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The wrong way to do social activism (Target edition)

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 17:42

Some Christian activists are drawing attention to themselves in a purported effort to get Target Stores and its customers to repent over its transgender bathroom policy. The tactic is to have someone record them while they parade through the store “street preaching” at the top of their lungs again the LGBT-pride policy. (See videos below.)

Folks, this behavior is not honoring to Christ. While the Target bathroom policy may be among the rankest of sins, and should be opposed, Target stores are private property and protected from such disturbances and disruptions by very appropriate laws. Trespassing for the purposes of disturbing the peace, or purposes not in good faith with basic free commerce, is to break both God’s law and man’s.

Let’s be clear: you cannot stop sin by engaging in more sin. Christians lose the little bit of moral authority they have left when they break God’s laws while purporting to champion them. Stop it.

If you want to confront Target, preach in a public place where it’s allowed, write a blog, write an article, go on TV, rent a billboard, post your sermon on YouTube, pray, and/or boycott. It’s that simple.

One of the great reasons evil has progressed so far in this nation to begin with is that Christians have perennially tolerated trespasses of their own while pointing to change those of others. Since the earliest days of our nation’s settling and founding, this has been true: mercantilism, war, welfarism, statism, racism, slavery, public education, government regulation of everything, and more—hypocrisy after hypocrisy. You think God will bless any of that? No.

He judges it.

We have a perfect and eternal foundation in God’s Word, His law, and some of the foundations of this all-but-once Christian civilization. If we were to get ourselves true to those foundations first, we might find that the rest of these social problems aren’t nearly as big as they are now. God has a way of blessing Christians like that when they repent of their own sins first and return to Him. Until then, guys like this can expect to make headlines with HuffPost for the end of being ridiculed indefinitely, and rightly so.

If Christians intend to preach repentance in social affairs, we have a whole lot to repent of for ourselves first.

 

Categories: Worldview

Defeat statist dominion in your own back yard

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 08:09

By Paul Dorr

The Bible does not grant the civil magistrate an ownership interest in our private property. Yet, if we fail to pay property taxes, the Sheriff can auction it off to pay those taxes.

This is called “ownership,” but it’s not ownership. It’s a means of social control. I’ve spent the last 35 years of my life fighting it and learning how to beat it, and I would like to teach you how to start breaking it in your local government, too.

R. J. Rushdoony chronicled how the 19th and early 20th century humanist view of progress has been greatly funded with property taxes. As the humanists executed their “progressive” vision, they ripped the heart out of our personal and ecclesiastical obligations to attend to the welfare and education of our families, church members, and neighbors. Worse, such “compassion” (Proverbs 12:10b) lost its guiding moral principles which had served to be restorative and Christ-honoring.

These social functions have long been neutered of their Christian character and now reward sinful conduct—a critical element to their statist dominion. When the public schools were launched, some Christian leaders warned that with their foundation in property tax funding, it would only be a matter of time before financially-plundered Christians, otherwise opposed to the government’s claim of Christ-less “neutrality” in education, would one day concede. Most did, letting the progressive Christ-haters then train the hearts and minds of their children. I want to rip those children and taxes back out of their hands and restore a vision of real progress centered on the Biblical doctrine of sanctification.

Years ago, a Christian farmer taught me that accepting illegitimate tax revenues in exchange for services the government is not Biblically authorized to be engaged in is receiving stolen property (Prov. 29:24; Psalm 50:18). His life’s testimony of service unto Christ, raising eleven children, and righteousness and freedom gained from not taking government funds changed my life.

We can’t effectively resist tyrants, even at the local level, until we repent of any personal legitimization of such theft. When we set about a course to do this in our lives, a power from God opens to us that few in a society of slaves have experienced. For example, we can be reconciled with even our enemies (Prov. 16:7) who come to respect our sacrificial obedience.

Such a testimony strips the public of their normal diversionary excuse to ignore us: “Who are you to question this tax when you’re taking the benefit of public schools, welfare, business subsidies, subsidized student loans, social security, etc.?” When they learn you are instead looking after the poor in your neighborhood, educating your own children, ministering to the elderly, providing your own healthcare (for example, Samaritan Ministries International), and more, they often are beguiled. How? How are you doing this?

So, I don’t start by stating, “God says property taxes are immoral. Stop levying county, city, school district and township taxes.” Even with an instinct that this is true, most will still scoff. Our first task is instead to delegitimize the use of these funds. Christians need to learn their financial structure, their “bureaucratese,” their alliances, and their legal rules. Then we can play these back against them. We have to overcome decades of local propaganda as to how over-worked and underfunded the bureaucrats are. I teach my clients how to set up low cost social media systems to delegitimize them. I’d like to teach you as well.

We are never on our own. We must serve either God or man, and we must give account to God for our service. From Obama’s perverted “transgender bathrooms” policy, to rampant local corruption, to exploding state/local bond debt (from $1 trillion to $3.7 trillion in the last 16 years!), God is bringing their systems under increasing public judgement. The middle class is more eager than ever to listen. In this environment, my clients have so far had success in defeating $3 billion in new taxes which needed voter approval. Christian communities are more than ever ripe to hear what God’s Word says on establishing an alternative social order.

We must have a multi-generational vision of victory, because it will take time. I have clients doing it already, and I will teach you how to do it for your community in Kerrville, TX, July 28–31, at American Vision’s God, Governments, and Culture Conference. From my years of experience, I have a long list of “war stories” that punctuate the teaching and application of these principles and should encourage attendees. I hope to meet you there, so register now.

Join us in Kerville, TX for the God, Governments, and Culture Conference 2016. Take advantage of our early bird discount registration—15% OFF for a limited time. Register Now.

[Paul Dorr is a Reformed Christian and political consultant. He has been married to his wife Deb for 40 years and is the father of their eleven children (with 17 grandchildren and counting). He is a former community bank owner, former bank acquisition consultant, former jail-bird with Operation Rescue, and is now a specialist in local government. With decades of experience and leadership, Dorr can boast a near-80% success rate in defeating local money and power grabs. Dorr is a graduate of Unity Christian High School, Orange City, Iowa, and Iowa State University. His website is www.RollBackLocalGov.com.]
Categories: Worldview

TULIP is not enough: Reformed theology and culture

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 13:23

As a student at Reformed Theological Seminary, I was taught that certain cultural applications flowed from a consistent application of Calvinism. Calvinism is synonymous with a comprehensive biblical world-and-life view. Simply put, I was told that the Bible applies to every area of life. To be a Calvinist is to make biblical application to issues beyond soul-saving.

All the literature we read on Calvinism had at least some reference for the application of Calvinism’s world-and-life view in history. No one ever questioned this theological framework until some of us actually began to apply worldview Calvinism to particular social themes. This is what we were taught to do, from our first reading of Abraham Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism to Francis Schaeffer’s How Should We Then live? I contend that theonomy logically follows from worldview Calvinism. Take away Calvinism’s worldview, and Calvinism’s plane won’t fly.

Abraham Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism

Those students who were interested in cultural Calvinism were directed to Kuyper’s 1898 Lectures on Calvinism. It was here that we were told we would find a fully developed, com­ prehensive, biblical world-and-life view. Kuyper’s brand of Cal­ vinism has been described as the “only modern exception” to the tendency of Christians either to abandon social action in favor of piety or to abandon piety in favor of social action.1

The “Kuyperian” tradition “was at once pious and socially influential.”2 “As Abraham Kuyper said, there is not one inch of creation of which Christ doesn’t say ‘Mine.'”3 In his Lectures on Calvinism, Kuyper discussed politics, science, and art—a rather odd mix, but it was more than the familiar five points of Calvinism. (Economics and law were strangely absent.)

Reading Kuyper was like reading a repair manual that was all diagnosis and little if any instruction on how to fix the problem. Here’s a sample:

That in spite of all worldly opposition, God’s holy ordinances shall be established again in the home, in the school and in the State for the good of the people; to carve as it were into the conscience of the nation the ordinances of the Lord, to which the Bible and Creation bear witness, until the nation pays homage again to God.4

Everything that has been created was, in its creation, furnished by God with an unchangeable law of its existence. And because God has fully ordained such laws and ordinances for all life, therefore the Calvinist demands that all life be consecrated to His service in strict obedience. A religion confined to the closet, the cell, or the church, therefore, Calvin abhors.5

This is marvelous biblical world-and-life view rhetoric, but there is almost no appeal to the Bible in Lectures. Broad principles are set forth, but a specific biblical worldview is lacking. As one soon learns after reading Kuyper, there is little that is distinctly biblical in his cultural position. Kuyper, along with Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977), is best known for the concept of sphere sovereignty and what is now being described as principled pluralism. . . .

This position rests upon several major tenets. God built basic structures or institutions into the world, each having separate authority and responsibilities. He established state, school, society, workplace, church, marriage, and family to carry out various roles in the world, and He commands human beings to serve as officeholders in these various spheres of life.6

What standard are these officeholders to use in the governance of these various spheres? This is the essence of the debate. Reconstructionists agree with the principled pluralists’ Kuyperian expression of world-and-life-view Calvinism that Christians should be involved. The disagreement is over how we should be involved and what standard we should use in our establishment of a developed social theory. . . .

Henry Van Til’s The Calvinistic Concept of Culture

The first place I turned after Kuyper was to Henry Van Til’s The Calvinistic Concept of Culture. Van Til, in his discussion of Augustine, wrote:

Augustine believed that peace with God precedes peace in the home, in society, and in the state. The earthly state too must be converted, transformed into a Christian state by the permeation of the kingdom of God within her, since true righteousness can only be under the rule of Christ.

Not only in the realm of ethics and politics must conversion take place . . . [but also] for knowledge and science. Apart from Christ, man’s wisdom is but folly, because it begins with faith in itself and proclaims man’s autonomy. The redeemed man, on the other hand, begins with faith and reason in subjection to the laws placed in this universe by God: he learns to think God’s thoughts after him. All of science, fine art and technology, conventions of dress and rank, coinage, measures and the like, all of these are at the service of the redeemed man to transform them for the service of his God.7

Van Til believed, along with Augustine, Calvin, Kuyper,8 and Klaas Schilder—Christian scholars whose predestinarian views are expounded in The Calvinistic Concept of Culture—that the building of a Christian culture is a Christian imperative. The Reconstructionists agree. Van Til castigated the Barthians for their repudiation of a Christian culture. “For them,” he wrote, “there is no single form of social, political, economic order that is more in the spirit of the Gospel than another.”9 . . .

There seems to be no room for ethical pluralism for Henry Van Til. My seminary training never hinted at pluralism. Nothing I read in Henry Van Til led me to embrace pluralism. In rejecting Barth’s repudiation of a specifically Christian culture, he assured us that the

Calvinist maintains that the Word of God has final and absolute authority, and is clear and sufficient in all matters of faith and conduct. It constitutes the final reference point for man’s thinking, willing, acting, loving, and hating, for his culture as well as his cultus. . . . [F]or all practical purposes, the church through­ out history has accepted the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the Word of the living God. Calvinism, also in its cultural aspects, proposes to continue in this historic perspective, not willing to accept the church or the religious consciousness, or any other substitute in place of the Word.10

This is the historic position of the church, Van Til asserted. This is what I was taught in seminary. This is the view that my professors defended. But there was one problem. Even after finishing Van Til’s book, I noticed a glaring deficiency: There were few specifics and even fewer references to the Bible as to how it actually applies to culture. Van Til, however, was a few steps beyond Kuyper, but the plane still had no wings. It was not going to fly.

Henry Meeter’s The Basic Ideas of Calvinism

I next turned to H. Henry Meeter’s The Basic Ideas of Calvinism. This work looked promising even though its focus was on politics. The first edition (1939) of Meeter’s work was described as “Volume I.” A subsequent volume never appeared. Again, the Bible was emphasized as the standard for both Christian and non-Christian.

The Calvinist insists that the principles of God’s Word are valid not only for himself but all citizens. Since God is to be owned as Sovereign by everyone, whether he so wishes or not, so also the Bible should be the determining rule for all. But especially for himself the Christian, according to the Calvinist, must in politics live by these principles.11

Since God is the Sovereign of all His creatures, He must be recognized as the lawmaker for all mankind. How does one determine what that rule is? Meeter told us that the Bible should be the determining rule for all, not just for Christians and not just for settling ecclesiastical disputes. So far, so good. Meeter then moved on to answer the question as to whether the state is to be Christian.

On the negative side, he made it clear that the state is still a legitimate sphere of government even though its laws are not based on the Bible. Of course, this is not the issue in theonomy. Is the state obligated, when confronted with the truth of Scripture, to implement those laws which are specifically civil in application?

On the affirmative side, Meeter wrote: “Whenever a State is permeated with a Christian spirit and applies Christian principles in the administration of civil affairs, it is called ‘Christian.’ If that be what is meant by a Christian state, then all States should be Christian, according to the conscience of the Calvinist, even though many states are not Christian. If God is the one great Sovereign of the universe, it is a self-evident fact that His Word should be law to the ends of the earth.”12

Meeter had moved from “Christian principles” to His Word should be law.” The goal, then, is God’s Word as the “law.” Meeter continues:

If God is Ruler, no man may ever insist that religion be a merely private matter and be divorced from any sphere of society, political or otherwise. God must rule everywhere! The State must bow to His ordinances just as well as the Church or any private individual. The Calvinist, whose fundamental principle maintains that God shall be Sovereign in all domains of life, is very insistent on having God recognized in the political realm also.13

In what way is the state to “bow to His ordinances”? Where are these ordinances found? “For matters which relate to its own domain as State, it is bound to the Word of God as the Church or the individual.” For Meeter, a “State is Christian” when it uses “God’s Word as its guide.”14

Meeter left the inquiring theonomist with additional questions: “If the Bible, then, is the ultimate criterion by which the State must be guided in determining which laws it must administer, the question arises, with how much of the Bible must the State concern itself?”15 He told us that “Civil law relates to outward conduct.”16 The inquiring theonomist is looking for specifics, a methodology to determine which laws do apply to the civil sphere. What “outward conduct” should the State regulate? Sodomy and adultery are certainly “outward conduct.” (This is the legal issue of “victimless crimes.”)

Like Kuyper and Henry Van Til before him, Meeter, who asserts that the Bible “is the ultimate criterion by which the State must be guided in determining which laws it must administer” never set forth a biblical methodology. In fact, he never quoted one passage of Scripture to defend his position, although there are vague references to biblical ideals! Reading Meeter was like reading an unfinished novel. The plane still had no wings.

The Calvinistic Action Committee’s God-Centered Living

I next moved to a symposium produced by the Calvinistic Action Committee: God-Centered Living. God-Centered Living began with this noble goal: “This book seeks to be of help to those who desire to know what the will of God is for the practical guidance of their lives in the complex relations and situations of our modern day.” The Committee encouraged the reader with its intent not simply to “theorize,” describing its method as “a call to action” based on the “clarification and application of basic Christian principles. There will be no solution for our pressing modern social problems without recourse to the verities of the Word of God.”17

Finally, I thought, a plane with wings! This volume was more comprehensive than those mentioned above, touching on the task of the church for the solution of modern problems, Calvinism and the missionary enterprise, evangelization of America, education, art, recreation and amusements, political action, economics, business, social problems, and international relations.

The Need for a Biblical Worldview

Calvinism was set off from Christianity in general precisely because of its advocation of a comprehensive biblical world view. Quoting Francis R. Beattie, Calvinism was described as “the richest systematic expression of revealed truth yet made, . . . the richest product of Protestantism.”18 What does this greater consistency imply? “It means greater Biblical consistency, being more genuinely and more deeply and more richly true to the teaching of the Word of God.”19 Quoting Warfield:

He who believes in God without reserve, and is determined that God shall be God to him in all intellectual, moral, spiritual, throughout all his individual, social, religious relations—is, by the force of that strictest of all logic which presides over the outworking of principles into thought and life, by the very necessity of the case, a Calvinist.20

Similar to the appeals by Kuyper, Henry R. Van Til, and Meeter, the authors of the symposium believed that the comprehensive nature of the applicability of the Bible was unique to Calvinism. This included the applicability of God’s law. “In Reformed church worship the law is an integral part of the sacred program. Many Fundamentalist fellow-Christians seem to know the law in only one relation, viz., that of sin and redemption. . . . The Heidelberg Catechism21 recognizes the significance of the law both as a teacher of sin and as a norm for the Christian’s life of gratitude, and it gives an exposition of that law precisely in the latter context.”22 . . .

The comprehensive biblical worldview of Calvinism includes an “ethical task.” Bouma wrote:

This calls for a Christian witness in every realm of life. A witness in the home, in the church, in the school, in the state, and in every other social sphere. Calvinists have always been deeply aware of an ethical task. To them gospel preaching and social reform are not mutually exclusive, whatever Fundamentalists on the one hand and Modernists on the other, may have made of them. To live for the glory of God in every relationship of life, to be a soldier for the King, to battle for the Lord, to crown Christ King in every legitimate realm of human endeavor—this belongs to the very essence of being a true, full-orbed Christian, and it is the Calvinist—the true Calvinist, not his caricature – who stands committed to this task. It is to the exposition of this ethical task for our day that this book would strive to make a contribution.23

So, then, to be a full-orbed Calvinist is to demonstrate the ethical demands of soteriology. The Calvinist preacher must preach the law of God in clear tones from the pulpit. Where fundamentalism and modernism have failed, Calvinism must not fail. With the devaluing of God’s law among fundamentalists, evangelicals, and some in the Reformed camp we can expect a reevaluation of a supposed worthy substitute. “There has been a tendency among evangelicals to give too much credit to the redeemed conscience, as though the conscience itself contained the standard of righteousness. It has been forgotten that the conscience needs to be guided by the inflexible standard of God’s law. . . . Failure to preach the law of God has left the Christian without a clear sense of direction in his Christian life. For many this has permitted a too easy conscience with respect to the need of Christianizing his life and influence.”24

The Need for a Biblical Ethical Standard

Where is this “inflexible standard” to be found? Is it a “New­Testament-only” ethic? “From Moses and the prophets to Christ and the epistles, the law is expounded in such a way as to re­ quire that the Christian influence society for righteousness and the glory of God. The Christian witness is a life whose thinking and action has been brought into conformity with the will of God, as well as an oral declaration of the way of salvation in Christ.”25

Notice the indictment on those who “give too much credit to the redeemed conscience.” Some “inflexible standard” is necessary to keep even the redeemed conscience in check. This would also include the redeemed conscience’s ability to discern ethical requirements in general revelation. And what about those who give too much credit to the unredeemed conscience? This is the latest trend in ethical pluralism. Supposedly “‘the law written on our hearts’ (Romans 2:15)26 . . . is the law by which all candid people know that murder is wrong, for example. It is the law by which our consciences, if they are not too cauterized by sin, judge us.”27 There are “candid” abortionists who daily support the murder of innocent preborn babies. There are “candid” sodomites who practice “degrading passions, . . . men with men committing indecent acts. . .” (Rom. 1:27).

Of course, theonomy has little quarrel with those who maintain that general revelation convicts the unregenerate of sin. This, however, is not the issue in the debate over theonomy. What should the convicted sinner do once he recognizes that he has transgressed “the ordinance of God” (Rom. 1:32)? This is the theonomic question. The theonomists have asked, ever since Rushdoony’s first book was published: By what standard? Does the Bible have a clear standard of ethical behavior that should be followed by sinners everywhere? Why the need to go to general revelation if the Bible already gives an answer? When you lead someone to Christ, do you point him to general revelation or special revelation? What book did you use for daily devotions this morning? What law have you adopted for the governance of your family? What principles should govern your mind as you enter the voting booth? . . .

For the Calvinist law is not a matter of convenience, or of protection primarily. It is the expression of the will of God; it is based upon eternal principles of right and justice as revealed in the Scriptures, for example, in the Ten Commandments. From them man learns that theft, murder, and immorality are sins. To be sure, not all points of law and justice are directly covered in the Bible. However, the principles which govern them can readily be distilled from these eternal principles of right and justice which are expressed there. Again, government is divinely instituted, and obedience to its ordinances, if they be in accord with these eternal principles, is the duty of the Christian.28

It is one thing to talk about the ethical requirements easily distilled from general revelation, but theonomists are still waiting for someone to demonstrate that this can actually be done. Theonomists often catch general revelation advocates borrowing from the theonomist’s garden, similar to the way humanists borrow from the Christian’s garden. But as our nation moves steadily from an ethic that most Americans recognize as being Bible-based, any ethic based on general revelation will dissipate as quickly as a morning fog vanishes at the appearing of a blazing sun. . . .

God-Centered Living almost produced a plane with wings. But like Kuyper, Henry Van Til, and Meeter, the symposium was little more than versions of Howard Hughes’ “Spruce Goose”: a few seconds of flight and then back to the hangar. There was a great deal of discussion about applying the Bible to every area of life, but only a few glimpses as to how this might be done. The Christian community would soon put their faith in a pilot named Francis A. Schaeffer.

(Part two to follow. . . .)

(Originally published as “Some Wings for Calvinism’s Modern Plane,” Chapter 2 in Theonomy: An Informed Response, ed. Gary North (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991), 39–56.)

Notes:

 

  1. Irving Hexham and Karla Poewe, Understanding Cults and New Religions (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), p. 126.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Douglas Groothuis, “Revolutionizing our Worldview,” Reformed journal (Nov­ ember 1982), p. 23.
  4. Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, [1931) 1970), p. iii.
  5. Ibid., p. 53.
  6. Gary Scott Smith, “Introduction to Principled Pluralism,” God and Politics: Four Views on the Reformation of Civil Government, ed. Gary Scott Smith (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1989), p. 75.
  7. Henry R. Van Til, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1959), p. 87.
  8. Kuyper’s emphasis on common grace as “the foundation of culture” leads one of his critics to write “that Kuyper can never really get special grace into the picture.” Van Til, Calvinistic Concept of Culture, pp. 118, 119.
  9. Ibid., p. 44.
  10. Van Til, Calvinistic Concept of Culture, p. 157.
  11. H. Henry Meeter, The Basic Ideas of Calvinism, 5th rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, (1939] 1956), pp. 99–100. A 6th edition appeared in 1990 with three chapters added by Paul A. Marshall.
  12. Ibid., p. 111.
  13. Ibid., pp. 111-12.
  14. Ibid., p. 112.
  15. Ibid., p. 126.
  16. Ibid., p. 127.
  17. Calvinistic Action Committee, God-Centered Living or Calvinism in Action (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1951), p. 5.
  18. Francis R. Beattie, Calvinism and Modern Thought (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Westminster Press, 1901), pp. 13, 14. Quoted by Clarence Bouma, “The Relevance of Calvinism for Today,” God-Centered Living, p. 14.
  19. Bouma, “The Relevance of Calvinism for Today,” God-Centered Living, p. 14.
  20. Benjamin B. Warfield, Calvin and Calvinism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1931), pp. 354-55. Quoted in ibid., p. 15.
  21. On the Forty-First Sabbath, question 108 of the Heidelberg is read: “Ques. 108. What doth the seventh command teach us? Ans. That all uncleanness is accursed of God, and that, therefore, we must, with all our hearts, detest the same, and live chastely and temperately, whether in holy wedlock, or in single life.” Under the “Explanation and Proof” various texts are added, including Leviticus 20:10: “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”
  22. Bouma, “The Relevance of Calvinism for Today,” God-Centered Living, p. 20.
  23. Bouma, “The Relevance of Calvinism for Today,” God-Centered Living, p. 20.
  24. Peter Van Tuinen, “The Task of the Church for the Solution of Modern Problems,” God-Centered Living, pp. 43-44.
  25. Ibid., p. 44.
  26. While it might not seem to make that much difference to some, Romans 2:15 actually says, “in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts.”
  27. Thomas C. Atwood, “Through a Glass Darkly: Is the Christian Right Over­confident It Knows God’s Will?,” Policy Review (Fall 1990), p. 49.
  28. Heyns, “Calvinism and Social Problems,” God-Centered Living, p. 236.
Categories: Worldview

Gospel, Sanctification, and Theonomy

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 10:28

A thoughtful reader emailed a question regarding Theonomy and “law and Gospel.” Specifically, in light of Theonomy, the call for Christians to acknowledge the law of God as the pattern of our sanctification, both personal and social, and the call to obedience to that law, “What place does the gospel have in the believer’s life moment-by-moment?”

This is an excellent question for more than one reason. One reason is that those who are new and first developing a foundational understanding of such theological issues often come from a background of general evangelical theology. This theology generally neglects the role of God’s law almost entirely, except as a tool to drive us to Christ and the Gospel. The law is rarely spoken of in its role of providing a guide to godly behavior for Christian good works (Eph. 2:10). Even though the Reformed Confessions acknowledge this role of the law, and even though many Reformed and Evangelical theologians mention this role, it is rarely developed even for personal life, and even more rarely developed for social life and institutions.

The reader who sent this question understands Theonomy well enough to know that it is “not just about reconstructing a society where the glory of the Lord is displayed in toto, but at heart it is the flip side of justification, i.e., sanctification,” and “that through sanctification we are being conformed to the image of Christ.” Great! But there is a lingering issue regarding what role the Gospel plays “moment-by-moment” in conjunction with this “in toto” sanctification.

The first thing we need to acknowledge is that this is hardly an issue pertaining to Theonomy or Reconstruction alone. It is an issue that needs to be developed and emphasized by all Reformed theology (indeed, all theology, period). Readers should acknowledge that even if Theonomy were incorrect, this question would still persist for all general Reformed theology, for all general Reformed theology asserts both the constant need for the Gospel and the abiding progress of sanctification—even if that sanctification pertained only to personal piety.

I addressed these issues in reference to Theonomy somewhat elsewhere in a certain polemical discussion. The relevant meat of that discussion is how the relationship between “being saved” and ongoing sanctification is nothing more than basic Confessional Reformed theology. I’ll repeat the points in more general (non-polemic) form in what follows.

The Confessional view of santification

Rushdoony once made the comment: “The purpose of Christ’s atoning work was to restore man to a position of covenant-keeping instead of covenant-breaking, to enable man to keep the law by freeing man ‘from the law of sin and death’ (Rom. 8:2), ‘that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us’ (Rom. 8:4).” The thing to note here is a necessary connection between the believer’s personal relationship with Christ and his or her ongoing sanctification. This is a Gospel-filled, Spirit-filled life which, because of these things, goes on also to be an obedient life filled with good works.

Is this a novel teaching? Hardly. The London Baptist Confession (LBC) teaches exactly the same thing. LBC Chapter 13 on “Sanctification” makes clear that as the saints grow in grace, they also grow “in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His Word hath prescribed them.” Obedience? Obedience to commands? What could this mean? Let a more traditional Reformed Baptist commentator, Sam Waldron, answer this for us: “In general good works are those which conform to the law of God as revealed in the Scriptures (see chapter 19).”1

See Chapter 19 indeed. Consider sections 5, 6, and 7 of Chapter 19:

The moral law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof, and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it; neither doth Christ in the gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.

Contrary to zealous critics who presents this view of the law’s binding obligation for the life of the believer after the Gospel as being “under the law,” the LBC teaches the exact opposite:

Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, in that as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; . . . [M]an’s doing good and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law and not under grace.2

Section 7 goes on to speak in the exact same terms as Rushdoony:

Neither are the aforementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the gospel, but do sweetly comply with it, the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done.3

Remember what Rushdoony said? “The purpose of Christ’s atoning work was to restore man to a position of covenant-keeping instead of covenant-breaking, to enable man to keep the law by freeing man ‘from the law of sin and death’ (Rom. 8:2), ‘that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us’ (Rom. 8:4).” It is without any surprise, then, that we find among the LBC’s scripture proofs for this section none other than . . . Romans 8:4.

Here again, Sam Waldron’s comments, coming from a more mainstream Reformed view, are helpful. He concludes this section with a statement almost identical to what Rushdoony said above: “The very purpose of the gospel is to deliver men from lawlessness and cause them to obey the law of God (Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 36:27; Rom. 8:4; Titus 2:14).”4 Note also not only the same exact sentiment and language, but the same reference to Romans 8:4.

I have found Waldron’s extended comments on this section very helpful, particularly in providing a more traditional Reformed alternative to the idea that it is “insidious and dangerous” to suggest that believers are somehow bound to the law after having received the Gospel. For example, Waldron comments:

Some apparently were saying that while we ought to do what the law says as to its content or matter, we should not do it because the law says it, but simply because of gratitude to Christ. Several serious problems may be pointed out in such a sentiment. It is unscriptural (James 2:10-11; Matt. 5:17-19; Rom. 3:31; 1 Cor. 9:21). This is a subtler form of the error that justified persons are not bound to obey the law, since ultimately it is not the authority of the law they regard, but only their gratitude to Christ. Its practical effect is to convey to the popular mind a lessened sense of the majesty of the law of God and of the seriousness and absolute necessity of law-keeping. It makes faithful exhortation to duty difficult, because those who hold this teaching always object that you are bringing them back into slavery. If anyone speaks to such people of duty and obligation, their response is that such exhortations are legalistic. Christ strengthens the original authority of the law. He does not put the content or the matter of the law on a new foundation. He does not eliminate the obligation to obey our Creator, but adds the obligation of gratefully obeying our Redeemer.

Waldron’s point is that a diminished view of law-keeping for the believer leads not only to complacency, but to the type of complaints against Theonomy we have heard from critics for some time: it is legalism, slavery, “under the law,” etc.5

What this “under the law” error does is illustrate the dangers of overreacting to the claims of Theonomy. In something that is actually quite common, people overreact to “the law” so much they end up arguing like liberals, or even antinomians. When one carries their anti-theonomic critiques—especially in straw man form—to their logical extremes, they actually start speaking against the basic Reformed theology of sanctification, and thus, become like antinomians.

Or, looked at from the positive side of the argument, there is as direct and organic a relationship between salvation in Christ sola fide and Theonomy as there is between salvation in Christ sola fide and general, personal sanctification according to the Confession. Answer the more fundamental question, and you’ll answer the question in regard to Theonomy as well.

The “moment-by-moment” role of the Gospel

So how does the Gospel of God’s saving grace in Christ Jesus relate to all of this? I think answer lies right there in the Reformed Confessions (particularly, the Westminster Confession and the LBC). Chapter 13 of the LBC (to which the WCF is substantially the same), addresses the nature of our Sanctification:

They who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, are also farther sanctified, really and personally, through the same virtue, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them. . . .

Section three concludes that “although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, pressing after an heavenly life, in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His Word hath prescribed them.”

For our purposes here, we need to make three observations. First, the means by which we are sanctified is the exact same means by which we are saved in general. The confession is at pains to note that our sanctification is “through the same virtue” as our union with Christ, effectual calling, regeneration, and renewal. This virtue includes Christ’s “death and resurrection,” as well as “His Word and Spirit dwelling in them.” It is by His finished work and by His Word and Spirit dwelling in us that we are brought to believe the Gospel, and it is by these same means that we are brought to believe, love, and seek to obey the Law.

Whatever differences theologians have posited rightly between “law and Gospel” for all of history, the role of Christ, Word, and Spirit in animating and empowering the believer in both cannot be one of them. By the same token, then, we must acknowledge that Reformed theology affirms obedience to the Law as a Gospel-driven, Spirit-filled reality.

Second, we deduce, therefore, that the very reason for which we need the Gospel “moment-by-moment” is also the very reason we strive to grow more faithful in obedience “moment-by-moment” (and perhaps the same could be said, vice versa). There is no separating the faith by which we apprehend forgiveness for our sins through Christ’s atoning work and that by which we mortify the flesh and conform our lives to his standards of living—even though we distinguish between them for several reasons.

Again, the reason for confusion on this issue is most likely because of a failure to teach on the sanctification and obedience side of the equation. Indeed, it is very likely that all the recoil against application of God’s law has left a vacuum in Christian teaching that begged to be filled with something theological, or theological-sounding. Some quarters have returned to various liturgical niceties to fill this void. Some have created a type of neo-hyper-confessionalism. Some have turned to church growth tactics of all sorts. Others—probably most of conservative Reformed circles—have been left to do nothing more than continually emphasize only justification by faith and our need for the Gospel every moment of our lives.

I believe this latter emphasis, which I hear from many non-Theonomic and anti-Theonomic Reformed Christians, is what has created the difficulty for people like the reader who asked this question. The continual drumming of our continual need for the Gospel combined with the continual neglect of applying God’s law (i.e., sanctification), has created a dissonance in the minds of people who begin to contemplate what sanctification is and how it works. The moment they begin to ask the sanctification question, and thus the Theonomy question, they begin to fear they may be departing from that which they have been taught (rightly) is the all-crucial doctrine: our continual need for the Gospel. The obvious answer does not appear readily as it should: both Gospel and law are processed in us by the same power, virtue, agency, and means, and that is Christ, His Word and His Spirit dwelling in us.

Third, our obedience (sanctification) must be to “all the commandments” Christ has given us, and this means sanctification has a much larger scope than just our personal devotions and prayer closet. This is where Theonomy begins to get real, because this is where sanctification begins to get real. What happens when we contemplate radical obedience in the areas of education or business? Debt?

This is not even to ask about the so-called “civil” use of the law which applies to society and non-believers also. That is also a major Theonomic topic. But here we consider only “all areas of life” concerned with the personal and social aspects of believers. This is a huge category, but it is no less confessional than any other, and we must embrace it just as much as we embrace salvation by grace alone through faith alone, as well as the basic understanding of sanctification through those same means and power as described above.

Conclusion

So, for a Theonomist, “What place does the gospel have in the believer’s life moment-by-moment?” The answer to that is simple. It has the same place, moment-by-moment, as it does for any general Reformed theologian, and as it should for any Christian. It has a central, crucial, and absolutely necessary place in our life of saving faith in Christ. But our sanctification unto obedience has exactly the same requirement. We need affirmation of the forgiveness of sins and full, free, gracious acceptance by the Father because of Christ’s finished work every moment of our lives. We also need the outlook, direction, and corrective influence of God’s law every moment of our lives. And we require Christ’s Word and His Spirit every moment of our lives for either to have even one moment’s effect in us.

Notes:

  1. Waldron, Samuel E (2013-03-27). A Modern Exposition 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (Kindle Locations 3526-3527). Evangelical Press. Kindle Edition.
  2. Waldron, Samuel E (2013-03-27). A Modern Exposition 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (Kindle Locations 3958-3975). Evangelical Press. Kindle Edition.
  3. Waldron, Samuel E (2013-03-27). A Modern Exposition 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (Kindle Locations 3981-3983). Evangelical Press. Kindle Edition.
  4. Waldron, Samuel E (2013-03-27). A Modern Exposition 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (Kindle Locations 4127-4128). Evangelical Press. Kindle Edition.
  5. See Waldron’s further comments at Waldron, Samuel E (2013-03-27). A Modern Exposition 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (Kindle Locations 4088-4128). Evangelical Press. Kindle Edition.
Categories: Worldview

Freedom in education: how to get it back

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 14:00

The concluding section on Education in Restoring America One County at a Time:

Chapter 1: Education

1.3 How to Get It Back

When we talk about restoring freedom, we have to be careful not to be too romantic about the past. It is one thing to survey how things used to be free, and lessons we learn there we can certainly apply to modern times; it is another thing, however, to think that the goal is to return everything to the state it was in back in 1776. We can’t return to that world, socially, technologically, culturally, geographically, demographically, economically. But there are certainly, as I said, many ideals we can take from then and restore for today. After all, ideals such as liberty and neighborliness do not change; the highest morals and ethics of Christianity do not change; the ideals of life, liberty, and property do not to change. The ideals don’t change: rather, it is how committed we are to the ideals that makes changes in society.

So how do we restore the ideal of individual and economic freedom in education? Obviously, you’re not going to change the whole system overnight; so you commit yourself to do what you can do personally, and then begin to model for and persuade others. The first step can be stated simply, and for many can be performed tomorrow if they are willing: don’t accept the apparent benefit that comes with government control. Don’t want the trap? Don’t take the cheese. Put bluntly, pull your children out of public school.

You may think this does not need to be the first priority; you may think that education is one area we can leave alone for the time being while we fix the really big problems over in Washington. But this mentality has been in play for well over a century, and it’s a myth—it’s totally backwards. If you can’t rein-in the socialism in your own county, and your family’s complicity in it, you don’t have a chance at changing anything greater. And even if you did, it wouldn’t matter socially, because you would still be doing it yourself.

Why do I say this is the one area you can take control of now; the first point at which you must start; the one area in which you can have the greatest impact right now? Here’s why: In later talks we’re going to cover things like the role of the Supreme Court, the Federal Reserve, the Constitution—you can’t change these things. You don’t have any control over what currency you use, unless of course you live in a very tightly controlled community that relies purely on barter (nota bene: not even the Amish do this). You have absolutely no power to change those things, and very little in the way of alternatives. For all practical purposes, you’re stuck with tyranny in these areas (although, not to be completely pessimistic, we will discuss things we can do, and the type of future and steps toward which we can work). In things going on at the federal level, the best you can do in many cases is cast your vote—one vote among a hundred million—about like thinking you’re going to stop a tsunami with a sandcastle. Here, however, in the area of education, you can take nearly complete control right here, right now. No election required, no legislation required, no vote required, no amendment to the Constitution required; you don’t have to hire a lawyer, call your Congressman, nothing. There are no legal, social, or economic barriers preventing you from being free in this area. It is purely, 100%, a lifestyle decision.

And that is why I say, if we don’t reassert liberty here first, we won’t really do it anywhere else. Because if we’re not willing to make changes when and where we can, then we certainly won’t do it where it’s unlikely. If we’re not willing to make the sacrifices in lifestyle necessary in order to take personal responsibility here, where it’s perfectly legal and able to be done, then pretending anything beyond that is absolute parade of showmanship. In such a case, here’s what we’re doing: we’re devoting tons of time and effort, and maybe even money, to things that can only have marginal effects at best, and yet neglecting the one thing that can have major effects, only because it will cost us the devotion of a little extra time and effort and money. We’ll spend countless hours and energy going to political campaigns, rallies, speeches, waving flags and signs, passing out buttons and bumper stickers, watching the news every night to see what politician on what side said what; posting video clips of news reports and interviews on YouTube and Facebook, adding commentary; saying things like “We need more guys like this”; “I wish this guy was president”; or on the converse advancing whichever of countless criticisms we could choose from. Why do we react this way to a society that’s not free, instead of concentrating our time and energy on exercising that freedom where we’re already perfectly free to do so to begin with? It speaks volumes as to why we’re in the shape we’re in: we’ve taken the benefit. We take the easy way out—the path of least resistance. And our attempts to regain freedom reflect this very complacency: it’s easy to mount a bumper sticker, to attend a rally, to get in a group and shout at the marble façade of a building that houses corrupt politicians. It’s easy to click on an internet link, and share it on Facebook. It’s easy. We do what’s easy.

But homeschool child? Private school a child? We’ve got a thousand reasons why we wouldn’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t do such a thing. And I’m telling you, that in all but a small minority of cases, those thousand reasons are all excuses.

Educational Choices: A Few Scenarios

But we have to work hard for liberty and make the efforts that we can. All government must begin with self-government. And the moment you believe it’s legitimate to use law to govern someone else so as to benefit yourself, you have sown the seed of the destruction of both Christianity and liberty. And it just so happens that the easy way out means just that: destruction of both Christianity and liberty. We have to reassert individual responsibility where we can. And you can. If ever there were an area of life in which people today need to hear the mantra “Yes we can,” it’s in the area of reasserting individual liberty in education.

So what does this mean on a personal level? It will depend on your personal family situation, and it will depend on what alternative to government schools you choose. I personally favor homeschooling for a variety of reasons; but you may decide private schooling is better for you and your children. Fine. The purpose in either decision is to reassert individual control, which means individual liberty, and to begin the end of civil government domination of education, end civil government coercion, and in fact, all educational coercion in which someone forces someone else to do it their way. So let’s consider a few case examples:

In an ideal scenario, there is a traditional family in which the husband works and the wife is able to stay home and school the children. In a traditional family setting like this, if children are currently in government schools, the only changes that need to be made are very minor, especially if the decision is to switch to a private school. Here the only changes are logistical: deciding what school, enrolling, and going; and the greatest burden would be paying tuition, which would mean revising the budget. Even a homeschooling scenario is easy, however, and cheaper: the mother (or in some cases, perhaps the father) who stays home, simply needs to get encouraged and equipped to start homeschooling. The encouragement can be found in many churches, support groups, co-ops, and other organizations devoted to home education. And the same people and institutions can direct you to a million curriculum and teaching resources, and American Vision sells a few as well. All it takes to find plenty of both of these things are a few internet searches. In this case, there is no reason not to do so. For Christians it could be argued persuasively that it’s sinful not to do so.

But this traditional family scenario clearly is not the majority of cases today. Most traditional-like families are today two-income families, and the children, if not at public school, are often in day care. In these cases, the decision whether to private school or home school will mean a greater revising of the budget. Private school will require tuition, and homeschooling will require either hiring a private nanny/tutor, or more commonly, one of the parents staying home. But a parent staying home means at least a reduction to part-time salary for that parent, and more likely forfeiture of that second income completely. I have to tell you that this is the most common resistance I hear in regard to homeschooling. Because they always say that they family needs all of both incomes in order to pay the bills. I have to be honest: while I suspect that is probably sometime the case, I am skeptical that it’s truly as frequent as I hear it. In most of the cases of this I have encountered, the two-income dependent family has a large suburban home and comfortable lifestyle to match. If families require two incomes in order to maintain this, and this makes government taxation for child care and education necessary, then don’t we need to start asking question about lifestyle? In this scenario, the taxation is not so much subsidizing education as subsidizing their comfortable lifestyle, cable TV, etc. And is it really the case that the total of both incomes are necessary to pay the necessary living expenses—house payments, utility bills, insurance, etc. I don’t know; in some cases yes that’s probably true, but in others, is it not the case that some cutbacks here and there, sacrifices in lifestyle, tightening the budget a little across the board may just be the right to do for the cause of freedom? What is the price of freedom, after all? Is the price of freedom that we live at the extremity of our means, while passing off the fundamental aspects of life like education to be funded by other people through taxation? And even in a case where a two-income family honestly requires the fullness of both incomes in order to make “ends meet,” should not there be some soul searching into the way such a lifestyle is funded and the taxation on which it depends? And should there not also be a question about living beyond our means at the expense of other people? Is that moral and right? Is that freedom?

And then there are the actually difficult cases: single parent families. How in the world can we expect a single parent to work and provide for the necessities of life, and at the same time homeschool? And how can we expect a single mom to be able to afford to pay for private schooling? I don’t think the latter issue is as difficult as the home school issue. A single mom is really not much different than any other one-income household paying tuition at a private school. And in these cases, many churches which have private schools will give discounts to church members. At any rate, many private school tuitions are not that much higher than day care rates. But the single mom home school dilemma is definitely difficult. Yet even here, depending on State requirements, nothing says you have to home-school during the day. You can find the required number of hours in the afternoon and evening. And I personally know at least one business-class working mom who has successfully home-schooled a child into their teenage years. So I know it can be done.

The only real question here is the same question at the root of all these cases: What lifestyle changes are you willing to make in order to restore freedom in this area? What sacrifice are you willing to make to restore freedom?

Steps to Restoring Educational Freedom

So here are a few practical steps: First, educate yourself. Educate yourself as to the processes of beginning and managing your decision (whether homeschool or private). Really, the easiest to way for a beginner to learn is to Google something like, “How do I get started homsechooling?” and add to this the name of your state, for example, “Georgia” (because every state has slightly different laws). You will be able to choose from an endless list of helpful sites, the top few probably being the most popular organizations in your state: for this example, one is the Georgia Home Educators Association. Study especially the relevant laws for compulsory attendance, reporting, etc., and find out exactly how to initiate your home school legally (if necessary) and what is required of you beyond that. Then see what resources are available for curriculum in all price ranges, read reviews, talk online and in person with people who know, and make an educated decision.

Second, write the letters, order the necessary books, and start the process. Here’s one tip: don’t jump at first into one of those thousand-dollar all-in-one curriculum packs, because if you get half way through and don’t like it, or find something better for much less, you will have wasted your money. Most people I know prefer to design their own curriculum piece by piece.

Also, get some books for yourself: learn how to become more than just a housewife going through the motions (which could be the case); learn how to become an effective communicator and a good teacher, planner, organizer, scholar yourself. Improve yourself as much as you do your child.

So educate yourself, make the investment, and then start doing it. Jump in and start. That’s more important than trying to get everything perfect and then start, because then you’ll never start. You’ll make mistakes, but you’ll learn, and the child will learn—and you’ll both be better for it. There will always be more to learn down the road, no matter how good you are.

In addition to taking back individual and family control to the extent that we can already, we should educate ourselves in regard to the larger picture. There could certainly be further political goals at which to aim, beginning at the local level: the ultimate goal should be to abolish all public taxation and funding for schools in general—get the civil government completely out of the market of education. But a mediate step in the meantime would be perhaps a law that exempts anyone from property tax who is private schooling or homeschooling their children. No one should be taxed to pay for other people’s educations, but especially people who already pay such high personal costs to take care of their own should not have to bear the added costs of others on top of that: as it currently stands, these people are bearing what is essentially double the tax burden.

Not only would this be economically fair for those who already pay for their own, but this fairness in itself would become an incentive for more people to pull out of public school, and for more people to become private tutors, teachers, and create more private schools. When more and more property owners realize that they could afford a more than adequate home school curriculum for way less than the price of their property taxes, they would certainly want to move in that direction (not to mention the further benefits of home schooling, by the way). And if more people moved into the private school market, not only would options increase in that market, but a range of levels of affordability would arise in order to serve those who wished to afford more or less tuition. And depending on your status and property, when the market reaches an equilibrium not distorted by the State’s virtual monopoly on education, you would soon be able to afford yearly tuition at one of many private schools easily for the amount of your property tax saved—and that’s considering an average middle-class property owner. This is probably true for many people already depending on the person and the school.

If the essential monopoly of government over education is broken, a free market in education—considering today’s technology and vast information resources—would produce options that we probably can’t even imagine currently. Charitable organizations even could start schools that surpassed public schools in capability and efficiency, and serve even the poorest of the poor, and do so in a way superior to the one-size-fits-all model of government education today.

We should also, if we were to consider the political side, look further into revenues. We have just discussed personal exemptions which make perfect sense. But we are doing this project in the context of County Rights, restoring the County as the fundamental unit of government in America. And the sovereignty of county administration is compromised to the extent that it accepts funding from the State level and the Federal level—these, always coming with mandates, regulations, and other strings attached. In order truly to reassert local district control (which is the basis, after all, behind most people claiming, “our schools are different”), the source of funding must remain always and only local (or private organizations with private contracts disclosed to all comers). The truth is that nationwide, most local school districts receive about half of their funding from their states, about another 10% from the Feds, and only the remaining 40% from local taxes. Of course, all of this is a tax bill picked up by taxpayers, but when higher and higher levels of government are in control, the revenues get homogenized and then reapportioned more equally than they were collected. In other words, it’s one more deceptive way to redistribute wealth. Local districts should reassert local control, and could do so by refusing to accept the handouts; of course, this would take pressure from the community on the school board, and again, a willingness on the part of all involved to sacrifice and make due with the limitations of their own means. But this should be done; and it should come in addition to local, state, and federal exemptions for anyone not directly using the system, but homeschooling or private schooling.

The goal is to exercise what freedom we can in the area of education; and in doing so, create a movement that will make it socially viable to free up education completely. This, I realize, is not a walk in the park; but it is the easiest thing we can do right now in the effort to restore America. It is sitting there right in front of us waiting to be done. All it takes is a little commitment and a little sacrifice.

What are you willing to sacrifice? What do you consider important: freedom, integrity, honesty? Can these be compromised for the cause of convenience and comfort? Should they be? That’s the question at the root of Restoring America One County at a Time, and it begins with the issue of education. If we can’t take action here, you can forget the rest.

[You can purchase Restoring America One County at a Time here.]

Up next: a wholesale biblical vision for Welfare.

Categories: Worldview

God, Governments, and Culture 2016 — Early Bird Discounts

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 08:25

Registration is open for the God, Governments, and Culture 2016 Conference.

Early registrations: use Discount Code #GGC16 for 15% OFF until June 28.

Register Now.

Looking for an intensive course in practical action for local government from a biblical worldview? Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind conference. Inspired by Dr. McDurmon’s Restoring America One County at a Time, “God, Governments, and Culture 2016” will feature serious 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, Texas for a very 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.

All Registrations include 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.”

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Categories: Worldview

God, Governments, and Culture Conference 2016 — Registration Open!

Wed, 05/18/2016 - 09:08

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

Register Here.

Looking for an intensive course in practical action for local government from a biblical worldview? Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind conference. Inspired by Dr. McDurmon’s Restoring America One County at a Time, “God, Governments, and Culture 2016” will feature serious 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, Texas for a very 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.

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.”

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Categories: Worldview

Homosexuality and Transgenderism: The Goal is to Redefine Everything

Mon, 05/16/2016 - 09:49

There’s a larger agenda behind the LGBT+ movement. If the government can convince enough people that something as absurd as transgenderism is real and should be protected by law, then it is in the position of redefining anything, even when what’s being redefined is obviously irrational and harmful.

This type of pressure politics has been going on for a long time. Evolutionists claim that something came from nothing, and biological information systems self-organized, and resulted in the development of the most intricate “designed” lifeforms that no human has been able to replicate using every man-made tool available to him.

The realized dream of autonomous man is to have power over nature. Darren Cross, the villain in the film Ant-Man (2015), neatly summarizes man’s attempt to control and redefine the natural order of things:

“The laws of nature transcend the laws of man. And I’ve transcended the laws of nature.”

Killing unborn babies is the essence of freedom, same-sex sexuality is a matter of “pride,” and men can be women and women can be men or any of 56 different varieties of gender, and all normalized and protected by the State. How can any of these positions be defended in a world where rationalism seemingly rules the day?

“From the day that Adam tried to test the word of God concerning his destiny, man has attempted to find some voice of authority other than God. By locating their preferred voice of authority outside of God’s revelation, both verbal and natural, men thereby create for themselves a series of unsolvable intellectual dilemmas. . . . As ‘autonomous’ man has become more consistent with his own presuppositions, he has become more irrational.” (Gary North, Unholy Spirits: Occultism and New Age Humanism (Tyler, TX: Institute for Chrsitian Economics, 1994), 39).

The rationalists are willing to accept elements of the irrational so long as the ultimate goal “to shove God out of the universe” is carried out. Here’s a perfect example:

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

“It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”1

No matter how impossible or irrational a materialist worldview might be, it must be believed  because the alternative might suggest a Creator.

Everything an evolutionist uses in an attempt to disprove the existence of a Designer was designed by a designer and built by people following the designers’ design. The pure rationalist has become irrational.

If you are going to win an argument, you must get down to the operating assumptions of what’s being argued. We first heard that homosexuals were born that way, just like heterosexuals are born with desires for those of the opposite sex. While numerous scientific studies have been done to find a genetic link, nothing is conclusive. And even if there were a genetic link, it would not mean that the behavior was either normal or moral.

There are males and females. People who engage in same-sex sexuality do not become a new sexual category. There is no third gender. The same is true of people who identify as transgender. It’s all made up. These new categories of gender and sexuality are social constructs.

How would genetics explain bisexuality? Where are the genetic markers for men who “identify” as women, and women who “identify” as men? Again, there are no genetic markers.

Facebook has 56 gender categories. Check out “From Agender to Ze: A Glossary for the Gender Identity Revolution” to see how absurd but seemingly “scientific” this movement is. Are we to believe that all of these are based on genetics? In reality, people choose to identify with one of the 56 categories. And I say, “So what?” People can self-identify as anything. It’s their right, irrational as it is, but it isn’t their right to use the law to force me to accept their fiction.

In the Broadway play and film Arsenic and Old Lace, “Teddy” believed he was Theodore Roosevelt. “Each time Teddy goes upstairs, he yells ‘Charge!’ and takes the stairs at a run, imitating Roosevelt’s famous charge up San Juan Hill.” He was humored and tolerated to a point, but no one was forced to accommodate his delusion.

In addition, just because there might be a genetic cause for certain behaviors does not mean that the behavior is normal or morally acceptable. For example, consider the possibility that aggression has a genetic origin:

“Some of us, it seems, were just born to be bad. Scientists say they are on the verge of pinning down genetic and biochemical abnormalities that predispose their bearers to violence. An article in the journal Science . . . carried the headline EVIDENCE FOUND FOR POSSIBLE ‘AGGRESSION’ GENE.”2

Two scientists have claimed that “rape is a ‘natural, biological’ phenomenon, springing from men’s evolutionary urge to reproduce.”3

Should people who exhibit aggressive behavior and rape be accommodated because their behaviors have a biological or evolutionary cause? Of course not. But why not? Because there are moral standards that people can’t shake even if they can’t account for them. What is the source of those moral standards? Why do they apply in some cases but not others?

Pedophiles argue that they were “born that way” or their brains are wired differently. How could anyone prove otherwise? Are we to accommodate people who are sexually attracted to prepubescent children? While the desire to engage in sex with children cannot be criminalized, the behavior is. Why? Is it only because the sexual act is not consensual? Would it be morally acceptable if there was consent? Given the operating assumptions of materialists, there really aren’t any moral laws. If rape is part of the evolutionary process, and it was that evolutionary process that got us to this point in evolutionary time, why is rape considered to be criminal?

Even if a person says he or she can’t change their sexual desires, it does not mean those sexual desires are morally justifiable. This is the essence of the debate. We as a nation have lost the ability to think in terms of first principles.

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield “was a tenured English professor at Syracuse University, a skeptic of all things Christianity, and in a committed lesbian relationship. Her academic specialty was Queer Theory, a postmodern form of gay and lesbian studies. Today Butterfield is a mother of four, a homemaker, and wife of a Presbyterian pastor named Kent. They live in Durham, North Carolina.”

What made the difference? It came by way of a letter in response to an article she had written in a local newspaper that was written by Ken Smith, then-pastor of the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church.

“It was a kind and inquiring letter. Ken Smith encouraged me to explore the kind of questions I admire: How did you arrive at your interpretations? How do you know you are right? Do you believe in God? Ken didn’t argue with my article; rather, he asked me to defend the presuppositions that undergirded it. I didn’t know how to respond to it, so I threw it away.

“Later that night, I fished it out of the recycling bin and put it back on my desk, where it stared at me for a week, confronting me with the worldview divide that demanded a response. As a postmodern intellectual, I operated from a historical materialist worldview, but Christianity is a supernatural worldview. Ken’s letter punctured the integrity of my research project without him knowing it.”

When is the last time (or even the first time) you have heard anyone approach the subject of same-sex sexuality and transgenderism and the more than 50 other gender identifiers on the basis of the fundamental presuppositions that undergird worldview of forced compliance of sexual abnormalities?

It’s time that we stop arguing in terms of rights, protecting children, freedom of association, and liberty and challenge the presuppositions that have given rise to the overthrow of a moral worldview grounded in the character of God. Man through the agency of the State has become the new god. There is no telling where such a topsy-turvy worldview will take us.

  1. Richard Lewontin, “Billions and billions of demons,” The New York Review (January 9, 1997), 31.
  2. Dennis Overbye, “Born to Raise Hell?,” Time (February 21, 1994), 76.
  3. Dan Vergano, “‘Natural, biological’ theory of rape creates instant storm,” USA Today (January 28, 2000), 8D.
Categories: Worldview

Obama’s transgender decree to public schools: what to do now

Fri, 05/13/2016 - 09:18

Think your schools are different? Well, even if they were (and they weren’t), they’re not any more. Obama is about to issue an executive letter telling all public schools to allow transgender students and staff to use whatever bathroom they like. Yes, that means sexually confused, unstable, and perverted boys and men entering your girls’ locker rooms and bathrooms—backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.

The directive, which multiple liberal media outlets have called a “decree” from on high, is said not to have the actual force of a law, but, according to Rueters, it “contains an implicit threat that schools which do not abide by the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law could face lawsuits or a loss of federal aid.”

Thus, the threat is that if any local public school refuses to follow the homosexual agenda, to put their daughters in harm’s way and their young men face-to-face with perversion, the Federal government will prosecute you and strip the school of its federal aid.

Money is king in public schools. They cannot get enough of it. The primary and chief goal for every public school at any moment of its existence is to increase its budget. It’s “for the children” of course, but it never ceases. Even the potential of a slight budget cut, say one percent, is enough to send school administrators and teachers’ unions into spasms. Start talking about pulling all federal aid, and you’ll see whose side they are on real quick.

“What’s that, Obama? You say we must let homosexuals cross-dress and invade girls’ bathrooms in our school? But our school is different! I’ll block the bathroom door myself!”

“What’s that? We won’t get federal money? Oh, I meant, I’ll hold the door for them!”

So Christian, what should you do? It’s a no-brainer. You should, without hesitation, do what you should have done a long time ago: pull your kids out of government schools. Government schools are a socialist tyranny. They are a purely socialistic institution, funded by socialism, created and run by socialists in order to turn children into socialist factory workers and government employees.

That’s not my insulting opinion. These are the basic facts of the history and purpose of public education.

As I have outlined elsewhere, the Bible calls for education to be done by families, and that’s the way we used to do it in this country before the liberals and socialists seized control of it. Education in a free society would only and ever be home and private schooling. Government-funded education would not even be an option. And for the Christian, it is not.

Historically, public education in this country was created not just by non-Christians, but by anti-Christians. They created public schools specifically as a replacement for Christian education, to promulgate a rival religion based on humanism and socialism. They sold the idea to Christians using the idea of neutrality in education, and promising it as a means to “Americanize” mass waves of Irish and Italian immigrants landing on our shores at the time. They often used religious-sounding instruction cloaked with patriotism, but were actually denuding the biblical Christian substance from traditional American education.

Further, the industrialists got behind the idea because they immediately saw the potential for public schools churning out single-file lines of uncritical drones, trained to move predictably at bell and whistle, who would make faithful cogs and not question the monotonous purpose into which they had been herded.

And finally, public education was sold to the unsuspecting public under the illusion of being “free”—a lie from the pit of hell if ever there was one. Public education is funded by taxing people’s property and giving the benefits to someone else (that is, the redistribution of wealth), and it is extremely expensive. Not only is this scheme socialistic, it is by far the most socialistic part of American life. It is one place where it can truly be said that state owns the means of production—the very definition of Socialism.

Why, oh why, Christian, will you sell you souls and tithe your children to a God-defying socialist agency? The Bible tells you to teach children at home, not to steal property from others, and to live free. Why, oh why, will you defy your faith in the realm of education?

Why are you surprised when the most fundamental of sexual immoralities becomes the test of faithfulness in a godless institution? The principle was latent and inherent in the system from day one. This decree from Obama is merely the full nature of the system finally becoming manifest.

Let’s be clear: this decree from Obama is not one more evidence of just how radical Obama is. It is more proof of how godless public education is. Obama is not exceptional; he is quite ordinary and quite representative. When a system of so-called education is based upon the heart of immorality— covetousness and theft, i.e., socialism—you are guaranteed that all the other commandments of God will be flouted and trampled as well.

So, don’t wink at the Socialism and then be shocked by the porn. They always will go together. Covetousness gonna covet. Sometimes it covets money, other times little girls. But once you let it in, you let it all in. And when you support the system, you support all of it.

Christian, do not be shocked by what I say here. This warning is not new. I have only said it for years now, and others for many other decades before. And in view of the Federal government’s promotion of the homofascist agenda, I predicted that this very type of attack on local schools would take place. It’s only logical because it’s the nature of the godless system.

And guess what: there will be no escape from it except to get out of the system and delegitimize it completely. Don’t waste any more time, and don’t risk your children any further. Get out now. And we’ll help you.

In light of the Federal attacks on your children’s faith and morals, American Vision is running a 45%-off sale on select education resources in our store. Please educate yourself and your friends.

Categories: Worldview

Freedom in education: how it was lost

Fri, 05/13/2016 - 07:20

Restoring America One County at a Time

Chapter 1: Education

1.2 How Freedom Was Lost

In the last section, I discussed how free, purely private education was the American way, and it worked. I mentioned how this was the norm up until at least the 1830s and really even beyond. I ended with the question, “Why did it change?” How was this high level of freedom and individual responsibility lost? How did a once-completely-free aspect of life come to be dominated by government mandates and taxation—that is, government confiscation of private property?

I mentioned how some claim that changes in society necessitated reform of education. For some reason or other, upswings in technology, mechanization, the industrial revolution, and a few other things allegedly changed the face of society so drastically that the only way to bring the masses of common people up to speed was for government to intervene, begin to confiscate and redistribute wealth with which to provide public schools. Does this argument have any basis in fact?

Only to a very limited extent. The truth involves much more than that.

The truth involves several factors that pertain mainly to elitist influences being imposed for the benefit of those who imposed them. Here we’ll cover the four most important social factors involved: First, a rival religious ideology; Second, reactions to mass immigration in the late 1840s and forward; Third, the forces of big corporate business; and Fourth, the allure of “free” education (in the sense of no financial cost) to the masses. Let’s look at what I mean:

The Rival Religion

First, the rival religion. This was the influence of Unitarianism, particularly through New England congregational churches, and mainly by the work of Unitarian activists. These individuals had abandoned many traditional Christian doctrines, and instead promoted the ideals that mankind could be perfected through proper education and training; they believed in the essential divinity of mankind; they believed that this divinity of man was most pronounced when mankind is considered collectively as a whole; so, therefore, they believed that the civil State was the highest expression of divinity on earth; and thus, they believed, that the State was the ultimate parent and benefactor of individuals.

Perhaps the most important of these types was the so-called father of public schools in America, Horace Mann. Mann, a Congregationalist minister, believed very strongly in the positions just stated, and more. Mann argued that human rights derive from Nature; and this Nature—with a capital “N”—he interpreted, “proves an *absolute right* to an education of every human being that comes into the world.” This is the classic “entitlement mentality” which has characterized leftism, communism, socialism, etc., before and since, which today is often applied to health care, employment, etc.—here Horace Mann applied it very early to education, by which he meant public education.

He argued two basic propositions about education: education should be secularized—geared toward civic virtue and efficiency rather than religious worldview—and education should be the function of the civil government, not families. In fact, he sought to replace the family with an explicitly paternal state. He called Society collectively a “godfather for all its children,” and said, “Massachusetts is *parental* in her government.”

Unitarian activists, such as Horace Mann, were ready and willing to employ government force in order to remake society according to their mandates and by their means—in fact, government force was the name of the game. Some of the guys in this movement were fiercely radical with this belief. In the mid-1850s, the radical revolutionary John Brown committed several acts of violence and murder in Kansas and in Virginia intending to start a slave rebellion that he thought would eventually bring about abolition. The underlying belief was that it is legitimate to use violent revolution to impose better social values. Shortly before his death by hanging, Brown himself made this point explicitly: he said he was “quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood,” and that this would never be done without “very much bloodshed.” He was a terrorist, born and bred on American soil, and carried out acts of terrorism on American soil, in the name of social and political change for the better. Now Brown himself had studied in Massachusetts to be a Congregationalist minister, but quit due to financial and health problems. But he established radical connections there that would help finance his later acts. The least publicized aspect of Brown is this: his six main financiers who propagandized his work for him back in New England were all six Unitarian Congregational ministers. And while not every one of these types believed in open revolutionary violence like Brown, nevertheless they all believed in using the force of government to bring about the social changes they thought desirable (which is really not much different if you consider it—it’s comparing one version of unwelcomed coercion for another, and in both cases, imposed by someone who thinks they know better than you, and who believes they have the right and authority to impose their view on you by force).

Mann certainly held such positions in regard to his agenda for imposing public education. He had three basic rules that summarize his view of education as a right, property as socialized, and individuals subservient to the will of the collective (as represented by the decisions of the civil government, of course). He wrote:

The successive generations of men, taken collectively, constitute one great commonwealth.

The property of this commonwealth is pledged for the education of all its youth, up to such a point as will save them from poverty and vice, and perhaps to prepare them for the adequate performance of their social and civil duties.

Note the language of salvation: public schooling required taking people’s property for the education of society’s youth, in order to “save them”; and save them from what: “poverty and vice.” So here you have not only a messianic state, but you have America’s first state-imposed war on poverty. (And it had no greater or more lasting effect on poverty then than it did in under Johnson in the ’60s.) Notice also that property would be taken toward this goal “up to such a point as will save them.” In other words, they would keep taxing and taking until they felt they fulfilled their mission—which is to say, there is no limit. Mann concluded by expressing what can only be called socialism:

The successful holders of this property are trustees, bound to the faithful execution of their trust by the most sacred obligations; and embezzlement and pillage from children and descendants have not less criminality . . . than the same offenses when perpetrated against contemporaries.

In the public schooling worldview, you do not own your property! You can never be a property *owner*; but only a trustee for the property of Society. It is society that determines who will get what and for what purpose; and any resistance to the government’s dictates in this area is considered a crime of embezzlement and pillaging (both crimes done by definition to other people’s property). Note again the religious language: payments in taxes for state-run education are “the most sacred obligations” which require “faithful execution.”

The alleged natural “right” which entitles every human being to an education is so sacred that it transcends that biblical command protecting private property. Mann said:

No one man, nor any one generation of men, has any such title to, or ownership in these ingredients and substantials of all wealth, that his right is invaded when a portion of them is taken for the benefit of posterity.

In other words, we’re going to tax you for education, and you’ll pay the tax and shut up, because you have no right to complain about it. It’s not really your property to begin with, and what we’re doing is for you own good and the good of posterity. Make this note: public schooling from day one was incapable of existing without socialism. It requires by definition the government to claim ownership over at least a portion of every individual’s property.

This was constantly sold to the public as something for their own good. Thaddeus Stevens used this very argument to defend Pennsylvania’s public schooling law of 1834 in the legislature the following year. To those who objected that it was morally wrong to tax some people to pay for other people’s education, he responded, “It is for their own benefit, inasmuch as it perpetuates the government and ensures the due admin­istration of the laws under which they live, and by which their lives and property are protected.” See, the paternal state knows what is best for you, and what is the best use of your money, and besides, such measures “perpetuate the government” that knows all this! Who could be against that?

Mann made his views very explicit. Public schooling was the path to social salvation; all ills would be cured by its full implementation:

The common school is the greatest discovery ever made by man. . . . Other social organizations are curative and remedial; this is a preventative and an antidote; they come to heal diseases and wounds; this to make the physical and moral frame invulnerable to them. Let the common school be expanded to its capabilities, let it be worked with the efficiency with which it is susceptible, and nine-tenths of the crimes in the penal code would become obsolete; the long catalogue of human ills would be abridged; men would walk more safely by day; every pillow would be more inviolable by night; property, life and character held by a stronger tenure; all rational hopes respecting the future brightened.

This is language of healing and of hope. This is the language of religion, and Mann wanted it funded by the State. The scholar who studied the history of the state-takeover of education noted what action step Mann really had in mind here. It was the same thing public schools have said ever since: “give us the money and we can do it; our failure thus far is your fault in that we have received insufficient funds.” And of course, Mann like most public school advocates ever since believed that the school and its parent State had a right, an entitlement, to appropriate those funds from private people.

Overrun by such Unitarian thought, Massachusetts was the first state to create a State Board of Education in 1837. As its first chairman, they placed Horace Mann. Of interest was the timing of the creation of this secular board: up until 1832, the Congregational Church was an established church in that state—receiving funding from the state to pay her ministers, etc. That was abolished in 1832 (Massachusetts was the last state to do so), and the state-funded education program was in place in only five years. And in that same year 1837, Mann brokered a political deal that immediately doubled the budget for public education. Common schools were already being funded in Massachusetts by local taxes, but this was the first centralizing of it by the State. The astute observer will note what many public school critics to date have pointed out—the established churches were kicked out and the public schools were made the de facto state-church in their place, but were now officially a secularized state-church, and the tyranny was doubled in the amount of money appropriated for it.

This ideal of secular public school as a new established religion was expressed not only by the facts of the history, but openly in the statements and writings of the movers and shakers of the system. And the attitude lasted well into the twentieth century and exists still in the minds of many today, Christian or not. One representative figure who stated the truth explicitly was James Earl Russell who was Dean of Columbia Teachers College for thirty years, 1897–1927. The task of education, he wrote in 1922, was “making democracy safe for the world,” and this meant “teaching the proper appreciation of life-values.” Indeed, “The doctrine that all shall get what they deserve presupposes that the largest possible number shall be taught to want what it is right that they should have.” In other words, democracy will be great, as long was the public schoolmasters can first train the people what to want and how to vote. Put more succinctly, you can have whatever you want, as long as I have control over what you want! With his idea of democracy in place as an ideal, Russell made his replacement of the church explicit: he admired an era in which this type of trained democracy will “find it expedient to substitute for the established church of the old regime a state-supported and state-controlled school system.”

Of course, this state-controlled system was the antithesis of the free and private system which had existed and served America just fine for over two centuries to this point. Russell knew this, and nevertheless saw the change as progress. Before as we mentioned previously, teachers had to compete with each other—and this bred greater choice, improved quality, lowered costs, etc. But socialists like Russell demeaned this system by saying “the teacher was a chattel sold on the open market”; instead he praised “The teacher as a civil servant whose foremost duty is the promotion of the welfare of the State.” He did get one thing right when he called this scheme “a new conception in American life.” It certainly was: not only was the civil State never meant to be a factor in education in the original American way, but the very conception and practice of civil coercion was a rejection of basic American freedoms: freedoms in traditional religion, property, business, and family—all of which had to be overturned and/or replaced in order to impose the grand scheme of State-supported and State-controlled education. Indeed, it was nothing less than a secularized replacement of the established church.

There was at least one religious group that saw what was going on, and they within just a few years began starting their own private schools as an alternative. This was the Roman Catholic Church, and the rise of Catholic parochial schools coincided with the rise of secularized Unitarian public schools from which they would become havens. More importantly, this became viable for them financially due to the second major factor, mass immigration.

Mass Immigration and “Americanism”

Much of this immigration came from Irish Catholics who fled the Irish potato famine beginning in 1845. In 1825, there were only about 5,000 Irish in Boston. In 1845, the number had multiplied six times to 30,000, and they now made up about 30% of the population. These saw the imposition of government schooling as a secularized version of what was formerly Protestantism, so they started their own schools. This was true of most of the other early immigrant groups, most of whom came from Northern Europe, and were either Lutheran or Dutch Reformed. All of these groups started private schools so as to avoid the secularized indoctrination of the public school system, and these denominations still have these traditions today.

But many of the Americans, particularly the Unitarian minded-civil religion types, hated Catholicism, and saw immigrants as a threat, so they tried to use the force of government to impose their version of American culture on these people. To them, public school was not only a means to perfect mankind and cure society of all ills, it was a means of turning immigrants into “good Americans.” And over time, the secularized religious motive fell further into the background, and the promotion of Americanism became the thrust of public schooling. Of course, the America these establishments promoted was already a long way from the America that had once been free. Throughout this whole process, many orthodox Protestants accepted the façade of Christianity in the Unitarian-driven school system, and thus the idea was always accepted that “our” public schools are Christian. But they were so only on the surface—and that for deceptive purposes only.

Immigration not only caused cultural and religious tensions, but also created economic tensions as the labor market was flooded with hundreds of thousands of new people. Of course, with the industrial revolution gathering steam in the 1830s and forward, the waves of immigrants provided a source of very cheap labor. But factories and large business owners quickly learned what type of temperament and mentality was best suited for the tasks of factory labor—someone who was accustomed to repetition, schedules, monotony, quiet obedience, single file lines, etc. And these wealthy influences in society quickly learned they could steer public education to produce such workers.

The Public School as Factory

So the third factor in the loss of liberty in education was the rise of big business, corporations, and particularly the influence of industrialization and factory mechanization. Not only does this pertain to the loss of liberty, but more importantly to the normalization of a life in which that liberty was gone. The mass production of public education became the tool by which America grew adapted to life without freedom in education, in which the question was never even raised.

Now here is where the issue of modernization and industrial revolution come in; and like I said, there is some truth (albeit very limited) to this phenomenon requiring changes in society. But here is the important qualification: the phenomenon itself did not require political changes for education, but rather big business found it profitable to ally with big government and leverage government power—just as the Unitarian ideologues had done for their agenda—in order to start mass-producing workers to meet the demand for factory labor. Soon, the schools mass-produced workers in the same way the factories mass-produced widgets.

And the atmosphere of public schooling was—or could be made—the perfect place for this training to occur. Looking back on the scenario, one education reformer, Charles Francis Adams, Jr., described that atmosphere in 1880:

Most of you, indeed, cannot but have been part and parcel of one of those huge, mechanical, educational machines, or mills, as they might more properly be called. They are, I believe, peculiar to our own time and country, and are so organized as to combine as nearly as possible the principal characteristics of the cotton-mill and the railroad with those of the model state’s prison. The school committee is the board of directors; while the superintendent — the chief executive officer — sits in his central office with the timetable, which he calls a programme, before him, by which one hour twice a week is allotted to this study, and half an hour three times a week to that, and twenty hours a term to a third; and at such a time one class will be at this point and the other class at that, the whole moving with military precision to a given destination at a specified date. He can at any given moment tell you exactly where any squad, or class as he would term it, is, and what it ought, at least, to be then doing. Mechanical methods could not be carried further. The organization is perfect. The machine works almost with the precision of clock-work. It is, however, companyfront all the time. From one point of view children are regarded as automatons; from another, as india-rubber bags; from a third, as so much raw material. They must move in step and exactly alike; they must receive the same mental nutriment in equal quantities and at fixed times: — assimilation is wholly immaterial, but the motions must be gone through with. Finally, as raw material, they are emptied in at the primaries and marched out at the grammar grades; — and it is well!

And he should have added, after graduation, corralled directly into the industrialized workforce; because, he had been trained for the past several years, to live a lifestyle of boring tasks, from one whistle blowing to the next. Horace man had been interested in education for the perfectibility of man. The industrialists couldn’t care less about perfectibility, they only cared about the trainability of man. And that legacy of public schooling has been with us ever since.

There is, by the way, much truth in Adams’ comparison of the public schools to not only mills and railroads, but the state prison. The same Unitarian reforming spirit that gave us the institution of public schools also produced, in the same era, the penitentiary, the insane asylum, and the poorhouse. All of these were built on the same theory that society was the bed of corruption, and the proper way to train people was to put them into a controlled atmosphere in which the allegedly corrupt external influences could not affect them; and this very popular theory was applied to the reform of criminals, the insane, the mentally ill, the poor, and to the education of children. So in the same decades of the 1820s–30s, this nation witnessed the explosion of official institutions for all of these issues, and the growing prevalence of using taxation and government control for these institutions.

And yet, as decades went on, and it became clear that the theory was bogus, that no genuine reform was made in criminals or the insane, and that corporate interests came to dominate the schools—in short, that the whole system was a failure—the officials merely continued to blame failure on the lack of funds and/or greater control. This was true so much so that one of the few historians of the Asylum phenomenon concluded of its legacy, “Failure and persistence went hand in hand.” Yet at the same time, when correctional institutions failed, advocates shifted their emphasis from “cure” to “prevention”—and thus, education instead of penal or remedial institutions. This was used, then, as an argument for greater government involvement and support of education.

The Real Cost of “Free” Education

Yet finally, as sort of a capstone upon these three major factors, Americans began to abandon home and private education due to the illusion that government schools were free. This creates different levels of motivation. Some buy the illusion completely: the school costs them nothing while it educates their children and simultaneously provides free child care during the day. This illusion is swallowed most readily by people who don’t own property, and thus never directly see a property tax appropriated from them personally. And since property tax is usually escrowed automatically, even most property owners don’t really feel the true weight of it anyway. Other people merely live content with the illusion, knowing it actually costs money, knowing they actually pay taxes to support it even if indirectly through increased rents, yet accepting this as moral or at least practical enough to live with. These people, too, once receiving the benefits, will defend the system which taxes other people to benefit them. Even among public officials who know better, the phrase is simply modified to remain deceptive: public education is free, “at the point of delivery” (which is, of course, an admission that it’s not free).

This all works together to make the perceived benefit of “free” education a powerful motivation among those who are dependent upon the system; they remain self-interested in perpetuating a system that confiscates property from some people and gives it to others. In short, once dependent, they become advocates. Yet the system, used and defended by so many conservatives and Christians, is based on an anti-Christian, socialistic system of values at its very core. It has more in common with Nazism than with anything that can be called a Christian society.

So how was liberty lost in the area of education? It was through anti-Christian ideology leveraging state power to impose a state-funded, state-controlled utopia. They established a whole new secular state church in the name of getting rid of state churches. It was through mass immigration that among other things sparked misguided Protestants to use government power to oppose Catholicism and turn Europeans into Americans. It was through the rise of industrialization and mechanization that used mass-production in education to create dutiful, reliable masses of workers for mass-production in factories. And it was through the vastly accepted myth that public schools are free, and the fact that we have now grown vastly dependent upon the benefit.

These things, all combined together, created a very powerful culture in which freedom in education is gone economically (we’re all forced to pay for public schools even if we don’t use them), and was almost lost practically, except in small enclaves, until the past few decades. But the one aspect in which it is still largely free is legally: you still can exercise the freedom if you choose.

Many Christians and others are realizing the need to reclaim our freedom in education; many are already practicing it as much as they can; and the tools and resources to make it viable, effective, and easy are today so vast and easy to find that there is no good excuse for anyone who loves liberty not to pursue it.

As I have already said repeatedly, this is the one area you can change drastically toward the cause of freedom right now. Nothing toward that cause will be easier, more effective, and more life-transforming for all involved, than restoring freedom for yourself and family in the area of education. In the next section, I’ll tell you what to do, how to do it, and talk about the sacrifices it will take.

[Read the rest here for free, or purchase your copy of Restoring America One County at a Time.]

 

1.2 How Freedom Was Lost

In the last video I discussed how free, purely private education was the American way, and it worked. I mentioned how this was the norm up until at least the 1830s and really even beyond. We ended that talk with the question, “Why did it change?” How was this high level of freedom and individual responsibility lost? How did a once-completely-free aspect of life come to be dominated by government mandates and taxation—that is, government confiscation of private property?

We mentioned how some claim that changes in society necessitated reform of education. For some reason or other, upswings in technology, mechanization, the industrial revolution, and a few other things changed the face of society so drastically that the only way to bring the masses of common people up to speed was for government to intervene, begin to redistribute wealth with which to provide public schools. Does this argument have any basis in fact? Only to a very limited extent. The truth involves much more than that.

The truth involves several factors that pertain mainly to elitist influences being imposed for the benefit of those who imposed them. We’ll cover the four most important social factors involved: First, a rival religious ideology; Second, reactions to mass immigration in the late 1840s and forward; Third, the forces of big business; and Fourth, the promise of “free” education (in the sense of no financial cost) to the masses. Let’s look at what I mean:

First, the rival religion. This was the influence of Unitarianism, particularly through New England congregational churches, and mainly by the work of Unitarian activists. These individuals had abandoned many traditional Christian doctrines, and instead promoted the ideals that mankind could be perfected through proper education and training; they believed in the essential divinity of mankind; they believed that this divinity of man was most pronounced when mankind is considered collectively as a whole; so, therefore, they believed that the civil State was the highest expression of divinity on earth; and thus, they believed, that the State was the ultimate parent and benefactor of individuals.

Perhaps the most important of these types was the so-called father of public schools in America, Horace Mann. Mann, a Congregationalist minister, believed very strongly in the positions just stated, and more. Mann argued that human rights derive from Nature; and this Nature—with a capital “N”—he interpreted, “proves an *absolute right* to an education of every human being that comes into the world.” This is the classic “entitlement mentality” which has characterized leftism, communism, socialism, etc., before and since, which today is often applied to health care, employment, etc.—here Horace Mann applied it very early to education, by which he meant public education.

He argued two basic propositions about education: education should be secularized—geared toward civic virtue and efficiency rather than religious worldview—and education should be the function of the civil government, not families. In fact, he sought to replace the family with an explicitly paternal state. He called Society collectively a “godfather for all its children,” and said, “Massachusetts is *parental* in her government.”

Unitarian activists, such as Horace Mann, were ready and willing to employ government force in order to remake society according to their mandates and by their means—in fact, government force was the name of the game. Some of the guys in this movement were fiercely radical with this belief. In the mid-1850s, the radical revolutionary John Brown committed several acts of violence and murder in Kansas and in Virginia intending to start a slave rebellion that he thought would eventually bring about abolition. The underlying belief was that it is legitimate to use violent revolution to impose better social values. Shortly before his death by hanging, Brown himself made this point explicitly: he said he was “quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood,” and that this would never be done without “very much bloodshed.” He was a terrorist, born and bred on American soil, and carried out acts of terrorism on American soil, in the name of social and political change for the better. Now Brown himself had studied in Massachusetts to be a Congregationalist minister, but quit due to financial and health problems. But he established radical connections there that would help finance his later acts. The least publicized aspect of Brown is this: his six main financiers who propagandized his work for him back in New England were all six Unitarian Congregational ministers. And while not every one of these types believed in open revolutionary violence like Brown, nevertheless they all believed in using the force of government to bring about the social changes they thought desirable (which is really not much different if you consider it—it’s comparing one version of unwelcomed coercion for another, and in both cases, imposed by someone who thinks they know better than you, and who believes they have the right and authority to impose their view on you by force).

Mann certainly held such positions in regard to his agenda for imposing public education. He had three basic rules that summarize his view of education as a right, property as socialized, and individuals subservient to the will of the collective (as represented by the decisions of the civil government, of course). He wrote:

The successive generations of men, taken collectively, constitute one great commonwealth.

The property of this commonwealth is pledged for the education of all its youth, up to such a point as will save them from poverty and vice, and perhaps to prepare them for the adequate performance of their social and civil duties.

Note the language of salvation: public schooling required taking people’s property for the education of society’s youth, in order to “save them”; and save them from what: “poverty and vice.” So here you have not only a messianic state, but you have America’s first state-imposed war on poverty. (And it had no greater or more lasting effect on poverty then than it did in under Johnson in the ’60s.) Notice also that property would be taken toward this goal “up to such a point as will save them.” In other words, they would keep taxing and taking until they felt they fulfilled their mission—which is to say, there is no limit. Mann concluded by expressing what can only be called socialism:

The successful holders of this property are trustees, bound to the faithful execution of their trust by the most sacred obligations; and embezzlement and pillage from children and descendants have not less criminality . . . than the same offenses when perpetrated against contemporaries.

In the public schooling worldview, you do not own your property! You can never be a property *owner*; but only a trustee for the property of Society. It is society that determines who will get what and for what purpose; and any resistance to the government’s dictates in this area is considered a crime of embezzlement and pillaging (both crimes done by definition to other people’s property). Note again the religious language: payments in taxes for state-run education are “the most sacred obligations” which require “faithful execution.”

The alleged natural “right” which entitles every human being to an education is so sacred that it transcends that biblical command protecting private property. Mann said:

No one man, nor any one generation of men, has any such title to, or ownership in these ingredients and substantials of all wealth, that his right is invaded when a portion of them is taken for the benefit of posterity.

In other words, we’re going to tax you for education, and you’ll pay the tax and shut up, because you have no right to complain about it. It’s not really your property to begin with, and what we’re doing is for you own good and the good of posterity. Make this note: public schooling from day one was incapable of existing without socialism. It requires by definition the government to claim ownership over at least a portion of every individual’s property.

This was constantly sold to the public as something for their own good. Thaddeus Stevens used this very argument to defend Pennsylvania’s public schooling law of 1834 in the legislature the following year. To those who objected that it was morally wrong to tax some people to pay for other people’s education, he responded, “It is for their own benefit, inasmuch as it perpetuates the government and ensures the due admin­istration of the laws under which they live, and by which their lives and property are protected.” See, the paternal state knows what is best for you, and what is the best use of your money, and besides, such measures “perpetuate the government” that knows all this! Who could be against that?

Mann made his views very explicit. Public schooling was the path to social salvation; all ills would be cured by its full implementation:

The common school is the greatest discovery ever made by man. . . . Other social organizations are curative and remedial; this is a preventative and an antidote; they come to heal diseases and wounds; this to make the physical and moral frame invulnerable to them. Let the common school be expanded to its capabilities, let it be worked with the efficiency with which it is susceptible, and nine-tenths of the crimes in the penal code would become obsolete; the long catalogue of human ills would be abridged; men would walk more safely by day; every pillow would be more inviolable by night; property, life and character held by a stronger tenure; all rational hopes respecting the future brightened.

This is language of healing and of hope. This is the language of religion, and Mann wanted it funded by the State. The scholar who studied the history of the state-takeover of education noted what action step Mann really had in mind here. It was the same thing public schools have said ever since: “give us the money and we can do it; our failure thus far is your fault in that we have received insufficient funds.” And of course, Mann like most public school advocates ever since believed that the school and its parent State had a right, an entitlement, to appropriate those funds from private people.

Overrun by such Unitarian thought, Massachusetts was the first state to create a State Board of Education in 1837. As its first chairman, they placed Horace Mann. Of interest was the timing of the creation of this secular board: up until 1832, the Congregational Church was an established church in that state—receiving funding from the state to pay her ministers, etc. That was abolished in 1832 (Massachusetts was the last state to do so), and the state-funded education program was in place in only five years. And in that same year 1837, Mann brokered a political deal that immediately doubled the budget for public education. Common schools were already being funded in Massachusetts by local taxes, but this was the first centralizing of it by the State. The astute observer will note what many public school critics to date have pointed out—the established churches were kicked out and the public schools were made the de facto state-church in their place, but were now officially a secularized state-church, and the tyranny was doubled in the amount of money appropriated for it.

This ideal of secular public school as a new established religion was expressed not only by the facts of the history, but openly in the statements and writings of the movers and shakers of the system. And the attitude lasted well into the twentieth century and exists still in the minds of many today, Christian or not. One representative figure who stated the truth explicitly was James Earl Russell who was Dean of Columbia Teachers College for thirty years, 1897–1927. The task of education, he wrote in 1922, was “making democracy safe for the world,” and this meant “teaching the proper appreciation of life-values.” Indeed, “The doctrine that all shall get what they deserve presupposes that the largest possible number shall be taught to want what it is right that they should have.” In other words, democracy will be great, as long was the schoolmasters can first train the people what to want and how to vote. Put more succinctly, you can have whatever you want, as long as I have control over what you want! With his idea of democracy in place as an ideal, Russell made his replacement of the church explicit: he admired an era in which this type of trained democracy will “find it expedient to substitute for the established church of the old regime a state-supported and state-controlled school system.”

Of course, this state-controlled system was the antithesis of the free and private system which had existed and served America just fine for over two centuries to this point. Russell new this, and nevertheless saw the change as progress. Before as we mentioned previously, teachers had to compete with each other—and this bred greater choice, improved quality, lowered costs, etc. But socialists like Russell demeaned this system by saying “the teacher was a chattel sold on the open market”; instead he praised “The teacher as a civil servant whose foremost duty is the promotion of the welfare of the State.” He did get one thing right when he called this scheme “a new conception in American life.” It certainly was: not only was the civil State never meant to be a factor in education in the original American way, but the very conception and practice of civil coercion was a rejection of basic American freedoms: freedoms in traditional religion, property, business, and family—all of which had to be overturned and/or replaced in order to impose the grand scheme of State-supported and State-controlled education. Indeed, it was nothing less than a secularized replacement of the established church.

There was at least one religious group that saw what was going on, and they within just a few years began starting their own private schools as an alternative. This was the Roman Catholic Church, and the rise of Catholic parochial schools coincided with the rise of secularized Unitarian public schools from which they would become havens. More importantly, this became viable for them financially due to the second major factor, mass immigration.

Much of this immigration came from Irish Catholics who fled the Irish potato famine beginning in 1845. In 1825, there were only about 5,000 Irish in Boston. In 1845, the number had multiplied six times to 30,000, and they now made up about 30% of the population. These saw the imposition of government schooling as a secularized version of what was formerly Protestantism, so they started their own schools. This was true of most of the other early immigrant groups, most of whom came from Northern Europe, and were either Lutheran or Dutch Reformed. All of these groups started private schools so as to avoid the secularized indoctrination of the public school system, and these denominations still have these traditions today.

But many of the Americans, particularly the Unitarian minded-civil religion types, hated Catholicism, and saw immigrants as a threat, so they tried to use the force of government to impose their version of American culture on these people. To them, public school was not only a means to perfect mankind and cure society of all ills, it was a means of turning immigrants into good Americans. And over time, the secularized religious motive fell further into the background, and the promotion of Americanism became the thrust of public schooling. Of course, the America these establishments promoted was already a long way from the America that had once been free. Throughout this whole process, many orthodox Protestants accepted the façade of Christianity in the Unitarian-driven school system, and thus the idea was always accepted that “our” public schools are Christian.

Immigration not only caused cultural and religious tensions, but also created economic tensions as the labor market was flooded with hundreds of thousands of new people. Of course, with the industrial revolution gathering steam in the 1830s and forward, the waves of immigrants provided a source of very cheap labor. But factories and large business owners quickly learned what type of temperament and mentality was best suited for the tasks of factory labor—someone who was accustomed to repetition, schedules, monotony, quiet obedience, single file lines, etc. And these wealthy influences in society quickly learned they could steer public education to produce such workers.

So the third factor in the loss of liberty in education was the rise of big business, corporations, and particularly the influence of industrialization and factory mechanization. Not only does this pertain to the loss of liberty, but more importantly to the normalization of a life in which that liberty was gone. The mass production of public education became the tool by which America grew adapted to life without freedom in education, in which the question was never even raised.

Now here is where the issue of modernization and industrial revolution come in; and like I said, there is some truth (albeit very limited) to this phenomenon requiring changes in society. But here is the important qualification: the phenomenon itself did not *require* political changes for education, but rather big business found it profitable to ally with big government and leverage government power—just as the Unitarian ideologues had done for their agenda—in order to start mass producing workers to meet the demand for factory labor. Soon, the schools mass-produced workers in the same way the factories mass-produced widgets.

And the atmosphere of public schooling was the perfect place for this training to occur. Looking back on the scenario, one education reformer, Charles Francis Adams, Jr., described that atmosphere in 1880:

Most of you, indeed, cannot but have been part and parcel of one of those huge, mechanical, educational machines, or mills, as they might more properly be called. They are, I believe, peculiar to our own time and country, and are so organized as to combine as nearly as possible the principal characteristics of the cotton-mill and the railroad with those of the model state’s prison. The school committee is the board of directors; while the superintendent — the chief executive officer — sits in his central office with the timetable, which he calls a programme, before him, by which one hour twice a week is allotted to this study, and half an hour three times a week to that, and twenty hours a term to a third; and at such a time one class will be at this point and the other class at that, the whole moving with military precision to a given destination at a specified date. He can at any given moment tell you exactly where any squad, or class as he would term it, is, and what it ought, at least, to be then doing. Mechanical methods could not be carried further. The organization is perfect. The machine works almost with the precision of clock-work. It is, however, companyfront all the time. From one point of view children are regarded as automatons; from another, as india-rubber bags; from a third, as so much raw material. They must move in step and exactly alike; they must receive the same mental nutriment in equal quantities and at fixed times: — assimilation is wholly immaterial, but the motions must be gone through with. Finally, as raw material, they are emptied in at the primaries and marched out at the grammar grades; — and it is well!

And he should have added, after graduation, corralled directly into the industrialized workforce; because, he had been trained for the past several years, to live a lifestyle of boring tasks, from one whistle blowing to the next. Horace man had been interested in education for the perfectibility of man. The industrialists couldn’t care less about perfectibility, they only cared about the trainability of man. And that legacy of public schooling has been with us ever since.

There is, by the way, much truth in Adams’ comparison of the public schools to not only mills and railroads, but the state prison. The same Unitarian reforming spirit that gave us the institution of public schools also produced, in the same era, the penitentiary, the insane asylum, and the poorhouse. All of these were built on the same theory that society was the bed of corruption, and the proper way to train people was to put them into a controlled atmosphere in which the allegedly corrupt external influences could not affect them; and this very popular theory was applied to the reform of criminals, the insane, the mentally ill, the poor, and to the education of children. So in the same decades of the 1820s–30s, this nation witnessed the explosion of official institutions for all of these issues, and the growing prevalence of using taxation and government control for these institutions.

And yet, as decades went on, and it became clear that the theory was bogus, that no genuine reform was made in criminals or the insane, and that corporate interests came to dominate the schools—in short, that the whole system was a failure—the officials merely continued to blame failure on the lack of funds and/or greater control. This was true so much so that one of the few historians of the Asylum phenomenon concluded of its legacy, “Failure and persistence went hand in hand.” Yet at the same time, when correctional institutions failed, advocates shifted their emphasis from “cure” to “prevention”—and thus, education instead of penal or remedial institutions. This was used, then, as an argument for greater government involvement and support of education.

Yet finally, as sort of a capstone upon these three major factors, Americans began to abandon home and private education due to the illusion that government schools were free. This creates different levels of motivation. Some buy the illusion completely: the school costs them nothing while it educates their children and simultaneously provides free child care during the day. This illusion is swallowed most readily by people who don’t own property, and thus never directly see a property tax appropriated from them personally. And since property tax is usually escrowed automatically, most people don’t really feel the true weight of it anyway. Other people merely live content with the illusion, knowing it actually costs money, knowing they actually pay taxes to support it even if indirectly through increased rents, yet accepting this as moral or at least practical enough to live with. These people, too, once receiving the benefits, will defend the system which taxes other people to benefit them. Even among public officials who know better, the phrase is simply modified to remain deceptive: public education is free, “at the point of delivery” (which is, of course, an admission that it’s not free).

This all works together to make the perceived benefit of “free” education a powerful motivation among those who are dependent upon the system; they remain self-interested in perpetuating a system that confiscates property from some people and gives it to others. In short, once dependent, they become advocates. Yet the system, used and defended by so many conservatives and Christians, is based on an anti-Christian, socialistic system of values at its very core.

So how was liberty lost in the area of education? It was through anti-Christian ideology leveraging state power to impose a state-funded, state-controlled utopia. They established a whole new secular state church in the name of getting rid of state churches. It was through mass immigration that among other things sparked misguided Protestants to use government power to oppose Catholicism and turn Europeans into Americans. It was through the rise of industrialization and mechanization that used mass-production in education to create dutiful, reliable masses of workers for mass-production in factories. And it was through the vastly accepted myth that public schools are free, and the fact that we have now grown vastly dependent upon the benefit.

These things, all combined together, created a very powerful culture in which freedom in education is gone economically (we’re all forced to pay for public schools even if we don’t use them), and was almost lost totally, except in small enclaves, until the past few decades. Many Christians and others are realizing the need to reclaim our freedom in education; many are already practicing it as much as they can; and the tools and resources to make it viable, effective, and easy are today so vast and easy to find that there is no good excuse for anyone who loves liberty not to pursue it.

As I have already said repeatedly, this is the one area you can change drastically toward the cause of freedom right now. Nothing toward that cause will be easier, more effective, and more life-transforming for all involved, than restoring freedom for yourself and family in the area of education. And in the next talk, I’ll tell you what to do, how to do it, and the sacrifices it will take.

Categories: Worldview

Freedom in education, and how America once had it

Thu, 05/12/2016 - 07:06

Restoring America: One County at a Time

Chapter 1: Education

1.1 Education in a Free America

As I said in the introduction to this project, the first and foremost area we can and must restore now is education. This is one area in which you can still have essentially complete control, and you could in many cases make the change immediately. If you want to restore America, you have to start by restoring freedom in education first. So let’s talk about the idea of education in a free society.

First, Education in a free society means entirely and only private education. We are never free as long as we are subjected to education based on threats of government penalties or fines to any degree or at any level. This is, of course, not to deny the prime importance of education—the necessity of education—but in education as in all areas of life, the primary issue will always be Sovereignty: who has legitimate control, legitimate command? To the extent that civil government has control, it will force us to comply with its standards and dictates, and to that extent we are not free individuals. We’re not free as long as someone else tells us what to do, how to do it, and forces us to do it, and forces us to pay for it. Apart from God alone, no person or agency has that level of authority—and who or whatever does, assumes the role of God in that area of life. This applies to our individual liberties, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, etc., we all recognize; but it applies also to education as much as any other personal decision.

Now in regard to the issue of Sovereignty in education, let me address two important issues (there are others, of course, but these stand out here and now). First, the myth of neutrality, and second, the consideration of purpose. Briefly, the myth of neutrality is simply that: in education and in all areas of life, there is no neutrality. In view of our responsibility for our own education as well as for that of our children, we must ask: to whom are we ultimately responsible? To God, or to man? Who is sovereign? Who has the right to tell you who, what, when, where, how, etc., to educate? Who has that right? What man has the right to compel you to attend any given school, and what man has the right to compel you to pay for someone else’s attendance at school? I would submit to you that no man or group of men has that absolute right, and yet that is the accepted norm for society today. In a free society this would not be the case.

The myth of neutrality means there is no middle ground on this issue. There is no place in between faithfulness to God and submission to a man-dictated, man-driven, man-enforced system that denies God, excludes God, replaces God. Either our society in this area is faithful to God, or it is not. And we could talk about that at length perhaps in supplementary discussion. But given that there is no middle ground between faithfulness to God and subjection to man, then there also is none between freedom and coercion in education. Either we are free, responsible individuals and families before God, or we are coerced and cajoled by other forces.

Secondly, the issue of sovereignty immediately raises the issue of purpose as well. What is education? Why and for what reasons do we educate, must we educate? And who decides what those reasons are? And who gets to impose their reasons for education, ideas of education, and meanings of education on society, if anyone should impose them by force at all?

What is education? The bare minimal meaning of the word “education” comes from its Latin derivation: e+ducatus from e+duceree meaning “out of,” ducere meaning “to lead.” Thus education in is most basic idea means “to lead out”—but “out” of what? And who, exactly, is the leader? And leading “to” where? Ostensibly this means “to lead one out of ignorance,” but who defines what is ignorance, and on the converse what is the wisdom or knowledge or truth into which the student is to be lead? Who determines? I submit to you that whoever is in control of education determines these purposes, these definitions, even if they do not pronounce them publically for everyone to see.

This pertains not only to the basic existence and structure of education in society—whether we will have purely private institutions versus compulsory civil-government institutions and penalties—but the impossibility of neutrality and necessity of overarching purpose then flow right down the line to every other issue of education. Whoever has control decides what is taught, when it is taught, how it is taught, what is left out and not taught, what you can or cannot criticize, with whom you will (or will not) associate, how discipline is administered, and a thousand other very important issues. Whoever controls education has determination over all of these issues for you and your child, and therefore, for your entire legacy. And in a free society, all of these decisions would be left to the individual and the family, and never made an issue of coercion from the state. No one but you standing before God should be allowed to make that decision.

Let me briefly, then, describe what a truly free society under God means for education: Freedom in education means:

1. Exercising personal responsibility for your own children
2. Federal, state, or local governments having no jurisdiction in this area, and no ability (legal or otherwise) to coerce free individuals and families in any way
3. Not be forced to fund anyone else’s children’s education in any way (directly or indirectly)
4. Funding your own child’s education
5. Not demanding that anyone else fund your child’s education (indeed, not even allowing or accepting funding derived from coercive means, taxation or otherwise).

The issues of sovereignty, non-neutrality, and purpose all mean that you have to make the choice for liberty, it will not happen for you. If you leave the decision for someone else, then you have abdicated your individual responsibility. If you accept that civil government can coerce you or others to pay for other people, then you have abdicated the principle of liberty. So, the question of control and command of education forces us before God to choose who shall lead and how.

Leadership in Education

We have to stop thinking of this thing called “education” as primarily a system or an institution in itself. And we must stop thinking of this thing called “education” as something that by definition is a part of civil government. There is no reason (certainly no biblical reason) why civil government should have education as one of its functions, or even have regulatory oversight over education. In a free society, the primary focus of leadership in education should always and only be the family, and the church—and anyone whom the family freely decides to hire. This is the ideal of freedom both in the Bible and in the Christian founding of this land, through the founding years of American history up until the 1830s and really even beyond. Let’s look at these two realities—biblical and historical.

The biblical Christian case is simple and brief. In both the Old and New Testaments, education was the responsibility primarily of the family, and secondarily of the church. This is seen in the Old Testament most easily in Deuteronomy 6:4–7:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

It’s clear that education was to be carried out in the home, was to be engaged in constantly, using every opportunity, every resource, and was to reflect the content of God’s teachings. In the New Testament, the educational principle appears in Paul’s reiteration of the fifth commandment:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:1–4).

So whatever else we may derive from Scripture, the two most basic places that address education apply it directly to the family, and in such a way that God’s word and godliness compose the central, sacred purpose. In no place in Scripture is it even intimated that civil government should have a hand in this process.

Now since the American colonies were founded and settled almost completely by Bible-believing Christians, who established towns and communities on Christian principles and were averse to any government-established churches or institutions (generally speaking), it should not surprise us that American culture in general, at least until the 1830s, reflects these biblical ideals of freedom and individual responsibility for education.

This is attested by perhaps the most widely accepted source on the history of American education, Lawrence Cremin’s multi-volume study, American Education. Now Cremin was a liberal and a progressive, so he had no particular fondness for America’s Christian history, and yet in his definitive four-volume history, he was faced with the clear facts:

1. The Bible was “the single most important cultural influence in the lives of Anglo-Americans” (Cremin, 1:40). It thus formed the core of American education, in learning to read, write, as well as morality, ethics, and the meaning of life.
2. The household or family was “the principal unit of social organization,” and “the most important agency of popular education.” “The family undertook the training of children ‘in some honest calling, labor or employment.’”
3. In cases where the family was unable further to advance education in a calling or trade, Businesses or Apprenticeship would provide a “direct example . . . immediate participation” in a trade in which a young person could advance, find employment, and contribute to society. (Entrance into such programs was free and easy: unlike in Europe or the Britain at the time, there was high demand for skilled laborers, an absence of guilds that monopolized and controlled labor, there were no informers, no legal obstacles, no Statute of Artificers, no fees and no property restrictions)1
4. In addition to these, there were also private night-schools for working adults to improve their English and vocational skills.

Another great scholar of American history, Samuel Eliot Morison, notes the sole exception to private education in the American colonies: Boston. But even its couple of public schools really only admitted children who could already read. Question: where did they learn to read? Morison says,

Boston offers a curious problem. The grammar (Boston Latin) school was the only public school down to 1684, when a writing school was established; and it is probable that only children who already read were admitted to that . . . . they must have learned to read somehow, since there is no evidence of unusual illiteracy in the town.

(One of the famous graduates of that Boston Latin School, by the way, was Benjamin Franklin, who had little good to say about it later in life.) Morison finds a statistic that is rather illuminating:

And a Boston bookseller’s stock in 1700 includes no less than eleven dozen spellers and sixty-one dozen primers.2

In other words, with no need for compulsory attendance laws or any other government regulation of education, people were educating themselves and their children just fine. They took the task so seriously that they had already created a huge demand for textbooks which the free market had already met with a huge supply—just one example in one store had a stock of 132 spelling books and 732 primers.

It’s clear that during the founding of America from the Pilgrims all the way up until the middle of the 19th Century, education was a private affair. In fact, as late as 1860, throughout all the States there were only about 300 public schools compared to over 6,000 private institutions, not including the vast majority of homeschooling families.

Yet in view of education being a thoroughly private affair at the time, masses of children did *not* fall through the cracks. In fact, literacy was extremely high even in rural western areas, comparable to educated Britain at the time and close even, one could argue, to the US today.

For example, rural Britain experienced roughly 48% literacy at the time, compared to roughly 70% in rural America. Urban Britain saw 74%, urban America nearly 100% (based on signatures on deeds, wills, militia rolls, voting registers).

Far western, rural Connecticut, for example the town of Kent, saw nearly 100% literacy; they took private education so seriously, the locals chartered a school even before the church, and the ministers of the soon-to-be church taught at the school—and it was private.

In rural South Carolina, like in most places, education was carried out mainly by local pastors: and literacy there was 80% in general, and even 90% among the German population.

The scholar Cremin concludes: “[T]hese rates are extraordinary, and stand as eloquent testimony to the power the tradition of learning had acquired in the minds of provincial Americans”; and he notes that this was driven purely by churches and households (Cremin, 1:543). And remember this guy has no allegiance to these things, he was only reporting them as fact along the way.

From just these facts and figures, it is safe to say that family and church-led education is the American way—and it works.

As for the issue of sovereignty and leadership in education, this free family-driven American way provides many benefits, also seen in the history of the time:

1. A free market in education creates a vast array of choices in teachers. For example, from 1740 to 1776 Philadelphia newspapers included ads for no fewer than 125 separate private schoolmasters advertising their services (they were like lawyers in the phonebook today!). Don’t like that antagonistic teacher your child is having problems with? Find another. No problem. (After two or three different tutors, you may learn the problem’s not the teacher after all!) This, of course, also means teachers have to compete, and thus the quality of teaching improves as teachers try to become better teachers in order to attract enough students to make a living.
2. At the time, different churches offered private schools as centers of their own denominational missions (choose for yourself). You want a Scottish Presbyterian education, no problem. German Reformed? Weslyan Methodist? No problem. No one forces you go anywhere that denies your faith or even the distinctives of your denomination. (The shell of this tradition is still visible today largely in some Lutheran circles, and Roman Catholic private schools—although in both cases the education is little more than secular education with a weekly prayer service.)
3. Freedom in education means freedom in curriculum. This in turn will begin to favor the needs of the real world, individual faith, and real practical options in the economy. Available jobs spur specialized education for personal advancement; Political news being in print helps drive a demand for literacy for anyone wishing to know or participate; and religious education, as I noted, helps drive this as well for those who wish to follow their religious confession or history. All of these phenomena were observable in the early and freer period of American history.
4. It affects how we view funding of education. Freedom means we can no longer force others to pay for ours, and no longer be forced to pay for others, as we already noted. There is no government money involved, and thus there is no government regulation or control based on those financial strings attached (you haven’t taken the “free” benefit). But this means we must also have personal initiative, planning, and individual sacrifice in regard to our education and that of our children (and we’ll discuss these practical issues more in the third segment of this talk). But when private money is on the line, then you have private interest in who teaches, what is taught, when, where, how, how much, etc., is taught—*and* you have the fundamental inalienable right 100 percent to demand, direct, change, or alter all of those things. It takes time and money, but haven’t we all said it once or twice, “freedom ain’t free”?
5. It gives education a more long-term, generational outlook. Now you are passing a legacy of not only reading, writing, and arithmetic to your children (infused with a bunch of secular humanist, liberal psycho-babble), but also your own chosen worldview. Now your children, and hopefully their children, will reflect a family heritage, religion, perhaps a family business or trade, and a commitment, hopefully, to local politics and culture. In short, a free society will tend to reproduce itself in terms of the children being images of the very hard-working, self-sacrificing parents who modeled the society to begin with.

So we can see from this much that 1) a free society, in order truly to be called free, must involve only private education with no coercion or taxation from civil governments; and 2) such a society in regard to education was in fact the American way for a very long portion of our history. It is the only view that we can properly call “free,” it once was the norm, and it worked just fine.

So the question is, “Why did it change?” What brought about the colossal transformation of American education so much so as to turn the tables completely: where homeschools and private schools are the tiny minority and looked down upon with suspect and in some cases ridicule; while tax-funded government schools are the norm, and the vast majority of people not only accept the fact that government should force some people to pay for other people’s education, but actively fight to keep it that way, call it right and proper and “American” and even “Christian” (imagine that—Christians actively arguing and fighting to maintain a system of coercive taxation that imposes anything, let alone a secular humanist, pluralist, anti-Christian system of education)? There are some who say that changes in society required changes in education. Is this true? How was basic freedom lost? I’ll discuss this in the next segment.

[Read the rest here for free, or purchase your copy of Restoring America One County at a Time.]

Notes:

 

  1. Cremin, 1:133–5
  2. Morrison, The Intellectual Life of Colonial New England, 71–2.
Categories: Worldview

Theonomists who don’t know they’re theonomists

Tue, 05/10/2016 - 08:51

There are generally two types of critics of Theonomy: those who are schizophrenic, and those who just want to watch the world burn. There are some who are both simultaneously. We have certainly seen the scorched-earth variety come and go, and they go as often as they come. For today, I would like to make a few comments regarding the nobler type.

Those few critics who actually take the time to read and comprehend the teaching of God’s Law as it pertains to the civil realm today very often end up in a corner. By taking the arguments and literature seriously, they end up understanding the weight of the position. Being good Christian scholars, they do not wish to create straw men and caricatures of their brethren (at which the other variety thrives). Yet they hesitate to affirm that which they now understand to be the case: that at the very least, God’s law, including His judicial law, applies to every area of life in some way and to some degree. This understanding then demands that the scholar provide an exposition and application of the abiding aspect of the judicial law to those areas of life. This is where the great balk occurs.

So this type of critic finds himself in a tough position: he refuses to provide the exposition and application of the judicial law for fear of sounding like a theonomist (we assume?), and yet he absolutely must affirm the truth of Scripture that even though the Old Covenant administration has expired, the judicial law is nevertheless vital and relevant to today in some way.

These critics are intellectually honest about the abiding nature of certain undefined “principles” of the judicial law that are “relevant” today, yet they seem unwilling to tell us what these principles are and in what way they are relevant. They do not develop a hermeneutic to tell us how to make such distinctions. Thus their position is at best incomplete, or intellectually schizophrenic at worst.

A great example of this problem appears in the very decent commentary of Sam Waldron on the 1689 London Baptist Confession.

The Confession makes two balancing points regarding the judicial law, speaking of its ancient expiration and [emphasis added] its modern application. . . . This treatment is very relevant in the light of the idea of the abiding validity of the judicial law being espoused in our day.1

It should be clear that the last sentence of this quotation is a direct reference to the Theonomy movement in general, and Greg Bahnsen’s phrase “abiding validity” in particular. It’s what Waldron says next that is both helpful and yet a bit aggravating:

The expiration of the judicial law is suggested by the destruction of the Old Testament theocracy initially by Babylon and finally by Rome under the judgement of God. When the state expired, it is reasonable, according to the Confession, to conclude that its formal civil order expired with it. . . . Though the judicial law has expired, yet as an inspired application of the moral law to the civil circumstances of Israel it reveals many timeless principles of general equity, justice, goodness and righteousness. As such it remains relevant not only to modern states, but also to modem churches and Christians (1 Cor. 5:1; 9:8-10).2

Waldron argues thus that the judicial law is both “expired” and yet at least in part “timeless” and “relevant.” Herein lies the problem described above as “schizophrenic.” This is not a mere slight upon Waldron’s work or his person, for both aspects are in fact true. It is his neglect to develop the “timeless” aspect that leaves it wanting. But at least we have something to work with.

As a theonomist, I am quite thrilled to see the admission that the judicial law of Moses 1) is a divine revelation, 2) reveals specifically how to apply principles of the moral law to the civil realm, 3) contains principles that are “timeless,” and 4) is “relevant . . . to modern states.” This much is extremely helpful.

The aggravating part is that he stops there. He does not tell us what these timeless principles are, what parts of the law contain them, how they are relevant to modern states, how to apply them today, or by what principles of interpretation we can determine for ourselves. Where is the exegesis? Where is the hermeneutic? Where is the application? Granted, perhaps a commentary on the Confession is not the place for such further study, but at least some acknowledgment that the work needs to be done seems in order. Instead, we are left hanging. As such, these claims almost seem like mere lip service. The silence here (which is typical of this type of critic) leaves the impression that the work is secondary or unimportant.

But I’ll still take it. I’ll just run with it. This is yet another reason I was happy to write The Bounds of Love. I wanted to address the questions of “what parts of the law are ‘timeless,’ and by what principles of interpretation can we know?” I wanted to do this not only for the sake of so many within the movement, but for those who have the understanding inherent within their confessional framework—such as men like Waldron above, or the countless younger people, who read Scripture and the language of the confessions and see that there must be some continuing validity to the judicial law, yet need someone to fill in the blanks so often left open.

As we have said for a long time now, there are many people who generally understand these aspects of Scripture and are thus inherently theonomists, they just don’t know it. Worse, due to the primary type of critic—lying, reckless, crash-and-burn kamikazes—they have been wrongly taught to fear the term. But simply read your own scholars: men like Waldron above (and even A. W. Pink and Charles Spurgeon), who express the very foundations and infrastructure of theonomic thought within their writings. Then move on to fill in the gaps they leave, yet do so on the theonomic assumptions they affirm.

As I wrote in The Bounds of Love (pp. 137–138):

The label “Theonomy” is crucial because it is a biblical doctrine. I therefore maintain it, and argue that anyone who fits within a simple definition (chap­ter two) can bear the label. For this reason, I argue that even theologians such as A. W. Pink can be called theonomic. While I was ridiculed for making this statement in public, the mere fact that Pink demands the modern application of lex talionis makes him by definition a theonomist, even if his theology in other places is inconsistent with that. At worst we would call him an inconsistent theonomist.

What we need now is a renewed conversation of biblical law and its modern applications among those of us who are open to disagreement and discussion, yet see the abiding validity of some Mosaic principles as obligatory for modern governments. From there we can provide a platform for pulpits to teach and for Christians to engage in godly social reform, criminal justice reform, etc. We need to reengage the discussion, and to do so on the basis of what we have learned so far about Theonomy.

Let the crash-and-burn types crash and burn. Let the liars lie. Let the dead bury their dead.

Let those of us who believe the principles abide have the boldness to say what the principles are and how they abide, and then get busy applying them.

  1. Waldron, Samuel E. (2013–03–27). A Modern Exposition 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (Kindle Locations 4071–4074). Evangelical Press. Kindle Edition.
  2. Waldron, Samuel E. (2013–03–27). A Modern Exposition 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (Kindle Locations 4075–4084). Evangelical Press. Kindle Edition.
Categories: Worldview

Restoring America One County at a Time: An Introduction

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 10:13
There are 3,000+ counties in the U.S.

Here at American Vision we get a steady stream of comments and questions. After our conferences, speeches, articles, the number-one question we always get is this: “What Can We Do?” In response to that, we produced Restoring America One County at a Time. This project provides practical answers to that question in at least ten major areas of life. The steps are not easy, but if we’re truly serious about a free society, this project will help you make a beginning.

In this introduction to the project, I want to discuss briefly its nature and scope.

First, this is a practical project. It focuses on things that can be done and done now. In most of these areas, there are things we can do immediately to have an impact. Many people are already doing them with considerable success. In other areas, the practical steps involve larger social changes and thus will be things to file away for a little later (but in the mean time, planning and working to be in a position to serve and lead when opportunities arise). But the more we concentrate on the things we must do—and which we can do now—to restore a free society, the more we will open up the possibility of the larger changes. We have to rebuild the foundational matters first in order to have something lasting on which to build the rest of society. And so, I’ve made an attempt to prioritize the topics of this course according to their Practicality for the average individual now. We’ll talk about the ten topics in a minute.

Second, this project focuses on localism, not Nationalism or national politics, or even so much States rights (although States rights will play an important role). Patriotism is primarily a love of one’s homeland, their roots, not their Nation-State (that was a later perversion of patriotism). And historically, the County was the fundamental unit of government—people rarely had contact or obligation to any government official beyond that. This should become an ideal once again for today, and it can. Focusing on localism—County Rights—we can make very practical and meaningful steps toward saving this country from all forms of tyranny. If we don’t have the vision, and the integrity, and the willingness to sacrifice to take back freedom in our homes, neighborhoods, towns, and counties in areas of life where we can now, then the dream of taking back America is a delusion. So, here we’ll have an emphasis on restoring America county by county, YOUR COUNTY, one county at a time. And the overall goal is to inspire individuals and cell groups in each of America’s 3000+ counties, to implement the vision we will discuss.

Third, this is a project only for people serious about Freedom. What I mean to say is that there are very real sacrifices that you will have make in your personal lifestyle, especially in the areas of personal finances, time management, self-improvement, and family education. It is simply going to take a commitment of time and money and discipline toward a better future. I will frankly, honestly, openly address the issue of sacrifices; we will talk about the stumbling-blocks and psychological hurdles we’ll have to get over to restore America to the freedom it once had. As part of this we will address how we have grown accustomed to living off government “benefits” at all levels of government, and what it will mean to live in a world where you personally refuse to accept those benefits (while they still exist right in front of your face, ripe for the taking), and eventually a world where those benefits no longer exist as a function of State coercion. If you want to escape the trap of tyranny, you have to have to have the mentality of the wise mouse who said, “To heck with the cheese; let’s get out of this trap.” And so this is for serious lovers of freedom only—those willing to change their lifestyle, to sacrifice, in order to recover individual and social integrity.

Finally for now, this is a long-term project. I am planning and working in order to make a better life for my children—but even more importantly, for my grandchildren, and their children. You will not take back America overnight no matter how you go about it, and anyone—especially a politician—who promises you that you can is lying to get your vote. But, you will never take America back without starting and implementing lasting changes, and this requires a multi-generational vision. Involved in this mentality is one of the sacrifices I just mentioned—that is, we are probably not going to reap all the benefits of a free society for ourselves in our immediate lifetimes. But if we don’t work toward that goal doing the things we can do now, then our future generations will have to start from scratch in an even more degraded society. So, we’ll focus on commitment to steady, slow yet meaningful progress toward a much larger, long-term vision of a free society.

This is the nature of our project: 1) practical efforts, 2) locally focused, 3) personal sacrifice, with 4) a long-term vision.

We can summarize these with the following ideas: 1) Things to be done, 2) County-by-County, 3) Don’t take the cheese, 4) Plan for your grandkids.

These are not only aspects of a truly free society, they are all biblical Christian concepts; and we’ll discuss that some in each of the topics we cover.

With this vision and a commitment to it, we can begin, truly, to Take Back America. This is not only the way, but also I believe it is the only way.

Let me tell you also about the structure of this project. I will cover each of the topics in three brief segments, each available online in video and print format, as well as for sale eventually in DVD and book format. Whatever the topic is, I will cover first, How it was once free; Second, How that freedom was lost; and Third, the steps to get it back. So in the end we should have a total of about thirty to thirty-five brief articles and videos. From there we hope to open web forums for local groups to have discussions, and I will add supplementary informative videos as we see helpful.

So with this vision of locally-focused practicality in mind, let’s briefly introduce the ten topics. Here I plan to introduce these in very a brief summary of each. In subsequent posts, over time, we will break down each topic individually in greater detail. This is a basic introduction to each general topic—and some of these may morph, change, or expand into more than one, or we may add others depending on how things work out.

A Hard-Core, Ten-Step Training Course

It will not do to content ourselves with lip service to patriotism, faith, and freedom. We must have real, substantial plans and real, practical action items. These must be clear and they must be broad, addressing every area of life in which freedom must be restored. Keeping in mind the four principles outlined above, we need practical, local, selfless, and visionary plans to restore America if we are ever to make real progress toward the type of freedom we once had. There are at least ten areas in which concerned American Christians can and must act, locally, practically, seriously, now:

1. Education: The first and foremost is education. Education is one area in which you can still have almost complete control. And I’m not just talking about educating yourself; I’m talking about your children. Education in a free society can only be private, never government-run at any level. Whether you choose to employ a private school or to home-school, government-operated, tax-funded schools cannot be an option for a free society. Taking control for yourself here requires no change in existing laws, only your lifestyle. In the case of many people, this could be implemented tomorrow, if not in few months. It’s only a test of desire—Do you really want a free society? There are economic and psychological hurdles here, and we will address those in the detailed presentation. For now, government schools are the heart of the problem of government-dominated society. You can change this personally now, and you should. All that is stopping us is the perceived benefit of free schooling and childcare during the day. This is the cheese. Don’t take the cheese. Do you really want a free society, or do you depend on tax-funded benefits like the liberals and socialists you criticize? This is priority number one. If we are serious about freedom, we have to start with education. If you can’t do this one, forget the rest! Nothing about truly restoring America will be easier and more readily obtainable than taking free control over your family’s education. There’s nothing stopping you here.

2. We must end our personal dependence on the Welfare State: social security is a problem, but it doesn’t have to be a trap. This means we need to learn and plan for our own financial futures, privately, while we phase out of social security over time. The issue here is that welfare of all forms should be a privately funded and insured affair, not supported through taxation. Family and charity can replace the Welfare State. Again we must refuse the benefit. Don’t take the cheese. Of course, this will certainly means personal sacrifices. Again, we will outline the personal impediments in the more detailed talk, and speak frankly about how to overcome them and what the costs will be.

3. Localism: We will give a more detailed discussion of what we call “County Rights.” The real practical solution to big-government intrusion in our lives is not so much states’ rights, but county rights. This brings government and community home to a more grass-roots level where it ought to be. “Support your local sheriff,” is a good way to remember this. We will emphasize a truly local vision, and focus on smaller practical things we can impact now. In this process, we expose the areas where the sovereignty of local communities is compromised by receiving federal and state funding for perceived benefits. We will emphasize learning about, monitoring, and interacting with local authorities, and we will emphasize local applications of “Don’t take the cheese.”

4. National vs. State Sovereignty (Banks, Interstate Commerce, Taxation). We will discuss the history of the Nationalist takeover in this country which began immediately after the Constitution. We will discuss the agenda of big banks, the military-industrial complex, and national taxation, as well as the politicians who engineered the plan and why. From this we will be in a position to recommend ways of living that minimize our personal involvement in this tyranny, and discuss the role of nullification and interposition which are becoming more popular today. While we are emphasizing County Rights primarily, States Rights are important also as a buffer, and as part of a truly federal system of government.

5. Taxes: Taxation must be returned to only a local level, the way this country was founded and designed to be run. We’ll cover the Income Tax amendment and the drastic change in American society it represents. We will discuss the nature and scope of taxation in a truly federal society; we will see why the power to tax is the power to destroy; and we will discuss the role of taxation—if any—in a truly free local society.

6. Money (Breaking the Federal reserve System): We’ll review the question, “What has government done with our money?” We will discuss money and currency in American history, particularly the several instances of failed paper currency. We will discuss the role of government coercion in banking and debt: counterfeiting laws, war, welfare, restrictions on states, etc. and why these laws exist. We will discuss who profited (and still does) from these arrangements, and what happened to real wealth in each case. We will discuss alternative currencies, banking, the benefits and sacrifices of freedom in money, and also how to protect your personal wealth from a devalued paper/digital currency. Gold is wealth, why is it not money? What’s the government got against gold?

7. We must return to truly free markets: the sanctity of private property, the enforcement of contracts, and the right not to engage in contracts. We will discuss the role government coercion and manipulation in money has played in business and the economy: inflation, legal tender laws, the business cycle, government corporatism (essentially fascism here in America), etc. Why did one American statesman once complain that debtors were chasing down their creditors and “paying them without mercy”?

8. We will discuss Judicial Tyranny. We’ll see how the Constitution centralized power over the various local courts in this land, and how this was immediately exploited to favor big-government agendas. We’ll trace subsequent expansions of government based on that early precedent. The remedy to recover freedom is decentralization of courts, local and separate jurisdictions, and even private courts (perhaps especially), all with only local law enforcement. We’ll see one check and balance against the Court in the Constitution most people don’t even know exists, and yet it’s been used to protect mainly big-government interests so far—even recently. The key to the abortion issue, family protections, and much more lies in the issue of decentralizing the judiciary. Believe it or not, there are actually practical steps you can take here as well.

9. One of the most important areas—and perhaps that in which Christians are most deceived—is to reclaim the Military. We must support and demand a decentralized defense system instead of the national empire we’ve witnessed for over a century. We’ll give a close look at biblical rules for the military and war. Patriotism does not mean Militarism. Patriotism does not mean Empire. Being patriotic and conservative does not mean always supporting everything the military does. Anti-war is not Anti-American. We will discuss how the military was originally decentralized and promised to be called up only for defense, but was changed to become a powerful centralized force designed to serve the interests of the central government, and later for prolonged international conflict. We will show how and why this was done in American history, and who profited from it at the expense of millions of lives and trillions of dollars. We will propose practical steps that you personally can take now at least to gain the moral high ground in the process of returning from offensive corporate-state militarism to true armed patriotism.

10. We have to a look at Inter- and IntraNational Tyranny: Treaties and Executive Orders. How do they work? What safeguards do we have against them if necessary? Why are we vulnerable to international organizations because of them? And how can we best work to protect ourselves from them?

These are the ten basic topics; some of them may sound large and intimidating, and that’s because some of them are. But keep in mind, we’re going to focus on accomplishing a long-term vision by small practical changes—through personal sacrifice and local service. None of this will change overnight, but if we don’t lay the necessary foundations for freedom, it will never change (and in fact, it will get worse). So if you’re serious about freedom, please invest the time to read these lessons, watch the video versions online, and teach them to your children. Then pass them on to your friends, family, pastors, and while you’re at it, pass it on to your in-laws, ex’s, and enemies, too. We all need Christ, faith, family, and freedom.

Unless we invest the time and sweat to get these things back, we have no one to blame for society’s erosion but ourselves. And of course, all the books in the world won’t help you restore America—even if the authors decide to wake up and finally tell you how to do it. So, by all means, read this. Then go out and get things done.

[Read the rest here for free, or purchase your copy of Restoring America One County at a Time.]

 

Categories: Worldview

Mind-boggling numbers from the Indiana GOP primary

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 11:43

Chuck Baldwin has some interesting comments on the recent Indiana primary:

As with many people, Hoosiers like people of faith and principle, but they don’t like people who parade it on their sleeve. Frankly, many Christians (including me) were fed up with Glenn Beck and Ted’s preacher-father.

All of Cruz, Sr. and Beck’s pontificating about Ted being the “anointed” presidential candidate who was going to usher in the Second Coming and how Christians were betraying God if they didn’t vote for Ted became too much. Add the insurrection against Phyllis Schlafly at Eagle Forum by Cruz supporters and Hoosiers had had enough. . . .

Yes, Trump had Bobby Knight. And, yes, Trump had the momentum of appearing to be 2016’s version of all of the anti-establishment predecessors in one very flamboyant package. Still, this was Indiana. The State was Ted’s to lose–NOT Donald’s to win. And Ted lost.

Not sure I agree with everything he says in the post, even about the makeup of Indiana voters, but the sentiments should be enough to get us thinking about how potential American voters—conservatives, party-first Republicans, “blue-dog” Democrats, independents, and moderates of all stripes—will likely view Trump in the general election. This impetus coincides with a few numbers that piqued my interest last Wednesday morning.

Baldwin says that Indiana should have been Ted’s to lose. He’s not only right, the numbers are absolutely staggering. Consider these numbers: accord to the New York Times’s count, Ted Cruz drew 404,327 votes in this Indiana primary. What you may not realize it that that’s almost more than Romney drew (410,635) as the hand’s-down winner in 2012. It’s 84,000 (or 26%) more than McCain won Indiana with in 2008. In fact, Cruz had more votes in Indiana than any previous winner of that primary except for the almost statistically-irrelevant difference with Romney.

Now, this kind of gives Cruz his due, whatever that may be. In any normal Republican primary, these numbers would clearly have made him the frontrunner and winner in Indiana—in all other cases, by a landslide. But there’s the point. This is not a normal primary. These tremendous numbers in favor of Cruz in reality only serve as a back-drop for the even more impressive public appeal of Donald Trump.

Why? Because on top of the normally-sweeping performance of Ted Cruz’s impressive 404k votes, Donald Trump drew a whopping 587,706.

I hope the enormity of that strikes you.

First, this 588k number by itself is more than all Indiana GOP primary votes total in any given previous contest (I looked back all the way to 1980). (This is true with the exception of only 2012, but if you take out the unique draw of Ron Paul to that total, it is true there also). In other words, Donald Trump won more votes in this contest than all the candidates combined, including their winners, in any given previous contest.

Second, know that Trump did this while only spending less than one-sixth of what Cruz and Cruz-supporting PACs did in Indiana.

Third, remember that Trump did this on top of the 404k votes Ted Cruz drew. Take Trump out of this contest, and the total vote numbers for the Indiana primary are roughly equivalent to that of every previous Republican primary in that state. Take Trump out, and this primary looks like a normal Indiana GOP primary. But this means that Trump has brought over half a million new voters into the GOP in Indiana. Trump single-handedly more-than-doubled voter turnout for Republicans in the Indiana GOP primary. Numbers like this, for Republicans, have never been seen before, ever, in Indiana. It’s not even close.

Where did these new voters come from and who/what are they? We know that all the hard-core Democrats and liberals went for Hillary or Sanders (they had relatively high voter turnout, too). So these new GOP voters were very likely not plain liberals. Then who are they? I think they are probably independents, moderates, some latent old-school (close the borders-type) conservatives Republicans, and so-called blue-dog Democrats (who, remember, voted for Reagan).

Like Baldwin, I also am an Indiana native, but I am from the southern part of the State. The people I know there are conservatives, but many are life-long, old-school Democrats (often merely ‘cause daddy was). They are religious (including many Roman Catholics), pro-gun, generally pro-life, pro-strong military, anti-crime, “our schools are different,” anti-drugs, anti-Muslim, anti-immigration, and want the borders closed and their jobs protected. In short, they are typically, generally¸ Republicans, except they identify as Democrat, certainly at the local level. (This is the same type of person we were introduced to in Kim Davis: a strong-standing conservative that everyone was shocked to find out was a registered Democrat.) They will vote for Democrat sheriffs, prosecutors, judges, and state reps, but may go either way in any given general presidential election.

And, with the message of beating-up foreign nations in trade, securing “our jobs,” and closing the border, Trump just won them all. He seems to have just proved this in the primary, and this speaks toward something similar happening nationwide in the general.

And when sanctimonious pundits get their plumage ruffled because Trump is “vulgar,” these millions of voters will laugh at them and tell them to go change their diapers, if they’re not already ignoring them completely, as they usually do. The truth is, the only reason they every tuned-in to FOX News was to hear the crassness, vulgarity, and in-your-face tough-guy act of Bill O’Reilly. For some reason, principled Christian conservatives, eager to hear from FOX if we’ve nuked Baghdad yet, watched the same guys with fist-pumps and clinched jaws until someone condemned Trump for speaking the same way.

Indiana is made up of farmers, factory workers, and small businesses that support both. Blue collar, all. I’ve heard these heartland America, salt-of-the-earth, family-values characters for good portions of my life tell dirty jokes, make openly racist comments, and complain about foreigners and foreign products. Do you think Trump’s crassness and vulgarity is going to turn them off? On the contrary, it resonates and inspires them to run to the voting booth.

So I hear what Chuck is saying. These people don’t wear their religion on their sleeve. What they may preach and speak in tongues to on Sunday is for Sunday. Monday on the factory floor is a whole ‘nother story. And so is Tuesday in the voting booth. Even if a Cruz can draw winning numbers with Republicans as an “anointed one,” a Trump can shatter records with them and the masses by standing for the things so many of these people truly care about.

I am not a political pundit and certainly not some expert election analyst (or else I’d be making a lot more money!). Although, all of this should be taken as only that—an attempted analysis and certainly not any endorsement. I could be short-sighted and wrong about all of this. But Baldwin’s experienced comments do confirm my own experiences, and I suspect they do represent a lot greater swath of America than just Indiana. And when I see the mind-boggling numbers from the primary, I can only think it has to speak of something different than normal. If that difference is other than what I have stated here, I would like to hear it.

Categories: Worldview

Prepare yourself for the coming populist stampede

Thu, 05/05/2016 - 08:30

Christians and conservatives need to understand what is happening in America right now with the rise of populism in the GOP. At this point, it looks all-but-certain that the nomination will fall to Trump—a populist phenomenon if there ever was one. Populism, like its near-cousin pure democracy, will mean the emergence of the peculiar depravities of the particular populace gaining ascendancy at the moment. In this case, these depravities are proving to be some latent tyrannies conservatives have expressed more or less for years: anti-immigration and warmongering built on fear and supported by hypocritical acceptance of self-serving socialistic policies.

These hypocrisies are nothing new, but their mass-emergence to the point of a popular crusade on the part of many “conservatives” and “evangelicals” will indeed be. And this popular crusade will become a tidal wave very soon. It will be loud, irrational, and nearly impossible to engage in a principled discussion. Principled Christians and conservatives need to get mentally and intellectually prepared.

[You can purchase Joel McDurmon’s diatribe against statist, warmongering populism, American Fascist: The Real Theodore Roosevelt, now for only $5.00.]

One of the best preparations will be to gain a clear understanding of how populist phenomena have played out at the national level in the past, and how the depravities of tipping-point masses boil over into actual national disgraces and disasters. Understanding that we have been through this before will give us a frame of reference from which to contrast historical malaise with Christian principles.

The clearest of our historical incidents is with Theodore Roosevelt. It was for such reasons that I wrote this little eBook a couple years ago: to expose the truth about populist tyranny in America, strip away the facades of hagiography by which Christians and conservatives whitewash the depravity of pseudo-heroes, and provide a corrective warning for both history and the all-important present.

While many people are bemoaning the crudeness and buffoonery of this GOP primary season, the greater danger lies in the volcano of populist anger and fear latent beneath the surface. We need to get educated and start myth-busting a great many things quickly. To give Christians and conservatives just such a reality check, American Vision is making my study American Fascist: The Real Theodore Roosevelt available for only $5.00 through June 7. Please take the time to pick up this important resource at this low price and educate yourself with a very quick and stimulating read. Providing yourself this frame of reference may give you just the piece-of-mind you need to survive the surges of popular nationalism on our horizon.

Read more in the excerpt below.

[Buy Joel’s American Fascist: The Real Theodore Roosevelt now.]

***

Theodore Roosevelt is no role model for the Christian or conservative. His life and work is riddled with war, bloodshed, and the celebration of it. His political work spans an impressive stretch of bureaucracy, executive office, campaigns, and public advocacy in which he upheld some version of just about every socialistic scheme that had been proposed up to his time. These included measures that had been among the few most pointed as chosen by Karl Marx himself: the graduated income tax, an inheritance tax, a central bank, and the regulation of industry.

TR’s plans for regulation of industry and even ordinary aspects of American life appeared early in his career, and did nothing but grow with his insatiable appetite for government power. From food and drug regulations to land grabs and “conservation,” from wealth redistribution to calls for “social justice.” And yet, in all the appeals for trust-busting and cutting big “greedy” business down to size, TR carefully avoided his cronies, particularly the Morgan interests, with only token exceptions.  When a later president did apply the same legal standards even, including to TR’s cronies, TR exploded and broke friendship.

And while posterity has seen fit to blame Woodrow Wilson for all of the subsequent ills of elitist big-government, he did hardly anything that TR had not done first. This includes the two greatest financial issues signed into law by Wilson: the Income Tax Amendment and the Federal Reserve Act. Both of these were the product of Roosevelt much more than Wilson.

If these legacies were not enough, TR fundamentally altered American jurisprudence for the worse for decades to come with his ignorant and reckless appointment of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., which he did against the advice of more knowledgeable and experienced men.  It may not be a stretch to say we can lay all subsequent judicial activism, including the transformation of marriage law all the way to Roe v. Wade, at the feet of TR.

Too often unacknowledged or ignored, TR’s views developed into what would later be called Fascism. He desired national corporatism, fuller regulation of all national corporations by the central government, and all with a fairly overt expression of pure-race nationalism. That’s not Progressivism; that’s Fascism.

While far from “uncommon heroism,” TR’s legacy is indeed “remarkable”—remarkable for the amazing level of evil that one man could unleash upon a civilization, and remarkable for the level of adulation he receives from worshipful admirers despite his true record. It is simply time for Christians and conservatives to acknowledge the truth of the record, and to judge that record by a truly higher critical standard.  If we truly believe TR’s statement that the a knowledge of the Bible is more valuable than a college education, then let us hold TR and his record to that very standard.  Let the Bible be our guide, and let TR fade into the darkness he created.

[You can purchase Joel McDurmon’s American Fascist: The Real Theodore Roosevelt now for only $5.00.]
Categories: Worldview

Evangelical despair and the Trumpocalypse

Wed, 05/04/2016 - 09:28

About four years ago, conservatives and Christians bewailed the reelection of Barack Obama, and at that time, many expressed their belief that the “last days” where devouring America and “the apocalypse” was near. Last night, after Donald Trump all-but sealed the nomination for the Republicans, I saw exactly the same reaction from many serious evangelicals. I saw literal references to the apocalypse and I saw utter despair for America.

To be honest, I want to bite and ridicule the absolute silliness of this now-cyclical despair among evangelicals who never learn and seem unwilling to sacrifice to develop long-term strategies to win. But I am nicer than that. I will simply remind the reader that I predicted this four years ago, and now we have a teachable moment.

After the episode in 2012, I sat down and wrote an article explaining how political conservatives (including Christians) have always suffered from a self-defeating pessimism, and also why they always act as if national-level defeats for some reason spell utter despair for freedom and Christian values in society. The article was entitled, “It’s time for radical, long-run optimism.” It explains the two main things that cripple Christian conservatives: a pessimistic view of end times, and a confused (unbiblical) understanding of “Left versus Right.”

Every word of that article is just as relevant this morning, and you need to read it. It will give you the key to overcome evangelical despair and to survive the Trumpocalypse.

Not only is every word of that article relevant, but it shows you why the leadership of nearly every conservative and/or Christian pundit out there (yes, your favorite one, too) who has been leading people in these throes of pessimism, compromise, confusion, and defeat, is to the same extent irrelevant, and yet we keep listening to them.

For the time being, I leave you with my conclusions from before, and then, the charge to go read the rest. Then, you can get busy studying a real alternative, Restoring America One County at a Time

Conclusion

While so much more could—and should—be said in these regards, the basic conclusions are simple. Conservatives fall into hopelessness and despair because they are trained to be pessimistic and reactionary, and from this malady they are provided no escape which is not condemned as “radical.”

These characteristics are expressed and exacerbated most vividly in widespread pessimistic eschatology and a failure to critique the false view of Left and Right foisted upon them.

With the former problem comes a secret love of cultural decline. The second brings a secret refusal to adopt biblical, as opposed to secular, standards of freedom. Both are then compounded by a self-induced paralysis to do any different. As the trend spirals downward, the entrapped refuse even to listen to anything outside of the prison of their pessimism.

The solution to these problems is education in the law of God and dominion theology. This addresses, among other things, both the eschatology and the political standard. It supplies optimism in both the goal at which to aim and the confidence of seeing it come to pass according to God’s own promise.

Until we make strides in these basic areas, the next “election of the day” will be one more, and one more, and one more, near-sighted project destined for pity and despair—even after a win as rhetorically optimistic as the great Reagan revolution.

If we do begin to overcome the gloom and compromise, it will only be because we set clear biblical goals, and then marched, sweated, spent, and bled for them.

Read: It’s time for radical long-run optimism.

Follow: Restoring America One County at a Time.

Categories: Worldview

American fascism: the dangers of a strong populist president

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 13:30

The figure usually considered most representative of the Progressive Era is Woodrow Wilson. His is considered the great watershed presidency which entrenched Leftism, Statism, and elitism in the federal government. While there is some truth to this, most people are unaware that Wilson did not originate this alone. He was actually first influenced into progressive ideology by Theodore Roosevelt. TR was Progressivism before it was cool, and he was so when Wilson was originally a “Cleveland Democrat”—a proponent of limited government.

[DEAL: For more on American Fascism, including the warmongering and racist elements, purchase American Fascist: The Real Theodore Roosevelt for only $5 until June 7.]

It is men like Wilson and later FDR who are generally blamed for distorting the Constitution—making it a wax nose, interpreting it however they wish to bring about their desired ends. What is less commonly known is that TR held this view explicitly before the Left. As author Jim Powell relates, TR made his view very clear in his autobiography:

[TR] “declined to adopt the view that what was imperatively necessary for the Nation could not be done by the President unless he could find some specific authorization to do it.” Reflecting on the U.S. president’s power, he wrote that “it was not only his right but his duty to do anything that the needs of the Nation demanded unless such action was forbidden by the Constitution or by the laws.”[1]

And by “forbidden,” men of TR’s constitutional view really mean “expressly forbidden in such a way that even a progressive Court would strike it down.” The result was a drastic increase in the power of the presidential office. TR would, in fact, boast of it: “I did greatly broaden the use of executive power.”[2] Powell gives some perspective: all presidents from Lincoln to TR’s predecessor McKinley issued a total of 158 executive orders. Teddy alone issued 1,007.[3]

In issuing such decrees, Teddy was acting like a king rather than an American president. Long before Obama, TR perfected the end-run around Congress. He ruled alone, refusing even to take counsel for even the most crucial decisions—ignoring and bypassing Congress. “The biggest matters,” he pontificated, “I managed without consultation with anyone; for when a matter is of capital importance, it is well to have it handled by one man only.”[4] That’s called monarchy. This is not a president, but more like one biographer once titled it, Theodore Rex.

And these were no isolated comments unprepared or off-the-cuff. TR at various times in his presidency repeats the sentiment: “I think [the presidency] should be a very powerful office, and I think the President should be a very strong man who uses without hesitation every power the position yields.” Elsewhere he demanded “far more active governmental interference with social and economic conditions in this country.” Again he stated bluntly, “I believe in a strong executive. I believe in power.” Elsewhere, he described himself as “Hamiltonian in my governmental views,” which meant he believed in the need for “the exercise of broad powers by the National Government.”[5]

It was during TR’s presidency, or by his direct influence, that many behemoth federal regulatory agencies came into begin. These include the FDA, the FBI, the FTC, the U.S. Forestry Service, and a Secretary of Commerce which later became the Department of Labor.

Before The Jungle

Great shifts in social policy are often laid at the feet of leftist progressives when in actuality they were TR’s baby. The creation of the FDA, for example, is often credited largely to the influence of the socialist Upton Sinclair’s novel, The Jungle. Published February 26, 1906, the novel portrayed Chicago meat packing plants in horrible light, exposing startling health and labor conditions.

Yet TR had advocated regulation of these things even before Sinclair’s book was published. As early as 1902, TR was advocating the regulation of the Salmon fishing industry in Alaska: “Laws should be enacted to protect the Alaskan salmon fisheries against the greed which would destroy them. They should be preserved as a permanent industry and food supply. Their management and control should be turned over to the Commission of Fish and Fisheries.”

In his 1904 State of the Union address, he assured his hearers of the efficacy of the Department of Agriculture, which “by careful inspection of meats, guards the health of our people and gives clean bills of health to deserving exports.” He apparently already viewed the meat industry as at least partially nationalized, and called for an “annual census of the live stock of the Nation.”

Spurred by the career activism of USDA “Chief Chemist” Harvey Wiley, TR announced in the 1905 State of the Union address that he would “recommend that a law be enacted to regulate inter-State commerce in misbranded and adulterated foods, drinks, and drugs.” He commissioned his bureaucrats to conduct an executive exposé of the meatpacking industry, and used its “hideous” details to strong-arm Congress into passing the 1906 Food and Drug Act, the parent of the modern FDA.[6]

People like Sinclair were not the impetus for these reforms, but merely the unwitting tools of statists who needed the propaganda to sway the larger public. Thus, the media-driven hysteria worked hand-in-hand with the elitist class of know-it-all bureaucrats and politicians. Economists Coppin and High explain:

A striking fact about the Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906, a fact with which every interpretation must come to terms, is that urban workers and families did not agitate for its passage or enforcement. No general outbreak of disease or death from food in the cities was recorded. No epidemic of malnutrition swept through the urban populace. No public outcry over food was ever heard from the working classes. The movement for a national food law came from food commissioners, agricultural chemists, manufacturers of expensive foods, representatives from rural agricultural states, and a small number of middle-class women. The rhetoric of regulation was ‘pure food for the mass consumer,’ but its impetus came from the professional classes.[7]

The regulations to be put in place, however, did little but help solidify the hold which large companies had on the industry: “The large packers may actually have welcomed more effective inspection as a curb upon their smaller competitors.”[8]

This was quite literally true. Powell explains,

In congressional testimony that followed the investigation, packinghouse executive Thomas E. Wilson made clear that the big Chicago packers wanted federal regulation to handicap their smaller competitors that could not afford to invest in more modern and sanitary facilities. Federal inspection, as noted, was intended to reassure foreign buyers about the quality of American meat. The big Chicago packers, however, objected to paying the cost of federal inspection. They wanted taxpayers to pick up the $3 million tab.[9]

Again, Kolko exposes the scheme:

Historians have always suggested that Sinclair brought the packers to their knees . . . or that The Greatest Trust in the World collapsed before the publication of the Neill-Reynolds report. Given the near unanimity with which the measure passed Congress, and the common agreement on basic principles shared by all at the time, there is an inconsistency in the writing of historians on this problem. If the packers were really all-powerful, or actually opposed the bill, it is difficult to explain the magnitude of the vote for it. The reality of the matter, of course, is that the big packers were warm friends of regulation, especially when it primarily affected their innumerable small competitors.[10]

An “Absolute Need for Nationalism”

TR would apply his regulatory ambition to all areas of life, especially money and business. In a speech at York, Pennsylvania, he claimed to discover an “inherent power” not enumerated in the Constitution for “a constantly increasing supervision over and control of the great fortunes used in business.”[11] So much for opposition to socialism. He was so bent on a policy of regulation and wealth redistribution that he propagandized the issue just like the Left. His rhetoric borrowed directly from the agitators of class warfare, calling the wealthy “malefactors” in society.[12]

And again, the top-down agenda was working contrary to reality. As author Jim Powell notes, however, the actual economic facts contradict the political claims. The free market was already taking care of the so-called “monopoly” or “trust” problem, and prices that were said to need regulation were already falling naturally. Neither great problem demanded government intervention, which would, in fact, make it worse. Powell’s comments are worth citing at length:

[F]or more than two decades before Roosevelt became president, output had been expanding and prices had been falling—the opposite of what one would expect if there were a lot of monopolies. Despite Roosevelt’s allegations about railroad monopolies, in the previous half century railroad mileage in the United States had increased more than 250-fold, and railroad rates were falling. Cheaper railroad rates undermined local monopolies by giving people the choice of buying economically priced goods from far away. Supporters of antitrust laws pointed to the “great merger wave” of the late 1890s as evidence of monopolization, but in fact, the total the number of commercial and industrial firms in the United States increased from 1.11 million in 1890 to 1.17 million in 1900 and 1.51 million in 1910, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The business failure rate among commercial and industrial firms, and the average liability per failure, actually declined between 1890 and 1910.

Contrary to Roosevelt’s claims, mounting evidence shows that monopolies are rare in free markets, as changing consumer tastes, changing business conditions, new technologies, and new competitors both foreign and domestic relentlessly challenge established companies. John D. Rockefeller earned his fortune refining kerosene from western Pennsylvania, but rivals discovered oil fields in Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and California as well as overseas. Among the new rivals who emerged before Roosevelt’s antitrust laws went into effect were Burmah Oil (1886), Union Oil (1890), Pure Oil (1895), Associated Oil & Gas (1901), Gulf (1901), Texaco (1902), and Royal Dutch Shell (1903). Rockefeller’s Standard Oil thrived because it was a low-cost competitor, investing in cost-cutting technology.[13]

Just as it was with the meat packers, other big businesses actually valued government regulation because it would drive out the smaller competitors. Teddy was not busting monopolies so much as helping them. Historian Gabriel Kolko explains:

Competition was unacceptable to many key business and financial interests . . . and the merger movement was to a large extent a reflection of voluntary, unsuccessful business efforts to bring irresistible competitive trends under control.… As new competition sprang up, and as economic power was diffused throughout an expanding nation, it became apparent to many important businessmen that only the national government could rationalize the economy.… Contrary to the consensus of historians, it was not the existence of monopoly that caused the federal government to intervene in the economy, but the lack of it.[14]

Nevertheless, as TR’s regulatory empire grew, so did his vision for even greater power. In the later years of his presidency he announced his “Square Deal” which sought to impose numerous regulations on business. But he did not stop there. His later writings reveal even more ambitious views as he criticized the Wilson administration for lacking power and vigor.

In 1915, TR was the guest of honor in the home of Elbert H. Gray, a Morgan-interest lawyer and officer entrenched in Carnegie’s U.S. Steel industry. It is estimated there was a representative figure of twelve billion dollars—an astronomical figure for the time—in attendance at Grays’s Fifth-Avenue home. The intent appeared to include an exploratory for the attempt to run TR for president yet again in 1916.[15] Concurrent with such a goal, TR began taking calculated swipes at the Wilson administration in newspapers that very month and afterward. Attempting to condemn Wilson as weak, inactive, and unprepared, TR proposed further nationalization: “There is absolute need of a larger nationalism.”[16]

Like German Militarism

That sentiment, published in a pro-German propaganda tabloid, even drew praise from the editor: “For once Theodore Roosevelt and The Fatherland are in agreement. We meet on the common ground of national preparedness. Mr. Roosevelt agrees with our contention the German ‘militarism’ is not such a terrible thing after all.” And why not? “We find him strenuously indorsing the military and industrial systems of Germany and pointing to them as shining examples for the United States.”[17]

The “larger nationalism” TR desired was nothing short of what later would be called fascism: national controls of industry to serve and implement national policy. TR was an open fan of “national corporations.” He wished for any company engaged in interstate commerce to be a corporation charted directly by Congress, and thus controlled directly by national policy. This is a strong step toward the economic policies of Mussolini’s Italian fascism and the National Socialism of later Adolf Hitler.

At the same time TR called for compulsory and universal military conscription, stripping the right to vote from anyone not trained to fight, and the integration of military and industry within this national corporate structure.

Such universal conscription was desirable in peacetime not only for military preparedness but for the vital development of the “soul and spirit” of the nation: “such service and training would help us toward national solidarity and cohesion.”[18] In other words, compulsory military service would train the populace to walk in lock-step with its government, and to submit indefinitely to orders from above. It would make the centralization of national life much easier.

Again, it is usually Wilson who gets blamed for such a shift in national character due to the so-called Wilson “War State.” The massive centralization and nationalized mobilization during WWI is ssaid to have set the precedents by which the ambitious Left did so much damage afterward. Yet we see here that it was the consistent agenda of TR long before WWI, and it was TR’s plan either to urge Wilson in that direction or to see him defeated politically.

Towards these ends, TR repeated the sentiments in a Metropolitan article just a few months later. In retrospect, the breadth of the nationalizing platform is chilling:

National preparedness either for peace or war can be achieved only on the basis of unity and through the instrumentality of an efficient national governmental system. All the forces that make for industrial or military preparedness must be under the regulation of a single power, and that power the national government. One sovereignty must control.

Again, Germany was his example to follow in these regards:

Germany has been far in advance of us in securing industrial assurance, old-age pensions and homes, a reasonably fair division of profits between employer and employed, and the like. She has also been far in advance of us in the way she has both controlled and encouraged industry. Above all, she has been far in advance of us in securing national cohesion, in requiring both from the great employer and from the man who toils with his hands the fullest and most complete loyalty to the nation.[19]

In a full book of the same title as that March article, Fear God and Take Your Own Part, TR made clear that his appeals to Germany were not limited to her efficiency and methods. To his calls for centralized national corporatism, and universal military conscription and characterization of national life, he added a blunt racial-nationalistic element to his views:

These professional German-Americans and Pro-Germans are Anti-American to the core. They play the part of traitors, pure and simple. Once it was true that this country could not endure half free and half slave. Today it is true that it can not endure half American and half foreign. The hyphen is incompatible with patriotism.[20]

It was no slip. According to a compilation made by pro-Roosevelt writers Drinker and Mowbray, TR reiterated the statement elsewhere directly appealing to Lincoln, and comparing hyphenated-Americans to national adulterers:

The man who loves other nations as much as he does his own country stands on a par with a man who loves other women as much as he does his own wife. Once it was true, as Lincoln said, that this country could not endure half free and half slave. Today it is true that it could not endure half American and half foreign.[21]

Not Progressivism, Fascism

It is this type of expression which rounds out TR’s political philosophy as not just mere progressivism, but bordering on fascism. In addition to a system of strong centralization, national corporatism, integration of industry and military, and tight regulation of economic sectors, fascism adds an extra element of intense racial-nationalism. Such an element is obvious here, and will be more so when we address racism more directly later.

Teddy wanted to instill nationalistic pride in everything he did, including the aesthetics of American symbols. He hired a prestigious architectural firm to renovate the White House to his taste, and a famous sculptor to redesign American coinage. No detail was too small for government regulation. He directed the government printer to employ over three hundred “American” changes to the spellings of English words.[22] Most were not followed.

Various other anecdotes could be added to illustrate the limitless quest for and use of executive power by this American fascist. We conclude this section with just as few:

Executive Teddy could wield a hand just as rash as it was harsh. When an army investigator failed to convict three companies of black soldiers implicated in a shooting, TR stepped in and discharged the whole lot, including six Medal of Honor winners, “without honor” and “forever barred from re-enlistment.”[23]

TR’s administration anticipated modern bank bailouts as well. When a copper bubble popped and threatened the Knickerbocker Trust Company, his Treasury Secretary quickly deposited $25 million ($600 million today) in government funds in New York banks, lest “the whole credit structure topple.”[24] Some threats never change.

And it was all done with almost unlimited hubris. In the primary battle for the election of 1912, Roosevelt wanted a big-government, big-bank elitist like himself. Conservative elements in the party were leaning strongly in the other direction. TR wanted Elihu Root, a Dick Cheney-like figure connected to every form of big money in the world, and attorney for Andrew Carnegie and Skull and Bones member W. C. Whitney. The always self-referencing TR complained of fellow party members who preferred the more conservative Charles Evans Hughes, saying they wanted a President more like the small-government, veto-champion Grover Cleveland “instead of a president like me.”[25]

DEAL: For more on American Fascism, including the warmongering and racist elements, purchase American Fascist: The Real Theodore Roosevelt for only $5 until June 7.

Notes:

[1] Powell, Kindle  Location 93.

[2] Powell, Kindle  Location 100.

[3] Powell, Kindle Location 103.

[4] Powell, Kindle Location 145.

[5] Quoted in Powell, Kindle Location, 375–382, 409.

[6] G. Wallace Chessman, Theodore Roosevelt and the Politics of Power (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1969), 137.

[7] Cited in Powell, Kindle Location 318–324.

[8] Chessman, 138.

[9] Powell, Kindle Location 2963.

[10] Quoted in Powell, Kindle Location 2967.

[11] Chessman, 142.

[12] Powell, Kindle Location 174.

[13] Powell, Kindle Location 178–186.

[14] Quoted in Powell, Kindle Location 195–200. Kolko’s work, The Triumph of Conservatism, is a must-read for anyone interested in the economic history of the era.

[15] Frederick E. Drinker and Jay Henry Mowbray, Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Work (Philadelphia: National Publishing Company, 1919), 432.

[16] Theodore Roosevelt, “Germany, the Teacher of the World,” The Fatherland, December 15, 1915, 331.

[17] The Fatherland, December 15, 1915, 331.

[18] Roosevelt, “Germany, the Teacher of the World,” 331.

[19] Theodore Roosevelt, “Fear God and Take Your Own Part,” Metropolitan, 43 (March 1916), 11–12, 70—72; http://www.fofweb.com/History/MainPrintPage.asp?iPin=E14382&DataType=AmericanHistory&WinType=Free (accessed May 13, 2014).

[20] Theodore Roosevelt, Fear God and Take Your Own Part (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1916), 19.

[21] Quoted Drinker and Mowbray, Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Work, 433.

[22] Chessman, 144–145.

[23] Quoted in Chessman, 145.

[24] Chessman, 149.

[25] Quoted in Chessman, 159.

Categories: Worldview

Theonomy debate points: context, presuppositions, and the police state

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 08:36

Returning to the exchange I had at Georgia State Law School earlier this month: I want to follow up on some of the comments/criticisms made by my respondent, Prof. Timothy Lytton. In reading the following, it will be helpful to keep in mind that Prof. Lytton is of Orthodox Jewish practice, and thus provides a counterpoint to my Theonomy from the perspective of rabbinical Judaism.

What I found most interesting about Prof. Lytton’s perspective is that it offers similar criticisms against Theonomy and Christian Reconstruction as are often made by our Christian critics of various schools. Thus, a response to his comments will not only help put the nature of certain Christian responses in a particular perspective, it will also be helpful to many who are interested in responses to common criticisms against the position that Old Testament law provides abiding norms for civil governments today.

The particular criticisms in view include, first, the idea that the civil laws of the Mosaic code cannot be divorced from the rest of the Mosaic context. Based on arguments like this, several modern groups say you cannot divorce the civil laws from their context and apply it in modern times. They’ll each say this for slightly different reasons and with slightly different nuances, but they all say essentially the same thing. The second argument to be addressed here is that the law should only be applied in a way that balances justice and mercy, and that this necessitates that legal judgment be done in a fatherly or parental way—a way that essentially leaves justice undone.

I would like to address each of these notions as they were presented by Prof. Lytton and as a model for how to address them when they arise in our own broader Christian circles. One final thought before I do: I want to acknowledge that Prof. Lytton gave these responses impromptu, and thus I understand that it is probably a little in my favor to provide a response point by point after the fact. Sometimes in impromptu discussion, we don’t get a chance to nuance every statement as we would prefer upon reflection, and it is often easy to hack someone apart with the benefit of hindsight. I do not intend to hack anyone apart, and I want to be sensitive to these realities as I provide my responses below. I also want to add that I greatly appreciate Prof. Lytton’s participation in this discussion as well as his contributions to it. I found them helpful for clarifying these several points of agreement and disagreement, and I think the reader will also.

First, regarding my argument for the application of the lex talionis (“the punishment must fit the crime”) principle as an overarching principle of criminal and civil justice running throughout Scripture, Prof. Lytton responded that Mosaic principles are embedded in a specific narrative and should not be “pulled out from the context” in order to apply them today. In his words:

There’s a danger in overemphasizing the idea that the Hebrew Scriptures suggest principles of justice to us and that we should follow those principles. There’s a kind of caricature of the Hebrew Scriptures—what Christians refer to as the “Old Testament”—as a kind of legalistic document that involves a bunch of rigid principles; that underlying them, that have a certain truth to them, but the rigidity of them makes that legal system sort of archaic or superseded in the Christian mind frame.

I certainly agree that we should be careful not to overemphasize my point, or any other point. But I find it odd that this warning is followed by a reference to the fact that many Christians wrongly caricature the OT as harsh, rigid, and “legalistic.” While it is certainly true that many Christians make this mistake, it is nevertheless something the Professor and I would agree wholeheartedly is wrong and which hardly appeared anywhere in my presentation. But what he goes on to argue seems to assume that my thesis partakes of this view. It does not. He continues:

I would suggest it’s very difficult to read the Bible as a set of principles without understanding that those principles are deeply embedded in a context of narrative. If you read the Hebrew Scriptures, they are not a list of laws. And if you compare them to other ancient near-eastern texts of laws, you will see that the ancient near-eastern texts of laws are lists of laws: they read like the U.S. code. If you read the Hebrew Scriptures, they don’t read like the U.S. Code. They read like the story of a nation in which is embedded a set of laws.

Now, in addition, I would say that what the Hebrew Scriptures ask us to do is not so much look at the principles, they ask us to look at the behavior of the judge.

So I agree with Dr. McDurmon that it’s important to figure out “What do God’s judgments look like?” But when you do that, you have to look not at the principles pulled out from the context, but the judgments God makes in the context using those principles.

It is certainly true that there is such a difference between the Mosaic books and the other ancient law codes. Even the parts of the Mosaic book that include law codes and law cases read as more of a narrative that the others. Yet even the Professor acknowledges that within this narrative there exists a law code, or “set of laws”—or we could even say “a set of principles.” After all, even the U.S. Code is “embedded” in a narrative which is the “story of a nation.” Do we refuse therefore to apply the U.S. Code as a system of legal principles? No. It is still a law code from which we derive legal principles of justice as legal principles of just. Theft or murder today are absolutely no different than theft or murder in 1776.

The difference here is not law code versus no law code, or application versus no application. The difference is which law code and which applications. The chief questions are “How do we apply that law code in the modern world?,” and “What are the principles of interpretation by which we apply that law code?” In other words, we are back to the same perennial question: “By what standard?”

The Professor argues that the Hebrew Scriptures ask us not to look at the principles but to look at the behavior of the judge. Granting this in the whole for the moment, what does such a statement miss? It misses an all-important fact: the statement “we should not look at the principles but at the judge’s behavior” is, in and of itself, a principle. So, ha!, should we not look to it then?

Of course not. Instead, we simply acknowledge that every question of interpretation involves principles of interpretation, and thus, interpreting the application of the Old Testament law can never be divorced from the principles of the law itself. This is why Paul says, “We know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully” (1 Tim. 1:8).

This means that analyzing and applying the principles of Old Testament law today is not, as the Professor’s response seems to state, de facto ripping the principles from their context. Instead, the biblical exegete’s job is to understand them within their context, understand them within the larger biblical context (both Old and New Testaments), and then apply them accordingly as the context determines.

The real question here, then, is whether “the context” determines whether any given Old Testament law has any application today or not, or whether any given applications are universal for all people and places, or whether, as the Professor seems to suggest below, that applications can be affected by subjective and personal-relative contexts—a dangerous, but all too modern, road.

He continues:

And those judgments involve not the strict or cruel application of principle, they involve a balance between what in the Jewish tradition is known as din, strict judgment, and rachamim, which is mercy [or compassion].

Again, I agree in principle, but so did my presentation as well as the strict principle of the law itself. The lex talionis in-and-of itself is a tool of mercy in regard to all parties. It is the greatest mercy possible to the victims because the crime is punished fully and restitution is paid fully where applicable. It is mercy even to the criminal because it prevents the state from imposing punishments beyond what fits the crime (which has been almost always the case historically, and is quite often the case even today). It is mercy to society in that crime is punished justly, and thus deterred, and yet not punished too much to impose a tyranny upon the innocent.

In the scenario of a crime or tort, the lex talionis is the most merciful solution possible. And thus, when applying biblical law here, there is no danger of being “cruel” or imbalanced when we apply the principles as strictly as possible. Instead, we are by definition being cruel and imbalanced when we don’t follow that principle strictly. In such a scenario, to add “mercy” beyond that for which God calls in His standards is to pretend we can be more merciful than God, and yet in the process render injustice.

In fact, when it comes to legal judgments in regard to civil government, mercy is exactly what God says not to do. He specifically says to avoid and reject “mercy” or “pity” in such judgments: “Your eye shall not pity” the offender when sentencing and carrying out sentence (Deut. 7:16; 13:8; 19:13; 19:21; 25:12).

This “no pity” standard being the case for civil law, departing from strict application renders one’s position inconsistent. And in fact, that is where I see the Professor going:

If we, according to the Jewish tradition, lived in a world where God’s judgments were a matter of strict justice, we wouldn’t survive, the rabbis tell us. We wouldn’t be here. Who could survive strict justice on that level? And if we lived in a world that was all about mercy and forgiveness, we would live in an anarchic world. So the rabbis tell us that if you look closely at God’s judgments, the application of those principles in the context of the narratives in which they are discussed, you will find a delicate balance between the so-called strict letter of the law and a contextual understanding and flexible, often mercy-ridden application of those laws.

We are supposed to be speaking of civil and criminal justice here, not social life and family life, “society” in general, or God’s historical sanctions upon a society. But these seem to be where the professor is going. Granted, if God chose to punish us strictly for our many sins, none of us would survive. But this is comparing apples to oranges in regard to our specific discussion of standards of civil government.

God can and does chose to be longsuffering with our society in history. Yet at the same time, He gives us a special revelation of what the standards of justice are to be. He gives standards for the civil realm just as He gives standards for personal, family, and church realms. We are to carry these out strictly as one means of averting the very historical judgment our society otherwise deserves. One of the many ways God shows us mercy as an overall society in history is through giving us many generations to repair our many injustices. But again, this demands that we return to a strict application of His standards of social and criminal justice, not otherwise. And we must recognize that the very giving of the special revelation of these standards is itself also an aspect of God’s mercy to us.

The Professor then adds,

The Jewish people would have never survived the trajectory through the desert if God would have been a strict judge, or would have been looking for principles, or if the Hebrew Scriptures were about principles.

Let us note that the vast majority of the Jewish people in fact did not survive that wilderness trek. The entire first generation with the sole exceptions of Joshua and Caleb died not having entered the Promised Land. This was not because they adhered to God’s law too strictly. It was precisely not because they mistakenly believed “the Hebrew Scriptures were about principles.” Indeed, just the opposite. They died in the wilderness because they tempted God, disobeyed His precepts, and broke His covenant with them.

The Professor then made an argument very similar to certain Christian critics, as well as many liberal scholars, today:

It’s instructive in this regard that, in fact, in the Jewish tradition we refer to God as Avinu Malkeinu, “Our Father, our King.” Not just our King—our Father; in fact, first our Father and then our King. The model of judgment—of legal judgment—in the Bible is one of parenting. You don’t parent your children by dictating principles. You parent your children by living in a principled home, and exercising a kind of judgment that balances fidelity to those principles with a kind of compassion for the person and the reality of the situation.

Some of you may have heard a very similar argument made by certain recent critics of Theonomy: we should no longer follow biblical standards of civil law strictly, but rather model civil government on parenting. Some children require different standards of punishment to render obedience. In other words, the model for civil government is the family, and the analogue to citizens is children.

The problems with this view are legion, and far more than I will take space for here. For starters, this confuses the biblical roles of family and state which are two separate covenantal institutions for a good reason. The family bears the rod under the judgment of parents. The state bears the sword under the judgment of juries, judges, and enforcing executives. They are separate institutions with separate (though sometimes overlapping) standards for governance. Under biblical laws, families are not allowed, for example, to execute offenders, and states are not allowed to mandate the intricacies of private life of citizens. Furthermore, as we have already seen, the state is forbidden by God’s law from showing “compassion” when executing civil justice. The state is an active agent of God’s wrath, not His compassion. To pretend that a “parenting” model supersedes here is not to improve upon God’s law, nor to apply it faithfully, but to break it. In short, parents are not civil authorities, and civil authorities are not parents.

Throughout history, whenever the state becomes a “parental” state, a tyranny ensues. When the state arrogates to itself the alleged affections of parents, and demands of citizens the loyalty and affections due from children, the conditions for tyranny are ripe. Think “nanny state,” and you get the picture. Further, a “father” state becomes a breadwinner and bread-giver to its “children.” As a parental state, it not only takes control of welfare, it becomes the dispenser of property and inheritance. Again, you get the picture. A parental state is a total welfare state.

This view has many problems, as I said, but one of the most important for our purpose here is that it throws the discussion of civil punishments off the rails of God’s revealed objective standards and into the relativistic arena of human autonomy. If the state assumes the position of reading every particular case and dispensing justice to custom-fit every individual “child” in any given case, it opens the can of worms that is relativism. Favoritism and partiality, for individuals or for a variety of favored classes, will follow shortly; and indeed, in every society that departs from God’s law, including our own, this is precisely what has followed. When you remind yourself that such partiality is being allowed to the agency of wrath and the sword, you can only understand that a police state, warfare state, surveillance state, etc., is on the horizon.

The Professor then moves on to express just such a relativism in regard to standards for civil justice. He says,

That’s very different than looking at the principle of the lex talionis as opposed to the way God thinks about and executes judgment regarding what would be a fair application of the principle in this particular context, which changes over time even in the 40-year sojourn in the desert.

I am not sure exactly what he is speaking of here in regard to changes during the 40-year sojourn, but we can be quite sure God never changed His revelation in regard to civil standards during that time. And while we may expect different cases to have different facts that receive different treatment for different reasons, we can be quite sure that the standards of judgment, procedure, and punishment do not change from case to case, or even from era to era.

The times may change, but God does not. While God changed many ceremonial and some civil aspects of the law in transition between the Old and New Covenants, there has never been, and never will be, a time when it can be said in regard to God’s law, “Get with the times.” No, the times need to change to conform to God’s law, for that is perfect righteousness.

Finally, the Professor concludes:

Furthermore, it’s instructive that the Jewish word for “law” in modern Jewish life is Halakha. Halakha literally means “the way.” It comes from the Hebrew word for “walk,” Halakh. Well, why would you refer to the law as “the way”? And the answer is because you don’t walk according to principles. Google Maps won’t get you there alone. The only thing that will get you there is to actually find your direction and then take your own particular journey there; it’s a way of life. Life in the law, at least as far as the Hebrew Scriptures wants to paint it, is not a life that revolves around the strict interpretation of principles or even the primary focus on principles. It’s a life that involves the incorporation of principles into a way of life that is highly contextualized.

It is very interesting, isn’t it, that the Professor contrasts walking according to principles found in the Bible with “a way of life”? This is, after all, a key argument Christians have been making for years: Christianity is not a list of rules to follow; it is a way of life.

Well honestly, I don’t care who makes such a contrast. I don’t see any necessary contrast between the two aspects. Yes the Bible provides a contextualized “way of life.” Every reading of every piece of Scripture necessitates that you read and apply it within the larger context of a biblical worldview: Trinity, creation, fall, law, redemption, ascension, consummation, etc., etc. Yet believing the “way of life” perspective does not in any way deny that the principles found within that way of life (i.e., biblical law) should not be applied today, nor does it change the standard of application, or the results if we are comparing apples and apples.

Again, if he is speaking of divorcing biblical principles from their context and abstracting them wrongly in some way, sure, I would join him in refuting such a monstrosity. But when we are talking about an abiding and underlying principle of justice itself which is universal to all times and all places, then we are doing an injustice by not applying it strictly today. To neglect that application is to open the door to relativism and humanistic autonomy.

Indeed, is this not where the Professor’s counterpoint ends up when he says “you don’t walk according to principles” but rather, “to actually find your direction and then take your own particular journey there”? This sounds a lot like a strong contrast between universal standards and subjective, individualized experiences. And of course, the great irony again is that such a statement itself is present as what? You guessed it: a universal principle.

As far as that goes, I would prefer to stand with those principles found in God’s revelation to man rather than purporting to find my own direction and my own way, and calling that “the way.” Because “the way” is either faithful to God’s word or it is not, and there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it is the way of death (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). And when you neglect God’s law, that prover stands true whether you’re an Orthodox Jew, west-coast radical two-kingdomite, Reformed Baptist, New Covenant theologian, or whatever.

Categories: Worldview

Avoiding the college trap

Wed, 04/20/2016 - 09:19

A college degree guarantees you nothing. It could, in fact, ruin your future.

There was a time when having a college degree almost guaranteed you a “good job,” certainly one that pays better than those not requiring a bachelor’s degree. Parents then determined that the costs involved added up to an investment in their child’s future—an investment that would undoubtedly pay off. The general public soon grew so assured of the value of a degree that it grew acceptable and common to borrow toward that investment. Today, student loans are the rule.

This entire process assumes several things, all of which might have held true at one time or in limited circumstances, hardly any of which remain true today or in general. Yet a blind faith that includes all of these assumptions rules the day for decisions about higher education. The results are disastrous.

Example: meet Miss Courtney Munna. She is 26 years old and has proudly fulfilled her and her mother’s dream of graduating from NYU, a second-tier private school. She is now the proud owner of an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree in religious and women’s studies.

She also owns a $97,000 student debt.

Let’s evaluate the value of Miss Munna’s education: In the job market, a bachelor’s in either religion (from a liberal university) or women’s studies adds little to nothing to her marketability in the real world. An “interdisciplinary” degree—half one and half the other mixed together—actually reduces the value. A degree like this only has value in the academic world, and there it only holds value as a stepping stone to an academic teaching career. But this requires a Master’s degree (at least two more years and more debt) and almost always a Doctorate (three further years in the US, and more debt). For all practical purposes, Miss Munna’s degree has zero economic value.

But worse, $97k in debt has a value of, well, negative $97k; plus interest, part of which is at an adjustable rate (it will go higher). And this, not even for a marketable skill or knowledge, but merely a degree in religious and women’s studies. And what does such a degree provide? . . . Nothing more than a group of feminists’ assurances that all religions are equal and women should be in charge of them.

So Courtney has essentially paid over $100,000 in order to be propagandized with a message she could just as easily have gotten from a $1.25 bumper sticker.

Courtney’s mom helped finance this “education.” She herself now faces a tough time financially. She’s afraid she could lose her bed and breakfast business. And herein is the great joke. This woman owns a business. She should know something about finances. What on earth made her think a dead-end degree like women’s studies was worth selling her and her daughter’s souls? She should have known better.

She should have kept her daughter at home, trained her in the family business, marketed it, taught her how to keep it profitable, and lived a moderate middle-class life.

If after that she had a desire to learn “women’s studies,” she could easily have sated such a perversion without debt. She could have Googled “women’s studies reading list” and then selected one of several links from a major university, like this link: fifteen pages of women-as-victim and women-as-equals screeds. Forget NYU. Forget –$97k. The New York Public Library is free. Free public libraries are all over the place. Even major universities will give full access and lending privileges for a small fee (for example, I bought such at Emory University for $100/year—well worth it for projects I work on). For hardly any cost at all, Courtney could spend her free time indulging in all the feminism and gender diversity she could stand—and make money instead of borrowing it.

This reminds me of the famous scene from Good Will Hunting: Will, played by Matt Damon, is a genius held back by emotional issues. He works as a janitor at MIT. During a trip to a Harvard bar, Will’s uneducated friend [Ben Affleck, of course], while chatting with a Harvard girl, get harassed by a grad student for obviously aiming out of his intellectual league. Will comes to the rescue, confronting this hot-shot grad student’s arrogance, showing him up intellectually with page number and footnote. The kid had plagiarized everything he said. What’s worse, Will concludes, “You dropped 150 grand on a **** education you could’ve got for a $1.50 in late charges at the public library” [warning: brief adult language in the clip.]

The lesson should be clear, very few if any jobs require a degree from any of the liberal arts fields. A degree here is nothing much more than a hobby—an expensive hobby. A very expensive hobby. Unless you have a guaranteed career waiting ahead requiring and helping fund such a degree, a wise person would avoid the trap. And even upon deciding to take such a degree, never do so from an upper-tier school because of the exorbitant expense. And never put yourself in debt in order to do so.

A bachelor’s degree in engineering, accounting, hard sciences, or as a stepping stone to med or maybe law school makes much more sense, but even then you can do it without crazy debt.

Most business and economics courses are taught by tenured academics who have never run a business.

Gary North has offered seven steps to getting a bachelor’s degree for around $15,000. I personally completed my undergraduate a few years before he published this list. I was pleased to see that I anticipated six of his seven tips, finished for well under $15,000, and had no debt. Since I was awarded scholarships and grants for seminary and postgraduate work, I can say I actually spent less than $15k on all my higher education including my M.Div. and Ph.D. I have written about that here.

There are hidden costs, of course, such as: lost income during periods of working part-time in order to take a full course load, moving the family across country, a feeling of rootlessness, and the price of family stress while living in small apartments as daddy studies all day and works weekends and sometimes nights. These costs add up and must be taken seriously. I dare speculate that many seminaries have produced more strained families than good pastors. But that’s a whole different topic.

Meanwhile, too few people 1) can see the worthlessness of most academic degrees beforehand, 2) exercise the mental fortitude to think critically through the illusions of a college education, and 3) have enough economic sense to do a cost/benefit analysis of the situation.

Besides, even discounting nonsense degrees like women’s studies and many others, college is not for everyone. Many people would do well to go train under an entrepreneur or get a marketable technical skill. When I was in high school I worked part-time at a pizza joint. One of the other cooks was in his late twenties and had not pursued college. “You gonna cook pizza all your life,” I asked. “No. I want to learn how to fix air conditioners.” He skirted traditional college and enrolled in a vo-tech college. Graduated with a B average, no debt, and went from six bucks an hour to about $35k a year. Within a few years, with some experience, he was making more.

Many great jobs come this way, with technical training in real-world careers. Welders, auto mechanics, small engine repair, diesel mechanics, etc., will all always be in demand. This is true especially during time of recession when people quit buying expensive new things and try to make old things keep running. It’s cheaper to repair than buy new, and good repairmen are hard to find. A good skill and a good reputation are far more valuable than nearly any degree, certainly a Ph.D. in theology.

I remember one of my professors in college. He was in his first year after receiving his Ph.D. in Philosophy from a reputable State University. He was an adjunct in my local community college, maybe making around $2–3k per course. I looked him up out of curiosity. Today, sixteen years later, he’s still an adjunct, but at a different community college, teaching the same few courses. He did tell me that with his experience, he was able to get on a salaried position. For this, he must teach certain entry-level courses he does not care for to first-year students, year after year, but at around $40k a year, I’m sure he still counts himself lucky.

So what is a Ph.D. in philosophy worth? Not much, unless you’re a shoe-in for a tenured position. Such positions are very rare and highly competitive. Gary DeMar tells me the story of an old college buddy who completed a Ph.D. in philosophy. He responded to an open position at a major private university. Amazingly, they chose him. There had been 100 applicants.

Do the math: that means 99% of Doctors of Philosophy went home with no job and probably still thousands in debt.

In today’s depressed market and with a glut of Ph.Ds., a job at a mere community college is liable to draw that many applications.

Meanwhile, the air-conditioner repairman makes more money than the B.A. in women’s studies, the Ph.D. in philosophy, and most of their peers. And for now, Miss Munna herself has learned the lesson. She now works in a field that has nothing to do with her degree: she aids a photographer for $22/hour (keep in mind, New York City prices). At that rate, I doubt she will ever pay off her debt; and Federal law makes it virtually impossible to assuage it through bankruptcy.

And it’s not just her. Students all over the US graduate with pointless degrees, no experience, no real training, no job prospects, and thousands in debt. The average student loan debt is around $30,000 per graduate today. This only counts graduates, not the 50% who don’t even graduate and still have thousands in debt.

What’s all this “education” worth anyway? As I’ve mentioned, most degrees guarantee nothing. Many are utterly pointless beyond a personal hobby. Some are a complete waste of time. “Education” comes from the Latin, E (“out”) + ducare (“to lead”), meaning “to lead out.” The question with “leading out,” of course, always involves: 1) who’s leading, 2) “out” of what, and 3) leading “to” where? The educators purport to lead us out of ignorance, ostensibly, but the truth is well known that the university system has long been a bed of leftist indoctrination. Some references to “E + duce” worth considering include the Italian version, “Il Duce,” and the German equivalent, “der Führer.” Be careful whom you choose to lead you.

Jacques Ellul considered the point long ago in his book Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes: generalized “education” rarely produces true critical thinkers. It produces indoctrinated dupes who truly believe they’re critical thinkers but aren’t. Lenin, apocryphally but appropriately labeled them: “useful idiots.” We place a value on literacy, and rightly so. But we fail if we don’t move further. Literacy makes readers, but the exaltation merely of reading leads to an exaltation of the printed word. It takes on an authority, and this leads to a casual submission, or at least intimidation, before anyone who has written anything.1 “Author” becomes “authority,” and professors and grad students love that role.

Useful idiots believe they’re critical thinkers because they were told they’re critical thinkers and were handed a degree as certification of the fact. But rarely if ever do they think critically. In fact, Ellul notes, the intellectual is the first to fall for propaganda, and this is normal. Why? He answers, “Because he is convinced of his own superiority, the intellectual is much more vulnerable than anyone else in this maneuver. . . .”2

This is one reason I wrote Biblical Logic: I wanted to show Christians the scriptural and theological mandate for being critical thinkers, and how only based on God’s word can we be truly critical (“critical” from the Greek kritikos: “able to judge”).

A college degree is certainly no guarantee of this ability, and in many respects is a great hindrance to it. It certainly won’t guarantee a job or even marketability.

So many young people fall for the illusion that a college degree has value. It’s an enormous deception, and parents will do well to insulate themselves and their children from it. This takes discipline and commitment to values, because the deception weighs powerfully on the ego and sense of destiny. It inflates hopes that may not materialize, and it caresses fond hopes of glory residing deep in every depraved heart.

I know the power of that temptation. When I graduated seminary I took a long shot, just for my dreams’ sake. I applied to a single graduate school for a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies. Most aspirants will apply to several hoping one will accept. I narrowed my chances and applied only to one: Edinburgh. I didn’t expect to be selected. To my surprise, I was accepted and was offered a scholarship covering all the main tuition. Problem: the scholarship did not cover the “outside the UK” part of the tuition which amounted, due to exchange rates at the time, to about $10k per year. Add to this living expenses in a relatively expensive city. I figured the total bill at roughly $75k over three years.

It was the chance of a lifetime for a young scholar. It was my dream. I would have studied under leading NT scholar Larry Hurtado. But $75 grand? Was it worth the price?

I tried hard to raise money. I was offered donations from some private parties, and interest-free loans from others, but in the end would have still had to borrow $50-60k. Nevertheless, the draw of that Ph.D. from a prestigious university of international reputation pushed me to the edge. I almost bit, even knowing it was not the wise thing to do.

I went into the president at my seminary—a man of sound financial sense and thrift (“cheap,” he would say)—knowing he would tell me not what I wanted but needed to hear. I told him, “I need you to tell me, ‘Don’t accept the offer to Edinburgh.’” He obliged: “Joel, I can’t advise you to borrow eighty grand for a Ph.D.” The words still echo like a peal of thunder in my mind and a bolt of lightning in my heart; and I’m glad they do. We all need someone to pull us back from a brink like that.

So I am doing it here for you.

Many people should embrace this advice even before they pursue a bachelor’s degree, let alone a Ph.D. Everyone should embrace them before going into debt for any purported education.

The library card is cheaper. Go into business, marketing, engineering. Make money, don’t borrow it. Then read some good books on the side. Start with those from American Vision! Then, from the thousands you save, you can make a donation to American Vision.

  1. Jacques Ellul, Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, trans. by Konrad Kellen and Jean Lerner (New York: Vintage Books, 1973 [1965]), 108.
  2. Jacques Ellul, Propaganda, 110.
Categories: Worldview

Eyewitness speaks out on temple attack by messianic zealot

Tue, 04/19/2016 - 09:04

The testimony of Kesep-Zaqan Ben-Shulchanim, eyewitness to the attack on the temple:

I’ll never forget the first time it happened. I watched the curious man with a small band of followers sit at the edge of the outer court of the Temple, patiently braiding small cords together. He must have done it for the better part of an hour. He spoke to his friends as he just sat there twining away. But he kept looking over at us. I knew something was up, but I had no idea how big this would be. I had front-row seats to the liveliest Passover weekend ever, until now of course.

My dad was a banker—at least that’s what some people might call him today. We are the Hashulchanim, “The Table Men.” That’s a euphemism. We are always found sitting over tables in the Temple, and our trade is done over those tables. Some call us “Exchangers.” Greek-speakers call us kollubistes, “Coin Men” or “Rate Men.” This is because we charge an interest rate to exchange coins in the temple. You know who we are. Some might say bankers, others moneychangers. We get rich off of the church, to put it simple.

I say we’re just good businessmen. We saw an opportunity and we seized it. We saw a market and we met the demand. Every Passover people would flock to the Temple in droves from miles around. Many had only Gentile coins forbidden for Temple use. Others needed smaller change to make the yearly half-shekel. Our friends provided broader services. The masses needed sheep and doves for Passover sacrifices. We simply made it all happen. And we brought it all right to the doorstep. It was one-stop shopping; drive-through pesach. We provided a valuable service for people; and we got a handsome cut doing it. Everyone benefited. Who wouldn’t want that?

Well, there was one who apparently didn’t. That guy braiding that whip. I later learned they called him Joshua. He even let people call him “God with us.” He was from Nazareth—the other side of Samaria. Not much to speak of. He was never married, and everyone said he was a bastard. That makes sense. Here was another young fatherless soul who got radicalized and became some wild-eyes reformer. A purist, if you will. Later they told us he had “suggested” he was the Messiah in the synagogue in Nazareth. They tried to execute him right there for it, but he escaped. Looks like he brought his delusions of grandeur straight to our Temple mount. They say he claimed to perform a miracle in Cana, then came straight here.

Well, he eventually finished that whip. It must have been six feet long. He seemed to disappear for a minute. I looked up from a deal and noticed he was gone. But not for long. A loud crack rang out behind us. I immediately heard bleats and hooves. Cattle of all kinds stampeded through the place. Then I heard cries—shrieks! This crazed lunatic was driving everyone out of our market—one-by-one, en masse, it didn’t matter—from the rear to the front. Whether they moved fast or slow, they got moved. He kept cracking that whip.

Then came the crashes and bangs. He began flipping our tables. Just like the whipping, it was every single one. He was relentless. Tables flew, chairs flew, money flew. Table tops rang like thunder; coins flashed like lightning. It seemed like heaven had come crashing down on earth.

And when he had finished all this, he stood right in the middle of all his chaos, glowering at us, heaving chest, and growled, “Get this stuff out of here now! Don’t make my father’s house into a market!”

Now I’ve seen religious zealots and crazies in my day—this is Jerusalem, after all—but this idiot took the cake. He really believed he ruled this place; he acted like he owned this Temple and could do whatever he wanted. But it was all in pure rage and anger. It was like he thought he was God’s wrath in the flesh, and this was some kind of judgment day.

Well, the authorities thought differently. They were true heroes and men of God—stalwarts of our great institutions of Temple and Law. When they confronted him, they showed utmost patience and self-control, and did not even condemn him immediately. They showed way more patience than I would have (if he didn’t have that whip, of course).  They asked him by what authority he did these things, and they gave him a chance to answer for himself.

Suddenly, he didn’t look so in charge. The best he could come up with was even worse delusion than before. Not only was he going to destroy our tables, he actually said he was going to tear down the whole Temple! Yeah! I heard it with my own ears. And if that weren’t crazy enough, he said he could rebuild it—get this—in three days.

It was then that we all realized we were dealing with a verified nutcase. It was one thing to speak of a small miracle a few days prior—something about turning water into wine. Any good shyster can pull that off when no one’s looking. And that was way up in Cana. Those bumpkins up there in Galilee might fall for something like that (the same way they pay us eight percent just to make change! Ha!), but I had seen enough false messiahs in my day—I’ll just shake my head. But to destroy and rebuild this Temple in three days? That’s sheer lunacy—and of course it never happened. So when he said this, everyone just kind of said “Oooo-kaaay,” rolled their eyes, backed away slowly, and hoped he would go away. The priests looked at each other in dismay and walked away shaking their heads. A few feet out of ear shot, so they thought, they burst out laughing. Can you blame them?

No one set their tables back up that day. A few days later, it was all over. He cost us a lot of money, and he totally freaked us all out.

But after that, he became the stuff of legend throughout Judea and even in Jerusalem. Idiots, all. I kept hearing about “Joshua of Nazareth” healing people, saying great things, and making great promises. He supposedly outwitted the Pharisees and lawyers all the time—typical popular religion. But some of these guys are personal friends of mine. They told me all he really did was twist Scripture to make it confusing, and the make these great pronouncements of judgment as if he was a prophet. The more he argued, the more he confused people—and then he acted like he had refuted everyone with his brilliance.

The masses actually think he is a prophet. But these are the same people who raise swine and watch Roman theater when no one’s watching them—not the best judges of godliness, I’d say. None of them are educated, they’re all illiterate, and they’re all jealous of our money, even though we got it through hard work, discipline, foresight—obviously God’s blessing. All you’ve got to do to rile up these sweaty masses is talk bad about prominent men and the business class. They love it! Bad-mouth the lawyers; eat the rich! It’s worked for thousands of years. It will probably work for thousands more.

So no, I didn’t buy any of it. The guy is a lunatic on steroids—probably smoking something—deranged, deluded, a liar, a revolutionary, a subversive, a narcissist, and fanatic about being all these things. Like I said, I’ve seen a few; and he’s one for the ages.

Now here we were, three years later. Just when we thought it was safe to return to our business, he shows up again—and does the same thing. He drives us all out, shouting, and overthrowing our tables.

But this time, thousands of people praised his entrance like he is really the messiah. They sang psalms and repeated prophecies as we walked into the city. This time, his reputation among the illiterate preceded him. It was a grand entrance. The priests saw him coming this time, but they were powerless to stop him. The masses thronged to watch him make a mockery of us again. It was sedition! It was revolution! Madness!

And when he finished this time, he preached at us again. Anger and fire seemed to fly from his eyes as he quoted Isaiah, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” and then he leveled the charge at us, out of the blue: “but you make it a den of robbers.”

It was utter nonsense. Here was this mental patient in the midst of his second criminal act against us and our property, having destroyed and scattered our money all over the place (some of it never to be recovered), and he has the gall to call us “robbers”? It’s sheer narcissism. It’s total perversion of law and order. But he got away with it because he deceived the masses into believing in he was something special. There they stood, applauding him and cheering him because he stuck it to those more successful than themselves.

Well, I got news for Mr. Nazarene. You don’t mock God’s Temple and God’s faithful servants a second time and get away with it. Once I heard they finally arrested him, I knew it was reckoning time. You reap what you sow. You sow violence and derision, you reap the same, and now it’s time for him to learn. I was all too happy to add my testimony as a contribution for a real court of justice. The Law does not sanction vigilantes, and it punishes false prophets, and even more so false messiahs. Thank God we have such a true system of law and order, courts and regular justice. Thank God!

Finally, I want to add what I consider the most egregious characteristic of it all. This guy who is supposed to be a messiah was full of nothing but rage and anger and meanness. It’s one thing to teach controversy; you put yourself to the fringe real quickly when you do that already. But when you do it with such an angry demeanor, with violence and threats—you just turn people off immediately. I rest absolutely assured that there’s no way that man can be a man of God, because no man of God will seem so angry. Remember the stuff Solomon said:

A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated (Prov. 14:17).

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly (Prov. 14:29).

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense (Prov. 19:11).

And that’s just exactly what I heard on this second occasion. As we stood from a distance and watched him vandalize the property, shouting prophecies at us like threats, some guy behind me said, “He’s just an angry person.” Even a few of the same people who praised him through the gates began to have their doubts when they realized it.

Some people acted like this guy is a “walking Bible,” but he apparently forgot a few key parts of it. Like, “Love you neighbor.” Yeah. Some messiah. How about, “Thou shall not move your neighbor’s landmark.” He sure overturned mine—twice.

So, no, I hardly bought it like some people did. I knew better. I know the law, and the prophets, and the writings. And this guy didn’t measure up to any of it. Our great edifices and institutions were not built by the likes of him. The grand wealth of our economy did not come through purists and complainers like him who subvert it all. Great reform movements, like the Pharisees, true republicans!, have built these things over years through great personal effort and sacrifice. Great kingdom advances don’t come through radicalism, but through wise political alliances, like the Herodians. Peace and security—and national greatness!—do not come through angry revolutionaries, especially those like him who are poorly bred and have never really accomplished anything in their lives.

I am sorry for this man personally—the compassion of the Almighty calls me to it; but he is wrong, and he is dangerous—and he has proven himself so. I am happy to see justice done, and to see him gone. We can get back to a more peaceful nation and religion when he is out of the picture—and we can certainly get back to a more profitable business.

Categories: Worldview

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