Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Russ Smith on the purpose of Sola Scriptura

I was reading my fellow parishioner Russ Smith's blog Jack of Clubs, and found the following excellent paragraph:

"The most important thing to remember about Sola Scriptura is that its purpose is the liberty of the Christian. We see this in Aritcle VI [of the Thirty-Nine Articles] in the provision that whatever is not found in scripture "is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith". The concern of the reformers was not to state an abstract epistemological principle, but to correct a specific abuse that had crept up in the church. Too often in evangelical and reformed churches this principle is seen as an end in itself; as if the purpose of worshipping God were to avoid any unbiblical practices, rather than the other way around. This back-door pharisaism is particularly ironic because it uses the very principle that ought to free us from fear as a source of anxiety -- the haunting fear that we might do something that isn't found in the Bible."

Russ' point strikes me as correct. Sola Scriptura is meant to be a liberating principle that frees us to obey the Lord. It was definitely not intended to be a tool with which those who are impossible to please may disrupt the peace of the established Church of God. You can read Russ' entire article here.

Book Recommendations

Last summer I read Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man by Chesterton. I cannot recommend these books highly enough. Chesterton is the apologetic master par excellance before C. S. Lewis. In fact he is Lewis' master in many respects. The Everlasting Man is must reading for thoughtful Christians for several reasons. Among its many treasures is an excellent discussion of the competing Christian and naturalistic "stories" of man. Along the way, Chesterton demolishes the evolutionistic view of humanity's origins.

Read this description of the evolutionary anthropologist's over-reliance on the fragmentary fossil evidence:

"He can only clutch his fragment of fact, almost as the primitive man clutched his fragment of flint. And indeed he does deal with it in much the same way and for much the same reason. It is his tool and his only tool. It is his weapon and his only weapon. He often wields it with a fanaticism far in excess of anything shown by men of science when they can collect more facts from experience and even add new facts by experiment. Sometimes the professor with his bone becomes almost as dangerous as a dog with his bone. And the dog at least does not deduce a theory from it, proving that mankind is going to the dogs--or that it came from them."

Besides this, The Everlasting Man features an in-depth analysis of paganism, contrasting its mythological and demonic stages with Christianity. Chesterton's thesis is that modern Westerners are so familiar with Christianity (in the sense that familiarity breeds contempt) that they do not appreciate the real uniqueness of it. In fact. Christianity makes extraordinary claims about itself. In the process of showing how the Christian religion is not reducible to generic religion, Chesterton articulates the Lord-Liar-Lunatic conundrum that Lewis later popularized in his classic Mere Christianity.

For a classic short piece by Chesterton you may want to check out "The Diabolist". I will be referring to this piece here at UO in the future. You can count on it.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Retort to Maureen Dowd

On the 4th, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times wrote an Op-Ed piece entitled "The Red Zone." Her piece seems to be part of the Times' "official story" that the election was hijacked by the Christian right. I wrote this letter to Ms. Dowd to confirm her fears that there is indeed a real Christian right that wants to re-establish Christendom.

Ms. Dowd,

In your latest editorial you wrote:

"The president got re-elected by dividing the country along fault lines of fear, intolerance, ignorance and religious rule."

This is brilliant analysis! Republicans and Christian right nut-jobs are really fearful, intolerant, and ignorant theocrats in sheep's clothing.

But isn't it true, Ms. Dowd, that you fear, marginalize, and avoid considering their ideas? When was the last time you read the Gospel of St. John, studied the Nicene creed, or contemplated the five ways of Thomas Aquinas? Did you even "get" Dostoevsky's Brothers K?

The moral and intellectual tradition of the church has been going for 2000 years. From whom did your virtues come and at what date did they arrive? Or, did they arise out of the thin air of your own brain?

I always savor the irony when secularists parade their list of virtues for us all to bow down to. What authority do they have to impose the "values" of tolerance and radical secularism upon us? What Moses came down from Sinai to give us these laws?

Tolerance is a wholly neutral concept. One can tolerate evil or good, it makes no diffence because tolerance is just tolerance. Tolerance is an attitude, not a virtue.

Secularism is a wholly negative concept: it merely means the absence of religion. Your values are devoid of content, Ms. Dowd.

In order for your concepts to have any meaning, you must assume the reality of good and evil. And these, my dear, are spiritual realities. Your pseudo-values are parasitic on the good, depending for their being on Good itself.

Have I lost you, Ms. Dowd? Neglected your St. Augustine, have you? Maybe you should read Plato on the death of Socrates before you move on to heavier things like Trinitarian monotheism. Apparently, sensitivity and familiarity with the Christian foundations of civilization are not required for Op-Ed journalism at the Times.

BTW, the militant a-theism of the secular left is Exhibit A that there can never be peaceful co-existence between people who believe that religion has a legitimate political aspect and people such as yourself.

More and more people are recognizing this. The upshot is that the Enlightenment project has failed, and it will be only a matter of time before American government is re-founded on explicitly Christian values.

Andrew Matthews

"I can't believe I'm losing to this idiot"

Well, he lost--much to the relief of many I know. John Kerry was unfit to lead this country for many reasons, not least because he was the real idiot. As unwise and undiscerning as the mass of Americans can be, they still possess the instinct for self-preservation. And a candidate who actively works to discredit a war being carried on in the interest of America doesn't understand human nature very well. As long as Americans still possess a basic love and concern for their own country, they will support actions that are taken in their defense. There will never be another Vietnam because the 60's are over.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

NY Times Says Osama Tape Will Have No Effect

Today's article, "Voters, Their Minds Made Up, Say bin Laden Changes Nothing," by Kirk Johnson appears to be an attempt by the Times to make sure that Osama's last minute bid to influence the election will not help Bush. True, this is probably the most polarized election in my lifetime, and certainly, most people have made their minds up already. However, our current situation is that the race is very close, and every vote counts at this point. Who knows how many voters are like Veronica Gonzalez of St. Paul who said, according to the Times, "that the tape certainly scared her, but that she did not know whether Mr. bin Laden's words might influence her vote." (emphasis added) While it is true that the partisans will not be dissuaded from supporting their candidates, there may be many people "in the middle" who are confused and do not know which way they should go. It's time to pray that Americans think very carefully about why terrorists want John Kerry in office and not George Bush.

Read the NY Times article.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Hans Hoppe on Democracy

Hans Hermann-Hoppe is probably the most competent critic of democracy writing today. He argues in his latest book, Democracy: The God that Failed, that democracy is both uneconomical and immoral. It is absolutley necessary that thinking people start questioning the value and utility of this sacred cow. The way forward is to be found by tracing our way back and finding out where we went wrong.

Hoppe writes, "Imagine a world government, democratically elected according to the principle of one-man-one-vote on a worldwide scale. What would the probable outcome of an election be? Most likely, we would get a Chinese-Indian coalition government. And what would this government most likely decide to do in order to satisfy its supporters and be reelected? The government would probably find that the so-called Western world had far too much wealth and the rest of the world, in particular China and India, had far too little, and hence, that a systematic wealth and income redistribution would be called for...

"In light of these 'thought experiments', is there any doubt about the consequences which resulted from the process of democratization that began in Europe and the U.S. in the second half of the nineteenth century and has come to fruition since the end of World War I? The successive expansion of the franchise and finally the establishment of universal adult suffrage did within each country what a world democracy would do for the entire globe: it set in motion a seemingly permanent tendency toward wealth and income redistribution.

"One-man-one-vote combined with 'free entry' into government – democracy – implies that every person and his personal property comes within reach of – and is up for grabs by – everyone else. A 'tragedy of the commons' is created. It can be expected that majorities of 'have-nots' will relentlessly try to enrich themselves at the expense of minorities of 'haves'."

Here, Hoppe has exposed the dark secret of democratic egalitarianism. Democracy is in reality institutionalized envy. It is the condition when the envious mob has justified its coerced appropriation of other people's property and labor.

An article composed of excerpts from Hoppe's new book may be found here. Check it out!

Osama Tries to Influence the 2004 Election

"Despite the fact that we have entered the fourth year from Sept. 11, Bush is still misguiding you by hiding the real reason from you...
God knows that it had not occurred to our mind to attack the towers, but after our patience ran out and we saw the injustice and inflexibility of the American-Israeli alliance toward our people in Palestine and Lebanon, this came to my mind."

--Osama bin Laden
(translation provided by the Search for International Terrorist Entities Institute)

Gentle Reader, isn't it obvious that this new video by Bin Laden will influence the election? That it will affect the notorious "undecided voter" at this crucial moment, four days before the election? Please recall the circumstances of the last election in Spain.

Oh yes, the two candidates have been quick to anounce that the American people "will not be influenced by an enemy of our country" (Bush) and that we are "absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists." (Kerry)

But in such a close race, can anyone realistically believe that an event of this magnitude will have only a negligible impact on the national mood?

It is too early to say what this message from Osama will accomplish, but there can be no doubt that its effects will be far-reaching. Perhaps they will be more far-reaching than our available guages of popular opinion can reckon.

Let's step back for a moment and consider the threat that terrorists pose to democracy. Through their willing accomplices at Al-Jazeera and other media outlets, terrorists have been able extort whole governments to do their bidding (to withdraw troops from Iraq, for example).

A civillian population that is ambivalent about any given war will surely be influenced against it by weekly barrages of video taped beheadings. After all, shouldn't we mind our own business and let other people live the way they want in their own countries?

From what I can tell, this sentiment is fairly common among the leftist opponents of our current operation in Iraq. In the middle of a war that the United States has fully committed itself to, the political opposition has done its best to convince the population that the war has been a failure. According to them, the war was a mistake in its conception and an uninterrupted series of tactical blunders in its execution.

I was discussing this matter yesterday with a client of mine, who informed me of Walter Cronkite's verdict that the 1968 Tet Offensive meant "defeat" for the American effort in Vietnam.
According to Notra Trulock of Accuracy in Media, this broadcast is "widely credited as a turning point in American support for the war."

Trulock continues, "In a famous half-hour news special, he declared that in the aftermath of Tet 'it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate.' Lyndon Johnson was reported to be dismayed at the prospect of losing Cronkite's support for the war. And indeed, public support for the war dropped 25% following Cronkite's declaration and media coverage of the offensive in general." Read the entire article here.

Democracy in its essence is rule by the majority. Those who favor it do so on the assumption that the majority usually is in the possession of good judgment (however this is defined!). Bush and Kerry both have affirmed their faith in the good sense of the American people.

The question I wish to pose is this: How good can the people's sense be when their information comes from extremely biased sources? Add to this the fact that terrorists, politicians, and reporters (among others) are all engaged in cynically manipulating the media to influence us.

What is the value of democracy when the will of the people is subject to such chaos?

Friday, October 29, 2004

First Post

This weblog is the online journal of Andrew Matthews. While I will write much on the subject of church and state, you'll find my opinions on a variety of topics as well as links to other things on the web that I find interesting. When the spirit moves me, I may also include longer essays.

I will attempt to demonstate and illustrate the following theses here at UO:

1. Divine government is monarchical.

2. Human authority is derived from and patterned after the divine monarchy.

3. Jesus Christ is now both de jure and de facto King of kings.

4. The New Covenant is a universal administration of God's kingdom that encompasses all human societies, including the nations.

5. Enlightenment revolutionism (whether American, French, or Bolshevik) is the political expression of anti-Christ.

6. Religious sectarianism is the ecclesiastical counterpart to political revolutionism and is the religious expression of anti-Christ.

7. Christendom is roughly equivalent to the visible kingdom of Christ.

8. The Church's task is to disciple all nations in the obedience of Christ. This is an essential aspect of catholic Christianity.

I welcome all thoughtful discussion of these issues. Any suggestions to improve this site and the quality of its content would be much appreciated. Thank you and God bless.

Andrew Matthews

UPDATED 7/16/06