I don’t know how to put this that won’t scandalize those who still accept Paul as an apostle. And I need help with my presentation to be sure. But here it goes:
The was a post recently on Paul’s Passing Thoughts (Why Young People Leave Church) and another on Spiritual Sounding Board (Why Don’t Young People go to Church?) basically on the same topic, as you can see by the titles.
Paul D’s conclusion is that “ALL spiritual abuse, I repeat, ALL spiritual abuse flows from the presuppositions of the church’s institutional gospel of perpetual justification.”
He’s right in a way. He’s wrong in a way. I’m fairly young, early 30s. So let me answer this from my perspective.
Church is typically a brainwashing session in the misosophy which says actions don’t matter. Well, if you already agree with that misosophy, then going to church doesn’t matter because its an action or work. If you don’t agree with that misosophy then you don’t want to hear some mystic get up and rant and rave about how great that misosophy is. So people who don’t buy into faith alone ain’t gonna go to church; and people who do buy into it have no reason to go.
Just for the record, I do go to church now, but I was out for 4 years. And it was precisely because of this misosophy of faith vs works. I was tired of hearing it. Faith is not opposed to obeying the one you claim to have faith in, and if you say that it is opposed, then you don’t really have faith. Thank God not every congregation in my denomination buys into this misosophy. Otherwise, I’d still be gone. Unfortunately for most of you, every congregation in yours probably does.
I’m still convinced the very term ‘justification’ is the problem. Paul is like foreign gibberish to me. As far as this terminology goes, I was raised on the idea of becoming a Christian, not of getting justified. You become a Christian by believing, repenting, confessing your belief, and being baptized. And then, you’re a Christian from then on out. Even if you leave, you can come back without having to go through the same again: you just have to repent and confess. Not this time confess your belief as if you’ve never believed before but confess that you screwed up royally in leaving the Lord. In this scenario, what is ‘justification’? Its becoming a Christian. Well, why don’t we just call it that then? (Actually, some of us do, but why doesn’t everyone?)
N.T. Wright has kind of seen the problem here and he’s redefined ‘justification’ from meaning that you’re ‘declared righteous’ with some bogus forensic righteousness to meaning rather that you’re ‘declared to be IN’ i.e. to have become a Christian. Yet that doesn’t fix the whole problem, because as long as you’re still using the term ‘justification’ and as long as you say its by ‘faith alone’ you’re wrong. Ain’t nobody a Christian by faith alone, because Jesus said “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…” And repentance is a prerequisite to baptism (Acts 2:38) as is belief (Mark 16:16) and confession of faith (Acts 8:37). So ain’t nobody a Christians without faith, repentance from sins, confession of faith, and baptism. So, at the most fundamental and basic level Paul was just wrong: (1) ‘justification’ is the wrong word to use, and (2) it ain’t by faith alone. (3) making it by faith alone makes it perpetually sought rather than a one-time thing, because for something to be one-time, it needs a sealing act: Hence baptism.
So, I left for a time…and I did it because I got sick of hearing about faith vs works. When I came back I moved to a congregation that doesn’t focus on Paul’s leftist lies. Faith is not opposed to works, unless by works we mean actual sins. Faith certainly is not opposed to obedience to the one you have faith in, and anyone who says so (even Paul) is a lunatic. Now is faith required to become a Christian? Yes. Are works required to become a Christian? Only repentance, confession, and baptism. Not circumcision, Sabbath keeping, giving money to charity, building a new hospital, whatever else. Paul ruined the church by coming up with a false dichotomy that enemies of Christ use against the actual means to becoming a Christian. Maybe all Paul meant by works was as E.P. Sanders thought “the tokens of national belonging” as in circumcision, etc. Or maybe Paul was a full-on Gnostic. Doesn’t matter. He was wrong, and that’s what’s wrong with “church.”
Anyone have a better way to explain that “justification” is the wrong word?
By the way, while writing this I was also listening to Paul Dohse’s Gnostic Watch Weekly Program 11:
If you watch this you’ll be thoroughly confused on how law vs grace works in Paul, as you should be, since Paul didn’t know what he meant by it either! Dohse doesn’t do any worse than anyone else in trying to systematize and understand this incomprehensible Gnostic nonsense in Paul. But Paul Dohse does make one very positive contribution to my way of thinking here: he coins the term “academiacs” to refer to John Piper and all the rest of the Calvinist academic theologians. Now I have a new term by which to call Paul, since Paul is obviously in the same category as these guys: Paul the academiac “apostle.” I love that alliteration!
[By the way, I know some might be confused by two Pauls being mentioned. When I say just “Paul” without a D afterwards, I always mean Paul the so-called “apostle” and supposed author of Romans and Galatians. My criticism of Paul D is limited to his hanging on to Paul despite seeing how Gnostic all the fruit from Paul is. But at least he’s trying to figure out the truth! Unlike Piper et al. who just purposefully teach the Pauline lies for money and fame. Everyone has to go through a period of trying to save Paul from Paul, trying to make Paul work via re-translation etc. I certainly went through that, for probably 10 years, before I finally realized it was hopeless and that Paul simply is wrong.]