Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Tragic Results of Puritan Ideology

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 19, 2018

Originally published January 19, 2017

The following is a transcript of Susan Dohse’s third session from the 2014 Conference on Gospel Discernement and Spiritual Tyranny, originally presented on June 22, 2014.
~ Edited by Andy Young

susanThe Puritans, who first settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony, believed three key ideas. First, They believed that every aspect of their life, both the personal and social was grounded in sacredness. Their very presence in the New World was posited on the assumption that God in His Providence had saved the discovery of the New World until after the reformation of His church. Second, the Puritans believed that they were called by God to settle in the New World and to establish,

“a due form of government, both civil and ecclesiastical.” ~ John Winthrop, Christian Charity

This government was to be grounded in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Third, they believed and affirmed that society existed only and through Divine Providence. They held to an intense commitment to a morality, a form of worship, and a civil society designed to conform to God’s commandments.

One of the most important values in the Puritan cultural system is covenants. Covenants were most basic and pervasive symbol in the Puritan society, and it touched every aspect of their life. Three covenants became the foundation of private, social, and civil life in the Puritan culture:

  • The covenant of grace
  • The church covenant
  • The civil covenant

– Three distinct covenants, but in practice “Trinitarian”, three but one.

The covenant of grace is the individual church of saints by calling; the whole body of God’s elect. God only knows who were saints and who were not. The church covenant is the visible church, a visible political union of saints.

“It is the duty of every saint to join a church, for, As Thomas Hooker put it though the saints constitute the matter of Christ’ kingdom, its form is only by a mutual covenant…For purposes of Church Covenants, therefore, Saints were ‘such as have not only attained the knowledge of the principles of Religion, and are free from gross and open scandals, but also do together with the profession of their faith and repentance, walk in blameless obedience to the Word, so as that in charitable discretion they may be accounted Saints by calling (though perhaps some or more of them be unsound and hypocrites inwardly).’”
~ The Cambridge Platform

Those who remained outside of the church covenant, though they attended church regularly, were spoken of as unregenerate. Cotton Mather, Thomas Hooker, and Governor Bradford of Plymouth regarded the church covenant as a covenant of grace, so you can see how they flipped and merged these covenants together.

puritan-civil-covenantThe civil covenant kept a churches’ state distinct in theory but not in practice. The Puritans held to the practice that God set up ministers to declare his will and magistrates to execute his will. Ministers had authority to counsel, advice, and admonish, and magistrates had the authority to command, judge, and punish. The civil covenant was in reality the physical enforcement and public advancement of whatever the churches desired. The church was not just part of one’s social life. It was the end and aim of all life. Therefore, all institutions were subordinated to the church. The Cambridge Platform states,

“As it is unlawful for church officers to meddle with the sword of the magistrate, so it is unlawful for the magistrate to meddle with the work of the proper church officers. It is the duty of the magistrates to take care matters of religion and to improve his civil authority for the observing of the duties commanded in the second table. They are called gods. The end of the magistrate’s office is not only the quiet and peaceable life of the subject in matters of righteousness and honesty but also in matters of godliness, yea of all godliness.”

So though they stated it in the civil covenant that church affairs were separate from the civil affairs, they qualified it after they stated it by saying that the end of the magistrate’s office is not only the quiet and peaceable life of the subject but in all matters of righteousness and honesty and all matters of godliness.

The church covenant gave form to the covenant of grace, and the civil covenant gave power to the church covenant. With these three covenants, society in New England was organized into this Holy Commonwealth. The church members chose the magistrates, but the ministers knew who the godly were and greatly influenced whom the members elected. The covenant of grace they held to tenaciously, which included the doctrines of predestination and election. All events are foreknown and foreordained by God and God would save whom He chose to and damn those He chose to as well.

The question foremost in the mind of a Puritan was, “Am I saved?” Being endlessly reminded that they were born sinners and remained sinners unless redeemed by God, the Puritan heart was constantly in search of a sign from God that they might be one of the elect. Faith in God did not assure salvation, for even the faithful could be damned. It was taught by the Puritan preachers that the gift of salvation was given at birth. You were given one of the souls that was to be saved. Believing is salvation by “faith alone.” The Puritan hoped and prepared for an experience of conversion. So they believed that “faith alone” is what provides or gives us salvation, and once they desired salvation, they prepared for the experience of conversion.

Well, conversion defined by the Puritan mind was “the soul is touched by the Holy Spirit so that the heart is turned from sinfulness to holiness.” Conversion represented human consent to the reality of divine election. It was God’s will that man consent to the reality of his sinfulness and in the experience of that recognition of his total depravity, consent to the reality of divine forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Conversion was an intense, even mystical experience through which God revealed signs that you were one of the saved. This theme of consent runs throughout Puritan society. Man consents to God’s judgment and divine activities, so man’s consent is required at all the key points in human existence.

When one joined a congregation, one had to demonstrate the truth and validity of one’s consent to divine will. Upon acceptance by the congregation, one had to consent to join and abide by its rules. To be a member of the Puritan Church, you had to convince the elders that you had experienced conversion. In today’s modern church, you give a testimony of how you were saved.

pur1To be a member of the Puritan Church though, the word “convince” is very important. You had to convince the elders. An application was made and a conversion narrative written that provided evidence that you had received “divine grace.” Because human nature was depraved and self-deceived, even after conversion there was always doubt. How could you be sure your conversion was real and not self-deception? How does one distinguish the real thing from the counterfeit? For this reason, the Puritans fostered a culture of intense self-scrutiny. Self-discipline and introspection was stressed. These were spiritual strivings practiced to determine if they carried genuine marks of sainthood. Events of everyday life were to be examined constantly for signs of confirmation of one’s election. Conversion was a rejection of the worldliness of society and a strict adherence to Biblical principles.

While repression was evident in their actions, they were taught that God could forgive anything. While God could forgive anything, man could only forgive by seeing a change in behavior. Actions spoke louder than words, so actions had to be constantly controlled by the individual and by the laws of the community. In order to have faith, it was as important to cultivate good works and strive to become a more spiritual person. Works were to prepare an individual to receive grace, if he was so predestined. Many also argued that anyone who had received God’s grace would naturally be inclined to good works. The grace of God’s gift would inspire that soul to act in giving and loving ways toward others.

The experience of conversion did not happen suddenly. It proceeded in fits and starts, punctuated by doubt as the divine power worked its way on that fragile human material. Much of Puritan preaching was concerned with the experience of conversion–why not everyone will be converted; how conversion comes about, whether in a blinding flash as with Paul on the road to Damascus or following well-defined stages of preparation; how one can distinguish real conversion from the counterfeit. These were sermon topics frequently, and they heard it often.

Although assurance of salvation could never be obtained, the hope of being chosen by God fortified the Puritans to contend with the reckless abandon in society, faithfulness in the church, and to endure the hardships in trying to create a Christian Commonwealth in the New World.

The clergy advised their church members to pray, study the Bible, and hope to receive grace. He or she was quite aware of the powerful experience of grace and conversion, but they also had to accept that if an individual was not predestined to be saved, there was nothing he or she could do about it. Many may have lived virtuous lives, but if they did not experience grace and conversion, they would not be saved.

thanksgiving-paintingBecause many who did not experience grace became discouraged, the clergy tried to find ways to encourage good behavior, even if they knew that only the few were predestined for salvation. This is where we get a lot of the devotional step and those intense prayers that we read online, you know, that we should start emulating and praying, it was this daily self-introspection, searching the heart to get a clue or hint of actual conversion.

To make sure that the church leaders were not fooled into admitting hypocrites, they were required to give a personal narrative of their conversion experience before the congregation and answer questions. This was to weed out those who were genuinely converted from the hypocrites. So the clergy had a list of specific elements of narratives of conversion that they expected to hear. When the candidates’ narrative did not adhere to the model, they were denied membership.

“When a man or woman cometh to join unto the church so gathered, he or she cometh to the elders in private…And if they satisfy the elders and the private assembly… that they be true believers that they have been wounded in their hearts for their original sins and actual transgressions and can pitch upon some promise of free grace in Scripture for the ground of their faith and that they find their hearts drawn to believe in Christ Jesus for their justification and salvation and these in the ministry of the word reading or conference and that they know completely the sum of Christian faith. And sometimes though they be not come to a full assurance of their good estate in Christ. Then afterwards, in convenient time, in the public assembly of the church…the elder turneth his speech to the party to be admitted and requires him or sometimes asks of him, if he’d be willing to make known to the congregation the work of grace upon his soul; and biddeth him, as briefly and audibly, to as good hearing as he can, to do the same…

“Whereupon the party if it would be a man speaks himself; but if it would be a woman, her confession made before the elders in private is most usually read by the Pastor who registered the same. At Salem the women speak themselves for the most part in the church; but of late it is said they do this upon the weekdays, and there is nothing done on Sunday, but their entrance into the covenant.”
~ Thomas Letchford

So they have a separate meeting for women on weekday where she is interviewed in private without her husband present. She presents her narrative, and they judge her on the basis of what is written.

This ordeal was regarded as a sufficient barrier to all who were not saints, and it kept out of the church many who really were saints but who disliked these public professions and confessions. Those who remained outside of the church covenant, though they attended regularly, were called unregenerate so that for all practical purposes the elders and ministers could know who the invisible and the invisible church was. They could identify it by who were official members. You were a visible saint if you were accepted as a member of the church. And if you were not a member, either by personal choice or rejection, you were unregenerate.

Thomas Letchford, in questioning Cotton Mather, said, “What do you do about the visible saints who are really hypocrites, that they could write a good narrative, that they could give a good profession of faith, say the right things, what do you do about those?” Cotton Mather replied, “Better a hypocrite in the church than a man who is profane.” Mather goes on to explain that hypocrites are useful to God and the church. Well, everybody had to go to church or be fined, so even if you were a hypocrite, you were useful in the church. This goes hand in hand with Augustine and Calvin’s doctrine that salvation can be found in the church.

Sidebar: Here are some of the sad results of this Puritan dogma:

“August 1637: A women of Boston congregation, having been in much trouble of mind about her spiritual estate, at length grew into utter desperation and could not endure to hear of any comfort. So as one day she took her little infant and threw it into a well and then came into the house and said now she was sure that she should be damned, for she had drowned her child. But some stepping presently forth saved the child.”

“May 1642: A cooper’s wife, having been long in a sad melancholy distemper, near to frenzy and having poorly attempted to drown her child, but prevented by God’s gracious providence, did now again take an opportunity, being alone, to carry her child, age three, to a creek near her house. And stripping it of the clothes threw it into the water and mud. But the tide being low, the little child scrambled out. And taking up its clothes, came to its mother who had sat down not far off. She carried the child again and threw it so far as it could not get out. But then it please God that a young man coming that way saved it. She would give no other reason for it but that she did it to save her child from misery, and withal that she was assured she had sinned against the most Holy Ghost and that she could not repent of any sin.”

Preaching for the Puritan ministers was vital to the community, for they viewed it as the means to regeneration. From behind the pulpit, leaders in the new world sought to bring their community steadily closer to that Christian model. The “meeting house” was the place of instruction where the community learned its duties. It was the geographical and social center and a place to learn how to build their Zion in the wilderness. The Puritans refused to call their church a “church” so as to distinguish themselves from the Church of England.

The sermons were thoroughly theological and thoroughly practical based upon common acceptance of Calvin’s theology. It was left to the minister alone to discover the practical applications of it. There was hardly a public event in which a sermon was not featured. There were election day sermons, artillery sermons, fast day and thanksgiving day sermons where they would explain why God was humbling or rewarding them, execution sermons, funeral sermons, and dying men’s sermons. Puritan preachers were instructed to preach much about the misery of the state of nature. Arthur Dent’s instruction about the nature of man said that man was nothing but a gulf of grief, a sty of filthiness.

Puritan men and women of the upper and middle class became prolific writers. They kept diaries and wrote poetry and prayers. Puritan personal literature was devotional in nature, centering on the “contemplative” life. Everyone had to speak honestly of his own experience as they experienced a growing manifestation of a growing self-consciousness. Puritan writings yielded three things:

  • self-examination
  • self-hood
  • self-identity

Self-examination was not to liberate the mind and heart, it was to constrict, confine, and control your mind and heart. Self-hood was a state to be overcome and obliterated. Self-identity was found only through the act of total submission to God. This contemplative life was a process. Puritan literature carried the single message of all Christians sharing the same plight, all Christians having the same calling, all Christians undertaking the same wayfaring pilgrimage.

“Nature of one makes many, but grace of many makes one. For the Holy Spirit, which is as a fire, melts all the faithful into one mass lump.” ~ William Dell

By much beholding the glory of the Lord in the glass of the gospel and acting out our perceptions, we are changed into the same image” ~ Richard Mathers

When they saw Christ, which they called the “mirror of reflection”, they were to see no reflection of themselves. They were to disappear. Using a faulty interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13:8, to the Puritans, sin disfigured that reflection. They spoke not of the stain of sin but of the dunghills, the lumps of lewdness, the slough and slime. When you looked into that “mirror” of self-reflection, you were to see yourself in this manner.

“[God] will have our hands actively in it, and in it not for one instance but for the whole course of a man’s life. We must be soaked and boiled in affliction if we would have some relish acceptable unto God.” (uncited author)

“First take a glass and see where it is dirty and labor to discern your very crime. Experimentally persuade yourself that you are the biggest sinner in the world. Plunge yourself into the foul waters of your heart till you know there is none worse than thyself.” ~ John Bunyan

The Puritans’ humanity was fulfilled as it was plunged and purged, “washed clean of the vomit in its cheeks,” its sullied flesh destroyed, its whole body of sin transformed, emptied, melted, rendered a pure and shining surface on which the individual in his daily thoughts and actions would reflect back an unstained image of his redeemer.

Richard Baxter

Richard Baxter

Self versus God becomes the motivating force of their activism. In their language of the day and in their writings and in their sermons they added many “self” compounds to their language: self-credit, self-fullness, self-honor, self-intended, self-practiced, self-safety, self-confident, self-sufficiency, self-trial, self-denial, self-acquaintance, self-abhorring, self-abasing, self-determinism. The redeemed are marked by self-emptiness and self-revenging. Man’s fall was his turning from God to himself, and his regeneration consists of his returning of himself to God. Hence, self-denial and the love of God is the same thing.

“Understand this, and you understand what original and actual sin is, and what grace and duty are. It is self that the scripture principally speaks against. The very names “self” and “own” should sound in the watchful Christian’s ears as very terrible awakening words that are next to the same name as “sin” and “Satan”.
~ Richard Baxter, “The Benefits of Self-Acquaintance”

What they unknowingly created was this force of “I” –ness in their violent vocabulary of self-abhorrence. The state of mind they reveal in their devotional writings might be described in modern terms as schizophrenic single-mindedness. The struggle between God and man entail the relentless psychic strain, and in Puritan New England, where Calvinistic theology insisted upon this, anxiety about election was not only normal but mandatory. Hysteria, breakdowns, and suicides were not uncommon.

Their meditative literary works, or “spiritual biography”, provided a guide for living up to the demands of dogma. But in the process of emphasizing “I” –ness, in the end all it did was minimize Christ rather than exalting him.

Two more sad results of Puritan dogma:

Increase Mather, leading Puritan minister, as he lay “feeble and sore-broken upon his deathbed”, faced his life’s end with desperate fear and trembling. He was tormented by the thought that he might be bound for hell.

John Tappin, who died in Boston in 1673 at the age of 18, suffered a bitter spiritual torment as well in the face of death. All the while he had been a godly youth, professing to be a believer, he bemoaned his hardness of heart and mildness of mind and feared he was headed for eternal damnation.

hangeddrawnquartered21From the earliest upbringing Puritans were taught to fear death. Ministers terrorized young children with graphic descriptions of hell and the horrors of eternal damnation. “At the last judgment, your own parents will testify against you.”

Fear of death was also reinforced by showing young children corpses and taking them to public hangings. Accordingly, young children were continually reminded that their probable destination was hell. Cotton Mather put the point bluntly.

“Go unto the burying place, children. You will see graves as short as yourselves. Yes, you may be at play one hour and dead, dead the next.”

Even their schoolbooks repeatedly reminded Puritan children about death and hell.

“’Tis not likely that you will all live to grow up. Learn the alphabet this way – ‘T’ is for ‘time.’ Time cuts down all both great and small.”

“Surely there is in all children, though children are not all alike, a stubbornness and stoutness of mind arising from natural pride which must be in the first place broken and beaten down so that the foundation of their education can be laid in humility and trapableness, and other virtues may in their time be built thereon.” ~ Reverend John Robinson.

Parents and other adults begin to break the child’s will beginning somewhere around the age of one or two years old. Also at this time, while the child is being weaned from his mother’s milk, the parents began to establish limits, all in the effort to break the child’s compulsive and assertive nature. The parents were very eager and very forceful to make the child walk, because they believed that if the child crawled on all fours he was too close to the animal kingdom.

To enforce this purity of doctrine the Puritans needed a network of schools throughout the colony to teach the younger generation the Puritan beliefs and Calvin’s doctrine. The first task was to establish a college to graduate suitable rigorous ministers and to train schoolmasters for lower education. The Puritans referred to such a school as a “School of the Prophets”. (It is no coincidence that the title “professor” is derived from the word “prophet”) One such school was called “New College” or “the college at New Towne.”   It was a divinity school that grew into what is now known as Harvard University. The school was meant to superintend the lives of the colonists and prevent any further deviations from “proper” doctrine.

With Harvard established, they had the supporting structures in place. They implemented aspects of their Platonic paradigm of community child-rearing. One such structure was indentured servitude. In 1645, each town was compelled to provide a schoolmaster to teach a wide range of subjects. There was no point for government schools if there were no masses to be taught, so another law was established compelling every child in the colony to be educated – compulsory education. Parents ignoring the law were fined. Wherever the government officials judged the parents to be unfit, the government had the power to seize the children and apprentice them out to other families. Children were regarded as the absolute property of their parents, for if they were “property” then they could be confiscated.

A practice common among the English Puritans was called the ‘putting out” of children. This is where children were placed at an early age in other homes where they were treated as an apprentice. It was done by parental consent. This custom was practiced with the pretense of the parents’ desire to glorify God by avoiding the formation of strong emotional bonds with their children, bonds that might temper the strictness of the child’s discipline. In reality, the teaching was that if you loved your children too much you were sinning because you are taking away from glory that rightfully belonged to God. You were allowing your children to be an idol.

English poor laws of 1563 and 1601 stated”

“Permit the poor children to be taken out of the hands of their parents by the statutes for apprenticing poor children that are placed out by the public for the advantage of the commonwealth”

As a result of all this a controlling a punitive culture emerged. Laws were written and enforced that curtailed parental rights, creation of community schools, established Puritan precepts as a civil requirement, imposed community taxation, encouraged citizens to report on non-conforming relatives and neighbors. Informal snooping was considered to haphazard, so an “official snooper” was formed. These officers were called “tithing men”, because each one had supervision over the private affairs of his ten nearest neighbors. Of course the tithing men were appointed by the ministers of the churches who would then be sufficiently armed with enough material with which to derive a sermon for the following Sunday, preaching about the evils that were occurring within the community.

I will remind you once again of the gospel according to John Immel:

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

If you want to understand why mental disorder, anxiety, depression, and suicide were epidemic in the Puritan community, you need only look to the environment of control, fear, and condemnation their Calvinist orthodoxy produced. It is no coincidence then that we see the same patterns of anxiety and depression occurring among the laity in today’s institutional church, particularly in those churches where authentic reformed Protestantism dominates or is making a resurgence. To borrow a phrase from James Carville in the early 1990’s, “It’s the theology, stupid.”

When we closely examine the real history of the Puritans, their lifestyle, and the necessary results of their theology, we must ask ourselves why any rational person would want to emulate them. I strongly urge you to consider once again the statement by George Santayana, which I cited in my previous session, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

~ Susan Dohse

Holy Schmoly…Who Needs Holiness When You Have Authority?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 5, 2018

afshin-ziafat

Originally published January 5, 2017

Afshin Ziafat holds the title of “lead” pastor and “elder” of Providence Church in Frisco, TX. He was part of a panel discussion along with Conrad Mbewe, John Folmar, and moderated by Kevin DeYoung at the 2016 Cross Conference in Indianapolis, IN. The clip below is an excerpt from that discussion. It happens pretty early on. There are several examples I could have used, but this particular exchange really caught my attention.

Here is a transcript of the above video clip.

KEVIN DEYOUNG: So let’s talk about some of these terms that are often given to describe church. This is sort of Ecclesiology, the study of Church 101. So sometimes there is a reference made to the four attributes of the church. One, holy, catholic, apostolic church. So just jump in who wants to just, 30 seconds, what does it mean, “one church”?

JOHN FOLMAR: Unified in the gospel. United to Christ by the power of the Spirit, and thus united to one another.

DEYOUNG: Okay. So Ephesians 4, there is one spirit, one body, one Lord, one baptism. What about “holy”? Afshin?

AFSHIN ZIAFAT: Um, I’m not sure exactly what you’re wanting from that.

STOP RIGHT THERE! HUH?

I’m not the smartest person in the world, and granted, as I go back and read the transcript, DeYoung doesn’t do a very good job at articulating what he’s asking, but even I understand the question. DeYoung wants to know what it means when we say the church is holy.

Yet here is a man who is supposed to have an academic and theological pedigree which supposedly qualifies him to sit on this panel of “experts”.  Here is a man who is supposedly responsible for the “sheperding” of hundreds if not thousands of people every week.  Here is a man to whom a room full of young people are looking for guidance and direction, a man whom people are supposed to submit to his “authority”.  And yet Ziafat says he’s not sure what DeYoung is wanting?  Does he mean he does not know what it means to say the church is “holy”, or does he not even know the definition of holy?  I am beyond incredulous!

Like I said, I am not the smartest person in the world- I didn’t go to seminary, and I am not the pastor of a church of thousands. I did however give a session on the definition of holiness back at the 2014 TANC conference. Perhaps Mr. Ziafat might find it useful. Here are the links to those sessions.

TANC 2014 – Andy Young, Session 1
TANC 2014 – Andy Young, Session 2
TANC 2014 – Andy Young, Session 3

Now let’s look at the remainder of the transcript:

(ZIAFAT CONTINUING) But I would say just, you know, the fact that, if I may couple with what [FOLMAR] just said, the need for you to be in the church to be shepherded, because, as I see, you know, one catholic church, but yet there’s a need for the local church that you are involved in actually being cared for. Because from the very beginning God is known as a shepherd and His people the sheep of His pasture and Jesus taught His disciples how to shepherd and Peter tells fellow elders that you are to shepherd the flock of God among you. So all that to say, I would tell [the audience] that if they are not in a local church, that’s God’s setup for how He as the shepherd is gonna shepherd them through under-shepherds. And so I think that they need to be in that local church.

Ziafat never answers the question with respect to holiness. Instead he does what politicians do when there is a question they don’t want to answer. They try to distract you by rambling on and on over talking points that you would want to hear, hoping to impress you with their verbosity, all the while saying nothing of any substance (something at which politicians are very adept).

But notice what he does choose to talk about: the authority of the church in the lives of Christians. “…the need for you to be in the church to be shepherded…”, “…need for…actually being cared for…”, a local church is how God is “gonna shepherd them through under-shepherds…”, “…they need to be in that local church.” Authority, authority, authority.

I am not the only one who notices that Ziafat doesn’t answer the question. DeYoung realized it too. But rather than put him on the spot, he bails him out by actually answering the question for him. I mean, these guys have to stick together, right?

DEYOUNG: Right, for the accountability, for, you know, if the leaders of the church are accountable before God for their people you need to have some kind of membership, or to whom or for whom are they accountable, and that holy aspect is called out ones out from the world into this fellowship, shepherded, guided…

This is just one example of how these guys perceive themselves and you. You need to be shepherded for your own good. I am reminded once again of what John Immel said at the 2012 TANC conference regarding the metaphysical assumptions of reformed theology – man is fundamentally incompetent to be able to comprehend truth and know good; he therefore needs have good dictated to him; that dictated good is accomplished by the institutional church through divine mediators who presume to stand in God’s stead. And this is all done under the pretense of being done for your own good, since you poor schlubs don’t know any better.

This was the tenor of this entire panel discussion, that we should just be so thankful that we have these “godly” men to guide us poor incompetent masses though our ignorance, and we should just listen to them so that we don’t screw up our lives. I find such arrogance and condescension appalling, especially since these men are such intellectual pinheads who couldn’t come up with an original thought among the four of them to save their lives. They are simply regurgitating what they themselves have been taught. That much is obvious from this example.

~ Andy

From the Reformation to the Third Reich: Protestantism’s Impact on Western Culture – Conclusion

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

The following is the conclusion of a nine-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s sixth session
at the 2014 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for introduction
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
Click here for part eight

 

Will the New Calvinist movement produce political indifference?

Throughout history, the masses at some point realize that the fruits of these ideas wreak havoc on humanity. Then humanity rises up and pushes back, but for the most part in human history, it is a vicious cycle. The ideas that produce the fruit have never really been dealt with at the root. People just start picking up guns because they know it’s bad. And then something a little better rises from the ashes that fixes the immediate problem (for a little while at least) that started all the shooting.

We need to realize then that the founders of the American government were one of the few in history, if not the first ones that said, “Wait a minute here. We are going to deal with the ideas that lead to this tyranny.” That is why the United States of America is the only country ever founded on philosophy. They actually understood that the ideas behind tyranny were the problem, and they understood that the ideas behind liberty were the source of genuine political liberty. They went through great pains to try to craft a government that prevented the madness that had washed across the face of the globe for the whole of human history, and they succeeded.

The problems that we have had are the same problem that Christians are confronted with every time you see this cycle or the resurgence of the Calvinist movement. After the initial pushback, there remains no full philosophical statement. There is no fortress to fall back to and use as rebuttal to these ancient doctrines, and that is because most people do not know them. They just accept them.

I am confident there are people reading this right now holding their breaths saying, “How can he possibly reject the whole of Christianity?” And they are scandalized that I have been so bold, but the realities are what they are. Christians need to get their heads wrapped around this. Christianity as it is currently taught has always been on the forefront of tyranny. It has always been a competitor in tyranny or the leader in tyranny.

So, will the New Calvinist movement produce political indifference?

This is not an issue of political indifference. The issue is that Calvinism advocates self-sacrifice and submission to authority as an ideal. The Dark Ages were dominated by Augustine’s dogmatism, the assumption that select men have the moral authority to define intellectual content. the modern version of this is the doctrine of submission and authority. The only fundamental difference in the modern age is by contrast; Augustine had the power of the state to use violence to compel intellectual compliance.

Modern Neo-Calvinists are only barely restrained from claiming the right to violence to enforce church doctrine. Mark Driscol once made reference to putting people “in the wood chipper”. Now I’m not sure how exactly that metaphor passes muster on any level, but nonetheless what he is ultimately saying is he believes that the church authorities should have the right to use violence for disagreement.

(Editors Note: consider this article recently published on Paul’s Passing Thoughts.)

The pious preacher will object, “But I don’t believe that.” But neither are you running those preachers out on a rail for saying it. If you won’t take action when it is merely talk, how will you take action when it is actually the government-endorsed violence? I suggest, preacher, that you are a fraud. You say your job description is to protect the flock, and yet you do nothing. You take no action. All preachers who demand submission for protection are frauds. If they cannot intellectually defend their right to exist, they cannot hope to defend against tyranny.

And here is the central question of this theological shell game. If men cannot correctly judge ideological outcomes after the fact, if they cannot see the impact of Lutheran doctrine and its shaping of National Socialist Germany, how can they be defenders of the flock in our time?

Christianity’s growing abuse problems are no accident. The truth is before our eyes. This is Christianity in its infancy, the doctrine in action minus real civil power. And the reality is the blogosphere is already reeling from the stories. Today’s Christian national leaders are bold and clear about their ultimate goals, yet people reject the doctrine as irrelevant. They wipe out the universe to choose to call that action wisdom. For you pew-sitters, no matter how the preacher wants to hedge and caveat and smile, when they are asking for your submission to their authority, they are claiming the unique qualification to rational superiority. They are saying it is their moral right to define all intellectual conclusions. So if you submit to their authority, you cannotmake a claim to your own mind. You cannot utter the word “I” before the word “think.”

It is important to understand that authority is merely force. So whenever you hear some preacher thumping the Plexiglas podium, no matter how polite his words demanding your submission to his authority, you must realize he is really demanding your submission to his force. It does not matter how nice he makes it sound. He is overtly declaring his right to use force against your unrepentant body.

And I want to make one amended comment here. When I say right, I mean prerogative, just like in the divine prerogative of kings. Rights are specific and delimited exactly as John Locke described them. Individuals have rights. Groups, collective states do not have rights. All states, all just states, all moral states are created at the behest of the individuals and given delimited powers.

Pastors do not have rights. They do not have the right to compel. And make no mistake, the modern New Calvinist movement is just as politically motivated as the Evangelical Lutherans were in the 1920s. They are motivated by the exact same themes. They condemn individuality and egoism. They advocate sacrifice and statism. They condemn freedom as license. They advocate socialist economic policies, and above all else, they condemn capitalism. And the condemnation of capitalism is the condemnation of the individual. There is no such thing as liberty without capitalism.

American Christians are under the delusion that they can have Enlightenment reasoning, Enlightenment liberty, Enlightenment property, Enlightenment prosperity, Enlightenment government, and Enlightenment freedom together with medieval Christianity. It is not possible. These are mutually exclusive philosophical expectations. America, you must pick.

“But, John, no one is out there preaching medieval Christianity.”

Oh yes, they are. It is called orthodoxy. American Christians like the sound of orthodoxy. It sounds good to them, but that is only because the average pew-sitter has no clue what orthodoxy really means.   Orthodoxy means they must abandon reason, which is the root of all Enlightenment beliefs. Under orthodoxy, there is no such thing as, “but I believe,” or, “but this is what I believe.” So every time you want to object to my broad generalizations about this brand of Christianity, you do not have the right to your objections. You have already abandoned your rational capacity to somebody else’s authority.

The American church is, unfortunately, under the delusion they are entitled to make up their own minds. This, unfortunately, is a condition that affects the college crowd quite a bit. They think their opinion matters, and it really does not. College kids are only allowed to hold their own opinions inasmuch as they pose no challenge to leadership, and the definition of challenge is constantly moving. There is no such thing as a little bit of subordination. It is kind of like being a little bit pregnant. You either are or you are not. Once you concede the premise that you must submit your rational faculties to authority, the only question left is how much subordination, and as far as the Neo-Calvinist leadership is concerned, it must be in toto. You are lying to yourself if you think otherwise.

Here is my challenge. I double dog dare you. Walk into any New Calvinist church and object to their doctrine. And then, you bold man, go tell everybody that you did. And then, you really bold man, keep telling everybody you did. Tell everybody that they have the right to make up their own mind about which one is right, the preacher or you. And after you do, and after the cuts and bruises heal, and after you finally put your head back on straight (because they will wreck you in the process), come to me, and I will tell you how to handle it.

I submit that the current church leadership is eroding the church’s intellectual base at the root. This is in direct answer to what Paul asked me at the beginning of this series. The top tier of the Calvinist leadership are mostly old men. The younger generation are typically young men, and despite their aspirations to leadership, they are picked to be part of the super spiritual crowd only because they are intellectually compliant. Intellectual strength and insular communities do not go together. Most of the Neo-Calvinist churches are very insular, and the intellectual limitations that are imposed by the leadership on the parishioners can do nothing but erode the intellectual rigor. The more a group isolates itself, the more the intellectual energy stagnates. The leadership is selecting a subsequent generation of church leaders because they are not independent thinkers. They run independent thinkers out on a rail as fast as they can get it done.

Make no mistake. New Calvinist movement is deliberately eroding the foundations of church intellectual base. I predict that within a generation, the church will be intellectually helpless. We are talking about 30 to 40 years. Without independent thought, man has no choice but to turn to the collective for his intellectual content. If you have made a habit of deferring thought to other men under pressure, you will default to what you have practiced.

Tyrants create intellectual dependency the same way they create the welfare state. The welfare state erodes self-sufficiency by robbing people of the opportunity to work. By grooming intellectual subordinates and advancing those specific mentalities to leadership, they are creating the same environment of dependency. Tyrants and despots always find ideas threatening, not because they fear ideas specifically. Most of them ignore ideas on principle. Tyrants find ideas threatening because men who can think are by definition individuals. There is no such thing as collective thinking. Only individuals think.

Achievement is the foundation of self-confidence. So the thinking man grasps his achievement. Rational independence is directly proportional to self-confidence. And you see this in children all this time. The better they do in school, the more happy they are about themselves. The more they demonstrate the ability to reason correctly, the more satisfaction they get in their life and their own happiness. This is a function of human existence. Men are thinking machines. It is the means by which we engage the world on the broadest levels, and our ability to master our own environment and our own minds and our own rational faculties are directly tied to our sense of happiness and well-being.

I give you a challenge for those of you who I know are out there reading and paying atention. If you are suffering from fear and doubts and unbelief, go put your brain to work. Go do something. Go achieve something. Do not worry about what anybody says. Go achieve. And I guarantee you that the day after you achieve, you will wake up happy. And for many of you, you will be scared that you are happy because you have been told you should not be happy with yourself. This is how much this doctrine is wrecking you.

You cannot tyrannize a self-confident man because he will never concede the premise of a tyrant’s right to make him a slave. A self-confident man will not crumble under moral assault. A self-confident man will not internalize moral criticism. A self-confident man understands his moral worth.

But the rationally subordinate man can never have rational confidence because he must defer all thoughts to someone in authority. This man has no rational success, so he is incapable of self-confidence. The rationally subordinate man will always crumble under moral assault. The rationally subordinate man will always internalize moral criticism. The rationally subordinate man will always abandon his moral worth.

This is why ad hominem attacks are so prevalent in the New Calvinist movement against all opponents. The leadership is taking advantage of the moral weakness of those who submit. They are habituated to condemning the man. They do not recognize rational arguments on principle. They do not recognize rational arguments as such. There is no rational appeal. There is only submission to authority.

Therefore, the only argument they must win is why the user of reason is morally condemned for his objection. If a New Calvinist cannot win a proof text exchange in the first three minutes, he will immediately switch to a personal attack. They will morally condemn their adversary. The moment they are confronted with ideas with reason and with logic, they quit the field. I see this with stunning consistency.

We must recognize where we are in American history. I told you that the assault against the Enlightenment came almost immediately after Locke. The assault against the Western way of life that was born from the Enlightenment and the liberties that we enjoy, the assault against reason, the assault against the individual have been unrelenting, and if you banish reason from human interaction, the only thing left to deal with men is force. We are at the very tail end of and the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment, and we have a crucial choice to make about what comes next.

If you banish reason, the only thing left is the Dark Ages.

Now you look around and you consider the technology and you see the developments of this modern day and age, and you have a hard time picturing a return to the Dark Ages. But the farther and farther away we get from reason in our culture, the more the cultural descent into violence because it will be the only way to deal with your neighbor. So when I say that we are going to lose Western society, I mean a society that upholds the primacy of existence, the effectiveness of reason, the political sovereignty of the individual, man’s inviolate right to private property, a secular state founded on delimited government whose sole purpose is to defend the individual in his life, property and liberty.

Our generation, my generation, this generation is presiding over the destruction of the single greatest political achievement this world has ever seen. The collectivist long knives have been hacking away at the foundations of the Western society almost from its inception. The collectivist doctrines have finally succeeded in uprooting the foundations of political liberty.

When I have these conversations in public, somebody will say to me, “But, John, we need to get to the next generation. We need to teach these kids.” And I have to stop them. It is not the kids’ job to save the world. It is your job. If you are my age, I guarantee you, if we lose this battle for reason and liberty, when the history books are finally written about this generation, they will hold us responsible. They will say, “What in the heck did they do? How could they have done this? They had it, and yet they let the collectivists, the socialists, the communists, and the Christian orthodox wreck it in the name of brotherly love and kindness and heaven and worker’s utopia. How?”

This is not optional. It is not a 15-year-old’s job to save the world. It is the 15-year-old’s job to be 15. This is the adult’s job. We inherited this world from men who had an enormously capable opinion of humanity, and it is our job to live up to their expectations. It is our job to make sure the ideas to defend liberty, the rights of men, prevail. And if we don’t succeed, it will be our fault and nobody else’s. Far too many people are quiet. They hear political leftists, communists, socialists, and collectivists speak, and they refuse to raise a challenge. Shaking your head and wringing your hands over the state of the world is not a rebuttal. You have a moral obligation to speak out against the collectivist ideologies.

Collectivist ideologies only win because proponents of liberty quit the arena of ideas. Offer a better argument. At the very least, Christians need to understand that a proof text is not an argument. A proof text is nothing more than an appeal to authority. The easiest way to defeat such an argument is to reject the source of authority. Christians do this to Muslims all the time. A Muslim quotes his Quran, and Christians go, “Well, I don’t believe that.” Well, the reciprocal is equally valid. You point to your proof text, and your audience goes, “I don’t care.” Using a proof text really means that you really have nothing else to say.

You need to gain some self-awareness about the nature of your own arguments. How many things do you have to accept at the base level to arrive at “but the Bible says”? All of that background goes into your conviction that this is something you should believe, but if nobody else holds that, then the proof text has no rational effectiveness. If your audience does not accept any of those things, then you have not made an argument. Proof texts only persuade – and I use that word loosely – those who (a) accept the interpretive methods and (b) accept the interpretive conclusion. If at the end of the argument you are left with “I will pray that God reveals it to you,” then what you have really said is you had nothing to say.

Neo-Calvinists like to pretend they are the only intellectual and theological game in town. I should hope after the last three years of these conferences that you know that is just flat untrue. Over the last three years, I have given you the scope of Western thought. They are not the only game in town. They reflect a mere thimble-full of thought in the intellectual game. Most of them in the modern age are fourth-rate thinkers at best. They would be lost without the giants upon whose shoulders they are standing or clinging desperately to their knees. The broader intellectual perspective that I have tried to bring to you is a powerful tool to combat the errors implicit to the Neo-Calvinist movement.

And so here we have it, ladies and gentlemen. The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for men to change the definition of good. Until you can defend that it is good for men to exist for his own sake, evil will always triumph. Ladies and gentlemen, I have given you the basics. Now go forth and defend Man.

Thank you.

~ John Immel


Click here for introduction
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
Click here for part eight

From the Reformation to the Third Reich: Protestantism’s Impact on Western Culture – Part 8

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 17, 2017

The following is part eight of a nine-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s sixth session
at the 2014 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for introduction
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
Click here for conclusion

 

Christianity’s Solidarity with Socialism

There has been observation that the Founding Fathers were Christians and that a lot of the impetus for the American Revolution came from their Christian perspective.   Certainly any reading of George Washington makes it almost impossible to turn him into a deist. While it is true that many of the Founding Fathers were Christians and considered themselves Christian, they were primarily sons of the Enlightenment, and they held man as an effective, potent, rational creature.

This is in absolute defiance of historical orthodoxy. There is no way you can massage historic Augustinian/Lutheran/Calvinist orthodoxy into rational, competent, successful men. The practical outworking in the United States was that man’s exposure to the Dark Ages was directly centered around the Puritan doctrine, and it was that same Puritan doctrine that the Founding Fathers made an overt effort to separate from government and, in many instances, to defeat.

The reason Americans get so fussy about their right to define their own religion is not because they are emulating orthodox Christian doctrines. It is because they are children of the Enlightenment. It is the Enlightenment that told you that you had the rational capacity to read the Bible for yourself and understand it for yourself. That is entirely an Enlightenment conclusion.

And let me expand this a little further. One of the best contrasts to do is to look how Luther reasoned. He would make an assertion, and then he would stick a reference to a Bible quote. At one point in time, systematic theology was called the “queen of the sciences”, because it was this ability to be able to rattle off every scripture that was supposed to have been somehow designated to any of the main disciplines within theology.

Now if you actually look back through Bible interpretation from effectively Augustine forward, the dominant means by which the Bible was interpreted was by allegory,typology, and metaphors. It was not something that was rationalized.   It was nothing more than putting one’s finger on a verse and saying, “Because it says this, that necessarily means God means this.”

Of course, my degree was in systematic theology, and this is why I eventually abandoned systematic theology because it is really an interpretive methodology. It is not indicative of what the Bible says. The ability to take passages and verses of scripture and somehow cut and paste them together to arrive at doctrines is not reflective of audience, purpose, and intent of author.

That process of learning to identify audience and context are all concepts that came out of the Enlightenment. Once the Church lost control of the universities, men could start inquiring about the truth behind the doctrines in question that had been held for so long because the force of government could be brought to bear from descent. Men finally started to go out and do research, and the vast percentage of that research is actually very recent. Most biblical scholarship has been done probably within maybe the last 80 to 90 years.

All of these scholastic elements are born from the process of higher critical methodology, and most of the men who advanced these higher critical methods were considered outcasts by the Orthodox Church. One such individual who comes to mind is a guy by the name of Friedrich Schleiermacher.   He insisted that you have to learn to identify context, audience, speaker, and context for the writer of the book. Now here in 2014, finding some guy on the computer that can actually do a word study and start parsing out Greek verbs in an effort to recover, at least in his mind, an intent or meaning behind the text, is reflective of Enlightenment thought.

This is not the historic orthodox position, and you will notice in most of the Neo-Calvinist movement, they abhor higher critical methodology with impunity. They demagogue the moral high ground, and then they employ an interpretive methodology.   It is the manipulation of interpretive methodologies that gives them all the power to create any doctrine they want. And the moment you try to pause them and say, “Wait a minute. How can you just arbitrarily say, ‘Oh, Galatians here, Romans here and Genesis here and let’s all put this together,'” they become indignant.

Typically throughout the medieval times, other types of orthodoxy never had any ability to gain any traction because ultimately, you would be condemned for heresy and penalized by government. But in the United States those types of ministries had the opportunity to rise up. And more specifically, the men who actually carried them were either largely uneducated or not seminary-educated, which meant they were not Harvard or Yale graduates, which meant they were not indoctrinated into the Calvinist construct. They were committed to their own rational understandings of their own individual reading of the Bible. And this is crucial to understand.

The problem, however, is that such movements usually had nowhere to go because they had no intellectual framework. It turns out that that is exactly like Christianity back in the 1st century. It did not have a framework. It needed a framework, and unfortunately Christianity became attached to Platonism. Its abiding and enduring capacity is within that overarching philosophical statement. In philosophy the most consistent formulation wins, and as of right this minute in 21st century America, the only overarching full-formulation of Christian thought – and trust me, I have read thousands of pages from lots of different people – is the reformed Augustinian/Lutheran/Calvinist construct.

So having said all of that, let us revisit what inspired my part of this conference.

“The idea that freedom of man is a practicality is a pipe dream because he is enslaved to his own desires spiritually; hence, at the very least, indifference to political freedom on a social level. So will the New Calvinist movement cause political indifference in American society among Christians?”

That the idea of “freedom for the masses” is called a “pipe dream” is the political premise of collectivist governments. Such governments presume man’s nature precludes liberty because man can never control his impulses. Therefore, man’s true freedom is found in subordination to the state. The belief is that the state is a definer of morality, and individuals are at their highest and best when looked after by a paternalistic government.

Of course, we know where this logic leads because history gives us two absolute examples: the Soviet Union and National Socialist Germany. The fundamental political premise of Augustine/Lutheran/Calvinist doctrine is that Christians are to accept whatever government comes to power. This means that Christians must submit to any thug with a gun.

Socially and politically, the most disastrous part of the current New Calvinist movement is the doctrine that demands submission to authority. They do not teach indifference. They teach an intentional servitude. Intentional servitude is far, far worse because it is a doctrine of deliberate capitulation. Such a doctrine demands that Christians presume that any man claiming authority is ordained of God. This means that it does not matter how bad the oppression gets. People must assume that righteous action is submission. “Righteous” action is therefore non-action.

Political indifference can be ignited into political fervor in a blink if social pain becomes too great. But by contrast, people choosing to be passive in the name of “righteous” action is by definition already expressed in passion.  It is simply a passion for doctrinal submission.

The Lutheran Church gutted the Christian will to resist the rise of National Socialism. To be sure, the Evangelical Church was on the forefront of ushering in Hitler’s rise to power, and this is exactly what the historic doctrine will do today here in America. It will demand that people accept any thug with a gun who acts in behalf of the people, who acts in behalf of righteousness, who acts to establish God’s kingdom, to help usher in tyranny here.

Now you know the contrast between the philosophical foundations for collectivist tyranny and individual liberty. You have seen the root ideas of Augustinian and Calvinist theology. You have seen that this ideology sees no conflict with socialist economic doctrines. This ideology sees no conflict with a totalitarian state. Germany could make no distinction between Hitler’s socialism and Luther’s Christianity. I’m going to say that again…

The German people could make no distinction between Hitler’s socialism and Luther’s Christianity.

  • Augustine, Luther, and Calvin said, “Man is nothing. The Church is everything.” The Nazis said Du bist nichts; Dein Volk ist alles. “You are nothing. The people are everything.”
  • Augustine, Luther, and Calvin denounced reason. The Third Reich denounced reason.
  • Augustine, Luther, and Calvin had a doctrine that demanded submission to church authority. Church authority demanded submission to the state. The Nazis demanded submission to the state authority.
  • Augustine, Luther, and Calvin said the only real world was the transcendent, heavenly world. The Nazis said the only real world was the transcendent world created by the German people’s state.
  • Augustine said the material world was immoral. The Nazis fought the perceived Jewish materialistic spirit within and around them.
  • Augustine, Luther, and Calvin condemned men’s private interest, which meant they condemned private property. The Nazis condemned private interest which means they condemned private property.
  • Augustine demanded sacrifice. The Nazis demanded sacrifice.
  • There were no individual rights during the Dark Ages. There were no individual rights during the rise of National Socialism.

The Church and the National Socialists agreed in the fundamentals of human existence. From metaphysics, to epistemology, to ethics, to politics, to art, the Church and the National Socialists agreed that man is corrupt and egoistic – incompetent masses. Individualism is evil – universal guilt. Dogmatism is the only acceptable intellectual standard – abolition of ambition. The highest moral virtue is self-sacrifice to the state – collective conformity. Government is synonymous with providential divine will, and evil must be banished with force of government – utopian prestige. The method is dictated good.

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

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

I have outlaid to you all of the assumptions, and now you can understand why people take the same mass action; why 40 to 65 million Germans remained complicit with the actions that went on within Nazi Germany. They all accepted the exact same premise. They held the exact same assumptions, and they followed those assumptions to the logical conclusion. When someone says to me that the state can dispose of man’s property at will, he has conceded the premise that the state owns man totally. So if they can take your money, they can take your life. If they can take your stuff, they can stick you in an oven. The moral justification does not change.

Sacrifice is the collectivist mantra, and it ends with tyranny. Once you establish the moral standard of submission to authority, there is no argument to be made for independent action. Once you accept the premise that it is immoral to take self-appointed action, all self-appointed actions are immoral. Once you accept the premise that personal inclinations are immoral, then all inclinations are immoral, and this includes your inclination to stand against tyranny. The same argument that shuts your mouth when the preacher says something you disagree with is the same argument that keeps your mouth shut when the tyrant starts shooting people in the head.

People blithely condemn self-interest as immoral, but if self-interest is immoral, then so is self-preservation. Self-interest and self-preservation are inseparable. So if you wipe out self-interest as a moral standard, you will existentially wipe out self-preservation. If you wipe out self-preservation, how then can you justify fighting against a tyrant who seeks your destruction? If you won’t fight for your own liberty, how can you live to fight for someone else’s liberty? If you don’t hold liberty as an ideal for your own existence, how can you advocate liberty for Jews, for African-Americans, for rich white people?

Hear me now.

Tyrants know this truth. If they can talk people out of self-interest, they have talked them out of life itself. Tyrants know that if your moral standard is sacrifice, you are already dead. All they have to do is hand you the knife. You will cut your own throat seeking to be moral. National Socialist Germany showed this history. The marriage of the Third Reich with the church doctrine of self-sacrifice brought the Western world within a hair’s breadth of returning to the Dark Ages. This is no accident. The doctrines at the root are the same.

In 21st century America, we are once again rolling through a philosophical cycle that has been repeated over and over in history. We are intentionally moving towards socialism. We have bought into the lie that socialism is a kinder, gentler economic organization. America’s root philosophy is the antithesis of all collectivist ideologies. Communism, socialism, Catholicism, and Calvinism, these are all collectivist ideologies. The Founding Fathers believed in the rational, effective, motivated individual man. They organized a government around the defense of the individual. The defining shape of government was to defend the sovereign individual against all encroachments.

We are sprinting headlong down the path of despotism. The slogans have only changed in name. A century ago, a fundamental transformation was done in behalf of the volk. Hope and change were done in behalf of the German people. Now the move towards socialism is done in the name of grandma’s healthcare. Christian grandma would never dream of walking next door with a gun and demanding her neighbor pay for her doctor visit, but she will think nothing of electing a politician who will hold a gun for her. Christian grandma insists that her politics are compassion, but never mind that compassion and compulsion are mutually exclusive. Never mind that compelling someone to provide an ability or a skill or an expertise at the point of a gun is slavery. Christian grandma, and everyone else who votes with her, handed the keys of the doctor’s office to men with guns. And if they can compel doctors to work for free, they can compel people to stay away from doctors for free.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is nothing hidden here. This is not any different than 1926. The documents have been written, and all you have to do is read. All you have to do is listen. There is nothing mysterious happening in modern American politics. History has repeatedly proven that socialist countries will slaughter millions to sustain the power of a select few. The moment you concede that seizing a man’s property is a moral government action, you have conceded that man is property of the state. The moment that man is property of the state, man can be disposed of as the state sees fit.

This is, of course, why Christians, with ever-increasing manifestation, are confronted with the abuse and tyrannies that our forefathers tried to resist. People wail about human depravity, moan that their leaders have the wrong form of church government, mumble feebly that the parishioners should pray more for their pastors, and demand that people sacrifice more in behalf of the church. The church is impotent to stop the problem because the church refuses to diagnose the problem.

I tell you the truth that the answer as to why this is happening is as easy to diagnose as the common cold, but the first thing you must do is dare to take responsibility for the content of our own minds. Mystic despots have ruled the world with portents of disaster for anyone with the ambition to challenge the traditions of power. Autocrats rely on being able to compel outcomes because no one opposes their arguments. Tyrants can only succeed when we refuse to think.

To be continued…


Click here for introduction
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
Click here for conclusion

 

From the Reformation to the Third Reich: Protestantism’s Impact on Western Culture – Part 7

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

The following is part seven of a nine-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s fifth session
at the 2014 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for introduction
Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five
Click here for part six
Click here for part eight
Click here for conclusion

 

The Rise of National Socialism and the Assault on Capitalism, Continued…

Capitalism has become a byword in the United States, actually a byword globally. Rarely do you hear anyone speak openly about being a capitalist, and that is because there is an-all out assault to destroy capitalism. And that assault is largely led by the fact that most people have no clue what it is. No one has ever explained it to them. Capitalism is not specifically economics, and most people are only vaguely aware of what economics are.

There is a common mis-conception that there are forms of capitalism and that various governments practice various forms of capitalism. This is actually not true. There is only one form of capitalism. In the 18th century, a group of French economists called the Physiocrats identified that wealth was the product of individual production. John Locke arrived at a similar conclusion – that property was the product of human labor; his reasoning power and his action to organize whatever his substance is.

The Physiocrats said that the nature of production is the source of wealth, and they came up with the term “laissez-faire capitalism”, which literally means “let them do as they please.” They identified correctly that individuals will solve their own problems with their own production and that the government should not be anywhere close to it.   This was a profound contrast to the traditional explanation of a nation’s wealth, e.g., it was either the wealth of kings, the country’s gold reserves, the country’s arable land. They were the first to formulate that government should keep their hands off of economic transactions.

This is where the issue of “forms” of capitalism comes into play. Capitalism is like the definition of water. The chemical formula of water is H2O. Now you can add a lot of things to H2O, and you can add some tasty things to H2O. You can add some sugar and some Kool-Aid, and you still have water, but you also have now Kool-Aid. And you can drink it. But if you are in the Jim Jones cult and you add something else, suddenly water becomes poison. And my metaphor is apt with capitalism. As John Locke correctly identified, it is a man’s labor that produces prosperity. A man produces to advance and sustain his life, and that production is his property alone. There is no distinction between the man and that which he produces.

When you start out as a farmer in a basic economy, you have a seed of corn, you plant a seed of corn, and you have to wait 12 weeks for that seed of corn to come up and actually have a harvest. Now if you are only planting one seed and getting one ear of corn out of your cornstalk, you are going to be hungry.

But let us assume you have the ability to produce thousands of seeds of corn and then have a specific harvest. Now you spend all of your time planting that corn and then specifically getting that harvest. But corn is not shoes, and it is not shirts, and it is not beef. So you have to have a means by which to get these other things. The only peaceable way to get those other things is to trade, and the nature of trade means without force.

There is no compulsion in a free economic transaction. The parties are willing, and the parties decide on the values that they want to trade. That’s it. This concept is only possible in a politically free environment. Capitalism is the product of liberty, and this is crucial to understand.   It is the individuals who enter into social contracts, and it is the government that is given the limited permission to act. It is only within that environment that people are free to trade. There is no compulsion, and when I say compulsion, I mean force. I mean violence. Just because you want to eat, your necessity is not the guy who has food. You do not get food from him by compelling him to give it to you. If you were by yourself out in the middle of nowhere and you were hungry, you would still have to work to feed yourself.

Conversely, just because you would go to a guy who already has the food does not mean he compels you to come to him to get food. The responsibility of your survival, of individual survival, is the responsibility of the individual. The peaceable way to make that happen is to exchange value for value. In a social context, there are many people offering value into this environment, and you have the ability to pick whatever you want or not. The absence of compulsion, the absence of violence, is the central theme.

There are only two kinds of markets: compulsory or free. In a compulsory market, you have no choice about what can be bought or sold. There is no choice about the disposal of property, and there is no recognition of private property. In the United States we do not have a capitalism economy. We have a mixed economy because we have compulsion. We have to ask the government permission to take action to exchange our goods and services. This is not a capitalist economy.

The other kind of market is a free market. This presumes private property. The definition of private property is the right to an action, the right to dispose of that property or the right to retain that property. A free market then is simply two people willingly exchanging values. A free market is never present when there is fraud, which is a misrepresentation of reality, where you have specifically deceived the other party about the nature of reality. A free market is never present when there is force or implied force, which is extortion.

So a free market only exists where there is private property and free individuals. Free individuals produce value, and they must be entitled to their private property, and private property by definition means they can dispose of it as they see fit.

Next we have to have a root discussion of money. You have to understand what money is and what money is not. You don’t work to get money. You work to create money. Consider once again the seed planting example. After you harvest your field you now have a big sack of corn. Your neighbor may need corn to feed to his herd of cows so he is willing to trade you a sack corn for one cow. The problem is you may not need a cow, what you need are new tires for your tractor. Obviously, cows are not tires.

In this situation, trade becomes an inefficient means of exchange. In addition, payment in kind is impractical at a distance. What is needed is the creation of a medium of exchange, and this was the emergence of money. You needed a means by which you could represent a bag of corn or a cow or tires for the tractor.

Furthermore, when you are done harvesting your corn you now have tens of thousands of seeds. What you do not eat between the end of harvest and the beginning of next season is your excess. This is work (production) that is now stagnant. It is not doing anything. It is not producing anything. This excess prosperity is called capital. You need that excess prosperity to continue through time which allows you to plan for your next action of prosperity, your work to produce more.

Well, in an agricultural environment the distance on your production is your growing cycles, maybe a year. But the more industrialized you get, the longer your production cycle, your sight line, has to be, so you need larger and larger holds of production held in store. This is the root of capital. It is production held in a static state that you have the ability to then distribute down through time so you can produce your next action.

Well, of course, for lots of reasons, gold and silver became the standard means by which you could actually take a cow and exchange it for corn, and that coin then began to hold value. Over time, a particularly productive person might accumulate lots of coin. That coin represents capital, but that accumulation of capital is not producing anything. At the same time, this productive individual has no reason to give up this capital unless he has some incentive to put his gold at risk. In a capitalist society there is a fundamental need to take capital (static production) and then give it the opportunity to be put into production either by the holders of the capital directly or by other people who want to take the risk. This is the basis for interest or usery.

Now in a free market, in a capitalist culture, you have no guarantees. The government is not there to penalize you, and it is not there to advantage you. If at any point the government enters in and compels or restrains economic action, we are no longer talking about capitalism.

The single greatest expansion of prosperity occurred between the 18th century and the 19th century. And the reason the greatest expansion of prosperity occurred is precisely because John Locke correctly defined the exact requirements for government. The United States of America, and for a very brief time Great Britain, put into practice the logical result which was “laissez-faire” capitalism. This time period is called the Industrial Revolution. Man set out to solve his own problems, and wealth exploded.

There is a common misconception then when someone gains wealth it is because he took it from someone else, as if there is a giant pie, and every time someone takes a piece there is less for everyone else. There is no pool out there somewhere called “wealth” from which people partake. Wealth is created when individuals produce. Therefore when production increases, so does wealth. Man creates his own level of prosperity. He creates it every day he applies his work product.

The assault against liberty and capitalism and the production of wealth started almost immediately. It specifically started with doctrines that were designed to:

  1. Eradicate reason from man
  2. Place man back in state control

This two-fold philosophical assault against wealth is what led to the rise of Hegel and then Karl Marx. These men crafted an immoral justification for the destruction of capitalism. But here is the thing. You cannot destroy capitalism without destroying liberty, and you cannot destroy liberty without destroying capitalism. Since capitalism is merely free individuals acting to exchange values willingly, the moment you put the government in charge of either side of the equation, either production or person, you are destroying liberty.   This is exactly what happened at the turn of the 19th century.

Even though the First World War did not go well for Germany, it still became an enormously successful industrial nation. They had some totally inept leadership. The Weimar Republic was a joke. In their minds they were still Prussian. They were still sort of under monarchy and tried to throw that off somewhat.

Following WWI the rest of Europe decided to pile on the German people and really make them pay for it. Over time that began to wear on them. With economic collapse right on the horizon, you can begin to understand why the German people consistently discussed the issue of greed. They resented other people’s prosperity, and this is central to the rise of National Socialism.

Here are some excerpts of what became the National Socialist platform, originally published in 1920. This will give you some sense of what they are after. As you read through these, pay close attention to what they advocated, and contrast that with John Locke, and liberty, and the United States.

“12. In view of the tremendous sacrifices in property and blood demanded of the nation by every war, personal gain from the war must be termed a crime against the nation. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits.”

Now think of what this really means. They are saying sacrifice is an ethical ideal, and because some sacrificed, anybody who prospered from their sacrifice, equating their profit with sacrifice, must necessarily have all of what they created confiscated. This completely eliminates the reality that the government is what went to war. The government is what caused the death and destruction, and in order to fight the war, the government asked businesses to create this production.   Now they are blaming profit for their problems when in actual fact it was the government’s fault.

“13. We demand the nationalization of all enterprises converted into corporations.”

“14. We demand profit sharing in large enterprises.”

Where have you heard that in modern American culture? The endless determination to denounce big business as if the people who do not work have a moral right to the product of somebody else’s work?

“15. We demand a large-scale development of old age pension schemes.

“16. We demand the creation and maintenance of a sound middle class, the immediate communalization of large department stores which are to be leased at low rates to small tradesmen.

“17. We demand the most careful consideration for the owners of small businesses in orders placed by national, state, or community authorities.”

This is the absolute eradication of private property. For people who have been successful, the nature of their success necessarily means that the government should somehow penalize them for their success. The communalization of large department stores. The reason that large department stores appeared is because they became better at delivering the best quality products for the best price to the most people. How many times have you heard people say that Walmart is somehow fundamentally evil? Yet everybody benefits because Walmart gets you the products you are willing to pay for at some of the best prices anywhere. Your life is better, and yet somehow because Walmart cannot be fleeced every five minutes for its money there is something fundamentally evil about that.

“18. We demand land reforms in accord with our national needs and a law for expropriation without compensation of land for public purposes, abolition of ground rents and prevention of all speculation in land.”

This is talking about the seizing of property.

“19. We demand ruthless battle against those who harm the common good by their activities…”

Now watch what they define as harm.

“…persons committing base crimes against the people, usurers, profiteers, etc., and are punished by death without regard to religion or race.”

In other words, bankers. Bankers were Jews. Jews had capital. Profiteers, people who made money. Give over your profits or we are going to kill you.

When it came right down to it, they could declare anybody they wanted to be a profiteer, and that is exactly what they did. That was the real focus of the Jewish hatred, centralized in their ultimate covetousness. They wanted prosperity, but in their view the way to get prosperity was to seize it from most people who had created it or to kill them. The presumption was that if somebody else has it, if I do violence to them, I can get it.

“The Party as such stands for positive Christianity, without associating itself with any particular denomination. It fights against the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and around us, and is convinced that a permanent revival of our nation can be achieved only from within, on the basis of Public Interest before Private Interest.”

Take note of that: “Public interest before Private interest.” Man is first and foremost the property of the State. You have no private interest. Your only interest is your specific responsibility to the collective. These are the founding ideas that brought forth Adolf Hitler. He is not the cause. He is merely the extension of a logical body of ideas. And at the root, what causes good men to do nothing? Change the definition of good.

I just produced for you from start to finish how they defined good.   At the root, they said man is not entitled to his own life. He is not entitled to his work product. He must sacrifice his life on behalf of the collective. They changed the definition of good.

“You didn’t build that.”

That is not your property. The government has to give you permission. You want to understand what actually happened in the rise of National Socialism? You want to understand why the Church was so specifically involved in the rise of socialism? Because the Church fundamentally believed the exact same things. They ultimately believed that man had no business with himself.

The reality is that socialism is not a kinder, gentler economic organization, and I frankly don’t care how you parse it up. I don’t care whether you say it is communism, socialism, or fascism. Ultimately, the end result is about who owns man? As long as the state owns man, there is no liberty. And if there is no liberty, there is no production, and if there is no production, there is no prosperity.

To be continued…


Click here for introduction
Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five
Click here for part six
Click here for part eight
Click here for conclusion

 

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