Posts Tagged ‘www.paulspassingthoughts.com

07
Mar
15

The Danger of Theological Isolationism–Paul M. Dohse Sr.–The Lone Ranger

This is not another article about the errors of Paul M. Dohse Sr. It would require a tome of no small magnitude to correct all his theological errors. There was a time when I thought it might be helpful to warn people about those errors, but I have decided that if anyone is so biblically and theologically ignorant as to be taken in by his heresy, they probably deserve to be deceived. This is an article about the danger of theological isolationism.
It is clear that Mr. Dohse has decided that he alone is the arbiter of all things right and good. He has banned from commenting on his blog everyone who challenges his views. He has rid himself of all his commentaries. He doesn’t need to read or hear the opposing views of others.  He still has his MacArthur Study Bible because he likes the cross references. He has left the “institutional Church” and now huddles in his living room with his wife, his mother, and the dogs. This is his “home fellowship.” He sits atop his lofty perch and makes his unchallenged and self-contradictory pronouncements, simply because there is no one left to contradict him. In his view, if anyone depends on the body of Christ to aid in his sanctification he has bought into collectivism and has denied the priesthood of the believer.
The following are just a few of ethe faulty conclusions at which Mr. Dohse has arrived because of his arrogant and stubborn unwillingness to consider that he is not the last word in all things theological.

“The law is the standard for love, not justification.
Jesus did not come to fulfill the law, but to end the law.”

[Elsewhere, Mr. Dohse says that “the law=Scripture.” Did Jesus come to end the Scripture? Does he not understand that “telos” means goal and that Paul was saying that Christ is the one to whom the law pointed forward as its goal?]

“Jesus kept the law perfectly; that is irrelevant to salvation. NO ONE is justified by the law or law-keeping regardless of who keeps it.”

[He has arrived at this conclusion by a misreading of Rom. 3:21. In that verse the apostle is talking about how the righteousness of God, i.e., God’s method of putting sinners right with himself, has been revealed. It has been revealed apart from the law. Instead, it is revealed in the gospel. He is not saying that a declaration of righteousness is apart from law. How else can righteousness be gauged but by law? Condemnation and a declaration of righteousness are set over against each other. A person is declared either guilty or just based on law. How can law be the standard for condemnation without also being the standard for justification]?
“Under law” is the biblical nomenclature for the unregenerate lost. Under law means that sin rules you.”

[But, wasn’t Jesus under the law (Gal. 4:4)? Did sin rule him?]

“There is then no law to judge us, and where there is no law there is no sin.”

[The Scripture says “. . .where there is no law, there is no transgression;” it does not say “there is no sin.”]

“Righteousness is NOT imputed to the Christian not does the Bible state that anywhere. Christians are MADE righteous by the new birth.”
[In what sense, then, has God the Father made Christ to be “righteousness” to those “in him” (1 Cor. 1:30)? Additionally, how can Paul describe God as the one “who justifies the ungodly”(Rom. 4:5] if he does not impute a righteousness to their account that is not theirs ]?
The result of Mr. Dohse’s theological isolationism has been a departure from the biblical doctrine of forensic justification. His pronouncement that believers are MADE righteous by the new birth is dangerously close to the doctrine of Rome.
This should be a warning to all of us. God did not intend for us to live or think in isolation from other believers. If we don’t heed the warning, we might find ourselves, like Dohse, huddled in our “home fellowships” with our close relatives and dogs on Sunday mornings.

20
Jan
15

Calvin and Calvinists

I recently listened to a series of interviews by Paul Dohse Sr. in which he posed the following seven questions to several groups of young adults:

1. Do we keep ourselves saved by preaching the gospel to ourselves every day?

2. Do sins committed in the Christian life separate us from our salvation?

3. Do we need to be reconciled to God daily in a saving way?

4. Are Christians totally depraved?

5. Are Christians still under the law for Justification?

6. Do pastors have the authority to forgive your sins?

7. Do you believe that the New Testament Christian life is the Old Testament Sabbath; i.e., if we do works in our Christian life we will die spiritually?

Mr. Dohse’s clear intention was to show that people who call themselves “Calvinists” don’t really believe what Calvin believed.

As it turns out, there were actually nine questions. He first asked each group if they would consider the speakers at the conference “Calvinists.” Then he asked them if they would consider themselves “Calvinists.”

My response to both those questions would have been, “What do you mean by that?” If Mr. Dohse’s accusations about what Calvinists believe were true, I would clearly not be a Calvinist. Usually what Calvinists believe and what non-Calvinists think we believe is vastly different.

Though the young adults he interviewed articulated their views relatively well, their answers did not necessarily reflect what most Calvinists believe. I found it interesting that he did not interview any of the speakers at the conference who no doubt would have given more articulate answers to these questions. Since Mr. Dohse is so brave and bold, one wonders why he wasn’t brave enough to confront the speakers at the conference.

I would like to make a few observations about what I saw and heard.

1. Whether modern “Calvinists” believe or would endorse what Calvin wrote is irrelevant. Being a Calvinist does not mean a person is a follower of John Calvin. One young man who was interviewed stated it well when he said, “We are followers of Jesus Christ, not followers of John Calvin.” “Calvinism” is merely a theological label used to identify those who believe salvation is a monergistic work of God rather than a synergistic or cooperative effort between God and the sinner.

I know of no Calvinist who believes in the infallibility of John Calvin or the inerrancy of his writings.

2. Paul wanted “yes” or “no” answers, but he did not ask “yes” or “no” questions. Usually when a person gives him other than a “yes” or “no” answer, he accuses them of “double-speak.”  For example, I would answer question number one (Do we keep ourselves saved by preaching the gospel to ourselves every day?) in the same way I believe Calvin would have answered it. I believe Calvin would have said that we are not the keepers; God is. Commenting on 1 Peter 1:5 Calvin wrote,

And, indeed, we see that under the Papacy a diabolical opinion prevails, that we ought to doubt our final perseverance, because we are uncertain whether we shall be tomorrow in the same state of grace. But Peter did not thus leave us in suspense; for he testifies that we stand by the power of God, lest any doubt arising from a consciousness of our own infirmity, should disquiet us. How weak soever we may then be, yet our salvation is not uncertain, because it is sustained by God’s power. As, then, we are begotten by faith, so faith itself receives its stability from God’s power. Hence is its security, not only for the present, but also for the future (Calvin’s Commentaries).

In addition to that, Calvin would have said that God keeps us through sustaining our faith. In Mr. Dohse’s theological [and I use that term very loosely] world, faith is a one-time act. We make a decision, and it is behind us. Everything after that is “learn and do.” Any good Calvinists would say that God uses the good news of grace in the redemptive work of Christ to sustain that faith. If that were not the case, why would the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews exhort his reader to “look to Jesus” and “consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself lest they be wearied and faint in their minds?” Why would the apostle Paul so often repeat the glorious verities of the gospel to his Christian readers? Mr. Dohse likes to say “the Law [though one never knows what he means by “law”] informs our sanctification. If by that he means the Scriptures of the New Testament, I would agree. In reality, it is not the law of God that sanctifies; it is the salvation bringing grace of God that sanctifies us (see Titus 2:11-14). In Mr. Dohse’s world, that is “double-speak.”

3. We need to remember that Calvin was often arguing against a different group of antagonists and answering different questions than we would normally encounter. As in seeking to understand any body of literature, we must always consider the historical and literary contexts. We should not assume that theologians who lived five hundred years ago were necessarily concerned with the precise theological issues that concern us. If we could resurrect John Calvin and ask him to answer our questions in a modern context and against modern heresies, his answers might be different from what we read in The Institutes or in his commentaries.

4. In my view, there is no question but that the rest we enjoy in Christ is a fulfillment of the Old Covenant Sabbath. If we rest in our works to any degree, we are not fully resting in Christ. My understanding of Calvin’s position is that he believed even “good works” performed by believers have no merit before God. The issue is not whether God is pleased with his children’s obedience, but whether a time ever comes when a believer’s obedience becomes meritorious.

5. Though we do not regard John Calvin or any other writer as our master, we can appreciate the theological understand God gave them. As we “stand on their shoulders” God may give us understanding of his truth that they may have missed. We should not despise the truth he made known to them because it may have been mingled with error.

08
Jan
15

Debate Challenge

In his latest post, Paul Dohse Sr. has challenged “anyone out there” to debate him on the issue of Calvin’s doctrine of total depravity. I have invited him to debate many times and he knows it. My suggestion has been that we could debate via Skype or some other such medium, and he could video tape the exchange to post on his blog. If there is anyone out there who is still able to contact him, please inform him I have accepted his challenge. He has forbidden me to post on his blog or contact him by e-mail.
The reason he does not wish to debate me is that I suggested that we follow certain rules for such a debate. They are as follows:

1. Each person must define the terms he is using in his arguments. There is no sense wasting time talking past each other in a debate because we are using the same terms differently.

2. Each person must support his contentions about what a third party has written or said by actual quotations from that person in the context in which it was written or said.

3. Each person must be able to state his opponent’s position to his satisfaction before attempting to answer it.

4. Only one issue may be discussed at a time unless other issues can be shown to be relevant to the main issue being discussed.

Those suggestions seemed reasonable to me, though I am aware they are completely contrary to Paul’s M.O. He thrives on misrepresentation [That is a euphemism for lying]. It is time for him to “put his money where his mouth is.”

08
Jan
15

Uses of the Word Nomos [Law] in Scripture

The subject of the new covenant believer’s relationship to the law is an intricate one indeed that must be handled with thoughtful care. We should never engage in a discussion of the law without first identifying in which sense we are using the term. For example, if you should ask me whether I think believers continue to be bound by the law, my answer would be absolutely and absolutely not. Are we under the law as covenant? Absolutely not! Do we continue under the perpetual and universal law of God as expressed in natural law and the law of Christ? Absolutely! Are the Old Testament Scriptures profitable for us? Of course they are.

I want to list a number of different ways in which the terms “law” (nomos) is used in the Bible. It is my view that a large part of the difficulty surrounding this issue [and every issue for that matter] results from a lack of accurate definition of terms. I believe it will become clear as we proceed that “law” cannot simply be used as a synonym for the 10 commandments.

1. God’s universal and perpetual standard of righteousness–The word “law” may be used of God’s universal and perpetual righteous standard that exists by virtue of the righteous character of the creator and governor of the universe. It is this overarching righteous standard that provides the foundation for every other expression of law.

2. Natural law–God’s universal law is expressed in what some might call “natural law.” Human kind possesses an innate understanding that certain actions and attitudes are right and others are wrong. Even those who proclaim their autonomy and freedom from moral constraints the most vociferously still suffer from guilt for having violated universally accepted norms. Paul wrote concerning gentiles who do not have the law [Mosaic law], “. . .they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law [Mosaic]” (Rom. 2:14). We should not understand “a law unto themselves” according to common usage. Generally, when we say a person is “a law unto himself,” we mean he is lawless and acts as though there is no law. He simply does as he pleases. Instead, what Paul seems to mean here is that though they do not have the Mosaic law, they, through their innate knowledge of God’s righteous norm, perform the function of the law for themselves. When he says they “do what the law requires” he does not mean they live in complete conformity to the law, but that they practices certain righteous requirements of the law. His point is that these people obey certain aspects of the law, not because it comes to them in codified form but because they possess an innate sense that certain actions are right and others wrong.

3. Law as Covenant or Mosaic Law—It is important to understand that when the New Testament writers refer to the old covenant, their reference is to the Mosaic law, specifically, to the Decalogue or Ten Commandments. Whenever we find the phrase “hupo nomon” (under law) in the New Testament Scriptures the reference is always to law as covenant. The contrast between being “under law” and “under grace” is not an existential contrast, but a covenantal contrast.

Moses wrote, “and he wrote on the tablets [the two tables of stone] the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments [or ten words]” (Ex. 34:28). The Ten Commandments are the words of the covenant. This was the document that officially constituted Israel as a nation. It is clear, or should be clear, this law was neither perpetual nor universal. Paul makes it clear that “it was added” 430 years after God granted the promises to Abraham. This indicates it came into being long after the creation. Additionally, he stated that it was to endure only “until the Seed [Christ] should come to whom the promise was made” (Gal. 3:19).

The law as covenant was a conditional covenant of works that promised the continuation of life in the land of promise to all who observed its commandments. It foreshadowed the eternal life and everlasting rest of all those on whose behalf its rigid demands were met. Additionally, it provided the stage on which the drama of redemptive history would be played out. It is interesting that in Romans 5:20 Paul wrote, “WHERE sin increased or overflowed, grace overflowed all the more.” It was in the very place, “under law,” WHERE sin took on this intensified character, namely, “trespass” or “transgression” that grace entered and super-abounded in establishing the reign of grace in Christ

God’s intention in giving the law/covenant was to give sin an intensified character. There are several phrases in the Pauline corpus that lead to this conclusion. For example, he wrote in Romans 5:20, “but the Law came in alongside (presumably alongside the imputation of the Adamic transgression) so that the offense might overflow or be multiplied. Jesus won our redemption on a stage where sin had been defined and transgression had been honed to a fine point. It was not in the nebulous atmosphere of natural law but in the intensified milieu of codified covenant that Jesus wrought the work of redemption. No one, having read the law, could ever have a question about the kind of behavior God loved and the kind of behavior he hated. In Galatians 3:19, Paul stated that the purpose of the law was to give sin the character of transgression. Many of our translations render his words “because of transgressions” as though the law was given so that transgressions that were already in existence might be curbed. But this cannot be Paul’s meaning. Paul writes in Romans 4:15, “For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.” Transgression is a deliberate overstepping of a clearly defined boundary. Such an overstepping cannot occur in this case apart from codified law. It is better to understand Galatians 3:19 to mean that the law was added for the sake of transgression, i.e., to more clearly define sin and righteousness and give sin the character of transgression—deliberate rebellion against God.

It is altogether likely that God intended Israel’s experience “under law” to be paradigmatic of the entire race in Adam. That is to say, Israel stood as a microcosm or representative sample of all humanity. Thus, Israel’s failure under that covenant mirrors the failure of all. Because of this failure, every mouth is stopped and all the world becomes guilty before God.

Apart from the emotional attachment people have to the Ten Commandments and the belief that apart from the Ten Commandments believers would “be left without a moral compass” [perhaps someone should put in a good word for the Holy Spirit and the New Testament Scriptures here], it should be obvious to any thinking person that God never intended the Ten Commandments to be a universal and perpetual document. It would require extreme prejudice in favor of the perpetuity of the Ten Commandments/old covenant to produce sufficient blindness to ignore Paul’s clear teaching in 2 Cor. 3:3-1). It is beyond the scope of this article to give a full exposition of that passage, but I wish to point out one facet that is pertinent to our point here. Paul contrasts that which is permanent, the new covenant/gospel, with “that which is being brought to an end,” the old covenant/law, and identifies that covenant as “the ministry of death, CARVED IN LETTERS ON STONE.” What part of the law was “carved in letters on stone?” Clearly, it was the “ten words.” If the Ten Words have perpetuity, how can it be that they are “being brought to an end?” It is not merely the civil and ceremonial commandments necessary for the implementation of the covenant that have been fulfilled brought to an end. The covenant itself [the Law as a covenant in Ten Commandments] has been fulfilled and replaced with a new covenant.

Of course, there will be those Reformed folks who will have a knee-jerk reaction to what I have just written and accuse me of Antinomianism, but nothing I have written should give the slightest impression that I am against the law or that I believe Christians should live as libertines. I honestly believe some of these folks are more concerned with being faithful to their confessional standards than they are with being faithful to the Scriptures.

4. Law as Torah—At times “nomos” refers to Moses’ writings– E.g., John 1:45—“we have found him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets wrote.”

5. Law as Old Testament Scriptures—E.g., Psalms 19:7—“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul. . . .” “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (Ps. 119:18).see also Ps. 119:70, 72, 92, 97, 113, 174.

6. Law as the Law of Christ—Paul wrote that he was “to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God, but under the law of Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21).

7. Law as a principle or rule of operation—At times, “law” refers to the way things work. Paul wrote, “I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me” (Romans 7:21). “What then becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law [principle or rule of operation]? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith” (Rom3:27).

In any discussion of biblical law, one must insist that those involved in the discussion clearly state in which sense they are using the term “Law.”

06
Jan
15

Thoughts on “Calvinists:Going to Hell and Proud of it,” by Paul Dohse

I thought it might be interesting to post a few thoughts about Paul’ s Dohse’s latest post,“Calvinists: Going to Hell and Proud of it” and invite my readers to discuss these ideas here. I am not going to go into great detail; the brief observations I will make will no doubt be expanded in answer to the comments you make.
Paul wrote his article in answer to a blogger named Frank who posted an excellent summary of the gospel in response to one of Paul’s videos.
One issue on which Paul and I are in full agreement is that we are proclaiming two distinctively different messages, only one of which is the biblical gospel. The other message stands under condemnation and the one proclaiming it is cursed by God (see-Galatians 1:8). This is a matter of extreme importance.
I would invite you to read Paul’s article at http://www.paulspassingthoughts.com before commenting here. Since I do not wish to misrepresent his views in any way, I would like you to see them in context before you comment.
The following are my observations:
1. He builds much of his argument on a Dispensational view of the Scriptures that makes distinctions between things that do not differ. The better manuscripts of Rom. 14:10 state that we must all stand before God’s judgment seat. The passage is cited from Isaiah 45, a salvific context, in which Jehovah declares that every knee shall bow to him and every tongue shall swear allegiance.
2. As usual, Paul confuses justification, sanctification and regeneration. Although I have heard some Lutherans give the impression that sanctification is unimportant, Calvinists generally agree that those whom God has justified are in the process of being sanctified and that their obedience gives evidence of the reality of their faith. When we deny that we have any righteousness of our own, we are speaking of justifying righteousness.
3. He continues to argue that the Calvinist’s believe in Christ’s active obedience means Christ continues to obey for us as long as we resolve to do nothing in sanctification.
4. He argues that we advocate returning to the gospel to keep ourselves saved. In reality, what we advocate is that once a person has trusted in Christ alone for justification he will never trust anyone or anything else for his justification. Faith is not a one-time act but an ongoing reliance on Christ. We don’t keep ourselves saved. God maintains the work he has begun and enables us to continue to rely on Christ alone.
5. He speaks of our belief that the judgment is determinative. In reality, what we believe is that the judgment will be declarative. The destiny of those who stand in the judgment has already been determined.
6. He sets a redemptive historical approach to Scripture over against a literal grammatical historical approach to Scripture. These approaches are not contradictory.
7. He advocates justification based on a believer’s personal righteousness, not on an alien, imputed righteousness. He writes, “Believers, who are already deemed righteous because they are in fact righteous (Italics mine), will be judged for rewards. . . .” This accords with the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification. The Scriptures teach us that God justifies the ungodly (see Romans 4:5).
8. He views the standard of justification as a righteousness that is less than perfect, unless, of course, he believes in the sinless perfection of believers. He believes we are accepted by God, not because we are acceptable but because Jesus has simply removed the law.
9. He fails to understand that “hupo nomon” [under law] is a covenantal distinction, not an existential distinction. Gentiles were never “under law” yet we were still condemned. It is not that prior to faith we were under law but now we are not under law. Rather, it is that the time of promise and type has ended and the fulfillment has come. As John states it, “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth [reality or fulfillment] came by Jesus Christ.
10. He fails to understand that believers are not under the law because we are united to Christ who has fulfilled the law. He is the one to whom the law pointed [the end or goal] for righteousness. People should not look to the law for righteousness. We must look to Christ for righteousness.

There are several other false and misleading statements in Paul’s article, but these should be sufficient to provoke a meaningful discussion. I encourage your comments, but please read the rules for commenting before you opine.

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.”

27
Aug
13

How to Argue Against the Wicked Heresy of Calvinism

HOW TO ARGUE AGAINST THE WICKED HERESY OF CALVINISM

1. Misrepresent its teachings so badly that no Calvinist would recognize them.

2. Quote a handful of proof-texts, out of context, that have nothing at all to do with the issues.

3. Never exegete and try to explain biblical texts that actually teach that God is the sovereign Lord over his own universe. Ignore all texts that explain that if sinners ever make proper and God glorifying choices, they do so through divine enabling.

4. State a part of the truth as if it were the whole truth, and then pretend these wretched Calvinists don’t believe in the part you have stated. For example, cite verses that show God invites sinners to choose life and reject death as proof that God has nothing to do with that choice. Then boldly assert that Calvinists don’t believe sinners have a will.

5 Find areas in which most Calvinists would disagree with Calvin, and make those issues the most salient points in the discussion.

6 Never, ever quote a Calvinist in the context in which his remarks actually occurred. You must always take his comments out of context so that it will appear he is saying something completely different from what he said or wrote.

7. When all else fails, resort to name calling.

08
Aug
13

The Death of Reason

There is a series of Direct TV commercials that are deliberately based on logical blunders called “Non sequiturs.” A non sequitur is an inference that does not necessarily follow from the premises that have been stated. You can view all of these on you on YouTube, Direct TV-Get rid of cable commercials. The following is the text from one of them.

When you have cable and can’t find something good to watch, you get depressed. When you get depressed, you attend seminars. When you attend seminars, you feel like a winner. When you feel like a winner, you go to Vegas. When you go to Vegas you lose everything. And when you lose everything, you sell your hair to a wig shop. Don’t sell your hair to a wig shop. Get rid of cable and upgrade to Direct TV.

Every time I visit blogs like Paul’s Passing Thoughts, expreacherman.com, or unreformingtheology.com, I feel as if I have been trapped in one of these commercials. What is humorous in a TV commercial, is tragic in theological discussion. The difference between these commercials and the above mentioned blogs is that the commercials at least begin with valid premises and then “reason” to illogical conclusions. In the case of these blogs and others like them, even the premises are usually flawed.

27
Jul
13

Rabid Anti-Calvinists

I have been strolling around the blogosphere this morning reading the comments of rabid anti-Calvinists and would like to make a few observations.

Firstly, it appears to me these people are really angry at God. They are people who don’t love God. They clearly have a deep-seated love for the god they have created in their own image, but they don’t love the God who has revealed himself in the Scriptures. They unabashedly state they could not love a God who would choose some to be saved and pass over others, leaving them in their sins. If God is going to be a God they can love and worship, he must love everyone equally and in the same way. He must do his best to save everyone. A god who does his best and fails isn’t worth worshipping. Our God is in the heavens, and he has done whatsoever he has pleased.

Secondly, these people almost never refer to the Scriptures apart from a few proof-text they have taken out of context. They will tell us what the Bible doesn’t say and in some cases are correct. For example, they will tell us John 3:16 does not say “For God so loved the elect.” I, for one, never though it did. John’s point in that verse is that the love of God is not confined to his covenant people, Israel; he loves vile sinners of every nation. The original Arminians seemed to be much more biblical. Still. even they quoted verses that did not prove their point. For some unknown reason they thought Acts 7:51 “you do always resist the Holy Spirit” disproves the doctrine of irresistible grace. No Calvinist argues that sinners are unable to resist the Holy Spirit. We argue the same fact the Scriptures argue—sinners in a state of nature ALWAYS resist the Holy Spirit.

Thirdly, these people almost never grapple with real issues. Their arguments are almost always against “straw men.” Sometimes they simply tell outright lies. For example, “Calvinists don’t believe in eternal security.” That came as quite a shock to me. Of course, Calvinists believe in the eternal security of true believers. What we deny is the eternal security of everyone who walks an aisle, signs a card, prays a prayer, punches a code into his iphone etc. Interestingly, our position happens to coincide with quite a number of Scriptures on this issue. For example, John 10:28 clearly tells us that Jesus gives his sheep eternal life and they shall never perish, but we must also consider how he describes his sheep in verse 27—“my sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.” There is no indication that those who refuse to hear his voice and follow him are eternally secure. God’s people are kept by the power of God, but we are not saved apart from divinely produced persevering faith.

Fourthly, because they don’t have the exegetical ability to answer bona fide arguments, they resort to name calling. [Please note that referring to someone as an Arminian or as a Semi-Pelagian is not name calling. These are theological designations for those who believe in synergistic as opposed to monergistic salvation. That they are logically inconsistent concerning the doctrine of eternal security does not affect the issue one way or the other. If a person who believes in hypothetical universalism wishes to call himself a “four point Calvinist,” why should we not refer to these people as “four point Arminians?] The saddest part is they have resorted to calling God nasty names like “cruel bully.”

Fifthly, they deal falsely by not posting comments that make it clear they don’t know what they are talking about. This is blatantly dishonest. I will post any comment made here that follows the blog rules I have posted. If I refuse to post your comments, it is because you have not followed the rules, not because I disagree with your comment.

Let’s talk. I am ready to discuss the Scriptures with you people. Let’s have a real discussion of biblical texts in their contexts. Name a topic and let’s discuss what the Scriptures have to say about it.