Sunday, December 30, 2007

Charles A. Coulombe on Empire

Okay, one more then off to bed...

Catholic Monarchist Charles Coulombe has written an interesting piece for Taki Theodoracopulos' paleoconservative journal entitled "America: An Empire?". Here, Coulombe examines four questions:

1) are Empires invariably evil?
2) is the acquisition of an Empire an inherent betrayal of American principles?
3) what we would be required to do to make a go of it?
4) are we, as a people, suited to the job?

To the first two questions, Coulombe answers "no." This corroborates what I wrote in my last post on American grand strategy and the Iraq war. After discussing the cost/benefits analyses of various imperial strategies (question 3), Coulombe answers the fourth question in the negative. In his judgment, in this time and place, U.S. leadership lacks the requisite fortitude to implement what is necessary to achieve the outcomes we want in the Middle East.

I fear he may be right. What do you think?

Happy Sixth Day of Christmas!

Just like the song says, there are twelve days in the Christmastide season. So, you can still send those greeting cards you didn't have time to send two weeks ago. But hurry! Time's running out... ;-)

MP3's are Great

Now that I've got a fancy new phone Dick Tracy could've only dreamed about, I can listen to mp3's all day long.

There are all kinds of great free sermons & lectures online. One of the first things I listened to was this fantastic series of lectures on baptism by Norman Shepherd available from Trinity Presbyterian's (Birmingham, Alabama) Norman Shepherd Project:

1982 Baptism Lectures

1. The Baptism of Noah and His Household
2. The Baptism of Moses and the Children of Israel
3. The Circumcision of Abraham and His Descendants
4. The Circumcision and Baptism of Jesus
5. The Efficacy of Christian Baptism

Fantastic Stuff!

Also good is Vishal Mangalwadi's Heretics Series, available from the MacLaurin Institute. (Thanks for the hook-up, Russ!)

I would be remiss to mention the man himself, Dennis Prager. All of his radio programs of the last few years are available on podcast, also for free.

Here are hundreds of hours of spiritually edifying and informative listening. And this is only the tip of the iceberg! It's mindboggling to think about the possibilities the Internet holds for disseminating quality information on such an unprecedented (virtually limitless) scale. Sure, there's a lot of junk out there, but at least the good stuff is there for people who look for it.

Facts about Israel

In her review of Big Lies: Demolishing the Myths of the Propaganda War Against Israel, Alyssa A. Lappen writes:

"This terrific 56-page booklet explains the myths that have tarnished Israel's name and falsified the historical record over the last several decades. It is based on more than 60 references cited in a bibliography.

"The book is divided into three sections, discussing the origins of the refugee problems, the stages through which the problem was created, and the questions surrounding the "occupation" and the "settlements."

"As has so often been explained, in 1947, the United Nations mandated the creation of two states in the 20 percent that remained of Palestine following its first illegal division by Britain. The Jewish people accepted the partition, but eight Arab nations initiated a war against them to obliterate Israel. As a result of the aggressive war, Israel acquired more land, and hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled. After the war, Israel offered the right to return so long as Arabs swore their allegiance to Israel and renounced violence. Only 150,000 Arabs took advantage.

"Meanwhile, from 1948 through 1954, more than 800,000 Jewish people were forced to flee their homes in Arab and Muslim states in the Middle East. Most settled in Israel.

"Arabs began leaving Israel of their own free will even before the partition plan was announced in November 1947. Even before that, 70,000 Arabs fled. Another 100,000 or so left after hostilities began in November 1947. Then the Arab leadership began announcing their intention to annihilate the Jewish people, and still more people fled. In March 1948, an Iraqi brigade had entered the village of Deir Yassin, in an attempt to cut off the road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"On April 9, 1948, Jewish troops entered the village, intending to capture it and drive out the Iraqi belligerents. The Iraqis disguised themselves as women, however, and fired from among the women. Naturally, as a result of the reckless endangerment of civilians, Arab women were killed along with many armed and disguised Arabs. A recent study by Beir-Zayyit university on Ramallah showed there was no massacre--only a military conflict in which civilians were killed in the crossfire. But Arab leaders, who had told Arabs to flee, also used the incident to shame Arab nations into more forceful fighting. Their plan backfired when Arabs panicked and fled by the thousands.

"Despite Israel's offer in February 1949 to return Arab lands occupied as a result of their war on Israel, the Arabs refused to sign a peace treaty on which the offer was conditioned.

"Finally, the booklet covers settlement. As noted, Zionist pioneers from the 1840s onward immigrated to Israel from all over the Arab world and Europe to join the local Jewish community to rebuild the Jewish homeland. They bought land from the Turkish crown (which had conquered and ruled the land for 400 years) and Arab landowners. There was no theft, and no one was driven from their land. A 1990 demographic study of Palestine by Columbia University showed the Arab population grew tremendously as a result of Jewish economic development. An Arab population that was static at 340,000, from 1514 to about 1840, suddenly began increasing in 1855 and by 1947 had almost quadrupled.

"The booklet also covers the unsuccessful proposed Peel Partition plan, the UN partition, pre-1967 terrorism, (which resulted in more than 9,000 attacks from 1949 to 1956 from the Gaza strip alone), the the belated emergence of Palestinian nationalism in 1967.

"As the article explains, "Israel is the only known country in all of history to come into existence via legal and beneficial land development (as opposed to the almost universal method of conquest)." Israel has the right, by virtue of Arab aggression in 1948 and 1967, to maintain sovereignty over its newly won territories and to develop them in any way "that is not prejudicial to the well-being" of civilians.

"This excellent booklet sets the record straight."

The truth is out there. Download Big Lies for free from

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Bible and the British Throne

The association of the British monarchy with the Bible is nowhere better demonstrated than in the coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II more than 50 years ago. The queen placed her hand on a Bible as she knelt and promised before God to perform her solemn oath. She then kissed the book and signed the oath.

The ceremony continued as these words were spoken to her: “Our gracious Queen: To keep your Majesty ever mindful of the Law and the Gospel of God as the Rule for the whole life and government of Christian princes, we present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is Wisdom; this is the Royal Law; these are the lively Oracles of God.”

Click here for the rest of David F. Lloyd's excellent article.

Party seeks to restore monarchy

Koruna Ćeská would rebuild the ancient Czech Kingdom

By Markéta Hulpachová
Staff Writer, The Prague Post
December 19th, 2007 issue

Click on the picture below for the article.

The ancient coats of arms of Moravia, Bohemia and Silesia.

Thanks to J.K. Baltzersen at Wilson Revolution Unplugged for finding this article.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mark P. Balok Against "Fencing" the Table

My beloved brother (in the Lord) Mark has written a challenging post against the denominational practice of restricting communicant privelege to those who hold a particular view on the mode of Christ's presence in the Sacrament.

I wish I could go into the subject in more detail, but I was raised in a "church" that made a very big deal about who could or could not partake of the Supper. The Plymouth Brethren began in the early 1800's originally as merely informal meetings of Christians from various ecclesial affiliations to "break bread" together and rejoice in a common faith and salvation that transcended organizational boundaries.

This original ecumenical principle began to fade as the Brethren movement evolved into the Brethren Ekklesia or "Gathered Assembly." In order to justify the creation of a new denomination (in fact--if not in name), John Nelson Darby (JND) argued that any group that separated itself from the contaminations of "moral evil" (i.e., immorality) and "ecclesiastical evil" (i.e., doctrinal error) had been ipso facto gathered by the Spirit unto Christ alone. This, as I understand it, is the theoretical origin of non-denominationalism.

Obviously, JND thought his party (one of many Brethren groups that remained after several schisms in his lifetime and beyond) had sufficiently purified itself from moral and ecclesiastical evil. This Gathered Assembly is still understood by strict Brethren today to constitute THE TESTIMONY to the truth of the "one body" of Christ on earth. Of course, they all differ among themselves as to which Brethren sect actually testifies to this Truth, but they are all certain such a Testimony exists!

My response to all this pablum is that the Lord Jesus Christ is perfectly capable of purifying his own Supper so that unbelievers and sinners will not defile God's people if perchance they unworthily partake of the blessed sacrament.

For more info on JND & the Brethren, readers can check out William Blair Neatby's A History of the Plymouth Brethren.

All I can say is...


Monday, December 10, 2007

Delving a little deeper into the "Paul" controversies

The faculty at Westminster Seminary California have written a book defending the Reformational doctrine of justification from its "enemies," Norman Shepherd, FV and NPP.

A fellow named Mark Garcia wrote a review of this work, and his review has elicited a response from Drs. Godfrey and Vandrunen. Here is a clarification Mr. Garcia wrote anticipating some of the challenges in the Godfrey/Vandrunen rebuttal.

Lee Irons offers some thoughtful considerations of the issues involved here. And here, Mr. Irons sheds light on the theological similarities between Norman Shepherd and N.T. Wright.

The Shepherd/FV side has now published a response to Westminster, which I intend to get as soon as possible.

In the interest of fairness...

...I have provided a link to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's blog under my "News and Intelligence Analysis" links.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Classic Statement of the Theory of Divine Right

In the following excerpt from his third lecture on Unbelief and Revolution, Groen van Prinsterer demonstrates from Romans 13:1 that St.Paul possessed an understanding that authority bearers hold authority by divine right.

To distinguish my own opinions from GVP's, the reader should understand that while I consider all government to be grounded in God's own authority and to be granted by him as GVP does, I also believe that certain offices and institutions more perfectly represent the divine authority than others. For example, I believe manhood represents God's authority in a fuller sense than womanhood does. Also, kings represent this authority to a fuller degree than Presidents or CEO's of corporations. I hope the reader can see that this opinion does not necessarily entail denying legitimacy to these other offices and institutions.

GVP's statement is here presented to supplement my own argument that OT kingship and priesthood derived from Adam's headship and NT kingship and priesthood derive from Christ's own royal priesthood. The heritage possessed by the Church universal is both royal and sacerdotal, and the inheritance of every baptized man is that he is a priestly-king and every baptized woman that she is a priestly-queen. This is a very high truth and my desire is to joyfully emrace it. But, this Doctrine of the royal-priesthood of all believers should not be construed in such a way as to deny that various members of Christ's body participate in Christ's authority in special ways to different degrees.

The numbers within {...} represent page numbers from the Van Dyke edition of GVP's work.

{50} What, then, is the meaning of divine right?

Although we could also appeal to classical antiquity, the simple and plain answer is found in Scripture: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God."[1]

All power is ordained of God. {51} It is not permissible, whenever something seems too strong to us, to water it down by means of some insipid interpretation that conforms to what we consider acceptable. Therefore, we may in no wise try to evade the intention of these words, for example by pointing to the care of Providence which brings forth good out of the evil that it tolerates. The powers that be are not just tolerated. They are willed, instituted, sanctified by God himself. This is the only plausible meaning of ordained.

We must be equally on our guard against a distortion of Scripture invited by miscomprehension or inspired by base design. All power must be understood as referring to every kind of legitimate power, in the sound sense demanded in the context by the reminder of God's righteousness and holiness. Power here is not synonymous with might or force. To be sure, I realize that when Paul wrote this, Nero was in power; I also admit that the Christian is not always called to enter into disputes concerning the legitimacy of existing powers; and I am quite willing to allow that the expression "also to the froward,"[2] used in connection with masters over slaves, also applies, by analogy, to the injustices of civil authorities. Nevertheless, I will not subscribe to any interpretation that would oblige us to be obedient to the villain who holds a dagger under our nose, or to hail today as a power ordained of God the crowned robber who yesterday banished our legitimate prince.[3]

Furthermore, {52} it is plain that the nature of the submission required of us depends upon the nature of the power granted by God. In The Hague I am not obliged to submit to the type of authority that is lawfully exercised in Constantinople or St. Petersburg. Similarly, as a Netherlander I am not entitled to the liberties and privileges enjoyed by the subjects and citizens of London or Paris.

Every kind of lawful power. Divine right is not the trademark of Monarchy. It applies to all forms of government. Thus, whatever we might want to hold against John de Witt and his fellow oligarchs, we would not fault them for their strenuous efforts, given their insistence on the sovereignty of the States of Holland, to defend their authority in that Republic by appealing to the divine origin of their rights to sovereignty.

All power is of God. A civil power is God’s lieutenant and God’s minister. In this duality of the relation (its twofold direction, upwards and downwards) lies the whole theory of divine right. We are to obey the higher power for the Lord’s sake; he is to be obedient to God. "For he is the minister of God to thee for good," writes the apostle.[4] The supreme power {53} is a gift of God which must be employed in His service, for the benefit of others, and to His honor.

But (someone will object) this is true of any gift of God. To be a lieutenant, minister, and steward of God is the calling of everybody, each in his own sphere. In every rank, in every relation, man has been given a talent, which is at his free disposal: on the understanding that God will call him to account concerning its use. A sovereign bears God's image on earth, but—thus runs the objection—so does a father with respect to his child, and a judge with respect to the accused. In fact, so does the possessor of any goods and talents whatsoever, since each talent is a gift and every possession is a loan. All men, therefore, are to walk in the Name and after the commandment of God in the good works which He has ordained for us.[5] The principle is the same for all, in the rights it confers, in the duties it imposes, and in the norm it implies. To what, then, are we to ascribe the strange and extraordinary position that is always so pompously granted to government?

I welcome this objection. I agree with everything said. For it seems to me that the very simplicity of the case reveals its incontestability. So far from being peculiar or extraordinary, divine right is but the most natural application of a universal truth. The objection raises the very point that has been such a fatal source of misunderstanding: those who appealed to divine right from self-interest considered it an exceptional right, those who opposed it out of resentment regarded it as an odious privilege. Away with this arbitrary restriction! The truth that a violation of rights is a violation of the divine right holds for no one or it holds for all. All have an interest in its observance. It gives stability to the entire structure of society. The promise, "War to the castles, peace to the huts," is deceitful, for the same reasoning which demolishes the palace of the prince will not spare the counting-house of the merchant {54} or the humble roof of the peasant or the lowly hut of a day-laborer. By contrast, the doctrine of divine right protects both the throne and the property of the least of its subjects.

Viewed in this light, the ancient institution of anointing kings and the use of the formula Sovereign by the grace of God need give no offence. The ceremony of anointment, to be sure, was but a foolish superstition if some mysterious power was ascribed to it without any sincere invocation of God’s name; and it was a cunning trick if its purpose was to place the clergy above the king, or the king above the law. But it was anything but an empty show if done in accordance with its original purpose: namely, to have the people acknowledge their Sovereign as an agent and ambassador of the Most High; to remind the prince of his need for divine assistance; to teach him to realize his own unworthiness and to ask for a wise and understanding heart;[6] to add solemnity to his vow to uphold the laws of charity and justice; to add power to the pledges made on this occasion. In the same way the title “Sovereign by the grace of God” {55} admonished a ruler to show his gratitude for the gift received by grace by performing his duty with humility. As such, the formula sums up the whole theory of divine right.

1. [Rom. 13:1]
2. [I Peter 2:18]
3. Cf. Otto von Gerlach, Das Neue Testament, nach Luthers Uebersetzung, mit erklärenden Anmerkungen (Berlin, 1840).
4. [Rom. 13:4]
5. [Cf. Micah 4:5; Eph. 2:10]
6. [Cf. I Kings 3:8-12]

Groen van Prinsterer, Unbelief and revolution: A series of Lectures in History, Abridged and translated by Harry Van Dyke © 1989, 2000 (Jordan Station, ON: Wedge) pp. 50-55.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Introducing Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer

Must reading for counterrevolutionaries: Unbelief and revolution: A series of Lectures in History. Abridged and translated by Harry Van Dyke © 1989, 2000 (Jordan Station, ON: Wedge)

Lecture I: Introduction
Lecture II: The Wisdom of the Ages
Lecture III: The Anti-Revolutionary Principles
Lecture IV: Historical Governments
Lecture V: Abuses
Lecture VI: The Perversion of Constitutional Law
Lecture VII: The Reformation
Lecture VIII: Unbelief
Lecture IX: Unbelief (continued)
Lecture X: The Conflict with Nature and Law
Lecture XI: First Phase - Preparation (till 1789)
Lecture XII: Second Phase - Development (1789-94)
Lecture XIII: The Reign of Terror
Lecture XIV: Overview - 1794-1845
Lecture XV: Conclusion
See this resource page.

A Great Film

In Ben Affleck's impressive directorial debut, we are presented a stark vision of the plight of the urban underclass. We see the ravages of the drug culture and are brought to feel keen frustration with the misery that too often results from the natural course of events. Adapted from Dennis Lehane's bestselling novel, Gone Baby Gone is probably the best film I've seen all year. Affleck masterfully brings us step by step to a carefully framed moral dilemma that compels us to render judgment. While I disagree with Patrick Kenzie's (the main character played by Casey Affleck) ultimate decision, I respect it. Kenzie shows willingness to live with the consequences of his decision. Gone Baby Gone achieves what the medium at its best should do: it arouses moral indignation about real problems and contributes to the cultural discussion.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Heresy of Adolescence

R. Cort Kirkwood adds another piece to the puzzle of why Western Civilization is in decline. Great article!

From the High Office

My dear friend Mark Balok has a blog: JonesSaid. Mark has been a constant support through good times and bad, and I thank the Lord daily for his inspiration and companionship. May all who read this have the blessing of experiencing such friendship at some point in their lives.

Make sure you read this wonderful letter he has written to "All Rulers of People in Whatever Land."


Andrew Matthews

Sunday, November 25, 2007

An Empire of Liberty, Hope for Iraq

A few days after 9/11 the history faculty at Cal-State Long Beach (where I was attending at the time) sponsored an open discussion on Islam, terrorism, and the Middle East. I recall hearing a recurrent theme during that meeting, how Islam was a peaceful religion and how “jihad” referred primarily to spiritual struggle rather than military conquest. Since that time, there has been a lot of back-and-forth between those who contend we have a “Muslim problem” versus those who argue that past and present wrongs perpetrated by the West are the root cause of the widespread poverty, corruption and toxic resentment that festers in the Middle East.

On September 12th, 2001, Ann Coulter wrote an editorial which she concluded with the following infamous words:

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war. (emphasis added)
Coulter, reviled by liberals for inflammatory rhetoric and loved by conservatives for plainspokenness, gave voice to what the majority of Americans felt in the wake of 9/11, that we had allowed a problem to go on for much too long and it was now time to clean house. Suddenly it became clear to Americans that the United States had been the subject of a long campaign of terrorist attacks over the course of decades, and that this problem wasn’t going away.

Speaking emotionally after a moment of national catastrophe, Coulter may perhaps be excused for her intemperate speech. Much less excusable is the "Nuk'em all, they're vicious animals anyway" attitude I've frequently encountered since.

Fortunately, President George W. Bush and his advisors have pursued an active foreign policy that has simultaneously sought to respect the rights and dignities of rank-and-file Muslims. It is not U.S. policy to force Muslims to convert to Christianity, nor, to target civilian populations. American good faith is evident in the fact that two C-17 Globemaster transport jets were to deliver 37,500 daily rations by airdrop to refugees inside Afghanistan on the first day of the attack (Oct. 7, 2001). By November 1st, U.S. C-17's flying at 30,000 feet had dropped 1,000,000 food and medicine packets marked with an American flag.

The Bush Doctrine

On January 29th, 2002, President George W. delivered his first State of the Union Address after 9/11. Here for the first time President Bush outlined a strategy of preemption to the American people:

[Our goal] is to prevent regimes (terrorist) that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction. Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September the 11th. But we know their true nature. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.

Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.

Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens—leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections—then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.

States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.
In The National Security Strategy for the United States document published in September of that year (NSS 2002), the Bush administration developed this preemptive rationale further:

It has taken almost a decade for us to comprehend the true nature of this new threat. Given the goals of rogue states and terrorists, the United States can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past. The inability to deter a potential attacker, the immediacy of today’s threats, and the magnitude of potential harm that could be caused by our adversaries’ choice of weapons, do not permit that option. We cannot let our enemies strike first.

In the Cold War, especially following the Cuban missile crisis, we faced a generally status quo, risk-averse adversary. Deterrence was an effective defense. But deterrence based only upon the threat of retaliation is less likely to work against leaders of rogue states more willing to take risks, gambling with the lives of their people, and the wealth of their nations.
It is important to understand that for about fifty years world politics was dominated by the great contest between the U.S. and the USSR. The Cold War can roughly be divided into three periods, the first of which was characterized by uncertainty as the USSR adjusted its commitment to the propagation of world communism after Stalin's demise. The period of Détente between 1962 (the Cuban Missile Crisis) and 1980 (Reagan's administration) was characterized by a growing understanding between the two powers that a status quo should be maintained in order to prevent nuclear disaster. The third period was characterized by uncertainty again as a confident America pressed an embattled USSR, diplomatically and economically, to the breaking point. It was due to the moral leadership of President Reagan and Pope John Paul II on one hand, and Gorbachev's unwillingness to employ repressive measures against his people (as his predecessors had done) on the other, that the Cold War was finally brought to an end in 1991.

After breathing a collective sigh of relief, the world experienced a decade of optimism summed up in the first Bush's use of the phrase "New World Order" and the title of Francis Fukuyama's popular book, The End of History and the Last Man. Fukuyama's phrase, "The End of History," stands for the idea that history had inevitably led to the triumph of liberal democracy and its correlate, free-market capitalism. Fukuyama's other phrase, "Last Man," refers to the eventual extinction of the aggressive alpha male contemplated by his utopian vision of world peace. After the successful resolution of the first Gulf War, secure in the knowledge that the Millennium of peace had at last arrived, the would-be "last man," President Clinton, decided to "beat swords into plowshares" and massively downsize the U.S. military from its Cold War levels.

In his introduction to NSS 2002, George W. Bush articulated a grand American purpose that basically shares Fukuyama's vision of the social good, but recognizes that the struggle is far from over:

The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom—and a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise. In the twenty-first century, only nations that share a commitment to protecting basic human rights and guaranteeing political and economic freedom will be able to unleash the potential of their people and assure their future prosperity. People everywhere want to be able to speak freely; choose who will govern them; worship as they please; educate their children—male and female; own property; and enjoy the benefits of their labor. These values of freedom are right and true for every person, in every society—and the duty of protecting these values against their enemies is the common calling of freedom-loving people across the globe and across the ages.

Notice that President Bush says these principles are "right and true for every person, in every society." He is articulating a notion of the social good which he regards as universally morally compelling and he is prepared to use American power to achieve such ends:

Today, the United States enjoys a position of unparalleled military strength and great economic and political influence. In keeping with our heritage and principles, we do not use our strength to press for unilateral advantage. We seek instead to create a balance of power that favors human freedom: conditions in which all nations and all societies can choose for themselves the rewards and challenges of political and economic liberty. In a world that is safe, people will be able to make their own lives better. We will defend the peace by fighting terrorists and tyrants. We will preserve the peace by building good relations among the great powers. We will extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent.
John Lewis Gaddis, the 'Dean of Cold War Historians' has written an excellent little book entitled Surprise, Security, and the American Experience (2004) (SSAE), in which he surveys U.S. grand strategy from the War of 1812 to the present. In this work, Gaddis has rendered a remarkable service in outlining how American strategy has developed from the starting point of President Washington's farewell counsel to avoid permanent "foreign entanglements." Gaddis' thesis is that three surprise attacks throughout our nation's history have acted as catalysts to direct American foreign policy in a direction consistent with Washington's counsel.

The first shock came on August 24th, 1814, during the U.S.' last conflict with Britain. It was on that fateful day that British forces invaded Washington and burned down the capitol. Out of this experience arose the perceived rationale for the Monroe Doctrine, which was actually John Quincy Adams' brainchild who was Secretary of State at the time. Gaddis argues that this foreign policy precedent is composed of three basic principles that have been developed in subequent presidential policies. First, the U.S. reserved for itself the option of preemption to protect its vital interests (SSAE, 16). Second, the principle of unilateralism was asserted in which the U.S. was not to depend on the "good will of others to secure its safety, and therefore should be prepared to act on its own" (SSAE, 22). Third, the principle of hegemony over the entire western hemisphere was asserted to create a sphere of influence in which the U.S. could operate without competition from another great power (SSAE, 26).

The second shock came on December 7th, 1941, with the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and the realization that the U.S. could not confine its influence to the western hemisphere only. According to Gaddis, the Cold War was a contest between two powers who were vying to shape the world according to their competing ideals of international order. For a time, during the period of Détente, the two powers had achieved an accomodation because of the danger of nuclear war, but this arrangement collapsed with the close of the Cold War and was reversed after 9/11.

My proudest moment as an American came on the eve of the Iraq war, when George W. Bush addressed the American and Iraq peoples to explain why we were going in to depose Saddam. Here, the principles of preemption and unilateralism are quite evident:

Last September, I went to the U.N. General Assembly and urged the nations of the world to unite and bring an end to this danger. On November 8th, the Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1441, finding Iraq in material breach of its obligations, and vowing serious consequences if Iraq did not fully and immediately disarm.

Today, no nation can possibly claim that Iraq has disarmed. And it will not disarm so long as Saddam Hussein holds power. For the last four-and-a-half months, the United States and our allies have worked within the Security Council to enforce that Council's long-standing demands. Yet, some permanent members of the Security Council have publicly announced they will veto any resolution that compels the disarmament of Iraq. These governments share our assessment of the danger, but not our resolve to meet it. Many nations, however, do have the resolve and fortitude to act against this threat to peace, and a broad coalition is now gathering to enforce the just demands of the world. The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours.

In recent days, some governments in the Middle East have been doing their part. They have delivered public and private messages urging the dictator to leave Iraq, so that disarmament can proceed peacefully. He has thus far refused. All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing. For their own safety, all foreign nationals-- including journalists and inspectors--should leave Iraq immediately.

Many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast, and I have a message for them. If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you. As our coalition takes away their power, we will deliver the food and medicine you need. We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free. In a free Iraq, there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms.

The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near.

Stirring words. And now, after four years of fighting Al Qaida insurgents, IED's and civil war, hope is on the horizon.
Men and women, both Christians and Muslims, place a cross atop St. John’s Church in Baghdad.
Click on the pictures for the story. Thanks to Russ Smith for alerting me to this wonderful news.

Today, Muslims mostly filled the front pews of St. John’s. Muslims who want their Christian friends and neighbors to come home.
Okay, almost done. I also recommend this excellent article by intelligence analyst Dr. George Friedman. The troop surge helped, but what has been really effective has been our new diplomatic approach toward Iraqi Sunnis and even...Iran.
It is not U.S. policy to willy-nilly invade countries, kill leaders, and convert indigenous populations to Christianity and capitalism. What we have done with Iraq is remove a brutal dictator who was holding back his own people and was increasingly becoming a threat to the peace of the Middle East and even the world. It is now up to the Iraq people to determine if Iraq is to take its place at the table of civilized nations.
As the guarantor of international stability and political legitimacy, the U.S. has been willing to do what no other nation is able or qualified to do. I have no illusions about what this means for America. The United States truly is an imperial power, but its power is exercised for the good of the world in a way that is consistent with a founding purpose that has organically developed over the course of our history. And no, Johnny, it's not all about the oil.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The National Church of England

by Cyrill Garbet, Archbishop of York

The Church of England has been associated in the closest way with the birth, growth, and development of the British nation. It introduced civilization to the Anglo-Saxon peoples: it gave them through its own unity the conception of a united kingdom: it brought the island kingdom into contact with the religion and culture of the continent: it gave the English people their first literature and their noblest buildings: it sheltered its earliest Parliament in the Chapter House of its Abbey at Westminster: it softened the fierceness and cruelty of medieval life: it provided great schools and colleges: through the translation of the Bible it brought the noblest literature of mankind to the homes of rich and poor, and helped to form the English tongue: it fashioned prayers which have been used by millions in all parts of the world: its sons and daughters have been foremost in serving the nation in every department of public life: it has helped in the creation of the national ideas of duty, responsibility and service. Our cathedrals and ancient churches are standing witnesses to the interweaving of the fortunes of the Church and the Nation for over ten centuries. The cathedral I know best is the history in stone of the Church and the Nation. On the choir screens at Winchester there rest six mortuary chests containing the remains of Anglo-Saxon kings, three of them belonging to the seventh century. Among the bones of the eleven persons in these chests are those of Cynegils, first Christian king of the West Saxons; Egbert, the grandfather of Alfred the Great and crowned “King of all England”; and the Danish King Cnut. Here, too, are the bones of Queen Emma, described in a now destroyed Latin inscription as “The Wife and Mother of Kings.” These remains, more than any other relics in Great Britain, carry us back to the earliest day of our nation’s history. On the floor of the choir is the the reputed tomb of Rufus, slain in the New Forest and brought to Winchester in the cart of a charcoal burner. Close by in the South partition wall of the choir screen is the leaden coffin of the second son of the Conqueror, also killed in the Forest by the goring of a stag. In the nave are the chantries of William de Edyngton, Lord Chancellor to Edward III and first Prelate of the Garter, and of William Wykeham, the great Chancellor and Founder of Winchester College and New College. Elsewhere are the chantries of four famous bishop statesmen—Cardinal Beaufort, William Waynflete, Richard Fox, Stephen Gardiner—all Chancellors of England. The eastern part of the Lady Chapel is a thank-offering for the birth of Prince Arthur, the eldest son of Henry VII, christened in the cathedral. In Bishop Gardiner’s chantry there is preserved a chair in which it is believed that Queen Mary sat at her marriage with Phillip of Spain. The shattered glass in the Great West window is a memorial of the days when the Puritans brought destruction into the cathedral. The two large volumes, a Bible and a Prayer Book on the altar, were Charles II’s gifts to the cathedral. In the nave are Rolls of Honour with the names of officers and men of Hampshire regiments who, in the last war, had made the great sacrifice. Stained glass windows commemorate the Jubilee of George the V and the Coronation of the present King and Queen. Almost at every turn there can be found memorials of those who have left their mark on national life—ecclesiastics, warriors, educationalists, philanthropists and writers. The story of the Church and Nation unrolls before our eyes as we walk through the cathedral. What is true of Winchester is as true of Canterbury, York, Westminster Abbey, and when we come to modern history, of St. Paul’s. In a less degree it is the same of every cathedral and ancient church throughout the land, they speak through tombs, memorials, inscriptions, gifts, and even through the damage wrought in troubled days, of the long unbroken partnership of Church and State in the history of the English people.

The Claims of the Church of England, (London: Hodder and Stoghton Limited, 1947), pp. 186-7.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Federal Vision and Justification

In this post adapted from a comment I made here, I'd like to present an Aristotelian reading of the Federal Vision (FV) teaching on justification (as I understand it).

I ask that readers will prayerfully consider the following Spirit-inspired words in connection with the thoughts expressed below. In Eph. 4:4-7 St. Paul writes:

"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”

Here is my attempt to make sense of FV:

1) Jesus Christ is the perfectly Justified Man and his Person & work comprise the material cause of our justification (Solus Christus).

2) The traditional Reformed teaching is that faith is the sole formal cause of justification (Sola Fide). It is important to note that while faith is non-meritorious it is nevertheless a "cause" of justification.

3) The FV recognizes the fact that there are not many faiths, but "One Faith" as the apostle says (Eph. 4:5).

4) This "One Faith" is a common heritage shared by all believers (to various degrees of fullness) and may be variously identified as the Church's Tradition, the New Covenant, or "the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16). This is that Faith which was "once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1:3).

5) The Church as the "one body" is the Justified Community by virtue of being incorporated into Christ, the Justified Man.

6) In order to express this reality, FV distinguishes between objective (and subjective forms of justification.

7) Objective justification is personally applied when an individual is added to the Church through the initiatory rite of water baptism. Baptism is not properly a human act; it is an act of God (Sola Gratia).

8) Subjective justification becomes a reality in one's life only when a true and living faith is in exercise. Of course, we know that faith is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8). This and the previous point express the idea that it is God himself who is the efficient cause of justification (Sola Gratia).

9) Subjective justification is historically dependent on objective justification in the way that individual faith is dependent on the word preached. Personal faith is a real participation in the one holy, catholic, and apostolic faith of Christ's Church.

10) All persons may be said to be objectively justified as long as they remain in the Church.

11) The reprobate (those who aren't subjectively justified because of an absence of true faith) either fall away or are cast out of the Church at the final judgment.

12) At the end of time, the Father will present a spotless Bride to his Son. This is, of course, the eschatological Church--the redeemed and glorified human race. The Son glorifies the Father and the Church glorifies the Son, and, the Father through the Son. Here at once the Father provides the supreme gift to his Son, and, the Son, comprehending all things, offers all things to God. The eschatological Church is therefore the divinely intendedtelos (goal) of all creation (Eph. 1:3-10). Since God, in his wisdom, conceived of this purpose and by his omnipotence brings it to fruition, all glory belongs to him (Soli Deo Gloria).

13) The FV likewise teaches that the eschatological Church will be "finally justified" by God's "Deliverdict." This justification I take to be the teleological cause of our present justification (in both its objective and subjective aspects).

I think all these ideas have been argued at various times by FV advocates. It’s just necessary to arrange them in their proper logical relation.

To round out the system, it can be argued that #13 implies the following:

14) The union between Christ and his Church is so fundamental that, in a real sense, the works of the saints are Christ's own works. Christ's righteousness is the ground of our own righteousness. Our works are his. And his work is the material cause of ours, providing at once the motive and power behind our own good works. As a friend of mine, Mike Spreng, recently paraphrased St. Augustine, "when God crowns our works He is crowning His own works - His own grace." (Thanks Mike!)

So, I'd like to ask whether FV advocates think I've accurately captured the spirit of FV in this account of their views.

Finally, I ask FV critics (especially those who boisterously clamor for the authority of Reformed Scholasticism) whether they are comfortable with this application of Aristotelian causation to the problem. Can the Philosopher be enlisted for the purpose of reconciling apparent contradictions between the various theories regarding justification?

A final word: causes are not always meritorious. However, they are always valuable. I respectfully suggest that the quest for a single “meritorious cause of justification” distracts from the reality that God employs many causes to accomplish our justification. It is all of grace and it is many sided. We should expect nothing less of the Supreme Creator and Redeemer of all things.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Hossinator Rules!

Anyone who has spent a little time over at knows the genius of "Elder Hoss." And here he is again rocking the Reformed world! (Check out the comment thread.)

BTW, make sure you are following the discussion over the Federal Vision controversy at De Regno Christi.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tim Enloe on the development of the Papacy

"The word 'pope' comes from the Latin papa, which of course, means 'father.' To understand the cultural world of Romanitas, which deeply undergirds papal theory and assumptions about reality, we must understand about father is the concept of paterfamilias...

"One of the most important things to understand here is the concept of 'power,' or potestas. 'Power,' like the related concept of imperium which we will cover in a future post, signified for the Ancient Romans 'force, strength, and ability to rule.' In the Ancient world, power to rule was wielded most often by males, and so, profoundly alive to legal and practical realities, the Romans described the paterfamilias--the father, the head of the house--as possessing patria potestas, or, "fatherly power."

Tim continues his excellent study by delineating the scope of "nearly absolute power" Roman fathers exercised over their households.

Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather films have always struck me as a portrayal of ancient family practice clashing with the realities of modern social life. Certainly, Coppola and author Mario Puzo intended to show the destructive psychological and social costs of the old ways. It's almost as they are saying that the full attempt to exercise fatherhood--classically understood--necessarily leads to criminality.

We would do well to remember this when we observe legislators systematically and incrementally framing laws to outlaw corporal punishment in the home. It seems to be the natural tendency and goal of the modern state to utterly abolish patria potestas. For, Leviathan will brook no competitors to its bid for absolute power.

Jason Stellman on the Cross and Glory

"The organic connection between the cross and glory that we find in the New Testament demonstrates that glory itself is not necessarily negative (for if it were, Satan's offering Christ the kingdoms of the world, and their glory, would have been meaningless), nor is the cross necessarily positive (after all, it is the cruelest form of execution ever devised). Rather, the cross is only good when it leads to glory, and conversely, glory is only bad when it circumvents the cross and shirks the suffering that it represents."

Read the rest of Jason's excellent post.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Movie Recommendation: The Lives of Others

I saw this movie last weekend and can't stop thinking about it. The directorial debut of of writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others provides a broad cross-section of experience within East Germany on the cusp of the disintegration of communism as a world political order. It is a wonderful tribute to those who realized its inhumanity and resisted the system at great personal risk. I heartily recommend the film to understand life under communist totalitarianism. For it, Donnersmarck won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The Lives of Others is a must have for enthusiasts of great cinematic portrayals of human drama.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Quote of the Day

Matt Bondy is an Op-Ed columnist for Canada's Guelph Mercury. The following quote is from this blog post.

"If we look carefully, we find that the Islamic extremists are in fact inviting us to our own brand of extremism – a choice between the embrace of defeat and a blind, mindless commitment to violence. But if our tradition of moderation and resolve has yet withstood the corrosive effects of live-to-the-minute combat cameras and an ever accelerating materialism, we will find ourselves, before too long, recommitted to a two-pronged approach to the Middle East; a strategy defined equally by compassion and strength. And borne out in patience. We will facilitate reconciliation and the construction of social infrastructure in territories held by free men, and we will forcefully, if necessary, advance the cause of freedom in the territories that remain.

"The Afghan war, like the counter-insurgency in Iraq, is a just cause, and it is imperative that allied forces stay and fight and win. Because abandoning people we’ve sworn to protect is just not something we do."

I especially like how Bondy describes our Middle Eastern strategy as ideally "defined equally by compassion and strength." War is hell, but America and her allies have been engaged in the most humanitarian war (in both method and purpose) fought in recorded history.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Reply to Jason Stellman: Coerced Conversion vs. Covenant Enforcement

Pastor Stellman,

You say “our only options are to (1) bite the bullet and proselytize by sword-point, (2) reduce Christianity to a social gospel, or (3) let the State be the State, and the Church the Church.” I disagree that these are our only options.

According to Darryl Hart, Christian engagement with culture trivializes faith (point 4 of your last comment on 8/21). We should keep in mind that Hart’s is an historical judgment made by a fallible historian. Hart can martial facts that show how superficial Christianity often coincides with Christian engagement in politics. So what? I can martial mine and point to how the greatest victories of orthodoxy occurred in the context of Christendom. Who is right? Well, the OT prophets never attributed Israel’s unfaithfulness to the fact that church and state cooperated together. It was when both kings and priests were unfaithful that the people fell into apostasy. So there is no biblical argument that ecclesiastical engagement with politics compromises the faith.

I think a distinction should be made between proselytizing with the sword and enforcing covenantal sanctions with the sword. The first is definitely prohibited, but the second has historically been seen as lawful. There are indeed covenantal sanctions for apostasy in the new covenant (Heb. 10:27-31). It seems to me that the civil magistrate is perfectly within his authority as God’s minister to encourage national faithfulness to the covenant and eliminate threats to the nation’s covenantal constitution. Granted, the line can sometimes be crossed in the messy affairs of state, but that is due to sin—not because it isn’t theoretically possible to distinguish between proselytism and enforcement. Such enforcement need not necessitate requiring church attendance among the citizenry.

Responding to point 3 of your comment, I recognize W2K folks want people to become believers. As expressed in my last posted comment, I consider W2K proponents to be brothers in Christ—just misguided. I don’t believe the state’s job is merely to “seek the temporal welfare and peace of this present age” as you indicate, pastor. Such a definition of the state assumes that the state is a post-Fall institution, that it has no temporally transcendent orientation. Alternatively, I propose an understanding of the state that locates its origin in the governmental authority initially granted to Adam to fulfill the cultural mandate.

The dominion Adam was given was for the purpose of cultivating the earth in anticipation of future glory. In Kline’s terms, Adam was to build a garden-city megapolis under the covenant of works. Megapolis would be the highest development of civilization under natural conditions, but once man passed his probationary test, he would be eschatologically transformed along with his culture, indeed, all creation, into metapolis. We see then, that the divine intent for human culture was that it would eventually enter into a state of confirmed righteousness.

I see no evidence in Scripture that the cultural mandate was revoked, but quite the opposite. Beginning with the protoevangelion, various redemptive covenants affirm its abiding validity and contain instruction as to how it is to be carried out under post-Fall conditions. Even with the limitations imposed by the Fall judgment, the essential telos, or, goal, of the cultural mandate remains intact. (This Kline denies when he argues that the original mandate was “fractured” after the Fall.) Under the covenant of grace, believers can continue mankind’s cultural task with the knowledge that their “labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Just as parents aren’t solely concerned with their children’s temporal needs simply because the family is a “common” institution, so also civil rulers have a legitimate oversight over certain spiritual matters socially. This spiritual role of the civil magistrate has to do with overseeing the temporal development of culture for God’s glory. As indicated, I don’t think this necessitates proselytism by the sword.

If a nation were to legally codify Christianity in its constitution (which could only be accomplished with the consent of the majority) a sacral national identity would be forged. I argue this would eliminate controversy over what social good the nation is committed to pursue. However, those who would aggravate discontent in order to erect an alternative social order for different social ends would incur the wrath of the governing authority. Such malcontents would be justly regarded as destabilizing threats to the established order and suppressed. Every legitimate government has the right to use force to maintain order and crush revolt. I am quite aware all this sounds harsh to modern ears. However, even liberals should be intellectually honest enough to recognize the difference between forced conversion and enforced conformity (as benign as possible, of course) to social norms.

The raison d’tre of human authority is for man to rule under God’s authority, on God’s behalf and for his glory. The introduction of the power of the sword to restrain violence and wickedness post-Fall (a negative purpose) did not compromise government’s essential function. In fact, the sword was granted so that government could continue to exercise its divinely commissioned vocation.

Those committed to the ideals of Enlightenment liberalism will never accept a theological rationale for human government exercised under God and in his name. To the liberally minded, theocracy can never be justified. But liberals have a problem with authority anyway, except, of course, the authority necessary to prop up their moral lawlessness. For the liberal, governmental authority is at best a necessary evil because it is the illegitimate imposition of one man’s ego over his equals, the means the powerful use to justify their control of the few. Liberals have no argument against Christendom except that Christian rulers sometimes exercised their authority wrongly, occasionally trying to enforce conversion through coercive means. And so far, I see very little difference between liberalism and W2K politics in principle.

Let us be clear on this: W2K propagates a specific political theory and agenda. W2K denies that political authority was originally granted for the purpose of fulfilling the cultural mandate. W2K also denies the original cultural mandate was perpetuated after the Fall. W2K shares with liberalism the suspicion that human authority is a necessary evil. W2K makes much of the sins of Christendom, but somehow the atrocities of the secular phase of western civilization don’t invalidate secularism. True, W2K is concerned for the integrity of the Christian confession, but it has not yet been demonstrated that a causal relation obtains between Christian culture and the trivialization of Christian confession. Emotional reactions against the sins of Christendom and the perceived apostasy of American evangelicalism are not proof at all. More is needed to establish an entire theory of church-state relations than the emotional intuitions of a few gifted historians and Reformed theologians. Reasonable demonstration from principles found in the coordinate testimony of general and special revelation must carry the day.

Dennis Prager interviews author Lee Harris

Lee Harris is the author of the following books:

I've read Civilization and its Enemies and highly recomend it to anyone interested in understanding what an achievement western civilization is and the threat posed to it by Islamic Jihad.

Listen to the interview here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The UO knight sallies forth to slay the W2K dragon

The Rev Jason Stellman, a fellow Orange Countian transplanted to Washington to found Exile Presbyterian Church (PCA), is an ardent proponent of the two kingdoms theology spawned from Westminster Seminary California. Since this theology detracts from the Christian's true cultural calling, and is in fact calculated to undermine the cause of Christian conservatism, I believe it must be discredited. Many people might be led astray by this teaching, which is in fact a theological rationale for secularism. The body of this post reproduces a comment I made at Pastor Stellman's blog, De Regno Duobus. Go here to follow the discussion.

Pastor Stellman, this response is as long as it is because I had to accept your challenge and raise the ante. We may not be able to carry this debate much further, but I’ve found the exercise to be beneficial. I hope it will be clear if it isn’t already that I have substantial reasons to think W2K to be a theological and practical dead-end.

1. Yes, the W2K claim is that society should not glorify God nor thank him (Rom. 1:21) by its cultural activity. W2K claims culture is a “common” sphere where cultural man provides “bread” (sustenance and security) for himself and is assuredly not to acknowledge that he lives by every word coming from God. Only some of God’s words are applicable to order man’s collective existence (i.e., natural law as defined by W2K secularists).

Of course, this wasn’t the case before the Fall. So, the W2K theory (formulated by Meredith Kline) is that while man was formerly supposed to dedicate his labor to God, he is now to work for temporal ends (peace and prosperity) only. To say human culture has no confessional “function” is to say that society’s purpose is neither to acknowledge nor thank the Lord. W2K then, is essentially a theological rationalization for practical atheism on the macro scale.

2. Of course, you object to this characterization, pastor. You say, “People should be free to worship whomever or whatever they want. That includes Yahweh, Allah, or no one.” But I am not talking about the inviolability of my fellow citizen’s conscience; I’m talking about the objective telos of human action. There is no doubt that W2K requires the suppression of public Christian confession outside cultic activity, strictly defined. W2K calls for the expurgation of religion from all temporal endeavor, and would counsel civil coercion to accomplish this if necessary. Thus W2K advocates side with the secularist party to purge the religious party’s political influence.

In place of obedience to the lordship of Christ, W2K substitutes atheistic materialism and humanistic utilitarian principle under the guise of natural law. This is seen by the fact that W2K men will never invoke “Thus says the Lord” when they appeal to the consciences of their fellow men. They will always use reasoning that thus-and-so is right, not because it is good, but because it provides the greatest material (never spiritual) benefit for the greatest number. This greatest good is determined not by God’s justice, but what would be good irrespective of eternal rewards and punishments. God cannot be invoked in any cultural matter because that would constitute an illegitimate confession of man’s accountability to God in the common public sphere.
These radical consequences must be exposed so that W2K will receive the condemnation it justly deserves.

3. The Gospel calls all men to discard those obstacles that impede entrance into the Kingdom (Matt. 5:29-30; Lk. 9:57-62). Leftist radicalism, though sanctified by its association with the Democrat party, is no exception because it is political. People who embrace Enlightenment liberalism, or, who ignorantly live under the influence of its logic, will find it extremely difficult to conform their lives to godliness. And this is not to say the Republican Party is God’s party. It isn’t, and I never implied such a thing. I would vote for Joseph Leiberman against a less worthy Republican candidate.

Finally, I don’t especially enjoy acknowledging that the majority of my countrymen are spiritually enslaved to pernicious antichristian ideals. I wish it wasn’t the case, but spiritual rebellion has been institutionalized in the West at least since the founding of our republic.

4. Your fourth paragraph evidences an uncritical acceptance of socially radical ideas. This is confirmed by the fact that you have confused true tolerance with the social protection of infidelity and advocacy of immorality. Tolerance does not trump justice, and Caesar’s primary duty as God’s minister is to reward the good and punish evil (Rom. 13:4; 1 Pet. 2:13-4). From this follows Caesar’s responsibility to recognize the true religion (Christianity) and promote it (Rom. 13:4) in a way consistent with the maintenance of social order. This involves a careful process of incrementally adjusting state law to preference the Christian religion.

4.i. Multiculturalism has nothing to do with natural rights (respecting the life, liberty, and property of individual citizens). Equal protection has been codified in American constitutional law since 1868 (the 14th Amendment), a 100 years prior to the advent of Multiculti. As a legal principle it is far older.

Multiculturalism is a more recent phenomenon where various subcultures (especially non-heterosexual, non-affluent, non-male, non-white) are molded into voting blocs that further the progressive (i.e., radical) cause. Within multiculturalism, the traditional loyalties of faith, country and family are replaced by supposedly more fundamental identities: sexual orientation, class, sex and race. All of these “identities” are generic, that is, they are not associated with any particular cultural tradition, and thus provide suitable media on which liberals may anachronistically project their ideals. We see this in the popular portrayals in literature and film of gay, working poor, female, or black protagonists (real or imagined) as being the historical forerunners of liberal progressivism. This fraud continues to succeed due to the historical ignorance of the gullible populace.

4.ii. Political correctness has nothing to do with libeling and slandering minorities. There are laws for those kinds of crimes, though our legal system is highly selective about who is actually protected. Political correctness has everything to do with an Orwellian manipulation of language to effect a transvaluation of values in western civilization. The rational pretext for this repudiation of traditional values is alleged to be found in the disparity that exists between Christian historical practice and Christian ideal. Again, a lack of historical knowledge helps such false judgments to form in the minds of the credulous. It is not commonly known that the Crusades were defensive wars fought in response to centuries of Islamic aggression. It is also not well known that the Inquisition primarily targeted social radicals who used religion as a vehicle for their transformative agendas. Nor is it well known that black witchcraft was practiced in colonial Massachusetts.

I’m not arguing for some kind of insidious conspiracy carried out by a cabal of Trilateralists and Freemasons. Political correctness is what naturally happens when educated elites exchange the truth of God for a lie (Rom. 1:25) and consciously engage in an attempt to undermine the cultic foundations of culture. As it works in tandem with the hostile forces of liberalism, W2K acts to undermine the foundations from within as a sort of fifth column.

4.iii. If you think that social egalitarianism and feminism are all about getting fairer wages for minorities, think again. The egalitarian goal is to flatten the organically developed strata of society by eradicating privilege obtained through achievement and/or inheritance. The feminist goal is to supplant man with woman. This exaltation of the “humble” and humiliation of the “proud” mimics prophetic biblical expectation, but is counterfeit because illegitimately foisted upon society by radical social engineers. The exaltation of the humble that the Gospel anticipates is to be achieved by other means and will have other results.

4.iv. My name is not Jim Dobson and I’m not on a crusade to outlaw premarital sex. For one thing, such a law would not address the root cultural problem. Homosexualism is not the same as homophilic sex. Homosexualism is the ideology that homosexuality is a natural phenomenon, that homophilic behavior is just as beautiful as heterophilic behavior, that society ought to accord homosexual unions the dignity of marriage, and that homosexual couples should be able to adopt children. Homosexualism is a view about what is good for society. Then there’s the whole transgender issue.

Free love is likewise an ideology: that having lots of uncommitted sex is good for one’s psychological health. There is also a weird mystical element involved. I believe these ideologies (which are linked) are harmful to society and should be discouraged and counteracted. What about you, Pastor Stellman?

4.v. You seem unaware of the ideological motivation behind birth control policy. Based on junk science that the world is in danger of overpopulation, birth control advocates have long argued for the enforced sterilization of various groups. It is government policy in China. BTW, what do you think about the cultural mandate? Oh, that’s right; Christ fulfilled it for us so we don’t have to obey it. So, in your mind bellicosity is the opposite of pacifism. If I think pacifism immoral because it makes no distinction between just and unjust violence, you think I must be a warmonger. Nice. By this logic, if I think the anti-capital punishment position immoral because it fails to distinguish between innocence and guilt (the dictum that all killing is unjust), I must be a blood-thirsty monster. Stop the hate.

4.vii. Actually, I’m not much of a capitalist. However, I definitely think the trend toward more and more socialism will actually stifle creativity and achievement in the long run. I’m probably a corporativist, but I’ll admit a lack of conviction in this area.

Pastor Stellman, I hope I’ve demonstrated I’m not merely some Republican Party hack or religious right Kool-Aid drinker. I don’t want to needlessly discourage people from coming to church either. Please allow me a candid moment. I suspect you’ll eventually find that a ministry bending over backwards not to offend liberal “seekers” will have difficulty speaking to the concerns average Christians have about the state of the society in which they live. If you are not counseling your people how to resist the spirit of the age, but are in fact oblivious to the spiritual contest going on between the two cities—the real culture war—then the effectiveness of your ministry will not be very great.

“For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity.” (Ps. 125:3)

James Jordan writes a letter

"Next came the Clarkians at Knox Theological Seminary. They, and they alone, actually spoke to the "FV" people that they disagreed with. This, I'm horrified to recount, is unique. None of the other committees and people who have investigated this "FV" stuff have ever bothered to email or phone anyone they are evaluating. At least the Clarkians did talk to us."

As someone who came to the Reformed faith through Gordon Clark's writings and the newsletters produced by the Trinity Foundation, this warmed my heart. I have always appreciated Clark's catholic spirit and intellectual integrity, and am glad to see some of his followers have continued this tradition.

Jordan also writes,

"The OPC chimed in next. No surprise. The OPC is full of Klineans who hate any type of cultural transformation. The whole Reformed "world and life view" tradition is rejected by the Klineans. They want a "spiritual" church that might as well be an invisible church, holed up in this wicked world and waiting for Jesus to come back. Not exactly the robust Calvinism of our postmillennial and "optimistic amillennial" forebears. So, the OPC report (from a stacked committee) rejects the FV. No surprise there."

Read the rest of Jordan's letter here.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rome Calls Anglicans to the Fold

Read this article by Fr. Dwight Longenecker on the Anglican Use of the Latin Rite.

Blogs I Read

Here are a few blog recommendations:

I can always count on Steven Wedgeworth, a younger Reformed blogger, to provide thoughtful commentary on the happenings in Reformedland. I especially enjoy his short reflections on various scriptural themes and passages, an example of which can be seen here.

I just found this exciting blog yesterday. Just Genesis, a blog started earlier this year by Alice Linsley is devoted to an on-going theological and anthropological exploration of Genesis. The author has been engaged with the study of this book on a high level for the last quarter century. Just Genesis promises to be an important resource for my own work on the foundations of humanity's religious and social life.

For those interested in the ongoing dialogue between Roman Catholics and their "separated brethren" over papal supremacy check out the following:

  • Cathedra Unitatis - An Eastern Orthodox Christian Looks at the Church of Rome.
  • Pontiffixations - Ponderings on the Papacy by a Sympathetic Protestant (Another blog by Tim Enloe, who is always worth reading.)
  • Principium Unitatis - A blog dedicated to the reunion of all Christians.
  • Pontifications - This blog set the standard for Roman Catholic apologetics on the web.
  • Energetic Procession - There's a thought provoking discussion going on right now comparing the two main (catholic) theories of ecclesial validity (Augustine vs. Cyprian) on this Orthodox blog.

Finally, relating to the Federal Vision controversy that is currently rocking the Reformed world:

  • Blog and Mablog & Green Baggins - Watch Doug Wilson (FV) and Lane Keister (FV critic) battle for the soul of the Reformed Tradition.
  • De Regnis Duobus - Jason Stellman, an FV critic and proponent of W2K, is currently evaluating the recent Joint Federal Vision Statement. I think he's being as fair as possible, given his ecclesial and soteriological presuppositions.
  • Corrigenda Denuo - The blog of Jeff Meyers, a member of the notorious FV cabal. ;-)
  • Heirodule - Paul Duggan (FV) tackles the biblical issues and interacts with the work of Meredith Kline.
  • Biblical Horizons - Scott Clark thinks Doug Wilson is the FV leader, but James B. Jordan is actually the grandmaster of the organization, the inspiration behind their dastardly schemes.

I take personal interest in Shawn Abigail's blog (Grey in Black and White). Shawn is both an informed cultural critic and Open Brethren. (I, myself, came out of the Brethren "church.") It's instructive to observe how someone from the free church tradition who is supposed to be separate from the world, "in the world but not of it," can be so deeply concerned with the world in which we live.

Finally, Mike Spreng's Anglican Thought provides a viewpoint as close to mine as I've seen. I'm excited about discovering his site and can't wait to interact with him.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dialogue with Mark Pele: Was Adam the Prototypical Priest-King?

Updated 8/9/07 6:30 p.m. pst

Dialogue with Mark Pele: Was Adam the Prototypical Priest-King?

Thanks for waiting for this response, Mark, I needed to take a little breather there…

We agree, “Adam's position before the Fall is extremely significant,” however we disagree as to the nature of that significance. Please allow me to flesh out my position further. Along with the responsibilities that were originally given, God also gave Adam the appropriate authority to carry them out. What were these responsibilities? They were to subdue the earth, multiply offspring, and rule the animal kingdom (Gen. 1:28). This original commission to humanity, which should be considered all of a piece (i.e., the cultural mandate), involved the initial grant of man’s essential authority roles. What were these roles? The first responsibility (to subdue) is the most complex, so I’ll tackle it last. The second responsibility (to multiply offspring) is easy: Adam became the original father of mankind. The third responsibility (to rule the animals) is also easy. This rule was first exercised when Adam named all the animals. So, Adam was endowed with fatherhood and a kind (I hope you’ll grant) of kingship.

Let us now consider the initial work the man was given: to subdue the earth. His task was to work and care for the Garden of Eden wherein he was placed (Gen. 2:15). But God’s commission to Adam was that he was to subdue the entire earth; his work of cultivation was to begin in the Garden but not to stop there. How was he supposed to accomplish this monumental task? First, Adam was to produce offspring to aid him in his work and, I presume, to delegate work he could not do himself. Second, he was to govern the animal kingdom. Consider, there were no wild animals in the sense we are now familiar with, post-fall. All the animals were potentially domesticatable, and so were to assist humanity in its cultural task. So it appears that the last two responsibilities are actually supplementary to the first: to cultivate the earth.

I have already discussed why I think this command to subdue the earth is a complex task, but I’ll recap here. First, it involves Adam hearing God’s word and conveying it to his wife and posterity. This is the vocation of prophecy. Second, it involves the duty of planning and overseeing the cultivation project. This is the vocation of administrative authority, or, kingship. Third, it involves offering the completed work of human culture to God. This is the vocation of priesthood. James Jordan thinks Adam’s priestly ministry primarily involved the custodial task of guarding the tree of knowledge. I would modify Jordan’s insight here and say that this custodial guardianship of the sacramental tree (of covenantal curse) is a negative corollary to Adam’s positive priestly vocation: that of offering the cultivated life-system of the world in thankfulness to the Creator.

I will agree, Mark, that Adam was not a king in the limited (and misleading) sense of some feudal monarch of the Middle Ages. He was much more than that. As God’s vice-regent, Adam was granted a primordial office simultaneously prophetic, priestly, kingly and fatherly. All vocations of human authority and oversight were given to Adam as the first man. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that all natural human authority is derived from his primordial office. I know I’ve pretty much said all this before, but I wanted to state it comprehensively in order to proceed with the following argumentation.

I propose, further, that there is plenty in Scripture and recorded history showing how the primordial Adamic authority developed over time. We do know kingship did later arise and that the principle of hereditary succession was already operative in the patriarchal societies we have record of. Some biblical examples are Cain’s line (Gen. 4:17ff.), Noah’s oracle regarding his sons (Gen. 9:25ff.), and the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 25:1-5; 27:1ff.; 48:12ff.; 49:1ff.). In these cases we observe the various practices of fathers distributing inheritances, and pronouncing curses and blessings upon their offspring.

The blessings and curses are especially significant in that they show how fatherly authority determines which descendants are to rule and which will be subservient. Such oracular determinations hold significance far beyond what we normally think of as the family sphere and actually concern the fate of whole nations. Our modern desacralized notion of fatherhood as a “common” institution simply does not do justice to how fatherly authority was exercised in the patriarchal eras.

Mark, you write: “We can say that Adam acted like a king, but to say that God's role for Adam was to be the supreme monarch of the earth in light of the first chapters of Genesis is a generalization I'm not willing to make.” I hope that the reasoning provided in the first paragraphs above qualifies as a little more than the fast and loose handling of the text you imply I’m guilty of. I’ll grant you that in Gen. 1:28ff. we see God granting authority to both Adam and Eve over the created order. The human race (in general) was to fill, subdue, and rule over the earth and its creatures. So, the right of dominion over creation was not a unique property belonging solely to Adam. Yet, the sequence of how God created man and set him in the garden first (before the woman was even created) shows Adam was granted authority first. This is what I mean when I refer to Adam’s prime or primordial authority.

“Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:13; cf. 1 Cor. 11:8). Here we see St. Paul deriving a general principle from biblical revelation that it is improper for woman to rule over man. Mark well: this principle transcends social spheres; woman is not to teach or have authority over man in church or in the home. We may reasonably conclude she is not to do so in the political sphere either. To separate social from covenantal headship, as you propose, Mark, is a mistake, I believe. The “male headship principle” enunciated by the inspired apostle Paul is logically and temporally prior to the existence of every human social institution.

Adam’s generational priority can reasonably be extended beyond the simple male-female relation. His prior generation implies a perpetual rule over his offspring. While fathers do not exercise total authority over the minutiae of their adult children’s lives, we do see a broad authority exercised in the examples given above. The fifth commandment may be applied more comprehensively to young children than children come of age, but its obligation can never be fully discharged while one’s parent is still alive.

To round out the argument, I find sphere sovereignty problematic because life is lived as an integrated whole. There is all kind of overlap between the three “spheres” (so-called) of family, church and state. So, we should not impute modern specialization, much less egalitarian theories of equality, to the race’s natural social structure. A king’s wife is his subject as well as his queen, and it is not easy to disentangle the two. Similarly, in addition to being a wife, a woman is subject to the headship her husband exercises as executor-administrator of the family estate (a civil function). I prefer instead to speak of different institutions (i.e., family, church, state) distinguished by proper vocations that cooperate to advance mankind’s single purpose: to serve, glorify and enjoy God forever.

Mark, you write: “While I believe that Adam was Eve's head, as her husband, I believe that there is a difference between submission and obedience. My wife vowed to submit to me, but did not vow to obey me.” The difference you make between “obedience” and “submission” here is based on a perceived distinction between the honors that are due to civil authorities on one hand and familial authorities on the other.

I’d suggest that submission and obedience are not different kinds of things, but simply different degrees of honor owed—dependant on the relationship in question. This is confirmed by the fact that the fifth commandment has been traditionally understood to encompass all honor that inferiors are obliged to render their superiors, not merely that owed by children to their parents (e.g., Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. 64). The honor due to any superior (including one’s familial covenant head) must involve some kind of submission; and submission is meaningless without obedience to some degree. I would be remiss to omit that this commandment also respects the care and regard superiors owe to their inferiors.

Mark, you write: “I believe that Adam was ‘whole’ and that Eve being taken from Adam meant that God was taking certain roles and responsibilities, and even characteristics from him in creating this woman. Thus masculinity does not define humanity, nor does femininity. Adam was, prior to that, in possession of some combination of both traits, which God separated into distinct, yet complementary roles.”

I don’t think this is quite correct. While I agree that “certain roles and responsibilities” were given to woman, she is to fulfill her vocation and exercise her responsibilities under the oversight and guidance of man. I believe that the hierarchical relationship of man to woman is definitional of what it means to be human. Man was created to image and foreshadow Christ, and woman was created to image and foreshadow the Church (Eph. 5:23ff.). In other words, “man is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man” (1 Cor. 11:7). Certainly, the roles of male and female are complementary and are each necessary to express the full reality of humanness, yet one is original, the other, derivative.

I’m not arguing here for a sort of absolute autocracy of male headship. Human authority should be exercised with respect to how God ordered human nature with its variety of vocational responsibilities. There is a degree of obedience proper for young children to their parents, another for adult children to theirs, another for wives to husbands, another for servants to masters, and another for subjects to kings. For each of these relations there is potentially a point where authority figures will transgress the bounds of their proper authority and take honor belonging only to God. To exercise authority well, a ruler must have a sense of these limitations and not demand more than is just, for it is by wisdom (knowledge of the Creator and the created order) that kings reign (Prov. 8:15-16).

Mark, you write: “Historically, it seems that monarchies tend to draw more power to themselves to the point of the "Divine right of kings" where even your own conscience was to be given to the king. The Pope is no different, claiming to speak inerrantly for Christ, and claiming that Christ's own words (scripture) are inadequate. It's hard for me to not associate those abuses, when it seems they occur over and over. Even Absalom used that mentality to sway his servants to murder his brother.”

I do believe in a divine right of kings, but would agree that abuses have occurred over and over again. All I can say is that abuses do not delegitimize a good institution, especially when I think that institution ordained by God. I am more than willing to discuss the pragmatic differences between monarchies and republics. I am even willing to compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of the democratic republic you favor versus the sacral constitutional monarchy I favor. However, I have more thoughts regarding the biblical basis of monarchy, for, certainly you agree, theoretical considerations must precede pragmatics. Finally, I am not willing to argue for monarchy or prelacy in ecclesiastical government without recourse to the royal-priesthood we see existent in the OT, and so my account must begin with Adam.

We know that Adam was originally placed in a probationary position in the garden. After proving himself in that capacity, he was to be exalted to a higher state: a glorified man over a glorified kingdom. This exaltation was to occur after Adam faithfully fulfilled what traditional Reformed theology commonly calls the Covenant of Works (CoW). An aspect of this preliminary (pre-consummate) form of the kingdom was that Adam was placed under tutelage administered through the ministry of angels (Ps. 8:5; cf. Heb. 2:5-9), but was in time to be placed over them to judge them (Ps. 45:6-7; cf. Heb. 1:4ff.; 1 Cor. 6:3). Adam was basically a crown prince, who had yet to enter into the full exercise of his kingship. Of course, Adam failed his probation, and this necessitated the coming of the second Adam—Jesus Christ. Through Jesus’ obedience unto death the CoW was at last fulfilled, and as a reward he was endowed with his consummated Kingship (the realization of his authority, power and glory) when he ascended on high to the Father (Ps. 2:6ff.; Phil. 2:6-11).

Jesus was a king both before (Matt. 27:11) and after his exaltation (Mark 16:19). He was king by right, by virtue of his messiahship, but he became king in power and glory when he formally entered into his inheritance (Heb. 1:3-4). Similarly, I argue that Adam was a king by virtue of being God’s son (Luke 3:37), but looked forward to a future investiture of glory—a confirmed kingship—once his obedience was complete.

Ezekiel’s vision of the King of Tyre in the twenty-eighth chapter of his prophecy is a remarkable description of that king’s glory and is indicative of far more than superfluous metaphoric fancy. While it has been traditionally acknowledged that Lucifer is in view (vv. 14, 17), it is certainly appropriate to consider the vision as referencing man’s fall (vv. 15-17; cf. Amos 1:5), and even the glory Adam would have inherited if he had successfully fulfilled the terms of the CoW (v. 13). It is a common feature of biblical apocalyptic that several themes are combined together in symbolically rich imagery. We are under no compulsion to choose between the two options. Rather, we are obliged to recognize an intentional thematic recapitulation of several events in the vision. The king of Tyre (henceforth: “Tyre”) falls because his temptation is the same as the serpent’s deception: the delusive prospect of achieving autonomous godhood (Ezek. 28:1-2; cf. Gen. 3:5). Because of his pride, God brought Tyre to the dust (like the serpent) and expels him from the mount of God (simultaneously a reference to Eden and Heaven).

Tyre is pictured as standing in Eden, clothed with the same precious stones and metals that characterize Aaron’s high priestly breastplate (Ex. 39:8ff.) and the glory of the coming New Jerusalem (cf. Rev. 21:18-21)! What could possibly be the purpose of identifying a pagan king of Tyre with Lucifer, Adam and Aaron? Furthermore, what is the connection these personages have to the bride of Christ? First, it should be noted that the original Hebrew of Ezekiel 28 lists only nine precious stones for Tyre, while there are twelve stones set in Aaron’s breastplate. So, it seems that Tyre is of less dignity than Aaron.

But this disparity is not that between the superior dignity of a high priest versus that of a king. This is because Tyre is portrayed in this vision as a priest: he is described as a cherub guarding (a priestly function) sacred mysteries. He walks among fiery stones much as a greater Priest-King would later walk among seven golden lamp stands (v. 14; cf. Rev. 1:12-16). Let us not forget that Adam once walked among the trees of Paradise. So, we have priestly clothing, priestly guardianship, and priestly ministry attributed to Tyre!

How can this be? The key is to be found in the mysterious connection between Adam and Lucifer. Ezekiel’s vision is both an image of what Satan once was, the glory he had as the chief of God’s angels, and an image of what Adam might well have been. If Adam had completed his probation faithfully, he would have been set above the angels. But this was not to be. So, from Adam until Christ, covenant administration from the divine side was effected through angelic mediation (Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19) and on the human side, through various human mediators (most notably Moses). I submit for your consideration that the king of Tyre was another such mediator, but like Lucifer he fell, deceived through his own pride. Tyre was certainly not an angel, but he was a beneficiary of Adam’s royal-sacerdotal office. Covenant headship necessarily includes a mediatorial function, and since Adam was the first covenant head he was also the first covenant mediator.

The connection between Adam’s priestly kingship and that of his descendants, is strengthened, I believe, by Scripture’s likening of kings and their nations to the trees of Paradise (Judges 9:7ff.; Ezek. 31; Dan. 4:10ff.; cf. Ps. 1:1-5; 52:8; 92:12-15; Jer. 1:18; Rev. 3:12). I would speculate—though my studies are incomplete at this time—that under the old covenant the rulers of the earth were in a real sense ministers in God’s royal sanctuary through angelic representation (cf. Dan. 10:4-20). Because Eden was where God communed face to face with his vice-regent, it was a particularly suitable milieu for picturing the “sons of God” assembled before the divine Majesty. Eden, in other words, was an earthly prototype and small-scale replica of God’s glorious heavenly Temple-Throne room. Perhaps the original trees of Eden actually corresponded to great kings and nations that subsequently arose in history, but this cannot be known for certain.

The trees of Paradise were symbolic of kings and their nations as well as the pillars of God’s house. Here we see an analogical (though real) relationship between trees and pillars, with angelic and human mediators informing the tree/pillar symbol’s substantial content (e.g., so-and-so is a pillar of the community). It is nearly certain that as Adam was to be transformed into a glorious man, a consummated son of God, so Eden would be transformed into the eschatological temple. This is appears more plausible when we consider that Scripture portrays New Jerusalem (adorned with many paradisiacal features) descending out of heaven to earth. New Jerusalem coalesces with earthly Jerusalem; Eden is restored and earth becomes heaven.

Before concluding, I must emphasize that this exploratory essay has been largely concerned with the administration of the old covenantal economies pre-Christ. There is a new administration now, and it is characterized by the rule of Jesus Christ through his Church over all things (Col. 1:15-21; Eph. 1:18-23; 4:7-17).

Finally, this synthesis of patristic recapitulation, traditional angelology, covenant theology, and modern biblical theology is admittedly a speculative endeavor. I hope I have not extended too far and fallen off the beam. Was Adam a king? Let us study the Scripture, fully familiarizing ourselves with its modes of discourse, taking care to distinguish between its teachings and our rationalistic prejudices, to judge whether Adam was indeed the prototypical priest-king.