Tuesday, October 31, 2006

America Alone: Dennis Prager Interviews Mark Steyn

Yesterday, I listened to my favorite radio talk show host, Dennis Prager, interview Mark Steyn, columnist and author of America Alone. You can listen to this excellent interview by clicking here, and scrolling down to the first entry for Monday, October 30, 2006.

I'm still pondering these incisive remarks that Steyn made during the discussion:

"The chief characteristic of our age is deferred adulthood."

"What's the point of creating the perfect society if it's only for one generation?"

"I think the Europeans got so good at enjoying their freedoms, they came to loathe and despise those who still understand that there are times you have to fight for them. That's not just a European thing, by the way, I think it's also present in the American left to a degree."

"I say in the book at one point that the inflation of America as this kind of grand demon is almost inversely proportional to its actual threat to anybody. It isn't a conventionally expansionist hyperpower. Even benign ones like Britain-- if a royal navy warship turned up off the coast of your capital city in the 19th Century, it generally meant they had plans to run the flag up the flag pole and install a governor in your palace. In other words, even the most benign great power was expansionist in those days. With America-- people have simply no reason to fear that America will go around the planet invading countries. I think that's actually part of the problem-- America ought to be invading more countries!"

"So instead, they've inflated [America] into almost an absurd phantom enemy. I think that's what a lot of the environmentalism is all about. That in fact, because America doesn't do what Germany and the Soviet Union and all these other countries did, which is send their troops marching across borders and bombing things, they invented environmentalism to make American passivity the biggest threat to the planet. Just Americans staying at home and eating cheeseburgers and drinking carbonated drinks was using up too many of the planet's resources! I mean , when you think about it, there's no precedent for a power as unthreatening to the planet as the United States is."

Friday, October 27, 2006

Bernard Lewis on “Freedom and Justice in Islam”

What is the possibility of freedom in the Islamic world, in the Western sense of the word? If you look at the current literature, you will find two views common in the United States and Europe. One of them holds that Islamic peoples are incapable of decent, civilized government. Whatever the West does, Muslims will be ruled by corrupt tyrants. Therefore the aim of our foreign policy should be to insure that they are our tyrants rather than someone else's—friendly rather than hostile tyrants. This point of view is very much favored in departments of state and foreign offices and is generally known, rather surprisingly, as the “pro-Arab” view. It is, of course, in no sense pro-Arab. It shows ignorance of the Arab past, contempt for the Arab present, and unconcern for the Arab future. The second common view is that Arab ways are different from our ways. They must be allowed to develop in accordance with their cultural principles, but it is possible for them—as for anyone else, anywhere in the world, with discreet help from outside and most specifically from the United States—to develop democratic institutions of a kind. This view is known as the “imperialist” view and has been vigorously denounced and condemned as such.

[Reprinted by permission from IMPRIMIS, the national speech digest of Hillsdale College, www.hillsdale.edu.]

Read the entire article.

This Passing Age & Fairy Tales

This world is not all it seems, and the social reality we live in is all topsy-turvy and wrong. Everything's inverted, upside down. Here, the cynic masquerades as a wise man. A man can be a woman if he wants. It is a fantastic place where truth is ridiculed and folly praised, where good is called evil, and evil good.

It's a place that cannot last, a way of life that cannot sustain itself. The world works a certain way, and when people stop living according to the-way-things-are, they end up committing suicide. God is not mocked. The mighty will be pulled down from their seat, He will exalt the humble and meek.

In time, this seemingly all-powerful, overwhelming reality will be exposed for what it is: a mere blip on the timeline of the great historical aeons. For a moment John Lennon thought the Beatles were more influential than Jesus Christ, but there will come a time when no one will remember his name.

We are not condemned to live within the limits of this place. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may show that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." "Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes Jesus is the Christ?"

All the fairy tales are true. They are the stories that will be remembered long after the stories of this forlorn day are discarded on the dust heap of history.
There is the chivalrous lesson of 'Jack the Giant Killer'; that giants should be killed because they are gigantic. It is a manly mutiny against pride as such... There is the lesson of 'Cinderella,' which is the same as the Magnificat-exaltavit humiles. There is the great lesson of 'Beauty and the Beast'; that a thing must be loved before it is loveable. There is the terrible allegory of the 'Sleeping Beauty,' which tells how the
human creature was blessed with all birthday gifts, yet cursed with death; and how death also may perhaps be softened to a sleep...

In the fairy tale an incomprehensible happiness rests upon an incomprehensible condition. A box is opened, and all evils fly out. A word is forgotten, and cities perish. A lamp is lit, and love flies away. A flower is plucked, and human lives are forfeited. An apple is eaten, and the hope of God is gone.
--G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Letter to a Zealous Monarchist

Hi Nick,

I've written a new article on America's foreign policy & Middle East strategy. Having read a lot of neoconservative literature over the years and being a fellow monarchist, I thought you might be interested in my take on things.

As you know, I work hard to reconcile my monarchist convictions with loyalty to my American heritage. I understand this to be an obligation of Christian charity.

I view America's origins, whether Puritan or Enlightenment as problematic. I'm also not happy with much of what I see today. However, my concern is less about what America used to be--or even what it is now--and more about what she will become.

Remember, yesterday's revolutionaries are today's establishment and
tomorrow's traditionalists.

I don't really see the point in constantly berating America's foreign policy. Even Catholic monarchs in the real world (and not in the imagined past) are subject to error. I'm sure that if you were to fairly compare America's virtues and vices with those of any other nation on planet earth, past or present, you'd find America measuring up favorably. Let's have a little perspective shall we?

I think Christian traditionalists of all stripes should be cheering on America's efforts to bring order to the Middle East. This can only result in a transformation of Islam, maybe even its destruction.

Don't be fooled by neoconservative speech rhetoric. What they mean by "democracy" is constitutional government & rule by law that respects human rights and promotes economic prosperity. Neoconservatives are only enamoured of majority rule when the majority hold to traditional values. This is the democracy that G. K. Chesterton wrote about in his masterpiece, Orthodoxy.

There is currently no better alternative available to the Iraqis. I'll take neoconservative "democracy" over Saddam any day. It's too bad more Iraqis don't appreciate the opportunity they've been given.

Andrew Matthews

Dialogue with Eric Langborgh: America's Middle East Strategy (Updated 10/27/06)

**This entry has been modified from its original form. New or altered material is indicated by an orange font.

Eric Langborgh over at the Borg Blog has provided a positive and stimulating challenge to my positions on Iraq and the use of American power. It has been a real pleasure to read his material and chew on his arguments. The purpose of this entry is to engage him on what America should be trying to accomplish in the Middle East in general, and in Iraq in particular.

Although our influence is limited, so it may not matter very much what conclusions we arrive at, perhaps our dialogue may serve to provide clarity to the issues.

Confusion about the Causes of Islamic Discontent

Eric and I differ on the primary cause of Islamic discontent. While I have argued that the spread of Islamic radicalism, or Islamism, is the result of a culture clash between formerly isolated civilizations that now threatens the survival of Muslim culture, Eric believes that American imperialism is the primary culprit. He writes,

[M]uch of the Islamic world’s current response to us has changed in the last fifty or sixty years or so in large part because of the imperialist threat they see from us. We have based our troops on their holy lands and our government has meddled with their own internal affairs... I do agree... that a large part of their response has been cultural, as they see their way of life threatened. But I contend that it is primarily what our government has done that has elicited the hateful response.

Because I am not a liberal (in the classical sense) and/or do not interpret history through a libertarian hermeneutic, I remain unpersuaded by this line of argumentation.

[NOTE: According to my understanding, classical laissez faire liberalism and libertarianism share the following orientations, (which also qualifies them as quasi-anarchist political philosophies):
  • Government is the cause or a result of a fall from original innocence, being unnecessary when human beings were able to govern themselves in an original state of freedom.
  • Because government itself is tainted by its association with the Fall, the exercise of authority must always be questioned and curtailed. Lord Acton's dictum that "Power tends to corrupt," is a favorite refrain.
  • The stability and morality of society is ultimately determined by how well individuals govern themselves. The tendency is to think government is an impediment rather than an aid to virtue (and I think this arises in Christian circles from a faulty view of the Law).
  • The essential problem in politics is that of how the individual can free himself from the tyrannical oppression of corrupt government so that he can live virtuously.
While not all liberals/libertarians hold these beliefs explicitly, I believe this is their common worldview.]

Remember, we are talking about primary causes here, not aggravating factors. I will concede that some of America's policies have exasperated things (as our involvement in Iraq seems to have done). The creation of the Israeli state and American interventionism may have precipitated certain responses, but they are not the primary cause of the radicalizing of Islam.
The European colonial powers, world communism, and America have all played at the game of interfering and "meddling" in the affairs of other nations. Why is it that only Muslims have only now resorted to international terrorism as a response? There must be some determining factor other than supposed American imperialism.

President Ahmadi-Nejad's recent statement at the UN that, "By causing war and conflict, some are fast expanding their domination, accumulating greater wealth and usurping all the resources, while others endure the resulting poverty, suffering and misery," is pure "blame America first" claptrap. These sentiments, lifted straight out of the leftist propaganda playbook, attribute nefarious motives to the Bush administration foreign policy.

How one judges the morality of America's actions depends on one's interpretation of America's intentions. There are no brute facts. A large percentage of Muslims have adopted the leftist posture of suspicion toward America, believing the worst about us. Historically, leftists and now Islamists look upon America as the incarnation of exploitive malevolence in the world.

This couldn't be further from the truth. The neoconservatives, who actually believe in democracy (unlike myself), intend to promote freedom (i.e., constitutional government and free market capitalism) as a way to bring prosperity and stability to the developing world. Their goal has not been to impose a foreign culture on the Middle East, but rather to provide Middle Easterners with political and economic mechanisms to enable them to be successful on their own. It has been my opinion that with enough support at home, this project would have a chance of being successful to a degree (though it cannot be the entire solution).

The neoconservatives are persuaded by Thomas Friedman's thesis that radicalism will decrease if economic stagnation is combated in the region. I believe Friedman is correct that any proactive strategy must include an economic aspect, though economics has only limited power to explain human action.

The Islamists have been heartened by our liberal left's opposition to this strategy. They our counting on causing enough murder and mayhem (under the pretense of "freedom fighters") to weaken the American will to carry this thing through. As Ahmadi-Nejad says, "There is no indication that the occupiers have the necessary political will to eliminate the sources of instability."

Furthermore, libertarians and isolationist conservatives have been distracted by thinking that Bush's preemptive strategy somehow tramples on the rights of "sovereign" peoples. If the Islamists didn't think they could work in tandem with liberal (and other) opposition to the war, their prospects for holding out would be much poorer. The Islamists have become adept at playing their enemies off against one another.

Indeed, France is currently discovering that mere opposition to American imperialism does not buy favor with Islamists. An average of 112 cars per day have been torched so far his year, and there is a daily average of 15 attacks on police and emergency services by rioting "youths," as the press calls them, or "spirited youth" as Ahmadi-Nejad calls them.

The Threat of Islam

Eric talks about the complicated nature of our enemy's hatred. I agree, they do not "hate freedom," a euphemism necessitated (?) by political correctness, they want to move into our countries and convert our governments into Islamic regimes. It's called Jihad.


Iraq is a mess. There's no way to deny it. Outright civil war is taking place between Sunnis and Shi'as. (Though I'm suspicious about the accuracy of the media coverage of the "war.") This sectarian violence is distinct from hostilities carried out against our troops, by the way. Perhaps it would have been wiser to leave Saddam in power. Perhaps.

On the other hand, we are seeing that former Baathists have become radicalized since losing power. Whatever their motivation, whether out of genuine idealistic commitment or gaining power, we see that secular Arabs are capable of conversion to Islamism.

As the tensions mounted between Saddam's Iraq and the U.S., Saddam began to position himself as pro-Islamist. Evidence of this is seen in the fact that in 2002 he increased his bounty for suicide bombers from $10,000 to $25,000. The family of each suicide bomber received this sum.

By attempting to acquire yellowcake uranium in Niger, remaining continually uncooperative with the UN inspectors, and defying UN resolution after UN resolution, Saddam positioned his regime to be the prime focus of the U.S.' attention after Afghanistan. Saddam was unfinished business that needed to be taken care of even after the first Gulf War

What should America do now? While it is politically not feasible to bring in the requisite troops needed to restore order, which would be full occupation with rule by martial law, it appears that we need to let the civil war take its natural course (which may be the better option anyway). Our main activity in the Iraqi interior would be to provide "advisors" for the infant Iraqi government. Perhaps our purpose there should now be merely to guard the Iraqi borders, protect the Kurds, and begin figuring out how to deal with Iran and Syria. More War!!!!

American Strategy: Defensive or Pre-emptive?

Eric and I differ on the nature our Middle East strategy should take. I favor taking proactive and pre-emptive measures. Eric favors a reactive strategy. He writes,
...I believe that this is not a war that can be fought with arms, outside of isolated defensive and occasional offensive actions in response to well-defined terrorist threats and actions taken against us.

I can agree that we need to respond to well-defined terrorist threats. However, I think we need to nip some things in the bud before they become imminent threats. And I agree with the underlying neocon intention to address the root of the problem, though I disagree with them on what the whole solution involves (i.e., I don't reduce the whole problem to a struggle between freedom and tyranny).

Realistic or not, Bush's strategy has been to use military force in a limited way in order to clear the way to implement political tolerance (through constitutional government) and economic growth in the region. He has not sought to occupy Iraq fully or permanently, however our opponents care to characterize our mission. Rather, Bush and the neocons were expecting the Iraqi people to respond favorably to this opportunity we provided and were surprised by the magnitude of the resultant insurgency.

They were mistaken.

Oh, well. It may be that a civil war in Iraq will result in a situation more agreeable to stability in the region. And, we can always depose the regime again if we don't like the outcome (I'm being somewhat flippant here). I just do not see any alternative to trying to police the political situation over there.

Bush's Orientation: Dispensational or Neo-conservative?

Eric has voiced a concern that dispensational eschatology is exercising an influence over Bush's policy. He writes,
I believe that dispensational eschatology is overly influencing our foreign policy. It would be nice if actual Christianity would hold that influence. For example, Bush’s refusal to meet with the Iranian president when he was on our own soil was beyond ridiculous and is self-defeating in my mind.

I may be reading into this too much, but is the thought that Bush won't dialogue because Ahmadi-Nejab has called for the dissolution of Israel? If so, this is simply incorrect. There has been no contact between Iran and the U.S. since 1980 (during the hostage crisis).

I know that dispensationalists support the state of Israel and also that they form a significant part of the Christian right. However, support for the nation of Israel does not come from them alone. Presumably, Jewish-Americans favor policies that support Israel. The neoconservatives also support Israel because they view it as their ally in the spread of "freedom & democracy."

Israel should be supported for the following reasons:
  1. "Palestine" is the ancestral homeland of the Jews. It is their God-given inheritance that they will securely dwell in after their conversion to Christ (NOTE: I am not a premillennialist!). No one else has a stronger claim to that land.
  2. No other sovereign nation has existed there for the last 2000 years. It has always been dominated by foreign powers.
  3. The Jews need a homeland for their continued survival. The Holocaust must never happen again.
  4. It is the only non-Muslim state in the region. (Reason enough!)

One may read Ahmadi-Nejad's 2006 letter to Bush and reports of recent statements he made about Israel's illegitimacy to understand that the Iranian President is not living in the same reality President Bush is. Consider the final words spoken by Ahmadi-Nejad at the UN:

I emphatically declare that today's world, more than ever before, longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity; and above all longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet.

O, Almighty God, all men and women are Your creatures and You have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirsts for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by You, and make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause.

Ahmadi-Nejad is not talking about the return of Jesus Christ here. He's talking about the coming of Muhammad al-Mahdi, the Twelfth Imam, who according to Shi'a Muslims, has been in "occultation" (hidden by God) since the 9th Century.

Bush is a neoconservative, not a dispensationalist. He doesn't want to debate Mahdis vs. Messiahs. He doesn't want to draw comparisons between occultation and the secret Rapture, or the Muslim view of latter day calamities and the Great Tribulation. Bush has no desire to orchestrate end times scenarios. However, Ahmadi-Nejad does. He's a very dangerous man who employs high sounding rhetoric to posture himself as the true champion of human rights against the tyrannical United States, a.k.a., the Great Satan.

While allowing that there is a place for some critical self-evaluation, I reject the idea that American aggression is the primary cause of the rise of radical Islam. Islamism is the consequence of a certain way of looking at the world. Radicalized Muslims are going to interpret world events differently than Christians or humanists.

By arguing this way, I am not making a tautologous argument that radical Islam is the cause of radical Islam. Rather, new ideological factors have been assimilated into the Islamic worldview to radicalize Muslim culture as explained below. Thus, certain historical events have precipitated a negative Muslim reaction. The responsibility for atrocities committed by Muslims lies entirely on the shoulders of those who propagate Islamist ideology.

To date, America is the most benevolent and just nation that has ever existed. It isn't perfect, but its intentions have never been to exploit the poor of the world. This charge originated in the upside-down worldview of international Communism. There is no concord between a belief in America's essential goodness and the belief that she is the Great Satan. (Also, there can be no meaningful dialogue between civilized nations and those who refuse to recognize the sovereignty of Israel.) America is the flagship of Western Civilization, and hence, of Christendom.

Islam as the incarnation of Antichrist, the sum of all heresies, has assimilated fascistic anti-semitism and communistic elements, to become more dangerous than ever. Better than he knows, President Bush has correctly identified our enemies as evil doers.

The libertarians and leftist-liberals who join together to pressure the U.S. to quit Iraq and foreswear interference in Middle East politics think they can stop the speeding trains from colliding. However, the clash of civilizations has already commenced.

The conflict that lies ahead may be the most desperate Christendom has yet faced. The peril is great because we have forgotten--or no longer believe in--who we are.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

From the Anglican Litany

From all sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion; from all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word and Commandment,
Good Lord, deliver us.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mark Steyn on Europe's Population Decline

Columnist Austin Bay has reviewed Mark Steyn's new book, America Alone, which I will be purchasing soon. If you aren't already aware, Europe is in trouble, deep trouble. Here's an excerpt from Bay's article:

Europeans are reproducing below the "replacement rate" -- thus the average age of their populations is increasing sharply. If current trends continue, by 2050 one in three Germans and Italians will be over 65 years old. In the United States, only one in five will be so gray.

As a result, the Europe of the European Union (Steyn disdainfully calls it "Eutopia") faces economic decline and risks systemic change. Steyn writes: "Tax revenues that support the ever growing numbers of the elderly and retired have to be paid by equally growing numbers of the young and working. The design flaw of the radically secularist Eutopia is that it depend on a religious-society birth rate."
For Christians, these disturbing facts confirm the importance and relevance of the cultural mandate that was originally given to Adam (Gen. 1:22) and again to Noah after the Flood (Gen. 9:7). "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it," is a command that has never been rescinded. We neglect God's good commands at our peril.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Choice We are Faced With

Here in America, and the West in general, our traditional "values" have been under attack by secular progressives. Secular progressives have so long considered the white Christian male to be the oppressor, that they are willing to allow Islam parity and even preference to Chrtistianity. "Multiculti," as Doug McIntyre calls it, has prevented our communities from preferencing our own culture and heritage, while allowing Muslims to import their alien ways into our society.

Dennis Prager has written an article about Muslim cab drivers who don't conform to our cultural expectations. Here is an excerpt:
...In Britain and Australia, Muslim taxi drivers refuse to pick up passengers who have a dog with them -- even when the passenger is blind and the dog is a Seeing Eye dog. Nearly all religious Muslims believe that Islam forbids them to come into contact with dogs. Therefore, Muslim taxi drivers will even drive by a blind person standing in the cold, lest they come into contact with the dog.

And in Minneapolis, Minn., Muslim taxi drivers, who make up a significant percentage of taxi drivers in that city, refuse to pick up passengers who have a bottle of wine or other alcoholic beverage with them. This is significant. We are not talking here about Muslim fanatics or Muslim terrorists, but about decent every day Muslims. And what these practices reveal is something virtually unknown in Judeo-Christian societies -- the imposing of one's religious practices on others.

Melanie Phillips, author of Londonistan, has written similarly:
The most grotesque example of all, however, is surely the proposal to build the largest mosque in Europe on the site of the Olympic village in east London. The most prominent landmark on the Olympic site, it is intended to symbolise Islamic power in Britain. Worse still, it is being funded by the Tablighi Jamaat, said by French intelligence and the FBI to be the most significant recruiters for Al Qaeda in Europe.

And to cap it all, within a mile of the site, the largest church in Europe — the Kingsway International Christian Centre — has been compulsorily purchased and is
about to come down. What greater symbol can there be of the retreat of Christianity and its replacement by militant Islam? This is why the argument over the place of the veil and the cross in public life is so significant. This is not about prejudice or discrimination. It is about cultural survival.

Also, if you haven't already read about the prayer calls in Hamtramck, Michigan, you might be surprised at how far Muslims will push to impose their religion on us. It's time that we Americans rediscover our own heritage, reinforce our own identity in law, and oppose the imposition of foreign religions (including secularism) on our land.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Quote of the Day: Joel Garver on American Imperialism

Over at Adversaria we've been having a lively little discussion about whether the US and UK should remain committed to the Iraq venture.

Joel Garver left this little gem:

I suppose one way the US might have prosecuted the war that would have made it easier on Iraqi Christians would have been to use sufficient force to fully occupy Iraq, turning it into a literal colony under US-administered martial law, liberal democracy be damned. After all, if one is going to play the imperial game, one might as well do it “right.” Make of that what you will.

What a great idea!

Until I hear a more realistic political alternative than democratizing the Middle East (the neocon strategy) coming from the critics, I'm just not going to take their criticisms seriously. Period.

Good night, and God bless America. ;-)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

First Official Post at De Regno Christi

Be sure to check out my first official posting at De Regno Christi. This post entitled "Defining Our Terms," lays out the way I propose the kingdoms of this world relate to the Kingdom of Christ.

Last night over dinner with some dear friends who are also fellow parishioners at St. Luke's I was discussing the status of national Israel in the current dispensation of God's redemptive program, how the whole earth belongs to God's people (the Church) by right while at the same time the land of Israel remains the special inheritance of the Jewish people. In my view the two positions do not conflict but complement each other.

My intention is to avoid the anti-semitism entailed by "replacement theology" by exploring how the Church as a new kind of society that had never existed before--a meta-civilization--can incorporate national Israel as a core (on condition of repentance and acknowledment of the Messiah) as well as any other nation that bends the knee to Christ. Stay tuned for a some thoughts on this important and controversial subject.

Hebrews Study Outline

The following outline of Hebrews is a work in progress. As I publish studies of the epistle, I intend to update the outline, until all the epistle's arguments and OT references are represented.

As you use the outline, keep in mind that two covenants, Moses and Christ's, are being contrasted throughout. The ultimate covenant that fulfills all promises has been established in and through Jesus Christ. My prayer is that through these studies your appreciation of the inheritance that now belongs to God's people by faith will be substantially enhanced.

First Pericope: The Ultimate Word of God, 1:1-4

  • God of the Fathers (a particular people)
  • The ultimate revelation in the Son
    1. Logos and Wisdom
    2. Glory and Image
  • Purification and Enthronement
  • As an heir who has received his inheritance, he occupies the superior state his title signifies.

First Pericope Continued: The Superiority of the Son over the Angels, 1:5-14

  • By his unique title of “Son” (Ps. 2:7; 2 Sam. 7:14)
  • The subservience of the angels
    1. They are commanded to worship him (Ps. 97:7; Cf. Lk. 2:8-20).
    2. They are his ministers (Ps. 104:4; Cf. Gal. 4:1-7 servitude vs. sonship).
  • The exaltation of the Son over all things
    1. As God (Elohim) he has been ordained to a higher throne (Ps. 45:6ff.)
    2. As Lord he is eternal, while all creation (including the angelic beings) is finite (Ps. 102:25-27).
    3. To a position of equality with the Father (Ps. 110:1).
  • The angels are ministers on behalf of those destined to receive the inheritance
    of salvation.

First Exhortation: Do not neglect the great salvation, 2:1-4

  • A covenant greater than the old covenant of Sinai.
  • The covenant announced (by Christ) and confirmed (by the Apostles)
  • The Testimony of God (signs, wonders, miracles, & gifts of the Spirit)

Second Pericope: The Necessity of the Incarnation, 2:5-3:6

  • To achieve man's original created purpose (2:5-2:9)
  • For solidarity with the redeemed family (2:10-14)
  • To receive the inheritance of Sonship (3:1-6)

Second Exhortation: Do not harden your hearts like the Israelites
in the wilderness, 3:7-19

  • “Today” (vv. 7,13)
  • The “Rest”
  • Disobedience and Unbelief

Third Pericope: The Present Reality of the Sabbath-Rest, 4:1-5:10

  • The promise of the original Sabbath, 4:1-5
  • Joshua unable to achieve it, 4:6-13
  • Jesus has entered the rest as High Priest in the Order of Melchizedek, 4:14-5:10

Third Exhortation: Move on to full maturity in the faith, 5:11-6:12

Fourth Pericope: The Order of Melchizedek Contrasted with that of Aaron, 6:13-7:28

  • The Foundation of the order: two things that cannot change
    1. God’s promise
    2. God’s oath
  • Abraham’s Tithe
  • The oath that effected a new and better priesthood
  • The indestructible Life of Christ

Fourth Pericope Continued: A Better Covenant Founded on Better Promises, 8:1-13

Fourth Pericope Continued: The Transcendence of the New Cult, 9:1-10:18

  • The Old Sanctuary and its Sacrifice
  • The Effectual Sacrifice of the New Covenant
  • The Blood and the Life of Obedience

Fourth Exhortation: Enter into the holy sanctuary by virtue of Christ and do not shrink back under threat of persecution, 10:19-39

Fifth Pericope: The Coming of Faith, 11:1-40

  • Faith’s fundamental importance
  • The Holy City
  • The Inheritance Postponed

Fifth Exhortation: Endure to inherit the blessing, 12:1-29

  • The Discipline of the Loving Father
  • The Heavenly Mount Zion

Final Exhortations, 13:1-21

Closing Remarks, 13:22-25

revised 10/12/06

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    On Prospects for a Restoration

    Nick over at Altar and Throne is a bit too critical of American foreign policy and Republicans for my taste, but he's a true believer in the Restoration. Here are a few thoughts I left at his blog:

    Because the heresy of republicanism (the ideology, not the party) is so widespread, we have to wait for the system to break down. We are already seeing this in over-legislation and over-bureaurocratization that inevitably occurs as politicians cater to the arbitrary whims of a populace directed by media hype.

    The "charismatic and influential" politician [we] are looking for must truly be a man of accomplishment, virtue and foresight, so that whatever order he establishes will not be immediately undone after his death. He will most likely have been elected to the executive branch.

    ...the ideal of monarchy is more important than the claims of any royal family. The "cult of blood" has caused many problems in the past, and we need to learn from those mistakes.
    God can raise up a new kingly line whenever and wherever he pleases.

    In addition to the basic equality that all men have, being created in the image of God, the original kingship of Adam has been restored in Christ. Kingship is a property of the new humanity (the Church), in which every Christian shares. So, a great Christian man that rises to prominence through the grace of God is spiritually qualified to establish a royal house.

    If the reader is interested, I recommend Alexander Schmemann's Of Water and the Spirit: A Liturgical Study of Baptism for more about the royal priesthood of God's people.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    The UO Knight Sallies Forth

    For the cause of King, Christendom, and American Imperialism, Unpopular Opinions remains the only defender. It is a lone outpost holding out against the capitulation to the Revolution that has emasculated the West. Blogdom is full of so-called conservatives and religious traditionalists who are unaware of how much they have been compromised by their accomodation with Enlightenment political philosophy and secularism. And so, a solitary champion rides forth, wielding the sword of truth, to do battle in far distant blogs.

    Here are a few combined thoughts (slightly modified) I've written recently over at the Borg Blog and the Jollyblogger:

    Yes, I do view the Islamist threat as being at least as serious as the threats posed by the fascist powers and international communism. A significant portion of the Muslim population wants to see Western Civilization (including America) go down.

    This Jihad mentality is exacerbated by their embrace of conspiracy theories relating to the “Zionists” and 9-11. A theory of mine is that the conspiratorial view of history is endemic to the Mohammedan heresy. Muslims believe that Jews and Christians corrupted the Holy Scriptures. For instance, they think it was Ishmael, not Isaac, that Abraham attempted to sacrifice.
    Islam presents an alternative historical narrative to the Judeo-Christian history that is central to the Western project. This alternative narrative has been adapted by leftists at home and incorporated into their arsenal of multicultural propaganda, which serves to weaken our cultural self-confidence.

    ...Islamism certainly does not threaten the stability of our own government presently. However, it poses a real threat to Europe’s existence, if demographic and cultural trends continue. Consider all the trouble experienced in France and the riots caused by the cartoons. Look for Sharia law to be implemented in some areas within a decade...

    ...I agree that the Islamists do not presently pose as significant a military threat as the Nazis and Communists did. However, there are certain things that must not be allowed to happen. The Islamists must not be allowed to control Middle Eastern oil, they must not be allowed to dominate Europe, and they must be prevented–at all costs–from obtaining nuclear weaponry. These are real possibilities that must be guarded against if the U.S. government is indeed committed to protecting America and her allies...

    ...The Islamists have been carrying on a war against us for about thirty years that we were largely oblivious to because it all happened “over there.” We didn’t take them seriously before 9/11...

    ...there has been a rise in militant Islam that has corresponded with a cultural encounter with the West from which they were formerly isolated by their life in the desert. This encounter with the West jeapordized the way of life Muslims have always lived. A dramatic rise in wealth (oil money) in Arab hands, enabled the extremists among them to buy weapons which made it possible for a relative few to inflict damage on many. They cannot allow Israel to exist because it spells the end of Muslim hegemony in the region. They will not stop their war against us until they are destroyed and their culture is overwhelmed. They are fighting desperately to prevent the end of their world. Therefore, they are our enemy, and view us, whether secular or Christian, as their bitterest foe.

    Stay tuned for more insightful theo-political analysis of our world situation. Good night, and God bless America.

    Monday, October 02, 2006

    Unpopular Eschatology: Hebrews

    The Book of Hebrews is an orderly work, broken into five doctrinal sections. Each section, or pericope, is followed by a word of exhortation, an imperative of active effort, in light of what had just been taught. The exhortations build upon each other, calling us to ascend into heaven by faith, as layers of significance are added to the author’s presentation. Hebrews contains one essential argument: we must live in light of the Kingdom’s reality so that we will be worthy to inherit its blessings.

    Due to the many allusions to verbal communication throughout the book, many scholars believe Hebrews was adapted from a sermon or series of homilies. See, for example, the following references: 2:5; 5:11; 6:9; 8:1; 9:5; 11:32. William Lane writes:

    The writer was clearly a gifted preacher. Hebrews is characterized by a skillful use of alliteration, of oratorical imperatives, of euphonic phrases, of unusual word order calculated to arouse the attention, and of literary devices to enhance rhetorical effectiveness. The alternation between exposition and exhortation characteristic of the literary structure of Hebrews provides an effective vehicle for oral impact. Hebrews was prepared for oral delivery to a specific community…The writer expressly declares in 13:22 that his “word of exhortation” has been reduced to writing.

    The first pericope (chapter 1) is concerned with establishing the sublime dignity of Jesus’ Sonship. By contrasting prophecies of Christ with the angels, the author demonstrated that Jesus shared an equality with God that was fully realized (in some sense) at his resurrection-ascension (see Phil. 2:6ff.).

    Please consider the following excellent remarks by Bible teacher A.W.Pink:

    It is striking to note that these same seven quotations from the Old Testament also furnish proof of the sevenfold glory of the Mediator affirmed in verses 2, 3. There He is spoken of, first as the "Son:" proof of this is supplied in verse 5, by a quotation from the 2nd Psalm. Second, He is denominated the "Heir:" proof of this is given in verse 6, where He is owned as the "Firstborn." Third, it is said in verse 2 that He "made the worlds:" proof of this is given in verse 10 by a quotation from the 104th Psalm. Fourth, He is called "the Brightness of God’s glory:" in verse 9 an Old Testament Scripture is quoted to show that He has been "anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows." Fifth, He is the "express Image" of God’s person: in verse 8, Scripture is quoted to show that the Father owned Him as "God." Sixth, in verse 3 it is said that He has "purged our sins": in verse 14 we have mention of "the heirs of salvation." Seventh, in verse 3 it is affirmed that He has "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high"; in verse 13 the 110th Psalm is quoted in proof of this. What an example is this of "proving all things" (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and that, by the Word of God itself!

    In this, I think Pink is essentially correct. The first verses of Chapter 1 serve not so much to introduce the entire work, but to set the program for the first doctrinal pericope. The argument is that Jesus received an inheritance higher than that of the angels. It is on the basis of this inheritance, unattainable by any mere man, that we are prepared to apprehend that Jesus is more than human.

    But Jesus is also human. The second pericope (2:5-3:6) is concerned with establishing Jesus’ solidarity with his people, the redeemed humanity. Here we find a compelling parallel in the great Kenotic passage, Philippians 2:6-11, where the Son emptied himself of his divine royalty in order to become the humble servant of God at the Incarnation. His humble service involved representing humanity through divinely inflicted suffering and judgment. By passing through this trial, the man Jesus achieved a perfection that was graced by the endowment of divine glory. While Jesus was always fully God and fully man due to the hypostatic union, Scripture teaches it was at his resurrection-ascension that his humanity was glorified, that is, completely and permanently suffused with divine glory.

    Hebrews begins with the assertion of Jesus’ divine origin, the high place from which he came. It goes on to describe the true meaning of his descent to the lower earthly regions (Cf. Eph. 4:8-10). This descent presupposes the deity of Jesus when it compares the difference between Moses and Jesus to the difference between the builder of a house and a servant that belongs to it (Heb. 3:3-6). The third doctrinal pericope (4:16-5:10) contrasts the superiority of Jesus’ accomplished deliverance to that of Joshua. Joshua’s accomplishment was only as good as its priestly foundation (the Tabernacle cult). The greater deliverance is rooted in Jesus’ high priestly work (4:14).

    The fourth and largest section of the book (6:13-10:18), demonstrates that Jesus’ royal-priestly office and sacrifice are the essence of a new covenant. The establishment of this covenant was guaranteed beforehand by God, being based upon better promises that were confirmed by a divine oath (7:20-22; Ps. 110:4). The inherently efficacious ministry of Jesus Christ actually accomplishes and bestows the blessings of the new covenant that had been prophesied by Jeremiah long ago (10:14-18).

    The fifth and final pericope (chapter 11) describes the solidarity of faith that New Testament believers have with the Old Testament saints. However, while the OT saints did not formerly receive the Kingdom under the provisions of the old covenant, they have now been blessed together with us. Hebrews 12:18-24 makes clear that the city sought (but not attained) by the OT saints has been established. It exists. This is the fruit of the royal-priestly work of Jesus, the foundation of the newer and better covenant. The epistle concludes with direction on how to live in light of this already present (through faith) and coming reality.

    As we proceed through our study of Hebrews we will ask the following questions of the text: What covenant did Jesus claim to inaugurate? What was the prophetic expectation of this covenant as recorded in the pages of the Old Testament? What events does Hebrews attribute to be the fulfillments of these prophecies?

    The questions above flesh out how we are to understand the person and work of the Lord Jesus: Jesus offered a real sacrifice and has been endowed with an actual high priestly office, of a real sacerdotal order, exemplified in the royal priest Melchizedek. He ascended in a real resurrected body to a real place, the heavenly Mount Zion. He sits on a real throne in the midst of all the angels and saints. He actually rules the world authoritatively, politically, providentially, spiritually, and morally as Lord and Christ.

    A hermeneutic of covenantal realism expresses the worldview of Hebrews that what happens in heaven has cosmic metaphysical ramifications for the life of the world. Nothing would ever be the same once Jesus came bringing a new covenant, a new commandment, and a new life. There can be no return to the pre-Incarnation phase of history.

    Check back to UO to explore together with me how the teaching of Hebrews opens our eyes to the reality of Christ's Kingdom.