Review of an Addendum to Paul Dohse Sr.’s New Book–False Reformation

In an addendum to his new book, False Reformation, Paul Dohse Sr. provides a small, representative sample of the mindless ramblings found in the rest of his book. I have read much of Paul’s latest book prior to publication. His argumentation is equally as deplorable there as it is in the following quote:


John MacArthur began to follow authentic (radical) Reformed doctrine in circa 1994. Sometime afterward, he wrote an article entitled “Justification by Faith.” The article follows the authentic
Reformed doctrinal line to a “T,” complete with all of the familiar truisms, ambiguity, nuance, doublespeak, cognitive dissonance, and historical arguments. The article is also very reminisce of what the Australian Forum used to write. In the article, MacArthur states, “If sanctification is included in justification, then justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete.”* But yet, the very doctrine he now holds to is referred to by many of his associates as a “golden chain” (pp. 28-33). Clearly then, sanctification must be “included” in justification is some way. MacArthur explains it this way in the same article: “Those two must be
distinguished but can never be separated.” This cognitive dissonance speaks doubly for itself. It can’t be included, but neither can it be separate?

Moreover, while saying sanctification cannot be “included” in justification because that would make “justification progressive,” that’s exactly what John Calvin calls his own doctrine by entitling his fourteenth chapter of book three in the Institutes, “The Beginning of Justification. In What Sense Progressive.” Calvin then goes on to explain in the same chapter that the atoning death of Christ is “perpetual.” There is simply no wiggle room in regard to this blatant theological contradiction.

Paul should enjoy my remarks here, since he seems to like being “persecuted” for his almost unique penetrating understanding of truth. He clearly suffers from the Elijah syndrome–“I alone am left, and they seek my life.” He likes to accuse anyone who tries to explain clear biblical truth of “doublespeak” and “cognitive dissonance,” a term he recently learned but probably doesn’t have the intelligence to completely understand. I have difficulty thinking about Paul D. without thinking about the apostle’s word to the Philippians, “There are many of whom I have told you often and now I tell you even weeping, that are enemies of the cross of Christ. . .” (3:18). Paul Dohse is clearly an enemy of the gospel. If you have money to waste, buy his new book now available on Amazon, but don’t expect to find any truth in it.

One of Paul’s problems is that he was disciplined by a church in Ohio for which he continues to carry a vendetta. I don’t know the issues involved since I was not present at the time. What I do know is that Paul has ignored a clearly articulated injunction from the Word of God. We read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;” (Hebrews 12:15). If he wishes to talk about “kingdom living,” he needs to spend a bit more time concentrating on the laws of the kingdom. It is difficult to discern whether Paul is mentally challenged, theologically inept, blinded by his bitterness or a combination of all the above. What is abundantly clear is that he has no business trying to interpret “Reformed doctrine” for anyone.

My concern is not for those who have theological understanding; they will be able to see through Paul’s erroneous reasoning right away. My concern is for those who have so little biblical and theological instruction as to be able to discern the errors in Mr. Dohse’s arguments. I am aware that he will react negatively to that statement since he claims to believe God’s people don’t need teachers and theological instruction. He claims this in spite of his recent efforts to start a church in his home in which he is the teacher. Perhaps he should consider making the least theologically and biblically astute person in the group the teacher. Why would these people need him to teach them? Additionally, he must believe people need his penetrating insight into Reformation doctrine since he recently published the above mentioned book. He criticizes other Christian leaders for publishing “pricy books.” One wonders why it is OK for him. Perhaps what he means is that he is the only teacher people need.

Consider with me the illogic of Paul’s obtuse argument.

1. One of his main contentions is that the Reformed believe in “progressive justification.”

2. He tells us that John MacArthur “began to follow authentic (radical) Reformed doctrine in circa 1994.” One would conclude from this that if MacArthur is radically Reformed, he must believe in “progressive justification.”

3. Then he cites a statement from MacArthur in which he clearly and categorically denies the idea that justification is progressive. He wrote, “If sanctification is included in justification, then justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete.”

4. This is where it gets weird. In Paul’s world, people don’t believe what they say they believe. Sure MacArthur wrote that, but that isn’t what he really believes. How do we know? Because Paul said so. No one believes what he says he believes. He must believe what Paul says he believes.

5. Here is Paul’s argument–He can’t believe what he wrote because some of his associates refer to the “golden chain” of redemption. There is a real smoking gun if I have ever seen one. Because some of Mac’s associates refer to the Golden Chain, “sanctification must be involved in justification in some way.” Iron clad logic! How can anyone take this guy seriously? In reality, the “golden chain of redemption” has been referred to for centuries. The reference is to the execution of God’s redemptive purpose in the salvation of his people. The point of it is that since every link of the chain represents God’s work, not the sinner’s work, the glorification of God’s elect is absolutely certain. It has nothing to do with sanctification being involved in justification in some way. Paul even has the unmitigated gall to suggest that Calvinist believe we must maintain our own salvation since if we don’t we will lose it. This is ignorance gone to seed.

6. He then argues that MacArthur’s views are characterized by “cognitive dissonance,” because he states, “Those two [justification and sanctification] must be distinguished but can never be separated.”

It hasn’t been too many months since Paul told me he was well acquainted with Holiness by J. C. Ryle. At that time he was quoting him frequently and favorably. Ryle was firmly within the Reformed tradition since he was an Anglican Bishop. In his classic book on sanctification just prior to a section in which he distinguished between justification and sanctification, he wrote,

Both are to be found in the same persons. Those who are justified are always sanctified, and those who are sanctified are always justified. God has joined them together, and they cannot be put asunder.

The distinctions that follow make it clear that Ryle did not confuse these two works of God at all. Was he guilty of “cognitive dissonance?” Of course not. What both he and MacArthur were saying is that these two works of God are concerned with different issues. Justification concerns our guiltiness before God; sanctification concerns the sinful pollution of our souls. Yet, God never justifies a person without also sanctifying him.

7. Finally, Paul offers as proof that MacArthur could not truly believe what he clearly stated, a title from a section in Calvin’s Institutes. He doesn’t seem particularly interested in knowing what Calvin meant by the title. It is enough for him that Calvin used the title and since he used the title, MacArthur could not truly believe what he wrote. This, of course, presupposes that MacArthur could not depart from Calvin at any point and still be considered “Reformed,” at least not “radically” Reformed. This is what Paul wrote–“Moreover, while saying sanctification cannot be “included” in justification because that would make “justification progressive,” that’s exactly what John Calvin calls his own doctrine by entitling his fourteenth chapter of book three in the Institutes, “The Beginning of Justification. In What Sense Progressive.” Calvin then goes on to explain in the same chapter that the atoning death of Christ is “perpetual.” There is simply no wiggle room in regard to this blatant theological contradiction.

This is what Calvin really wrote, “Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days, but is declared to be perpetual in the Church (2 Cor. 5:18, 19). Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death—viz. ablution, satisfaction, expiation; in short, perfect obedience, by which all our iniquities are covered. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul says not that the beginning of salvation is of grace, but ‘by grace are ye saved,’ ‘not of works, lest any man should boast,'(Eph. 2:8, 9)” (Institutes Book III, Chap. 14, Section 11). His point is that we are not justified by grace through faith at one point but then must then be declared righteous by our works in obedience to the Law.

There is a vast difference between stating as Paul does that Calvin believed “The atoning death of Christ is perpetual,” and what Calvin actually wrote, “. . .there is a perpetual efficacy in his death. . . .” This is a truth that anyone with an understanding of God’s method of saving sinners should understand. Jesus, as our Great Priest, is able to save completely those who come to God by him since he ever lives to make intercession for them (see Heb. 7:25). This does not mean he continues to offer himself as a sacrifice, dying again and again. It means he continues to present his once for all and efficacious sacrifice in the presence of his Father in the heavenly holy place. As our high priest, “he appears now in the presence of God for us.” Because his death has perpetual efficacy, we have a standing in grace that never changes. The apostle wrote, “Through him [our Lord Jesus Christ] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2). The Westminster Shorter Catechism clearly stated the Reformed position as follows, “Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us.”

Notice they did not say “Christ’s atoning death is perpetual.” It is his ONCE OFFERING HIMSELF as a sacrifice that is finished. On the basis of that once for all sacrifice, he, in his intercessory work, presents the perpetual efficacy of that once for all accomplishment before the Father’s throne. The truth Calvin was stating was echoed in William Cowper’s great hymn, “There is a Fountain.” He wrote,

Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood,
Shall never lose its power,
‘Til all the ransomed church of God
Be saved to sin no more.

No truly Reformed person believes justification is progressive or that believers can in any way add to it by our obedience in sanctification. Nor do any of us believe that once a person is truly justified before God, that standing can be lost by anything we may do or fail to do.

I have practically begged Paul to produce quotations from Calvin or any Reformed work that state unequivocally what he has claimed in the sense in which he is claiming it. To date, he has failed to do so. The reason he has not produced such quotes is that no such quotes exist. Don’t just take his word for it; demand that he support his claims with real quotes from real people.

*The following is a fuller citation of the ariticle MacArthur wrote about justification. In case you can’t tell, he is arguing against “progressive justification.”

The Council of Trent, Rome’s response to the Reformation, pronounced anathema on anyone who says “that the [sinner] is justified by faith alone–if this means that nothing else is required by way of cooperation in the acquisition of the grace of justification.” The Catholic council ruled “Justification … is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man, through the voluntary reception of the grace, and of the gifts, whereby man of unjust becomes just.” So Catholic theology confuses the concepts of justification and sanctification and substitutes the righteousness of the believer for the righteousness of Christ.

What’s the Big Deal?

The difference between Rome and the Reformers is no example of theological hair-splitting. The corruption of the doctrine of justification results in several other grievous theological errors.

If sanctification is included in justification, the justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete. Our standing before God is then based on subjective experience, not secured by an objective declaration. Justification can therefore be experienced and then lost. Assurance of salvation in this life becomes practically impossible because security can’t be guaranteed. The ground of justification ultimately is the sinner’s own continuing present virtue, not Christ’s perfect righteousness and His atoning work.


2 Responses to “Review of an Addendum to Paul Dohse Sr.’s New Book–False Reformation”

  1. December 28, 2012 at 5:25 am

    I’ve sadly run into someone who has been influenced my Mr. Dohse, and the logic was utterly confusing. What’s probably reality is that very few serious theologians will interact with Mr. Dohse because he’s so off the deep end. It’s sad, but this fits with everything I’ve read so far.

    BTW, don’t tell anyone, but theologically, MacArthur is considered dispensational (although a very reformed form of dispensationalism).

    • December 28, 2012 at 1:22 pm


      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. The only reason I have interacted with Paul D. for as long as I have is to try to help those who visit his blog to see his egregious errors. In all my years of ministry [over 40 now], I have never encountered anyone so inept theologically and so incapable of logical thought. Additionally, his willingness to twist other’s theological positions on various matters is astounding.

      I am aware of MacArthur’s Dispensationalism, but his accuracy in other areas doesn’t seem affected by it. Truth is truth, even on the lips of a fraud [not suggesting Mac is a fraud].


      Sent from my iPad

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