Context is King

Institutes 3.14.11If you were paying attention to Friday’s post, you probably have some idea of why there’s a bee in my bonnet today, and why I chose the title “Context is King ” for this post.

Mr. Dohse has published a little booklet (which you can read here) that includes a section titled “Relevant Citations” on page 3.  He believes that these citation prove that

Instead of the new birth being a one time event in the life of the believer, making us new creatures, [the Reformers] made the new birth a continual rebirth experience only needed to maintain our salvation. “Why Calvinism is a False Gospel,” 2 (emphasis original).

So, according to Mr. Dohse, this is what both Calvin and those who call themselves Calvinists really believe, because he has been provided with some secret knowledge that only he and a few others are privy to.

So is it true?

The very first quote in the “Relevant Citations” section comes from Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (a note to Mr. Dohse: that’s how the Institutes are properly cited, not as “The Calvin Institutes” [sic]), 3.14.11. The translation I have of the Institutes is the one by Ford Lewis Battles, but seeing that the Battles translation differs from the one cited by Mr. Dohse, I thought it might be best to provide the Latin text followed by my translation:

Postremo legationem de gratuita cum Deo reconciliatione non in unum aut alterm diem promulgari, sed perpetuam in ecclesia esse testatur (II Cor. 5, 18 et 19). Proinde non aliam iustitiam ad finem usque vitae habent fideles, quam quae illic describitur. Manet enim perpetuo Mediator Christus, qui Patrum nobis reconciliet: ac perpetua est mortis eius efficacia, nempe ablutio, satisfactio, expiatio, perfecta denique obedentia, qua iniquitates omnes nostrae conteguntur. Nec Paulus ad Ephesios dicit nos initium salutis habere ex gratia, sed per gratiam salvatos esse, non ex operibus: ne quis glorietur (Eph 2, 8 et 9).

Finally, the message of free reconciliation with God is not to be published just on one day or two, but it is declared to be perpetual in the church (2 Cor. 5:18-19). Even to the end of life, therefore, believers have no other righteousness than that which there is described. For Christ perpetually remains as Mediator to reconcile his Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy to his death, namely, cleansing, atonement, expiation, in short (and finally [?]), a perfect obedience by which all of our iniquities were covered over. Nor does Paul say to the Corinthians that “we have the beginning of salvation from grace,” but that we have been saved through grace, “not by works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

It is noteworthy that the final sentence, which I have included above in bold font, is not included by Mr. Dohse in his atrocious little booklet, “Why Calvinism is a False Gospel.” Could it be that he failed to include the last sentence in the paragraph because it proves that Calvin taught the precise opposite of what Mr. Dohse claims he taught? In fact, the whole final sentence turns on the difference between the phrase, “we have the beginning of salvation from grace,” (nos initium salutis habere ex gratia) and the phrase, “we have been saved…” (salvatos esse).

In short, Calvin is driving home the point that Paul teaches that “justification is past tense and final” (“Why Calvinism is a False Gospel, 2). I imagine Mr. Dohse will immediately issue a retraction, and remove the citation from his booklet.



2 thoughts on “Context is King

  1. Paul Dohse didn’t include the final sentence in “Why Calvinism is a False Gospel” ,but he did include it in this video made before his 2013 conference.
    As you can see, he considers it a “shocking statement” from Calvin. The video makes clear he is obviously reading his personal meanings into the material.

  2. It is interesting to see your observations here. I have written similarly on my blog about Mr. Dohse. My appeal to him has been to represent our views accurately. Let him fight what we truly believe all he wishes, but the misrepresentation needs to stop. The truth will prevail. BTW, I am also southern by the grace of God.

"I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve." (Romans 16:17-18) Please read "The Comments Policy."

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