Paul's Passing Thoughts

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Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on February 19, 2016

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The Disaster of Sacrifice as the Ultimate Moral Standard – Part 4

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 22, 2017

The following is the final part of a four-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s fourth session at the 2016 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for part oneClick here for part twoClick here for part three
(Links to the archived files are found below)

What we have seen over the course of the last 3 sessions is that the oldest of all worldly ideas is that man is effectively a sacrificial animal. The primary intellectual shapers of modern Christianity as we have seen have their roots deep in Platonism, the metastasized version of Platonism found in Augustine, and then the further metastasization in Calvin. The secular iteration of that is Immanuel Kant who put the final nails in the coffin of any self-interest at any point at any time, and he did it such that even secular people could arrive at the exact same conclusion.

Now this becomes very important in the modern age. I opened this whole series talking about how in America we are facing a new Dark Age. The reason that sacrifice is so central to tyranny is directly related to this observation:

The Gospel According to John Immel, chapter 3:1-3

  1. All people act logically from their assumptions.
  2. It does not matter how inconsistent the ideas or insane the rationale. They will act until that logic is fulfilled.
  3. Therefore, when you see masses of people taking the same destructive actions, if you find the assumptions, you will find the cause.

Consider once again the five pillars of tyranny. (slide 2) All tyrannies use some variation of these arguments.  This is why altruism is so central to tyranny. Notice how the branches of all of these sub-arguments are tied to altruism.

Incompetent Masses – How many times have you heard the preacher say, “No man is an island”? What he really means is that no man in my church has the right to his own ideas. He is demanding that you abandon your own rational judgment.

Dictated Good – The preacher says, “We believe in servant-leadership.” What he really means is, “My qualification for being in charge is telling you what to think.” He believes that his judgment is “the good” and it is his right to tell you what that good is.

Universal Guilt – “You are proud.” What the preacher really means is, “You are morally corrupt. You are taking part in humanity’s original sin. You are displaying Adam’s heritage.” What they are really saying is since you are universally guilty you can’t get away from Adam’s original sin.

Collective Conformity – “You are rebellious,” says the preacher, but what he really means is, “I have the moral right to dictate the content of your life. You have no moral right to resist my authority.” Rebellion is an appeal to political power. Any time someone says you are rebellious, what they are really saying is that you are defying my government right. He is compelling you to collectively conform.

Abolition of Ambition – “You are arrogant,” the preacher says, but what he really means is, “I don’t like your confidence. You have no business being confident because you really have no ability.”

So you can begin to see how this altruism, self-sacrifice, man as a sacrificial animal ties all of this together. This is why this is so fantastically destructive.

Here is in broad terms how collectivism cascades down to the smallest subset. Any time you see someone making an appeal to the “greater good” what they are doing is appealing to the moral standard of altruism to ultimately drive individuals into one of these subsets. Collectivism in the broadest terms encompasses statism. In other words, as an individual your first moral requirement is to the state. The society is a subset of the state depending on common cultural expectations. The tribe is effectively genetic commonality and the political code derived from that. Community encompasses things such as denominations, sects, or the local Calvinist tyrant.

Here is the problem. How can you resist any monstrosity that compels you into any of these things if you must sacrifice your judgment? Under the premise of self-sacrifice, on what moral grounds can you resist government? By what moral standard can you say, “I disagree?” There is none!

Sacrifice is destroying America!

Sacrifice is destroying a free society at its root.
The political leader stands up and says, “Muslims have the right to come to the United States, keep their ideology, and that ideology vows the destruction of America as such.” How can you object?

This is obviously a rhetorical question, because the answer is you can’t. To demand security is to be “selfish”. To demand your own self-interest is to be “selfish”…and therefore morally disqualified. The only moral standard is to sacrifice your security, and consequences be damned. As a committed altruist, you must destroy your values, your goals, your ambitions, your contentment, your LIFE! You have no other choice but to stand idly by, mute in the face of all ideological monstrosity and allow the invasion of your country.

Sacrifice corrupts government.
When it is morally correct to demand sacrifice, it becomes socially correct to compel people to sacrifice. The federal register is filling up with laws that are aimed specifically at compelling people to sacrifice for the “greater good.” For example, Obamacare. It is not about healthcare. It has nothing to do with getting people to a doctor. Obamacare is little more than the government committing armed robbery in the name of morality. Obamacare is a systematic seizing of money from the healthy merely because they are healthy.

At the moment we are a nation stymied by the charge of “selfishness.” In the political sphere, the greatest criticism that anyone can render is that you are selfish. It is effective because it is immediately disqualifying. It doesn’t matter what you are advocating. It doesn’t matter if it’s a better policy. The moment somebody tags with, “you’re selfish,” the discussion is over.

Free people are being browbeat into accepting any treatment, any hostility, any destruction, and any exploitation all in the name of self-sacrifice.

Sacrifice destroys the meaning of words.
Listen to just about any sportscast and you will hear an announcer praise an athlete for his great “unselfish” play. For example, if LeBron James has an opportunity to go for a basket and instead passes the ball to a teammate he is being “unselfish”.

LeBron James

That is objectively ridiculous. LeBron James is probably, next to Michael Jordan, one of the greatest players to ever play the game and one of the most prolific scorers. When LeBron James avoids scoring a basket he is actually penalizing his team because statistically speaking, the ball will probably go through the hoop. It is not unselfishness that’s at issue. It is a failure of conceptual understanding. It is rationally correct for the best scorers to consistently try to score.   So attributing a pass to “unselfishness” is a corruption of words.

But in our culture everything has become an issue of sacrifice. Listen to how often individual actions are being defined as sacrifices. Listen to how often we as a nation qualify our positions with, “I don’t get anything out of this.” Listen to how many times you hear the words, “give back”. Listen to how many times the word sacrifice appears near the word community.

Sacrifice destroys achievement.
Achievement is the product of individuals pursuing their own goals, persevering through obstacles, thinking through the flaws to overcome all challenges and finally arrive at a destination, outcome, or final product. Achievement is the long process of man pursuing values over time, making choices about alternatives in a particular succession until finally refined into the desired outcome. This is why productivity and perseverance are virtues.

Charles Kettering

This process I just described brought about the Write brothers’ first flight, Nikola Tesla’s three-phase electric power, his induction motor, his alternating current, and many, many more achievements. It brought about Charles Kettering’s electric starter motor, car lights, leaded gasoline, and advancements in air conditioning among many achievements.

And yet most people, if they know of these achievements at all, trivialize the achievements because unless these men gave away their money they cannot be moral. By contrast, people will venerate Mother Theresa for her vows of poverty while dismissing the fact that her life of sacrificial giving is only possible because someone achieved air flight, induction motors, electric car starters, advancement in air conditioning, and many more achievements.

Mother Theresa can’t feed anyone…EVER…because Mother Theresa doesn’t create anything.

On the other hand, the farmer had to achieve growing a crop. The trucking company had to achieve getting the food from the farm to someone who would process the raw goods into consumable products. Shipping companies had to achieve the creation of ocean-traveling boats. A thousands achievements from a thousand people pursuing their own values had to occur before Mother Theresa could ever pat someone on the hand and give away food she never aspired to create. Yet her vows of poverty, her “sacrifice”, is held up as the moral ideal.

“Welcome to McDonald’s, may I have your submission, please?”

In a world of achievement where achievement is a virtue, the Mother Theresas of the world, the men and women who live off the abilities of others, would be seen for what they are; freeloading slackers.

This is true of all Calvinist preachers living off the public dole. The only way they make a mortgage payment, or feed their kids, or even buy their first John Piper book is because the people in the pews create real achievements six days out of seven.

You people out there still attending those Calvinist churches, if you ever figure out that the men behind the Plexiglas podium have no right to your money, most of the preachers will starve to death because they aren’t qualified for a job at McDonald’s. You can’t run a McDonald’s chanting, “Submit to authority.” That is the sum of their managerial skills. But I will say that in an achievement-based society, the John Pipers and Kevin DeYoungs of the world (et al) would do a lot less damage if they were limited to saying, “would you like fries with that?”

Sacrifice destroys marriages.
Sacrifice gives Calvinist thugs the moral power to perpetrate their tyranny.

I want to talk about these two together because they go hand in hand. Most people encounter Calvinist thuggery in the middle of a marriage problem. You have serious problems in your marriage and you go to the pastor in an effort to try and get some help. You get to the pastor and the next thing you realize is that you’re “proud”, you’re “arrogant”, and you’re not “sacrificing”. That is almost the universal response.

Then you make the mistake of assuming that your opinion matters on the subject. And the more you decide to defend yourself they more they are convinced of your pride and arrogance.   The truth of the matter is by the time you get to counseling, your marriage is probably already over because the underlying problems have already run their course.

Why do Christians get married? The unromantic answer is, sex. However, once the sex thing begins to ebb and flow and they get past the emotion of it, people finally figure out that sex drive and libido is directly tied to your own sense of self-worth and personal values. The problem is that you’ve been going to a church now for however long that tells you that you can have no value. It’s a death spiral from the outset.

Here is what the ideal would look like. You look in a mirror and you choose four or five things that you really value about who you are. It doesn’t matter what they are. Everyone has their own set of things that they value about themselves. These are your highest values and aspirations. Then when you come to another person and you see those values reflected back in your face it is almost impossible to resist the attraction because you see yourself reflected back. And you know as well as I do that the greatest relationships that you have ever observed happen as a result of having the greatest number of values reflected back.

But here is the problem. You came to the marriage relationship in Christianity believing that sacrifice was the highest ideal, but you have no relationship because you have no values to share. You have nothing in common. Then you have been sitting in the pew for who knows how long, and now you have an endless negotiation on who has sacrificed the most.

The problem is that what you sacrifice is an individual value. The other person in the relationship doesn’t care whether you destroy it or not. All your time in the relationship is spent giving up more and more until eventually you have nothing left. This is why so many marriages, after about 20 years or so of this kind of a relationship, one of the partners finally says, “I’m dead. I have nothing left for you.” The internal emotional pain is so great that they really are dying. But is it any wonder. You have been doing exactly what you have been taught. You have been slowly killing yourself.

Now because of Calvin and Kant, pain has been elevated to a moral primary. But the reality is that pain is a signal that something is wrong. Pain is your signal that there is a problem, and the goal is to get rid of the pain.

At the root of this is an absolute sense of the moral right of your own existence. This is what you can never have in a Calvinist church. This is why Calvinism destroys marriages because it undermines at the root the very people that are involved in the marriage.

As for friends, and this is something that I think really trips people up, you have known some of these people for years and years. Suddenly you are in the middle of what you consider to be a fight for your life and you go to your friends, and you realize that now you don’t have any friends. This is salt on open wounds, because you’re confused. You really honestly believed that these people had your back. No, they would sell you out in a minute for pastoral approval. Now you are stuck because you have so atrophied your sense of self and achievement that you cannot project into the future your own existence. That is probably one of the loneliest places to be in the world.

But I’m going to tell you the truth; you have no one to blame but yourself. You let somebody tell you that your existence was contingent on the approval of other people.

I’m going to cite an excerpt from my book, Blight in the Vineyard. This is from the chapter “Interpersonal Train Wreck”.

Now pause and digest the system dynamic I just laid out in detail and take inventory of the cause of your emotional upheaval. This is why you feel so utterly betrayed and so deeply wounded. This is why you ache with despair that will not go away. You offered the sum of self, and people presumed the moral right to accept or reject the deepest parts of you and call their actions “spiritual.”  They spent your relationship like dollar bills in the pastoral g-string on a private authority lap dance.

No one can sustain this kind of utter personal rejection. No one can sustain others using unearned intimacy to fill out their Christian authenticity balance sheet. So when you rightly complained about the mistreatment, they were brazen in defense, “Forgive me IF I sinned against you, but since I am the authority in this interaction, I can say this conflict really exists because YOU are the problem.”

Sacrifice is the fulcrum of this control.

Here’s the real meaning of the doctrine of self-sacrifice: You are not entitled to your mind, you are not entitled to your ideas, you are not entitled to your own aspirations, goals, or desires. If self-sacrifice is your moral standard, how can you object to any idea? The fact is you have forfeited your right to any personal opinion. You have no moral right to resist the preacher, no matter how atrocious, how grotesque his demands.

Forget the pastoral fictional monopoly on sound doctrine. Forget that they have any authority to dictate any outcome. The minute someone committed to reformed theology say the words, “I think…”, they are disqualified. Your impotence does not come from their authority. You impotence comes from the fact that you don’t value your own existence. If you don’t think that it is morally correct to defend you, then why on earth would anyone else defend you?

This is why most of you have such a terrible time escaping the church that is destroying your soul.

One thing you need to understand, the one thing that men who are committed to authority can never tolerate is the appearance of any dissention. So the only thing they can do is to make effort to segregate you from everything else.

So how do we escape the coming Dark Age? 

It is often said that men will not sacrifice, but as we have seen, sacrifice as the highest moral standard is in human history. We have seen throughout human history that men will sacrifice endlessly. We have seen that men will suffer enormous pains in the name of sacrifice. In National Socialist Germany the German people sacrificed their minds, their time, their production, and their existence to the state.

Indeed the problem of human existence is not the willingness to sacrifice. History proves over and over that men will abundantly sacrifice. What men will not do is stand against the moral monstrosity of sacrifice.

Hanna Arendt

After World War II, Hanna Arendt dug into the roots of tyranny and totalitarian regimes and wrote a lot about the subject.

And just as the law in civilized countries assumes that the voice of conscience tells everybody, “Thou shalt not kill,” even though man’s natural desires and inclinations may at times be murderous, so the law of Hitler’s land demanded that the voice of conscience tell everybody, “Thou shalt kill,” although the organizers of the massacres knew full well that murder is against the normal desires and inclinations of most people. Evil in the Third Reich had lost the quality by which most people recognize it – the quality of temptation. Many Germans and many Nazis, probably an overwhelming majority of them, must have been tempted not to murder, not to rob, not to let their neighbors go off to their doom (for that the Jews were transported to their doom they knew, of course, even though many of them may not have known the gruesome details), and not to become accomplices in these crimes by benefiting from them. But, God knows, they had learned how to resist temptation.

         Hanna Arendt, Eichmann if Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, 1963

And this is exactly what we see playing out in the church- church leaders perpetrating all manner of evil, and the congregation sitting idly by resisting the temptation to object. And what the church does in their buildings is a harbinger of what is to come in American culture. Christians like the idea that America is a “Christian nation”. That’s a problem, because historically, Christian nations have let the blood flow deep and thick in the name of sacrifice.

There has always been an uneasy relationship between the church and the Constitution. Christians love to claim the Constitution when it serves the purpose of religious freedom, but they reject the root constitutional premise. The Constitution presumes that man is an end in himself. The sole purpose of government is to defend the individual in the pursuit of his life, his liberty, and his happiness.

The American Constitution has an implied moral standard: that individual men are entitled to their own lives. Individual men dispose of their lives for their own sake and for their own pleasures. But dare to suggest that man is an end to himself and church people will start chanting “SACRIFICE, SACRIFICE, SACRIFICE!” with all the fervor of the Thuggee cult just before the high priest strangles the latest offering to Kali.

Gospel According to John Immel 7:17
”Sacrifice as the highest moral ideal is the lynch pin of the coming Protestant Dark Age.”

America was the freest, happiest, most prosperous nation in the world because it led the world in individualism. America stands at a precipice. Behind us is the excellent history of liberty, individualism, freedom, values, success, and prosperity. The cliff in front of us falls off into the abyss of sacrifice and injustice and bloodshed and destruction.

Americans are now turning their liberties and freedoms over to the primordial disaster of sacrifice. This does not bode well. Every nation that has walked this path has willingly walked lockstep behind a dictator into mass destruction.

America, if you want to escape the coming Dark Age, be the first people in history to find the courage to resist the temptation of sacrifice.

~ John

John Immel 2016 Session 4 Archive Video (YouTube) Audio Only (mp3)

The Desire for and Qualifications of an Overseer – Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 22, 2017

Originally published on October 2, 2014

 andy-profile-1As I began to put my thoughts down on “paper” (I don’t actually use paper, I jot everything down in a Word document and then fill in the blanks) it soon became apparent that the nature of this topic would be too unwieldy to limit to a single article. Therefore I have decided to address this topic in two parts.

I was inspired to write this article after viewing Paul and Susan’s latest edition of Gnostic Watch Weekly (9/26/2014). At the end of the video, Susan made reference to the qualification of an elder found in 1 Timothy 3, and used that in contrast to the alleged qualifications that reformed bloggers feel one should have in order to be qualified to post a comment on their blogs. I wanted to expand on each one of those qualifications of an elder in detail. But before I do that, I think it is necessary to first make sure we have an understanding of what an elder is. And before we do that, we first need to discuss the definition of an “overseer”.

What is an “Overseer”?

The word translated as “bishop” in the King James comes from the Greek verb επισκεπτομαι (ep-ee-skep-toh-my). It is made up of the words “epi”, meaning “over”, and “skopos”, meaning to peer about or referring to a watch or sentry or lookout. Taken together, we get the idea of “over-seer”. The word “supervisor” has the same meaning: “super”, meaning over, and “visor”, having to do with vision, seeing, or watching. So an overseer is basically a supervisor. Interestingly enough, a supervisor is a secular role and not specifically a religious one. So Paul is referring to a role that is not inherently a religious one but has a counterpart in the secular world.

How is this different from an “elder”?

While “overseer” has more to do with the role itself, the term “elder” refers more to the individual filling the role. The word “elder” is the Greek word πρεσβυτερος (pres-byoo-ter-os). It comes from the word “presbus” meaning “elderly”. In the Jewish religious/political system, the Sanhedrin was made up of elected representatives of the people called “elders” or πρεσβυτερος. Typically, these representatives were elderly men who were well respected and honored by the people.

The Jewish “synagogue” teaching model was also usually supervised by an “elder”. So with the advent of the New Testament assemblies, followers of Christ (who at the beginning were all converted Jews) simply continued to follow the synagogue model. And each fellowship selected an elder (πρεσβυτερος) to supervise/oversee (επισκεπτομαι) them.

When we come to 1 Timothy 3, Paul is addressing the qualification for the role of overseer, thus the use of the word επισκεπτομαι rather than the πρεσβυτερος. Although, granted, the significance is minor, and in general the words could be used interchangeably to refer to the same thing.

However, there is a significant difference between the forms of the word “overseer”. Please notice the difference between the words in verse 1 and verse 2:

Verse 1   επισκοπη (ep-ee-skope-ay) – noun: oversight; supervision

Verse 2   επισκοπος (ep-ee-skope-os) – noun: overseer; supervisor

Notice, that the words come from the same root, but the words are different! Even though they are both nouns, the first refers to the function, the second refers to the role. Why is this important? Let me explain.

Disclaimer: I am about to say something extremely controversial. Now consider yourself warned.

I believe that Paul is NOT addressing the issue of someone who desires TO BE an overseer.  GASP!  “How can you say that?” you might ask.  Because of the way this reads in the Greek.  While the King James renders this verse this way:

“If a man desire the office of a bishop”

This is how it appears in the Greek:

ει             τις           επισκοπης             οργεται

if             any         (of) oversight        is craving

This is where the difference in the words used is important. It does not say, “if anyone desires to be an overseer.” Literally it reads, “if any is desiring of oversight”. The question we must ask then is to whom or what does the indefinite pronoun “any” refer? Remember the context of 1 Timothy. Paul has gone ahead to Macedonia and has left Timothy behind in Ephesus to act as his proxy. The purpose of the letter to Timothy is to advise him on how to handle certain issues within the various assemblies there. So the “any” in verse 1 of chapter 3 must be referring to the assemblies. Paul is saying, if any of the assemblies desire oversight, they desire a good thing.

Two things should become immediately apparent here. First, that there were some assemblies that did not have an overseer. And second, the implication here would be that an overseer is optional. That’s huge! And that flies in the face of 500 years of orthodoxy. But when you consider the context and the grammatical structure of the text, it fits together perfectly. Paul is telling Timothy, if there are any assemblies that want oversight, that’s a good thing. He then proceeds to instruct Timothy on what the job requirements are for an overseer.

This is very similar to what happened in Acts chapter 6 when the Hellenistic Jews were being left out of the daily distribution to the needy, and the ethnic Jews were getting preferential treatment. The assemblies came to the apostles to solve this problem. But instead, the apostles instructed them to look to themselves for the solution. They gave them a set of criteria for deacons and told them to find men who meet these criteria and have them manage it. The apostles could have very easily said, “Ok, we appoint so and so, and such and such, and they have the authority.” But instead, they believed that those in the assemblies had the ability to select their own deacons. Likewise in this instance, Paul did not instruct Timothy to appoint specific men to the positions of overseer. He left it up to the assemblies to select their own if they so desired.

So, having then examined the relationship of elders and overseers, in part two we will study in detail each of the qualifications of an overseer. You can think of this as a job description. If you were seeking a candidate to fill a role, think about what kind of attributes you would want. What are the attributes that make for a good overseer for a home fellowship?



Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 21, 2017


Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 21, 2017

The Disaster of Sacrifice as the Ultimate Moral Standard – Part 3

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 20, 2017

The following is part three of a four-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s third session at the 2016 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for part oneClick here for part two
(Links to the archived files are found below)

So I left us with a cliffhanger two sessions ago. So let’s start the discussion of the greatest philosophical villains in human history. Do you remember the question? Augustine had a central flaw in his doctrine. Now when I said that, of course the question is when someone says “flaw” they assume that to mean “wrong”. But what I am saying is that Augustine was actually fantastically consistent with his doctrine. He would not have considered this a flaw. However, it turned out to be a flaw because it opened the door later for other people to step in and challenge his root assumptions.

That flaw gave the world one last glimmer of hope; one last place for man to escape the destruction of human sacrifice. If you are an American Christian in the twenty-first century, and in particular within a reformed school with reformed teachers, 90% of what is taught is Augustine, which means 90% of what you believe is Plato. Augustine condemned every expression of human existence, every pleasure, every aspiration, every value.   But Augustine left one thing for man to desire – the desire to go to Heaven!

Here is why this is important. For all of the sacrifice that Augustine is trying to lay on human existence, for all of the self-imposed destruction that Augustine is after, he still allows for this highest virtue (going to Heaven) and he says that all of these things that you sacrifice will ultimately impact on some level the ability to get to Heaven. Augustine is not at all consistent in this assertion, but it’s there. The vestige of this possibility is there.

Now here is what this means in practicality. There is still a relationship between action and outcome, so moral action can produce a moral outcome. In Susan Dohse’s session yesterday she was talking about how the church got into the middle of marriage. It was fascinating listening to the old thinkers basically point out that if you were in marriage and you still abstained you could gain for yourself a better salvation by virtue of this sacrifice. This is exactly the concept I am telling you persisted within Augustinian thought. The successive thinkers still believed that there was some form of moral action that man could take that would produce this given outcome. In other words, man could have values and he could choose those values and get a given outcome.

Now this is crucial because this little shred of possible benefit to human existence actually keeps the door open just enough that by the time we get to the 14th and 15th century we have man in pursuit of a different understanding of his own existence. We have man realizing that he can take actions that benefit his life.

That little itty bitty crack starts to get wider that by the time we get to St. Thomas Aquinas we have the re-institutionalization of reason, and so now we have the first formal presentation of Aristotle which is effectively man-centered/earth-centered (much to the chagrin of the Catholics). So here is St. Thomas Aquinas who ultimately lays the theological foundation that makes it possible for man to have his own existence. That was around 1250.

Fast-forward a few years and we finally get to the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment.

Now here’s the thing. The Age of Reason and the Enlightenment might have been successful – there were so many advances in human prosperity, human development, human understanding from effectively the 16th century to the 18th century that the church may never have recovered. They church knew it was on the verge of being laughed out of existence.

Now were are introduced to the first villains.

John Calvin’s doctrine closed the door on human self-interest as such. His doctrine of double-imputed depravity and the corollary doctrine of progressive sanctification eliminates even a trace of self-interest in God’s salvation plan.

Calvin was clear, man can have to trace, no hint, no breath of good inside him. Any aspiration to any value, any good, is proof-positive of total depravity. That’s his logic.   So man is even morally condemned for wanting to want to go to Heaven. Philosophically speaking, John Calvin made it morally an existential liability separating the moral from the practical absolutely.

So with Augustine there was a vestige of moral practicality. He could aspire to go to Heaven. Whether God would elect him was another issue, but man could at least wish. But in Calvin, even the desire to go to Heaven was proof of moral corruption.

Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant

In the course of human history, John Calvin’s work becomes the defining expression of Christianity in the 16th century. And it is my contention that without his philosophical systems saturating the whole of European thought, Immanuel Kant would have remained a fussy little Puritan in Königsberg, Prussia. I will lay Kant’s success at Calvin’s feet.

Without Calvin’s specific brand of total depravity drilled into the minds of European thinkers I submit that intellectuals would not have been theologically predisposed to accepting Immanuel Kant’s premise. In a moment you will see why I say that.

In the 2014 TANC Conference I explained how man climbed out of the primordial ooze of Augustinian thought, through Aristotle to the likes of men such as John Locke. By the time we get to the 17th century philosophers are aware that they need a new start. They need to throw off Augustinian metaphysical and epistemological framework. They know that mysticism and dogmatism wreck everything is touches. Revelation does not work as an epistemological standard. Faith was merely government-enforced superstitions. Dogmatism was really despotism. Despotism lead to oppression and poverty.

This new method of understanding the world was called reason, thus the Age of Reason. The Enlightenment was the full cultural acceptance of the Aristotelian premise. The fundamentals of the Enlightenment were:

  • The world is rational
  • Man is rational
  • The universe is benevolent
  • Man can understand the world and master its secrets

Metaphysically this meant man was competent to understand his own world. This was revolutionary.   So then politically, men were born free and no longer predestined to servitude. Serfdom dies, slavery takes a mortal blow, man challenges the traditional bastions of power, and people start restraining religious tyrants and mystic despots.

I have already said this repeatedly. Liberty and freedom as you and I understand it is a philosophical achievement. It is not an accident. Which means you cannot couple liberty and freedom with the doctrines of the Dark Ages (read Augustine and Calvin). They are antithetical to one another.

By the 18th century the church, both Protestant and Catholic, knew that it was in great danger of being laughed out of existence. The church needed a “savior”, and his name wasn’t Jesus. His name was Immanuel Kant. Consider the following citation of Kant’s:

“I cannot even make the assumption – as the practical interests of morality require – of God, freedom, and immortality, if I do not deprive speculative reason of its pretensions to transcendent insight.

For to arrive at these, it must make use of principles which, in fact, extend only to the objects of possible experience, and which cannot be applied to objects beyond this sphere without converting them into phenomena, and thus rendering the practical extension of pure reason impossible. I must therefore abolish knowledge to make room for belief.

~ Preface to Second Edition, Critique of Practical Reason , B XXX

Kant is rough reading, and he is so intentionally with the aim to make you loose confidence in your ability to understand. Let me attempt to translate this for you.

The practical interests of morality require the belief in God. But I cannot even make the assumption of God, freedom, and immortality if I do not deprive reason of it’s pretensions to transcendent insight (read omniscience).

For to arrive at God, freedom, and immortality, reason must make use of principles. Principles can only extend to the objects of possible experience. Reason cannot be applied to objects beyond this sphere – to things in transcendent dimensions – without reducing the things of the transcendent into the realm of possible experience. Or said another way, reason deals with reality, not mystical worlds. Because reason is “limited” to reality, and by existence “pure” reason – reason attached to nothing, limited by nothing, is impossible.

To make it possible for men to once again have religion, I will abolish knowledge to make room for belief.

His whole point here is, because reason is attached to the material world it cannot possibly be omniscient, and because it can’t be omniscient it can’t know God, but without God we don’t have morality. Therefore Kant said it was his goal to destroy reason for the sake of religion. And he actually did a pretty good job.

Kant was a genius. In the world of philosophy, the comprehensive nature of what he did is probably only paralleled by Plato and Aristotle. So he is no lightweight. I am not qualified to discuss the full scope of Kant’s thought. I’m not even going to try. It would be very tedious and would take us weeks to get through. For the sake of this discussion I am only going to give you a summary of what he taught.

The real world is unknowable and reality doesn’t exit. Man makes up his own reality.

Huh? Who would believe that? Well, pretty much the whole Western world. Let me give that in more detail. Man cannot know what Kant calls the “nominal world”. The nominal world is the “real world”. Kant describes this realm as things in themselves, for a whole list of reasons that we won’t discuss. By contrast man does know what Kant calls the “phenomenal world”. Reason knows this world because he makes it up, and he knows this phenomenal world through a whole series of processes that is also beyond the scope of this discussion. His logic goes like this:

Because man has eyes he can’t see things in themselves. Because man has ears he can’t hear the nominal world. Because he has skin he can’t feel. Because he has a tongue he can’t taste. Because he has a mind he can’t know anything.

Kant’s progression of thought goes like this:

Metaphysics – The world is divided between the nominal and the phenomenal
→ Epistemology – Because man has no access to the nominal world, man has no true knowledge.

With this in mind, knowing how all of these ideas integrate, what do you suppose Kant’s ethics are? Here is Kant’s argument. Since man can’t know the nominal world, the “real world”, he most certainly can’t know his real self. So man’s phenomenal self has a moral duty to a set of moral commands. He calls the source of morality the categorical imperative, a non-mythical, non-earthly set of commands.

So here’s a question. If the commands don’t come from heaven and they don’t come from earth, where do they come from? They come from man’s perfectly nominal self, a self which he can’t know. Dizzying, right? Don’t worry about it, the only thing that matters is that man performs his duty to the categorical imperative.

How does man act on this categorical imperative? This is a challenge, because Kant thinks man’s will is handicapped. Kant has his own brand of bondage of the will. You theology aficionados should know that the bondage of the will is the doctrine central to Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation.

“…for the will stands at the crossroads halfway between its a priori principle which is formal (nominal world) and its posteriori incentive which is material (phenomenal world)”

Basically what Kant is saying is your will stands nowhere. That’s his point. Your will is ineffective because it is in neither place.   His solution to the will being nowhere, on how it’s handicapped, is what he calls duty. Here’s how it goes. Because the will can’t really do anything because it doesn’t sit anywhere, man has to have a method by which he can take action, and he calls that duty.

“Thus the first proposition of morality is that to have genuine moral worth an action must be done from duty. The second proposition is an action done from duty does not have its moral worth in the purpose which is to be achieved through it but in the maxim whereby it is determined. Its moral value therefore does not depend on the realization of the object of the action but merely on the principle of the volition by which the action is done irrespective of the objects of the faculty of desire…

…The third principle as a consequence of the two preceding I would express as follows: duty is the moral necessity to do an action from respect for law.”

~ Immanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals

 That’s a very wordy way of saying that the only choice you have is to take action on this thing called duty. That action has no intrinsic moral worth. It doesn’t matter what the outcome is. In fact the outcome is antithetical to its moral value.

Now remember what I told you John Calvin did. John Calvin separated morality from practicality. Immanuel Kant has just created the secular version of the exact same concept. Kant is saying that there is no relationship between morality and action. They are hostile to one another. But, O, it gets worse!

“…The submission of [man’s] will to a law without the intervention of another influence on [his] mind…is a far more worthy purpose of man’s existence…the supreme condition to which the private purposes of man must for the most part defer.”

~ Immanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals

Man’s highest purpose is to be done in accordance with law because it is his duty to act and for no other reason. He doesn’t need a reason because reason is irrelevant to moral action. So now we have a problem. Man cannot know reality, the judgment of his mind is irrelevant, and man’s will to act is morally impotent. How then can man be sure he is taking moral action?

“It is a duty to preserve one’s life, and moreover everyone has a direct inclination to do so. But for that reason the often anxious care which most men take of it has no intrinsic worth, and the maxim of doing so has no moral import. They preserve their lives according to duty but not from duty. But if adversities and hopeless sorrow completely take away the relish for life, if an unfortunate man, strong in soul, is indignant rather than despondent or dejected over his fate and wishes for death, and yet preserves his life without loving it and from neither inclination nor fear but from duty, then his maxim has moral import.”

~ Immanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals

Your moral value is only apparent if you are in pain. What Kant is really saying is man’s inclination to preserve his life has no moral value, but if a man who is faced with all manner of suffering decides it would be better to die and still chooses the duty to preserve his life, then that man has moral worth. The only way to know if man is doing a moral action is if acting out of duty creates pain.

Think about that for a minute.

Kant’s version of sacrifice then is absolute. He even outdid Calvin in this regard. Calvin said there is no moral action, period. Kant specifically says that moral action is only accomplished by suffering.

Duty = Morality = Soul-crushing PAIN

The result of such ethics is the politics of Sadism. That is the only thing available to you in your own existence. Notice that this places sacrifice as the highest philosophical principle. Human sacrifice is done for the sake of human sacrifice in pain.

By way of comparison, consider the following:

“That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things which have actually happened”

“He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.”

~ Martin Luther, The Heidelberg Disputation, Theses 19 and 20

It should be apparent that Kant’s philosophy is the secular version of the exact same body of doctrine that was being rejected out of hand by the intellectual world. Now the intellectuals in Europe and America suddenly have the ability to have the exact same sacrificial doctrine with a legitimate secular twist. We don’t have to claim it was God telling us it’s our job to sacrifice, we can now find an acceptable secular reason why people must sacrifice. And why must we sacrifice? Because our political powers require that they have authority and control over the masses.

Let’s evaluate. Life requires the pursuit of values, but duty requires that man receive no values to any action. Proof of moral action = PAIN. Therefore the ideal moral state is total moral dissipation; total non-value; a total state of self-imposed ongoing agony. Man’s desire must collide with his duty. Man must rebel against his desires. Man must feel pain in the conflict.

Kant’s philosophy is a perfect secular overlay of Calvin’s doctrine. Kant requires that you desire to live at the highest possible level of love and happiness and achievement but relish every wound that strikes those down. Kant is advocating a slow, leisurely, prolonged death by sado-masochism. Kant is advocating self-sacrifice as an end in itself.

Now most people don’t know this background to this next word – altruism. When most people think of altruism they think of generosity. This word altruism was coined by a man named August Compte to describe man’s proper relationship to other men. In Utopia, all men would sacrifice their interest to all other men. Here is the problem, when people hear “altruism,” they think of love, empathy, humanity, or generosity, but this is a profound error.

Altruism really means that man’s first a primary reason for existence is the benefit of other men. His first mortgage on his life is paid to every other person he sees. You don’t have the right to draw breath because somebody else draws breath. Notice that this is not kindness or generosity. It is not kindness or generosity to give $5 to a homeless man. Why? Because the homeless man is entitles to your $5. And for you to be truly moral, you must suffer when you give that $5. You don’t give it to him because it makes you feel good. You don’t give it to him because you’ll go to Heaven. You don’t give it to him for any other reason than you are going to suffer because you gave him the $5 he was entitled to.

It is not humane for a doctor to heal the sick. The sick have the right to his knowledge just because they exist and just because they are sick. And to be truly moral, the doctor should heal the other people while those he loves, the people he values, suffer.

It is not love for a man to dedicate himself to his wife. He must hold all men as equal value, and he must sacrifice his wife’s well-being if he gains pleasure from that well-being. The bottom line for most marriages is that it is my duty to love you even if I don’t love you.

So let’s cut to the chase. Under altruism, man is the property of all other men. Property is the right to exercise power; to dispose of, to keep, to the exclusion of other interests. So if you are the property of other men, then politically they are morally correct to use force against you to dispose of you however they see fit.

This is the secular version that sanctions the ability of people to “raise awareness” about some cause and then compel other people to do what they want them to do. If you moral obligation is sacrifice, and you are the property of other men, then you have no moral right to what you can do, make, be, whatever, it doesn’t matter. Your sole purpose and function in this lifetime is for the disposition of other people. And if some people refuse to sacrifice it is moral for men to kill the selfish people.

How can murder be moral? Under Kant it’s actually very simple. (Actually, this is true under both Calvin and Kant’s moral framework.) As long as the tyrant does not want to kill people, and he does so at no personal gain, and for the benefit of other people, it is moral to kill 7 million Jews. The moral standard basically says you can do any action as long as you don’t enjoy it, indeed if you suffer from it and you do it on behalf of other people it doesn’t matter what you do next.

Here is why this has become so important. Most men couldn’t express their ideas in terms of metaphysics and epistemology. They don’t know what that means, and they don’t care. Most people encounter a philosophical system at the point of ethics. Yet their ethics implies a pre-supposed metaphysical and epistemological framework. That is how they get sucked into the problem.

Most people encounter Calvinism at the moral point. They go to church and are told what is good and moral and what is evil. Eventually they realize that why things are good and bad are directly related to specific metaphysical and epistemological presumptions. Then they go to the pastors, and the pastors assume it is their right to compel them to any given action. It is all consistent through the entire progression.

That’s where we are in American history. And now you understand why I said before that man’s moral choice is either:

Sadism – sacrifice enforced at the hands of others

Masochism – self-inflicted sacrifice.

Here’s what Calvin and Kant really created. Morality is man’s executioner. There is an absolute breach between morality and action. Man can never ever ever ever hold a value. Man must sacrifice his values in the most painful means possible, which means that Kant closed the door on human value with ruthless precision. It is for this achievement that Kant is the true destroyer of humanity, and altruism is the evil that saturates American Christian churches.

…To be continued.

John Immel 2016 Session 3 Archive Video (YouTube) Audio Only (mp3)

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