointed this out to him before he went to press, but he published it anyway.

The third is the claim that Piper encourages meditation on pictures of Jesus. p. 99. From that statement, one would conclude that Piper might be advocating some sort of veneration of or at least contemplation of icons. What a horrible thing, right? Such would be a clear violation of God’s commandments. “My little children, keep yourself from icons.” What Piper was actually talking about was literary portraits of Jesus given us by the four biblical evangelists. I confronted Paul about this prior to publication, but he insisted on publishing this nonsense anyway.

Paul continues to interpret the following statements improperly: (see p. 97).

1. “This meant the reversal of the relationship of sanctification to justification. Infused grace, beginning with baptismal regeneration, internalized the Gospel and made sanctification the basis of justification. This is an upside down Gospel.” John Piper

2. “When the ground of justification moves from Christ outside of us to the work of Christ inside of us, the gospel (and the human soul) is imperiled. It is an upside down gospel.”
John Piper

Anyone who understands theology, even marginally, would understand that Piper is talking about the basis of our justification. Paul claims Piper is, by these statements, denying the necessity and reality of regeneration.

These statements have nothing whatsoever to do with regeneration. This is the kind of misrepresentation that characterizes the entire book.

There may be many problems with New Calvinism, but Paul has lost all credibility by his prodigious misrepresentations. I know this personally since he has misrepresented my views on many occasions. For all I know, New Calvinism may be fraught with problems. If so, someone needs to write a book that exposes them. Actual quotations in context would be very helpful. If someone is telling us we do not have to be obedient to Christ, we must reject them. If someone is telling us we may do what we like contrary to the will of God because he is obeying for us, we may safely reject their message. If someone is teaching that believers continue to be totally depraved, they need to be corrected. If someone is abusing their authority in church discipline, they need to stop abusing the sheep and return to a bibilical pattern. Still, we must not “throw the baby out with the bath water.” We need to accept the truth the New Calvinists are teaching and reject whatever we cannot find substantiated in the Bible. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” Unless you need a good laugh, don’t waste you money on this book.

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12 Responses to “Review of “The Truth About New Calvinism” By Paul Dohse”


  1. February 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Your comments seem right on the money. The writer whose work you are reviewing does not seem to understand or know what he is about. Thanks for your comments.

  2. February 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Thanks for your comment. Feel free to stop by any time.

    Randy

  3. April 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Randy – Well said! I have found Paul Dohse to be obtuse and hard headed. You have pointed out his proclivities much more accurately. I do have pity for you, considering you read his book 🙂

    • April 18, 2012 at 1:14 am

      As usual, it is good to have you stop by. I spent months dialoging with Paul, seemingly to no avail. I apologize that there are no recent posts on the blog. I have been busy editing a short book I have written on justification and sanctification entitled, “Safe and Sound.” I hope to post excerpts from it in the near future.

      • April 18, 2012 at 1:17 am

        Very good, my brother. You press on! I look forward to seeing some excerpts of your book. We are arm-in-arm for the glory of God.

  4. 6 jimmiedon
    April 17, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I stopped by again due an email, and, as I reread your article, I found even more to like about it, I think it was and is excellent. Right-on! And I ask prayer for dealing with a young man and his father. Both in need of reconciliation with one another and with the Lord.

    • April 18, 2012 at 1:18 am

      Thanks for stopping by. Glad you found the article helpful. I will pray for the father and son you are dealing with. Relationships are difficult but our great God is able to bring reconciliation.

  5. December 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    I’ve had a discussion that came up with reliance from the work of Paul Dohse. I had a terrible time connecting the dots as to what he was saying, being a graduate of one of the better known Bible colleges in America and a Southern Baptist seminary, I had to scratch my head with some of the connections that were being made… this really helps.

    • December 16, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      David,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. There are many dots in Paul D’s approach to biblical truth that are impossible to connect. I have tried without success to convince him to abandon his straw man arguments and deal with real issues. Glad the article was helpful.

  6. December 20, 2012 at 1:05 am

    Unfortunately, I was recently called a heretic by Dohse at SBC Voices. Regardless what I tell him about what I believe, He insists that I believe something else. Thanks for your interaction. I appreciate you taking the time to wade through his writings. I don’t think his writings are worthy of such interaction, but I appreciate your patience and labor to lovingly reply to him. Keep on keeping on.

  7. December 20, 2012 at 1:41 am

    Jared,

    Welcome. I, too, have had the experience you have described on more occasions than one. It doesn’t matter what a person says he believes, Paul D. knows better what he believes than he does. I probably don’t have the patience with Paul you give me credit for. I never mind interacting with people who have honest disagreements with my views. What I do mind is being misrepresented. I continue to interact with Paul not because I have a great deal of hope of changing his views, but in the hope that I can help deliver some who might be swayed by his prodigious misrepresentations of godly men who are actually involved in the work of the gospel. Your encouragement is greatly appreciated.

    Randy

  8. November 29, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Thanks for a thorough review. I came across Paul’s website and I thought he didn’t understand New Calvinism at all. You helped collaborating my assessment.


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