The History of Western Philosophy and Its Societal Impact on the Church – Part 8
The following is the final part of an eight-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s third session
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 seven
The “common good” is a collectivist myth designed to achieve the outcome of subordinating the individual to the majority. The collective well-being is the supreme measure of ethics. The phrase implies that if the individual acts for the “good” of the group, the individual is taking moral action. Notice the equation; action for the group = morality. However, there are three primary problems with the concept of the “common good”
1. It is deception.
By definition, “common” is a synonym for a generalization, and by definition a generalization does not have a specific definition. So when a person speaks of the “common good”, they are appointing themselves the spokesman for some loosely defined group. In conversation, the “common good” is used to refer to the good of the public or the community or society or the tribe. However, each of these words is merely a poor label for the intangible sum of individual interaction. The point is, such “groups” do not really exist.
- “The public”: an adjective describing individual conduct exposed to general view.
- “The community”: little more that the interaction of individual people in close proximity.
- “Society”: The aggregate actions of many “sub-groups” within a geographic location.
- “The Tribe”: A “group” based on genetic similarities. A religious denomination is merely a tribal preoccupation shifted from genetic pedigree to doctrinal pedigree.
So the thing that is “common” is not really common at all. There is no “thing” that is the direct recipient of good, because there is no specific object to receive the “good”. The work you do doesn’t benefit the good of the group, it benefits the good of individuals within the group.
The purpose of the deception is to conceal the root presumption that the collective stands supreme to its individual members, for the “common good” is really the good of the group at the expense of the individual members. Or said another way, the individual is a sacrificial animal to the will of the collective. Any individual who is perceived as a threat to the survival of the group must be sacrificed.
Every time I hear somebody talk about altruism and the “common good”, the conceit in this means that if my life is to be sacrificed to you, the necessary presumption is that your life in turn should be sacrificed to me. I own your life by default, and you think that’s morality? You think that’s just and good? So we’re reduced to moral cannibalism?
2. It poses as morality
The “common good” is really a moral subterfuge because it is an indefinable, elastic concept that can be shaped to apply to any outcome for any political whim. Since the group is elastic based on momentary standards of inclusion, the definition of “good” constantly changes. There is really no constant “yardstick” of measurement but rather a thick syrup that clouds the eyes and ears of its victims and makes them abandon morality rather than cling to it.
The “common good” inspires people to lay down values in service to a select few who claim to be spokesmen for the majority. We see this in political conversation all the time. The outcome is that the spokesmen have a moral blank check that every individual is obligated to cash.
You wonder why you hear stories of molestation coming out of church groups and Christian universities and missionary organizations, where the leadership and authority specifically tried to conceal the crimes against the children and members and students. This is the moral blank check that parents are supposed to cash in behalf of the child who was molested. This is EVIL, fundamental evil!
3. It masquerades as good.
If taken literally, the error within the expression “common good” itself becomes glaringly obvious. When people advocate for the “common good”, they think they are saying the “good” of all individuals admitted to the group. Or maybe if they paused to consider more deeply, they are saying the “good” of the majority. This doesn’t yet sound too scandalous because “good” is what is done numerically for the greatest amount of individuals. People do a loose moral calculus and decide that the greater the sum, the more moral the action.
But here is the result of that rationale: moral action is quantifiable by statistical outcome. If morality is nothing more than statistics then it is a trivial exercise to justify the Holocost. Stalin created a famine and killed 7 million people, but by the standard of the “common good” his actions are “moral” because the mathematical formula benefits 100 million faithful communists. The “common good” is used to justify taking enormous sums of money from individuals in order to pay for other people’s medical care, or whatever your favorite government program happens to be.
Having identified the three problems with the notion of “common” good, let us examine how this is all used at the root of tyranny.
We now know that the “common good” does not exist because the concepts of group do not exist, and they are never the recipient of any action. Only individuals receive good. Only individuals receive value. It is a false morality designed to subordinate all people to the collective, but who defines the collective?
At the root of all collectivist organizations there is usually only one person holding the yardstick of group inclusion. This person surrounds himself with a gang to defend against any interloper. He is the voice of the people, the voice of community, the voice of society, the voice of the tribe, the voice of the church.
What people fail to grasp is the “good” of the people is really subterfuge to justify the violation of individual rights. The function of this expression is designed to violate individual rights, and when you violate individual rights you are really abolishing all rights. Groups do not have rights. When you tell me I must subordinate my rights to the group, the group does not gain them by proxy. They have been forfeited.
If there is no such thing as “rights”, the thug, surrounded by his gang, is free to use force (government) to achieve whatever outcome they fancy.The collectivist thug is at once empowered to force people to conform to the collective and shielded against all outcomes. It doesn’t matter what happens next.
This is why you have the brutal absurdity of Soviet Russia. The USSR was built in service to the “common good”, yet the only people who prospered were the tiny gang who surrounded the bloodiest despot in history, Joseph Stalin. The rest of the population lived in sub-human misery for almost three generations.
This is why you have the mystical tyranny of the medieval Catholic church. The Catholic church portrayed itself as the greatest proponent of human good on the planet, yet from effectively 600AD to almost 1500 AD the church leadership lived a comparatively lavish lifestyle, and the serfs existed generation after generation in squalor.
In the modern age, think of any social program that is said and done for “the people,” for “the society,” for “the community”. Now define exactly what the program does; give money for college, pay for medicine, feed the hungry. If you look at the actual event, only a select number of individuals actually receive the benefit, and all of the authority (force) is invested in a bureaucrat whose sole function is to weed out those who never receive the “good”.
Some of you are squirming because I have placed “community” in the same pot of condemnation. You long for community. You conceptualize your local church as a community. You think this is a social ideal. You think that the community does good. And you like the fact that you vicariously participate in the moral reputation, the prestige, of the group. You want the prestige plus you long for an inter-personal connection, and you yearn to find friends and have “relationships.” You pine for an indescribable thing that is a cross between a Norman Rockwell painting and the television sitcom, “Cheers”, where everybody knows your name. For the life of you, you struggle to see how this is the same seedbed of evil that I have been talking about.
Unfortunately, I am about to tell you that Santa Clause does not exist.
Look closely at the real social dynamic of your community. The connectedness, the relationships that you seek is really the exchange of individual value on an inter-personal level. You long to live in Mayberry R.F.D., filled with “Aunt Beas” baking apple pies waiting on the porch, never once realizing that the safety and security and fraternity that you want cannot happen if the highest moral standard is sacrifice of personal desires and personal values for the “common good.”
The price of admission to the community is the very self that you must surrender for public consumption. Think about that. To participate in community means that you must get rid of the very thing that makes you unique. This is why most communities (read “churches”) are petty, and gossipy, and back-stabbing, and cliquey. Everyone in the community is constantly vying for some piece of the “common good.” In the end, you realize that the mindless hoards sitting in the pews are there to graze over you like a buffet table.
Now let’s back up to the 10,000-foot view. Now you can see why metaphysics and epistemology are so important. Now you can see how everything revolves around a specific body of ideas that begins with Thales and evolves all the way down to the Cynics and the Stoics, formalized and systematized by Plato, and eventually shape Augustine, Calvin, and Luther. Inasmuch as you continue to accept their premises, you will continue to achieve the same outcome.
If you think the Neo Calvinists are ugly now, you wait and see what happens when you give them just an ounce of civil authority. There will be bloodshed. I know you think that’s scandalous, I get that. It may not even be the guys in the pulpits right this minute. But if you let this construct get hold of civil government, if you have the marriage of faith and force, they will make John Calvin look like a choir boy and Geneva look like a day at the beach. Make no mistake, at the root of this doctrine lie death and destruction.
When you separate man from his mind and his mind from reality, the only thing he has left to deal with another man is a club. The moment we have a club in our hands we are no longer offering an argument. And these guys don’t offer arguments. They have to bail on the conversation every single time they are pressed on the points of their doctrine. They must punt into the grand “mystery” of God. They don’t have a choice.
Once they are finally confronted with the dead end of their logic, all they can do next is attack and posture and threaten. Inasmuch as you fear that retaliation and extortion, you will willingly shut your mouth. This is why you see such enormous fear coming out of the pews. The discernment blogs and survivor blogs start discussing how they were treated. Everybody online is anonymous, not because they are trying to be deceitful, but because they are terrified!
They have accepted the premise.
What made me specifically so dangerous to them is that I rejected the premise. And that will make you dangerous. When you reject the premise, they will become terrified of you. They do not have the power, and if they ever get close to civil government, resist them with all of your might!
All collectivist cultures are tyrannies.
The philosophy of collectivism claims that there is a mystical, supernatural, social organism that embodies the highest moral values. Of course, only a few elite people with special insight can fully grasp this truth. Somehow they have access to special source knowledge that transcends the average man’s mind. Average men are incompetent, helpless, mindless creatures, depraved and unworthy of social interactions. So they must be purified to serve the collective organism.
Men cannot deal with other men voluntarily because they have no peaceful means to settle disputes. They have no means to act as contractual beings because they are metaphysically incapable of doing good. Human salvation always boils down to an elite clique endowed with some mystical insight, and that insight qualifies them to rule men. They are dictators of an omnipotent, benevolent state, doing what is best for the “common good.”
All collectivist ideologies hold the same political assumption. All collectivist doctrines seek the exact same end – subjugation of the individual. Man must be chained to the collective. Man is property of the state. Statism is always implemented by force.
The measure of social slavery is directly proportional to how much the slogan of “common good” is embraced. Conversely, the measure of civil liberty is directly proportional to how much the same slogan is overtly rejected. Our Founding Fathers rejected this notion of “common good”. They recognized that the legitimate role of government was specifically to defend the individual and his life, his liberty, and his pursuit of happiness. These are notions contrary to “common good.”
It is an easy slogan to reject because there is no such thing as a generalized good, because only individuals receive values. As soon as you realize it is a hoax it becomes a matter of course to refuse to pay homage to the fraud. Good is not being done. The reality is that people are enslaved to the fancies of others. No man has a moral obligation to subjugation to another man.
The Longing for Revival
We erroneously believe that a return to God will naturally be a return to morality. A return to morality is really a return to a belief in divine extortion. When morality is the product of divine command, the fight becomes about which divine we follow. What the Platonist/Augustian/Calvinsit version of Christianity has shown is that it has nothing to offer as a counter to militant ideologies.
Their first test was Islam. The eastern church showed itself impotent to stop the ideological tide of Islam. Christianity had so gutted the intellectual rigor of intellectual thought, that when confronted with a totally irrational ideology based on war, it could offer no counter.
Of course, Protestants like to push these things off as “those dastardly Catholics.” But Protestants have not fared any better. The Southern Presbyterian Church was in the forefront of slavery within the United States. Of course, Presbyterianism has a direct pedigree line with ties to the reformed tradition.
The reformed tradition’s next test would be National Socialist Germany. It failed miserably. Lutheran churches, with almost no exception, joined “the party” and remained committed to National Socialism until the collapse of the Third Reich.
Christianity has shown itself impotent to offer any intellectual defense against Marxism, National Socialism, and Islam, and that’s just in the modern day.
But they cannot lay claim to mere impotence. It isn’t “God’s will.” Christianity has with far too much consistency been connected to the tyranny. This is not a new observation.
“7. Because experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”
~ James Madison, “A Memorial in Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments”, 1786
“In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection of his own.”
“Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined, and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth”
~ Thomas Jefferson
“I could never join Calvin in addressing his god. He was indeed an atheist, which I can never be, or rather his religion was demonism. If ever a man worshipped a false god!”
~ Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams, April 1823
Here is the absolute conclusion of all we have studied in this series. For anyone with intellectual integrity, these things should be fully and entirely unacceptable. This should compel you to evaluate the content of Christianity for what it has said for the whole of its history. It is not an accident that the same tyranny abetted by the church has occurred over and over and over.
And now, having heard where all this is rooted, you are without excuse. Now you have seen where the core of Protestant doctrine comes from. The intellectual pedigree goes as far back as Heraclitus and the Pythagoreans. It finds its full philosophic formation in Plato, it is welded into Christian thinking by Augustine, and it is put into practice by Luther and Calvin – from Augustine to Luther to Calvin to the Synod of Dort to the Westminster Confessions to the Puritans to the local pastor pounding the pulpit.
The dots are all connected, and now it rests on you to resist the disaster.
|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 seven
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