Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Unclaimed Territory

There needs to be lands unclaimed by any sovereign state. Where else will the banished go?

Monday, October 03, 2011

Guilt made Personally Manageable

In order for Protestantism to work, the gravity of each sin must be flattened out to equal the gravity of every other sin. Though some Protestants hold to "degrees" of sin, for all Protestants every sin must be forgivable through the mechanism of a private act of faith.

In Protestantism, there can be no such thing as grave or mortal sin *normally* requiring the intervention of a higher ministerial / sacramental agency.  Nor must forgiveness ever depend upon some consequent act of repentance, much less some restitutive token. 

At best, some sort of "memory healing" might be attempted in order that psychological wholeness be restored.

Protestantism has simplified the problem of guilt to what concerns God and the individual alone and what may be managed within the individual's subjective state.

The Protestant project depends for its validity on whether guilt is simply the imputation of personal sin.  But if guilt is a condition and more:  the state of a community of persons--if guilt is a network of disordered relationships its remedy cannot be applied solely in the realm of private subjectivity. 

And here we come to the necessity that faith be not reduced to a movement of a creaturely mind (knowledge, assent, and trust), but must be a public objective reality transcending individual minds.

Friday, September 23, 2011

On Psychiatry

From Susan Lindauer’s Amazon review of Thomas Szasz’ Psychiatry: The Science of Lies: its own standards of mental illness, psychiatry has arguably become a disease in itself. Its practitioners are marked by symptoms of grandiosity, narcissism, and excessive controlling behaviors to the point of psychotic obsession and delusions of power over other lives. One suspects that beneath the grandiosity lies an essential mediocrity and an overwhelming need to reduce others to a lowest common denominator, so as to assert the superiority of the psychiatrists, and thus overcome their own innate insecurities at having been so ordinary. To compensate for this insecurity, they punish what is different, and plow seeds of self doubt into the consciousness of their targets.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Do you believe in the power of God?

Or, is your trust in philosophical simplicity, lifeless Greek matter, and the disjunction between nature and grace?  Do you shut God up in his heaven because--in the name of human freedom--he must be banished from the world?  Has not the Church been turned into a constitutional republic--a usurpation of the Kingdom--in the flight from ecclesiastical tyranny?  Is not the contest between high and low church the ecclesiastical equivalent of the neverending conflict between political right and left?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Canonizations and Infallibility

From today's Zenit news story of the same title:
"Therefore it is clear that the consistory does not imply an exercise of infallibility. On the one hand, the Holy Father delegated the declaration to a cardinal; second, it consisted in the proclamation of a date of canonization -- and not in the canonization itself.
"The exercise of infallibility comes only when the pope himself proclaims a person a saint. The proclamation is made in a Latin formula of which we offer an approximate translation:
"In honor of the Holy Trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, with the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and of Our Own, after long reflection, having invoked divine assistance many times and listened to the opinion of many of our Brothers in the Episcopate, We declare and define as Saint Blessed N. and inscribe his/her name in the list of the saints and establish that throughout the Church they be devoutly honored among the saints."

Monday, August 22, 2011

How to Read the Old Testament

Everything has to be understood in light of the ministry of Jesus.  For example, King David is a type of the ultimate Priest-King who was to arise in the Order of Melchizedek.  There is much in the Psalms that points to specific details of Christ's ministry.  On a purely grammatico-historical reading much in the OT the NT writers apply to Christ would be ruled out as metaphorical language for the spiritual situation of OT Israel/ Israelites alone.  The early Church then drew applications for the new covenant ministry by spiritual analogy to Christ's office. 

If we presuppose two stages of hermeneutical continuity between:

1) OT type & NT anti-type, and
2) Christ's royal priesthood & the Church's royal priesthood,

many important spiritual applications can be (and were) made for Church order and worship. 

We should generally assume that the ancient universal practices in the Church were based on a spiritual hermeneutic we are obliged to ourselves receive and unqualified to reject.  This spiritual hermeneutic is none other than the Christian Faith in operation as the Scriptures are opened.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Dictatorship of Newspapermen

Bonald writes:

It’s funny the way people assume that a necessary and sufficient condition for being “well informed” is that he follows all the medias latest reports of hooliganism. Knowing about Newtonian mechanics, the Bible, Confucian ethics, etc are all optional, but the New York Times is supposed to be essential. I admit that knowledge of ephemeral affairs is crucial for the functioning of a democracy, but this is just one more reason why democracy is a bad idea. To vote, the citizen must know about current affairs, so he goes to the media and becomes its mental slave. Thus democracy must lead to the dictatorship of newspapermen.
Preach it!

Our Bounden Duty and Service

According to the Anglican tradition, it is principally during the service of Holy Communion that the people of God offer their collective “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” to God.  After the Sursum Corda, the Presbyter says to the people, “Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.”  The people respond, “It is meet and right so to do.”  The Presbyter then turns to the Lord’s Table and says, “It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.”  Then, the Presbyter declares an intention to join with the host of Heaven in praise and leads the congregation in recitation of the Sanctus.

Therefore, as Divine worship ascends to the very throne of Heaven, we affirm that it is obligatory, fitting, and proper to render worship in a reverent way, performed to the best of our ability and, where appropriate, to employ fine craftsmanship, artistic excellence, and beautiful music to enhance its expression. We reject any insinuation that Divine worship per se takes food out of the mouth of the poor, serves only to puff up the pride of the Pharisaical, distracts from genuine spiritual worship, or serves as a means to some other end.

Later,on behalf of the congregation, in the Prayer of Oblation the Presbyter says, “we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee...” imploring the Lord to accept “this our bounden duty and service; not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  This corporate offering is offered to the Father only in and through the mediatorial intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Church’s great High Priest.

Therefore, we affirm that in the service of Holy Communion the People of God, as a corporate body, offer their lives in service to the Lord through the merits and mediation of the Lord Jesus.  We affirm that true personal faith is absolutely necessary in order to receive any subjective benefit accruing from this sacred action.  Nevertheless,the objective efficacy of the sacred action is not in any way dependent upon the personal faith, or diminished by the personal sins, of the Presbyter or members of the congregation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kingdom or Nation-State?

My friend Charles Bartlett writes:

Republicanism seems to represent a major shift in history, and perhaps related to this is the problem of modern sovereignty. In writing this essay, I sort woke up to some dangers with classical nationalism v. imperialism. Popular sovereignty and contract theory have done their nasty work in the church. This begins with beliefs regarding the loci of political freedom. Contract theory would start with those inalienable rights belonging to the individual in a fictional state of purine nature which then transfers over to a constitutional governance according to sound reason. In contrast, divine right would begin with the freedom of God who has declared a divine order upon the earth prior to the fall of man where the King fills is given an office in temporal affairs to punish wickedness while acting as a supreme warden in the church. Rather than start with the individual in a state of poetic nature, divine right begins with the order of man as it is willed from heaven, namely, appointed headship.

However, the king properly executed is not a tyrant. He is constrained by 1. the laws of God, and, 2. the oaths which his predecessors or himself have rightly pledged. From #2 we derive a sort of constitutionalism which upholds custom and established rights. Yet, #2 would be those rights established over time with various corporations of society. A ‘corporation’ might be a city, guild, manor, or many divers households. What emerges is a graded society each corporation possessing their own rank and dignity, some with more or less freedom/duty plus a fairly complex system of formal and informal law backing such.

Modern nationalism, with its fictional individualism, sweeps this all aside into a single “third estate”, and everyone is given an equal freedom or lack thereof. To me, this is tyranny because 1. it is based upon a false notion of sovereignty (beginning with the nature of fallen man rather than God’s grace) and 2. equality is given without a distinction of precedent, duty, or service, eliminating the possibility of higher freedom. In terms of countries, this makes colonies and dominions equal to Kingdom(s) from which they originate, much as a child might be erroneously treated as a peer to his father. The idea of a graded community is lost. I can see how this principle further translates to the citizenry within the nation-state or even the particular church; hence, democratic social contractions.

In contrast, Empire is maintained upon the principle of households or corporations, ranking the heads of each. Both Israel and the primitive church seem to have functioned upon this model. This allowed the incorporation of both local and universal principles since a “household” was predicated upon a subsidiarity authority (of ‘fathers’) yet nonetheless each was joined to the whole through mediums of greater ‘heads’(sic., barons, dukes, earls, marques, princes, et al.). This allowed a ranking between kingdoms without their elimination as such. I don’t believe nationalism is capable of this because modern or liberal federalism lacks the corporate, subsidarian character– mostly, a’gradedness’ that permits diversity minus chaos. In the church, this ‘empire’ would correspond to ranks of bishops (metropolitans, archbishops, patriarchs, even a ‘pope’) which the old ecclesia had plenty.

Moral Clarity

Granted, moral truths do not exist in the same *way* as the mundane facts of experience.

They are on a different level; they have a higher status. They are more durable.

I’m *more certain* that torturing human babies is evil than I am about most facts of my experience. Most of the facts I’ve known I've forgotten. Moral knowledge seems to have more “sticking power” in memory than knowledge of mundane facts.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pascal's Wager

I will to believe.

You will to believe nothing.

You lose.

Truth Usurped

The totalitarian ideology of tolerance is an assault on truth and reason itself. Neither Iran, Tsarist Russia, or Tudor England were so audacious as to attempt such a thing.

Tolerance is the false prophet that compels all, the small and the great, to worship human choice as God.

Idolatrous Choice, elevated to the ultimate methodological principle, above truth, where human choice determines truth, where it cannot be said or even thought that the constitution of the natural family is superior to the constitution of a homosexual “family,” or that homosex is inferior to heterosex, is a crime against the world itself.

Through the black magic of tolerance, the safest place on earth–the human womb–transmogrifies into a death chamber.

Tolerance, by inverting choice and truth, assaults Reason.

Liberals instinctively suppress the distinction between the actual and the hypothetical in thought.

How? When choice is God, reality is conceived as the product of the human mind’s operations. The human mind becomes then the Master of Reality, and as soon as the hypothetical is entertained as a possibility, the liberal is so very close to birthing a new world out of his brain.

Will-worship is the original sin: "Hath God said? You shall not surely die, but shall be as gods, determing good and evil."

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Life is in the Blood

Last week, I laid out the beginnings of a trinitarian account of the human family.  I'd like to elaborate a little more on the subject. 

Just as it was "not good for the man to be alone" in Eden, the human male desires fellowship with his own kind.  And, because he is created in the image of God, he desires to produce offspring in imitation of his heavenly Father.

The Lord God gave Adam a "help-meet" to accomplish this purpose, which purpose is articulated explicitly in the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:28-29.  The Woman was given to Man to assist him in his work, a common endeavor for the entire human race to fulfill.

As the Holy Ghost proceeds first from the Father, so, analogically, the Woman was drawn from Man's side. 

In the divine economy (not to be confused with what theologians call the "Economic Trinity") the Spirit of Love proceeds (or spirates) outward from the Father and cooperates in the generation (or filiation) of the Son.  Here, I'm not sure whether it's correct to say the Holy Ghost participates in the activity of filiation.  The Son then returns adoration to the Father by sending the Spirit back to the Father.*  The circle is thus complete, but the process continues as paternal gift eternally giving and filial response eternally returning ever ascend in joyful fellowship.

[*This may well aid us in understanding the NT teaching that the Son is the express Image of the Father's Person (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3) illuminated and reflecting back the Father's glory.]

As I wrote last week, in the human economy "the natural constitution of the human race is familial. It was originally thus, and so it will always be until the end of time. The normal transmission of human heritage (goods both material and immaterial) has been from parent to offspring, especially from the father to his firstborn son. It is hoped that the bond of blood energized by the synergy of paternal love and filial adoration, will provide the medium for the successful transmission of parental aspirations and values (duties and rights). In this way, a family spirit is spirated (produced through spiration) and perpetuated within the family community."

As the human mother is the biological link between the human father and his offspring, so the mother is the medium and embodiment of familial love.  The mother is the glory of the human family; she is the heart of the home.  Meant to forever dwell in the bosom of her husband, in intimate fellowship with him, her body that both housed and nurtured her children remains the symbol of self-giving love that forever inspires their undying affection and loyalty.

There is a beautiful proportionality here.  The child loves his father through his mother; the father loves his child through his wife.  The woman finds her completion, her fulfillment, in the synergy of paternal-filial love; the man-father accomplishes his created purpose to be a father; and in the child-offspring a new life with new potential enters the world.

This new potential is twofold.  Together, the father and mother watch with pride as their male offspring initiates a new process of paternal spiration and filiation.  Together, they look on with happiness as their daughter, who they have given to another, realizes her feminine destiny of embodied love.  In these ways, human love is conserved and perpetuated in humanity, and shared with other human families.  Thus, the command to be fruitful and multiply is accomplished.

This is life!  This is joy!

Postscript:  During Holy Communion last Sunday I had opportunity to consider anew the gift of the blood of Christ.  It seems to me that reception of the blood of Jesus makes us literally part of his natural family, i.e.,  of his blood, through a mysterious spiritual action effected by the Holy Spirit.  The Son of God assumed our flesh that he might sustain us by his Life, the same Life that was shared in the divine Trinity since before the worlds were created.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Dust of the Ground

The Lord God said to Adam:  "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Gen. 3: 17-19)
"And the Lord God said to the serpent:  'Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and the beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.'"  (Genesis 3:14)

Some "food" for thought here.  God didn't curse Adam, he cursed the ground.  He decreed a fate for the man; Adam was consigned to toil in futility and return to the ground.  Because of Adam, the earth was made into a realm of death.
The serpent is cursed also.  He is to crawl upon the earth and eat dust.  The serpent's portion is to dominate and ingest the dead.  The dead are given to him for his food.
Hell is not the prescribed punishment for sin simpliciter (there may be an additional penalty worked by the wrath of the Mosaic Law); death is.  Hell wasn't made for man; it was prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). 
If a release is secured enabling the dead to escape the belly of the dragon before he (the dragon) is cast into the lake of fire, there doesn't seem to be a strict requirement of justice demanding eternal punishment for sin in itself.

The curse of death and the curse of the Law don't seem to be the same thing; they appear to refer to different penalties.
Perhaps this is how we ought to read Romans 5:12-14:
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, etc."
Questions to consider:  Is there a difference between sin and imputable sin?  What makes sin imputable?

Quotation of the Day

A hermit once said, "Life without limitations is not for human beings... Life needs a frame.  Everyone has limits, with good reason.  You need some spirituality to understand and accept that."

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Illegitimate but Valid: The American Founding

In the previous post it was asserted:

“The liberal order is illegitimate, but valid. Every power that exists is dependent upon divine sovereignty as manifested in the rule of Christ the Lord. All governments reign at the will and sufferance of Christ.”

To explain my meaning, legitimacy is here construed as the regular transmission of ancestral patrimony to successive heirs. In a word, legitimacy is summed up in continuity, the maintenance of the horizontal link to one’s origins. Within this continuity, the universal fatherhood of God (Cf. Luke 3:38) operates in a beneficent, sustaining way.

The natural constitution of the human race is familial. It was originally thus, and so it will always be until the end of time. The normal transmission of human heritage (goods both material and immaterial) has been from parent to offspring, especially from the father to his firstborn son. It is hoped that the bond of blood energized by the synergy of paternal love and filial adoration, will provide the medium for the successful transmission of parental aspirations and values (duties and rights). In this way, a family spirit is spirated (produced through spiration) and perpetuated within the family community.

This, I believe, is the authentic meaning of Leviticus 17:11 when it says, “The life of the flesh is in the blood.”

The family precedes the state. Fathers, mothers, offspring, and the institution itself all precede the state. The state does not create the family, nor is the state the overseer of family affairs. The family is the first state and does not cede its original integrity to derivative integrities.
Parallel sovereignties don't work. The only way to preserve the independent integrity of the family is to raise it above the state, where it belongs. This is the genius of hereditary monarchy: the father of a particular family embodies his nation’s patrimony in concrete form above positive (man-made) law.
The American patrimony is more than the proposition “all men are created equal,” which is true in a particular sense only. There is a whole American way of life: “mother and apple pie.” Without a First Family embodying and transmitting these aspirations and values from generation to generation, the continued survival of the national spirit is much less assured.
Artificial communications media driven by the supply and demand of commercial interests seem a paltry substitute for the bonds of blood and natural affection.
The American Founders appealed to a direct vertical relationship that exists between every individual person and God. On this view, sovereignty is dispersed throughout the mass and is not located in any particular office or institution. The people are free to organize themselves in whatever way they think best to secure collective peace and happiness.

Completely left out of this arrangement are the prerogatives of family written in the law of nature. The family as an institution with its own constitution is dissolved into the “People” or subjected to their synthetic instruments of power. The fundamental composition of the human race is subverted or, at best, marginalized.

The Lord Jesus reigns from Heaven. Law and order issue from his throne. He has direct dealings with every individual person. Earthly justice prevails to the degree individual lives are able to exert horizontal moral influence upon the community. Divine justice is operative only in a vertical way. Yet, to this point God has blessed America with relative order, peace, and prosperity.
The government of the United States is valid as long as it continues to provide order and security to its citizens. But, legitimacy has never really been established. Integral divine justice (on the horizontal historical plane) is lacking.
The American spirit disembodied as it is, has disintegrated and will disintegrate further. As the politicians, lawyers, and media celebrities who guide this country drift further away from faithful service to the original ideal, it will become clear that the center has hollowed out, dispersed into the ether. Eventually, the center will be unable to sustain the allegiance of the citizenry, and a nation for which no one is willing to sacrifice is not long for this world.
It is my belief that a revival of the American spirit is only possible through a new engagement of national life with familial life. The American spirit must be adopted into the human family and partake of its life, which is in turn sustained by the fatherhood of God operative in both nature and grace. We Americans must learn to honor our fathers so that we may live long in the land our divine Father has granted us.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When our Side Commits Atrocities

On July 22, 2010 terrible acts of terror were perpetrated against the people of Norway.  The individual who committed these horrible acts will not be named on this web log.  May his name be blotted out, but may we never forget his atrocity.

At this writing, seventy-six people, mostly young people, are dead.  Please join me in prayer to God for the repose of their souls.

These murders were evil in the sense that all murders are evil, but they do not rise to the level of unadulterated irrational evil either.  I have never considered the 9-11 terrorists to be evil in this sense.  They are enemies who must be taken seriously and effectively dealt with (killed).

I respect my enemy enough to want him dead if he refuses to live at peace with me.

The shoe is on the other foot now.  Although, really, it's always been.  It's difficult to explain when the folks on your side, who generally favor the same cultural program and even the same religion, commit atrocities. 

Back in 1995, I was stupid enough to think that the person identified as responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing might have been framed.  I was disgusted (and still am) by the sanctimonious and saccharine memorial ceremonies that followed.  I did not feel the memory of the slain were best honored in these ways.  Plus, it's hard to take seriously any proceeding officiated by Bill "I Feel Your Pain" Clinton. 

Regardless, the Oklahoma attack was committed by one of our own.  It is pure delusion to think otherwise.

After the 9-11 attacks, which I saw as an attack on all Americans, regardless of ideology or religious commitment, I was much more disposed to participate with my fellow citizens in mourning.  I am an American and am loyal to my government and nation.

Persons who happen to be Muslim aren't the only people capable of cruelty and lawlessness.  Patriotic Americans and even (choke) Christians are also capable of these things.

Jesus said, "Love your enemies," and "Bless those who persecute you."  These commands are obligatory for all Christians, all who name the name of Christ.  Yet, they presuppose the possibility that actual enemies exist.

"Peter, put up thy sword."

I agree with the Norwegian terrorist that liberals are enemies of Christian civilization, but Christian civilization was rejected over two centuries ago.  Christendom has effectively been quarantined at the Vatican.

Liberals are the genuine heirs of the revolutionaries that fashioned a new civilization ("Western Civilization") out of the materials of the old Christendom, and are now unintentionally destroying it from within through the consistent pursuit of openly avowed principles. 

The difference between liberals and radical Muslims is that liberals aren't engaged in open war upon the current Western order, in fact they are its true proponents.  They believe that their way will secure lasting justice, peace, and prosperity.  In this, they are mistaken. 

I am afraid as the situation in Europe deteriorates further, there will be more bloodshed.  More lawless men will arise, driven mad by the irrationalites and injustices of the liberal order, who will take matters into their own hands.  Their activites will only serve to destabilize authority, law, and order.  Who knows what will become of our nations and peoples?

The liberal order is illegitimate, but valid.  Every power that exists is dependent upon divine sovereignty as manifested in the rule of Christ the Lord.  All governments reign at the will and sufferance of Christ.

Christian brothers, do not give way to wrath.  Let us work diligently together within the confines of the established order to secure legitimacy and peace by lawful means alone.

"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law...

"For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself... 

"Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Difference between Social Conservatism and Christianity

"Neither the slaughter of the unborn nor sodomy nor egalitarianism are 'social' issues.  Rather, they are at the heart of the Devil's attack upon the souls of our world, today, and the pastor who believes his silence on these matters demonstrates a superior gift of contextualization is ignorant of the basic attributes of those men called and set apart by God to warn their flocks 'day and night, with tears.'

"Warnings against such wickedness are throughout the prophets and the letters of the Apostle Paul. Men think of these things as 'social' issues because they haven't a clue about the sins of the souls who are members of their churches... and so they believe to pray and warn and call for confession of these sins is to do politics, to be 'socially conservative.'

"...The man who refuses to address the sins seducing and destroying souls within his congregation may well be a social conservative, but he's no pastor and should be no model for other pastors."

-Tim Bayly

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Family and the Commonwealth

A COMMONWEALTH may be defined as the rightly ordered government of a number of families, and of those things which are their common concern, by a sovereign power...

[Here, Bodin includes three elements in his definition of a commonwealth:  1) families, 2) things of common concern, and 3) sovereign power.  See below for his development of this idea.]

A family may be defined as the right ordering of a group of persons owing obedience to a head of a household, and of those interests which are his proper concern.  The second term of our definition of the commonwealth refers to the family because it is not only the true source and origin of the commonwealth, but also its principal constituent.

Xenophon and Aristotle divorced economy or household management from police or disciplinary power, without good reason to my mind [here the abridgement leaves out Bodin's argument]...

I understand by domestic government the right ordering of family matters, together with the authority which the head of the family has over his dependants, and the obedience due from them to him, things which Aristotle and Xenophon neglect.  Thus the well-ordered family is a true image of the commonwealth, and domestic comparable with sovereign authority.  It follows that the household is the model of right order in the commonwealth.  And just as the whole body enjoys health when every particular member performs its proper function, so all will be well with the commonwealth when families are properly regulated.

The law says that the people never dies, but that after the lapse of a hundred or even a thousand years it is still the same people.  The presumption is that although all individuals alive at any one moment will be dead a century later, the people is immortal by succession of persons, as was Theseus' ship which lasted as long as pains were taken to repair it.  But a ship is no more than a load of timber unless there is a keel to hold together the ribs, the prow, the poop and the tiller.  Similarly a commonwealth without sovereign power to unite all its several members, whether families, colleges, or corporate bodies, is not a true commonwealth.

It is neither the town nor its inhabitants that makes a city state, but their union under a sovereign ruler, even if they are only three households.  Just as the mouse is as much numbered among animals as is the elephant, so the rightly ordered government of only three households, provided they are subject to a sovereign authority, is just as much a commonwealth as a great empire.  The principality of Ragusa, which is one of the smallest in Europe, is no less a commonwealth than the empires of the Turks and the Tartars, which are among the greatest in the world. ...

But besides sovereign power there must also be something enjoyed in common such as the public domain, a public treasury, the buildings used by the whole community, the roads, walls, squares, churches, and markets, as well as the usages, laws, customs, courts, penalties, and rewards which are either shared in common or of public concern.  There is no commonwealth where there is no common interest...

Jean Bodin (1530–1596) was a French jurist and political philosopher, member of the Parlement of Paris and professor of law in Toulouse.  He is best known for his theory of sovereignty.

Bodin lived during the Reformation, writing against the background of religious and civil conflict - particularly that, in his native France, between the (Calvinist) Huguenots and the state-supported Catholic Church.  He remained a Catholic throughout his life but was critical of papal authority in temporal governments and was sometimes accused of crypto-Calvinism.  Towards the end of his life he wrote a dialogue between different religions, including representatives of Judaism, Islam and natural theology, in which all agreed to coexist in concord.

An abridgement of Bodin's most famous work, The Six Books of the Commonwealth, may be downloaded here or read online here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Saying Goodbye to the Neo-Reformed

I gladly admit becoming interested in theology because of Rush Limbaugh. Through Limbaugh and his fellow "conservative" radio commentators, especially Dennis Prager, I was awakened to the threat of the left. Opposition to abortion and the normalization of sexual deviance played a role. Encountering the arguments of non-Christians and anti-Christians in informal discussion provided additional impetus.

C.S. Lewis and Gordon H. Clark (a lesser known Presbyterian thinker) equipped me with accessible tools to defend the intellectual respectability of Christianity. In time, their salutary influences led me to reject the world- withdrawing tendencies of the theology of my youth (the original dispensational premillennialism of John Nelson Darby) and to embrace a form of Christianity with better historic bona fides: Presbyterian-Reformed Protestantism. At least classical Protestants make an attempt to show they are true heirs of the Medieval and Ancient faith.

The transition from dispensationalism to covenant theology was easy to make because of perceived important continuities between what I was raised to believe and the older religion. Dispensationalists are Protestant after all.

In time, I grew to appreciate more fully the less controversial and more foundational elements of the faith.
I spent five years in the Reformed fold attending a Neo-Reformed church. [For those not in the know, Neo-Reformed Protestantism is a moniker for a particularly toxic blend of solafideism, anti-Evangelicalism, anti-theonomy, and defeatist amillennialism which characterizes the theology of whiz kid Michael Horton (and associates).] I had no idea I was getting sucked into another dispensational religion in disguise—a form even worse than traditional Dispensationalism because it rejects the perpetual election of ethnic Israel.

For purposes of full disclosure, it must be said that toward the end of this time, I even spent an abortive year attending the institution best known for propagating the Neo-Reformed agenda. I am not proud of my academic performance that year, and freely admit that disillusionment with Neo-Reformed ideology played only a small part in dropping out of the seminary.

The champions of divine sovereignty always seem to have problems affirming corporate election along with personal election. 

The unregenerate mind doesn’t seem capable of grasping how even though a corporate body is elect, and all its members therefore elect while remaining in it, that God is free to grant final perseverance (as well as other spiritual blessings) to some only—if he so chooses.

Those who are vitally dedicated to denying the possibility of real corporate election deny the calling of Israel, and therefore serve a different god than the God who called Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These same must also deny that the Church on earth is the same Church that will be glorified at the second coming of Christ.

These destroy by dividing, or, as they call it, by “distinguishing.” These confess two different churches: a visible church and an invisible church. These divide the sacraments. These divide Christ.

Thank God, the Neo-Reformed are not in control of the Reformed churches. Please God, may their influence be short-lived. But let the Reformed fight their own battles; I am done with them.

Marriage in the Resurrection?

Readers who are interested in this subject should be sure to visit this site and download the paper entitled, "A Positive Case for the Continuation of Familial Structures into the Eschatological Age." 

The paper is written from an evangelical and premilennial perspective, but is helpful for those of us who have other ecclesial commitments and eschatological perspectives. The paper has a fine discussion of Christ's teaching refuting the Saducees' objection to the Resurrection (Matt. 22:23-32; Mk. 12:18-27; Lk. 20:27-38).

Whether familial structures *might* persist into the eternal state is an important question that bears upon questions of continuity between the old and new creations, the supposed temporal value of marriage and family, and even--monarchy.
For instance, does Mary the mother of Jesus retain a maternal connection with her son?  Is Jesus still the son of David?  Is Jesus ethnically Jewish?  Is Jesus presently reigning as King of Israel?  
You see the point.

A Question for our Readers:

Is it possible to have a sovereign power that is not absolute?

The Convocation Book 0f 1606, i.2

TO him that shall duly read the Scriptures, it will be plain and evident that the Son of God, having created our first parents, and purposing to multiply their seed into many generations, for the replenishing of the world with their posterity, did give to Adam for his time, and to the rest of the patriarchs and chief fathers successively before the flood, authority, power, and dominion over their children and offspring, to rule and govern them ; ordaining by the law of nature, that their said children and offspring (begotten and brought up by them) should fear, reverence, honour, and obey them.  Which power and authority before the flood, resting in the patriarchs, and in the chief fathers, because it had a very large extent, not only for the education of their said children and offspring, but likewise for the ordering, ruling, and governing of them afterwards, when they came to men's estate.  And for that also it had no superior [authority, or power, over, or above] it on earth, appearing in the Scriptures, although it be called either patriarchal, regal, and imperial, and that we only term it potestas patria ; yet, being well considered how far it did reach, we may truly say that it was in a sort potestas regia ; as now, in a right and true construction, potestas regia may justly be called potestas patria.


If any man shall therefore affirm that men at the first, without all good education, or civility, ran up and down in woods, and fields, as wild creatures, resting themselves in caves, and dens, and acknowledging no superiority one over another, until they were taught by experience the necessity of government ; and that thereupon they chose some amongst themselves to order and rule the rest, giving them power and authority so to do ; and that consequently all civil power, jurisdiction, and authority, was first derived from the people, and disordered multitude ; or either is originally still in them, or else is deduced by their consents naturally from them ; and is not God's ordinance originally descending from Him, and depending upon Him, he doth greatly err.