Paul's Passing Thoughts

Will The Real Toxic Christianity Please Step Forward? – By John Immel

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on September 16, 2020

John Immel – Church Historian, TANC Contributor

Someone recently asked me to give my feedback on this article written by Dan Armistead at

I gave it a quick read and mostly just rolled my eyes.

I don’t know Dan except for the few articles that I browsed. He fancies himself a thought leader in Evangelical Christianity’s quest for pure doctrine. Maybe he’s a muckity-muck in the rising tide of Neo Calvinism’s insurgence and is therefore venerated by some, but probably not.

However, his article makes a great object lesson for the real Toxic Christianity…and it isn’t what Dan thinks it is.

Like most of his ilk, Dan hides his toxicity behind some down-home folksiness mixed with leaps of logic and dogmatic proof-texts founded on an unbending, unquestioned moral superiority.

Dan is like 99% of Evangelical thought leadership, which is to say he’s a hackneyed, 4th-rate mind who thinks his moral purity equates to intellectual purity and therefore has something to offer a broader spiritual socio-political critique.

He’s not and he does not.

If Dan Armistead were even a 3rd-rate thinker he’d know that a casual review of history reveals that Christianity has been toxic LONG before Donald John Trump became President of the United States.

He would know that Christianity’s toxicity has been on display since its 2nd century’s purge of heretics. He would know that Christianity became the poster child for world tyranny after Theodosius ascended to the throne as God’s chosen emperor in 381. He would know that Augustinian doctrine (aka Christian Orthodoxy) is the formalization of societal psychosis.

What is societal psychosis?

Imagine a world where you could die if you pointed to the facts of reality.  Imagine a world where the government compels you to lie in service to their orthodoxy. Imagine a world where great minds like Galileo feared for their lives by merely pointing out that REALITY didn’t support orthodoxy.

Oh wait, you don’t have to imagine. This is today’s socio-political environment.

America’s political correctness is really just a secular “religious orthodoxy” that would make John Calvin proud of its determination to crush intellectual autonomy and usher in tyranny.

It’s MY reality, dammit!

Dan starts the article with a bold gambit to frame his reality as the defining one.

Dan writes:

“At the same time, this man is making the same mistake many good, evangelical Christians in America today are making. He is mixing the leaven of politics and nationalism with God’s kingdom.”

Point of correction: As you read through his article it is obvious that Dan thinks the sign represents a poignant display of spiritual sedition, not a “mistake.”

(More on this in a minute)

But does the sign display a “mistake?”


Strictly speaking Trump IS president, and the sign poster IS declaring his fealty to Jesus. So from 2016 to 2020, saying that Jesus is my Savior/ Trump is my President would be a correct representation of reality. To deny this existential fact is to demand people judge reality incorrectly. This would be called a lie.

And I’m pretty sure Paul told Christians to accept the governments appointed over them, so in fact, Christians who refuse to acknowledge Donald John Trump as their President are refusing to submit to his authority. These are the Christians committing spiritual sedition.


Wagging Tails and the Gambit to Borrowed Authority.

Dan writes:

“But here’s the thing — somewhere along the way (maybe from the very beginning) evangelical Christians (of which I am one) began to let their politics shape their Christian faith rather than allowing their Christian faith to shape their politics.

“As we say down south, “the tail started wagging the dog.”

“Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the support of Donald Trump by those who claim to hold the teachings of Jesus and the Bible (The Word of God) as the highest authority for our lives and world.”

Well, gosh darn, golly gee shucks. Them thar words just confound me. Cain’t argue with such logics now can I? Pure D fact that Old Yeller is just a floppin’ around because of his dag nabin tail.

Charming colloquialisms aside, you know what Dan is trying to say, right?

“My Christianity is right; therefore my understanding of government is right. Those who reject my understanding reject the bible and have abandoned true Christianity.”

This argument is Mystic Despot 101. I call it the Gambit to Borrowed Authority. It has many forms.

The root logic is:

  • The bible is the final authority.
  • Authority compels intellectual compliance.
  • Mystic despots, those who fancy themselves THE spiritual authority, are unique in their grasp of the bible.
  • A Mystic despot’s judgment and biblical mandates are synonymous.
  • Ergo Mystic Despots are the rightful heirs of biblical authority.

Or said another way: It’s biblical, therefore I believe it. I believe it, therefore it’s biblical.

Or said another way: My thinking equals pure Christian doctrine.

Do Mystic Despots utter these words?

No, they are never so brazen. But this root presumption surfaces the moment you reject their ideas.

Notice how fast they conflate rejecting them with rejecting God. (Turn up the reverb)

The Gambit to Borrowed Authority gives Mystic Despots enormous argumentative power, because in one fell swoop they are immune to any challenge. They can make any assertion, offer any logic, and take any action; and if you disagree, how dare you challenge God?

“The leaven of politics and nationalism?”

Dan writes:

“At the same time, [the sign poster] is making the same mistake many good, evangelical Christians in America today are making. He is mixing the leaven of politics and nationalism with God’s kingdom.”

What is leaven? Dan never defines.

What is the leaven of politics? He never explains?

What is the leaven of nationalism? He never clarifies.

So riddle me this: Why can Dan leave such glaring intellectual gaps?

Answer: Because his borrowed authority defies anyone to reject his conclusions. And as far as Dan is concerned, HIS assertions are the same as God’s assertion.

Are you going to demand God justify himself to your questions?

Yeah hu?

. . .
. . .
. . .

Anyway, Dan left a gap, and I need to address the insidious nature of what’s implied.

In 2020, because of our current politically correct climate, “nationalism” has been conflated with racism. Therefore, if you support Trump’s policies you by default are participating in nationalism which is the same as advancing white people which is being racist.

This is nonsense on every level, but if we really want to identify Toxic Christianity then let’s take a brief look at Christianity’s track record on “nationalism” . . . oops . . . racism.

The early church didn’t think gentiles could participate in the covenants of promise without embracing the whole of Judaic observances. In other words, gentiles had to become Jews to be considered authentic.

Paul becomes the “apostle to the gentiles,” but after Mars Hill he spends very little time with actual Greeks and Roman’s and centered his missionary trips in the Jewish Diaspora. Or said another way, he focused his time with those of Jewish ancestry scattered throughout the Roman world to start his churches. The influx of gentiles was secondary.

The Church, from the first century forward, persecuted Jews through the whole of the dark and middle ages and beyond. European history until almost the 19th century featured the church fomenting and sanctifying wars between the Franks and the Britons and the Huns and Celtics and Saxons, et. al. in the name of “God’s kingdom.”

Martin Luther wrote his last theological treatise called On the Jews and Their Lies, which is a profoundly racist rant. This rant was subsequently used as the moral framework for the Lutheran church’s complicit support of the Nazi party in 1930’s Germany. That framework made the Lutheran church complicit in carrying out the Final Solution.

John Calvin’s determinist doctrine coupled with his biblical defense of slavery was the foundation of the Puritan’s use of slaves.

Yes, I know, the Puritans are everyone’s Thanksgiving heroes who came to a new world for religious freedom; however this is a total sanitation of history. The Puritans were in fact a denomination of theocratic despots and political fanatics. They got run out of Europe because they were so politically dangerous. Their flight for “religious freedom” really meant they brought their theocratic despotism and political fanaticism across the Atlantic. The rippling effect of that influence is still seen in American politics. It was the Puritan intellectual leadership that set the doctrinal foundation used by all southern churches in the slave-holding-south to morally justify the original white privilege to own slaves. After the civil war the Calvin/Puritan axis of evil was the moral justification for Jim Crow laws.

THIS is Toxic Christianity.

Now in some circles, Trump’s immigration policies are not “biblical” because passages in Torah prescribe specific treatment of aliens and strangers. Therefore 21st century immigration policy should allow South Americans to cross the US border with impunity. Making immigration a crime, using the police to enforce laws, and building a wall to keep foreigners out is evil “nationalism.”

There is plenty wrong with this logic, but I’ll limit my critique to this: while Torah does afford aliens and strangers basic safety, protections, and Israel’s good will while in its geographical borders, Torah does not allow those aliens and strangers access to the Commonwealth of Israel, meaning they are not considered citizens with all expected rights and privileges.

Torah never presumed that aliens and strangers had all privileges of citizenship just because they wandered across a border. The aliens and strangers couldn’t set up counter cultures, temples, and gods in Jerusalem in the name of racial harmony and national unity. Homosexuals were still stoned no matter their nationality.

And even a casual reading of Torah shows that Israel often waged war to preserve its socio-political structure and to prevent the corruption of their bloodlines.

In other words, Torah presumed that Israel had the right to define for itself how to best protect and advance the citizens of its kingdom.

So while it sounds churchy to proof-text a verse and to say that “biblical government” would allow open borders, a small amount of intellectual rigor applied to bible reading reveals a very different reality.

And if you still can’t grasp the crucial distinction between guests and citizens consider Paul’s appeal to Caesar.

How does the story go?

Paul was arrested for allegedly starting a riot, imprisoned, and mistreated by the local Roman official because he thought Paul was a Jew. Paul then demanded the rights of a Roman citizen to have his case tried before Caesar. The Roman official realizes he’s screwed up, and Paul’s trip to Rome begins.

So, in modern parlance, Paul made an appeal to nationalism . . . aka he demanded the rights afforded all citizens of Rome because he was born into the protections of that political system.

This is nationalism in the purest, most righteous sense because the only the appropriate role of government is the defense of the individual in their pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.

And this is what Donald Trump is fighting for: America’s right to define the criteria of citizenship. America has the moral right to its existence for the sake of existence.  America, and more importantly American’s, have the right to exist for their own sake. The first mortgage of their existence is NOT paid to any random soul wondering across the US border. It is right for America to define the qualifications and requirements for citizenship; failure to abide by that standard is lawlessness.

It is wrong to conflate Nationalism with Racism.

It is an intellectually bankrupt to equate the protection of citizens’ life, liberty, and property with racism.

Why do Christians support Donald Trump?

Dan says:

“‘Look at all the things President Trump has done for us,’ I hear fellow followers of Jesus saying. And I wonder if they understand what Trump is actually doing.”

In the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, George Baily, played by James Stewart, is pleading with the townspeople of Bedford Falls not to cash out their savings with the wicked Mr. Potter. ‘Don’t you see,’ he cries out, ‘Potter’s not selling, Potter’s buying.’

That is exactly what Trump is doing with the church in America (sic)

Trump has used his wealth to seduce many women over the years, but his greatest conquest is seen in the gushing words of praise and adulation, bordering on idolatry, by the bride of Christ.”

Pause now and consider what Dan wrote.

Are you confused by his penetrating political analysis?

These paragraphs made me roll my eyes. Evidently, Dan can’t grasp the difference between a fictional character and the President of the United States.

Yea that eeevill Mr. Potter is buying! Donald Trump is . . . uh . . . buying??

Buying? What specifically? Dan doesn’t say. But it has something to do with seduction . . . I think.

But I’m not sure how seduction fits into the buying part, or how these women who have been seduced are reflective of Americans who embrace Donald Trump’s presidential leadership.

Is Donald Trump giving away money for votes and I don’t know about it?

Hey, I want some of that “seduction” money.

Oh wait, it’s Democrats that promise to give everyone money after they have stolen it from the rich.


Anyway, I think Dan mixed his metaphors or misapplied a simile or maybe just had a brain aneurysm. As a 4th-rate thinker I doubt he understands the massive leaps of logic detailed here. But he doesn’t care about logic. Mystic despots never care about logic because their arguments are born of force. They presume to compel you to agree with them because they have authority.

Remember from above?

Dan wrote:

“Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the support of Donald Trump by those who claim to hold the teachings of Jesus and the Bible (The Word of God) as the highest authority for our lives and world.” (Emphasis mine)

Now read this:
Dan writes:

“I personally can’t understand how anyone could vote for a politician whose open displays of godlessness are so evident, but for crying out loud, why would any follower of Jesus so openly and publicly support him.” (Emphasis his)

Just like all mystic despots Dan can’t imagine a world where his judgment isn’t the defining judgment.

Tab A in Slot B, C, D, and E = Orange Man Bad

What Godlessness is Trump guilty of exactly?

Oh yes, Donald Trump has had more than one wife. O . . . M . . . G!

And he only got all those women because he’s rich. O . . . M . . . G!

Uh . . . wait. Donald Trump has lots of money and lots of women?

You mean like David?

You mean like Solomon?

My memory is a bit fuzzy but I think God said something about David being a man after his own heart.

And hey, sign me up for that kind of Christianity. I’ve always said I’m in the writing biz for the chicks and money.


Come on, Christians. Let’s elevate our political theory past the 5th grade standards of Orange Man Bad.

Yes, Donald Trump has had sex with more than one woman. And so have LOTS of preachers. LOTS and LOTS and LOTS. And how many of them are still in the pulpit and heads of church polity?

Ever notice when a preacher does the nasty we MUST forgive sinners?

But Donald Trump . . . not so much.

Dan writes:

“Let me share a few examples from scripture of how evangelicals with their passionate support of Donald Trump are rejecting the very scriptures they claim govern their lives and faith.”

“Smells like hypocrisy to me.”

Did you know that YOU are rejecting scripture by supporting Donald Trump who had sex with more than one woman?

So riddle me this: where is Dan’s moral outrage over Christian support for Joe Biden who married his best friend’s wife (#adultry), has been accused of sexual assault (#metoo) and can’t seem to keep his hands off of young girls (#LOTSofpics)?

If Evangelical support for Trump is spiritual sedition, how is supporting Biden any different?

You will have to decide if where a man puts his penis disqualifies him from political office, but if it does, you can’t vote for Joe Biden (or for that matter Kamala Harris).

2 + 2 ≠ 1 million

Spoiler alert: I’m going to stir the Christian doctrinal pot with an appeal to reality.

Here is REALITY: There is ZERO correlation between executive skill, governing ability, and sexual practice.

Here is REALITY: Jimmy Carter was by all accounts the embodiment of Evangelical sexual propriety and arguably the weakest and worst president in modern history.

Here is REALITY: Woodrow Wilson was equally qualified by the Evangelical Super Christian Dan Armistead standard, but Wilson’s racism was unabashed, and his Marxist politics left an indelible, detrimental imprint on American culture.

Here is REALITY: Barack Obama, who also by all accounts has only had one wife, set out to fundamentally transform America, which is code for tearing down America as it was founded. And this is exactly what Barack Hussein Obama did: He proceeded to usher in policies that undermined individual liberties, exacerbated racism in America, weaponized the Federal branch of government against political opponents, and give billions of dollars on pallets, by plane, in the dead of night to Iran; a country that has declared America as their mortal enemy. Obama was the kingpin of divisiveness during his time as POTUS.

Here is REALITY: Conversely JFK, a known womanizer, faced down Soviet president Nikita Khrushchev’s gambit to start a war between the US and USSR. His economic policies helped pull the US out of the 1960s recession. His executive orders required federal employees to be treated equally regardless of race, creed, color or national origin; banned segregation in federally funded housing; advocated racial equality, equal access to public schools, and voting rights, all of which were signed into law in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Here is REALITY: Commitment to Marriage vows does NOT equate to always keep one’s word. There are plenty of men and women in congress who have never broken their marriage vows but lie lie, lie, lie to the American people every election cycle.

Here is REALITY: There is zero correlation between sexual practice and executive skill and governing ability.

The Proof-text Fallacy

Dan writes:

“What about Trump’s incessant bragging and narcissism? These things are the exact opposite of the kind of people Christ calls us to be.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3–4, NIV)

“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12, NIV)

“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.” (Proverbs 26:12, NIV)

And conspiracy theories. The Bible warns us about falling for those who weave outlandish conspiracies. Isaiah says, “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.” (Isaiah 8:12, NIV)

I am going to pass a law that forbids the use of high-capacity proof-texts. If you can’t make your intellectual argument with just ONE proof-text then you are a terrible arguer…See what I did there. High-capacity proof-texts? High-capacity magazines?


Anyway . . .

For those who don’t know what proof-texting is . . . here is a brief definition. The practice of cutting and pasting bible passages together as if they are meant to be read in any context by anyone to form a “biblical” doctrine.

Your preacher stands up behind the podium and reads a verse from Romans and a verse from Daniel and then a verse from Leviticus and then a verse from the Revelation and so on until it becomes clear that his sermon prep was a rabbit trail through a Strong’s Concordance. This is Proof-texting.

The errors implicit to the proof-texting are many, but unfortunately 21st century Christians are fed a steady diet of proof-texted homilies. So they don’t know how terrible their Evangelical pastor really is at teaching Protestant canon.

And speaking of terrible, this is pretty much the rest of Dan Armistead’s article: A drive-by spraying of bible passages interspersed with anti-Trump slander.

Here is why I never get into proof-text debates. It is impossible to out-authority the person who proof-texts because they presume to borrow the authority of the bible.

But here is REALITY: Authority is force. Authority is the government-sanctioned monopoly on force. A cop has authority because the force of the state stands behind the badge. A cop’s authority is his privilege to use force to compel state outcomes.

The bible does not have authority because words don’t have force.

Yes, yes. I know the “authority of scripture” is a Christian sacred cow. Christians believe that when they are quoting a bible verse their words have the force to compel a change of mind. And failure get the mind right is tantamount to defying God. And defying God brings God’s force.

Well, at least that is what Christians always hope happens . . . somehow . . . someway . . . sometime . . . God will GET you . . . but in the mean time “I’ll pray for you.”

But here is REALITY: words don’t have authority because they don’t have force. You don’t have authority when you blast away with proof-texts. You are not borrowing God’s force.

And this will really rattle some cages: Men have no moral obligation to subordinate their minds to threats of force. So, as a rationally independent man, I reject all threats of force for intellectual subjugation.

I’m a delicate flower!

Dan Writes:

“Romans 16:17 says, “I urge you brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.” (NIV)

Can any honest follower of Jesus deny that Trump is not an openly divisive man who promotes hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and so many of those things the Bible warns us against? (See Galatians 5:20)”

Of course to call BS on Dan’s assertion is to call into question whether you are an “honest follower of Jesus.”

But as I said, I reject all threats of force for intellectual subjugation. So, I call BS.

Dan’s article was published on September 6th 2020, so there is no excuse in failing to understand the broader context of reality.

Riots and looting and burning have been going on in Democrat-run cities since May 26th. That’s Four months!

There are so many riots in so many Democrat-run cities that I defy you to name them all.

In Seattle we saw city blocks sectioned off and declared a new nation state: CHAD or CHOP or whatever.

Governor Inslee of Washington and Governor Brown of Oregon have allowed BLM and Antifa nearly unrestrained “freedom” to riot and loot and burn. BLM and Antifa are Marxist movements with the single goal of ending western style democracies in general and America in particular. If you don’t believe me, just check their international websites.

Under the Democrat leadership of California, California is BURNING with forest fires that have been attributed to Antifa arson.

Under the Democrat Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, cops are ambushed, and BLM chants “We hope they Fu$#%^G die!”

Democrat Mayor, Lori Lightfoot’s Chicago is overrun with violence and lawlessness.

More broadly, the Democrat party is the party of slavery, the party of the KKK, the party of Bull Connor, the party of Jim Crow and segregation.

And it is Donald Trump who promotes hatred and discord and jealousy and division?

Are you serious?

Portland Mayor Jenny Durkan calls the annexation of a few city blocks by groups seeking to destroy America, “A summer of love,” and because she used kind words Christians must swoon over her “righteousness?”

Trump tweets that she’s incompetent, and that sends Christians cowering behind their bibles for fear they are being seduced by the anti Christ?

Again, are you serious?

Dan writes:

“While many warn against lawlessness and moral decline with the inevitable rise of a world leader whose seduction is so great that even the “elect of God” risk being deceived, they lend their support to a man who clearly is the antithesis of everything Christ stands for.”

This is your threshold of gullibility? Are you really saying Trump is the antichrist?

Trump’s tweets mean things, and it is a sign that he’s from hell. Jenny Durkan utters pure societal psychosis with a tongue dripping with honey, care bears, and rainbows, and because they were nice words she’s the moral one?

If this is the threshold of Evangelical Christian rational judgment then the Anti Christ will run over you in a blink, and you will thank him for it.

Evangelicals, (of which Dan insists he is one) are you really this mentally vacant?

Are rationally independent people supposed to take this brand of Evangelical Christianity seriously?

The 2020 Democrat platform IS the moral justification of jealousy and envy. Their methods ARE dissensions and factions between the Rich and the Poor; between the black and white.

And because Donald Trump is blunt, and gregarious, and likes to talk about his success, doesn’t take any nonsense from his critics and demands justice for wrong doing, this is what makes his leadership equal to satanic manipulation?

OMG the absurdity!

Evangelicals, you are a bunch of children bewitched by ghosts and goblins floating in your own heads.

As Paul Harvey once said . . .

Let’s talk about the rest of the story. Since Donald Trump’s divisiveness is on trial, why don’t we talk briefly about the rest of reality?

Here are just a few of Donald Trump’s “Peace” achievements.

  • He ended the ISIS threat by galvanizing the coalition against ISIS and limiting American risk.
  • Ended North Korea’s WMD missile programs.
  • He is denying Iran’s quest for Nuclear weapons.
  • And his most profound success has been to broker a Middle East Peace.

These are historic achievements that presidents have been trying to accomplish since Jimmy Carter.

Donald Trump is bringing peace and defending American liberty, and Trump is the one judged as “openly divisive, a man who promotes hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions?”

In my head, I run out of invective to properly denounce the obscenity that is Dan Armistead’s moral criticism of Donald Trump.

Super Evangelical Christian Dan Armistead’s level of self righteousness myopia is breathtaking. His disconnect from reality is astounding.

And since Dan Armistead insists he is one of you . . .

It takes a special kind of psychosis for an entire denomination to delude itself that being anti Trump is being the defender of all that is true Christianity. It takes a special kind of collective narcissism for Evangelicals to believe they are the only ones who really understand God’s Kingdom.

Evangelicals, you are insane.

You are a Pig!

Dan writes:

“Jesus referred to His kingdom as a “pearl of great price.” (Matthew 13:46)

We (and I cannot and will not deny who I am) evangelicals have given the pearl of God’s kingdom to a pig.” (Emphasis mine)

Do you honestly think that Dan Armistead would dare call Nicolás Maduro, Fidel Castro, Xi Jinping, or Kim Jong-Un a pig in a similar article in their country of origin?

Cracker, Please!

Pause and reflect on the scope of Evangelical Super Christian Dan’s temerity.

He uses the freedoms granted by the American oCnstitution to call the POTUS a pig and rebukes Evangelical Christianity for allowing the rot to overtake its pure doctrinal ranks . . . and this coward thinks HE is the poster child for the defense of all this is pure Evangelical Christianity?

I won’t call Dan Armistead a pig because that would be an insult to pigs.

But I will say that Evangelical Super Christian Dan Armistead is an intellectually bankrupt mystic despot whose moral narcissism has separated his mind from reality.

Dan Armistead is the poster child for real Toxic Christianity.

Evangelical Christians, if you want to follow Dan Armistead’s “thought leadership” . . . .

Because you’re deluded in your Evangelical Super Christian superiority . . .

And fail to understand where we are in American history . . .

And fail to grasp the tyranny to come if Democrats win this election . . .

You will have cast the pearls of American liberty before the swine of Marxist tyranny.

Evangelical Super Christians, you WILL get the government your bankrupt, morally superior, narcissistic, indulgent, impotent, self-righteousness deserves, because you are the original Toxic Christianity.

~ John Immel

The Vultures Are Circling

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 8, 2020

The word translated “fowls” in the Bible is a reference to carrion birds which feed on the carcasses of dead animals and for the Jews would have been considered “unclean”.

I don’t think I need to say any more.  The rest of the meme speaks for itself.

~ Andy


Will I Be Able To Sin In Heaven?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on December 9, 2019

It should come as no surprise to any of us that scholarship and expertism rule the day in our modern society. Actually, if one thinks about it, such has always been the case for centuries. There is nothing new under the sun. We meager peasants must concede our woeful lack of understanding to those in authority who are much smarter than us. They are the experts after all, so they must know something that we don’t. This is the very assumption that keeps mankind under tyranny. Religious and political despots prey on unwitting slaves using this very premise. It is the primary tool in their tyrannical toolbox. It is rule number one in the art of subduing the masses: you know nothing, therefore you must submit to me.

In the endless discussion over determinism and total depravity there is always one key idea that most everyone (at least in the religious realm anyways) always overlooks, and that is man’s relationship to the law and the law’s role in justification. And so when I come across a podcast posted in a discussion group about Calvinism, to me the answer to the question posed by the article is outrageously simple. But like all things that God made for man to understand, it is the Philosopher King who goes out of his way to make the simple unbearably complicated.

Like most religious scholars, the speaker seeks to impress us with lofty words and ideas. Much effort is made talking about doctrines of angels and philosophical thought experiments that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. It merely serves to obfuscate the answer, talking round and round in circles, using many words but in the end saying very little of substance, not coming anywhere close to giving a definitive answer about anything. Yet many will be impressed and humbled by this man’s great wisdom as compared to their own lack of understanding since their primitive totally-depraved mind can never hope to comprehend such things. Therefore the laity defers to those in authority to do the heavy lifting for them. The dirty little secret is, this is exactly the way the experts want it, and you have played right into their hands.

To be honest, I can’t recall that I have ever even considered the question before: Will I be able to sin in heaven? I don’t know why I never thought about it. Maybe I’m just not smart enough to think about such things. I guess I never assumed it was an option let alone a possibility. It seems like a stupid question really. I mean, the apostle Paul said in Romans, “Should we continue in sin that grace may abound?” But even Paul rejected the absurdity of this notion. Why should we who were saved from sin continue in it any longer?

Nevertheless, once I did pause and consider the question I found it intriguing. I knew the answer right away. It is as plain as plain can be. I also knew that before I even read the transcript of the podcast I knew what the scholar’s answer would be; or at least knew what his premise would be. You see, regardless of what this speaker says, whether he actually answers the question or not, his purpose in the question begins with the premise that denies the reality of the New Birth and reveals a woeful misunderstanding of the law. Before we can even consider if his answer has any shred of credibility, we must first start by unpacking what he is really asking.

The question is not a matter of reality in heaven but one of man’s ability.   Notice, it is not about IS there sin in Heaven, but will I have the ABILTY to sin.

The problem with this question should be obvious. No self-respecting Calvinist believes that man has any ability whatsoever. Not only that, if God determines everything – and this MUST include sin – any question of man’s ability is irrelevant from the get go. Such a question is disingenuous at best and outright deception at worst.

It doesn’t take a genius or a biblical scholar to know the answer right off the bat. I can say emphatically and without equivocation that I will not be able to sin in Heaven.

As stated many times over and over here at TANC Ministries and Paul’s Passing Thoughts, a proper understanding of justification begins with a proper understanding of the law and its role in justification. The reality is that man does not have a “sin” problem. Man has a relationship to the law problem. Because unregenerate man is under law he is subject to condemnation. The law can only condemn him. Regardless of how much good he does, he is under condemnation because he is under law.

But the New Birth changes that. When a person accepts God’s gift of eternal life, his old self dies, and in his place a new creature is reborn who is the literal offspring of God the Father.   This new creature is not under law. The law cannot touch him. The Bible states that where there is no law there is no sin, and if there is no sin then believers are fully righteous. Believers are righteous not because of perfect law-keeping imputed to them. Believers are righteous because their existence as God’s offspring precludes any ability to sin since there is no law that can condemn them. This is why the apostle John said,

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” ~ 1 John 3:9

Do you get that? Christians don’t sin because they CAN’T sin. It is a metaphysical impossibility for believers to sin. If it is impossible for believers to sin while here on earth, doesn’t it stand to reason that the same must hold true in Heaven as well?

Believers are free to show love to God and others by aggressively striving to obey the law. While the law does not justify, the law that once condemned us is now our vehicle for showing love. Any system of doctrine that teaches that we should not obey but rather experience Jesus’ obedience manifested through us takes away man’s ability to show love to God and others. In fact, showing love to God and others is a fulfillment of the law.

But there is another reality that is important to mention that is relevant to this discussion. It is the reality that here and now, we believers still reside in a body of flesh. The Bible says that this body is weak. Weakness is not “evil,” nevertheless because our bodies are weak we are still subject to temptation. Now while believers cannot be condemned, we don’t always show love they way we should. This happens when the Sin master comes along and tries to control us or tempt us to wield control over others. Control lust is the antithesis of love. While it is impossible for believers to sin, it is still possible for us to fail to show love. This is a reality that we as believers will struggle with for the rest of our earthly lives.

But here is another truth. One day, these earthly bodies will be changed as well. There will come a time when we will no longer reside in corruptible flesh, but our spirits will reside in new glorified bodies that will never corrupt. Our weak flesh will finally be perfect, mature, complete!

So I ask you this, since it is impossible for believers to sin on earth in weak fleshly bodies, how much more impossible will it be it be for us in Heaven with complete glorified bodies?

Now wasn’t that easy?

~ Andy

Why Do We Do What We Do Here At TANC?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on September 6, 2019

TANC Conference 2019 Primer – Guest Writer John Immel’s Conference Introduction

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 14, 2019

The following article was written by John Immel originally in December of 2013.  This article lays the groundwork for the topic of John’s sessions in this year’s TANC conference. 

“…man can only be moral when man abandons ALL self-value. You are not even John Calvin’s worm: a maggot under the feet of a Holy God. You are nothing…”

Al Mohler and the Irony of a Neo-Calvinist

Nelson Mandela died recently.

It is inconceivable that people haven’t heard that Nelson Mandela passed away because if you are alive and in the United States, it should be almost impossible to miss the lovefest pouring out from the American media for the one-time President of South Africa.

Of course, whenever the American media starts having orgasms over a public figure, my BS meter starts pinging in the back of my mind. If for no other reason, the only people the American media venerates are political leftists. When CNN, NBC, CBS, ESPN, and the Ethernet equivalent outlets are heralding someone’s “great accomplishments,” chances are high that the person leans politically closer to Lenin than say Limbaugh, closer to Pol Pot than say Palin.

As an American, I knew the required parts of the Mandela mythos and South African politics: Mandela as the second coming, apartheid, and the evils of the racist white man. I learned the important stuff from the highly instructive morality play called Lethal Weapon 2 with Joe Pesci and Danny Glover. “You’re blek. He’s blek”

And the all-time best movie line:

Evil white dude: “Diplomatic immunity!”


Roger Murtaugh: “It’s just been revoked!”

(By the way, if you freeze the movie just after the gunshot, when the evil, racist white guy is holding up his diplomatic creds, you can see that the bullet goes through the creds before it goes through the guy’s head.)

Anyway, so as I was saying, I knew all the politically correct parts of the Mandela lore, or at least all the parts that resident white people are supposed to know and not challenge, ever: only white guys are racist. And lest we forget, white guys are evil racists, so of course whatever Nelson Mandela actually DID in his life should never be challenged.

Ergo and so forth, being appropriately subdued by white guilt, I was going to let the mythology go unchallenged. I got the message from the social cops: Move along, nothing to see here. No spiritual tyranny to address. Right?

That was until my friend and partner in Neo-Calvinist eye poking Paul Dohse wrote this article: Albert Mohler, Nelson Mandela, and the Crusade for a New Calvinist Host.

In the article, Paul asks an innocuous question that got me to pondering. Why is Al Mohler weighing in on the Nelson Mandela dealeo? Paul has his own take. I’ll let you take a peek at what he said.

But indeed, why was Al Mohler getting on the national Mandela bandwagon? What does a preacher from Louisville, Kentucky have to do with the price of beans in South Afri—oops, China?

I decided to take a quick gander at Al Mohler’s full article. And I must confess after reading it twice, I still wasn’t sure what Al was trying to do. He had some classic Mohler-esque argumentative non sequiturs and the ever present obsession with a “fallen world” that so many Calvinists tout without a blush of shame. There was this one sentence that made my eyes narrow:

It is unlikely that anyone is going to try to help them [Americans] think about these questions and to think about them as Christians.

Did he say “help” people think?

You people in the Southern Baptist Convention need Al Mohler’s “help” to think?

That would explain a lot, I guess. But . . . >shrug< . . . if SBC folks are gonna feed off the Al Mohler intellectual teats, then they are welcome to their cognitive indigestion.

Ehem . . .

Considering most everyone else was slobbering over Mandela, I will say that I was impressed by Mohler’s “honest” treatment of Mandela’s life. Mandela was a Marxist terrorist and Mohler got that part of his life right. Well, he got the terrorist part right (sort of), but he didn’t cover the Marxists part in any detail. (This is a crucial distinction.) However, he treated the terrorist part with such . . . ease (?), such caution, such moderation that for a minute I wasn’t sure this was THE Dr. R. Albert Mohler. Dr. Al tends to be a pretty emphatic soul, so I what caught my attention was his moderation as he gave the overview of Mandela’s terrorist life and the subsequent Christian lesson.

Where was the Mohler-esque outrage we are treated to when he is riding his Moral Majority high horse?

For example, note the contrast between the Mandela article and Al Mohler’s uncharitable (?) condemnation of yoga practitioners. (Read my article) His Neo-Calvinist indignation was in full tilt boogie over yoga. He didn’t advocate “moral complication” for those dastardly women daring to teach demonic doctrine. You would have thought the yoga insurgents were storming the chancel. So strident was his condemnation that I dubbed him Almohlerishi Antiyoga. So on one hand, Mandela is a terrorist with a “morally complicated” character and on the other hand, we have full condemnation of yoginis bending and breathing their way to enlightenment.

What am I missing? Did the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi declare Yoga Jihad or something? Is there a devious plot to bend and breathe and hug the world in to submission?

(Picture Al Mohler, CJ Mahaney, Mark Dever, and John Piper skipping down the Yellow Brick Road saying, “Dandelions, tiger lilies and Care Bears . . . oh my!”)

Where does this sense of proportion come from?

Is the Moral Majority outrage-o-meter broken?

I read through the Mandela article a few more times still pondering Al Mohler’s walk down Moral Equivalency lane and my attention finally focused on a name that makes two cameo appearances: Reinhold Niebuhr.

And then my mind traveled back to when I was writing one of a bazillion papers for my Systematic and Historical Theology degree. And like a ghost haunting the library stacks, the voice of that tortured, nagging, self-righteous, cynic whispered the name of his book: The Irony of American History.

Uh . . . do you, dear reader, see the similarities between Niebuhr’s book title and Mohler’s article title?

If I were Archimedes, I would have shouted Eureka!

Just so you Reformed Theology guys know, that would be like shouting “John Calvin!” when you have a new thought.

Oh wait, you don’t have new thoughts.

Ehem . . .

Anyway, of course, you see the inspiration for Al Mohler’s article. And after a few hours refreshing my memory on what that tortured, nagging, self-righteous cynic wrote in his book The Irony of American History, I had a pretty good idea what Al Mohler was really saying. And it isn’t really about Nelson Mandela. The Mandela mythos is merely the opportunity to affirm something much more insidious.

Since you, dear reader, can Google Reinhold Niebuhr and get 609,000 results in .029 seconds I won’t rehash the basics of his life. He is famous for the Serenity Prayer, has a dozen or so books to his credits, and (most important) he went to that bastion of Calvinist indoctrination Yale Divinity School. Well, that factoid isn’t really important in the cosmic sense but is merely trivia that I choose to point out because that is where my grandfather Ivan Immel went to Divinity School.

Those years ago when I was doing my degree work, I read Niebuhr like most bright-eyed and bushy-tailed theology students. I was looking for a pithy statement to quote so I could pad my bibliography. Critical review was limited by my academic expediency. It didn’t help that I was a terrible student and (more important) didn’t have a sufficient grasp of the evolutions of Western thought to understand what Reinhold Niebuhr really had to say. Today I am not a much better student, but my grasp of Western thought has improved over the last decade. And more important, I understand how the branches of Western philosophy (and theology) are wrecking the single greatest political achievement the human race has ever seen.

So this time when I picked up Niebuhr’s work, The Irony of American History and Moral Man and Immoral Society, the real roots of his ideas screamed off the page. Reinhold Niebuhr is a Kantian. Well, he is first and foremost a Calvinist (with a mix of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and Hegel for seasoning), but the practical extension of his theology is the heartbeat of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy.

Of course, there is no contradiction in holding both of these philosophical fathers in harmony. Indeed, Kant is not possible without Calvin’s metastasized rehash of Augustinian doctrine. I submit that without the roughly 150 years of Calvin’s ideas saturating the whole of European philosophy in general (and Germany/Prussia in particular), Kant would have remained a fussy little man in Konigsberg, virtually unheard of in the broader world.

If the surviving dominate theology of the Reformation had been say . . . Menno Simon’s doctrine instead of Calvin, Kant’s phenomenal and noumenal world would have been unintelligible (well, more unintelligible than they already are), but more important, Kant’s altruistic ethics would have died a blessedly fast death from neglect. And trust me: the world would have been saved untold bloodshed. But that didn’t happen. Calvin’s Institutes dominated the whole of post reformation theology; it is the epicenter from which almost every Protestant fight originates because that is the fruit of its tree. So the intellectual landscape was ripe for Immanuel Kant’s “rational” philosophy, and his ethics in particular.

The impact of altruism on the world, on America, and on Christianity specifically could be a lifetime study. The first half of that life would be spent explaining to everyone what altruism is: what it really is and what it really means. It is so much a part of our vocabulary, so implicit to our everyday actions, so endemic to our ethical worldview that altruism almost permeates our skin. The second half of that life would be spent chronicling the causal relationship between altruism’s ethical demands and every government atrocity committed in the name of is alleged virtue.

I don’t have a lifetime. I have a few paragraphs. So here it is in brief. Kantian ethics prescribe that man’s highest moral action is self-sacrifice. Now when I write those words, many of you, dear readers, will nod sagely to accept the premise all the while wiping out of your mind all the “selfish” things you bootleg into your ethical world. After all, man can’t be TOTALLY selfish. It is not possible to live, without SOME things for yourself. Right?


This is exactly what Kant meant: the Self-Sacrifice is total. Even the desire to breathe, to eat, to hold pleasure from swallowing is an act of unrepentant ego. In Augustinian doctrine, such action was a manifestation of human sin against a Holy God. In Calvin, such action is a manifestation of man’s highest depravity. But in both of their doctrine, man could at least try (I use that word loosely) to take action that garnered blessing in the afterlife. Or maybe better said, man could want the blessing of the afterlife and still be moral. So he could sustain some “selfish” motive and—somehow—dodge the pervasive depravity of his existence. But by the time Kant is done with the self-sacrifice ethic, he raised the moral bar such that he obliterated the whole of human values. Altruism says that any action or motive no matter how small, how trivial, how insignificant, even when done for the blessing in the afterlife annihilates ethical values as such. Altruism says that man can gain NO benefit from the values he seeks: That the beneficiary of all values MUST be someone else.

So all those caveats and addendums you smuggle into the moral speakeasy so you can take satisfaction for… anything…all of those are evil, an evil of the first order.


Merely because you are man: man can only be moral when man abandons ALL self-value. You are not even John Calvin’s worm: a maggot under the feet of a Holy God. You are nothing because you are an ego. Indeed, the only truly moral man was the man who abandons the pursuit of value qua values. Man’s highest ethical action was his “duty” (an action done at the behest of others without a shred or a shadow of personal satisfaction) to abandon the sum of his existence in behalf of others. The only way to be truly moral was to be truly value-less. And this could not be a passive existence. Altruism requires action to man’s detriment. To “live” this moral state, man must cut his own throat to fulfill the moral imperative. In effect, Kant walked into the Holy of Holies, kicked the High Priest out, and handed the knife to the lamb on the altar and said, “It is your duty to sacrifice yourself.”

Of course, after a thousand years of turning an icon of Roman execution into an archetype of “virtue,” a thousand years of Augustine’s cancerous doctrines echoing the same sentiments and 150 years of Calvin’s metastasized version of the same doctrine swimming through the minds of Christianity, Kant’s “rational” ethics seemed to affirm and confirm God’s highest revelation. Christianity surrendered to Kant’s philosophy without so much as a belch of protest, elevating death as the highest ideal of human existence. So from the 18th century to the present day, the cult of death called Christianity has been nailed into the minds of humanity.

And lieber Gott im Himmel, how the blood has flowed: blood, blood, blood, and more blood.

Since I’m no longer that doe-eyed and naïve theology student, only interested in stroking the professor’s ego so I can be inducted into the theologically elite club, I now read theologians with vast amounts of critical review at the forefront of my mind. Actually, I was never the slavish, sycophant, bobble-headed theology student, which is why Dr. Carpenter walked out of Advanced Systematics class when he saw me take a seat, and exactly why Sovereign Grace Ministries ran me out of church on a rail.

And now I have the tools to recognize the roots of Niebuhr’s sociopolitical disaster. I knew from the first page of The Irony of American History that Niebuhr is a rabid Kantian. (1) Altruism dominates the whole of Niebuhr’s worldview, and most of his alleged American “ironies” can be directly traced to his endless altruistic manipulations. Moral Man and Immoral Society is entirely predicated on the Altruistic ethic. To Niebuhr, man’s highest and greatest sin was the existence of ego or the existence of self. Here is how Niebuhr articulates the doctrine of original sin: “This doctrine [original sin] asserts the obvious fact that all men are persistently inclined to regard themselves more highly and are more assiduously concerned with their own interests than any “objective” view of their importance would warrant.” [Emphasis mine]

This is not what Augustine specifically taught, but this is what Augustine’s doctrine looks like after a Kantian gets hold of the dogma. So it followed in Niebuhr’s mind that the root of all social injustice was a failure of the individual to identify the needs of others, which means money. Individuals must give their money to those who need it. And by logical extension, this means that nations of prosperous people had a moral responsibility to the needs of other nations.

Just so you know social justice is a euphemism for the redistribution of wealth. Whenever you hear a preacher pounding the pulpit for social justice, he is really saying that you must be compelled to give your money to those who do not have your money. Don’t confuse social justice with an act of benevolence. What that preacher means to say is that if you have one dollar more than anyone else on the planet, YOU are guilty of a CRIME. It doesn’t matter how you got that dollar. It doesn’t matter that you worked to create that dollar. It doesn’t matter if the other people are rotters and thieves and bums. If you have a disproportionate number of dollars, (one dollar) in comparison to anyone else in “need,” you are guilty of a CRIME. And crimes are punished by government.

With this in mind, you can begin to fathom the hatred Niebuhr held for America, the single most prosperous nation ever in the history of the world, and the scorn he held for America’s citizens whose achievements set the standards of innovation and relieved human suffering more than any other people . . . ever. So The Irony of American History has nothing to do with American irony but is rather tour de force in Niebuhr’s tortured, nagging, self-righteous cynicism. And Moral Man and Immoral Society has nothing to do with a study in ethics and politics but is rather a contemptuous treatise in how to offer Christians a justification to use government force to eradicate private property.

The only irony in either book is watching a Calvinist/Kantian who has the nerve to lay claim to moral “certainty” for everyone else’s failure to measure up to his ethical bar.

I know I’m treading on sacred ground by criticizing Niebuhr because he is something of a theological hero, venerated in seminaries across the country. Niebuhr’s popular influence grew through WWII as he decried America’s “isolationism” to encourage her to enter the war and then further as he condemned America’s action in the Korean War and Vietnam for American “Imperialism” and then further expanded through the Cold War for his mutual criticism of the United States and the Soviet Union. It is said that his works have influenced American foreign policy, and since Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama name him as among their favorite theologians, I have no doubt that the rumors are true.

Preachers and theologians like it when one of their own (someone in full doctrinal solidarity) rises to the status of notable public spokesman, because it vicariously validates their life. It doesn’t matter how many times a preacher tells you from the pulpit how self-LESS he is, how much of a moral martyr he is, how altruistic he is, he is acutely aware that he will fritter away his life in obscurity. And he HATES that. So when a preacher starts being quoted by public figures, all those guys living in the shadows of irrelevancy, they are thrilled because they think that notoriety—somehow—validates their life.

And this is doubly true in the academic world. Professors hate the fact that they will write a textbook that a few dozen people on the planet will actually read. And they have no end of animosity for a bunch of uneducated good old boys Texas preachers on television soaking up accolades. So since very, very few American theologians have ever risen to notable heights, Niebuhr has achieved unique status in the pointy headed academic pantheon. Not that it would have taken much to stand out in American theological academia through the late 19th and early 20th century. Since the Puritans landed on Plymouth Rock, America’s “intellectual” leadership has been slavishly committed to German philosophers and theologians. (With a Dane and a French guy or two added to the mix.) My understanding of the tides of American theology from 1925 forward is a little thin, but I suspect that Niebuhr’s strident cynicism cut through the European Me-Too- Me-Too-ism of his contemporaries, so he sounded like a fresh voice.

Not that Niebuhr was a fresh voice. He didn’t have anything new to say. He was little more than a warmed-over Jonathan Edwards. And just like Edwards, Niebuhr played on some of man’s deep-seated, superstitious fears to manipulate their intellectual loyalties. By necessity, Calvinism dies a social death about every four generations, because without civil authority to compel people to believe the doctrine, eventually everyone runs into Johnny C’s intellectual cul-de-sac and finally arrives at the only logical conclusion: “Who cares?” Without fear and force, Calvinism fades into the cultural background until the people have forgotten why their parents ran kicking and screaming from the chancel and one more preacher figures out how to sell medieval doctrines in contemporary words. Niebuhr was one such man.

Since Niebuhr started his sociopolitical rants with a definitively religious presumption like the “Fall of Man,” he probably sounded like a stark contrast to his secular philosophical contemporaries. Niebuhr took on ideologies like John Dewey’s fully disastrous body of thought called Pragmatism. Niebuhr wasn’t particularly successful at rebutting Dewey. If he had been, Dewey’s Pragmatism wouldn’t have succeeded in dominating American education for the last one hundred years.

Intellectual influence is very different from intellectual success. So while Niebuhr was influential, he wasn’t particularly successful at defeating the pragmatists. And neither was he successful at defeating his other targets of opportunity: the communists and the social gospel-ers. I submit that his argumentative impotence comes from the single glaring fact that he conceded the premise of his adversaries. Every single one of his noted ideological foes are, at their roots, Kantians.

Dewey’s Pragmatism is an epistemological consequence of Kant’s noumenal and phenomenal world. The communists got their ideology from Marx and Hegel, who got their metaphysics and epistemology from Kant. The Social Gospel crowd is a “Christian” derivative of Marx who insists that justice is a government-enforced redistribution of wealth. And they ALL agree that Man is metaphysically corrupt and epistemologically incompetent. And they ALL agree that man’s highest ethical action is . . . (you guessed it) self-sacrifice. (2)

Niebuhr accepts his enemies’ premise so his counterargument was little more than a discussion of means and methods, but the philosophical endgame was the same. Man’s existence is condemned. (Full stop) Now let’s figure out how to slice up the sacrifice for the greatest “good.” So even though the tamed cynic loved to judge his opponents’ rationalizations for their political “idealism,” Niebuhr held the same premise—man is existentially corrupt.

Here in is the real irony: Niebuhr had no chance to succeed in his stated crusade. Like Don Quixote jousting the windmill of human ego, Niebuhr never once realized that he and the commies and the social gospel-ers and the pragmatists were all riding on the same nag.

Oh, the irony of the cynical ramblings of Reinhold Niebuhr.


But Niebuhr did have one opponent that he was very successful at beating: the United States of America. He was particularly successful at taking on America’s “moral” history. This success is tied to two interrelated facts. First, altruism and the roots of American government are philosophical antipodes. Second, America has had ZERO intellectual leadership interested in defending her root moral virtues. Indeed, since American intelligentsia swims in an ocean of altruism, it almost seems absurd to speak of America’s moral virtues. America has become synonymous with excess and greed and exploitation. Who would have the courage to defend such a monstrosity?

It is easy to win an argument in a vacuum. This is of course why most major Neo-Calvinist ministries block comments on their blogs. No one can argue back. In Niebuhr’s case, he didn’t have to block comments; virtually no one was willing to offer a substantive, unapologetic rebuttal defending the moral virtue of American individualism. So historically, Niebuhr was one more Kantian voice singing from the same sheet of music. American “idealism” was really delusion, and how dare the people of America fail to sacrifice themselves for the greater worldly good.

And Niebuhr’s singular tool of assault against America and her greatest virtue is a stark raving mad dash into moral equivalency.

Now we get to the nub of the matter.

Niebuhr winds through his arguments like a wolf circling his prey. He is slow and subtle and cautious. So if you are not paying attention, you won’t notice that he is getting closer and closer to his central thesis: Man’s inexorable selfishness is the heart of injustice. Therefore, man needs to be forced into moral action.

Generations of European Christians accepted the premise of human depravity as self-evident, as have all sociopolitical organizations founded on the metaphysical premise that man is a “sinner” who inhabits a “fallen” world. But Niebuhr’s target audience was 19th and 20th century Americans, who, even while attending church and listening to doctrines that condemned their existence, were LIVING through the greatest expansion of liberty and knowledge and prosperity the world had ever seen. The idealism that Niebuhr tried so hard to condemn was no mere Pollyanna-ism. Man had proof that life was filled with opportunities, that the future could be bright because the future could be built. It was a conclusion born from seeing the world’s harsh and brutal environment mastered and ordered and pacified.

The Medieval age had no such contrast. Their worldview of gargoyles and superstition and brutality was all anyone had ever known, so there was an internal logic to the churches’ ban on reason and science. All the world knew was faith and force and the poverty those twin destroyers bring. But the 17th century was the beginning of the Enlightenment and the full immersion of Aristotelian thought into the minds of men. And by the time history arrives in the 19th century, man was without excuse. For the first time in world history, man could SEE a vision of life that held endless possibilities; it seemed that man was on the verge of solving the world’s problems. And the shining light on the hill, the amazing beacon of hope, was the United States of America.

It is important that you, dear reader, understand the sense of life that permeated the American spirit through those years. We have become complacent to the human advances because they are so common. But a mere hundred years ago, every day man woke to a new miracle: the polio vaccine, the iron horse, the mass produced car. The list of innovation and prosperity would be too great to write down.

Man woke up seven days a week and saw man’s ability triumph. He went to church one day a week to be told that he was a sinner, life was hopeless, and man’s highest ethical ideal was death. But men KNEW there was a disconnect; something was wrong with the picture. Church doctrine condemned the whole of man’s existence. But man’s existence was very obviously not the impotent, ulcerous, cancerous sore described by the preacher. And because of that blessedly prescient American government doctrine called the separation of Church and State, people could openly reject the theology that had been the source of human misery for millennia.

And object they did.

Thus rose the religious intellectual boogieman called Modernity whose handmaiden of evil was Reason: a dastardly creature that had the temerity to reject age old doctrines. Reason was to blame for driving medieval doctrines from men’s minds and unseating the Church from its “rightful” place as governing authority over men’s bodies and souls.

It was to this audience that Niebuhr spoke. And this audience would never, in a million years, allow a government to dictate GOOD. This audience rejected man’s inexorable selfishness as the heart of injustice that therefore needed to be forced into moral action. This audience had seen the virtue of a government whose sole and limited function was the defense of the individual in the pursuit of his life, liberty, and happiness. This audience could see the living contrast between the American form of government and the despotism that had dominated the whole of Europe. Indeed, anywhere medieval doctrines had dominated American life, they could see the manifestations: slavery, poverty, and war.

So Niebuhr knew—just like all mystic despots know—you can’t persuade a confident man, a man of ability, that he needs to be “saved” (from himself or that others need to be saved from him) unless you first persuade him that his virtues are really vice, unless you persuade him that the source of his liberty, ability, and prosperity is really the deepest metaphysical evil. And a nation of those self-same confident individuals succeeding with a government built on the premise of self-appointment and limited government would never abandon the roots of their liberty. The only way to defeat such a nation was to create the moral equation: American egoism equals total moral injustice. The singular method to defeat America was to condemn the root of its very existence: its founding strength MUST become its undermining weakness.

So to an America who chose not to get into World War I and II Niebuhr preached against “isolationism” because it was selfish of America to abandon the “world community” in the name of its own “self-interest.” And then in a twist of irony, Niebuhr preached against American “imperialism” when she got involved with that same “world community” to intervene in Korea and Vietnam. The root of both arguments is that America has no moral right to act in its own self-interest. And each egoistic, each selfish exploitation of the under privileged, each dollar earned in the name of capitalism, each failure to live up to the high moral standard of altruism is proof positive that the United States is fundamentally corrupt.

For all of America’s idealism, it is really no different than the Soviet Union, Niebuhr argues in his typically convoluted reasoning. Yes, yes, yes, those communist are guilty of all manner misguided notions, but America is equally misguided. Nay, America is even more misguided because it has all of this prosperity, and it has the nerve to do so little. He concedes that Soviet leadership uses force to create the Workers’ Paradise, but how is that any better than America’s use of “economic” force to exploit the proletariat? All nations use force in service to their egoistic foreign policy. All nations do greater evil than individuals. All nations are sinners. This is the way of the modern world: a choice between “idealistic,” self-deluded ideologies and “realistic” theology. America is self-deluded in its selfishness. It is sinning in its sinfulness. It is yet one more irony of human history. The world is a fallen place. How dare Americans live with their naiveté? How dare Americans remain immature and uncaring for the whole of the “world community?”

Thus goes the circling and circling of the Niebuhr-esque argumentation. It wears the reader down to despair. It drives them to the only “reasonable” conclusion: There is really no difference between the Soviet Union and America. There are no truly moral choices among men or among nations. There is only the choice of evils.

Sounds reasonable, right? That sounds virtuous, right? Sounds equal, right? Sounds spiritual, right?


The idea that the Soviet Union and America are on the same moral level is the highest rational atrocity. It is a moral bait and switch of disastrous proportions.

Altruism preaches sacrifice, and sacrifice is exactly what the Soviet Union demanded. The result was blood, blood, blood, and more blood. The leaders of the Marxist revolution turned Russia into a slaughterhouse. Stalin is reported to have killed upwards of 50 million people and that does not count the state-created Ukrainian famine. Whatever America’s faults, her revolution bears no resemblance to ANY Marxist revolution. There are no killing fields, no concentration camps, no charnel houses of mutilation. And the only time America has even gotten close to a public policy of oppression, it takes thirty minutes of research to realize the advocates and instigators are universally political leftists or Christian theocrats advocating the primacy of the State in defiance of the U.S. Constitution.

Christians need to wake up and smell the sacrifice. When preachers thump the pulpit proclaiming the irony of American history, daring to create a moral equivalency between the outcomes of American individualism and the greatest thugs on the planet, you MUST understand the evil underneath their vile hearts. These preachers like to pretend they are paragons of moral virtue, but this is all an ugly, ugly fraud.

Altruism’s logical end is moral equivalency.

There is no such thing as a truly selfless man. Man must breathe and eat which means he must choose WHAT to breathe and WHAT to eat, which means he must choose between values to live. To abandon values is to abandon life. The action of living is driven by a desire, a will, a purpose to live. Without this driving desire, man would lay down and die. But an ethical standard that demands man abandon values means altruism demands man’s death. Of course, this is totally impracticable. It has no coefficient in reality. And eventually, man arrives at the end of the cul-de-sac and realizes he is condemned no matter what he does. A moral life is not livable, so there is only one conclusion: Morality is man’s enemy. Therefore, value judgments are irrelevant.

The only thing left to human existence is moral equivalency, which really means there is no moral standard.

So it doesn’t matter that Joseph Stalin wiped out millions of people. That is really no different than America’s long list of “social injustice.” And besides, Stalin’s actions were done in service to the “need” of the working class. The fact that he used force to achieve those altruistic ends is merely the hard choice between evils: the egoism of the individual or the egoism of the collective.

Who then can do the moral calculus? Who then can solve the problems of human existence?

Certainly not the Enlightenment rationalists, answers Niebuhr. Certainly not technology says Niebuhr. Certainly not the idealists—the communists or the pragmatists—says Niebuhr. And with absolute certitude, Niebuhr snarls with vitriol, it will not be the United States with all of her ego-driven quest for material wealth and individual liberty. The world is morally complicated and our only salvation will come some other day in some other time, after God judges the world.

And this was Niebuhr’s ultimate conclusion. Man is doomed no matter what he does: His natural impulses make egoism inescapable, and his egoism demands government to enforce “societal cohesion.” Ergo, someone has to make the hard decision on how to do the greatest good. These men are historically necessary. They do the “hard” thing. They do the immoral thing to produce the greatest collective morality. And since no one can be moral . . . well, let’s not focus on the means. Let’s not focus on the evils these historically necessary men commit. Evil is an inescapable part of human existence.

Who are we to judge? Will it not be God who judges in the final analysis? God alone can save us from ourselves, and he saves us through the atonement accomplished by the Son, Jesus Christ. There is salvation in no other name, no matter how honored on earth.

Those of you who read the Mohler article should hear the familiar whispers. You should now see the very subtle underlying theme in the Mandela article. Molher executes the Niebuhr technique with skill like a wolf circling his prey, cautiously walking closer and closer to the central premise: Even our great men are still cesspools of evil. The only lesson to be learned is that Man is doomed to be “morally complicated.”

Let us take a look at the technique so you can see it in action.

Mohler said:

While we’re thinking about terrorism, we probably also ought to think about someone from our own nation’s history, like George Washington. Had the American Revolution turned out differently, George Washington would in all likelihood have been hung as a traitor. He would also have been accused of being what we now call a terrorist.

All this is not to give moral absolution to terrorists, so long as they win and eventually have political victory. It is, however, to remind ourselves that in the process of politics in a fallen world, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

In the United States, we speak about the efforts that led to the overthrow of the British colonization as our national revolution, the birth of a nation. The British called it treason.

Now let’s evaluate so we can see if there is in fact an equivalency between Mandela and Washington.

The Brits maybe have had many epithets for George Washington, but most certainly “terrorist” was not one of them.

Our contemporary political leaders have done the American people a monstrous disservice by introducing the “war on terrorism” into our public minds. This is little more than a contrived political convention to turn acts of war by militant Islamists into little more than illegitimate, fringe, criminal acts of aggression. It is a deliberate effort to sell fraud to the American people.

It is impossible to wage a war against terror because terror is an emotional state. Actions of war might create terror, but the emotional state is not the primary goal. The goal of war is to destroy an adversary. Militant Islam has made it very clear their goal is the destruction of the Great Satan. World domination has been the sole stated goal of militant Islam since its inception and only willful blindness to the facts of reality can account for so many people going along with America’s current foreign policy. The political end game is very simple: our ruling class does not want the responsibility of the very oath of office to which they swore loyalty. They have absolved themselves of the responsibility to identify the ideological source of “terrorizing” actions. It lets the ruling class pick and choose who they will use force against without ever identifying the ideologies who have declared war on the United States. It is politically expedient for them to declare general hostilities against the amorphous “terrorists” while never ever addressing the sponsor states and supporter ideologies funneling money into proxy wars. And most importantly, it allows the political class to re-craft the U.S. Constitution in service to domestic policy that enslaves U.S. citizens. But this is a separate discussion.

But what is on point with this discussion is the substantive difference between the two concepts. Treason and terrorism are not corollaries. Just because someone abandons political loyalties and declares war on a hostile government doesn’t specifically mean their acts of warfare are by definition terrorism.

War is terrible, even terrifying, but since this bears repeating, I will say it again. It is impossible to wage a war against “terror” because terror is an emotional state. The use of atrocity to undermine an enemy’s will to fight may be an effective tool for victory, but this is no different than the whole purpose of war. The purpose of war is to kill people and break things to achieve a singular political end: “Who rules?”

Does Imperial Japan rule or the United States of America? Does National Socialist Germany rule or is it the United States of America? Does Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge rule or is it the free people of Cambodia? Does Islam rule by Sharia Law or does the United States govern itself by limited government?

When the central question of war is asked like this, it becomes apparent that WHO rules is directly tied to HOW they will rule. And the HOW is inexorably rooted in philosophy. The reverse progression goes like this: Man’s public policy is directly tied to his ethics. Man’s ethics are directly tied to his epistemology. Man’s epistemology is directly tied to his metaphysics. If we start at Niebuhr’s beginning, the progression looks like this. Man is metaphysically corrupt. (He is a sinner.) His epistemology is egoistic and therefore unable to grasp the broader world. He is therefore blind to the “needs” of others, so he is incapable of ethical action. But man will not willfully sacrifice himself, so man needs the hand of government to compel him to selfless action.

All tyrannical ideologies follow this philosophical justification. All tyrannies presume that man is property of the state in service to fulfilling their ideological definition of GOOD. This means that all statist governments—communist, socialist, fascist, tribalist, monarchy, and theocracy—are tyrannies. There is no such thing as a benevolent tyranny . . . not even in Church.

This is why I said that altruism is the philosophical antipode of American self-governance. Altruism eradicates man’s moral claim to himself. If man does not belong to himself, then he is by default someone else’s property which is why all statist governments get their moral justification from altruism.

With this background, you, dear reader, can see the stark contrast between Nelson Mandela and George Washington.

It is true that George Washington as a British subject committed treason. Treason means the abandonment of political loyalty. But the key question is what KIND of government did George Washington abandon? The answer is important. The British Government was a monarchy. The supremacy of the crown had its theological justification tracing back to the disastrous “Christian” doctrine called the Divine Right of Kings. The doctrine absolved the king of moral failing and made the whole of a man’s life property of the King’s domain. Man’s political loyalties were to whoever wore the crown. Monarchy then is merely a variation of state-ism.

Statist governments are illegitimate governments because they enslave man to the state. It was to this root premise that George Washington was committing “treason.” He was abandoning political loyalty to the philosophical premise that the crown could “own” men. George Washington’s “treason” was entirely moral, as was the war he waged in service to overthrowing British tyranny. The ONLY legitimate government derives its just power from the consent of the governed. The state is NOT sovereign. It is the people who are sovereign who then grant LIMITED powers to the government. In the fullest definition, individual men are the property of themselves and the state is the servant whose sole charge is defense.

All other governments are illegitimate. No state has the “right” to oppress or the right to enslave, and it is therefore moral to wage war against any group of thugs who claim such authority. It matters not that they wear a crown, or a miter and simar, or stand behind a Plexiglas podium, or declare their loyalty to the Marxist workers’ paradise, or have an address in the District of Columbia. And our Founding Fathers knew the importance of this moral foundation. It is for this reason that they penned the following words.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. [Emphasis mine]

And now the difference between the “revolutionary” Mandela and the “revolutionary” Washington becomes stark. Mandela was an avowed, committed, unrepentant Marxist, a friend of Fidel Castro, the Soviet Union, and an antagonist of the United States of America.

Marxist revolutions are perpetrated by the intellectual elite on behalf of the “common” man, in one “resolute and unscrupulous thrust of power” against the materialistic bourgeois to create a “classless” society where those who create—according to their ability—are compelled to provide for others—according to their need. Or maybe I should say this more simply: the intellectuals divide society between slaves and slave masters, but the master is need . . . and need alone. This “working man’s paradise” is created in the name of the highest moral aspiration: the “greater good,” “brotherly love,” and the “true soul of man.” But no matter the moral justification, the end is statism: man is property of the state.

George Washington (and the rest of the Founding Fathers) fought for a wholly unique political ideal: government as protector of the individual in his pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. This is the only legitimate, the only moral form of government on the planet. And it is fully moral to wage war against tyranny to establish this political ideal.

By contrast, Mandela may have ostensibly been fighting for “freedom,” but he was only fighting for the (black) poor to be able to enslave the (white) rich. However, the Mandela revolution (the African National Congress) and the South African government were both statist governments. The fact that Mandela was fighting for blacks only makes his form of Marxist government based on tribe, and tribalism is merely a primitive form of statism.

This does not justify apartheid by any stretch. Apartheid is exactly what happens when unions gain control of government force. Apartheid was, among other things, public policy enacted to pacify South African unions by preventing blacks from entering the work force. (By the way, this is exactly the origin of unions in the United States.)

But don’t get distracted by the racism because this is exactly what Molher did. He focused on the fight for “racial equality” in Mandela’s life and ignored his ideology. It is noble to fight for racial equality but for that fight to be true virtue the outcome must be liberty for all: and that includes the white man. But that was only one facet of Mandela’s efforts. Molher also ignored the ideology inspiring Washington’s actions because this is the only way to create a moral equivalency.

Now watch what happens to the Mohler article when there is no moral equivalency between these two “revolutionaries.”

Go back and read the article. This time ignore the Menachem Begin non sense: it is a red herring. And then reject the moral equivalency between Mandela and Washington.

What then can be said about Mandela? That he went to jail for leading a Marxist revolution? How many Marxist revolutions does this world need to have before people finally see it is a political disaster? What is praiseworthy about the inevitable Marxist political purging and death squads and killing fields and “necklacing”? (3) That Mandela was one more Marxist ideologue who railed against the wealth of the west, but lived out his life in the luxury that can only be achieved by capitalism?

Can you say that the Mandela legacy fought racism? Only if you ignore the subsequent South African history of counter racism.

What does it do to Mohler’s equivocation: “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”? The answer is simple: he is wrong. By objective standard, a true freedom fighter is easy to identify. George Washington is not “morally complicated” but rather morally praiseworthy because he was a true freedom fighter.

And this is the whole crux of the issue. The moment political leftist theologians are confronted with men who are morally praiseworthy, their commitment to “politics in a fallen world” takes a mortal wound. If men can act with moral clarity, then their ability to demagogue human incompetence vanishes.

This is exactly the insidious undercurrent in Mohler’s article. This article is not really about Nelson Mandela. Mandela is merely the occasion for Al Mohler to reveal his root presumptions about his political thought.

Have you ever wondered how so many preachers end up excusing tyranny? You ever wonder how they will have a conniption fit when little Albert pops out of the pants and into the church secretary, but they barely raise a peep of protest over violations of American civil liberties? Ever wonder why preachers will write articles giving Marxist thugs a pass but will spew all manner of condemnation on a bunch of women bending and breathing their way to better health?

You ever wonder how Neo-Calvinist preachers can speak sagely of the ”Christian” doctrine of the equality of all men and ignore the historic reality that (Calvinist) Christianity has been at the forefront of slavery and political inequality since its inception? Ever wonder how Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation is held up as orthodoxy but preachers ignore with impunity Luther’s, On the Jews and Their Lies?

You ever wonder why, with almost one hundred percent consistency, the New Calvinist leadership has sided with CJ Mahaney against those who have suffered under his leadership deficiencies?

Here is the answer from Al Mohler’s article.

And yet, when we look at his legacy in terms of the overthrow of apartheid, we recall the fact that Reinhold Niebuhr, one of the most influential theologians in America at the middle of the 20th century, argued that there are times in which certain men, certain historical figures, appear to be historically necessary, even if they are far from historically perfect. That seems so often to be the case in a fallen world. In a sinful world, a world in which every dimension is marked by sin, the most effective political leaders are those who have the strongest convictions; but often those strong convictions and ambitions are met by a somewhat less than stellar character.


The only choice man has is a choice of evils. Even our most “effective political leaders” have “somewhat less than stellar character.” But humanity needs these historically necessary men, the men who will do the hard thing, even the immoral thing, for the greatest good of humanity. We can be “honest” about who they are, but in the final analysis, we cannot really judge. This is a fallen world after all. Who among us is without sin?

And so goes the logic to its inevitable end. As long as the man in question is “historically necessary”—someone who achieves altruistic ends—it does not matter that he stuffs people in ovens or sends them to the gas chamber. It does not matter the nature of his political atrocity because no man can be moral. His strong political convictions are not to be judged because the irony of history is that man is doomed to suffer their less than stellar character.

I guarantee you that when Al Mohler and CJ Mahaney are sitting around shooting the breeze talking about CJ’s many leadership deficiencies, Dr. Al nods sagely and tells CJ that he is one of history’s necessary men. That CJ’s tenacious commitment to pure Christian doctrine is the only thing that matters; that the collateral damage done in the after math of his leaderships deficiencies to molested young children are the consequence of sinners living in a “fallen world.”


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You, dear reader, should now see that the only irony in history is a bunch of altruistic Neo-Calvinist preachers trying to help Christians think about political philosophy.

~ John