Friday, November 19, 2010

"Adam, the son of God"

Back in 2006 I began to study the Epistle to the Hebrews. One of the prominent themes in that book is the concept of sonship. Both Hebrews and the Pauline corpus have developed theologies of sonship; for instance, they both oppose sonship to servitude. Through these studies I became convinced of the deep spiritual unity of the entire New Testament. Different emphases may be present in different writers, redemptive historical events may be organized and presented variously, but the substance is the same. The entire New Testament testifies to the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ.

In researching the genealogy of Jesus, I noticed for the first time the remarkable culmination of St. Luke's genealogical sequence: "Adam, the son of God." Adam was the first son of God to be born in the world. In biblical cosmology, firsts and lasts are always highly significant. The Lukan genealogy outlines the entire range of human development from its historical alpha, the first man, to its eschatological omega, the last Man.

Through his creative acts the Creator God introduces concrete principles into the world and superintends their development toward their appointed ends. These ends cannot be thwarted, though they can be delayed by creaturely free choice.

Adam was created after the divine Image, the eternal Son, and the created image, though defaced, was never effaced. Immediately after the first sin, the Lord sought out the man and his wife. God’s wrath is primarily directed at the serpent, though Adam and Eve must suffer the consequences of their sin. Chief among these consequences is the sentence of death that came upon them and all their posterity. And though Adam and Eve were banned from Eden, this was for their protection (Gen. 3:22-24). Our first parents were driven from Eden, while being simultaneously directed to hope in the Seed God would raise up to crush the serpent and, by implication, destroy death.

Cain, the first son of man to be born, was born outside of Eden. He was also the first murderer, committing the first act of fratricide. Following the first sin, these creaturely acts introduce other—alien—principles into the world. A necessary consequence of these is that the promised deliverer had to come through a younger son. The eschatological blessing was taken away from the eldest and devolved to a younger (though it must be maintained that natural inheritances still pass to the eldest unless forfeited).

We know Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God, and therefore the First; Adam and his race must then be sons only derivatively by way of participation in Him who is the incarnate divine Image. Jesus is also the younger Son of Man, born not by a (human) father’s will but through a Virgin. Jesus is the Seed of the Woman that was promised.

Jesus was born into the world as God’s beloved Son. The inheritance of all things predestined for him he possessed by right potentially, if not (yet) in actuality, by virtue of his Person. Jesus demonstrated the reality of his sonship by performing acts of filial piety culminating in the sacrifice of his life, but he never positively performed some work that meritoriously upgraded him all the way from the status of disfavor (non-sonship) to the status of favor (sonship) in the Father’s sight.

Indeed, Jesus did take upon himself the form of a servant, but he was always materially the Son. He assumed the form of servitude in order to exercise a universal High Priesthood in solidarity with all humanity. The prodigal son intuitively takes this form when he seeks to return to his father’s house. This is the expression of genuine contrition that a son ought to show after he realizes the enormity of his fault. Servitude is a self-inflicted condition after the Fall; it does not belong to the original order of things.

All this has been written to argue against the Federalist theory that God put man under the kind of legal contract under whose terms positive rewards were rendered for services strictly performed (the wages of servitude). Federal theology is a distortion of biblical teaching. It grossly underestimates the significance of the sonship-inheritance dynamic and conceives of humanity’s relation to God and Christ in purely extrinsic legal terms. Filial merit is essentially different than the merit of servitude, which always must fall short in comparison.

Adam never lost his natural status of divine sonship. This status can never be earned or lost; only its blessings can be forfeited through personal choice. Hell is the anguish of those sons of God who, through their own fault, are eternally deprived of their inheritance because they persist in impenitence. They want what they want on their own terms, not the Heavenly Father's.

Monday, November 08, 2010

What Would a Monarchy in America Look Like?

I commend to the readers here the following articles by John C. Médaille:

On Democracy and Kings

A Real Catholic Monarchy

Monarchy and the American Constitution


John C. Médaille is a father of five, an adjunct Instrutor of theology at the University of Dallas, and a real estate agent in Irving, Texas.  He has a web page devoted to "Distributivism and Catholic Social Teaching" and other subjects.

The Patriarchal Theory of the State

I just came across this article over the weekend and thought UO readers would be interested in reading it.  It's one of the finer statements I've read lately from the monarchist point of view.


My own perspective is fundamentally that of the patriarchal theory of the state.  My understanding is that Adam was created head of the entire race and that fatherly authority was transmitted to his male offspring.  In opposition to the theory that men are created as free and equal individuals, my view is that persons are first established in families and only achieve a degree of autonomy later.  This autonomy has to be earned; and there is good and bad autonomy.  However, the path of authentic personhood always involves honoring one's parents in obedience to God from whom every paternity in heaven and earth receives its name.

Furthermore, on my theory, society is essentially a network of families in covenant tied together by the bonds of faith, loyalty, mutual care, and blood.  The state receives its legitimacy from its participation in the the divine rule of Christ who rules as everlasting Father by the will of his divine Father.  To the degree a state departs from the divine pattern is the degree it departs from its taproot in Eden.  A state departs from its purpose, i.e., to produce godly seed before the Lord, in direct proportion as it undermines the integrity of the nation's families.

Finally, the basic function of law is to protect the family and govern relationships between kinship groups, not enunciate the rights of individuals in abstract isolation from everything (and everyone!) else.  Law should not prefer the abstract individual over the family, for the individual cannot exist without the family.  Fathers have high privileges and grave responsibilities under this system that other persons do not, cannot, possess.  Justice, in order to be just, must be applied in a way that honors the familial structure of the human race.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Selected Quotations

"Monarchy is the one system of government where power is exercised for the good of all."


Aristotle, 322-384 BC.


"To be a king and wear a crown is more glorious to them that see it than it is a pleasure to them that bear it."


Queen Elizabeth I.


"They tell us that all Kings are bad; that God never made a King; and that all Kings are very expensive. But, that all Kings are bad cannot be true: because God himself is one of them; he calls himself King of Kings; which not only shows us he is a King, but he has other Kings under him: he is never called King of Republics.  The Scripture calls Kings, the Lord’s Anointed; but who ever heard of an anointed Republic?"


Association Papers, London, 1793.


"A priest who is not a monarchist is not worthy to stand at the altar table.  The priest who is a republican is always a man of poor faith. God himself anoints the monarch to be head of the kingdom, while the president is elected by the pride of the people.  The king stays in power by implementing God’s commandments, while the president does so by pleasing those who rule.  The king brings his faithful subjects to God, while the president takes them away from God."

Neomartyr Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev, tortured and killed by Bolsheviks on 7th February 1918.


"The monarchical principle is laughed at by vulgar and foolish people in all the suburbs of Europe.  It is hated in all the gutters of the world.  The reason is simple.  It enshrines with a fitting dignity and elaboration the principle of authority as something independent of this or that politician.  It places it above attack.  It symbolises and consecrates an attitude of mind essential to the happiness of peoples."


D’Alvarez, Storm Over Europe, by Douglas Jerrold (1930), Chapter XII.


"Above the ebb and flow of party strife, the rise and fall of ministries, and individuals, the changes of public opinion or public fortune, the British Monarchy presides, ancient, calm and supreme within its function, over all the treasures that have been saved from the past and all the glories we write in the annals of our country."


Sir Winston Churchill.


"There is nothing about which I am more anxious than my country, and for its sake I am willing to die ten deaths, if that be possible."


Queen Elizabeth I, in 1564.


For more quotations, please visit the quotation page on the Constitutional Monarchy Association website.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More Unpopular Opinions

1.  There are gradations of sin, just as there are gradations of evil.

2.  There will be gradations of reward and punishment in the afterlife.

3.  Not all sin rises to a level demanding eternal punishment.

4.  The curse of death and the curse of the law are not the same thing.

5.  Justification at any one point does not include the forgiveness of future sins.

6.  Justification is contingent upon personal repentance.

7.  Justification can be lost. 

8.  Future salvation is attained through perseverance.

9.  All men will be judged by God on the basis of their works.

Look for an upcoming post, "On the Sinfulness of Sin."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Convocation Book 0f 1606, i.1

AMONGST the rest of the titles and attributes of God in the Scriptures, which are common to the blessed Trinity, these following are three, viz. Creator, Lord of lords, and King of kings; which be there applied as well to the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, the second Person in the said blessed Trinity, as to God the Father, and to God the Holy Ghost.  Agreeably whereunto, and not otherwise, our chief purpose being to imitate the Scriptures, in setting out and describing the Deity and dignity of our Saviour Christ, by His Almighty power, and universal government of all the world, as heir of all things, and head of His Church; we hold it fit to begin with His Divine power of creation:  and thereupon in the sense aforesaid do affirm that He in the beginning did create both heaven and earth; and that amongst the rest of the creatures which He then made, He created our first parents, Adam and Eve, from whose loins mankind is descended.

I Tim. 6: 15
Rev. 19: 16
Joh. 1: 2
Heb. 1: 3,10
Col. 1:16
Prov. 8:22-31
CANON I.

If any man therefore shall affirm with any Pagan, Heretic, Atheist, or any other profane persons, which know not, or [believe] not the Scriptures, either that heaven and earth [had no beginning, or that] the earth was made by angels, or [the Devil; that the world was not] otherwise made by Christ, than [as He was an instrument of] of the Father for the making [of it; or that He did not, as God,] create our said parents, Adam [and Eve, he doth greatly err.

PLACET EIS.].

***

Introducing the Convocation Book of 1606

 John Overall, Bishop of Norwich


Monday, October 04, 2010

Susan Sarandon on her open-ended philosophy of relationships

From the Telegraph interview:

"They [Sarandon and actor Tim Robbins] never considered marriage. 'I've always liked the idea of choosing to be with somebody,' says Sarandon, who has two sons, Jack and Miles, with Robbins, as well as an older daughter, Eva, 25, from a previous relationship with the director Franco Amurri.

"'I thought that if you didn't get married you wouldn't take each other for granted as easily. I don't know if after twentysomething years that was still true.'

...
"She implies that her relationship with Robbins ran its course. 'You bring people into your life at certain times. Maybe you have a relationship to have children and you realise that it's fulfilled after that point.'

...
"These days she does not take anything for granted. 'What I've realised in my old age is that your relationship with people or with your job has to be a growing organism,' she says.

"'It's not something where you reach a certain point and then you start preserving it. You have to nurture it, you have to stay curious and hungry and foolish. Once you stop doing that you get satisfied and you get stuck.'"

That's some deep wisdom there, Susan.  Reeeeeal deep.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Unpopular Opinionator Returns (Again): A Challenge to PC2K (formerly W2K)

Today, the following challenge was issued to Darryl Hart over at Old Life Theological Society here.  It'll be interesting to see if these questions are  substantially addressed or whether they'll elicit the usual handwaving from Hart and Zrimec. 

[Words in brackets are not in the original, but are added to clarify and expand the thought.  Some original words are crossed out because they are unneccessary or too strong.]

 ****

Darryl,

I have followed your thoughts on this subject for several years now [Darryl and I had some feisty exchanges over at De Regno Christi back in the day.  We are still nominally fellow contributors to the blog].

Allow me to attempt a summary of the Post-Constantinian 2K position [formerly referred to as W2K or R2Kt-- Westminster Two Kingdoms or Radical Two Kingdoms to differentiate the position from the Two Kingdoms views of the magisterial Reformers].

PC2K says:

1) Natural law (apart from special revelation) is a SUFFICIENT guide for establishing earthly justice and peace in the common grace economy.

2) Natural law can ALWAYS [CAN] be rightly used for its natural end (earthly justice and peace) without reference to its divine origin and ultimate purpose.

3) In the interest of preserving freedom of conscience and ecclesiastical purity [and earthly peace] you maintain it is ABSOLUTELY ILLEGITIMATE and undesirable for the common grace state to confess the Lordship of either the biblical God or Jesus Christ.

Is this a fair summarization of your position?

If so, then my responses will be:

1) How do you know?

2) How do you know?

3) How do you know?

I doubt you could appeal to general revelation alone to justify these absolute claims. I’d like to see you or any of your fellow travelers try. Perhaps you’ll appeal to the common intuitions of the majortiy of mankind. Those of us who do not have these intuitions are perhaps abnormal–freaks born with a deficiency of [moral] noetic content every normal person naturally possesses. Or perhaps, we have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness because we’re trying to achieve justification by works. Either way, we have either lost or never possessed what everybody else “just knows.”

However, you do appeal to special revelation to support your views. I’m still waiting for either…

a) Deductive proofs from Scripture that validly demonstrate the above claims; or

b) A historical demonstration that the consistent, overwhelming, teaching of the Western Christian tradition is distinctively PC2K (and not just 2K).

Darryl, absent the demonstrations, why should anyone take seriously subjective biblical interpretations and historical evaluations inspired by private intution?

***

Hart then retreats into his area of specialization (he's a historian) and that he is not being programmatic about... what?  PC2K?  He says he merely "observe[s] what has happened and where states and churches have been right and wrong."

He says that Calvin's Geneva was wrong to execute Servetus.  By what standard does he judge the rightness or wrongness of this action?  By natural law?  How does natural law inform him that it is wrong to execute a heretic who won't shut up?  Did the Israelites go against natural law when they destroyed pagan idolaters?  Or, does God contravene the natural law when he commands Israel to destroy certain Canaanite groups and witches for their sincerely performed pagan practices?

Then Hart makes the claim that virtuous pagans can be more moral (over the long-run?) than the biblical patriarchs.  He says natural law and general revelation enables him to explain this.

My response is below.

***

I don’t necessarily have a quarrel with the proposition that a given virtuous pagan may be more “moral” than a given biblical exemplar of faith. I just wouldn’t know how we could ascertain this for sure. How does natural law help us here?


You have read and studied the past more than I. History is your field. So what? Richard Dawkins knows more about biology than I do, but I’m not convinced of his evolutionary theories. I don’t know how “programmatic” Dawkins is, but he certainly has a program.

I can appreciate the moral revulsion one feels at the cruel and unusual sorts of punishments/ executions administered in the good ol’ days of Christendom. One of the first books that had a formative influence on me was Foxe’s Book of Martyrs containing lots of lurid woodcut scenes of man’s inhumanity to man. But is the banishment of intransigent heretics really prohibited? Is capital punishment really wrong for those who year-after-year publicly attack the sacral foundations of government authority?

At some point, emotional reactions need to be checked and positive principles need to be articulated.

For PC2K, these principles have been articulated by the likes of Meredith Kline, Michael Horton, and David Vandrunen. The pattern I’ve been seeing are doctrines very much like the three points I’ve laid out above. I think it can be said that these views depend on [or perhaps are integrally connected with] the validity of the social contract theory of the state, a theory that actually fails to account for the diversity, order, and hierarchy [and purpose] actually inherent in nature.

Servetus received his due reward, because it is the king’s duty as father of his people to protect his subjects from all deadly harm, physical and spiritual. I don’t know all the ins-and-outs of Servetus’ trial and execution, but I do know the man was an unrepentant soul who would not desist from publicly propagating his heresy and sedition [Servetus denied infant baptism--thereby resisting the lawful authority of the ecclesiastical authorities].

I deny that any man has the inherent natural right to disturb the peace of society through heresy and sedition.

Servetus is not some kind of martyr. The redemption of Christ and the peace it brings is not available to those who, like Servetus, persist in error. It is only offered to those who repent and turn from their error. The state has the right to protect itself from errors [pernicious doctrines] that threaten its existence [i.e., the Church undergirds the state]. Servetus was a wicked man who received the prescribed penalty established by the lawful authority for defending the commonwealth.

Finally, I don’t know why PC2K secularism deserves preference over the Christendom view, which grounds human government in the divinely established created order as an institution bound to uphold the whole law of God. The Church can still function as an institution that [directly] addresses matters of the spirit and maintains a certain autonomy from the temporal power, as you pointed out [actually, as the Roman Catholic position holds by placing the Church above the state] in your recent post , “Two-Kingdom Tuesday: The Roman Catholic Version.” [link added]

***

I hope UO readers aren't put off too much by the polemical nature of this exchange.  The whole point is to forcefully show that Hart and co. have no real justification for their position beyond a tenaciously held liberal sentiment which they confuse for the spirit of Christianity.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Virgin Birth or Virgin Conception?

It has recently become clear that what I was originally taught about the virign birth within Protestantism should be distinguished from the Catholic faith as belief in the virginal conception alone.  The Catholic tradition holds together the virginal conception, the virgin birth, and the perpetual virginity of Our Lady. 

I think there's a whole lot more going on here than the Fathers thinking that sexual intercourse was "icky."  These are the same Fathers that condemned gnosticism, docetism, and similar heresies that detracted from Christ's full humanity, including his physicality.

The following is from the old Catholic Encyclopedia:

THE virginity of our Blessed Lady was defined under anathema in the third canon of the Lateran Council held in the time of Pope Martin I, A.D. 649. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, as recited in the Mass, expresses belief in Christ "incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary"; the Apostles' Creed professes that Jesus Christ "was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary"; the older form of the same creed uses the expression: "born of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary". These professions show:
•That the body of Jesus Christ was not sent down from Heaven, nor taken from earth as was that of Adam, but that its matter was supplied by Mary;

•that Mary co-operated in the formation of Christ's body as every other mother co-operates in the formation of the body of her child, since otherwise Christ could not be said to be born of Mary just as Eve cannot be said to be born of Adam;

•that the germ in whose development and growth into the Infant Jesus, Mary co-operated, was fecundated not by any human action, but by the Divine power attributed to the Holy Ghost;

that the supernatural influence of the Holy Ghost extended to the birth of Jesus Christ, not merely preserving Mary's integrity, but also causing Christ's birth or external generation to reflect his eternal birth from the Father in this, that "the Light from Light" proceeded from his mother's womb as a light shed on the world; that the "power of the Most High" passed through the barriers of nature without injuring them; that "the body of the Word" formed by the Holy Ghost penetrated another body after the manner of spirits.


Church Fathers

The perpetual virginity of our Blessed Lady was taught and proposed to our belief not merely by the councils and creeds, but also by the early Fathers. The words of the prophet Isaias (vii, 14) are understood in this sense by

•St. Irenaeus (III, 21; see Eusebius, Church History V.8),

•Origen (Adv. Cels., I, 35),

•Tertullian (Adv. Marcion., III, 13; Adv. Judæos, IX),

•St. Justin (Dialogue with Trypho 84),

•St. John Chrysostom (Hom. v in Matth., n. 3; in Isa., VII, n. 5);

•St. Epiphanius (Hær., xxviii, n. 7),

•Eusebius (Demonstrat. ev., VIII, i),

•Rufinus (Lib. fid., 43),

•St. Basil (in Isa., vii, 14; Hom. in S. Generat. Christi, n. 4, if St. Basil be the author of these two passages),

•St. Jerome and Theodoretus (in Isa., vii, 14),

•St. Isidore (Adv. Judæos, I, x, n. 3),

•St. Ildefonsus (De perpetua virginit. s. Mariæ, iii).

St. Jerome devotes his entire treatise against Helvidius to the perpetual virginity of Our Blessed Lady (see especially nos. 4, 13, 18).



The contrary doctrine is called:

•"madness and blasphemy" by Gennadius (De dogm. eccl., lxix),

•"madness" by Origen (in Luc., h, vii),

•"sacrilege" by St. Ambrose (De instit. virg., V, xxxv),

•"impiety and smacking of atheism" by Philostorgius (VI, 2),

•"perfidy" by St. Bede (hom. v, and xxii),

•"full of blasphemies" by the author of Prædestin. (i, 84),

•"perfidy of the Jews" by Pope Siricius (ep. ix, 3),

•"heresy" by St. Augustine (De Hær. h., lvi).

St. Epiphanius probably excels all others in his invectives against the opponents of Our Lady's virginity (Hær., lxxviii, 1, 11, 23).

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A Regency in Israel?

Michael Wyschogrod argues for the establishment of a regency in the state of Israel in the latest issue of First Things. If you have an online subscription, the article may be read here.

I'll have some thoughts on the idea once I get my copy back from loan. It's so good, I'm giving it out to friends & family to read!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Against Divorce

I've been thinking about marriage and the sin of divorce lately.  The popular wisdom is that divorce hurts children.  Many couples will stay together in loveless marriages "for the sake of the children."  This unselfishness though praiseworthy to an extent, is not the primary reason to preserve a marriage.  Even more important than the offspring of marital union is the life of marriage itself:  "From the beginning it was not so."  Holy matrimony is a participation in the mystery of Christ and his Church (Eph. 5:32).  It is a holy thing.  The failure of any Christian marriage is therefore destructive of the manifestation of Christ's love in the world.

It appears that in the current crisis of the state of Christian marriage in general husbands are primarily responsible for the failure of their marriages.  This failure is largely due the man's neglect of his God-given role as head of his family, the biblical pattern.  Husband, act as the head of your home (I Cor. 11:3).  Cherish your wife.  Do not forsake your vows. Seek the face of the Lord and total submission to him.  Emulate the Lord Jesus in all that you do for your family, sacrificing yourself for them in all things, the biblical way

The woman is not the head of the home. She is not her husband's spiritual counselor or pastor.  He does not and should not answer to his wife as if she were. If a man has a problem, he needs to consult a pastor or a priest, and he certainly needs all the fellowship with and support from mature Christian brothers he can get.

St. Peter says, “[W]ives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any one of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior” (I Pet. 3:1-2).

A woman's need to feel loved and spiritually cared for by her husband does not give her license to set herself above him in any authoritative way.

The apostolic instruction is clear: "[if] a woman has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away” (I Cor. 7:13).  No husband will be perfect, but as long as he asks forgiveness for his faults—seventy times seven in a day—his wife is constrained not only by her marital vows but also by the grace of Christ to forgive and accept him.

It is amazing how many Christian wives wish to divorce their husbands even when lacking serious grounds, such as violent or immoral behavior that constitutes an overriding exception to the principles enunciated above.

Woman came from man and woman is made for man (cf. I Cor. 11:8-9).  Why was woman made for man? Because, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18a).  Ironically, while woman originates from man, she brings to the male-female union the gift that completes man—the complementarity that enables man to fulfill his original created purpose (Gen. 2:18b).  Together as a unit, male and female cooperate together to procreate and cultivate the world for God’s glory (Gen. 1:27-28).

It is through the woman who honors her man that God gives man the stability and the motivation to do the work God has given him to do in the world. This is true of mothers as well as wives.

Married people, do you remember your vows? You know—“for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part”? Are you committed to honoring the Lord through them? Then always remember that the context of Christian marriage is grace. Grace upon grace. Cover one another’s nakedness. Do not subject each other to dissection, analysis and interrogations.

Married people experiencing marriage problems should be accountable to a Christian pastor and take stock of the life of their family as a whole, seeking the Lord’s will together (not apart) in reliance upon the Holy Spirit.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Permit me to suggest the analogy of the “incompetent servant.”  The incompetent servant when continually beaten by his master will always be worthless.  He will always cower and cringe before his lord.  He will always make the same mistakes over and over again, because his incompetence is expected.  His master believes he is worthless and the master is always right, so the servant believes he truly is, and always will be, worthless.  In the end, the master prefers to administer beatings than receive quality service.  In the end, also, the servant prefers to receive beatings than render quality service.

Who is at fault here?  Why, both the master and the servant, of course.  Neither of them planned for this to happen, but it is much easier for the master (who thinks more highly of his competency than he ought) to administer beatings than manage his staff effectively, working with the actual capabilities of his people.  It is also easier for the self-loathing servant, because he doesn’t have to think for himself or produce quality work.  And beatings can be a comfort, as long as they continue in their regularity.

This dynamic is characteristic of worldly power relationships.  Why?  Because, it is in the interest of the powerful to keep the dynamic going.  People are so much more easily controlled (and destroyed) when their dignity is already taken from them.  The powerful tie heavy burdens on men’s shoulders, but are unwilling to help with so much as a finger (cf. Matt. 23:4).  Thus, these kinds of arrangements don’t require real leaders.  They don’t require real progress because real effort isn’t required.  At the root of it all is pride and laziness.

Christian arrangements of authority should not be like this.  This is not the way that Christians should relate to one another.  On the night of his betrayal Jesus said to his disciples,
The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’  But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the least, and the one who rules like the one who serves (Luke 22:25-26).
Here, it would be erroneous to interpret Jesus’ statement as some kind of proto-egalitarian manifesto that negates formal structures of ruler and ruled, of command and obedience.  Nowhere does the Scripture advise disobedience to duly established authorities, but always and everywhere submission is enjoined.  What Jesus is getting at is the unhealthy dynamic that pervades all human relationships in this sinful world: the hateful cycle of domination and self-pity, of sadism and masochism.

Husbands and wives in the bonds of holy matrimony should not relate to one another as severe masters and incompetent slaves, or even as employers and employees for the purposes of mutual economic exploitation.   They do not punch time clocks or follow checklists and procedural formulas.  However, there is a proper familial order of headship and submission, of ruler and ruled. 

Ironically, there seems to be more unhealthy co-dependency in modern egalitarian “marriages” and live-in relationships than in the older traditional arrangements.  An inversion of the proper order that goes under the name “Christian” isn’t Christian at all, but a communist caricature of Christian marriage.

What I’m trying to get at here is that the complementarities of husbandly love & wifely honor (and husbandly honor & wifely love) flow to one another (and evoke the desired response from the other) most naturally and spontaneously when husband and wife each occupy the roles established for them at creation and set forth in the biblical pattern.  Contrary to Lennon & McCartney, the love we give is unequal, because different in kind, to the love we take.  But this is appropriate, since sacrificial love and honor cooperate together (energized by the Spirit of Grace) to unite in a higher synthesis, a higher unity, in which man and wife will live and flourish.  The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and this is all made possible in and through Christ’s love for his Church, his bride.
Christ is the head of every man,
And man is the head of a woman,
And God is the head of Christ (I Cor. 11:3).
Husband and wife, for the sake of your marriage and for the sake of your children, embrace the Christian and biblical pattern and way of marriage.

Husband, love and cherish your wife.  Wife, honor and obey your husband.  Only by performing these things together in obedience to the Lord will you save your marriage.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sonship not Servitude

Galatians 4:21-26:

"Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?

"For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Hagar.

"For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all."

In his commentary on the epistle lesson for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Melville Scott writes:

"By an allegory taken from the two sons of Abraham, each of whom stood in a different relation to his father, Christians are taught their happy relation to God as His children by grace, and their consequent duty...

"Ishmael owed his slavery to his mother Hagar, the slave-wife of Abraham, a type of the Jewish Church, 'the Jerusalem that now is'--

(1) As wandering in the dreary desert of the Law;
(2) And as only able to give her children a share of her own bondage.

"To the Jews the service of God was a burden grievous to be borne, for God was to them more of a Master than a Heavenly Father...

"Isaac owed his happy freedom to his mother, Sarah, the chosen and beloved wife of Abraham. Sarah, the free mother, whose children are born free, is a figure of the Christian Church: 'the Jerusalem which is above, which is the mother of us all.' As in both cases the position of the mother determined the relation of the child to the father, so the very fact that we belong to the Christian Church by our baptism determines our relation to God and makes us His children. It is because we are members of Christ that we are the children of God and have received the 'one baptism for the remission of sins.' The word covenant practically means relation, or position, and a covenant of grace a relation or position of grace. The word conveys no idea of mutual bargain or condition in either case. We are what God has made us.

"Is the service of sons, which is more than that of slaves. The son submits his will to his father, the slave only his outward conduct to his master. The son gives what the slave withholds, and for this reason we are tempted to prefer slavery; but if he gives more he receives more, for if he must say, 'I am my father's,' he can also say, 'My father is mine.' Hence comes the conscious dignity and liberty, the power of confident prayer and thankful praise. The son serves not for favour but as one in favour, not for wages but as a debtor to infinite love. While the thought of the crown before him gives him joy, his true motive is the Cross behind him."

***

In the state of grace, the Christian no longer lives under the condemnation of Law. So, when a Christian seeks to truly obey the Lord he should never do so to meritoriously obtain divine favor. He already has God's favor, given freely in Jesus.

In the state of grace, the Christian's works of obedience are never evaluated in terms of strict merit, i.e., how they stand on their own, but with respect to the undergirding merits of Christ and the operation of the Spirit working together with his faith. Our Father does not judge acts of Christian obedience as sinful and neither should we. This is to look at Christian obedience in terms of the world as a closed system, alienated from God and the grace of Christ.

Those who continually revert to conceiving their obedience as worthless servitude betray that they lack the Spirit of Sonship.

When Scott says, "The word [covenant] conveys no idea of mutual bargain or condition in either case," this should be understood in the sense that our covenant relationship is not conditioned upon our own meritorious performance as mere servants earning a wage. God, himself, has provided a perfect and sufficient sacrifice. Out of gratitude for this provision we are constrained to obey God, not as servants but as sons, as Scott says, "debtor[s] to infinite love."

Here, I must warn my Reformed Christian brethren that liturgies that situate believers existentially in the place of Ishmael every Sunday morning are doing a disservice to the people of God.

The spiritual cycle of guilt, grace & gratitude may be a good account of Christian experience as far as it goes, but once redeemed, the normal guilt the Christian incurs is a sin against God's fatherly love, not against pure divine justice. The response of gratitude does not and cannot directly lead into a renewed condition of guilt. True gratitude paves the way from grace toward greater grace.

The full weight of God's naked justice is only experienced by those who stand outside the covenant. If your regular experience as a professing Christian is a continual return to the state of being under the wrath of God, you have fallen from grace and need to be restored through the Sacrament of Penance.

It is plain that a real distinction between venial and mortal sin exists. Venial sin temporarily hinders the communication of grace, but mortal sin leads to despair and separation from our heavenly Father.

Penance is essential in order to convert natural attrition (sorrow for sin's consequences) into contrition (sorrow at displeasing the Father). It accomplishes this this by restoring the fallen to the covenant, in that the penitent passes from the state of judgment to the state of forgiveness--the state of being justified--from a state of alienation to a state of communion.

The sacerdotal system of the Catholic Church therefore represents not a return to Sinai, to a fearful ministry of pure Law, but is in fact the necessary means by which the forgiveness and grace of God comes to his sons.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

An Important Challenge

There is only one argument against monarchy that is of any real concern to me. As expressed in this blog post, the monarchy principle supposedly derives from pagan unitarianism and is inconsistent with Christian trinitarianism.

According to the author, "It would seem then that after the revelation of the Holy Trinity... no representation of divine sovereignty in the world-immanent realm is possible. The attempts to produce and, then, theologically justify such representation was, at its core, flawed and predicated on a misunderstanding (or improper emphasis) of God's 'oneness.'"

Really? No representation of divine sovereignty in the world-immanent realm is possible?

Did not Jesus Christ represent divine sovereignty in the world-immanent realm? And, do not bishops and kings represent Christ on earth?

This seems like a bad argument. I'd much appreciate it if anyone can explain how I'm mistaken.

It is most probable that some conceptions of monarchy derive from pagan sources. It may also be true that some conceptions are informed by some Christological error (e.g., the King's two bodies?).

However, at present, I understand that the Father has committed all authority to the Son, and that the Son rules through his representatives in the world-immanent realm.

Also, at present, I am unaware of any principle that precludes Christ's rule through the agencies of popes and/ or emperors.

Who is Carl Schmitt?

Recently, I have learned of this important political theorist of the last century. UO was visited by "Durendal", the author of the blog Schmittian Jurisprudence, who agrees that "classical liberal and libertarian systems can only produce the nihilism of mechanistic legality."

Providentially, my friend Perry Robinson sent me another link that references Schmitt.

On Monday I received Schmitt's The Concept of the Political and Political Theology from Amazon.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Theoretical Reason vs. Practical Reason

Let me take capital punishment as a case in point. To observers who pay no attention to the Church’s rationale, it appears that the Catholic Church is moving toward a pacifist theoretical position. This is not the case. The Church will never condemn capital punishment in principle. It can’t. The Church is judging that in the context of our times, i.e., the terrible bloodshed of the last century and the creeping culture of death, there is more danger in capital punishment's widespread use than in its widespread neglect. The Church might be wrong here, but I’d never know it.

In fact, even though I’m a strong proponent of capital punishment, I also advocate a complete restructuring of the justice system, which in turn requires a restructuring of society. However, we don’t live in Andrew’s world; we live in the real one. What I advocate is not really practical at the present. The Church is responding to the world as it actually is. I would completely fail if I somehow obtained power to implement my social policies—a lot of eggs would be broken. Destruction and misery would result. On the other hand, the Church will inevitably succeed in its mission.

I am willing to submit my theoretical reason to the demands of the Church’s practical reason in the present. And I trust that the Church’s practical reason is guided by her theoretical reason (illuminated by divine Tradition).

I also believe my theoretical reason corresponds very closely to the Church's, but am unwilling to grasp at what hasn't been offered. Instead of the revolutionary path, I wait in submission to the established order of things, while retaining hope for a better day--a day when kings will once again render judgment and justice on the earth.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Shouldn't we just let people destroy their lives if they want?

In speaking to a dear friend of mine yesterday, I encountered this objection to my drug prohibition argument. Of course, I've heard it before. I just don't buy it.

Theoretical libertarians (as opposed to practical libertarians who merely want to downsize government) are opposed in principle to the legitimate and just exercise of government. In the following paragraphs I'll lay out the main reasons why this must be so.

To begin with, we must ask, What is government's proper function?

As a Christian, I accept the authority of special divine revelation. When I read St. Paul in Romans 13:4 to say the king is "an agent of [God's] wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer," I accept this role for government. Indeed, most Christians will admit this role.

What many Christians overlook is the other responsibility government has been given according to the inspired apostle. St. Paul also says, "Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good" (Rom. 13:3b-4a).

From this, I conclude that a governor is essentially an authority figure given a divine mandate to punish the evil and reward the good.

Theoretical libertarians may recognize that government is instituted to keep order and ensure the tranquility of the community. However, what they fail to recognize is that the use of the sword to defend society from external and internal threat is only half of the governor's lawful task.

Government is also instituted to reward the good.

Theoretical libertarians maintain that the punitive function of government is limited to the exercise of defense against physical threat and retributive punishment for external crimes only. These theorists deny that government ought to make moral judgments and argue that government should only respond to external acts.

They are incorrect. Government must take preventitive, even preemptive, measures to deal with problems before they grow too large to deal with. In support of this I cite the "broken window thesis."

"James Q. Wilson and George Kelling developed the 'broken window' thesis. Their thesis suggests that a certain sequence of events can be expected in deteriorating neighborhoods: evidence of decay (broken windows, accumulated trash, deteriorated building exteriors) which remains in the neighborhood for a reasonably long period of time causes people who live and work in the area to feel more vulnerable and to begin to withdraw. They become less willing to intervene to maintain public order (for example, to attempt to break up groups of rowdy teens loitering on street corners) or to address physical signs of deterioration.

"In response to this, some vandals may become bolder and intensify their harassment and vandalism. This makes residents even more fearful and less likely to participate in community upkeep. Offenders now may come in from outside the area, sensing that the neighborhood has become a vulnerable and less risky site for crime.

"'One unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares,' Wilson and Kelling have written, 'and so breaking more windows costs nothing.'"


The broken window thesis may confound correlation with causality at times, but it should be pointed out that criminality is not a mere series of criminal acts, but a lifestyle that progressively degenerates. At some point after certain warning signs appear, the time for intervention has come.

Society is really a social system made of a complex of symbiotic relationships between humans and their physical and social environments. The soul affects the body and the body influences the soul. Groups influence individual choice and vice versa. Environments form options and so determine human choice to an extent. No man is an island. Libertarians are fools to think otherwise.

General disorder, alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual promiscuity and divorce, are all elements of a social eco-system that fosters criminality. This point of view conforms to common sense and is confirmed by the vast majority of scientific social data available.

So no, government should not just let people destroy their lives if they want. They are not just destroying their own lives; they are destroying others' as well. It's not just that I have to personally live around people who make bad choices. My neighborhood deteriorates when these people reproduce. My children must go to school with their children and live in the environment they create.

As a rewarder of good and punisher of evil, government has an interest in suppressing undesirable behavior and encouraging desirable choices. Government has the legitimate function to promote the attainment of and require civic virtue.

In another place, St. Paul describes the purpose of the law:

"[We] know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust" (1 Tim. 1:8-11).

Constitutional proceduralism, i.e., the proceduralist "rule of law" is insufficient. Judgment is necessary for justice. A constitution is a machine, and machines do not judge or produce right decisions.

A major thesis of this blog is that all forms of theoretical libertarianism (including classical liberals' republican constitutionalism) can only produce legal systems. They cannot produce justice systems.

In order to fulfill his purpose as the guarantor of the peace and happiness of society, the governor must be empowered to effectively administer law. For this, he must be above human law in the sense--and to the extent--that he judges what the law says and how to apply it in particular cases.

In order to have a just and effective ministration of law, there must be one who acts as a judge, knowing good from evil, and who chooses the good.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Under Siege

The UO Knight is under siege. After sallying forth to combat the evil libertarians over the issue of drug legalization, the UO Knight returned home to find his castle beseiged by a drug liberalization Kool-Aid drinker from the UK operating under the alias "Jimbob."

Jimbob has challenged me to read a couple of articles from the mainstream media, and "do some research before typing [my] next response."

Jimbob argues that "the majority of these effects [i.e., the social cost of drugs] are down to prohibition – dealers / gangs / funding terrorism / drug addict crime etc. etc." For Jimbob, drug prohibition is the real problem, not the criminals who disobey the law and supply/ use illegal substances.

This is a patently absurd claim. In 2003, the US Drug Enforcement Administration put out a paper that summarizes "ten top facts on legalization. In this paper, the DEA states, "Six times as many homicides are committed by people under the influence of drugs, as by those who are looking for money to buy drugs. Most drug crimes aren’t committed by people trying to pay for drugs; they’re committed by people on drugs."

This demonstrates that on the criterion of actual crime alone, the use of certain mind-altering substances is the problem. On this basis, a convincing case is made that the public availability of these substances ought to be severely restricted.

In addition to actual crimes committed, I also argue that there are other weighty reasons for keeping drug use criminalized. I maintain that individuals who use drugs are compromised mentally and morally by using these substances.

Because of such undisputable corrupting effects on the citizenry, I argue for establishing personal character reference qualifications as well as IQ and mental health tests to ensure that only competent individuals be allowed into the voting booth.

Jimbob rejects the idea that drugs negatively influence character, intelligence and mental competency. He argues that people who use drugs only "recreationally" are capable of adequately functioning in society.

Well, they may be able to "function," but as I see it the only way our civilization is going to move back in the direction it needs to is for us to rediscover the law and forgiveness of God, abandon our vices, and be concerned for the survival of our families and communities.

According to the paper cited above, "The short-term effects [of marijuana] are... harmful. They include: memory loss, distorted perception, trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor skills, decrease in muscle strength, increased heart rate, and anxiety. Marijuana impacts young people’s mental development, their ability to concentrate in school, and their motivation and initiative to reach goals."

The rejection of drug use, then, even use of more benign drugs such as marijuana, is a necessary condition to begin to aquire the virtues necessary for maintaining civilization.

A few final thoughts on this subject. I have limited time to investigate absurd claims put forth in the name of “science,” whatever that is. Global warming is a fraud perpetrated by so-called science. Scientists are people who have personal dispositions and political points-of-view just like everybody else. Data can be suppressed and/ or cherry-picked.

Journalists aren’t scientists or logicians. Scientific studies usually have a very precise scope and it’s all too easy for non-experts (such as Jimbob) to draw unwarranted conclusions from findings they don’t understand.

Before research should be accepted as science by policy makers it needs to be tested, re-tested, and peer-reviewed. Contrary opinions and findings need to be weighed. Factors such as common sense, prudence, and sage advice (things not easily quantifiable) also have their legitimate part to play in policy-makers' decisions.

The Boston Globe article Jimbob cited, is a joke.

The "findings" of the research cited by the article rank pot higher than solvents and LSD. Also, Tobacco is rated more harmful than LSD, pot, and ecstasy. Finally, alcohol is listed as more harmful than meth! "Findings" such as these, so contrary to common sense perceptions, are unworthy of serious consideration.

Somebody named "truthczar" had this to say about the article:

"The guy makes some SUBJECTIVE assessments, creates a chart, then some reporter finds the article and assumes the chart is hard fact, and prints it. Next some fool politician will try to make public policy based on a reporter's interpretation of some guys chart based on a made up weighted scale of subjective assessments."

Another commenter made the following analysis (which I have modified slightly for the purpose of this post):

The problem with the findings of this research is with the particular combination of variables used to generate this gradation of harmful substances. The variables of physical impact, addictiveness, and societal cost are combined to produce misleading figures. If you are trying to determine the allocation of government resources, why do you care about anything other then the societal impact? And how is addictiveness and physical damage not already factored into societal cost? If you are trying to assess the danger that a drug poses to an individual, shouldn’t you only care about its physical impact and addictiveness?

This ranking doesn’t really tell us anything about the relative harmfulness of these substances. The purpose in combining all three variables is to mislead the public into swallowing the notion that drugs are less harmful than tobacco or alcohol.

This perspective does not take adequate account of the social benefits of tobacco and alcohol, the vast majority of whose users are responsible, law-abiding citizens. In the case of tobacco and alcohol, conventional thinking judges that the benefits far outweigh the costs. Not so with drug use. The evidence is clear that the drug culture spawns stupidity, criminality, and insanity in epidemic proportions.

That's all I have to say on this subject at present.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Opposing libertarians who want to legalize drugs

No one is holding a gun to force drug dealers to engage in their criminality. They bring violence upon themselves by disobeying the law. The collateral deaths that occur are largely people who are associated with them, or, who have chosen to live near them, and in some sense complicit in the corruption of the community. Of course, children who have no choice suffer. A sad fact of life is that children unjustly suffer the consequences of adult actions.

There have always been gangs and there will always be gangs. Drugs are merely the pretext. The government policy of outlawing drugs does not lead to criminal-on-criminal violence either directly or indirectly. To suggest otherwise is simply ludicrous. If government were the real evil and not the actual individuals who associate together in gangs, then why don’t the gangs grow rich together by cooperating to bring their goods to their loyal paying customers? They could unite their resources and create a black market so huge it would eat the conventional market from the inside out. A true free market would then arise from the ashes.

As with any other war, the drug war can only be won by an absolute determination to utterly annihilate the enemy with overwhelming force.

Lastly, I’ll respond to the charge that drug-warriors hypocritically pursue bloody policies while countenancing rampant drug use in the culture. Aside from the fact that the user is less morally culpable than the pusher, the demand side should be vigorously pursued.

Though unrealistic to expect in the current political climate (as is any competent prosecution of war), users should be regarded as collaborators with an enemy power, and should at least be detained as prisoners of war—if not executed—until the hostilities are over.

Anticipating the objection of those who would say that the drug culture does not warrant the extreme measure of war (i.e., it’s really not that big of a deal), my retort is, they should tell that to Mexico.

A question: do anarcho-libertarians believe in habeas corpus or Miranda rights? If so, Why? And if so, which entity would function as the guarantor of these rights in the anarcho-capitalist paradise?