I quote the following from pages 32, 33 of the booklet “Community: Your pathway to progress”, published by North Point Ministries, 2008:
“Let’s face it; we’re all prone to wander. Commitment and conviction just aren’t enough to keep us from drifting. If they were, we would be far skinnier and richer…Two out of three functioning legs on our proverbial spiritual stools just aren’t enough to support the weight of our lives. We need the third leg of connection if we’re to remain upright.
‘See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:12-13)’
We are corporately commanded to encourage one another. The Greek word that’s translated into English as “encourage” is not the equivalent of a slap on the back…Rather, it’s an urgent appeal, an exhortation–a begging even. The author implores us to join with a group of people willing to do whatever it takes to keep each other faithful. It assumes a connection where accountability is welcomed and reciprocated.”
Aaaaaaand…we’re back. Welcome, my friends, to another episode of “How Many Presumptions, Contradictions, Deceptions, and Spurious Explications Can We Pass Off as Sound Doctrine”, brought to you by our esteemed mystic sponsor, straight from the hot and sunny nether coast of Hell itself, North Point Ministries.
Back to our show.
First things first. Let’s get the ostensible contradiction out of the way, and then we’ll deal with the larger issue.
Notice this portion of the quote:
“It [encouragement] is not the equivalent of a slap on the back…Rather, it’s an urgent appeal, an exhortation–a begging even.”
Now notice how the author(s) italicize the word “begging” for emphasis…that is not something I added.
Now, here’s the next part of the quote I would like to bring to your attention:
“The author [of Hebrews] implores us to join with a group of people willing to do whatever it takes to keep each other faithful. It assumes a connection where accountability is welcomed and reciprocated.”
Let me give you a few minutes to use your impressive powers of observation and reason (and I’m not being sarcastic here…I understand well the rational faculties of my readers) to note the ostensible contradiction; and then to discern why contradiction is not really the problem, it is how they render the verse with respect to the Reformed epistemology of:
Encouragement = Accountability = Authority = Force (“whatever it takes”) = Obedience = “Real” Faith = “Salvation” = Encouragement = Accountability…and the cycle simply repeats itself (this is known in today’s counter-movement, The Truth About New Calvinism, fronted by the ineffable Paul Dohse from paulspassingthoughts.com, as the heretical, yet never expressly named, doctrine of “progressive justification”).
Okay…I’ll assume you’ve completed your examination, and commence to explicate what you’ve very likely apprehended already, but perhaps not in so many words.
The first issue this article will explore is, again, the ostensible contradiction. If the “sinner” is in a collective of people who all, including the hypothetical “sinner” in question, welcome and reciprocate “accountability”, then why does the “sinner” need to be begged and implored to keep himself from sin’s allure VIA collective accountability within his community group? Refraining from sin is a function of collective accountability, which, North Point Ministries says, is a function of small groups full of people who “welcome” and “reciprocate” such accountability. So why all the begging?
As I understand it, to “welcome” and “reciprocate” something specifically indicates a prominent willingness to engage in that thing.
For example, you don’t, by definition, need to beg me to go to the coffee shop with you if I’ve already welcomed your invitation. In the same way, if I then reciprocate the invitation, you don’t need to iterate or reiterate the practical, absolute, and/or relative benefits of coffee shop patronage. This is what we colloquially call “preaching to the choir”. I’ve already conceded the the value of coffee shopping with you, and welcomed and reciprocated the idea. So why beg and implore? To beg someone who’s already said yes is actually counterproductive to the issue. If you beg and plead in the face of rank acquiescence then you certainly show yourself a madman…one of which should be avoided at all costs, up to and including a restraining order. Which means that your encouragement to a given end is beside the point. You are insane and so must be, by logical extension, your ideas and avocations and group affiliations. You don’t need to beg for something you already possess, is my point. For all you Reformed Christians, you should save your begging for Judgement Day, because on that day, since your salvation is completely arbitrary, you might need it.
Then again, I suppose by the fact that Reformed “salvation” is by God’s arbitrary whim, and has nothing whatsoever to do with you, because you are evil personified according to your very own metaphysic of Total Depravity, you probably won’t.
At any rate, notice that the contradiction is, again, purely ostensible. It’s not really what the author(s) are saying here. And this is why we must be so very careful not to get involved with this movement (Reformed theology, especially new Calvinism). Because, for all of their sophism and the buckets upon buckets of cognitive dissonance, they are very good at presenting their appeals to their absolute authority and divine right to coerce you into their will by FORCE and VIOLENCE and INTIMIDATION as something to which you must personally agree and something which somehow involves your voluntary participation and permission and valued contribution. They have had years to perfect their surreptitious approach, and they wield their subliminally seductive style as masterfully as a snake wields its technique of hiding perfectly still, with prodigious patience, until its prey is within striking distance and is utterly, utterly helpless.
You see, North Point Ministries is not actually engaging in contradiction here. They are not suggesting that you be begged and implored to walk the straight and narrow path of righteousness and holiness. They are begging and imploring you to affiliate with a North Point Ministries “community” group (also known variously as “care”, “small”, or “home” groups depending on which neo-Calvinist church you attend)…and in that group is where you will find a group of consciously or subconsciously indoctrinated thugs who intend to “do whatever it takes” to keep each other “faithful”.
And this phrase “whatever it takes” should naturally terrify us. A cursory glance at the internet reveals just what “whatever” includes. Specifically, I invite you to read John Immel’s article on spiritualtyranny.com which examines the history of former Sovereign Grace Ministries pastor, Larry Tomczak, and the terrifying horror show of his split from his employer. A Hollywood script-writer could scarcely envision a more sinister and dystopian plot…one which involved, among other things, the abject crime of blackmail, whereupon Tomczak’s very child was used as leverage. Indeed, Wes Craven, God rest his soul, would have been hard pressed to conjure up a greater form of evil in his prodigious imagination.
And these are the men who are going to beg you to do anything? As if! You will all obey or you will, sooner or later, suffer the consequences of your temerity. And so will your family and anyone who dares call you “friend”.
This is not to exonerate Tomczak, mind you. As far as I’m aware he is a fully unrepentant Calvinist in his own right, who appealed to the very same right of pastoral authority as those who sought his excruciating demise until that authority was turned upon him. And much like the serial killer who ironically begs for his life before being forced, bawling and blubbering and dripping with snot and spit, into the electric chair, Tomczak begged for absolution from his own Calvinist ideas without ever substantially rejecting them, and which demanded his treatment at the hands of SGM, and demanded that he affirm their actions as just. The irony is just so glorious, and yet so overlooked by these people.
The point I am making is that when these mystic tyrants declare that they will do “whatever it takes”, they mean “whatever it takes”; and we would do well to remember this. When you get down to the root of it, belonging to a church in America today is almost certainly not about salvation…or love, or peace, or prayer, or charity, or compassion, or encouragement, or acceptance, or benevolence, or counsel. It is about Authority, and Authority is Force, and Force is always and fundamentally DEstructive. It is NEVER CONstructive. I promise you this: should you involve yourself in the Reformed movement, with its appeals to the metaphysic of man’s Total and Pervasive Depravity, you will be removed from yourself, one way or another. The point of the ministry is not to exonerate you before God, but to set you before Him–which means THEM, as they are “standing in His stead”, eradicating the difference from your point of view–for the purpose of abject, summary, and categorical destruction; and this after they have taken from you as much free labor and mammon as they can possibly get into their grubby little hands.
So…once you have been love-bombed into the church, and then “begged” and “implored” (which…hilarious choice of words because, as a church member, you have no real choice in the matter; you WILL join the community group or you WILL be ostracized, at best, and quite possibly thought of and pitied as an unsaved, devil-worshiping apostate)…yes, once you are in the church and then “begged” into your quaint little harem of “community”, the question which remains is: Why is it that you feel so obligated to “welcome” and “reciprocate” the “accountability” (sin-sniffing/relentless skepticism) within that “community”?
The answer by now should be self-evident.
The fear of violence. The fear of intimidation. The fear of ostracism. The fear of excommunication. The fear of their Authority to pronounce you hell-bound for all eternity, whilst God and His proxies rejoice and eat s’mores over the perpetual combustion chamber which is your ass.
“…it’s an urgent appeal, and exhortation–a begging even.”
Now, this is where the suspension of disbelief is absolutely necessary. For if we concede the metaphysic of man’s Total Depravity, we must concede the fact that man is entirely insufficient to existence. He can DO no good because he can KNOW no good. And he cannot KNOW good because he cannot DO good. Knowing and doing—-assumptions and actions, are corollaries. If man can know good then he must be able to observe the outcomes of good assumptions, for assumptions do not exist in a vacuum of themselves. And the only way good assumptions can, in fact, be understood as good is to observe them efficacious to a good end. And to observe good outcomes man must concede that they are good with respect to his own inexorable existential frame of reference: himSELF. Which means that the outcomes of those good assumptions are such that man must directly and materially (meaning, in his body) benefit from those assumptions. Which means at the very least man must be able to actively engage in said outcomes, even if he is not the direct cause.
In order for you to receive a good gift, for example, you must be able to enjoy it. And enjoying something requires a material, behavioral interaction with it. The emotional satisfaction one gets from a gift is only possibly if that gift can be physically engaged in some form or another. And if this is true, and it is, then man’s body cannot be totally depraved because it is precisely man’s body which is the means by which man manifests practically and relevantly the good things he is given. All of this is merely to say that there is no such thing as a man who can KNOW good but can never actually, practically, DO good. For even simply enjoying a gift of God must involve not just the mind, but the body. That is, recognizing the goodness of a gift is only possible if man can physically receive it; and to willingly receive a good gift is, in fact, to DO a good thing. That good thing is: acknowledging the goodness of the gift and to physically accept it, or to emotionally or intellectually accept it (as in receiving the “good news”) and then apply its implications practically, which requires the action of the body…or doing, in the very physical and material sense. I have said it before and I will say it again: There can be no assumption without a corresponding behavioral action. If there is absolutely no corresponding action, then the assumption is not, in fact, assumed. This is axiomatic (and complex…and warrants several articles, if not more, in its own right).
But if we concede that man is totally depraved, then neither acknowledging nor doing anything good is possible. Since man is governed entirely by his sinful nature (his depraved metaphysic), he possesses no capacity to choose between a good thing or a bad thing, be it an actual object or a message, and then to act upon that choice because he is entirely a product of his depravity. Moral choice is precluded in such a case. Man IS his evil. There is NO distinction between man and depravity. And since what IS depraved MUST always choose depravity, there is no such thing as choice at all. If you must always choose coffee over tea, because your cognition (“consciousness”) is a product not of your capacity to be self-aware and to rightly evaluate your environment with respect to the absolute reference of your own SELF-context, then the very notion of “choice” becomes ineffectual. It becomes moot. A total contradiction; practically and relevantly impossible.
And since this is the case when we concede Total Depravity, what is the point in begging? What is the point in imploring? You cannot implore the rock not to fall any more than you can implore the wave not to crash. You cannot beg the ice cream not to melt in the summer heat any more than you can beg the cream not to ice in the sub-zero temperatures of a winter’s day. You cannot beg the flame not to devour the match or the shark not to devour the wounded sea lion. They do not respond to begging or exhortation because they are not capable of choosing. It is in their nature to do the very thing you implore them not to do; in which case there is no such relevant thing, to their absolute frame of reference, their nature, as begging.
The only effective action is FORCE.
We must force the flame not to devour the match by snuffing it out. We must force the shark not to devour the sea lion by either killing it, making a pretense of killing it and thus appealing to its survival instinct, or placing a barrier between it and the sea lion. We force the ice cream not to melt by sticking it in the freezer. We force the rock not to fall by moving it, or by stretching a steel net across it.
In the same way, the ecclesiastical leadership at North Point Ministries absolutely know that begging and imploring are useless tactics against the unwashed, depraved masses.
And even more, we must understand that in the context of the Reformed doctrine held by North Point Ministries, begging and imploring are not reasoning. They, themselves, become a very means of force. A cajoling by deception; a manipulation of man’s instinctual and base emotions. It has absolutely nothing to do with appealing to man’s capacity to recognize good options from bad ones, and rationally so, in order that they may display a Christ-like charity which values the individual human being, and his exultation over his slavery to death and misery.
On the contrary, it is merely another manifestation of their assumption that you don’t really get to choose. That your “salvation” must happen in spite of you and your time and your money. You belong to them; and if they could use abject state violence and/or threats of violence to force you into the pews on Sunday, just as the Puritans did, they would. And trust me, they are seeking state power like the dog which has gotten a taste for avian blood seeks the chicken coop where that blood was first taken.
And then, once they’ve manipulated you into the the small groups by their “begging”–by their ostentatious, obsequious, overtures of “love” and “understanding” and “compassion”…the small groups where accountability is “willingly” “welcomed” and “reciprocated”–they will do WHATEVER it takes. And, trust me, that will by no means be limited to “begging” or “imploring”.
The pretense will eventually vanish; and behind the fog you will find not begging, but threats and fear; and ultimately, the greatest panacea to their constant striving for absolute authority: