Paul's Passing Thoughts

The History of Western Philosophy and Its Societal Impact on the Church – Part 7

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on February 14, 2017

The following is part seven of an eight-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s thirsdsession at the 2013 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for part one
Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five
Click here for part six
Click here for part eight

john immelWe have hammered pretty hard the notion of people being personally responsible for the intellectual content of their minds. As a man who has been pretty much talking to the air about this very subject for the last twenty years of his life because I couldn’t get anybody to pay attention, it is very easy to become cynical about how people respond to this information. I suspect some of the cynicism is warranted, because no matter how many times I start up this conversation I am usually confronted with the deer in the headlights look from people.

However, what I have learned is that mostly the reason is due to the fact that people have never been exposed to any counter-argument. They are usually more dumbfounded that someone actually has the audacity to suggest that there is something implicitly wrong with reformation doctrine- not that it is something of an aberration or that a few stray teachers didn’t seem to get it right, but that reformation doctrine is fundamentally wrong.

During these lectures I have had the opportunity to talk to some people who have traveled the same path and arrived at very similar intellectual conclusions. I find them to be endlessly engaged, and I find that to be enormously gratifying, to find others people who have begun to do similar work, have started to see the big picture and have arrived at the same conclusions. The piece of the puzzle that was lacking was actually the framework of the puzzle itself. It was a commitment to say no, these ideas are morally evil. There is a root problem with this doctrine that corrupts it without end.

This is a very longwinded way of saying I am encouraged at the potential that is out there. In discussing the notion of tyranny, it has always relied on men who fear resisting it. Tyranny can only persist when good men do nothing. But good demands of you to fundamentally believe in your moral virtue. If you cannot believe in your own virtue, then you can never ever fight what is evil. This is perhaps the motivation of tyranny to promote the willful self-destruction of man, to keep good men in a constant state of devaluing their own virtue so as to not have the motivation to resist.

This is why I advocate endlessly for your own rational motivation, your own specific commitment to your rational faculties. In all that TANC Ministries is trying to accomplish, I loathe the idea that it ends up becoming one more cult of personality. I recognize that people like Paul Dohse and myself are very strong personalities. And it would be very easy for people to trade my personality and the force of my ability as an individual with any of the popular teachers who currently dominate the scene of reformed orthodoxy. I would rather wreck my own reputation on your behalf than for you to follow me simply because you trust me specifically.

I want you to trust the conclusions of your own rational mind.

The ultimate goal is for you to carry the fight on your own.

The beauty of Western culture is that it is ultimately the source of freedom and liberty. In the previous five articles I covered approximately 500 years worth of the evolution of Western thought. It is essentially a masters level course on philosophy crammed into a little more than 8,000 words.

The person I neglected to bring into the discussion is Aristotle. His ability to identify the laws of logic is the only thing that comes close to rivaling Plato. Inasmuch as Plato organized a collectivist ruling dictatorship, Aristotle is essential for the liberties of man. He is the first person to give a systematic presentation on why man specifically is qualified to operate successfully on the earth.

In part one we considered the following quote by Sun Tzu.

“All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what they cannot see is the strategy out of which victory has evolved.” ~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War

He was making the observation that it was the underlying strategy that allowed him to win. Men could see the tactics, but they couldn’t understand the function whereby those tactics were employed. This is essentially what we are now being confronted with. The reason tyranny has been so successful at sweeping across the globe is because it has drilled down to the same fundamental elements.

Because man is a rational being in need of a way to integrate his ideas, it is how those ideas go together that defines how he organizes his political life. Political life is nothing more than how individuals interact. We tend to think of politics in terms of the elaborate game that happens in governments between parties and the endless quest for social power. Yet what happens in the grand halls of government is nothing more than the logical conclusions of ideas, and then those men decide that everyone else should live by those sets of ideas.

Here is the central fight of all political philosophy. The whole of human existence has focused around the question of who owns man. The leading consensus, the predominant assumption, the conclusion of the vast percentage of human intellectual content has been focused on man is the property of the state.

My job in this series was to discuss the societal impact of the development of Western thought. I have put off revealing to you the ultimate impact until now because I was more interested in laying the foundation of how we get to that resulting impact. Once we identify how we get to societal impact, it is actually very simple for individuals to start understanding what is actually happening in society.

So the question is then if man is property of the state, what is the moral justification for some to use force against others? What have we just studied? What were the root presumptions throughout history? Man is incompetent. His senses are invalid. There are a select few who have some form of enlightenment from some extra-worldly source. Such enlightenment then makes them alone qualified to use force over others.

The underlying question historically within Christianity has universally revolved around why “they”, whoever those leaders happen to be, are specifically authorized to define truth. Augustine justified this very end using the same exact assumptions I just mentioned. The sheep are stupid, the sheep are incompetent, the sheep cannot organize their own lives, and more importantly, they should be compelled to do what is good.

Slide2I need to introduce you to yet one more philosophical concept. Any doctrine that services the notion that man is the property of the state is know as collectivism. The systems illustrated in the figure at the right are all manifestations of collectivism. In these systems, the dominant presumption is that your life is to be placed at the disposal of some collective. The collective will is the standard of moral value. The goal is always that man must be chained to the collective. And I do mean chained. Man is property of the state, to subordinate the individual to the collective will.

How do they do this?

Slide3This is my contribution to philosophy. I have identified five fundamental elements of all collectivist doctrines that are designed to produce tyranny. The reason I have organized this as a web is because I want you to understand that this is not linear. All of these elements are interdependent and to not necessarily follow in a progression. There is a dynamic tension between all the arguments. Some arguments that you hear will have facets of each of these categories. Let’s look at each one of these more closely.

Incompetent Masses
The underlying conclusion throughout all the thinkers we have studied has been that man’s senses or his ability to reason were fundamentally flawed. Man could not understand the world in which he lived. This is the bedrock of incompetence. If you separate man from his mind, man from his body, and man from reality, there is no other place for man to live. So if you presume that man is incompetent then you set the groundwork for the next concept.

Universal Guilt
This is a tool designed to drive you to accept your own incompetence. All men are guilty of moral depravity so that no one can advocate a moral standard. If you will accept guilt, a universal guilt, a guilt for no crime whatsoever, a guilt for nothing more than for simply being an incompetent human, you will accept the standard that you are morally incapable of running your own life. This is the death knell of all individualism. If you cannot presume your own moral good then the only thing left is…

Dictated Good
Because man is guilty and incompetent to carry out the important actions, he necessarily needs someone to save him from himself. This is why there has always been a separation between the willing elite and the general masses. This is where the class society comes from. There has always been the presumption that the “true philosopher” had a special access to truth.

The only function of determinism in all of its forms has been to create a class society. If everything is determined, there is no intellectual argument. You cannot persuade me, because whoever I am is nothing more than the outcome of that determinism.  Yet this is what sets up select men as the driving force of all political organization. The catch phrase these days among all various forms of Christianity is “God is Sovereign.” This is nothing more than another variation on determinism. If God is “sovereign”, then the very fact that certain men are in positions of authority is evidence of their right to run your life.

But the problem is, man is not a collective being.

He is a contractual being. This is how man successfully operates with other men. Look at all of your successful social interaction, and the quality that makes them successful is men freely engaging in a mutual exchange of value for value. This poses a problem for collectivism.

Abolition of Ambition
Because man is by nature an individual and not a collective being, he must be talked out of individual action. He must be persuaded that any action done independent of group sanction is the height of moral failing. This is why, within all collectivist doctrines, ambition is synonymous with sin.

The true definition of ambition is to see a value and then organizing an effort to achieve that value. In every effort as a contractual being, man organizes a value that he has and persuades another that he wants that value.

Consider the scope of the charge that God gave to Adam. Be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth! The scope of Adam’s existence was the earth, and we sit here and worry about how we are going to pay for new tires for the car. God has always been driving man towards his own individual best. So pursuing ambition is not sin. How we break contracts in the pursuit is how we get to sin. Covetousness is not sin because we want something. Ambition becomes covetousness when our means of obtaining value results in broken contracts in our mutual exchange of value with others.

Once you have been talked out of ambition you have arrived at…

Collective Conformity
This is the end game. This is where the full force of government is brought to bear for the sole purpose of creating a neutered humanity without complexion, or variation, or distinction. This outcome is held out as an ethical ideal and forced into existence at all costs.

In collective conformity, the group is prime. The collective must then define what is authentic “groupness”. It defines the parameters for group inclusion. This is where you get concepts such as “tribalism”. Where we see this most dramatically in the modern age and current culture is the concept of “political correctness”. You are fundamentally immoral if you do not conduct your life in a certain way, if you do not speak a certain way, if you do not hold to a specific set of values.

In the church, this presents itself this way: “Who has the most correct doctrine”, and the yardstick of inclusion is some form of orthodoxy. They hold up that yardstick, and they must pass that yardstick over every individual.

But what happens when someone no longer measures up?

Consider, you attended a church for 15 years or more of your life, you committed enormous amounts of time and resources to that church where everybody hugged and kissed you and told you how wonderful you are. But then you had a conflict, and you got kicked out on your butt. Suddenly you looked around and said, “Where are all my friends?”

Here’s what happened. The whole time you were there, they were holding up that yardstick, and as long as you measured up you were one of them. But the moment they could hold up that yardstick and say, “you are no longer one of us,” they had no other choice but to exclude you from the group. Because everything was about the collective.

Utopian Presitge
All arguments are in service to the collective reputation. Notice what the outcome is at the center of the web of these five elements. How many times have you heard a preacher talk about the reputation of the church? The argument is that individual action will impact the prestige of his “local collective.” This is the presumption of Utopian Prestige.

I have always been a little confused how it is that if  man is so morally corrupt how such a great God could ever be concerned that man’s actions would tarnish His reputation. There is no more spectacular conceit. Yet with stunning consistency, Neo Calvinists are obsessed with God’s reputation. In reality, the only way man’s actions could ever affect God’s reputation is if man is God’s equal!

Chew on that one for a while.

Collectivism always seeks some utopian ideal that is never achievable- the Marxist workers’ paradise, Hitler’s Third Reich, the Muslim perception of “Allah”. Every collectivist culture is always driving towards this idea that if we had this perfect thing, whatever that happens to be, and everybody focused all of their pursuits towards that one end, the prestige of that would be so enormously great that it would compel everyone else to fall down before it on their knees.

Well, it compels everyone to fall to their knees, but with their hands behind their back and a bullet to the back of the head.

The National Socialists of Germany went to war on two fronts for the prestige of the “fatherland”.  Alexander the Great conquered nations for his collectivist/statist will. Stalin killed 7 million people in his Workers’ Paradise due to man-made famines, all for the prestige of the Soviet Union.

And what do we hear now? How often in American parlance do you here people say, the world doesn’t like America; that there is something wrong with our reputation in the world? It is always about prestige.

What did the people in the land of Shinar say to themselves? “Let us make a name for ourselves.” What was the mark of that prestige? “We will build a tower to reach unto the heavens.” It was a collectivist ideal, and every resource of human ability was focused into the achievement of that ideal. But they could never get to the heavens. There was never any practical end to that outcome.

Once you know the elements of collectivism and the outcomes to which they are in service it becomes stunningly easier and easier to recognize it all around you. Have this chart in front of you the next time you listen to the news, I don’t care what source, it doesn’t matter, and in less than a half hour your will be sitting there in stunned amazement.

Watch any television drama, which is entertainment, which is nothing more than an artistic expression. These elements are even easier to see in art because art is the most condensed version of a society’s value statement. It is the result of a full philosophical statement boiled down into a picture. And without fail, the greatest villain in most television shows ends up being the one who is successful. This is the manifestation of the abolition of achievement.

These are all reflections of our cultural expectations. They are all designed to drive us towards some collective conformity. Any true individuality is always explained in terms of exploitation, and everything is about sacrifice to the collective.

…To be continued


Click here for part one
Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five
Click here for part six

Click here for part eight
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3 Responses

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  1. John said, on February 14, 2017 at 8:33 AM

    The entire Reformed/Calvinist pseudo-Christian movement is a cult of personality. That the cornerstone of Christianity, Jesus Christ, is pushed lower than men in that evil movement does not surprise me anymore. “God is sovereign” is akin to “sinner saved by grace”. There’s no way to argue or think your way around those phrases; anyway, that’s what its adherents want you to believe. The mindless, brainwashed disciples of Reformed/Calvinist rhetoric use these catchphrases and accompanying cheap propaganda to justify everything. As I’ve said before, should you or I dare speak against anything (or anyone) in their anti-Christian system, we suddenly become “enemies” of God. Reformed/Calvinist nonsense is not a belief system: it’s a vicious and political deathtrap. It’s a philosophical swamp that brings forth no life because there is no life in it.

    Now, what would be the collective goal of Reformed/Calvinist nonsense? An empty heaven? Yes, I said that. An empty heaven. Come on, puppets, add two and two together…

    Like

    • john smith said, on February 14, 2017 at 6:10 PM

      God is sovereign = the Allahu ackbar of Calvinist intellectual terrorism.

      Like

      • John said, on February 15, 2017 at 4:37 AM

        It can’t be much clearer than that, J. Smith. Allahu Akbar=God is sovereign, and for 500 years it’s been their twisted war cry. Watch them step up a gear, given half an opportunity.Or have they already taken that step?

        Like


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