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Michael Horton’s “contrived empire”: did Calvin deny “Christendom”?

Tue, 08/23/2016 - 09:19

A colleague asked me about Michael Horton’s claim that John Calvin referred to “Christendom”—the idea that Christianity should prevail in all aspects of society—as a “contrived empire.” “Did Calvin really say that?” because, “I can’t find it anywhere.” So, I set out to see what Horton said that Calvin said, and whether Calvin really said it. All Christendom was at stake.

Indeed Horton makes this claim. He writes, “Opposing what he called the ‘contrived empire’ of Christendom, Calvin says that we must recognize that we are ‘under a two-fold government. . . .’”

And indeed, Horton appears to hold this claim very dear, for he has repeated it in many publications: it’s in his Introduction to Covenant Theology (p. 125)1), an article “In Praise of Profanity: A Theological Defense of the Secular” (p. 259)2), a Christianity Today article “The Only ‘Christian Nation’”3, a Ligonier article “A Tale of Two Kingdoms,” other interviews and articles4, and probably other places as well, for example, his seminary classroom.

In fact, since this article was first published on August 4, 2011, and the reprinted in my eBook, Inglorious Kingdoms, Michael Horton has still continued repeating it, for example in his book Calvin on the Christian Life (see p. 215), despite the fact that the claim, as we shall review below, is thoroughly repudiated.

In one place, Horton expresses this claim in the broadest terms. In answering an interview question of whether the Reformers ever intended to “transform culture,” he replies flatly, “No.” He explains, “I think it’s important to remember that that was not the Reformation’s aim. Christendom had already tried that at an earlier time, and Calvin called it the ‘contrived’ empire.’” From this we can see that by “Christendom” Horton means a broad view in which Christianity transforms all aspects of culture, or applies God’s Word to every area of life, and that Horton means to say Calvin utterly rejected this view of Christian living as a “contrived empire.”

Is this really what Calvin said?

What Calvin really said

Unfortunately, Dr. Horton has misrepresented Calvin here—both in Calvin’s use of the phrase and in his view of Christian society in general. Let’s look at what Calvin really said.

Calvin does indeed use the phrase “contrived empire”: in his Institutes, 4.11.13, in Battles’ translation. But Horton is quite wrong: Calvin in no sense applies this to “Christendom,” and certainly not to the broader sense of the term. Rather, Calvin’s argument in both the immediate and larger context actually supports, rather strongly, a view of Christendom.

The “contrived empire” to which Calvin refers is not “Christendom,” but rather the fraudulent papal empire purported by the so-called “Donation of Constantine” (DoC). Calvin explicitly refers to this by name in the two previous sections, 11 and 12, of chapter 11. He then refers to it as “this contrived empire” in section 13. “This” specific “empire” to which Calvin actually refers was “contrived” not because the ideal of Christian law, Christian rulers, or Christian society is contrived (Horton’s position), but because the document of the DoC was itself literally a forgery. This was exposed by Lorenzo Valla in 1440, and became widely known. Calvin knew of the forgery, and refers by name to Valla in section 12. Thus he calls this particular, historically-bound, purported province of the Pope a “contrived empire”—for it literally was forged. He makes no such reference to the idea of Christendom in general. Horton apparently misread Calvin, and as a result has made a rather stunning error in application. The question is, why does he now persist in this error since it has been made public for over five years now?

We should also note that Battles’ rendering of “contrived” is not necessarily helpful to the modern popular reader. Battles uses the Latin of 1559 for the base text, in which the phrase is “commentitium hoc imperium.” The older English translation by Beveridge renders it “fictitious empire,” which is probably better. “Forged empire” I think would get the point across best, for Calvin is alluding to a forged document on which a false claim to empire was made, and thus making a double-entendre of the idea of forgery. But Battles always checked his translation of the Latin against Calvin’s own 1560 French translation, and the French has “Empire controuvé.” Thus Battles used an English word that appeared equivalent, “contrived.” But I don’t know that this is truly equivalent, especially considering the nuances in usage over the past 500 years.

Calvin’s meaning is also apparent from the fact that the rest of the very sentence in which that phrase appears alludes to a specific historical time frame: “But if anyone should ask at what time this contrived empire began to rise up, not yet five hundred years have passed since the pontiffs were still in subjection to the princes and no pontiff was created apart from the emperor’s authority.” Calvin would of course decry the emperor’s usurpation of ordinations as much as the reverse, but his point here is to dispel the notion that the ancient church would allow bishops to seize the power of the sword. And he points back 500 years in the historical record to make this point.

Calvin in defense of Christendom

Also contrary to Horton’s contrived representation, in the very next section, 14, Calvin actually speaks in defense of “Christendom.” He laments the papal usurpations for having “troubled” and “nearly destroyed it”—the “it” being Christendom. In other words, it would be a bad thing if Christendom were to be destroyed. Rather, Christendom is a thing to be preserved and advanced in Calvin’s view, but the papal abuses almost brought it down. Calvin goes on to make the historical context very specific. He narrows the “not yet five hundred years” by this statement:

about 130 years ago they [the popes] reduced the city itself (at that time free) to their control, until they came into the authority they hold today; and for some two hundred years they have so troubled Christendom in their efforts to hold or increase that authority . . . that they have nearly destroyed it.

The word “Christendom” here is Battles’ translation of the text, which actually says “christianum orbem” in Calvin’s Latin, and is more literally translated “Christian world.” In other words, during the 1300s, by trying to usurp the civil sword throughout the whole part of the world that was dominated by Christianity, the Pope almost destroyed the whole society.

Horton never mentions this very narrow historical context, despite the fact that it appears explicitly in Calvin’s preceding sections—twice on the facing page—and is explained in a lengthy footnote by the editor (John T. McNeill) on the very same page. Calvin even refers to the DoC by name again at the end of the very section (on the next page) from which the quoted phrase is taken, but Horton still says nothing of it. He also never footnotes it (thus no one can check his usage without the difficulty of tracking down the phrase somewhere in Calvin’s dozens of volumes), despite using the argument repeatedly in many publications.

Had Horton been more careful, he would have noted that other parts of the same chapter 11 actually uphold the “Christendom” view in which rulers should govern as Christians—in submission to Christian discipline, according to God’s Word, and for the sustenance of God’s covenant people. In section 4 of chapter 11, Calvin argues that while the clergy should not bear the power of the sword (agreed), the magistrate should nevertheless subject himself to the law and discipline of the church. He writes that

the magistrate, if he is godly, will not want to exempt himself from the common subjection of God’s children. It is by no means the least significant part of this for him to subject himself to the church, which judges according to God’s Word—so far ought he to be from setting that judgment aside!

He then quotes Ambrose: “For what is more honorable than for the emperor to be called a son of the church? For a good emperor is within the church, not over the church.”

Calvin returns to this theme as his final thought at the end of chapter 11 (section 16). For the very reason that the church itself has no power of coercion, it is even more pressing that the magistrates subject themselves to Christianity and support it by the civil power they rightfully possess, for “it is the duty of godly kings and princes to sustain religion by law, edicts, and judgments.”

Contrary to what Horton contrives it to say, Calvin’s teaching here actually supports “Christendom” rather than refuting it. Simply reading Calvin’s context shows us who is really involved in a contrivance. Horton has more in common with the ancient forgers of documents than with Calvin’s view of society.

Conclusion

So did Horton even read the whole chapter? Did he read it carefully? If not he needs to go back, reread, and then amend his misrepresentation of Calvin in a half-dozen or more public statements. If so, then he has some explaining to do as to why he so often presents Calvin as deriding something he actually supported. Would this not be a false witness? Or just a repeated mistake? I await the clarification.

I’ve been waiting five years.

I would counsel those interested to reread the entire 11th chapter of book 4 in order fully to understand Calvin’s context: the limits of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. This, Calvin argues, had been greatly abused by the Roman Church since at least the 1200s. He rehearses the gradual slide of the Roman church into full usurpation of the civil magistrate’s sword, starting originally with local bishops here and there abusing their practice of private arbitration, then seeking more and more power, then land, then full civil power; then eventually the Pope claimed it for all of the lands alleged by the DoC (most of the Mediterranean world).

Calvin, however, nowhere says anything against the Gospel transforming culture, or Christians impacting and transforming every area of life, and he certainly never argues that rulers should not submit to Christ and his Church. Calvin’s point is simply that the church should not control the sword, but he would hardly say that therefore the sword has no obligation to submit to the gospel and God’s law. He does not criticize the idea of Christendom. Indeed, just the opposite—Calvin wants to restore Christendom to a proper balance of powers.

Students interested in Calvin’s views on the subject would be wise to read Calvin very carefully, and Horton even more carefully.

(Get this essay and many more like it in Inglorious Kingdoms: Saving the Public Square from the Tyrannies of Bad Theology.)

(Cover art by Bertram Poole Art.)

Notes:

  1. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2006
  2. In Bruce Benson and Peter Heltzel, eds. Evangelicals and Empire: Christian Alternatives to the Political Status Quo (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2008
  3. under the pseudonym “Knox Bucer-Beza”
  4. See “Why Two Kingdoms?” Modern Reformation, Oct. 2000
Categories: Worldview

Millennials’ hand strength makes conservatives lose their grip on reality

Fri, 08/19/2016 - 09:30

If you think of mainstream conservatism as the proverbial guy hanging from a cliff for dear life, a recent study published by The Journal of Hand Therapy may seem a lot more relevant—because these pundits are about to lose their grip.

Earlier this week, the Washington Post related the results of a study that seems to show that young men today have less strength in their grip than men of just 30 years ago. This revelation sparked reactionary articles about the “wilted lettuce leaf” handshakes of the American male.

Spying the opportunity to pronounce how much greater their generation of real men was than the targets of their current midlife angst—dreaded “Millennials”—some conservative writers seized the moment (with the strength of a Vulcan death-grip, you can be sure) to remind us once again of the good ol’ days before the war on boys destroyed the last vestiges of chest hair and gumption.

National Review’s David French, for example, had a grand old walk down memory lane to tell us how much manlier he was back in the day, and how he’s raising his own son to be a hulkin’ beast-man in comparison (when they’re not playing World of Warcraft together, of course). And he tells us why all this has come to pass:

In the age of instant oil change (why entrust your car’s health to your 16-year-old?), ubiquitous lawn services, and on-demand handymen, privileged kids simply don’t have the same, naturally occurring opportunities to learn to work with their hands and to develop physical strength. In the age of zero-tolerance school-disciplinary policies — where any kind of physical confrontation is treated like a human-rights violation — they have less opportunity to develop toughness. Today’s young males don’t have common touchstones for what it’s like to grow up to be a man.

While this may seem intuitive to us given the “emasculation of the American male” rhetoric in our circles for a decade now, it’s hard to comprehend how poorly short-sighted French’s comments really are. I’ll limit myself to two point here: first, playing fast and loose with facts in order to score a red-meat rhetorical point, and second, the real reason American conservatism has consistently failed.

A loose grip on the facts

First, all the headlines pouncing on this study have not paid too much actual attention to the details. French, for example, makes this out to be an indicator of the loss of manhood among male youth. But the details of the study (and others like it) are actually opposite such a conclusion. USA Today relates two separate facts that make this clear:

Grip strength is not consistently linked with overall strength in studies of athletes and fit young people, says Peter Ronai, a clinical associate professor of exercise science at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Conn. . . .

And one large study found that men with weak grips at midlife, ages 45 to 68, were more likely than men with strong grips to be disabled 25 years later [my emphasis—JM].

Since the present study included men under 30, its results actually mean very little if anything in regard to their overall strength or its development, as French laments. Instead, the correlation in play actually pertains to men later in life—French’s demographic, actually—that is, men who may have a weaker grip in midlife.

Further, the study does not even necessarily compare apples and apples. It pits a small group of college student in North Carolina to a more general group of men in Milwaukee. While the older sample is said to have included college students, it almost certainly included factory workers, brewery workers, truckers, and much more from the general population. It should not take a rocket scientist to figure out that a sample including blue-collar workers will usually out grip a gaggle of sociologists in-training.

What’s worst about this rush to judgment is that conservatives pride themselves as the bastion of honesty and integrity in a media dominated by liberal lies, half-truths, and rushes to judgment. Just this week, Ann Coulter blasted the liberal press for just such behavior. But dangle one little sliver of apparent red meat proving the influence of feminism on “our boys,” and conservative Piranha fly into a blood-frenzy like liberals on a Trump quote. They didn’t even have time to say “facts be damned,” they just pounce without thinking the problem through.

A lost grip on reality

This lack of thought is indicative of the greater problem, my second point. Conservatism has been as badly beset by humanism and rationalism as the left virtually from its inception. This is why it always loses, and this process is as clear here in this issue as it is anywhere.

If the Bible is to be the foundational guide—as it ought to be—where, oh where, in the Bible is “physical strength” the sine qua non of what it means “to grow up to be a man.”

It is arguable that most influential man in western history aside from Jesus himself was a man whose nickname—by which we know him most—translates into English as “little guy.” That man was Saul, also known as Paul the Apostle. (Contrary to popular belief, “Paul” was not a name change given at his conversion, but merely a Roman counterpart to his actual Hebrew name.)

Paul’s name as most likely derived from his form: he was so diminutive that his readers were shocked when he actually showed up in their presence. His letters seemed so bold! Yet in person, “his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account” (2 Cor. 10:10).

I’ll bet his grip strength didn’t compare much even to the average American college student.

Yet this unimpressive, little guy turned the entire Mediterranean world upside down with character traits: persistence, fortitude, and unbending faithfulness. Then followed the whole western world.

David, likewise, who was indeed a man of war, nevertheless did not fell the giant through feats of strength. In fact, it was the symbols of power and national greatness who were all standing sidelined, despite their highly developed size and strength, despite their military experience. Saul, who has been chosen precisely because of his physical prowess, was standing idle due to one thing: fear. Precisely because they judged their manliness by outward measures, they had forgotten God.

Young David walked among them with something far more potent: the law of God and a conviction to stand for it. His words were, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him.” This was a direct application of God’s laws for warfare: “When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (Deut. 20:1).

Granted, David had plenty of opportunity in his youth to develop physical strength, and he did; but this is not what was needed at this crucial moment. What was needed was mindfulness of God’s law, and faithfulness to be courageous in following it. He needed only enough grip strength to grasp a sling.

Please tell me where, in all the lists of fruits of the Spirit, is there any praise given to physical strength or the development of it? I read about developing “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:23), but only a passing warning against the fleeting and limited usefulness of developing great physical strength: “while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way” (1 Tim. 4:8).

Manliness in Scripture is rarely spoken of in terms of development of physical strength (certainly not as a focus or directive), but of the courage to remain faithful to the convictions of God’s truth through whatever trial may come. In fact, the word for “be a man” in Biblical Greek is used as a synonym for “be courageous” and is used to highlight how one should “stand firm in the faith” (1 Cor. 16:13).

The biblical lessons are augmented by historical lessons. Never forget that arguably the most influential male force in American history—who dominated the Constitutional Convention, authored most of the Constitution, and intellectually and politically manhandled his competition for a lifetime—was the 5’-4” 90-lb weakling James Madison. Grip strength? Barely enough to hold a feather.

But that was all it took when paired with ceaseless effort and unwavering conviction.

Why do conservatives so often neglect their Bible so? It is because of what they have always done: they take their cues from pagan sources of “conservatism”—often classical Rome and Greece. Whether French is doing this consciously or not, I don’t know, but it is often a malady among conservatives.

Indeed, the overweening focus on physical strength as a measure of what it means to be a man is much more reflective of classical Greece and Rome than anything Christian, and it is actually quite more liberal than anything. The origins of physical prowess as a standard for youth lies in the Greek Gymnasia, and along with this developed the ancient Greek legacy of homosexuality. Such relationships developed as older men sat around reminiscing about their own younger days as they coveted the grip strength of naked young athletes performing in front of them.

This idealism, obsessing about “physical fitness,” was later resurrected by Rousseau, Prussian apostates, and their American counterparts beginning in the 1830s or so. Dewey was later eaten up with it.

American conservatives cannot see past the socially-engineered box in which they have been placed by their liberal educators, or the humanistic presuppositions of the curriculum taught to them by every liberal-in-nationalistic-garb from Homer and Plato to Bill Bennett and Victor Davis Hanson.

I’ll make French a deal: I’ll work out for six months and give him the firmest handshake he’s had in a long time, if he’ll tell his National Review audience how much their public schools are insperably founded upon the humanism of Plato and Rousseau (via Mann and Dewey), and that a true conservative ought to want to see them abolished.

Classicism is pagan, not Christian. It is not worth conserving. It is, in fact, destructive of liberty and character. And the view of greater physical strength as what it means to “be a man” is a vestige of classical paganism.

This is why so many Christians and conservatives today are obsessed with ever-increasing police and military power as answers to our social ills. Standing firm for civil rights is, by them, associated with weakness, criminality, the fringe left, hippies, idleness, and the shadiness of those who have something to hide. Never mind the origins of these principles in the Bible.

Folks, we’ve gotten things backwards.

Nothing here is to say that physical strength in itself is bad, or that young men ought not to be fit and apt to work. But the moment you make it strength the measure of manhood, you leave Christian faith and step into paganism.

When you rush to hasty generalizations based upon incomplete facts in order to pronounce such, it speaks of the very perverted type of media of the very leftists and feminists you decry.

When the lust to decry your enemies’ wickedness drives you to act just like them, something’s gone wrong somewhere. It would be good to back up and study the little Hannahs, Davids, and Pauls of divine strength. The obsession with grip strength will make you lose your grip on God’s reality.

Categories: Worldview

Deliverance from our Stockholm’s Syndrome

Wed, 08/17/2016 - 15:13

by Trevaris J. Tutt

We may feel proactive and involved in change, especially by figuring out whom to vote for in this upcoming election, but the truth is we are complacent and comfortable. We think progress is the State changing abortion laws from it being illegal at nine months to it being illegal at only three months. We think progress is choosing who seems to be the most conservative candidate to represent our nation. We live in complete fear at the possibility of one person holding opposite values of us becoming President.

Many happily send their children to public school and dare not to let their children miss too many days lest the Parents get in trouble by mom and dad . . . I mean the State. Many fight for homeschool rights only still to submit themselves with joy to the regulations of the Department of Education. Many who homeschool, happily submit their portfolios, or with joy hand over their money to “certified” teachers, to make sure they are doing this education thing right (because you know how incompetent we are).

We celebrate with ignorance when we get our children’s birth certificates. We celebrate our licenses that give us permission to marry someone and subject our families to the jurisdiction of the State. We condemn people who are trying to make a living because they are not licensed properly. People flash what we call cash on social media, not realizing it is like holding up a bunch of IOUs. Around February each year, many celebrate when they receive their own money back, some with a bonus from their neighbors. Why do we rejoice at so many measures of tyranny?

What this tells me is that we have a condition called Stockholm’s Syndrome.

Stockholm’s Syndrome

Stockholm’s Syndrome is when a hostage begins to feel affections or trust towards their captor. The name of this “psychological diagnosis”, comes from a hostage situation that occurred in Stockholm, Sweden. In August of 1973, a convict named Jan-Erik Olsson, on leave from prison, ended up conducting an armed robbery in a bank. Someone was able to hit the silent alarm button, but Olsson was able to wound the policemen who came to rescue. He made demands of money, a car, and even a release of a friend. Since he had hostages, the police met his demands. However, Olsson required that he was able to leave with the four hostages to ensure his escape. The police refused this demand.

While the hostages were inside waiting to be rescued, however, it is said Olsson comforted them. He gave a jacket to one who was cold; he allowed movement for another who was claustrophobic; he allowed phone calls to family. The hostages began to form a bond with him to the point where one of the testimonies was that “he treated us well.” Hostages reported more fear of the police than of Olsson. They even defended Olsson in their testimonies that he did not hurt them.

Stockholm’s Syndrome is said to occur for several possible reasons: because the victim sympathizes with their captor for survival, grows a bond after being with them for a while, begins to share values, or the captor nurtures them.

This phenomenon reminds me of the movie John Q. in which Denzel Washington plays a father whose son needs a heart transplant. His insurance, however, will not cover it, so he is denied. The desperate father then takes an emergency room hostage demanding a heart transplant for his son. The hostages are all people who are also there for their own medical emergencies. They all are afraid and frustrated at first, but this father begins to show them care, and they find that they share views on insurance. They begin to discuss it, and soon they are talking like they are sitting on a couch fellowshipping at someone’s house. It was like they forgot they were being held hostage. With a newly-formed bond, they ended up defending this father. Some even ended up helping him. One of the ladies who was eventually released was greeted with a host of reporters who were eager to hear the horror story, only to hear her say, “He’s a good man!”

In real life, there are many examples of Stockholm Syndrome. Children or women who get kidnapped and over time built a relationship with their abductor—no longer seeing them as a threat. This is frequently true in human trafficking today: many women who are forced into it end up resigned to it and do not see a reason to leave even if they have a chance. Likewise, while there were many slaves in the American South who escaped or attempted to escape, many never even tried because they felt they had a “good master.” They were fed, after all, so they saw no point of leaving. Many people, after serving long prison sentences, have no problem going back. Some may even desire to do so. Some will continue to commit crimes in order to go back. They know outside of prison it is harder than the certainty of bed and food they grew used to on the inside, and they have psychologically suppressed the indignity and servitude.

Under our own forms of servitude, we have become complacent in the same way. Just as Olsson gave a jacket to his cold hostage, our government gives us a pacifier to be quiet. It gives us incentives to comfort us and hush us up. When comfort won’t do, it uses the power of the police state to scare us into submission.  So we then accept the tyranny for its comforts and its parental discipline. We then grow affections towards our captor and naively support it with our devotion to the left or the right.

Stockholm’s Syndrome in the Bible

When Moses led Israel out of Egypt and the people faced hardship in the wilderness, they began to reminisce about Egypt. They complained and whined to Moses about how they wanted meat and how in Egypt they would be eating well. They seemed to have forgotten all of the harsh treatment and the fact that they were slaves in Egypt or they did not care anymore. They were willing to go back to hardship rather than to trust God and have Him provide for them. Faced with the responsibility of freedom, they preferred the slavery of their captors. Even after seeing God do wonder after wonder for them, they still doubted God when faced with the walls of Jericho.

Israel was always faced with the temptation to trust man instead of God. Even when going against Assyria, some Jewish leaders wanted an alliance with Egypt rather than trusting in God’s power. “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!” (Isa. 31:1).

This is also our constant battle, to put our trust in man or God. It seems that it is a hard task to help people see this when as a nation we have developed a sense of Stockholm’s Syndrome for a government that is progressively going against God.

In times like these, we need leaders who are able to encourage the people to put their trust in God and not man, and who will encourage people to not fear man or the tyrannical State.

America’s better way

Our Constitution, although not perfect, was founded by men who were resisting tyranny. It was shaped around biblical values and God-given rights. This same constitution, built on these biblical values, allows for disobedience against unconstitutional laws. The constitution was written to protect us from the type of government we currently have and that is progressing. We must remember that the freedoms that we do still experience in this country were not given to us on a silver platter but on bloody battlefields. John Adams once wrote to his wife, “Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it.” Men were willing to fight and die for their freedoms, including the freedom from unjust taxation which many celebrate every summer.

Consider how this view of resistance is written directly in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That WHENEVER any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness [emphasis added].

Even during the time of the American Revolution, however, you had many people who suffered from Stockholm Syndrome. These remained loyal to the British Empire to avoid conflict, and were called “Loyalists.” Although they probably did not like paying higher taxes, they were not willing to go against the King. Some slaves remained Loyalist only because Britain promised them freedom if they fought, which I can sympathize with. But there were also many people who were just waiting around for freedom and independence, some who thought it was morally wrong to go against tyranny and believed their suffering to be legitimate, some who were pessimistic about liberation, some who were afraid, some who were financially attached, and many who were emotionally attached.

I believe our country is filled with many such Loyalists today, and for some of the same reasons listed above, as well as ignorance. I believe that the indoctrination in our public schools has made us passive. The American Revolution as taught in schools today would never encourage the type of defense of freedom that existed then. The pulpit is also to blame. They are filled with passive pastors who will not speak out against tyranny, whose only concern is the soul and not society, who preach against preachers who preach against tyranny, who have Romans 13 “submission” stamped on their foreheads without proper interpretation, 501(c)3 agents and not prophets. We have become too comfortable with our oppressor, and we put our trust in their strength.

Deliverance from Stockholm Syndrome

The first step is to recognize that we have a problem. We need to realize the bondage we are in. As long as we act as if the next president will solve all of our problems, compromise God’s law to gain an apparent inch towards righteousness, and create more laws that burden the people, we will remain in bondage. As long as we think a country is free when Olympic Medal Winners are punished with heavy taxes for winning, where murder is called a woman’s choice, where CPS can abduct your children without question, where the government forces healthcare and vaccinations on people, allows no real property rights, and believes prison is justice for thieves and murderers, then we will continue embracing our captors all the way to our destruction. We need to wake up and acknowledge the lawful slavery we have embraced for ourselves, see the unjust laws as an attempt to dethrone God, and oppose the tyranny.

Deliverance must begin with pulpit. During the time of the American Revolution, although you had other social issues such as slavery that needed to be dealt with, you had preachers who were motivating the people to resist the tyrannical government. Some were even encouraging raising funds for the army and its support for the war effort. Even when you look at the history of the Pilgrims who fled from England due to tyranny: they were motivated by the preachers in the pulpit. The preachers had to motivate them towards righteousness but also to encourage them to trust God and endure suffering.

Pastors must stop defending a nation against God, stop encouraging blind submission, and teach their congregation to count the cost. Pastors must usher their congregation out of the slumber of Stockholm’s Syndrome. Pastors must teach their congregations how Christians can have an authentic voice in their communities and in the nation rather than allowing them to remain plugged in to the political matrix voting for the “lesser of two evils.”

When we teach our congregations to vote for one candidate merely out of fear of the other, we have already accepted a government that allows too much power in one person’s hands, or in the hands of captors who are using candidates as mascots. We already admit they have too much power; when we vote for this current system, therefore, we are condoning it. We must acknowledge the whole system is broken and not just the President.

The truth is, even if a candidate agrees with us on abortion, foreign policy, vaccinations, health care, etc., we must remember that the biblical view of government demands its role to be far more limited than what we have. It is simply time to break out of our Stockholm Syndrome and start the limiting. Pastors must equip their congregations how to get involved locally to reform from the bottom up. There are brothers who already have laid some foundations to mobilize the church in this work. Restoring America One County at a Time by Joel McDurmon and The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates by Matthew Trewhella are good places to start.

***

Trevaris J. Tutt is the Pastor/Church Planter of Truth and Grace Bible Church in the inner city of Jacksonville, Florida. He is married with four children: two boys and two girls. He is an entrepreneur and is currently working on writing books to educate and edify the body of Christ on doctrine, apologetics, history, and biblical worldview.

Categories: Worldview

When the messianic-welfare state tries to replace God (a sermon on Acts 12)

Tue, 08/16/2016 - 14:17

“Nourished by the Kings Country,” by Dr. Joel McDurmon
August 14, 2016, at Christ Church CREC, Branchville, AL

http://d1s6yijfrvmtp9.cloudfront.net/static/2016/08/16141505/2016-08-14-McDurmon-sermon-Acts-12.mp3

 

 

Categories: Worldview

Hand over heart: Americans blast Gabby Douglas for acting a free and brave American

Thu, 08/11/2016 - 14:22

I’m going to chalk this one up to homeschooling: independence, individuality, bravery, fortitude, and class. Go, Gabby!

A couple days ago it became national news when American gymnast Gabby Douglas neglected to put her hand over her heart for the national anthem. More accurately, it was national news that social media blew up with outrage over this omission.

Well, yeah! How dare a national representative not fall in lock-step with the mandated national liturgy! How dare she act like an individual! How dare she swim upstream! How dare she have independent thoughts or actions! How dare she not bleat with the herd! How dare she act like she’s . . . free!

I’m mean think about it. It’s one thing to sing “land of the free,” but it’s a whole different thing to act like it! We’re not supposed to do it, actually. I mean, yes, we preach good ol’ American independence, but we really demand collective conformity. It’s especially bad when an icon, an athlete, a representative star breaks ranks with the fascism that lies beneath the façade of freedom. That just might influence the children!

The whole blow-up reminds me of the famous pic of August Landmasser—better known to perpetuity as “that guy who refused to salute,” or, the guy from the “be this guy” meme.

Yeah, Mr. Landmesser was expected to fall in line with national liturgy. He was expected to give the Nazi salute in his homeland. But he had fallen in love with a Jewess. Love does strange things to people. In this case, it opened his eyes to the evils of National Socialistic racism. For his independence and bravery, he was rewarded with prison, and then military conscription—which proved fatal.

Folks, here’s the lesson: nationalistic collectivism = bad; individual liberty = good. Go and do thou likewise. Class dismissed.

Looking back we can see the evils that consumed a whole nation, and we can easily condemn them. We can also easily support those who resisted the tide, and we can even let our imaginations run wild thinking we’d be like that guy, too. But you see it ain’t so easy to do.

It’s easy to condemn the nationalism of a by-gone era. It’s much harder to admit we have our own. The national outrage over one person merely neglecting to put hand-over-heart during the national anthem ought to be startling evidence to you.

My suspicion is that every American who’s anger swelled in-breast at this great affront immediately began judgement. She’s black. Probably a leftist already and consumed with #BLM entitlement mentality. She’s probably a Muslim and hates America.

No. She’s a Christian, she’s homeschooled, and her parents taught her to work hard and achieve.

And she did it. And when she won her first gold medal in 2012, the first thing she did was give glory to God.

She says, “Being homeschooled also helps build my self-discipline and time management.”

Would that the knee-jerk critics from the herd would learn more self-discipline.

Not to mention history. There is ample reason Christians should avoid the automatic “hand-over-heart” mentality. I suspect Gabby’s reason may not have been ideological. She was simply standing respectfully and just neglected the nationalistic pose. I could be wrong. If so, she is perfectly warranted in exercising her freedom according to Christian conscience.

Poor girl has, in fact, probably never experienced the collectively-enforced ritual of a class mandated to place hand over heart and recite a national pledge or anthem. And good for her, and her parents. We need more of these.

She did issue an apology—but only generally for offending some people and with an assurance she meant no disrespect. She did not explicitly acknowledge it as wrong not to “salute the flag” by placing her hand in a certain gesture—and I say good for her, she should stand firm at that position.

If we are to salute anything, it is to be God’s name alone (Deut. 6:13; 10:20). No Christian needs to feel cajoled by any peer pressure otherwise. Stand firm and let no man intimidate you with idols.

What in the world is America all about, after all? Are we free and brave like we sing? Do we really believe it? Practice what you preach, Christian. Be brave. Be free. Back off. Act like free Christians who respect freedom. Quit acting like Nazis.

Don’t hide your Christian heart under the bushel of nationalism.

[And for the record, U.S. olympians don’t receive a single cent of taxpayer funding.]
Categories: Worldview

Power and Authority: putting Hillary v. Trump in perspective

Tue, 08/09/2016 - 20:44

Of the many important sections (most of them) of R. J. Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law, one stands out as a lesson for today’s political season (in truth, every political season). This is a section on the difference between political power and legitimate authority.

A godly society requires both godly power and godly authority. You can have either, or neither, or either one in an ungodly fashion. For example, whoever wins the upcoming presidential contest in the U.S., you can be assured of a humanistic legitimacy, but not a godly authority. Thus, you can also be assured that the political power that follows will also be ungodly.

The truth is that since the vast majority of governments—federal, state, and local—today hold anti-biblical laws on their books, they indeed have power but not godly authority to enforce many of their laws.

Rushdoony began this section (Institutes, pp. 773–777) with the command to judge our own disputes based in 1 Corinthians 6:

St. Paul, in reminding the Corinthian Christians of their destiny, said, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” (1 Cor. 6:2). . . . In trying to establish the necessary church government towards this end, Paul’s constant appeal was, not to the form of church government or to the members, but to the law of God and the growth of the saints in terms of it (1 Cor. 6:15-9:27). Judging, governing, or managing of the world is in terms of God’s law. . . .

Why is this crucial? Rushdoony spends a few paragraphs reminding us of the reality in ancient Greece and Rome: Parents had total power over their children, and could sell or kill them at will up to a certain age. Likewise, masters had total control over their slaves, and could kill them at will.

Rushdoony highlights Homer’s Odyssey, in which Odysseus and Telemachus exercise just such powers. Twelve of their female slaves were raped. Instead of avenging the rapists, these two Greek icons hung to death the poor victims. They had no care for the crime committed, but for the dishonor done to themselves! Much like some segments of radical Islam, the rapists went free and the victims were put to death! Except, this wasn’t radical Islam, it was humanistic, enlightened ancient Greece! Rushdoony condemns this humanistic law: “Law for them had no higher reach than themselves” (774).

He then continues to explain how this power government was lawless and did not have a share in godly authority. His discussion affects us today as well:

The question of authority is inseparable from law in any biblical sense. A primary meaning of authority is, “The right to command and to enforce obedience; the right to act officially.” The origin of authority is a Latin word, augeo, increase. Authority has a natural increase to it. True authority prospers and abounds. Power and authority are not identical words. Power is strength or force; power can and often does exist without authority. The power of Odysseus and Telemachus, and the powers of the Roman Empire, were real powers, but, in terms of God’s law, they lacked authority, although they had a formal authority merely as legitimate governments in their societies. . . .

The church must, by its faithfulness to the law-word of God, establish, strengthen, and increase its authority. Its power will increase, St. Paul indicated to the Corinthians, as Christians obey the law of God and as the church applies it to its internal affairs, and as it calls upon its member-citizens to apply it to the world around them.

The ground of this increased power is Jesus Christ, who declared, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). As the absolute possessor of all power, He is the predestinating source of all immediate power. He is also the perfect coincidence of power and authority. In the school of history, the church is held back, rebuked, and humbled whenever its power ceases to be grounded in the authority of Christ’s law-word, or wherever its authority seeks support in other lords than Christ. The church is required to teach all men and nations “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20). His presence and His power undergird those who teach the observance of all that Christ commands.

Power, when divorced from godly authority, becomes progressively demonic. Authority can be legitimate in a human sense, resting on succession or election, and yet be immoral and hostile to God’s order. Thus, the authority of Nero was somewhat legitimate, and Christians were required to obey him, but his authority was ungodly and implicitly and explicitly satanic in its development. True order requires that both power and authority be godly in their nature and application. . . .

Where power and true authority are together, there man does not play God; he serves God in terms of His law, and he prays to God. Power and authority are used to further godly order, not human hopes of order.

In a biblical law-order, no one has unchecked, absolute power: not families, fathers, businesses, churches, nor the state or any of its agents. Without sanction according to God’s law, earthly powers lack godly authority. They may have legitimate power in the seats of rule, but they lack godly authority. They are subject to censure from pulpit and street alike according to God’s Word.

This point is absolutely crucial for many reasons. It gives us a basis for considering all levels of modern governments. It applies, we need to acknowledge, from the family level to the civil government level, from the county court house to the White House. Where a “power” abuses or exceeds its authority, a lesser power or even individual may ignore or even resist that power upon godly authority.

Consider this distinction in regard to the current episode of American Idol known as the presidential campaign. Must we vote for a lesser of two evils? Must we support a Trillary or a Hump? Must we submit to one or the other?

The question is akin to asking whether we must support Caligula or Nero Caesar? Shall we support the guy who appointed his horse to the Senate and ordered arbitrary executions, or the guy who lit impaled Christians on fire to light his gardens? Yes, we must to a certain degree acknowledge their power, but their legitimacy is tremendously undermined to the extent they reject God’s law. This sole factor undermines their genuine authority, for it reveals the extent to which they have rejected their delegated authority given them by God.

The moment you realize that the true issue behind any election is ethical rather than pure political power, the same moment you’ll see that the very problems you hope to correct at the national level are far more rampant at the local level. You’ll see that the very same cronyism, debt funding, fearmongering, and violence are endemic in your own local county commissions, city councils, school districts, police departments, sheriff’s offices, property taxes, and much, much, more.

At that point, you may realize how the argument over national politics is not only futile, but counterproductive. You’ll realize that we must build legitimacy and authority from the ground up. You’ll acknowledge that the only way to make American great again lies in Restoring America not in a presidential election, but one county at a time.

If power can only succeed based upon genuine authority, then we must rebuild genuine authority first. This can only be done from the grass roots, local level. Without this, political change is based on power—that is, might makes right. The higher level at which this succeeds, the great potential for tyranny will have been unleashed on America. Without genuine authority there will be no genuine change in power. We need to pray and work for legitimate power and authority in these areas today.

Categories: Worldview

Who is Babylon the Great, The Mother of Prostitutes?

Mon, 08/08/2016 - 07:39

Jesus told the chief priest and elders of the people, “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits” (Matt. 21:43). For many people, this verse provides the heart of “replacement theology”—the idea that the Christian Church has replaced the old physical nation of Israel as God’s chosen people and priestly nation (1 Pet. 2:9-10, et al).

Without requiring the use of the label “replacement,” this is essentially what the verse teaches. It does not mean that Jewish people can never again taste of God’s grace, it simply means that the Old Covenant way of God’s witness and work on earth—the Old Testament Temple ritual system—was being abolished, along with everyone in that generation who rejected and killed God’s prophets and Messiah. The Temple was being abolished because it was never meant to be permanent, but only a symbol that pointed to the reality of Jesus Christ, the true Temple, the true Emanuel—the true presence of “God with us.” Those Jews who rejected the true Temple and insisted on clinging to the Old Testament traditions were thereby committing idolatry just as grossly as any pagan ritual. The Kingdom had moved on to its greater fulfillment. Those who refused to embrace the fulfillment found themselves bereft of the true Kingdom—it would be taken from them, and given to the disciples of the true and faithful people of God.

Jesus denounced the teachers of the old tradition which led the way in opposing Him. These were mainly the Pharisees, and Christ’s denunciation of them appears in Matthew 23 among other places. It extends to the whole of the physical city of Jerusalem of which they were representatives in disbelief. Jesus concluded with the prediction that Jerusalem would fall because she was responsible for “all the righteous blood shed upon earth” and that she was “the city that kills the prophets” (Matt. 23:35, 37).

Mystery Babylon

From this sweeping condemnation we can learn that the city called “Babylon” in Revelation 17 and 18 is not the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar, but Jerusalem called Babylon because she had corrupted herself and become like that ancient pagan Empire:

The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet [colors of the chief priest and the Temple; Ex. 25-28; 38-39], and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations” (Rev. 17:4-5).

And how do we know this blasphemous Babylonian “mystery” whore is indeed Jerusalem? Because she is pronounced guilty of the exclusive crime which Jesus earlier pinned on Jerusalem:

And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus….. Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more….. And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth (Rev. 17:6, 18:21, 24).

It is not possible that two cities can both be guilty of a crime of which only one party could be guilty—killing all the prophets and all who have been slain in the earth. Jesus clearly attributed this crime to Jerusalem in Matthew 23; so we must conclude that here in Revelation, “Babylon” is a “name of mystery” because it symbolizes what Jerusalem had become.

Thus, it is highly likely that when Peter wrote his first epistle from “Babylon” (1 Pet. 5:13), he was literally writing from Jerusalem, which he had by then already condemned “in these last times” (1 Pet. 1:20) as Babylon. Peter was, after all, an apostle to the Circumcision as Paul said (Gal. 2:7).

It was not uncommon practice in that window between Christ’s ascension and Jerusalem’s destruction that the New Testament writers symbolized Jerusalem with the names of the great enemies of God’s people down through the ages. Thus, Revelation speaks of “the great city” where the “Lord was crucified”—obviously Jerusalem—“that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt” (Rev. 11:8).

Some would complain that interpreting the Great Whore of Babylon of Revelation 17 as Jerusalem is anti-Semitic. But this is ad hominem nonsense. How anti-Semitic was it of John (a Jew!)—calling Jerusalem “Sodom” and “Egypt” instead of praying for her peace as dispensationalists demand we do. The nerve of him.

Thus it is understandable when Paul compares the false teachers creeping in the Church to Pharaoh’s magicians (2 Tim. 3:8-9). Likewise, Matthew 2 presents Jesus as the New Israel fleeing from the new Pharaoh who kills all the male babies. Except the roles are reversed: Jesus’ family has to flee into Egypt in order to avoid this new Pharaoh, who is Herod. Lesson: Old Israel has become like Egypt, the persecutor of God’s people, and he shall suffer the plague of Egypt, while Jesus is the true Israel.

Keep in mind, it was Herod who then ruled Jerusalem and who had rebuilt the Temple at which the Jews then sacrificed. Once Jesus appeared on the scene as the Final Sacrifice, the sacrifices at the Temple became idolatrous. It was then rejecting God to continue that system. It was, in fact, to commit the abomination of desolation, because it was an idolatrous sacrifice in the Temple which caused God’s presence to leave that House desolate. Indeed, God’s presence would forever leave that Temple to dwell in the New Temple, Jesus Christ and His People. This occurred on the day of Jesus’ baptism, as we shall see, and was furthered on the day of Pentecost. Within a generation, the idolatrous, adulterous nation—the great whore temple in Jerusalem—suffered a final blow from God. It was destroyed into oblivion.

Thus it is further understandable that the inspired writers would refer to their persecutors and false brethren in their Church as “them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” (Rev. 2:9).

Conclusion

Modern-day Christians simply do not understand that when they demand the land of Israel for the Old Jewish people so that they may rebuild a Temple and resume sacrifices, they are praying for the rankest and vilest of idolatries to occur. God destroyed that Temple for that very reason in ad 70. Why would He now change and desire it to be rebuilt?

You may think that since God did this once before in the time of Jeremiah, for example—sending His people into exile with their Temple destroyed behind them, and then restoring them to the land once again to rebuild another Temple—then He will do the same again. But with Jesus’ pronouncement of the destruction of the Temple, it was different. This time the True Temple Himself came as the rebuilt (resurrected) Temple. This time there would be no bricks and mortar, but rather a stone cut out with hands (Dan. 2:34, 44-45). The Old Jewish people were not merely exiled from their kingdom someday to return. No. This time, the Kingdom was taken from them and given to the true nation bearing the fruits thereof.

Christ created a new bride. Why would Christ desire to return to the whore He has cast aside and divorced when He has a pristine bride descending from heaven, clothed in righteouness, and uncorrupted by idolatry? He doesn’t. He left that whore riding her patron, the beast of Rome. And the great mother of harlots suffered the judgment of her whoredom. She was divorced and disinherited. The inheritance now belongs to the bride.

Jesus knew all of this ahead of time. He knew from His many clashes with the Jewish leaders as well as from Bible prophecy that the Temple would be left desolate and the city in ruin. His final journey to Jerusalem is the record of Jesus publicly exhibiting all the evidence against what had become an idolatrous, Messiah-rejecting nation. Jesus was presenting a covenant lawsuit for the divorce of that idolatrous prostitute.

The Gospel of Luke is the only Gospel that records that journey as a single monolithic account. The following chapters of this book contain verse-by-verse, parable-by-parable, chapter-by-chapter examination of those important legal exhibits. This journey begins at an important turning point in Luke 9:51.

[Read the rest in Jesus v. Jerusalem: A Commentary on Luke 9:51-20:26.]

Categories: Worldview

Public schooling defies EVERY commandment of God

Fri, 08/05/2016 - 11:45

It is not difficult for some devout Christians to see the ungodliness of government education in some way or another. Unfortunately, too few see how pervasively evil it truly is. Too many see only relatively limited evils and are willing to endure these for a variety of reasons. But it is time to see and acknowledge the full truth.

The homeschool and Christian private school world is growing rapidly, and the largest single factor behind this growth is the fear of Common Core. This means there is a large influx of people into the homeschooling movement who are relatively accepting of public schooling and have tolerated its evils for some time until Common Core arrived. Their critique of public schools will, therefore, not be as robust as it should be, and this is probably due to a lack of acknowledgment, and perhaps even basic knowledge of just how deep the evil in the system runs.

The following summary, “axe-to-the-root” criticism coalesced in my mind as I was speaking at our recent GGC16 event. I don’t think I can put it more succinctly than this: public schooling defies every one of the ten commandments. Now, it would take a little longer to spell this out fairly, make all the connections, and make the argument clear. I won’t take the space for that today. I will simply make the case based upon the current condition of the public school system in general—the condition at which we have arrived, and which I think is the logical outworking of its presuppositions.

The public school system, and larger system of social change that built it and supports it, promotes (or at the very least, refuses to oppose) abortion. It exposes children to, and in some cases encourages, early fornication. It also declines to say anything against pornography, easy divorce, homosexuality, or transgenderism. It also is the number one avenue of introducing children to drug use, either through peers or through D.A.R.E. programs. It is built and operated on taxation—money extracted by coercion, bonds floated on promises of future taxation, and inflation. It involves the operation of a powerful propaganda machine of “for the children,” as well as all kinds of half-truths, deceptive maneuvers, and outright lies pertaining to budgets, pensions, curricula, infrastructure, referenda, and more. Finally, it is never satisfied with current revenues and powers. Based in the taxation of other people’s property already, it continually eyes that property for ways to get more of it in order to build its own to greater heights. It simply, but continually, covets the property and income of citizens whom it deems most fundamentally by the name of “taxpayers”—a telling admission in itself.

I’ll be detailing some of these phenomena to greater extent in the near future. For now, it is enough to acknowledge that all of these things take place routinely in the larger public school systems throughout this land. When you boil them down to the basic sin beneath each one, you’ll have to acknowledge that the system taken as a whole (including your “different” schools, too) is guilty of the following basic sins:

  • Murder
  • Adultery
  • Theft
  • False Witness
  • Covetousness

I shouldn’t need to tell you what list of commandments those five things violate. In short, this system is built upon routinely defying the entire second half of God’s law.

Now, these alone should be enough to invalidate the system for any Christian, and should be enough to get any Christian to acknowledge that no system could be constructed upon these things and even be called good, let alone Christian. But further consideration makes it even worse: the system became logically consistent with itself and outlawed Bible instruction, and then any religious instruction, then prayer, then anything considered linked to religion such as morality. Then it soon morphed into enforcing toleration of other religions, and, as reason would have it, enforcing toleration of other moralities, etc.

In short, we can say with confidence that the system is built upon, and operates by, defying the entire first half of the ten commandments also.

We shouldn’t be surprised at this. Any system built fundamentally upon theft, covetousness, and false witness will inevitably reveal its true god and its true morality eventually, unless it repents first.

Of course, repentance of theft and covetousness would entail fully privatizing the system, and thus the full elimination of all government/public education systems.

When you then recall that the public education system is only one government agency built and operated on these same principles, you’ll be forced to take the same analysis to every other agency—all kinds of government officials at all levels, police, fire, federal, courts, prosecutors, and the full gamut of the alphabet soup agencies. You’ll soon recognize the same types of violations throughout the system.

In short, the modern state—federal, state, and local governments—beginning with public schools, are built upon the systematic defiance and trampling of the entire law of God.

If you want a real reason to homeschool, you must start here. Surface reasons like Common Core are but mere symptoms of a much large and deeper problem with poisonous roots. But then, once you start here, you must acknowledge that every area of government, and much of the rest of modern life, needs the same deep analysis and even deeper prescription for reformation and healing.

If we have ears to hear and courage to acknowledge it, we have much work ahead of us. But good news! We have the tools to start getting it done.

If you would like a longer version of my views, you can of course read the first essays in Restoring America. There I lay out the unadulterated biblical view and much more in all its godly radicalness. But you will also be very interested to hear my upcoming report on this year’s GGC16 conference and the unbelievably awesome recordings that came out of it. Stay tuned. . . .

Categories: Worldview

Bahnsen, Theonomy, and Federal Vision: Dewey’s strike two

Mon, 08/01/2016 - 21:09

You may remember my recent review of Rev. Dewey Roberts’s claims that the principles of Theonomy taught by Greg Bahnsen lead directly to “Federal Vision.” I criticized Rev. Roberts for his lack of definition, context, and consistency. Rev. Roberts has supplemented his previous effort with a new offering of lack of definition, context, and consistency in his “Part 2.”

It was helpful to see The Aquila Report allow Rev. Larry Ball to provide a brief balance to the strident axe grinding against Bahnsen. The rejoinder is short, simple, and to the point in exposing the necessary fallacies.

The reader may also recall how I previously complained that Rev. Roberts’s lack of definition and context left us with nothing more than his bare ipse dixit condemning Theonomy as, for example, “legalism.” Rev. Roberts apparently did not take such an observation too seriously, for his reply seems to be only to give me more bare ipse dixit in return: “I want to assure them that the inconsistencies are endemic to the theonomic views of Bahnsen himself” (my emphasis).

Blessed assurance, that.

He then moves on to a second round of criticisms of Bahnsen, based upon the fact that in certain places in Theonomy in Christian Ethics, Bahnsen appears to speak of things such as objectivity to baptism, real effects of disobedience, and other things that one could construe as the distinctives of the undefined Federal Vision monster. Rev. Roberts concludes, based on things said by Bahnsen almost in passing, and because he allegedly does not “emphasize” their contraries, that Bahnsen therefore “made several statements which laid the foundation for the development of the Federal Vision theology.”

As I mentioned already, Rev. Ball has adequately exposed the rather simplistic fallacy of such strained argument. His piece is worth quoting in this particular conclusion:

Just because a person speaks highly of the law of God in one place in one book does not make him a legalist or the father of legalism. Just because a person has a high view of the efficacy of baptism (as does the Westminster Confession of Faith) in one place in one book does not mean that he denies the work of the Holy Spirit or that he is the father of sacramentalism. Just because someone believes that apostasy is real does not mean that he is the father of the heresy of conditional election. Just because a person believes that the covenant has an objective quality does not mean that he is a proponent of Federal Vision.

Bingo.

In his zeal to demonstrate how Bahnsen taught “too legalistic and non-evangelical” conclusions, Rev. Roberts has neglected to tell you a few important things. Whether this is because he simply missed the obvious (which would be rather hard to do, as you shall see) or because he chose not to relate the rest of the truth is hard to tell. But in hesitance to assume the latter, we’ll provide this info as an opportunity for Rev. Roberts to acknowledge the whole truth.

Bahnsen and Calvin on Uses of the Law

This problem is illustrated in one particularly egregious passage in Rev. Roberts’s article:

Concerning the law both before and after the fall, Bahnsen says:

The law, both prior to and after the fall, is gracious. Subsequent to salvation the law shows us how to respond to God’s grace and love.

In the context of this quote, Bahnsen emphasizes that the law reveals the redemptive work of Christ, but his caricature of the law’s work is too optimistic. He does not distinguish between the grace of God before the fall and after the fall, particularly its effect on the unbelieving conscience. In comparison, Calvin represented the law very differently:

Because observance of the law is found in none of us, we are excluded from the promises of life, and fall back into the mere curse. For since the teaching of the law is far above human capacity, a man may indeed view from afar the proffered promises, yet he cannot derive any benefit from them. Therefore this thing alone remains: that from the goodness of the promises he should the better judge his own misery, while with the hope of salvation cut off he thinks himself threatened with certain death. On the other hand, horrible threats hang over us, constraining and entangling not a few of us only, but all of us to a man. They hang over us, I say, and pursue us with inexorable harshness, so that we discern in the law only the most immediate death.

What then are Bahnsen’s fundamental flaws with respect to the law? His emphasis on being obedient to the law in exhaustive detail brings about a possible conceit that such obedience is actually possible for the believer. The whole of Scripture testifies otherwise, as Calvin so eloquently stated above.

The great problem here involves a particularly inadequate use of the sources, and confusion of two different uses of the law. On the latter point, Bahnsen is simply speaking of the third use of the law, while Calvin is addressing what has come to be understood as the second. The difference is, as we’ll see, quite important. The former point is just as poorly composed because Bahnsen elsewhere in the book dedicates an entire chapter to the second use, and likewise Calvin openly addresses the third in the relevant places.

In short, Rev. Roberts does justice to neither Bahnsen nor Calvin, but his thesis could only be sustained by such injustice.

Most readers will know that this second use of the law is its use in exposing our sinfulness and driving us to Christ for salvation. The third use is that of providing a rule of righteousness that already saved and spirit-filled Christian should follow as a pattern of righteous living. Both of these uses are standard Reformed theology, as all the confessions and standards make clear, and are not at all a distinctive of theonomic thought.

Yet Rev. Roberts presents Bahnsen teaching the third use against Calvin teaching the second use—as if the two were opposed! He also leaves us with the suggestion that Bahnsen neglected to teach the one Calvin emphasized, and that the selection from Calvin alone represents the acceptable Reformed view of the law. None of this is true.

For example, Rev. Roberts says Bahnsen “does not distinguish between the grace of God before the fall and after the fall, particularly its effect on the unbelieving conscience”—that is, the second use of the law. But Bahnsen dedicated the entirety of chapter 4 of his book to the topic of “The Law’s Inability to Justify and Empower.” In this chapter he spends entire pages covering his view of the second use of the law. Here are some relevant quotations selected from pages 127–131 (3rd Ed.):

Justification was not by the law in the Older Testament. . . .

The violation of the law by our first parents, Adam and Eve, rendered it impossible that either they or their descendants should ever be justified on the ground of their own personal righteousness.

Only grace could secure justification for the sinner in the Older Testament; the law here could personally avail nothing.

The law convicts of sin and leads the redeemed in the paths of righteousness.

The law does not save a man, but it does show him why he needs to be saved and how he is to walk after he is saved.

Because God’s moral nature, His holiness, is revealed in the law, the law accuses and convicts its reader of sin. . . .

As the sinner compares his life to the demands of the law he finds himself sold under sin and lost. The magnitude of his sinfulness is glaring because “it stands written that accursed is everyone who continues not in all the things having been written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10) and “whoever keeps all the law, but stumbles in one point has become guilty of all” (James 2:10). The law, then, works wrath against the sinner (Rom. 4:15). Hence it should be plain that “no man is justified by the law in the sight of God” (Gal. 3:11; cf. 2:16). To use the law as a means of justification is an unlawful use of the law (cf. 1 Tim. 1:8). Moralism is not the biblical way of salvation.

Although the law itself is a way of life, it cannot restore life lost because of sin; hence, for the transgressor of the law, the law is a way of condemnation and death. So conspicuous is the law’s function of indicting men of sin that Paul can often use “sin” and “law” as synonyms; for example, “sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14).

The law represents a curse and indicting conviction of sin to all men. Thereby the law is a schoolmaster which leads sinful man to Christ, the sinless One (see Gal. 3:24). . . .

Christ’s perfect obedience to the law of God secures our release from the necessity of personally keeping the law as a condition of justification.

Do these multiple quotations sound like they are coming from a man who “does not distinguish between the grace of God before the fall and after the fall, particularly its effect on the unbelieving conscience” in regard to the law? That is, does Bahnsen neglect the fact that the law is a condemnation to the sinner to drive him to Christ? Hardly.

(Just for some context, Bahnsen was leveling these condemnations of “moralism” and legalism when Michael Horton was about 8 years old.)

Why doesn’t Rev. Roberts relate any of this to his readers? For anyone who actually read the book “carefully,” as he claims, it would be pretty hard to miss these repeated statements, and in a chapter clearly designated for the very purpose being criticized.

But Rev. Roberts commits the opposite error, too. His presentation suggests that Calvin’s view of the law was limited to this condemnation, and that thus Calvin would not have committed the alleged error of Bahnsen—that the law is a pattern for our Christian life, showing us how to respond to salvation. The problem is, however, that all one needs to do is continue reading further through the very chapter of Calvin’s Institutes that Rev. Roberts quotes in order to see that Calvin taught the very use of the law that Bahnsen does, and which Rev. Roberts condemns.

Merely eight pages later in the same chapter of the Institutes, Calvin concurs with Bahnsen’s point above:

The third and principal use, which pertains more closely to the proper purpose of the law, finds its place among believers in whose hearts the Spirit of God already lives and reigns. . . .

Here is the best instrument for them to learn more thoroughly each day the nature of the Lord’s will to which they aspire, and to confirm them in the understanding of it. . . . And not one of us may escape this necessity. For no man has heretofore attained to such wisdom as to be unable, from a daily instruction of the law, to make fresh progress toward a purer knowledge of the divine will.

Again, because we need not only teaching but exhortation, the servant of God will also avail himself of this benefit of the law: by frequent meditation on it to be aroused to obedience, be strengthened in it, and be drawn back from the slippery path of transgression.1

Calvin even notes that Paul speaks also of the condemning use of the law, and states that this third use is a different use which is not contradictory:

These do not contradict Paul’s statements, which show not what use the law serves for the regenerate, but what it can of itself confer upon man. But here the prophet proclaims the great usefulness of the law: the Lord instructs by their reading of it those whom he inwardly instills with a readiness to obey.2

Calvin even rhetorically rebukes those who would think that the law serves only for condemnation: “For what would be less lovable than the law if, with importuning and threatening alone, it troubled souls through fear, and distressed them through fright?”3

So you can see that Bahnsen did not teach the third use exclusively, and Calvin did not only emphasize the second. Indeed, Calvin called the third use its “principal” and “proper” use. Both taught all three uses of the law, did not neglect to emphasize any of the uses in their due places, and did so clearly and at length. In short, for any honest reader, these full and fully orthodox teachings are quite easy to find and to acknowledge in both Calvin and Bahnsen.

Rev. Roberts, however, does not relate any of this to his readers. He instead juxtaposes an isolated instance of Bahnsen’s treatment of the third use with an isolated instance of Calvin’s treatment of the second, and thus gives the impression that Bahnsen was trampling the historic Reformed orthodox position.

Such behavior is not only irresponsible, it is all the more unacceptable in that Rev. Roberts exhibits his effort as just the opposite of what it is: “I did what every good writer does; I consulted the primary resource material. I carefully reread Bahnsen’s book. . . .”

If this is his idea of “carefully” rereading something, someone ought to suggest for him a profession that does not require too much careful reading.

The effort is even more reprehensible in that Rev. Roberts is grinding an axe that involves accusations of legalism and the rejection of orthodox evangelicalism. These are things which could end in defrocking or excommunication. Rev. Roberts is at pains to relate this skewed narrative, and he seems unfortunately quick to give only a truncated view of both Bahnsen and Calvin in doing so.

Conclusion

Let’s not forget that Bahnsen’s book was primarily about Christian ethics and its role in Christian life. He was very clear that his book was, therefore, about sanctification, not justification. He wrote in his introduction that the book was about obedience to the law by already saved Christians “as a pattern of sanctification.”4

Nevertheless, just in case some overzealous critic would wrongly get the idea that not emphasizing a particular doctrine that’s not central to your thesis is equivalent to rejecting that particular doctrine, Bahnsen actually included a whole chapter on that other doctrine (two actually). As you can tell, for some critics, this has done little good. Despite that clear chapter, Rev. Roberts accuses Bahnsen of “putting too much emphasis on obedience to the exclusion of saving faith and the work of the Holy Spirit.” Bahnsen excluded no such thing. Rev. Roberts ought to take a another close look and then apologize.

Whatever the motivations, etc., may actually be, a few things are clear: 1) Bahnsen held to the exact same uses of the law as Calvin did; 2) Calvin taught the same need of believers to obey the law as Bahnsen did; and 3) if, therefore, Bahnsen can be blamed for laying foundations for Federal Vision in his views of the law, then Calvin must be equally liable to the charge.

Of course, we can now see that the charge is vapid. And there is so much else in Rev. Robert’s second part that deserves equal judgment. I’ll just leave this piece as a representative example.

  1. Battles trans., 2.8.12, pp. 360–61.
  2. Battles trans., 2.8.12, pp. 361.
  3. Battles trans., 2.8.12, pp. 361.
  4. p. 36, 3rd Ed.
Categories: Worldview

Tim LaHaye raptured at 90, but not like he expected

Tue, 07/26/2016 - 09:22

Tim LaHaye died at the age of 90. He believed in a pre-tribulation rapture, an event that he claimed was “near.” It was the basis of his end-time prophetic system even though there is not a single verse in the Bible that teaches it. LaHaye himself admits that this is true:

“One objection to the pre-Tribulation Rapture is that not one passage of Scripture teaches the two aspects of His Second Coming separated by the Tribulation. This is true. But then, no one passage teaches a post-trib or mid-trib Rapture, either.”1

“No single verse specifically states, ‘Christ will come before the Tribulation.’ On the other hand, no single passage teaches He will not come before the Tribulation, or that He will come in the middle or at the end of the Tribulation. Any such explicit declaration would end the debate immediately.”2

The basis of LaHaye’s end-time prophetic system, a system he promoted in numerous books during his long writing career, is not founded on any direct biblical evidence. The indirect evidence is scant and requires a great deal of exegetical elasticity and a very big imagination. It also requires an audience that does not “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1) or check a writer’s claims (Acts 17:11).

LaHaye was not above revising his prophetic views without telling his readers when time and events made them null and void. For example, in his book The Beginning of the End, which was published in 1972, LaHaye wrote that the generation that Jesus was referring to in Matthew 24:34 consisted of “people who saw the First World War.”3

In LaHaye’s 1991 revised edition, it was no longer “the people who saw the First World War” but “the generation that ‘sees’ the events of 1948,”4 even though there is nothing in the New Testament that would lead anyone to this conclusion since it does not say anything about the need for Israel to become a nation again in order to fulfill Bible prophecy.

Lahaye was using the fig tree illustration in Matthew 24:32 to support his position. “[W]hen a fig tree is used symbolically in Scripture, it usually refers to the nation Israel. If that is a valid assumption (and we believe it is), then when Israel officially became a nation in 1948, that was the ‘sign’ of Matthew 24:1-8, the beginning ‘birth pangs’ — it meant that the ‘end of the age’ is ‘near.’”5

The editors of LaHaye’s own Prophecy Study Bible state that “the fig tree is not symbolic of the nation of Israel.”6 Most dispensationalists have abandoned the fig tree equals Israel claim (e.g., John F. Walvoord and Mark Hitchcock).

As you can see from the above examples, I’ve been critical of much of Tim LaHaye’s prophetic views but have never made it personal. I met Tim LaHaye several times. On one occasion, we had a very enjoyable conversion at a Christian Booksellers Convention. After our brief meeting, he said to me, “Gary, you’re really a nice guy?” My response was, “Why would you think otherwise?” Just because I was critical of his prophetic views did not mean I did not consider Tim LaHaye a brother in Christ.

In 2001, Michael Hyatt of Thomas Nelson Publishing Co. asked me if I would write a book evaluating the multi-volume Left Behind series. It was titled (unfortunately) End Times Fiction. I was willing to do it, but I told Mike that I did not believe it would be a big seller. Why would bookstores offer a book where they would make a profit of around $4.00 when they were making thousands of dollars on the ever-expanding number of Left Behind books, graphic novels, films, games, etc. that were being published? The series was a multimillion dollar industry.

As it turned out, I wrote the critique, R.C. Sproul graciously supplied an informative Foreword, and it sold reasonably well. It was not the blockbuster I knew it wouldn’t be. It didn’t help that the book had a lame title and was released about the time the Twin Towers were hit. For months, the news was dominated by the tragedy and probably lent credence to some of Left Behind’s prophetic claims.

The book has since been republished as Left Behind: Separating Fact from Fiction, a title that describes what the book is actually about.

Tim LaHaye wrote the following to me in a March 13, 1998 letter.

It is very exciting what God is doing with our Left Behind Series. Just yesterday, while in Canada on an open mike show out of Buffalo, we had a mother call to say that her 14-year old son was so transformed that he led his unsaved father to Christ by warning him, “when the rapture occurs, Mom and I will be taken and you will be left behind.” Very honestly, that is why we write these books and why we are hoping it is made into a movie in 1999.7

In interviews, LaHaye always mentions the evangelistic impact of Left Behind. His sincerity on this point cannot be questioned.

But there’s another side to the story. In his best-selling book Misquoting Jesus, Bart Ehrman, an ardent critic of the full authority and reliability of the Bible who serves as Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, describes how he struggled to reconcile views promoted by people like Hal Lindsey and LaHaye with what the Bible states.

Ehrman’s trek down the road toward skepticism and unbelief began with what he describes as “one of the most popular books on campus” that was being read while he was a student at Moody Bible Institute in the 1970s, Hal Lindsey’s apocalyptic blueprint for the future, The Late Great Planet Earth.8 Ehrman writes that he “was particularly struck by the ‘when’” of Lindsey’s prophetic claims about Matthew 24:34.

Lindsey and LaHaye taught that Jesus was not describing what would happen to the generation of His day but one that was not yet born. In addition to Lindsey, Ehrman mentioned LaHaye’s Left Behind series as another example of someone trying to get around what Jesus explicitly says in Matthew 24:34 that He would return before the generation then living passed away.

LaHaye’s prophetic system has no answer for Ehrman. The only position that makes biblical sense is to take God’s Word at its word. Jesus said He would return in judgment before that generation passed away, and He did. See my books Is Jesus Coming Soon? and Last Days Madness.

When anti-theist Christopher Hitchens raised the same argument as Ehrman in his debate with Douglas Wilson, Wilson explained that Jesus was referencing His present audience’s generation and in fact Jesus did return as He said He would in a way that was typical of judgment comings in the Old Testament. The answer silenced Hitchens. You can see the exchange in the film Collision.

It’s no wonder that LaHaye never wanted to engage in a public debate on the subject. In 1993, American Vision asked LaHaye if he would agree to a debate. He passed on the offer and suggested that I contact Thomas Ice who was “willing to debate.” Thomas and I debated nine times.

Tim had this to say about debating:

“You are right when you say that ‘The Christian community deserves to hear the various views so that they can each come to a decision about which view is biblically correct.’ That is why I write books.

“If people want to know which view is best. They can read and study the Bible in light of my books and the books of others who have written on these issues. This way they can go back and study and reread what has been said.”

I agree, and that’s why I’ve written books on the subject. It was never personal. On one occasion, however, Tim told me that he did not want to debate me because it would give legitimacy to my position. You see, I was the unknown young whipper snapper who had no publishing credentials. Going up against Tim LaHaye would have given me a great deal of credibility.

In the end, the prophetic views of Tim LaHaye contributed to the neutralization of Christians when it came to culture. The “rapture” was always near, Jesus could come at any moment, and world conditions would only get worse. LaHaye was not the first person to make these claims, but he was one of the most popular and prolific. I believe his end-time views had a direct result on how millions of Christians saw their world – one of inevitable collapse.

Dr. Gary North offers a succinct summary of the prophetic mindset of today’s end-time Christians:

“How can you motivate people to get out and work for a political cause if you also tell them that they cannot be successful in their efforts? How can you expect to win if you don’t expect to win? How can you get men elected if you tell the voters that their votes cannot possibly reverse society’s downward drift into Satan’s kingdom? What successful political movement was ever based on expectations of inevitable external defeat?”9

Tim LaHaye was double-minded when it came to social activism. He was all for it, His wife’s organization Concerned Women of America promoted it, but his end-times views cancelled out the energy and actions that were necessary to bring about long-term social change. As fellow end-time advocate J. Vernon McGee said, “Do you polish brass on a sinking ship” or as other’s described the futility of it all, “Why rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic?”

[Don’t miss Gary DeMar’s latest, The End Times and the Islamic AntiChrist.]

Notes:

  1. Tim LaHaye, No Fear of the Storm: Why Christians Will Escape All the Tribulation (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1992), 69. This book was later republished as Rapture Under Attack.
  2. LaHaye, No Fear of the Storm, 188.
  3. Tim LaHaye, The Beginning of the End (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1972), 165, 168.
  4. Tim LaHaye, The Beginning of the End, rev. ed. (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1991), 1993.
  5. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, Are We Living in the End Times?: Current Events Foretold in Scripture . . . And What They Mean (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1999), 57.
  6. Prophecy Study Bible, 1040, note on Matthew 24:32-3.
  7. The film came out late in 2000.
  8. Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (New York: HarperCollins, 2005), 12.
  9. Gary North, “The Eschatological Crisis of the Moral Majority,” Christian Reconstruction (January/February 1981), 2.
Categories: Worldview

God, Governments, and Culture Conference 2016 #GGC16

Mon, 07/25/2016 - 10:06

Online Registration is now closed for the God, Governments, and Culture 2016 Conference.

You may still REGISTER ON SITE beginning at 1:00 p.m., July 28, 2016.

Inspired by Dr. McDurmon’s Restoring America One County at a Time, “God, Governments, and Culture 2016” will feature practical action training and insider-knowledge from experienced activists and strategists.

Join Dr. Joel McDurmon and expert guest speakers Paul Dorr and Matthew Trewhella this July 28-31, 2016, in Kerrville, TX for a special “local government” edition of American Vision’s “God, Government, and Culture” Conference 2016. For everyone serious in learning and applying in-depth knowledge, from beginners to the experienced, GGC16 will not only not disappoint, it is a must-attend event.

Don’t miss “Dinner with the Speakers”—a special event Thursday night designed for intimate discussion, Q&A with Paul, Matt, and Joel.

Registration includes access to MP3 downloads of the entire conference.

Schedule:

Thursday, July 28

  • 1:00–3:00pm — Conference Check-In and Registration
  • 3:00–4:00pm — Joel McDurmon: Welcome and Introduction: “Why Localism?”
  • 4:00–5:00pm — Paul Dorr: “Freedom Under God’s Law: Building Young Leaders”
  • 5:00–6:00pm — Matt Trewhella: “The Lesser Magistrate Doctrine: A Proper Resistance to Tyrants”
  • 6:00–9:00 — Dinner with the Speakers (special paid event, includes dinner and private Q&A)

Friday, July 29

  • 8:00–8:50am — Breakfast
  • 9:00–10:00am — Paul Dorr: “The Economic Big Picture Made Local – How to Exploit It”
  • 11:00–12:00pm — Matt Trewhella: The Historic Role of the People in Effecting the Interposition of Magistrates”
  • 12:00m–1:00pm — Lunch
  • 1:00–2:30pm — Free time
  • 2:30–3:30pm — Paul Dorr: “Financial Review of Local Government Made Simple: How To Leverage It”
  • 3:30–4:30pm — Joel McDurmon: “The Importance of Understanding What We’ve Lost”
  • 4:30–5:30pm — Paul Dorr: “Reverse Saul Alinsky: Making Progress Using Their Rules”
  • 6:00–7:00pm — Dinner
  • 7:00–8:00pm — Joel McDurmon: “Key Tactics of Biblical Resistance”
  • 8:00–whenever — Speakers Q&A

Saturday, July 30

  • 8:00–8:50am — Breakfast
  • 9:00–10:00am — Paul Dorr: “Building Credibility Over Time: Good Communications & Direct Action. Christ Receives All Glory!”
  • 11:00–12:00pm — Matt Trewhella: “The Fine Art of Meeting with Magistrates”
  • 12:00m–1:00pm — Lunch
  • 1:00–2:00pm —Joel McDurmon: “Tactics versus Strategy: The Long Term Vision”

Sunday, July 31

  • Worship at Sponsor’s church; Time and Place TBA (Joel McDurmon — Sermon)

Venue:

Inn of the Hills Hotel and Conference Center
1001 Junction Hwy, Kerrville, Texas 78028

“The historic Inn of the Hills Hotel & Conference Center, in the heart of the Hill Country, proves to be the perfect destination for business or pleasure.  Opened in the 1960s as a lodge, the Inn over the years has evolved into a full service hotel. The rustic native stone architecture with beautiful courtyard and pool area, create a nostalgic, relaxing getaway for any type of traveler.  With a 21,000 square foot conference center, full-service restaurant, pub with live music on the weekends, and a short walk to the Guadalupe River and park, there is something for everyone.  Amenities include free parking, complimentary wi-fi, cable TV, Ghilchrist Soams bath products and microwaves and refrigerators in each room.  Only a few miles from downtown Kerrville, the Inn of the Hills is the only way to experience the beautiful Texas Hill Country.”

Categories: Worldview

A consideration of blacks and disproportionate crime

Fri, 07/22/2016 - 16:22

I want you to consider this quotation I crossed yesterday:

Blacks are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime. Blacks, who make up only 1 percent of the population, account for 34 percent of drug dealers, 47 percent of robberies, 47 percent of illegal gambling, 82 percent of gangs, and 98 percent of pimps. The most common expressions in the jargon of gangsters comes from black hip hop and rap. These characteristics alone refute the liberal blabber about “equality.”

I think we’ve all heard something like this before. While you may note that a couple of the statistics are a bit askew, you’ll acknowledge the general spirit and, to be honest, a close proximity to the actual statements frequently repeated by conservatives, reactions to some claims of movements like #blacklivesmatter, and even the comments on which some people still base their own diatribes and criticisms of “black culture” or “black youth,” or the like.

To be truly candid, we would have to admit that there is still a very firm streak among so-called “paleo-conservatives” that affirms that such statistics form foundational truths about race relations (read: animosities) in American life. Witness the surprising percentage of southern Presbyterians who voted against their denomination’s recent resolution to apologize for its past racism and role in segregation.

Witness the recent story of a slight, about 90-lb black kindergarten teacher wrongfully manhandled by an Austin police officer when she didn’t lock-step as quickly as he liked during a traffic stop. (To its credit, the Austin PD acknowledges that the actions and comments on the part of two officers were wrong—a small victory.) During her handcuffed trip in the back of the police cruiser, the transporting police officer was filmed calmly informing her that people are, yes, afraid of black people, but for good reason: because of their “violent tendencies.” He explained,

“99 percent of the time, when you hear about stuff like that, it is the black community that is being violent.”

Now there’s a striking stat for you.

In fact, you, dear reader, may be among those who think, or even practice, the type of condemnation-by-statistics in the quotation at the start above, whether as a justification for rejecting black-power or black-equality movements, or rebutting the leftism inherent therein, because you always give conservatives the benefit of the doubt, or for whatever reason. The fact is, statistics create a collective umbrella which provides shelter for certain prejudices or sins committed, often routinely, against individuals of that class to whom such stats may or may not apply.

But if so, you have no idea of what spirit of death and destruction you may be partaking.

Just one more fact for your consideration:

That quotation above—the one about the blacks being disproportionate in crime—yeah, I edited it a bit. I adapted it to fit modern discourse and more contemporary expressions.

Yeah. The original quotation is not recent, and it is not about blacks. Here’s the original:

The parasite nation of Judah is responsible for a large part of international crime. In 1932, the Jew, who make up only 1 percent of the world’s population, accounted for 34 percent of the world’s dope peddlers, and 47 percent of robberies; 47 percent of crooked games of chance, 82 percent of international crime organizations, and 98 percent of dealers in prostitution. The most common expressions in the jargon of international gangsters and criminals stem from Hebrew and Yiddish words. These physiognomies refute the liberal theory of the equality of all who bear a human countenance.

The quotation comes from the Nazi propaganda film, The Eternal Jew, which was produced in 1940 in an effort to demonize Jews in Nazi Germany and justify their opposition to the Jewish race. (Hat tip to Jeffery Tucker of FEE for bringing this film to our attention. You can watch the whole film here, if you can stomach it.)

Even if the stats were accurate, it would not justify either the spirit of fear and derision, or the castigation of any given individual as if those stats pertained to them—despite their appearance or race. Yet the use of crime statistics was a prime piece of evidence used to turn the hearts of an entire nation against a race. It’s a powerful force. And it has had undeniably powerful effects.

If we don’t fight for our basic constitutional rights for everyone, all the time, we undermine them for ourselves. We destroy our own liberty and future.

If we don’t love the Samaritan, we don’t love our neighbor. It’s that simple. The moment we start down the other road, we start to imbibe this demonizing spirit of the Nazi. You need to assess whether you’ve started down that road or not, and if so, how far.

Categories: Worldview

In light of shootings, police chief advises citizens to surrender Fourth Amendment rights

Thu, 07/21/2016 - 11:26

On July 9, Waterbury, CT, police chief Vernon Riddick, Jr., rightly condemned the targeted shootings of Dallas police officers as a “heinous and hateful act.” Less than a week later, Riddick leveraged the crisis to instruct a roomful of citizens to waive their Constitutional rights whenever police demand it.

The report is rather startling:

If an officer stops your car, if they ask to search your person or vehicle, if they demand entry into your home, comply and then complain later to the department’s internal affairs office and police chief’s office if you feel your rights have been violated, Riddick said.

Radley Balko rightly condemns the attitude that a police chief expects citizens to waive their rights:

The intent behind the [Fourth] amendment was to protect us from the indignity and violation of our privacy when we’re subjected to a search that’s based on little more than a hunch — the intent was not to protect our right to later complain to internal affairs.

I realize things are tense right now. We should certainly respect and be aware of that when interacting with law enforcement officers. But to verbally refuse a request to search is an exercise of one’s rights. It isn’t a provocation. That Riddick and other police officials seem to see it as the latter is telling — and a big problem.

No, it’s a huge problem. Riddick’s comments reveal an increasingly common attitude among law enforcement, as well as conservatives in general. It is a classic tyrannical reaction to crime—one which has had tremendous ramifications throughout American history.

Conservatives appeal to constitutional rights when things like ObamaCare get shoved down our throats. But then they turn and praise its routine violation in the name of “law and order” or being “tough on crime.”

Let a black guy get manhandled as a drug suspect, let his backpack get shuffled, his car tossed, and his body searched, and conservative spectators will shrug saying, “He’s probably a criminal. He probably had it coming.” Let drugs be found on him and, whether the search violated his rights or not, the spectator will feel justified.

Let there be nothing found, and the justification will still come: “Small price to pay for keeping us safe.” “Tough on crime” and “law and order” are a code phrases conservative use to justify their trashing the Constitution like rank leftists.

I was not at all surprised to hear the reaction of the Trump-GOP industrial complex to the police shootings: “we need law and order!” It had hardly a word to say about apparently unnecessary shootings by police beforehand. There were no appeals to people’s constitutional rights; only justifications about what happens when you—you’ve got it—don’t comply. But let a policeman get shot (which is admittedly a terror and a tragedy), and the conservatives’ silence is broken: we must have—you’ve got it—law and order.

Yes, it is always smart and wise to “comply” when a police officer (or anyone, really) can readily shoot you. But why do we have to cultivate an environment in which so many seem so ready to shoot you? Why not rather, as Christians and conservatives, uphold the founding principles we all claim are Christian and conservative? We are told always to “comply” in every instance. But the founding principles say that compliance is not always required and not always necessary. Compliance is not an absolute—far from it. We have a God-given right not to comply in specific circumstances, and Balko is right: exercising that right is not a provocation.

We need to train police intensely to acknowledge that refusing consent is not a provocation. It is the very thing they should exist to protect. Instead, we do just the opposite, and the cultivation of the “comply” ethic, over time, has led to police chiefs now telling us we should waive those very rights.

Since 1973, the Supreme Court precedent has been that your ignorance of your right against unreasonable search and seizure can be used against you on the spot by police. Schneckloth v. Bustamonte cemented the doctrine that not knowing about your right is no defense against having unwittingly given consent. Police are trained to know this, and will use a wide variety of means and even tricks to get you to give consent to search. Once obtained, your right is gone. Your property is 100 percent at their discretion, will, control, ethics, etc.

Police therefore ask at routine traffic stops, “You got anything in your car I need to know about?” Answer that and you may have just waived your rights, or at least compromised them. Refuse to answer and you’re immediately (wrongly) treated as a suspect. They routinely shake people with, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, what’s the problem?,” or the accusation, “Why are you being uncooperative?” Give in to these pressures and you may have waived your right.

In light of a shooting or a terrorist act, people all the more willingly line up, waive their rights, and let the searches begin. Worse, in such a situation, they look at you as a criminal if you don’t line up and waive your rights, too!

The fact is, the vast majority of Americans are ignorant of these rights and how they can be exercised. Forget what’s on paper, and practice erodes it. Over time, ignorance gets exploited. In due time, standard practice becomes exploitation. People come to assume that the exploitation is what is right. They are revolted that anyone would dare refuse consent. Why would anyone do that? Don’t they know we could get shot? Don’t they know this is for their safety? Don’t they know we must do this to stamp out crime?

Now we see a police chief directly misinforming a whole roomful of citizens—as if the Fourth and Fifth Amendments no longer exist! The advice that people should just openly “comply” when police demand to search their home, car, effects, etc., is to exploit their ignorance of those rights. It is for the police power to overstep its bounds and ask citizens to waive crucial rights that are given precisely for when the police power would overstep its bounds.

Further, the idea that we can appeal to those very deceiving and invading officers after the fact “if” you feel your rights have been violated is even more deceptive and dangerous. The advice given would entail that you waive your rights. No matter what happens in the search after that, any appeal that your rights have been violated would be laughed at. You waived your right! You don’t have it any more!

Good luck with that complaint in any court in the land, let alone the very offending police department’s own self-review.

Worse, if Riddick’s advice is meant to say that it’s better to comply than to be subject to use of force, even if police are wrong, then his comments amount to an a rather transparent threat: waive your rights or we may kill you. In which case, what good does it do to have a Constitution at all, and what good to have an organization of force alleging to protect those rights for us?

In short, the right does not exist if the very evil it is designed to prevent is allowed to occur in the name of protecting it. The right does not exist if we create an institution allowed to violate it in the name of upholding it.

A better alternative would be for people to learn their rights intimately, and to advice the police chief that he and his department are expected to uphold them. In the spirit of Deuteronomy 17:18–20, police ought to be required to attend a public reading and explanation of the law and our rights every year, that their “heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left.” It should be televised and published on all social media for posterity.

It would be good also to have a roomful of citizens forming a citizen’s police reform council with an eye toward creating an independent body that can provide oversight in cases that rights get trampled by presumptive and overzealous officers. It would be even better yet to have a fund designed to pay legal fees for anyone needing a good defense of those rights.

Categories: Worldview

The Return of the Village Atheist

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 16:28

The “Foreword” to Joel McDurmon, The Return of the Village Atheist:

***

The village atheist has a long tradition in American folklore. Beginning sometime after the publication of Charles Darwin’s Descent of Man in 1871, he—almost never she—begins to appear. The village atheist was marked by the following traits:

  • A readiness to challenge the idea of God on most occasions;
  • Constant calls for theists to debate him in public;
  • A refusal to join any church;
  • Self-conscious non-participation in religious celebrations;
  • A sense of intellectual superiority;
  • Self-identification with a tiny minority group: skeptics;
  • Confidence that all truly rational people accept atheism;
  • Confidence that science proves atheism;
  • Dismissal of scientific evidence that throws doubt on atheism;
  • Faith in the eventual triumph of atheism in modern society;
  • Faith that morality can be defined apart from God;
  • Insistence that atheism produces high moral values;
  • Insistence that consistent atheists are moral in practice;
  • Insistence that religion-based ethics produce great

The village atheist was usually regarded as a well-behaved fellow. He was not a thief, a wife-beater, or a visible menace to society. He accepted the bulk of the prevailing social order’s ethical standards, which were historically the product of a Christian worldview, especially the New Testament’s doctrine of the final judgment and the threat of hell. He was seen as a harmless eccentric. Every village was supposed to have its resident atheist, if only for the tourists.

As American rural life faded after 1900, and higher education was increasingly staffed by men holding the Ph.D., which was a self-consciously non-theistic certificate of educational attainment, the image of the village atheist steadily disappeared. This image was replaced by the atheistic college professor. There were never many atheists on college faculties, but they tended to be highly vocal. They were self-conscious in their desire to separate their students from their parents’ faith in God. As the twentieth century’s decades wore on, atheism became associated in the minds of the general public with liberal arts education.

Yet an odd thing happened—or failed to happen. Most college students paid little or no attention to their few atheist professors’ atheism. Despite the officially religiously neutral philosophy of American higher education, most college graduates retained their faith in God. This has bothered the professorial atheists for over a century. It has bothered the Darwinists most of all. A generation ago, it bothered them.1 It bothers them even more today.

As America’s villages disappeared, the social setting for village atheists also disappeared. They no longer felt the inhibiting effects of the face-to-face Christian culture around them, in which just about every adult had access to the local grapevine, where personal moral indiscretions were well-known. Without a local grapevine to restrain them, urban atheists lost their ethical moorings. They began openly to challenge “middle-class morality,” which was Christian morality. They began to act more consistently with their presuppositions regarding a universe devoid of God, especially a New Testament God, who brings final judgment (Matthew 25; Luke 16).

In 1917, their fellow-believers gained control over Russia. The Bolsheviks’ reign of terror began. Karl Marx had sent a letter to his partner and long-term financial supporter, Frederick Engels, in 1861 extolling Darwin’s discovery of evolution through natural selection. The Communists retained their two founders’ faith in atheism and the process of evolution. So did Mao in China. So did Pol Pot in Cambodia.

At the end of the Darwinian atheists’ first great experiment in civil government, 1917–1991, at least 85 million residents of Communism’s officially atheistic social laboratories had been either executed or starved to death by their rulers. The more likely figure is a hundred million, according to The Black Book of Communism. The total may have been higher. Mao’s strategy of systematic extermination may have resulted in tens of millions of executions not recorded or else not yet made available to researchers. What went on in Castro’s Cuba has been recorded in horrifying detail.2 What has gone on in North Korea has not been equally well recorded. The death toll from starvation is in the millions. This is the survival of the fittest, Darwinist-style.

So, as the twentieth century rolled on, the image of quaint, eccentric, harmless village atheists steadily faded away. In its place were atheists with guns: the guns of Marxist social revolutionaries, followed by the guns of Communist governments—and gun control for everyone else.

Nevertheless, there are still thousands of academic would-be village atheists out there. They have adopted a strategy which relies on the old image of the eccentric defender of village atheism. They are still hoping to cover their activities with the cloak of harmlessness. They do not yet have the votes to impose all of their educational policies on the children of theists—at theistic taxpayers’ expense, as usual. But they want these powers. They demand such powers.

By now, it is clear to everyone else that they are not going to get the votes or the powers. They had their opportunity, 1917 to 1991, and they bungled it. They have not competed successfully in the marketplace of ideas, even with their monopoly over tax-funded and government-screened education. This, above all, is what upsets them. They demand control over the curriculum of every tax-funded and government-regulated educational institution, which in their view ought to include every educational institution. Like children throwing a tantrum, they roll on the floor, screaming, threatening to hold their breath until they turn blue. “I want it! I want it! I want it! Give it to me!”

Theists smile and think, “Silly children.” This makes the tantrum-throwers even angrier. “You’ve got to listen to us. We’re going to make you listen to us!”

Atheists believe in nothing beyond the grave. The universe itself is headed for the grave, they teach: the heat death of the universe. So, in their view, the last man standing beside the grave wins everything that can be won in this world, which ultimately is nothing, but in the meantime is thought worth having. Atheists are therefore determined to compel theists to dig their own graves. Sometimes this grave-digging is literal, as in the case of mass graveside executions by the Communists. Sometimes it is only figurative, as in the case of teachers who are funded by money extracted from their religious enemies in the form of taxes, and also in the form of children extracted from their opponents’ families by compulsory education laws. Since everything in the atheist’s world ends in the grave, they do whatever they can to see to it that their opponents are buried first.

This is a letter from someone who does not believe that everything ends at the grave. It is written to those who believe that it does.

Find The Return of the Village Atheist for purchase here.

  1. H. J. Muller, “A Hundred Years Without Darwin Are Enough,” The Humanist (1959); reprinted in Darwin: A Critical Edition, edited by Philip Appleman (New York: Norton, 1970).
  2. Armando Valladeres, Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro’s Gulag (New York: Encounter Books, [1986] 2001).
Categories: Worldview

The Calvinists’ Fear of Flying: Clipping Theonomy’s Wings

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 18:28

There is no doubt that Francis A. Schaeffer broadened the appeal of the reformed faith with his popular writing style and activist worldview. Schaeffer’s popularity was extensive enough that he was recognized by the secular media as the “Guru of Fundamentalism.”1 Schaeffer filled the intellectual gap that resided in much of fundamentalism. In a sense, he carried on the tradition of his early mentor, J. Gresham Machen.

Prior to 1968, little was known of Francis Schaeffer. He had isolated himself from American evangelicalism by ministering to the roaming discards of society who were trekking through Europe hoping to find answers to life’s most perplexing problems. The publication of The God Who Is There and Escape from Reason introduced him to an American evangelicalism in crisis. Schaeffer had an impact where many Christian scholars had made only a few inroads to the hearts and minds of a disenchanted and impotent Christendom. What did Schaeffer do that was different? Certainly Carl F. H. Henry’s The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism2 made an impact. It was, however, more of a statement than a system of belief with worked-out implications. Schaeffer worked at integration. His desire was to be more than just a critic of culture. This is why he asked the ethical question, “How should we then live?”

Schaeffer’s View of Christian Philosophy

First, Schaeffer began at the presuppositional level. Although no credit is given to Cornelius Van Til, the Van Tillian method is evident in the first chapter of Schaeffer’s first published book. In The God Who Is There, Schaeffer introduced his readers to the importance of presuppositions in rectifying the shift from antithesis to relativism in modern thought.

It was indeed unfortunate that our Christian “thinkers,” in the time before the shift took place and the chasm was fixed, did not teach and preach with a clear grasp of presuppositions. Had they done this, they would not have been taken by surprise, and they could have helped young people to face their difficulties. The really foolish thing is that even now, years after the shift is complete, many Christians still do not know what is happening. And this is because they are still not being taught the importance of thinking in terms of presuppositions, especially concerning the truth.3

Second, with the fuselage of a cryptic Calvinism on the runway, Schaeffer began to design wings to get the long overdue plane off the ground and to its destination: Comprehensive lordship. In the 1981 preface to A Christian Manifesto, Schaeffer explained his methodology. He began with “the Lordship of Christ over all of life – philosophy, theology and the church, art, music, literature, films, and culture in general. The books that followed dealt with and extended areas of Christ’s total Lordship in all of life. . . .”4 In this, Schaeffer worked in the shadow of Kuyper.

Third, late in his career, Schaeffer saw extended implications to the worldview he put in motion in his early works. He expanded the areas over which He believed Jesus is Lord with the publication of How Should We Then Live, Whatever Happened to the Human Race, and A Christian Manifesto. “That led to the demand of the next logical step: What is the Christian’s relationship to government, law, and civil disobedience?”5

It was here that Schaeffer saw where his initial flight plan was about to take him: Christian Reconstruction. A reading of A Christian Manifesto alerts the reader that Schaeffer moved from being a critic of culture, his main contribution to worldview Calvinism, to advocating civil disobedience. The missing link was Reconstruction. To advocate civil disobedience was an admission that no constructive alternative to the humanistic system existed except the one advocated by Christian Reconstructionists. Schaeffer wanted his readers to understand that he in no way wanted what Reconstructionists were offering.6 His earlier works influenced many future Reconstructionists because of his insistence that the whole Bible was applicable to the whole of life, the law of God included.

Schaeffer’s View of God’s Law

While he refused to discuss the particulars of the law of God as the “base” for authority, he knew something had to be done to confront a bold humanistic law system. Schaeffer turned to Samuel Rutherford’s doctrine of Christian resistance while ignoring Rutherford’s biblical approach to the application of the whole law to contemporary society, including, but not limited to, the civil magistrate.7 The appeal to Rutherford came early in Schaeffer’s writing.

Schaeffer rightly decried a de facto sociological law—”law based only on what the majority of society thinks is in its best interests at a given moment”—but offered no worked-out worldview to counter and replace it. He wrote about a “Christian consensus” and how that consensus is found in the Bible, but he did not inform us of its biblical content as it relates to a comprehensive biblical worldview in the particulars.8

There are times, however, when Schaeffer closely resembled a Reconstructionist. This is best demonstrated in his repeated references to Paul Robert’s painting Justice Instructing the Judges.

Down in the foreground of the large mural the artist depicts many sorts of litigation -the wife against the husband, the architect against the builder, and so on. How are the judges going to judge between them? This is the way we judge in a Reformation country, says Paul Robert. He has portrayed Justice pointing with her sword to a book upon which are the words, “The Law of God.” For Reformation man there was a basis for law. Modern man has not only thrown away Christian theology; he has thrown away the possibility of what our forefathers had as a basis for morality and law.9

This emphasis on the law continued to play a part in Schaeffer’s worldview theology. “In Reformation countries,” Schaeffer wrote, “the Old Testament civil law has been the basis of our civil law.” Of course, he quickly reminded his readers that “we are not a theocracy,10 it is true; nevertheless, when Reformation Christianity provided the consensus, men naturally looked back to the civil law that God gave Israel, not to carry it out in every detail, but to see it as a pattern and a base.”11 (It is interesting that Schaeffer sounded like a theonomist when he was dealing with the biblical text.) Schaeffer saw the book of Joshua as “a link between the Pentateuch (the writings of Moses) and the rest of Scripture. It is crucial for understanding the unity the Pentateuch has with all that follows it, including the New Testament.12 The following quotations show that Schaeffer was a child of the Reformation and the Westminster Confession of Faith.

  • “The commands of God were carried through Moses to the people in a written, propositional form. We are watching here the Scripture growing before our eyes” (II:165).
  • “There is continuity of written objective authority all the way from the Pentateuch through the New Testament” (II:181).
  • “God had given the people of Israel commandments which were a representation of His character, which is the eternal law of the universe” (II:247).
  • “The moral law is the expression of God’s character, and we are not to set it aside when we become Christians. Our obedience to it will make a difference in what happens to us both in this present life and in the believers’ judgment in the future. So much of Jesus’ teaching emphasizes the importance of keeping the law of God!” (II:252).
  • “So the command to the Church is the same as the command to God’s people in the Old Testament—proportional giving. Giving to God proportionately is not optional. God specifically commands it” (II:293).
  • “On Mount Sinai God gave the moral law. ‘God spoke all these words . . .’ and then came the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17). Immediately after this the civil law was given. As the race became a nation they needed a civil law; so God gave them one. The civil law for the Jews was based as much on the command of God as was the moral law” (II:294).
  • “Here was real justice—a universal civil code that pertained equally to the citizen and the stranger. This justice was not rooted in the notion of a superior people, but in the character of God; therefore, it pertained to all men” (11:297).
  • “Moses told how to distinguish between an intentional murder and an unwitting murder” (11:298).
  • “Unlike modern man, the people of the Old Testament and of Christian communities after the Reformation did not view civil law as basically sociological. To them, it was not founded primarily on a social contract. Civil law was related to society, but not only to society. It was ultimately related to the existence and character of God. This is important. Law which comes from God can provide something fixed. Today’s sociological law is relativistic” (II:298-99).
  • “The moral law is rooted in the fact of the existence and character of God. It has validity because God is there. ‘And God spoke all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, who have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bond­ age. Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ (Ex. 20:1-3). The civil law is also based upon the reality of God’s existence; so it, too, has an absolute base. Reformation law was like this – one can think of Samuel Rutherford’s Lex Rex – and so was in total contrast to the post-Christian, sociological law which is developing in the Western world” (II:299).
  • “Justice [in Paul Robert’s Justice Instructing the Judges] points to a book on. which Robert has carefully lettered the phrase, The Law of God. This is tremendous I There was a foundation for civil law, fixed in the existence and character of God and His revelation of that character to men” (II:299).
  • “On Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim . . . a choice was set before the people: ‘Obey the propositional moral absolutes of God, and you’ll receive blessing within the covenant. If you don’t, the blessing will come an end’ ” (II:314).

Schaeffer continued this theme in How Should Then Live? “Paul Robert understood what the Reformation was all about in the area of law. It is the Bible which gives a base to law.”13 In A Christian Manifesto, Schaeffer maintained that justice is based on “God’s written Law, back through the New Testament to Moses’ written Law; and the content and authority of that written Law is rooted back to Him who is the final reality. Thus, neither church nor state were equal to, let alone above, that Law. The base for law is not divided, and no one has the right to place anything, including king, state or church, above the content of God’s Law.”14

Unfortunately, Schaeffer left behind an unfinished legacy. He knew where the answer was, but he was unable, within the confines of his own methodology and his premillennial eschatology, to see it through. It is a shame that Schaeffer will best be remembered for his advocacy of Christian resistance and not Christian Reconstruction.

A Common Theme

From Kuyper to Schaeffer, the same themes were stressed:

(1) God is sovereign over all of life; (2) the Bible applies to every facet of society; (3) God’s law is the standard for righteousness and justice for men and nations; and (4) nowhere do we find a worked out system to learn how the implications of the reformed worldview are worked out in the particulars except in the writings of Christian Reconstructionist authors.

If you have followed this odyssey from Kuyper to Schaeffer, you can see how easily it is to adopt the distinctives of Christian Reconstruction. Schaeffer, like those who proceeded him, understood where worldview Calvinism leads. He chose to skip over Reconstruction and head straight for civil disobedience. But there is no hope for a culture if resistance is its only option for change. What happens if the resisters win? What then? How should we then live? Schaeffer never told us in the details.

The problem remained: Who would put wings on Calvinism’s world-and-life view airplane?

A Plane with Wings

The odyssey did not stop with Schaeffer. Schaeffer asked the question of how should we then live; it was left to others in the Reformed tradition to answer it.

A Pair of Calvinists

Gary North came to the RTS campus in 1978 to address the topic of economics in an informal debate with Richard Mouw of Calvin Seminary. (He is now at Fuller Seminary.) The differences could not have been more striking. Dr. North stayed with the Bible. One thing I do remember about Dr. Mouw’s address is that he said that when he gets to heaven, he will finally have time to read the works of Karl Marx. Sounds like hell to me.

One of Dr. North’s messages had a singular impact on me. North was demonstrating the reformed methodology as it related to economics. His text was Isaiah 1:21–23, and the topic was “A Biblical Critique of Inflation.” Keep in mind that this was the era of dollar inflation and double-digit interest rates. The economy was in “stagflation.” This double economic whammy was affecting the economy with not much hope for a solution. Gold and silver prices were rising because of inflation fears. We were warned by Dr. North of what would happen if God’s laws were rejected. Sure enough, the “predictions” came to pass. By 1980, silver was selling for $50.00 per ounce while gold was selling for more than $800.00 per ounce. Interest rates were nearing 20%. Does the Bible have anything to say about any of this? Dr. North said it does. Little was said by the faculty.

The passage in Isaiah 1 is an application of the case laws regarding just weights and measures (Lev. 19:36; Prov. 11:1; 16:11). The people and rulers alike resembled the debased silver that was being passed off as pure and the diluted wine that was being sold as uncut. Of course, under such economic conditions the poorest members of society, orphans and widows (v. 23), suffer the most. In just a few verses was found a specific application to a contemporary issue. Here was worldview Calvinism with wings! Why wasn’t this being discussed in the classroom?

It is a sign of the social and cultural impotence of contemporary Christianity that commentators interpret this verse in a so-­called “spiritual” fashion. It is supposed to refer only to the souls of individual citizens. Passages such as Psalms 119:119 or Ezekiel 22:18-19 can be cited as “proof” of this thesis. The problem with this interpretation is that the prophets used known social and economic deviations in order to point out to the people their spiritual sins, a device used by Christ in many of the parables. They went from the concrete sin of the defrauder to the ethical deviation of the citizenry. If the legitimacy of the prophetic charge against the economic practice in question is denied, the impact of the critique of men’s souls is thereby undercut. Verse 22 appears between concrete criticisms of specific political and social deviations, yet commentators are afraid to take verse 22 as referring to equally concrete sins. This is not the way to exegete the Bible.15

America and the world were in a crisis mode in the late 1970’s. The church was nearly silent when it came to offering specific remedies to avert the crisis. There was no clear message coming from the church. The only group that really took the Bible seriously enough to make valuable social commentary were Reconstructionists like North, Rushdoony, and Bahnsen.

During his presentation, Dr. Mouw quoted a hymn that his mother had loved, he said: “I’d rather have Jesus than silver and gold.” Dr. North referred this in his subsequent lecture. He said that as far as he was concerned, “I’d rather have Jesus and silver and gold.” This pretty much summarized the split between the two men.

A Pair of Baptists

A Baptist president who taught Sunday school was at that time sitting in the, White House. There was no sure word coming from him. The Bible was a closed book when it came to evaluating (honest weights and measures again) the rightness or wrongness of certain public policies. In the name of impotent Christianity Jimmy Carter had endorsed the pro-abortion and pro-homosexual communities with, “It’s not proper for Christians to impose their morality on others.” What he was actually saying was, “The Bible does not apply, except in the narrow confines of the sanctuary and the Sunday school classroom.” As seminary students we were told that the Bible does apply, but no one was showing how it could be done. For Christians, the Carter presidency was a disaster. Jeffrey St. John, a non-Christian libertarian columnist, wrote these prophetic words prior to the November election in 1976:

A Carter victory in 1976 would usher in an administration led by various liberal-to-left activist groups who have long pleaded for vast government powers over the private sector of industry and over middle-class Americans. In short, Carter appears to be leading a coalition of political and economic radicals who would go far beyond the massive expansion of the powers of the federal government Franklin Roosevelt instituted in 1933.16

The fundamentalist Christian community that had voted for Carter in 1976 felt it had been sucker-punched, again. Then entered Jerry Falwell. He was mad at hell, and he wasn’t going to take it anymore. He became a political activist, a new role.17

Near the end of Carter’s presidency, Rev. Falwell cranked up the Moral Majority. In the beginning, his message was guided by what the Bible had to say. In an “I Love America” rally, Falwell counseled the crowd to use “theological considerations” in their choice of candidates: “If a man stands by this book [holding up a Bible], vote for him. If he doesn’t, don’t.”18 Falwell could not defend this position in terms of the generally accepted doctrine of religious pluralism and his own separatist Baptist background. In time, however, the message of the Moral Majority became dross.

  • Moral Majority is a political organization and is not based on theological considerations.19
  • The battle against humanism . . . is not theological; it is moral.20

The switch came for Falwell in 1980 when he “renounced his earlier vows to Christianize America.”21 “Theological considerations” were out, while traditional values were ushered in. Falwell admitted that “we count among us Fundamentalists, Protestants, Roman Catholics, Jews, Mormons, and persons of no particular religious convictions at all who believe in the moral principles we espouse.”22 This is fine for war-time strategy, but it will not work after the war is over and a culture has to be rebuilt.23 Fundamentalism has never developed such an agenda. With a moral rather than a biblical common denominator, the Moral Majority sounded like every other advocate touting the virtues of “morality.” And these non-religious moral advocates were seen as less strident, and there was no need to repent and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Former Secretary of Education William Bennett, later to be­ come our nation’s “Drug Czar,” called “for a new approach to moral education, one that gives kids a grounding in what Bennett describes as ‘those values all Americans share.’”24 If there is still a consensus morality, one has to ask where this consensus originated. Within America the obvious answer is biblical Christianity as shaped by the Puritans. With theological considerations gone, the Moral Majority was no longer unique. Robert E. Webber makes this observation: “Thus, what the Moral Majority espouses is a morality based on civil religion, not on the unique revelation of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ.”25

Hath God Said? If So, Where?

Christian Reconstructionist writers revived the older expression of world-and-life-view Calvinism and added the particulars of the Genevan and Puritan models. The revival of this particular expression of world-and-life-view Calvinism has not set well with the critics. As long as Reformed churches were preaching the general tenets of Calvinism, all was well. The historian R. H. Tawney noted in 1925: “No church has ever experienced any great difficulty in preaching righteousness in general”; it is “righteousness in particular” that disturbs the churches.26

A good number of Reconstructionist critics are uncomfortable with Gary North’s approach to Isaiah 1 because he points out that the passage describes “righteousness in particular” in areas beyond the heart, hearth, and sanctuary. Even when the Bible clearly sets forth a specific command, they seem to be more comfortable with scientific inquiry, forgetting that Van Til wrote that “Christianity claims to furnish the presuppositions without which a true scientific procedure is unintelligible.”27 They are like children who have to touch the pretty blue flame to determine if it will really burn flesh. Their father’s word isn’t good enough. Is God’s Word good enough? Or should the Christian find validation for the truths of Scripture in terms of a “common ground” approach? The common ground approach assumes the neutrality of facts and the interpreter of the facts. Here is an example:

Why, for example, should the United States return to the gold standard?28 Because careful and prudent economic analysis suggests it will produce a healthier economy? No, [the reconstructionists tell us] because Deuteronomy 25:15 says that you shall have just weights and measures.29

Would Muether argue this way for the truth of the divinity of Christ, the reality of the resurrection, or the inspiration of Scripture? Are we to tum to “prudent analysis” to prove that Christianity is true over against all other religions? Whatever happened to the “self-authentication” of Scripture, both in its general and particular pronouncements? Is this all that’s left of Cornelius Van Til’s legacy? With Muether’s approach we are left with only a “rational probability.”30

So, why send your children to a Christian school if all we need is “careful and prudent economic analysis”? Why read the Bible for anything more than “spiritual” guidance? Muether claims that the Bible is not needed for economics. In fact, he takes a swipe at “contemporary evangelicalism” in general for its “biblicist hermeneutic that depreciates the role of general revelation and insists on using the Bible as though it were a textbook for all of life.”31 Does he mean general revelation as a scientific investigation of God’s created order so that man learns to be a better scientist, agronomist, and medical practitioner by study and experimentation?

General Revelation

Henry Van Til wrote that “Man does not need special revelation for acquiring the arts of agriculture or of war, the techniques of science and art; these things are learned from nature through the inspiration of the Spirit.”32 No one is disputing the use of general revelation in this way. But even this type of investigation has numerous ethical implications. For example, knowledge of what works in the field of medicine still leaves doctors and legislators with, for example, decisions relating to abortion and euthanasia. An abortionist can be an expert in the way he performs an abortion. He has honed this “skill” through scientific study of the created order (general revelation). But is it right and just to use this knowledge in the destruction of pre­born babies?

Dr. Jack Kevorkian has designed a “suicide machine” that is efficient, effective, and painless, three criteria to consider in the practice of modern medicine.33 But is it right and just? This is the real issue. Procedures that were designed as part of the healing craft are now being used to destroy life. There is no doubt that abortionists and the new suicide “doctors” are skilled practitioners of their respective crafts.

The study of general revelation might lead some medical practitioners to conclude that since animals often abandon and kill their young, therefore homo sapiens are little different if they do the same. A more highly evolved species like man can do it more efficiently.

The modern-day evolutionary hypothesis rests on a study of creation. Modern scientists have made a thorough study of the created order (certainly not their designation) and have concluded that man has evolved from some type of primordial chaos This conflicts with the Bible’s clear statement that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Such a conclusion has numerous ethical implications.34

It is this independent study of what we call “general revelation” that leads to anti-Christian conclusions. The Christian views general revelation “through the medium of a heart regenerated by the Holy Spirit. . . . The Christian looks at all that he receives through general revelation, in the light of the Scripture. It is only through the Scripture that he can see the true relationship between God and creation, and that he can see in creation its unity and purpose.” On the other hand, “the knowledge which the natural man receives from general revelation comes to him through the subjective medium of an unregenerated, depraved heart.”35 General revelation without the guidance of special revelation can lead to disastrous results.

A classic example of the claim that knowledge of God and His will is gained from general revelation is found in the ideology of Nazi Germany. Hitler’s National Socialist propagandists appealed to the revelation of God in reason, conscience, and the orders of Creation as justification for the Nazi state theology or cultural religion. Biblical revelation in Old and New Testaments was regarded by the Third Reich as a “Jewish swindle” and thus was set aside in favor of the Nazi natural theology. The Gottingen theologians Friedrich Gogarten and Emanuel Hirsch, by postulating the primacy of conscience and the flow of history as the chief modalities of revelation, provided theoretical justification for the Nazi ideology, which later wreaked havoc in Europe and beyond. A majority within the state church (known as the “German Christians”) unwittingly or otherwise embraced the new national religion, founded not on the Word of God but on the divine will allegedly embedded in the natural order. Emerging from this fatal exchange came a semi-Christian natural religion (some would say a new paganism) in which the church became a servile instrument of Nazi policy.36

The debate is not over how much one side depreciates the use of general revelation. Rather, the issue is over what ethical standard will be used to evaluate the conclusions formulated from a study of general revelation. General revelation takes on a life of its own as a nation steadily depreciates God’s inscripturated Word as the revelational norm for all issues relating to faith (redemption) and practice (ethics). This situation results in using contemporary ideologies to build an interpretive framework so that general revelation can become specific. This means that general revelation will be interpreted in different ways depending on what ideology is in vogue. A prevailing atheistic regime will interpret general revelation one way, while a New Age humanist will put another slant on it. In each case, the church’s prophetic ministry is depreciated.

It is amazing to read critics of theonomy who maintain that general revelation is depreciated by theonomists. As an independent ethical system, yes.37 The Westminster Confession of Faith clearly states that the “whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture” (l, vi).

Of course, there are a number of things that are not “expressly set down in Scripture,” but these too “are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed” (l, vi). But “just weights and measures” is “expressly set down in Scripture” as Muether admits (Deut. 25:15). Then how can he square his view with the Confession and the Bible? He can’t, and he doesn’t. This would bother me if I were assessing the legitimacy of the theonomic position in terms of what the critics say about it.

Are we to argue the pro-life/anti-abortion position in the same way? Anti-Reconstructionist Meredith G. Kline38 and dispensationalist H. Wayne House39 turn to precise exegetical arguments found in the “Mosaic”40 legislation to defend the pro-life/anti-abortion position. Nearly everyone does. John Frame, a contributor to Theonomy: A Reformed Critique, remarks that “On Kline’s exegesis, the statute provides a death penalty for the destruction of an unborn child, though with the possibility of redemption. He concludes that this statute serves as a model for modern society.”41 Kline, however, maintains that he can make an appeal to the Mosaic legislation, as a non-Reconstructionist, because it’s a form of murder covered under the Noahic covenant (Gen. 9:6). But this is still an appeal to the Bible! Isn’t this also a “biblicist hermeneutic”? Kline must find specific guidelines to flesh out the general guidelines. Muether seems to be out of step, not only with Reconstructionists and “contemporary evangelicalism,” but with his own non-Reconstructionist colleagues.

Who Is a Theonomist?

In simple terms a theonomist is someone who believes that the Bible applies in some way to issues beyond personal salvation. Do you believe that the Bible has some very direct instructions on how a pre-born baby ought to be treated and that civil government has a role in prohibiting abortion (Ex. 21:22-25)? If you do, then you are a Reconstructionist in some degree. Do you believe that the Bible is a blueprint for prison reform (Ex. 22:1-9; Eph. 4:28)? If you do, then you are a Reconstructionist in some degree. Read, for example, what Chuck Colson, president of Prison Fellowship, writes about prison reform.

Recently I addressed the Texas legislature. . . . I told them that the only answer to the crime problem is to take nonviolent criminals out of our prisons and make them pay back their victims with restitution. This is how we can solve the prison crowding problem.

The amazing thing was that afterwards they came up to me one after another and said things like, “That’s a tremendous idea. Why hasn’t anyone thought of that?” I had the privilege of saying to them, “Read Exodus 22. It is only what God said to Moses on Mount Sinai thousands of years ago.”42

This is the essence of Christian Reconstruction. The Bible’s laws, including, but not limited to, the case laws of the Old Testament, are applicable today, and, in Colson’s words, are “the only answer to today’s crime problem.” Notice that there is no appeal to “general revelation” or “natural law.” Of course, a Reconstructionist would say that these laws are an answer for our crime problem and much more, including, but not limited to economics, education, law, politics, business, ecology, journalism, and medicine.

Colson’s assessment of the applicability of Mosaic legislation outside the covenant community compares favorably with how the Old Testament applies the law. The law is a model to the nations outside Israel’s exclusive covenant community (Deut. 4:5-8). This same law has a civil application in that it is to be spoken before kings (Psa. 119:46; Mark 6:14-29). Light comes to nations that embrace God’s law (Isa. 51:4).43 The entire earth is said to be guilty for it has transgressed the law (Isa. 24:5). Before entering the promised land, Israel is warned that it will suffer the same judgment of the Canaanites who were indicted for breaking God’s law (Lev. 18:24-27; Deut. 12:29-31). All the wicked are condemned for their transgression of the law (Psa. 119:118-119; Rom. 3:19).

What standard did God use to judge these nations? The prophets brought an indictment against the slave trade (Amos 1:6; cp. Ex. 21:16; Deut. 24:7), witchcraft (Nah. 3:4; cp. Ex. 22:18), loan pledge abuse (Hab. 2:6; cp. Ex. 22:25-27; Deut. 24:6), and other biblical-specific prohibitions.

Conclusion

In the 1970’s there was not much to read on the topic of theonomy. Theonomy in Christian Ethics and The Institutes of Biblical Law were the two main sources espousing the distinctives of theonomic ethics. But now, with nearly 100 published books and a thousand newsletters, the critics are in something of a dilemma. If people were not willing to read 1,200 pages fifteen years ago, what do we think will happen when these same people are confronted with “tens of thousands of pages”?44 Some brave soul might attempt the task and work through the material. But the vast majority will believe the assessments of critics passed down second-hand and then third-hand. This is unfortunate.

My guess is that numerous Reformed Christians, who have not studied the issue, will assume that theonomy has been answered by Theonomy: A Reformed Critique without ever reading it or the many published Reconstructionist works. They will think: “It is a large book”—by non-Reconstructionist standards—”with footnotes, so it must have done the job.” When the topic comes up for discussion, critics of Reconstruction will point to Theonomy: A Reformed Critique and declare, “Theonomy’s been answered.” A similar scenario is operating with the dispensational critics of Christian Reconstruction: Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse?45 This tome has become the deus ex machina for dispensational non-readers.

If you think I am exaggerating, then consider this. An article appeared in a well-known dispensational magazine purporting to be the first in a series of articles that would evaluate Christian Reconstruction. The article was heavily footnoted, but you had to write to the publisher if you wanted a copy of the notes. Always the inquisitive one, I of course dutifully requested a copy. All the footnotes were from Dominion Theology. The entire article was based on the research of one book. No original research had been done. Then I learned, in correspondence with the author, that he had been assigned the task of writing on Christian Reconstruction with reference only to Dominion Theology.

Until a person works through the published works of the major Reconstructionist authors, he should not speak out on the subject. I fully expect that all of our critics will do this in the future. They will back up their criticisms with citations from the primary sources of Christian Reconstruction. Furthermore, they will not exaggerate their claims. They will address their criticisms to what Reconstructionists have said or written. I am quite confident about this development.

You understand, of course, that I am a postmillennialist.

See Part 1: TULIP is not Enough: Reformed Theology and Culture.

[Originally published as “Fear of Flying: Clipping Theonomy’s Wings” in Theonomy an Informed Response (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991).]

Notes:

  1. Kenneth L. Woodward, “The Guru of Fundamentalism,” Newsweek (Nov. l, 1982), p. 88.
  2. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1947, p. 14.
  3. Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who ls There (1968) in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, 5 vols. (Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1982), 1:7.
  4. Schaeffer, “Preface”(1981), A Christian Manifesto (1981), Complete Works, V:417.
  5. Ibid.
  6. See Gary North, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), pp. 165-220.
  7. Richard Flinn, “Samuel Rutherford and Puritan Political Theory,” Journal of Christian Reconstruction, Symposium on Puritanism and Law, ed. Gary North (Winter 1978-79), pp. 49-74.
  8. Schaeffer was more comfortable with historical and logical argumentation than with biblical exposition. Consider how he argues against abortion:

    Schaeffer claims to base his arguments against abortion on both logical and moral grounds, but it is interesting that he accentuates the logical side. In fact, he never appeals specifically to Scripture to buttress his position. The major logical argument employed involves the impossibility of saying when a developing fetus becomes viable (able to live outside the womb), for smaller and smaller premature infants are being saved. Since the eventual possibilities for viability are staggering, “The logical approach is to go back to the sperm and the egg.” Dennis P. Hollinger, “Schaeffer on Ethics,” Reflections on Francis Schaeffer, edited by Ronald W. Ruegsegger (Grand Rapids: Zondervan/Academie, 1986), p. 250. Emphasis added.

  9. Schaeffer, Escape from Reason (1968) in Complete Works, 1:261-62.
  10. Many people are confused over what theocracy actually means. “To the modern ear the word ‘theocracy’ has distinctly pejorative overtones, suggesting the rule of some oppressive priestly caste, ‘government of a state by immediate Divine guidance or by officials regarded as divinely guided,’ to quote a standard definition. Yet, unlike certain other systems known in antiquity, ‘the “Theocracy” was not a government by priests, as opposed to kings; it was a government by God Himself, as opposed to the government by priests or kings’ (Dean Arthur Stanley, A History of the Jewish Church, 1862). The U.S. jurist and statesman Oscar Straus, a close associate of President Theodore Roosevelt, also stressed this point in his study of American culture’s indebtedness to the Hebraic concept: ‘The very fact that . . .with the single exception of Eli, no priest was ever elected to the magistracy during the entire period of the Commonwealth, decidedly negatives any such interpretation’ (The Origin of the Republican Form of Government in the United States of America, 1887).”Gabriel Sivan, The Bible and Civilization (New York: Quadrangle/New York Times Book Co., 1973), p. 145.
  11. Schaeffer, Joshua in the Flow of Biblical History (1975) in Complete Works, 11:298.
  12. Ibid., 11:153. Emphasis added.
  13. 13. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live in Complete Works, V:136.
  14. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto in Complete Works, V:430.
  15. Gary North, An Introduction to Christian Economics (Nutley, New Jersey: Craig Press, 1973), p. 4.
  16. Jeffrey St. John, Jimmy Carter’s Betrayal of the South (Ottawa, Illinois: Green Hill, 1976), p. 3. Quoted in Gary North, “Intellectual Schizophrenia,” Christianity and Civilization l, edited by James B. Jordan (Tyler, Texas: Geneva Divinity School, 1982), p. 7.
  17. See Falwell’s “Ministers and Marchers” (1965). Quoted in James A. Speer, New Christian Politics (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1984), pp. 19-20.
  18. Time (October l, 1979), p. 62.
  19. Jerry Falwell, “Moral Majority Opposes Christian Republic,” Moral Majority Report 1:13 (October 15, 1980), p. 4.
  20. Tim LaHaye, The Battle for the Mind (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell, 1980), p. 187.
  21. Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, Holy Terror: The Fundamentalist War on America’s Freedoms in Religion, Politics and Our Private Lives (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1982), p. 168.
  22. Jerry Falwell, “Moral Majority: A Response to Attack on Basic Values of Millions of Americas,” Conservative Digest 7:1 (January. 1981), p. 28. Quoted in Robert E. Webber, The Moral Majority: Right or Wrong? (Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1981), p. 39. Emphasis added by Webber.
  23. “Solomon made use even of the Sidonians when building the temple of the Lord, but he did not give them membership on his building committee.” Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Presbyterian and Re­formed, 1955), p. 317.
  24. The Atlanta journal and Constitution (November 28, 1986), p. 49A.
  25. Webber, Moral Majority, p. 39.
  26. R. H. Tawney, “Introduction,” Thomas Wilson, A Discourse Upon Usury (London: Frank Cass, [1925] 1969), p. 114. Quoted in North, An Introduction to Christian Economics, p. 3.
  27. Cornelius Van Til, Apologetics (Syllabus, Westminster Theological Seminary, 1959), p. 24.
  28. For an appraisal of the gold standard, and how Muether misrepresented North’s position, see Gary North, Westminster’s Confession: The Abandonment of Van Til’s Legacy (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991), pp. 283-86.
  29. John R. Muether, “The Theonomic Attraction,” Theonomy: A Reformed Perspective, eds. William S. Barker and W. Robert Godfrey (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academie, 1990), p. 255.
  30. Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 335.
  31. Muether, “The Reformed Attraction,” p. 254.
  32. Henry R. Van Til, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1959), p. 162.
  33. Jack Kevorkian, Prescription: Medicine: The Goodness of Planned Death (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1991).
  34. Henry M. Morris, The Long War Against God: The History and Impact of the Creation/Evolution Conflict (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990).
  35. William Masselink, General Revelation and Common Grace (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), p. 71.
  36. Bruce A. Demarest, General Revelation: Historical Views and Contemporary Issues (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academie, 1982), p. 15.
  37. The insights of unbelievers “are accurate because their presuppositions concerning the proper ‘givens’ of economic analysis are in fact the same ‘givens’ set forth by the Scriptures. They are correct, as Van Til says about secular philosophers, only insofar as they operate in terms of borrowed premises. But these men are to be preferred in their explanations of how an economy functions to those economists who borrow even fewer of the Bible’s premises.” North, Introduction to Christian Economics, p. xi.
  38. Meredith G. Kline, “Lex Talionis and the Human Fetus,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (September 1977), pp. 193-201.
  39. H. Wayne House, “Marriage or Premature Birth: Additional Thoughts on Exodus 21:22-25,” Westminster Theological Journal 41:1 (Fall 1978), 108-23.
  40. Moses had very little to do with what is usually described as “Mosaic Law.” As the New Testament tells us, “The law was given through Moses. . . ” (John 1:17).
  41. John M. Frame, “The One, The Many, and Theonomy,” Theonomy: A Reformed Critique, p. 96.
  42. Charles Colson, “The Kingdom of God and Human Kingdoms,” Transforming Our World: A Call to Action, edited by James M. Boice (Portland, Oregon: Multnomah, 1988), pp. 154-55.
  43. The law’s three functions operate within a civil context: The first use of the law involves the negative function of convicting the magistrate of his autonomy and the recognition that he is a minister under God’s authority, rendering him inexcusable before God, and driving him to seek grace (Jonah 3:4-10; Romans 13:1). The second use of the law would direct the magistrate to use the law as a way of ordering civil justice (Jonah 3:8; Romans 13:4). The third use involves promoting the law, as Calvin writes, “among believers in whose hearts the Spirit of God already lives and reigns,” for without a consensus the magistrate cannot rule effectively.
  44. Tremper Longman Ill, “God’s Law and Mosaic Punishments Today,” Theonomy: A Reformed Critique, p. 41, note l.
  45. H. Wayne House and Thomas Ice, Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? (Portland, Oregon: Multnomah Press, 1988).
Categories: Worldview

Nietzsche slaps down Dawkins on the illusion of atheist morality

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 06:00

I long since stopped blogging on atheism, deeming it often a waste of time and occasionally counterproductive. Sometimes, however, the issue merits revisiting. After rereading some old classics, I find the following quotation worth sharing:

When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one’s hands. Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know, what is good for him, what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows it. Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendent; it is beyond all criticism, all right to criticism; it has truth only if God has truth—it stands or falls with faith in God.

In this quotation, many of my readers will immediately detect the echo of Van Til, or Bahnsen, or some other related apologist infused with “worldview,” or presuppositional thinking. Such a guess comes close in content, but misses widely. The surprise: this quotation flows candidly—and insightfully!—from arch-atheist Friedrich Nietzsche.1 This is not, of course, to say that Van Til derived his ideas from reading Nietzsche—highly unlikely. The point—completely lost on modern atheists—is that when you strike down Christianity, Christian morality necessarily goes with it. Nietzsche candidly professed this, as did his earlier French counterpart Marquis de Sade: no God, no moral imperatives; no “thou shalt,” and no “thou shalt not.” Only, “I will.”

But modern atheists have not only ignored this logical conclusion, they have actually attempted to attack Christianity in the name of Christian morality, calling the Christian God cruel, bloodthirsty, racist, sadomasochistic, etc.2 Richard Dawkins’s famous book begins an early chapter with such accusations and much more. Whence the moral outrage?

Nietzsche’s honesty above grows all the more relevant (and this is what sparked me to write this article) when we read his context: he wrote the above as a commentary on the English writer George Eliot, decrying her clinging to morality despite her rejection of God. In fact, according to some accounts, and just as Dawkins, she attacked Christianity in the name of morality, calling the faith “immoral.” Nietzsche spies the “English” inconsistency and condemns her (and thus Dawkins) as a weak, effeminate, and illogical atheist. He writes:

G. Elliot: They are rid of the Christian God and now believe all the more firmly that they must cling to Christian morality. This is an English inconsistency: we do not wish to hold it against little moralistic females à la Eliot. In England [then and now, apparently] one must rehabilitate oneself after ever little emancipation from theology by showing in a veritably awe-inspiring manner what a moral fanatic one is. That is the penance they pay there.

We others hold otherwise. . . . [then follows the earlier quotation]3

Upon reading this again, I could not help but think of today’s little rosy-cheeked moralist, Dawkins, preaching against the cosmic bully of the Old Testament, and denouncing the extremes of religion—all the while unaware that he and his audience must have the morality of Christendom under their feet in order for those denunciations to have much effect or even meaning. Still English, yes, and still inconsistent.

Nietzsche blows up the charade:

When the English actually believe that they know “intuitively” what is good and evil, when they therefore suppose that they no longer require Christianity as the guarantee of morality, we merely witness the effects of the dominion of the Christian value judgment and an expression of the strength and depth of this dominion: such that the origin of English morality has been forgotten, such that the very conditional character of its right to existence is no longer felt. For the English, morality is not yet a problem.4

For this reason—for his fearless and relentless consistency—I love reading Nietzsche. The arch-atheist—the honest, consistent atheist—foils all the prominent modern atheists. He knows and admits that Dawkins’ moral indignation arises from the very God he denounces. Nietzsche knows that such moral fire only expresses the prior power and dominion of Christianity. Nietzsche knows that moral indignation itself is borrowed capital from Christendom.

Unlike Dawkins, however, Nietzsche refused to keep pretending. Nietzsche had the intellect to see the connection, and the guts to admit the outcome of his worldview. Modern atheism, apparently, has neither. For them, Christian society provides them enough comfort to enjoy the peace and tolerance of Christian rules while denying the existence of the Rule-giver. For them, morality is not yet a problem—simply because they refuse to admit it. Well, despite the “flatheads,” “this point has to be exhibited again and again,” and I don’t mind letting Nietzsche do so for us.

And just wait until you seem him do the same thing with . . . science!

  1. Friedrich Nietzsche, “Twilight of the Idols,” The Portable Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Walter Kaufman (New York: Penguin Books, 1976), 515–6.
  2. See Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006), 31.
  3. Friedrich Nietzsche, “Twilight of the Idols,” The Portable Nietzsche, 515.
  4. Friedrich Nietzsche, “Twilight of the Idols,” The Portable Nietzsche, 516.
Categories: Worldview

Is it time to disarm the Police?

Fri, 07/08/2016 - 17:16

I begin with an insight offered by Professor Carroll Quigley (1910—1977), who taught history to Bill Clinton at Georgetown University. He had such a profound impact on Clinton that Clinton referred to him in his 1992 nomination acceptance speech. Quigley is famous among conservatives for his book, Tragedy and Hope (1966), in which he devoted 20 pages to the connections between Wall Street banking firms and American foreign policy, which has been dominated by the liberal left (pp. 950ff). But Quigley was also an expert in the history of weaponry. One of his books, Weapons Systems and Political Stability: A History, was printed directly from a typewritten manuscript and is known only to a handful of specialists, was a 1,000-page history of weaponry that ended with the Middle Ages. In Tragedy and Hope, he wrote about the relationship between amateur weapons and liberty. By amateur, he meant low cost. He meant, in the pejorative phrase of political statists, Saturday-night specials.

In a period of specialist weapons the minority who have such weapons can usually force the majority who lack them to obey; thus a period of specialist weapons tends to give rise to a period of minority rule and authoritarian government. But a period of amateur weapons is a period in which all men are roughly equal in military power, a majority can compel a minority to yield, and majority rule or even democratic government tends to rise. . . .

But after 1800, guns became cheaper to obtain and easier to use. By 1840 a Colt revolver sold for $27 and a Springfield musket for not much more, and these were about as good weapons as anyone could get at that time. Thus, mass armies of citizens, equipped with these cheap and easily used weapons, began to replace armies of professional soldiers, beginning about 1800 in Europe and even earlier in America. At the same time, democratic government began to replace authoritarian governments (but chiefly in those areas where the cheap new weapons were available and local standards of living were high enough to allow people to obtain them).

According to Quigley, the eighteenth-century’s commitment to popular government was reinforced — indeed, made possible — by price-competitive guns that made the average colonial farmer a threat to a British regular. Paul Revere’s midnight warning, “The regulars are out!” would have had no purpose or effect had it not been that the “minute men” were armed and dangerous.

With this in mind, let me present my thesis.

THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS FAR TOO WEAK

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution asserts the right — the legal immunity from interference by the State — of American citizens to keep and bear arms. This means a rifle strapped to my back and a pistol or two strapped to my hip, day or night.

It doesn’t go far enough. It leaves guns in the hands of a subculture that has proven itself too irresponsible to carry them: the police.

If I were called upon to write the constitution for a free country, meaning a country no larger than Iowa, I would require every citizen to be armed, except members of the police. A policeman would have to apply for an on-duty gun permit. He would not be allowed to carry a gun on duty, just like England’s bobbies are not allowed to carry them.

Every child, male and female, beginning no later than age six, would be trained by parents regarding the moral responsibility of every armed citizen to come to the aid of any policeman in trouble. Unarmed people deserve protection.

Children would be also taught that the first person to pull a gun to defend an unarmed policeman or any other unarmed person deserves the lion’s share of the credit. Late-comers would be regarded as barely more than onlookers. This is necessary to offset the “Kitty Genovese phenomenon.” In 1964, this young woman was attacked and murdered in full view of 38 onlookers, in their Queens, New York, neighborhood. Despite her screams for help, no one even bothered to call the police. This is the “who goes first?” problem.

Anyone so foolish as to attack a policeman would be looking down the barrels of, say, a dozen handguns. “Go ahead, punk. Make our day!”

A policeman would gain obedience, like James Stewart in Destry Rides Again, through judicial empowerment. He would not threaten anyone with immediate violence. He would simply say, “Folks, I’ve got a problem here. This person is resisting arrest. Would three of you accompany me to the local station with this individual?”

He would blow his whistle, and a dozen sawed-off shotguns accompanied by people would be there within 60 seconds.

Every member of society would be trained from an early age to honor the law as an adult by being willing to carry a handgun. Everyone would see himself as a defender of the law and a peace-keeper. Guns would be universal. Every criminal would know that the man or woman next to him is armed and dangerous. He would be surrounded at all times by people who see their task as defending themselves and others against the likes of him.

The only person he could trust not to shoot him dead in his tracks for becoming an aggressor would be the policeman on the beat. The aggressor’s place of safety would be custody.

There would be another effect on social life. When every adult is armed, civility increases. In a world of armed Davids, Goliaths would learn to be civil. The words of Owen Wister’s Virginian, “Smile when you say that,” would regain their original meaning.

The doctrine of citizen’s arrest would be inculcated in every child from age six. Then, at the coming of age, every new citizen would take a public vow to uphold the constitution. He or she would then be handed a certificate of citizenship, which would automatically entitle the bearer to carry an automatic. Note: I did not say semi-automatic. . . .

SELF-GOVERNMENT UNDER LAWFUL AUTHORITY

Unarmed police, now fully deserving of protection by gun-bearing citizens, would gain immense respect. They would rule by the force of law, meaning respect for the law, meaning widespread voluntary submission by the citizenry. This is properly called self-government under lawful authority. The policeman’s word would be law. He just wouldn’t be armed.

A criminal would not escape from the scene of the crime by shooting the cop on the beat. He would not get 20 yards from the cop’s body.

Citizens would regard a law enforcement officer as they regard their mothers. They would do what they were told with little more than rolling their eyes. If anyone physically challenged a police officer, he would risk facing a dozen Clint Eastwoods who have been waiting for two decades to get an opportunity to make their day.

To make this system work, the courts would have to enforce strict liability. Injure the wrong person, and (assuming you survive the shoot-out) you must pay double restitution. Kill the wrong person, and you must pay the ultimate restitution: eye for eye, life for life. But no faceless bureaucrat hired by the State would do the act. A group of armed citizens will execute you under the authority of the court. Remember, the police are unarmed.

The fact that citizens in no society think this way is evidence of how well the defenders of State monopoly power have done their work. They want their agents armed and the rest of us unarmed. A free society would reverse this arrangement.

CONCLUSION

There are those who will reply that my proposal is utopian, that civilians do not have sufficient courage to come to the aid of an unarmed policeman. Furthermore, they will complain, the common man is not sufficiently self-disciplined to live under the rule of law as I have described it. Both objections have validity. I can only respond by pointing out that a society in which its citizens possess neither courage nor self-discipline is not a free society. I am not here proposing a technical reform that will produce a free society. Rather, I am describing why freedom has departed from this nation ever since, for lack of a better date, 1788.

[Gary North is the author of the 31-volume An Economic Commentary on the Bible and scores of other books. He publishes daily at his subscription site GaryNorth.com. This article originally appeared in expanded form as “Disarm the Police,” LewRockwell.com, August 18, 2003.]
Categories: Worldview

Atheism, despair, and envy: a case study

Fri, 07/08/2016 - 08:00

I try not get into online debates in comment sections, on Facebook, or even via email. I have too to else do. In fact, I give this as general advice for most people online, in forums, on Facebook, etc.: these are great places to be poor stewards of the time with which God has entrusted you while neglecting your business, work, housework, etc.

But once in a while I’ll engage someone if I think there’s some larger benefit to it. This post is an example of that, and I was encouraged by others to make a post of the email exchanges below.

The following exchange took place after a 73-year old atheist emailed me via my public email address in regard to my article, “Social Security: 78 cents on the dollar?” which exposes the scam of the Social Security Trust Fund among other things. The man desired to express to me his despair in regard to the future of the Social Security system—from which he derives his sole source of income—but mostly to poke at me with this atheistic cane. While his expression of the standard old atheistic arguments is hardly the best I’ve seen, it does carry with it an interesting vignette into atheism that I deemed worthy to set forth as an example.

What this man revealed as I led him further into his own irrationalism, was the utter despair to which his worldview leads, as well as the angry expression of pure envy which can develop from one’s own embrace of pessimism. Rarely do these things come out so clearly in an exchange with an atheist.

The exchange occurred as follows in block quotations, and will be punctuated in a few places with my further comments.

Round One

Response to your 78 cents on the dollar article.

Dear Mr. McDurmon:

I’ve danced through the hoops from childhood “brainwashing” in fundy Baptist Scofield dispensationalism to BA and MDiv degrees in religulous schools, and DC in a secular school (now am 73, retired with only SS).

In all this, my and all American citizens’ lives have been hampered and restrained by the corruption in corporate governments and corporations at various levels. Peace and happiness are only illusions in such an environment.

Yet I was taught that there is a “god” in control of this world, and all things will work out for good for all. Seeing the falseness in such promises, the religulous schools, churches, and media still push these illusions.

So, “what’s a mother to do?” so to speak. I just read your Social Security: 78 Cents on the Dollar? re. the sham of social security. Another government lie to us. Your solutions for us seniors are very disheartening.

We were taught to live in this corrupt society, and, through faith in the supernatural, we’d all come out all right, while contemplating “pie in the sky by and by.” More illusions (falsehoods?).

I was taken in wholly by all this religulous propaganda, only to abandon it around the mid 1960s. It occurred to me that it was a false illusion, disappointing, and not worthy of pursuit, merely a system for creating guilt.

My question to you is: Why do you and others keep up the illusion of happiness and “making a difference” in the world when you and I realize that there is a sinister power of banksters and gangsters funded by the banksters that is unstoppable? Too many profit off such corruption, so there is no successful defeat of it.

One head of an institution near here in answer to my question said we are training the young to go out and take care of the mess which we created/are leaving behind (a paraphrase). Wasn’t he trained to do that with the mess left to him? Evidently he and others before have not made a difference!

Do you believe in a heaven and hell, Mr. McDurmon? If a god created all things and declared them “good,” what happened to his control of them? And hell fire for eternity declares he made a mistake and desires to punish those who, through no fault of their own, who never had a chance at peace and happiness, must now be punished eternally by their very creator who, I believe, should “save” them.

And, to me, “free will” is another illusion constantly pushed. We’re all controlled by our genetic inheritances and environmental restraints, so how could our wills really change things for the better? All evidently must resign to things as they are and try to make the better of a bad situation.

My conclusion to it all? I now enjoy what I can and have no fear of the future, be there a “god” or no. When my journey here is over, I shall return to the earth from which I came, and to the silence from which I sprang. I see no “life hereafter,” just unconscious sleep as before my birth.

My challenge to you is to convince me that your life, beliefs, and teaching is any better than my life just described to you. Further, no religulous book can be proven. Thank you for your response.

Sincerely,

Bob (ret.) in Talbot Co., Ga.

I responded to Bob:

Thank you for taking the time to write me in regard to my article. Yes, the government lied and the future is bleak, whether you refer to my particular “solutions” or anyone else’s. Sorry for that.

I am also sorry you were so poorly misled (like most Christians) when you were young. My organization, American Vision, exists specifically to counter that “pie-in-the sky” false religion. We proclaim with so much of ignored Scripture that we are to focus on good works, hard work, responsibility, thrift, ethics, charity, decentralization of government power, etc. in this world, by God’s command. We expect, as our Lord taught us to pray, that His will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven. James said that faith without works is worthless: “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:15-17).”

I was specifically responding to Bob’s claim that he was “taught that there is a ‘god’ in control of this world, and all things will work out for good for all.” It should be added that this is a distortion of the standard dispy-Baptist teaching, which would usually come directly from the Bible. The typical verse to which I think he is referring is Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” But notice, this does not teach that things work out for good “for all,” as Bob said, but only for God’s elect.

Further, Bob later says that “We were taught to live in this corrupt society, and, through faith in the supernatural, we’d all come out all right, while contemplating ‘pie in the sky by and by.’” But the typical fundamentalist view is that one’s reward for faith is heavenly, not necessarily earthly by any means. Many of these Christians expect only persecution and suffering in this world, and peace only in the next. Bob seems to have believed that he would “come out alright” in this life simply by believing in God. No Bible-believing Christian group I know of teaches this with perhaps the exception of some word-of-faith charismatics.

What is unclear here is whether Bob was actually misled or whether he has abstracted some ideas which he himself has misunderstood. In either case, American Vision teaches that both the traditional “pie-in-the sky” view of Christianity and Bob’s characterization of it are incorrect.

So, with you, we detest the mentality that says we must endure a corrupt society and through faith in God we will come out alright while contemplating pie in the sky. While this is certainly the majority view of religion, it is also certainly wrong and misguided. It prevails so strongly because most people like to be told they have no responsibility, works are not necessary, and escape is just around the corner (whether through rapture or mysticism, or whatever).

So this takes away his pessimistic stance against the faith, at least in regard to his discussion with me. From this point, he would either have to admit with me that the Christian faith does not of necessity rely on “pie-in-the-sky,” or he would have to retreat further into his own pessimism. As we will see in a moment, he would rather take the latter route than admit to anything positive about Christianity.

As for your reservations to the supernatural in general: my answer to the problem of evil is in this article I wrote a couple years ago. I take that question very seriously, and I hope you find time to read what I have written.

I linked him to my article “Harlequin ichthyosis and the Justice of God,” in which I responded to another atheist’s challenge in regard to the problem of evil. I see no need to rehash arguments I have already written elsewhere.

Suffering can have very powerful redemptive effects in society. So, your question, “Why do you and others keep up the illusion of happiness and ‘making a difference’ in the world when you and I realize that there is a sinister power of banksters and gangsters funded by the banksters that is unstoppable? Too many profit off such corruption, so there is no successful defeat of it,” I think assumes too much on the side of the evil.

First of all, I don’t accept the fallacious “complex question.” See my newly-reprinted Biblical Logic (pp. 162–167) on this. I don’t accept the assumptions that happiness and making a difference are an “illusion,” or that the power of evil is “unstoppable.” So I continued,

Yes these gangsters exist, but just look around you: their power to control information is dwindling more every day; the internet has destroyed the power of gatekeepers. Even in China, for example, where Christianity is virtually outlawed, the greatest revivals of millions of people are taking place. Christian literature is for the most part outlawed, and yet a thousand books can be smuggled in on one tiny thumb drive, and this is done every day. Likewise, the bankers are suffering terribly for their great frauds. Vastly more people today are aware of the frauds of central banking and fiat money. Millions of people want to “end the fed”; this would have been inconceivable just ten years ago. So the “sinister power” of these people is being broken. Thus I hardly see them as “unstoppable,” and hardly believe there is “no successful defeat of it.” I don’t believe that happiness is an illusion; in fact, I cannot believe that, I refuse to believe it—not because of pie in the sky, but because I believe in pie in the earth. And while I may not see it develop fully in my lifetime, I plan for my grandkids. I work hard so that they may have a better future than I; and even if I don’t succeed, I would rather die (or be killed) trying rather than sitting back and saying “it’s impossible.” The only sure way to fail is not to try. I refuse to die with that on my resume.

I would turn the tables on you for two things: first, you say all of these pessimistic things about unstoppable corruption and sinister power which can’t be stopped, and then you say you have “no fear of the future.” Sounds to me like you can’t make up your mind. Sounds to me like you’ve resigned to live your last years facing the overwhelming victory of evil in this world, and you don’t care. You’ve accepted an evil-dominated world as a place in which you can live without fear. Sounds strange to me. I suspect that if that evil comes knocking personally at your door, you may speak differently. You may even choose to fight it.

Secondly, and more importantly, IF there is no God, why in the world should I or anyone else care about your bleak future? Why should we even care about your present? If I were to follow out the premises of an atheistic world logically and consistently—there is nothing but physical matter and motion, and humans are merely “highly evolved” instances of matter and motion, all feelings and ideas are mere by-products of this—then I would have a far more bleak future for you. I may conclude—as many tyrants have in the past (and still do today)—that a particular 73-year old man is more of a liability to society than an asset, depending on the circumstances and whatever mood I’m in at the moment. In an atheistic world, there is no reason we should suffer you live out those last days slowly, consuming scarce resources, until you return to the earth. In that world, you may actually have been chosen to be euthanized even earlier. In others, more polite [for no good reason], they may simply just encourage you to leave early. In that world, there is no transcendent, authoritative moral code. It is not even a question of “appropriate,” for no such category can exist—at least not with any genuine authority. What the most powerful members of society impose on the less powerful is by definition “right”—and the weaker bags of protoplasm either have no complaint, or can complain while they’re being forced to comply. As my unregenerate friend used to say, “Tough [doo-doo].”

In my religion, however, we are taught to value the elderly for the wisdom and example they can provide. Thus, “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:32). (Does that dang ol’ harsh and obscure book of Leviticus really teach that? Yep.)

I agree, btw, that our genes and environments have enormous power over our circumstance; but how this destroys our wills completely is another question. I suspect that if you’re standing in the middle of the road and a truck is hurling at you, you will freely choose to move out of the way—irrespective of your DNA. And just because my DNA did not help me sprout wings to fly, there’s no reason for me to stay motionless on the couch while wife and kids expect me to work and win bread (though some men choose to do so). Perhaps my DNA or my environment will leave me susceptible to some disease or disorder, or not; but in any case, it will be my choice ahead to time to purchase life insurance, health insurance, and if such a time should come, it will be purely my choice whether to receive treatment or not. I think the whole “nature versus nurture” debate is highly oversimplified, and creates in many cases a false dichotomy.

And should I ever have to exercise my insurance options, I thank God I live in a society still Christian enough to honor contracts. In an atheistic society—say like the old Soviet Union, or perhaps a worse one yet to come—they may just find a special place for me to go to.

With these things said, I wish I could say much more, but my time is accountable to the donors of AV, who expect me to finish my “County Rights” project someday. I am very sorry, but I cannot accept your challenge to try to convince you. [I said this somewhat in jest, considering I had just replied so much to his challenge already.] I am exactly half your age, but already have learned enough to know if a man won’t listen to the Scripture, he won’t listen to me either; such a man will not even believe if he personally witnessed the resurrection (please read Luke 16:19-31). All I can do is keep fighting the evil, proclaiming the truth, working to better myself and effect change. I would only encourage you—even if you persist in your unbelief—you quit being pessimistic about this world in the future. For in that regard, you still sound too much like a old “fundy Baptist.”

God bless,

Joel McDurmon

That was it. It was a very brief apologetic treatment in summary form to standard atheistic arguments. Nothing really special, and nothing extraordinary except Bob’s special twist of pessimism. But I think Bob was not happy with what I wrote, especially my last line implying that his atheistic version of “doom and gloom” and triumph of evil in this world sounded too much like the dispensationalist Baptists from whom he claimed to distance himself.

Round Two

What followed actually surprised me a little. Usually atheists retreat into a pretended optimism here, attempting to prove that “atheists can be moral people too!” or “an atheistic society can be just as moral and caring as a religious society,” or things of that nature. What surprised me was Bob’s willingness openly to display his despair:

You must realize that the powers already view old folks like myself as “useless eaters.” Obummer has planned to rid the world of the old. I know I won’t convince you of my thoughts, because you have “faith” in a book and being which have no hold on me. And many don’t believe a “jesus” rose from the grave, witness the Jefferson bible, which contains no miracles or resurrection passages.

Then he let his despair expose his envy. Keep in mind, envy is that emotion that sees someone else have something they don’t, but instead of trying to obtain that something somehow, they try to destroy it so that the other person can’t have it either. This is exactly what Bob expresses to me: if he can’t have optimism, he will try to destroy it for me as well. As he says,

Planning for your kids and grandkids will have no good effects, because the wicked have completely hijacked the US and the world for their nefarious purposes. The world has no bright future. Because the US has been influenced by the KJV thumpers, people have a false idea that they just “wait for Jesus” to straighten things out, so they sit on their butts at home and church, allowing the wicked to turn the nation into a hell hole. You say you reject that, but how different is your view of things? Voting makes no difference, as the wicked control every election for their agenda.

Ironically, I agree with him about the false idea of the rapture and waiting for Jesus, and I already explained to him (however brief) how diametrically opposite my view of Christianity is. And yet he totally ignores it, because he cannot accept it. It would imply that we should accept responsibility, act morally, stand for good in the face of evil, and even fight against the odds.

Instead of being mature and courageous, Bob chooses the easy way out. Evil will triumph, there’s nothing we can do, but thank (thank what? earth?) we have no final judgment to fear, Bob says, he will simply die and return to unconscious silence.

So having just disavowed the “waiting for Jesus” view of the world, Bob embraces the “waiting for nothing, but still waiting nonetheless” view of the world.

This is the atheistic version of the “rapture.” Rapture or unconscious silence—both are doctrines of escapism.

Bob denies that my view is any different, but does not explain why. Then, with as much reason, he denies my other claims (expectedly):

You haven’t “turned the tables on me,” Joel. Why fear the future, when one realizes there is no eternal hell fire prepared by your “god” for his mistakes? There’s nothing to fear because we’re only returning to the earth, to experience the silence as was before our birth. You need not care about my, what you called, “your bleak future.” I don’t even know you, so why should you even consider my future or I yours?

I though this last sentence was quite funny, rhetorically asking me why I should “even consider” his future: for starters, he had just challenged me to convince him that my view of life is better than his. So I did. Yet he has no idea why I considered something he asked me to consider.

It’s apparent that Bob has neither any real answers to life, nor any good false answers—in other words, he’s not even very well trained at giving classic atheistic rebuttals. So he quickly lapses into relativism and personal attacks.

All your beliefs and arguments center on the KJV, which is written by one or two men for their purposes (Shakespear, Marlowe, Bacon, etc., who knows?) It makes no difference how you or I view it. Truth is as each views it.

It’s interesting how you, “half my age,” want to sound so full of wisdom, attempting to straighten me out, etc. Our opinions are only worth about 2 cents, as “Jon Christian Ryter” likes to say. You must realize that people like you have been trying all through history to “make a difference,” only to pass into the silent realm without having fulfilled their goals.

Then we see the real reason Bob wrote back: he was stung by my paralleling his pessimism with that of the dispensationalists. I think he immediately realized that while he “left that world,” he never really left that world. He’s still the same dogmatic, doomsday preacher, but with the added dark cloud of disbelief, no hope at all. He suddenly saw that he was never liberated from anything, he only dug his hole deeper. Worse yet, he now had to argue with me from the bottom of that abyss while I stood in daylight, on the rim, looking down. Thus, to some atheists, optimism, happiness, and strength in people of faith are often disclaimed as pride and arrogance. (This is true, by the way, even of debates between Christians, when one perceives themselves to be on the losing end: the tendency is to grow entrenched and display one’s own lack of spirituality by attacking that of your opponent.) So Bob quotes my line and then responds:

“I would only encourage you—even if you persist in your unbelief—you quit being pessimistic about this world in the future. For in that regard, you still sound too much like a old ‘fundy Baptist.’” Your last dig before wishing “God bless”! You sound like the prideful religulous I’ve known in my past religulous experiences, i.e., humility and how I attained it. That’s why I left that world, and don’t have any regrets about it. Please don’t write to me again, as I won’t you.

Ironically, Bob, who not so many moments before had genuinely challenged me to convince him, is now angry, spewing, irrational, and demanding I write him no more. But he had already engaged me, and had issued the challenge to be convinced; I could deprive him of the privilege. So I did write him again:

Just a couple parting thoughts:

Denial of future judgment is the atheist’s “rapture.” The atheist has only traded one fundamentalism for another.

I have no pretence of sounding wise; only matter-of-fact. If that is prideful, I stand condemned. Either way, I would expect an atheist—a la W. E. Henley style—to praise pride rather than condemn it.

Granted, Henley was not an atheist; but his poem “Invictus” to which I linked is legendary among humanists and others who wish to express their own boldness to brave anything the “gods” can throw at them. I can’t imagine an atheist would disapprove.

I am open to correction, be it by your beliefs or anyone else’s. Condemning me as someone unable to be convinced is a supreme insult.

I said this in response to Bob’s claim that “I know I won’t convince you of my thoughts, because you have ‘faith’ in a book and being which have no hold on me.” This is the atheist’s way of discounting why his own arguments fail. It’s a self-justifying, self-created immunity from criticism. No matter how well I eviscerate his arguments, he can retreat to this position, essentially saying, “Anything you say is only the result of your irrational faith. Whereas my arguments should convince you, you are irrational and cannot be convinced because of your ‘faith.’” The irony is that (even if this were true of my “faith”) Bob is the one really using this tactic. Anything I say to him is dismissed.

In reality, this tactic does nothing but display one’s own childishness. It’s Bob’s way of covering his ears and yelling, “Ah lah lah lah lah lah lah!”

I then addressed his reference to the Jefferson bible, not because I think Jefferson believed in resurrection or miracles, but to show him how even the least faithful of the fathers was far from being the type of atheist or “free-thinker” people like Bob often portray them as today.

Jefferson scissored-out the words and narrative of the life of Jesus in order to simplify. He said nothing about cutting out the miracles or supernatural per se, and specifically stated that he avoided the question of Jesus’ divinity. He was only interested in Jesus’ personal teachings. These he used in his own version of sectarianism, to “dismiss the Platonists and Plotinists, the Stagyrites and Gamalielites, the Eclectics, the Gnostics and Scholastics, their essences and emanations, their logos and demiurges, aeons and daemons, male and female, with a long train of … or, shall I say at once, of nonsense.” Granted, Jefferson was no believer in the same sense as myself, but it is funny that when he wanted to establish his “pure and unsophisticated doctrines” that he did not go to the Koran, or the Greeks, or the British Free-Thinkers, French Philosophes, or even Thomas Paine, but… to the Bible. You would do well to follow his example.

Granted, Jefferson’s bible does end with the stone being rolled over the grave, and omits the resurrection passage. But keep in mind Jefferson was a lawyer and thought in terms of legal training. He would have been the first to say that the omission of something is night-and-day different than the denial of it.

Further, unlike my dogmatic atheist, Jefferson believed in an afterlife: after Abigail Adams died, Jefferson wrote to her widower John reminding him of a time approaching when they would “ascend in essence to an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved and lost, and whom we shall still love and never lose again. God bless you and support you under your heavy affliction.” Further, while he wrote with no love for John Calvin’s reformed faith, Jefferson nevertheless affirmed the commandments and faith of Jesus, and the belief in not only an afterlife, but of eternal rewards and punishments in that afterlife. He wrote:

The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man.

1. That there is one only God, and he all perfect.

2. That there is a future state of rewards and punishments.

3. That to love God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself, is the sum of religion.

And even in his Unitarianism, Jefferson specifically avoided the type of pessimism this atheist has fallen into. Perceiving such to be a threat against his view of final judgment, Jefferson warned himself against “the afflictions . . . which corrode the spirit also, and might weaken it’s resignation to continuance in a joyless state of being which providence may yet destine.”

Jefferson aside, I continued in regard to the Bible:

And it doesn’t have to be the KJV. I personally read several translations, and check against the Greek and Hebrew often. www.biblegateway.com has several translations and is free.

If Shakespeare’s alleged involvement bothers you, get a Geneva Bible, which was translated into English before he was born; or one of dozens of others which had no input from him.

I have to admit, I am a bit confused: first you challenge me to convince you, then after one minor volley, you assert “please don’t write me anymore.”

Finally, I am openly ashamed in your behalf at the pessimism and resignation you spew. This is disgusting. You sound like a bitter old man. You have a longing to find genuine Christian fellowship, and I understand (believe me) that it is hard to find among all of the religious posturing and vying for power in churches, and outright hypocrisy; but I think that longing is still there; you’ve just convinced yourself of a world in which it is impossible to obtain—for you or anyone else. It’s classic envy. If you can’t have it, you’ll deny it for anyone else, too. This is transparent, and pitiful. The sad fact is that a man your age should be encouraging the next generation and exemplifying goodness even in the face of evil, yet you spout nothing but bitterness and defeat.

You say you don’t fear the future because of no after life; but you live NOW in defeat and fear. No wonder a silent death is a solace to you.

I have no intention of adding anything to this. The man had already eaten up more of our time than he deserved, and I ended my comments with an open rebuke. Imagine this: a man of that age who can have nothing good to say about life, lives in constant defeat, and is so embittered against life and God that he will openly deny that all attempts to be happy or make a better life for your children are futile and will end in defeat. In other words, he’s defeated, and he wants everyone else to be defeated as well.

My refusal to accept such a defeated worldview he criticized as prideful and arrogant. It really ate at him. He couldn’t hold it in. So, despite his promise never to write me again, he fired back, “I told you not to write me. . . . again, arrogance!!”

It’s a shame; but it’s perfectly consistent with the Bible’s view of fallen human nature: Cain saw that Abel’s sacrifice was accepted while his own was rejected. So rather than getting himself a better sacrifice, Cain despaired and envied.

Then he murdered his brother.

Don’t tell me atheists will create a moral society. I know better.

[Originally posted July 21, 2011.]

I normally don’t get into online debates in comment sections, on Facebook, or even via email. I have too much work to get done, especially in regard to my “County Rights” project. In fact, I give this as general advice for most people online, in forums, on Facebook, etc.; these are a great place to be poor stewards of the time with which God has entrusted you while neglecting your business, work, housework, etc.

But once in a while I’ll engage someone if I think there’s some larger benefit to it. This post is an example of that, and I was encouraged by others to make a post of the email exchanges below. I have done this at least once before, here.

The following exchange took place after a 73-year old atheist emailed me—via American Vision’s website—in regard to my article, “Social Security: 78 cents on the dollar?” which exposed the scam of the Social Security Trust Fund among other things. The man desired to express to me his despair in regard to the future of the Social Security system—from which he derives his sole source of income—but mostly to poke at me with this atheistic cane. While his expression of the standard old atheistic arguments is hardly the best I’ve seen—it reaches about a ninth-grade level—it does carry with it an interesting vignette into atheism that I deemed worthy to set forth as an example.

What this man revealed as I led him further into his own irrationalism, was the utter despair to which his worldview leads, as well as the angry expression of pure envy which develops from one’s own embrace of pessimism. Rarely do these things come out so clearly in an exchange with an atheist.

The exchange occurred as follows in block quotations, and will be punctuated in a few places with my further comments.

Response to your 78 cents on the dollar article.

Dear Mr. McDurmon:

I’ve danced through the hoops from childhood “brainwashing” in fundy Baptist Scofield dispensationalism to BA and MDiv degrees in religulous schools, and DC in a secular school (now am 73, retired with only SS).

In all this, my and all American citizens’ lives have been hampered and restrained by the corruption in corporate governments and corporations at various levels. Peace and happiness are only illusions in such an environment.

Yet I was taught that there is a “god” in control of this world, and all things will work out for good for all. Seeing the falseness in such promises, the religulous schools, churches, and media still push these illusions.

So, “what’s a mother to do?” so to speak. I just read your Social Security: 78 Cents on the Dollar? re. the sham of social security. Another government lie to us. Your solutions for us seniors are very disheartening.

We were taught to live in this corrupt society, and, through faith in the supernatural, we’d all come out all right, while contemplating “pie in the sky by and by.” More illusions (falsehoods?).

I was taken in wholly by all this religulous propaganda, only to abandon it around the mid 1960s. It occurred to me that it was a false illusion, disappointing, and not worthy of pursuit, merely a system for creating guilt.

My question to you is: Why do you and others keep up the illusion of happiness and “making a difference” in the world when you and I realize that there is a sinister power of banksters and gangsters funded by the banksters that is unstoppable? Too many profit off such corruption, so there is no successful defeat of it.

One head of an institution near here in answer to my question said we are training the young to go out and take care of the mess which we created/are leaving behind (a paraphrase). Wasn’t he trained to do that with the mess left to him? Evidently he and others before have not made a difference!

Do you believe in a heaven and hell, Mr. McDurmon? If a god created all things and declared them “good,” what happened to his control of them? And hell fire for eternity declares he made a mistake and desires to punish those who, through no fault of their own, who never had a chance at peace and happiness, must now be punished eternally by their very creator who, I believe, should “save” them.

And, to me, “free will” is another illusion constantly pushed. We’re all controlled by our genetic inheritances and environmental restraints, so how could our wills really change things for the better? All evidently must resign to things as they are and try to make the better of a bad situation.

My conclusion to it all? I now enjoy what I can and have no fear of the future, be there a “god” or no. When my journey here is over, I shall return to the earth from which I came, and to the silence from which I sprang. I see no “life hereafter,” just unconscious sleep as before my birth.

My challenge to you is to convince me that your life, beliefs, and teaching is any better than my life just described to you. Further, no religulous book can be proven. Thank you for your response.

Sincerely,

Bob (ret.) in Talbot Co., Ga.

I responded to Bob:

Thank you for taking the time to write me in regard to my article. Yes, the government lied and the future is bleak, whether you refer to my particular “solutions” or anyone else’s. Sorry for that.

I am also sorry you were so poorly misled (like most Christians) when you were young. My organization, American Vision, exists specifically to counter that “pie-in-the sky” false religion. We proclaim with so much of ignored Scripture that we are to focus on good works, hard work, responsibility, thrift, ethics, charity, decentralization of government power, etc. in this world, by God’s command. We expect, as our Lord taught us to pray, that His will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven. James said that faith without works is worthless: “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:15-17).”

I was specifically responding to Bob’s claim that he was “taught that there is a ‘god’ in control of this world, and all things will work out for good for all.” It should be added that this is a distortion of the standard dispy-Baptist teaching, which would usually come directly from the Bible. The typical verse to which I think he is referring is Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” But notice, this does not teach that things work out for good “for all,” as Bob said, but only for God’s elect.

Further, Bob later says that “We were taught to live in this corrupt society, and, through faith in the supernatural, we’d all come out all right, while contemplating ‘pie in the sky by and by.’” But the typical fundamentalist view is that one’s reward for faith is heavenly, not necessarily earthly by any means. Indeed many of these Christians expect only persecution and suffering in this world, and peace only in the next. Bob seems to have believed that he would “come out alright” in this life simply by believing in God. No Bible-believing Christian group I know of teaches this.

What is unclear here is whether Bob was actually misled or mistaught, or whether he has abstracted some ideas which he himself has misunderstood and misrepresented. In either case, American Vision teaches that both the traditional “pie-in-the sky” view of Christianity and Bob’s characterization of it are incorrect.

So, with you, we detest the mentality that says we must endure a corrupt society and through faith in God we will come out alright while contemplating pie in the sky. While this is certainly the majority view of religion, it is also certainly wrong and misguided. It prevails so strongly because most people like to be told they have no responsibility, works are not necessary, and escape is just around the corner (whether through rapture or mysticism, or whatever).

So this took away his pessimistic stance against the faith, at least in regard to his discussion with me. From this point, he would either have to admit with me that the Christian faith does not of necessity rely on “pie-in-the-sky,” or he would have to retreat further into his own pessimism. As we will see in a moment, he would rather take the latter route than admit to anything positive about Christianity.

As for your reservations to the supernatural in general: my answer to the problem of evil is in this article I wrote a couple years ago. I take that question very seriously, and I hope you find time to read what I have written.

I linked him to my article “Harlequin ichthyosis and the Justice of God,” in which I responded to another’s atheist’s challenge in regard to the problem of evil. I see no need to rehash arguments I have already written elsewhere.

Suffering can have very powerful redemptive effects in society. So, your question, “Why do you and others keep up the illusion of happiness and ‘making a difference’ in the world when you and I realize that there is a sinister power of banksters and gangsters funded by the banksters that is unstoppable? Too many profit off such corruption, so there is no successful defeat of it,” I think assumes too much on the side of the evil.

First of all, I don’t accept the fallacious “complex question.” See my newly-reprinted Biblical Logic (pp. 162–167) on this. I don’t accept the assumptions that happiness and making a difference are an “illusion,” or that the power of evil is “unstoppable.” So I continued,

Yes these gangsters exist, but just look around you: their power to control information is dwindling more every day; the internet has destroyed the power of gatekeepers. Even in China, for example, where Christianity is virtually outlawed, the greatest revivals of millions of people are taking place. Christian literature is for the most part outlawed, and yet a thousand books can be smuggled in on one tiny thumb drive, and this is done every day. Likewise, the bankers are suffering terribly for their great frauds. Vastly more people today are aware of the frauds of central banking and fiat money. Millions of people want to “end the fed”; this would have been inconceivable just ten years ago. So the “sinister power” of these people is being broken. Thus I hardly see them as “unstoppable,” and hardly believe there is “no successful defeat of it.” I don’t believe that happiness is an illusion; in fact, I cannot believe that, I refuse to believe it—not because of pie in the sky, but because I believe in pie in the earth. And while I may not see it develop fully in my lifetime, I plan for my grandkids. I work hard so that they may have a better future than I; and even if I don’t succeed, I would rather die (or be killed) trying rather than sitting back and saying “it’s impossible.” The only sure way to fail is not to try. I refuse to die with that on my resume.

I would turn the tables on you for two things: first, you say all of these pessimistic things about unstoppable corruption and sinister power which can’t be stopped, and then you say you have “no fear of the future.” Sounds to me like you can’t make up your mind. Sounds to me like you’ve resigned to live your last years facing the overwhelming victory of evil in this world, and you don’t care. You’ve accepted an evil-dominated world as a place in which you can live without fear. Sounds strange to me. I suspect that if that evil comes knocking personally at your door, you may speak differently. You may even choose to fight it.

Secondly, and more importantly, IF there is no God, why in the world should I or anyone else care about your bleak future? Why should we even care about your present? If I were to follow out the premises of an atheistic world logically and consistently—there is nothing but physical matter and motion, and humans are merely “highly evolved” instances of matter and motion, all feelings and ideas are mere by-products of this—then I would have a far more bleak future for you. I may conclude—as many tyrants have in the past (and still do today)—that a particular 73-year old man is more of a liability to society than an asset, depending on the circumstances and whatever mood I’m in at the moment. In an atheistic world, there is no reason we should suffer you live out those last days slowly, consuming scarce resources, until you return to the earth. In that world, you may actually have been chosen to be euthanized even earlier. In others, more polite [for no good reason], they may simply just encourage you to leave early. In that world, there is no transcendent, authoritative moral code. It is not even a question of “appropriate,” for no such category can exist—at least not with any genuine authority. What the most powerful members of society impose on the less powerful is by definition “right”—and the weaker bags of protoplasm either have no complaint, or can complain while they’re being forced to comply. As my unregenerate friend used to say, “Tough [doo-doo].”

In my religion, however, we are taught to value the elderly for the wisdom and example they can provide. Thus, “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:32). (Does that dang ol’ harsh and obscure book of Leviticus really teach that? Yep.)

I agree, btw, that our genes and environments have enormous power over our circumstance; but how this destroys our wills completely is another question. I suspect that if you’re standing in the middle of the road and a truck is hurling at you, you will freely choose to move out of the way—irrespective of your DNA. And just because my DNA did not help me sprout wings to fly, there’s no reason for me to stay motionless on the couch while wife and kids expect me to work and win bread (though some men choose to do so). Perhaps my DNA or my environment will leave me susceptible to some disease or disorder, or not; but in any case, it will be my choice ahead to time to purchase life insurance, health insurance, and if such a time should come, it will be purely my choice whether to receive treatment or not. I think the whole “nature versus nurture” debate is highly oversimplified, and creates in many cases a false dichotomy.

And should I ever have to exercise my insurance options, I thank God I live in a society still Christian enough to honor contracts. In an atheistic society—say like the old Soviet Union, or perhaps a worse one yet to come—they may just find a special place for me to go to.

With these things said, I wish I could say much more, but my time is accountable to the donors of AV, who expect me to finish my “County Rights” project someday. I am very sorry, but I cannot accept your challenge to try to convince you. [I said this someone in jest, considering I had just replied so much to his challenge already.] I am exactly half your age, but already have learned enough to know if a man won’t listen to the Scripture, he won’t listen to me either; such a man will not even believe if he personally witnessed the resurrection (please read Luke 16:19-31). All I can do is keep fighting the evil, proclaiming the truth, working to better myself and effect change. I would only encourage you—even if you persist in your unbelief—you quit being pessimistic about this world in the future. For in that regard, you still sound too much like a old “fundy Baptist.”

God bless,

Joel McDurmon

That was it. It was a very brief apologetic treatment in summary form to standard atheistic arguments. Nothing really special, and nothing extraordinary except Bob’s special twist of pessimism. But I think Bob was not happy with what I wrote, especially my last line implying that his atheistic version of “doom and gloom” and triumph of evil in this world sounded too much like the dispensationalist Baptists from whom he claimed to distance himself.

What followed actually surprised me a little. Usually atheists retreat into a pretended optimism here, attempting to prove that “atheists can be moral people too!” or “an atheistic society can be just as moral and caring as a religious society,” or things of that nature. What surprised me was Bob’s willingness openly to display his despair:

You must realize that the powers already view old folks like myself as “useless eaters.” Obummer has planned to rid the world of the old. I know I won’t convince you of my thoughts, because you have “faith” in a book and being which have no hold on me. And many don’t believe a “jesus” rose from the grave, witness the Jefferson bible, which contains no miracles or resurrection passages.

Then he let his despair expose his envy. Keep in mind, envy is that emotion that sees someone else have something they don’t, but instead of trying to obtain that something somehow, they try to destroy it so that the other person can’t have it either. This is exactly what Bob expresses to me: if he can’t have optimism, he will try to destroy it for me as well. As he says,

Planning for your kids and grandkids will have no good effects, because the wicked have completely hijacked the US and the world for their nefarious purposes. The world has no bright future. Because the US has been influenced by the KJV thumpers, people have a false idea that they just “wait for Jesus” to straighten things out, so they sit on their butts at home and church, allowing the wicked to turn the nation into a hell hole. You say you reject that, but how different is your view of things? Voting makes no difference, as the wicked control every election for their agenda.

Ironically, I agree with him about the false idea of the rapture and waiting for Jesus, and I already explained to him (however brief) how diametrically opposite my view of Christianity is. And yet he totally ignores it, because he cannot accept it. It would imply that we should accept responsibility, act morally, stand for good in the face of evil, and even fight against the odds.

Instead of being mature and courageous, Bob chooses the easy way out. Evil will triumph, there’s nothing we can do, but thank (thank what? earth?) we have no final judgment to fear, Bob says, he will simply die and return to unconscious silence.

So having just disavowed the “waiting for Jesus” view of the world, Bob embraces the “waiting for nothing, but still waiting nonetheless” view of the world.

This is the atheistic version of the “rapture.” Rapture or unconscious silence—both are doctrines of escapism.

Bob denies that my view is any different, but does explain why. Then, with as much reason, he denies my other claims (expectedly):

You haven’t “turned the tables on me,” Joel. Why fear the future, when one realizes there is no eternal hell fire prepared by your “god” for his mistakes? There’s nothing to fear because we’re only returning to the earth, to experience the silence as was before our birth. You need not care about my, what you called, “your bleak future.” I don’t even know you, so why should you even consider my future or I yours?

I though this last sentence was quite funny, rhetorically asking me why I should “even consider” his future: for starters, he had just challenged me to convince him that my view of life is better than his. So I did. Yet he has no idea why I considered something he asked me to consider.

It’s apparent that Bob has neither any real answers to life, nor any good false answers—in other words, he’s not even very well trained at giving classic atheistic rebuttals. So he quickly lapses into relativism and personal attacks.

All your beliefs and arguments center on the KJV, which is written by one or two men for their purposes (Shakespear, Marlowe, Bacon, etc., who knows?) It makes no difference how you or I view it. Truth is as each views it.

It’s interesting how you, “half my age,” want to sound so full of wisdom, attempting to straighten me out, etc. Our opinions are only worth about 2 cents, as “Jon Christian Ryter” likes to say. You must realize that people like you have been trying all through history to “make a difference,” only to pass into the silent realm without having fulfilled their goals.

Then we see the real reason Bob wrote back: he was stung by my paralleling his pessimism with that of the dispensationalists. I think he immediately realized that while he “left that world,” he never really left that world. He’s still the same dogmatic, doomsday preacher, but with the added dark cloud of disbelief, no hope at all. He suddenly saw that he was never liberated from anything, he only dug his hole deeper. Worse yet, he now had to argue with me from the bottom of that abyss while I stood in daylight, on the rim, looking down. Thus, to some atheists, optimism, happiness, and strength in people of faith are often disclaimed as pride and arrogance. (This is true, by the way, even of debates between Christians, when one perceives themselves to be on the losing end: the tendency is to grow entrenched and display one’s own lack of spirituality by attacking that of your opponent.) So Bob quotes my line and then responds:

“I would only encourage you—even if you persist in your unbelief—you quit being pessimistic about this world in the future. For in that regard, you still sound too much like a old ‘fundy Baptist.’” Your last dig before wishing “God bless”! You sound like the prideful religulous I’ve known in my past religulous experiences, i.e., humility and how I attained it. That’s why I left that world, and don’t have any regrets about it. Please don’t write to me again, as I won’t you.

Ironically, Bob, who not so many moments before had genuinely challenged me to convince him, is now angry, spewing, irrational, and demanding I write him no more. But he had already engaged me, and had issued the challenge to be convinced; I could deprive him of the privilege. So I did write him again:

Just a couple parting thoughts:

Denial of future judgment is the atheist’s “rapture.” The atheist has only traded one fundamentalism for another.

I have no pretence of sounding wise; only matter-of-fact. If that is prideful, I stand condemned. Either way, I would expect an atheist—a la W. E. Henley style—to praise pride rather than condemn it.

Granted, Henley was not an atheist; but his poem “Invictus” to which I linked is legendary among humanists and others who wish to express their own boldness to brave anything the “gods” can throw at them. I can’t imagine an atheist would disapprove.

I am open to correction, be it by your beliefs or anyone else’s. Condemning me as someone unable to be convinced is a supreme insult.

I said this in response to Bob’s claim that “I know I won’t convince you of my thoughts, because you have ‘faith’ in a book and being which have no hold on me.” This is the atheist’s way of discounting why his own arguments fail. It’s a self-justifying, self-created immunity from criticism. No matter how well I eviscerate his arguments, he can retreat to this position, essentially saying, “Anything you say is only the result of your irrational faith. Whereas my arguments should convince you, you are irrational and cannot be convinced because of your ‘faith.’” The irony is that (even if this were true of my “faith”) Bob is the one really using this tactic. Anything I say to him is dismissed.

In reality, this tactic does nothing but display one’s own childishness. It’s Bob’s way of covering his ears and yelling, “Ah lah lah lah lah lah lah!”

I then addressed his reference to the Jefferson bible, not because I think Jefferson believed in resurrection or miracles, but to show him how even the least faithful of the fathers was far from being the type of atheist or “free-thinker” people like Bob often portray them as today.

Jefferson scissored-out the words and narrative of the life of Jesus in order to simplify. He said nothing about cutting out the miracles or supernatural per se, and specifically stated that he avoided the question of Jesus’ divinity. He was only interested in Jesus’ personal teachings. These he used in his own version of sectarianism, to “dismiss the Platonists and Plotinists, the Stagyrites and Gamalielites, the Eclectics, the Gnostics and Scholastics, their essences and emanations, their logos and demiurges, aeons and daemons, male and female, with a long train of … or, shall I say at once, of nonsense.” Granted, Jefferson was no believer in the same sense as myself, but it is funny that when he wanted to establish his “pure and unsophisticated doctrines” that he did not go to the Koran, or the Greeks, or the British Free-Thinkers, French Philosophes, or even Thomas Paine, but… to the Bible. You would do well to follow his example.

Granted, Jefferson’s bible does end with the stone being rolled over the grave, and omits the resurrection passage. But keep in mind Jefferson was a lawyer and thought in terms of legal training. He would have been the first to say that the omission of something is night-and-day different than the denial of it.

Further, unlike my dogmatic atheist, Jefferson believed in an afterlife: after Abigail Adams died, Jefferson wrote to her widower John reminding him of a time approaching when they would “ascend in essence to an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved and lost, and whom we shall still love and never lose again. God bless you and support you under your heavy affliction.” Further, while he wrote with no love for John Calvin’s reformed faith, Jefferson nevertheless affirmed the commandments and faith of Jesus, and the belief in not only an afterlife, but of eternal rewards and punishments in that afterlife. He wrote:

The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man.

1. That there is one only God, and he all perfect.

2. That there is a future state of rewards and punishments.

3. That to love God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself, is the sum of religion.

And even in his Unitarianism, Jefferson specifically avoided the type of pessimism this atheist has fallen into. Perceiving such to be a threat against his view of final judgment, Jefferson warned himself against “the afflictions . . . which corrode the spirit also, and might weaken it’s resignation to continuance in a joyless state of being which providence may yet destine.”

Jefferson aside, I continued in regard to the Bible:

And it doesn’t have to be the KJV. I personally read several translations, and check against the Greek and Hebrew often. www.biblegateway.com has several translations and is free.

If Shakespeare’s alleged involvement bothers you, get a Geneva Bible, which was translated into English before he was born; or one of dozens of others which had no input from him.

I have to admit, I am a bit confused: first you challenge me to convince you, then after one minor volley, you assert “please don’t write me anymore.”

Finally, I am openly ashamed in your behalf at the pessimism and resignation you spew. This is disgusting. You sound like a bitter old man. You have a longing to find genuine Christian fellowship, and I understand (believe me) that it is hard to find among all of the religious posturing and vying for power in churches, and outright hypocrisy; but I think that longing is still there; you’ve just convinced yourself of a world in which it is impossible to obtain—for you or anyone else. It’s classic envy. If you can’t have it, you’ll deny it for anyone else, too. This is transparent, and pitiful. The sad fact is that a man your age should be encouraging the next generation and exemplifying goodness even in the face of evil, yet you spout nothing but bitterness and defeat.

You say you don’t fear the future because of no after life; but you live NOW in defeat and fear. No wonder a silent death is a solace to you.

I have no intention of adding anything to this. The man had already eaten up more of our time than he deserved, and I ended my comments with an open rebuke. Image this: a man of that age who can have nothing good to say about life, lives in constant defeat, and is so embittered against life and God that he will openly deny that all attempts to be happy or make a better life for your children are futile and will end in defeat. In other words, he’s defeated, and he wants everyone else to be defeated as well.

My refusal to accept such his worldview he saw as prideful and arrogant. It really ate at him. So, despite his promise to certainly never write me again, he fired back, “I told you not to write me. . . . again, arrogance!!”

It’s a shame; but it’s perfectly consistent with the Bible’s view of fallen human nature: Cain saw that Abel’s sacrifice was accepted while his own was rejected. So rather than getting himself a better sacrifice, Cain despaired and envied. Then he murdered his brother.

Don’t tell me atheists will create a moral society. I know better.

Categories: Worldview

Atheism, freemasonry, and the “God Equation”

Thu, 07/07/2016 - 08:00

Brave atheist PZ Myers (the American Richard Dawkins wannabe) did humanity the favor of debunking the so-called “God Equation”—a simple physics trick that purports to give “scientific evidence that the creation of the Earth and Moon was a deliberate act.” But what has begun to come out of the debunking is a misunderstanding by some that this attempt at proving “intelligent design” has somehow come from “Christian” creation scientists. So, the story now needs debunking on two counts—the particular spin on “intelligent design” given by the discoverers of the equation, and the particular misapplication that some atheists on the web have added to it. In the end, we will see the God Equation proponents and the atheists are the ones in league.

A Pagan Intelligent Design Theory

Readers should first realize that the “discoverers” of this equation (which I will discuss in particular in a moment) are decidedly not Christians, at least not by any traditional measurement. The “discovery” was made by artificial intelligence (AI) engineer David Cumming of Edinburgh, UK. Cumming runs an organization called Intelligent Earth that develops AI products such as facial recognition systems and robotics. He describes himself as a “skeptic,” telling Myers in correspondence, “I didn’t [at first] believe the equation either. I am a skeptic and a great fan of people like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, etc. so please don’t tar this with the pseudoscience brush because it’s not appropriate in this case.” A self-proclaimed skeptic and fan of the famous atheists Harris and Dawkins can hardly be accused of being a creation scientist, or a Christian.

When I first read the article something sounded really fishy, and then I spotted it: “Working completely independently, well-known researchers Christopher Knight and Alan Butler, have shown that there is a unique unit of measurement based on the fundamental characteristics of the Sun, Earth, Moon system.” The name “Christopher Knight” rang a bell and I immediately began to dig up a few books from past studies. Sure enough, Knight turns out to be the author of The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus—one of the books that gained best-selling popularity in the wake of The Da Vinci Code years ago.

In that book, Knight condemns the traditional history of the Church and sides with occultists and radical liberal scholars such as Elaine Pagels in favor of the Gnostics. He then complete these same heist of logic that the atheists do and claims that Christianity was really nothing more than a rehash of the ancient pagan sun-worshiping mystery religions. I addressed this nonsense long ago in my video series Defeating the Mythstorians, and in my books Manifested in the Flesh, and Zeitgeist—the Movie: Exposed. Knight goes beyond even the most radical of the atheists and claims that with Christianity versus the mystery religions, “This is not a case of similarities; we’re talking about total interchangeability.” His book is filled with this type of grandiose fallacy, upon which he builds each of his next arguments, conjecture upon conjecture, arriving at even more grandiose conclusions. The main point being, however, that he rejects the faith, the divinity of Jesus, and opts for the alleged glories of freemasonry.

In that freemasonic world—in which I suspect all the parties involved with this equation have a foot—“God” can mean whatever the individual wants it to mean. It could mean everything from an enlightened Buddha to an extraterrestrial. So when these cosmic number-tinkerers claim to find proof of engineering, they could mean that higher beings from another part of the universe “engineered” part our solar system (the equation, by the way, says nothing about the origin of life on earth or intelligence itself, only about the relationship between the size and motion of the earth and moon). From what I gather from the parties involved, anything like the Creator God spoken of in the Bible is the farthest thing from their minds. They are occultists—neo-Pythagoreans trying to reduce all reality to numbers—not Christians.

My thanks to PZ Myers (despite my great disagreements with him over the issue of God in general) for actually not calling these perpetrators “Christian” in this case, nor even suggesting an association with “creation science” or “intelligent design.”

About the “God Equation”

The equation at its simplest allegedly “shows a direct link between the speed of light, the radio frequency of hydrogen in space, pi, and earth’s orbit, rotation and weight.” And this “direct link” supposedly provides evidence of engineering in the universe. But this fine-threaded theory has a few knots.

The equation itself contains arbitrary components which render it dubious if not laughably contrived. For example, in contains a mysterious constant Ω which equates to “(0.0123456789 representing all the characters of the base 10 number system)”—a curious oddity at best, though one employed by more than one scientist who purports to have discovered “God” through arcane mathematics. Atheist Myers easily debunks the equation by pointing out the curious negligence with the units of measurement: “For instance, the term Hl has units of MHz; the other parameters seem to be dimensionless; and C [the speed of light] has units of km/sec. This does not compute.” I agree with his quip, “That seems like a rather fundamental error in a very simple equation that must have been formulated by a couple of the geniuses of the age, don’t you think?”

The God Equation argument runs thusly: “As the possibility of the Earth having the exact required characteristics to fit the equation by chance is remote, and the equation has, in theory, been in existence since the beginning of the Universe, this means that the Earth’s orbit, rotation and weight must have been engineered to fit this equation.” As science this is dubious; as logic it is very poor. To say that finding a certain regularity means that the objects involved “must have been” engineered to fit the mathematics derived from it is to reason upside-down. Anyone can triangulate a given set of data from regularly behaving objects in the universe, then derive an equation to fit the data (and some equation will fit because the motion is uniform), find some conversion factor to make some of the numbers look smooth (this is the nature of math), and then claim the objects were specifically engineered to fit that equation. The conclusion should come as no surprise, for it was custom-molded to fit the data.

Logic simply does not compel one from “order” to “divine creation.” Other factors besides divine input could possibly account for order. (This is why evidentialist apologetics will always be doomed to failure—a hamster wheel.) Atheists readily accept the orderliness of the universe, and yet reject every notion of creation. They rightly point out that all things being equal, a purely material universe will simply behave according to whatever properties matter may have. We observe regularity and precision, and therefore we accept regularity, as long as it works, and describe it mathematically. The bigger question, therefore, will be that of where the orderliness comes from to begin with. Answering that question ultimately involves a faith commitment upon which each worldview is based—orderliness is dependent upon a creator, or upon an eternal universe of matter and motion, etc. We will only get nearer to a proof of God by challenging these presuppositions and seeing which one actually holds up.

That math works in the universe is not the debate. Why math works in the universe gets closer to the necessary point of argument.

What Cumming has “discovered,” therefore, is hardly novel or helpful. Newton just as easily saw that his derivation of the laws of gravity from the coursing planets in the heavens proved their special creation. But what happens if and when we observe chaos? What happens when there is no human reasoning, and when there may not even be reason and ratio enough to explain some aspects of the universe? Are we then to abandon God? If mathematical regularity proves divine creation, then does irregularity prove atheism? Are we to adhere to God in the portions of the universe we can subdue beneath the bar of mathematics, and assume that the chaotic parts have no Creator? Did God, therefore, create only part of the universe? And where did the other parts come from? Relying on particular instances of regularity in the universe to prove the existence of a designer is hot very helpful at all in the long run. It may prove God, or it may not. It may in part disprove Him. Or it may prove the type of God you’d rather not know.

The equation essentially proves nothing (assuming it is legitimate, which is highly questionable) except one particular instance of regularity in the universe—something which scientists of all sorts have long-since conceded. Science is based on regularity in the universe because it operates on repeatable, testable, predictable experiments that in turn require regularity. Even if the God Equation were legitimate, it would only provide evidence of intelligent design insofar as regularity in general provides evidence. Why this instance of regularity does not present an intelligent design argument, I will discuss further in a minute.

Atheism, Mysticism, and Tyranny

That said, I think our debunking atheist PZ Myer would be surprised to realize that these “crackpots,” as he rightly calls them, have more in common with his own worldview than with that of the Christian. It is the atheistic scientist that most heartily believes the universe may someday be deciphered and unraveled by human reason. This is the same drive behind the occultists’ quest to unravel the ratios of the universe. In fact, Christopher Knight’s coauthor for The Hiram Key, Robert Lomas, boasts that freemasonry (with all of its implicit Pythagoreanism and Euclidian-soaked sacred geometry) actually founded and birthed modern science (see his book, Freemasonry and the Birth of Modern Science). I would contend that science requires more than just some anti-church stance (common between atheism and freemasonry), it further requires things like an objective reality and adherence to moral absolutes—things which the worldviews of neither the atheist nor the mystic can guarantee. Christianity, however, makes perfect sense in comparison to these needs.

In the worldviews of both atheist and mystic, unless the earth is invaded by super-evolved aliens, all authority over man resides in other men. The issue of aliens is never far from the surface, however, as many mystics and new-agers continually watch the skies. The atheists are not immune, as even Richard Dawkins has argued for the evolution of aliens. He has even argued that the existence of super-evolved aliens is more likely than the existence of God. Barring any space invaders, however, man is in control. The weak and slow will be made to serve the powerful and bright, and this is the way it should be in their worldview. In a Christian worldview, however, even the scholars, rulers, and generals are held to the same ethical and moral standards, ultimately. (Police and bureaucrats would have to submit, too, but in truth there wouldn’t be any in a fully Christian world.)

The atheistic and occult worldviews further have in common that their reducing-to-numbers “science” has one ultimate goal: material control of the universe. This is not necessarily bad if it is only aimed at nature and not humanity, for the Christian faith speaks of dominion and subduing the earth as well. The difference is that the other worldviews here see man as a part of nature while the Christian faith sees him as specially created in God’s Image. When the atheist or mystic engages in applications of their science, they must necessarily engage in the physical control of their fellow man. This is why officially atheistic regimes almost always turn out to be tyrannies (Soviet Union, North Korea, ad infinitum). It is also why they refuse to tolerate Christianity unless they denude it first and make it to serve the state—because Christianity places the rulers under authority and accountability as well, and frees the consciences and markets of men.

We see the exact same impulse toward tyranny, however, in the very scientists who developed the God Equation. Cumming’s organizations Intelligent Earth and Safe Cities are involved in developing classic “Big Brother”-type technologies: in particular they have generated a facial recognition technology used by UK police forces in conjunction with a massive national database of facial images. With cameras stationed in thousands of places throughout the nation, and linked to such a database, the technology screams the potential for tyrannical abuse. It is the freemasonic “eye” atop the pyramid of human society—classic top-down government control.

Note also that the two groups most focused on “artificial intelligence” are atheistic philosophers (particularly the so-called neuroscientists) and these mystic types, and they are even engaged in creating or evolving to the next level of consciousness. Both believe in creating the equivalent of man someday—man creating man, or man creating evolved, improved man. If they ever achieve it, they will no doubt think the more of themselves and the less of any Creator God whom they will believe they have approximated, or replaced, or finally have become.

Are they Baiting the Intelligent Designers?

I have a sneaking suspicion that this “intelligent engineering” claim was floated as a false-flag to bait Christians into parading a goofy argument, or else it was to steal the power of the intelligent design argument on behalf of the occultists. I would like to show a crucial difference between the two:

The basic argument employed by the occultists is the old version of the teleological “design” argument. It is based on the appearance of design coupled with the improbability of non-design for any given phenomenon. It says, “the chances of this not being a deliberate design are vanishingly small,” and “the possibility of the Earth having the exact required characteristics to fit the equation by chance is remote,” therefore, “the Earth’s orbit, rotation and weight must have been engineered to fit this equation.” The chances of this situation arising apart from design are “vanishingly small” and “remote” (assuming that their calculations of the chances are accurate). This means, however, that there yet remains a chance that it was not designed (even if it’s a small chance). We are only talking about a probability on a certain continuum of chance.

Some Christians and Christian apologists find this persuasive. I do not. I do not rest my faith upon the controvertible; faith does not derive from human persuasion or interpretations of evidence or mathematics. Faith is a gift from God that illuminates one to see the God who gave it, and who designed both the mathematical and the apparently chaotic—light and darkness. Divine Creation is an article of faith that makes rational sense of all that follows. We gather this by divine revelation, not human reckoning; as Cornelius Van Til wrote, “As the Word of God, Scripture is like the sun in the light of which all things are seen and without the light of which nothing is seen for what it is.”1

By contrast to the improbability argument, a good intelligent design argument rests upon the impossibility of non-design. Michael Behe has famously illustrated the principle with his mousetrap analogy. A mousetrap is an irreducibly complex system that requires at least five working parts to operate; if any single one of the parts is missing, the whole will not perform its function. This means that as a mousetrap, the machine could not have arisen step-by-step due to chance at all, because all five parts have to be placed together according to a preexisting blueprint, or else it would not exist at all. Behe then goes on to illustrate irreducibly complex systems in the human body—bacterial flagellar motors, the human eye, blood clotting biochemistry, etc. Creation scientist Jonathan Sarfati has filled a book, By Design, with examples of design, many or most of which would pass the impossibility of non-design criterion. In my opinion, this is the best of the best of evidential-type argumentation (but even here it does not rise to the level and power of presuppositionalism).

Christian proponents of intelligent design and readers of creation science materials should not accept or reference anything like a “God Equation” as a legitimate argument for the existence of the God of the Bible. It does not appear even to be legitimate science, and even if it were it would tell us little-to-nothing more about the universe than we already have known for some time. It does not even get close to a powerful argument for Christian theism, and it rests on basically the same worldview assumptions and methods as the atheistic worldview—human autonomy. In short, the God Equation does not make good science, good religion, or good apologetics. Christians can do much better, and should never be fooled by pseudo-religious claims like these.

Notes:

  1. Cornelius Van Til, The Protestant Doctrine Of Scripture (The den Dulk Christian Foundation, 1967), 40.
Categories: Worldview

Study shows cops tase blacks more often than whites

Wed, 07/06/2016 - 08:00

It is a working thesis of mine that we still have a major problem with racism in this nation, and that since conservatives (and especially Christians) perpetually refuse to address the problems of race and power with both empathetic and biblical solutions, leftists continue to gain power through Marxist, class-warfare-type tactics in regard to race.

Regarding the enduring racism: I believe a good amount of this is subconscious. In other words, one can exhibit racist behavior and do racist thinks without being a conscious or even secret racist—although some of these certainly exist, too. But the subconscious element works on several levels, and even pervades institutions, in my opinion.

Nowhere is this clearer than in criminal justice. This week, a report was released that showed yet another small window into this problem. In the first study of its kind, the facts show that police in Connecticut employ tasers more often against blacks and Hispanics than against whites.

According to one review, the report “found that black men were about three times more likely to be Tased than simply warned. . . . For white men, the chance of being Tased or warned were about the same.”

Indeed, when wielding Taser against whites, only warnings were given in 40 percent of cases. When involving blacks, however, the number drops to only 19 percent.

In other words, whites get off with only warnings more than twice as often as blacks. With blacks, the vast majority of incidents—81 percent—go straight to tasing.

So whites get verbal warnings first, and blacks get something more like a hair-trigger. Shoot first, and let the Fraternal Order of Police lawyers answer questions later.

The nature of the study is also disarming of the common retort that, well, blacks just commit more crimes than whites, so obviously they have police interactions more often. Nope. This argument is wrong on so many levels, but is busted in this report because the data are presented as percentages of interactions within each race to begin with. In other words, all else being equal, the cops were more than twice as likely to give a warning to a white man as opposed to a black, and much more quick to use tasers when engaging blacks than whites. These are percentage rates, not bare numbers.

That statistic is damning no matter how you slice it.

Thus it reveals that there is some fundamental difference in how the same group of trained professionals (even our “finest,” after all) think, decide, and act in regard to blacks versus whites. Thus, whether these decisions are conscious or not, there is a pure racist element in our criminal justice system.

And this is only considering one narrow window of information: the use of tasers.

The greatest irony of all in this study is perhaps the fact that we might look down upon those who got tased, whatever their race, as criminals who deserved it, when the only sure fact about lawbreaking that jumps out is in the reports themselves: there were some police departments who either underreported, or did not keep records at all, as the CT law demands! In at least one case, a department neglected (conveniently?) to report one taser incident in which a young man who was tased and happened to die from it.

In other words, the only clear admissions of lawbreaking here were on the part of the police departments—who also face absolutely zero consequences for their failure to follow the law.

If lawlessness exists in police department behavior, what makes you think anyone is safe, let alone a less-empowered minority?

Why this is important for Christians

Reading Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow was eye-opening in many ways, but also terrifying in regard to its proposed solutions. The data she presents, some of which is already well-known, is startling in regard to the disproportionate number of blacks in prison, on probation, and without basic rights as a result of these things. The historical metanarrative she presents, from slavery to Jim Crow to now, is stellar and should be digested by every Christian.

But as a secularist, however, her solutions are absolutely startling. She says the piecemeal social legislation of “affirmative action” was only a token fix and has completely failed. What we need instead, she says, is a wholesale revolution into a fully socialist society—to level the playing field for all. This is the only way to achieve true equality and make sure every member of society has access to all human rights all the time.

It’s the standard socialist utopia thinking. It’s startling enough to hear a call for a full-scale revolution, but the source of her inspiration is even more alarming: Martin Luther King, Jr. It was King who first tried to move from one to the other. As soon as “civil rights” legislation was achieved for blacks, King announced that the time had come for more general “human rights,” meaning socialized everything for all. King did not prevail at the time. Now Alexander wishes us to see the failure of not listening to King, and to return to that vision.

Put these two things together, along with a general failure of conservative Christians to present a united, biblical answer to racism and informal segregations, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. When an oppressed group finds no good answer from God’s people, and perceives that the secular answers employed so far have failed, and realize that the icon King wanted such a socialist revolution to begin with, guess what the new cry for black equality will be?

All I have to say at this point is that if such a process continues, the church had better get ready for further socialism. Full subjection to a further socialist state will be the judgment for complacency and unrepentance on the issue of race. You won’t have a choice. It will be foisted upon you. And it will be your fault.

There is a lot more to say on this topic. More is to come, believe me. Race-baiting won’t stop until Christians stop racism. Unless Christians stop racism through biblical means, the only other people addressing it will continue to win. There are no other alternatives to this dichotomy.

Categories: Worldview

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