Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Philosophy of the Reformation and Its Historical Impact, by John Immel – Part 4

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on December 22, 2016

Taken from John Immel’s third session at the 2012 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
Published with permission
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3

(Continued from part 3)

Now I want to make a series of contrasts.

The Enlightenment begins around 1650, give or take. The Enlightenment thinkers included men such as John Locke, David Hume, and Adam Smith. From these men comes a large amount of the foundational thought of human freedom, human competence, and human liberty. Enlightenment thought influence our Founding Fathers – Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson to name a few.

Recall that the three English civil wars were religious wars. The American Civil War was not a religious war. It was a war specifically fought in pursuit of liberty and freedom.

james-madisonIn an article written in 1786 by James Madison, “A Memorial in Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” Madison weighs in against the establishment of civil government, civil patronage, and religion. I want you to notice the Founding Fathers’ clarity on the arguments against merging the state, no matter how small, with ecclesiastical establishments.

Madison begins:

“We, the subscribers, citizens of the said Commonwealth, have taken into serious consideration [that] a bill establishing provision for teachers of the Christian religion and conceiving of the same if finally armed with sanctions of law, will be a dangerous abuse of power.”

There was no illusion here. The nature of Christianity, as our Founding Fathers understood, was that it was a dangerous force to be contended with when it was merged with the power of the state. Madison then goes on to detail several reasons for this understanding.

“1. Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth that religion or the duty which we owe our Creator and the manner of discharging it can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force and violence.”

This was revolutionary. While this idea had circulated amongst any number of different sects and any number of different intellectual ties, for the first time, there was a formal effort to challenge at the root that religion could not ever be merged with the force of the state. But rather the force of government was to be tempered by intellect and reason.

This is a central Enlightenment idea.

Madison Continues:

“2. Because the rulers who are guilty of such encroachment exceed their commission from which they derive their authority and are tyrants. The people who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves.”

“3. Because the free men of America did not wait till usurped power had stricken itself by exercise and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.”

Hold that thought. I will come back to that in a moment.

“We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it. Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians in exclusion of all other sects?”

This is why the historic fight between Calvinists and Arminians gained some attraction, because we fail to identify the principle that Madison is arguing here. The issue is not necessarily the Arminian perspective versus the Calvinist perspective. The issue at central root is man’s fundamental competence to master his own life, however that may be accomplished. The reason all other doctrinal fights are useless in this instance is because, at the root, until you defend man’s right for moral existence, you have lost. Madison makes this observation in point seven.

“7. Because experience witnesses that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation.  During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, and in both, superstition, bigotry and persecutions.”

It is important to understand that our Founding Fathers had no illusions about the nature of what Christianity was and was not. They understood its broad history. They understood what Puritanism did. They understood what the Massachusetts colony theocracy did. For many of them, it was close enough to their lifetime that it would not have been lore as if we were learning it out of the book. They certainly would have been within striking distance of the religious wars in England and the tides of warfare that swept across the face of the earth.

James Madison goes on to say in Point 8.

“8. Because…what influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; and in no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people.”

This is one of the most scathing denunciations ever! Until Christians are guardians of the liberties of the people, all we are doing is perpetuating spiritual tyrants.

Madison wrote this a mere ten years from the Declaration of Independence and the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. I want you to notice that this memorial and remonstrance takes place dead square between two events: from the specific overthrow of tyranny in 1776, within ten years’ time we already have a religious movement trying to use civil authority to create patronage. In other words, you have a specific group of people seeking to create a means by which others pay taxes to support a religious organization. They were trying to use taxation to advance sectarian orthodoxy.

Madison is arguing for the supremacy of human reason, and he is denouncing the use of civil authority – the merging of religious faith and the power of the state. He is saying it is a menace. Christianity is a menace because Calvinism demands war for all who refuse to bow to its edicts. The current Calvinist defenders can pooh-pooh my point all they like, but I win this argument only because all I have to do is educate people on the public record. This is not complicated.

The Founding Fathers had no illusion about the destructive force of Christian religion, and it is the most virulent forms of Christian thought that the Founding Fathers put absolute barriers in place to curtail this acquisition of civil power.   declaration_of_independenceFor the first time in human history, men sat down and they finally said, “No, man is entitled to the sum and substance of his own life,” and they penned these words:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, 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 abolish it, and to institute new governments laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers.”

Let’s do a contrast.

Puritan theology:

  • Man is incompetent.
  • Man is morally guilty.
  • Man needs the force of government to compel him to good action.
  • Government is an unquestionable manifestation of God’s appointment.
  • God is wrathful and offers man no rights of existence.
  • God appoints man to a predetermined existence of suffering and bondage.
  • God’s sovereignty appoints man to slavery.

This is the Puritan construct. This is Reformation theology. This is Calvinism. This is the most virulent form of Reformation thought.

Contrast this with what comes out of the Declaration of Independence:

  • That man is competent to understand.
  • That man can understand the world in which he lives.
  • That his epistemology is fully intact.
  • That by virtue of that ability, truth is self-evident.

The equality of human creation endows all with the same right. There is no election to specific privilege, yet in the Calvinist construct, the men standing in the pulpits today are claiming a special privilege.

Man has a right to life, liberty, and happiness, yet the Calvinist construct says there is no such thing; that any effort towards right or life or liberty or the claim to any happiness is a self-deception and a manifestation of your depraved nature. Just government is a product of human consent.

Consider this, that for almost 1,800 years, the Church had said that it was the divine right of kings to dictate government, and that government was in fact divinely appointed. Man had no right to question, for the most part. Whatever happened was in fact the product of God’s will.

The American Declaration of Independence was the first time in human existence that men articulated that just government must be the product of human consent. I am only governed in as much as I choose to let you govern me. Truth is not the property of the state. The state is in fact the servant of man’s defense. This was revolutionary.

The advances of man, the things that have eradicated human suffering across the board, are directly tied to human liberty, because when man is free, man is free to think.  Thinking men are free to create, and creating men are free to exchange value with whomever they chooses to associate. Man can better his life as he sees fit, and he can solve the problems of the beggarly elements of this earth.

I am able to do in the 21st century what a paltry number of human beings had ever been able to do, and it is directly related to the legacy of human competence, human freedom, and human liberty. You do not get this level of prosperity with the ideology of the Dark Ages. Every place this ideology has manifested itself, it has driven man back to the Dark Ages.

These exact same metaphysical assumptions that are in Calvin are in Augustine. These exact same metaphysical assumptions that are in Augustine are in Islam. Notice that if you go to any place in this world where there is a purely Islamic state you will see the dark ages in modern times: you will see the same paltry human condition from over a millennia ago in western civilization. This is true because the ideas are the same.

Liberty, freedom, thought; they are absolutely tied together. Human competence and human liberty are essential for the benefit of man.

I have now come full circle in my argument. The cohesive structure of ideas from the metaphysical premise to the epistemological ability to the ethical understanding to the political action; all of them run in a progressive line of thought.   This is the answer to my original observation:

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

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

Christians love to thump their ESV while laying claim to the Declaration of Independence and the Founding Fathers. They hold freedom of religion as a certainty. They love the prosperity that rational thought, logic, and industry produce. But they do not even blush at the hypocrisy when they pound that same ESV to claim solidarity with Reformation orthodoxy. They will then rate John Calvin as the great reformer of Geneva. They will speak sagely, calling Jonathan Edwards their homeboy, not once realizing the philosophical schizophrenia. These are mutually exclusive worldviews.

In the world of election and limited atonement, there is no such thing as self-appointment and self-determination. There is no such thing as self-governance, because you do not own you.

In a world of irresistible grace, there is no such thing as private property, private possessions, or even personal boundaries, because whatever good you have is a manifestation of God’s grace, and all grace is administered by His stewards of grace.

And in a world of predestination, there is no right to inquire. In a world of predestination, there is no human sensibilities to be conservative. Your pain and your suffering is irrelevant. Who are you, O man, to challenge God, to inquire the things of God, the mysteries of God! Your pain is what you should have.

In the metaphysical world of T.U.L.I.P., there is no real justice. Everything is one great big fat sin before God, because the nature of man is utterly offensive to God. If you happen to be a part of the group that gets picked, it’s all good. And if you don’t, then it sucks to be you. The threat of damnation hangs over your head like the Sword of Damocles. Your sin violates God. So, who are you to demand recompense for a violation of sins against you? How dare you speak justice? You don’t own you.

Or do you?

This is the first choice. This is the fight within the ages. Who owns man?

Father, in the name of Jesus, we must live in understanding. Never before has man been defended. We’ve defended you and we’ve swatted our own. But never have we defended man’s right to live, right to exist, right to live, right to prosperity; never have we done this successfully. To throw off the tyranny of the ages, Father, we need your wisdom and understanding. We need to have the eyes of our understanding opened, that our insides will be filled with light. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

~ John Immel


Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3

Politics and Religion Have the Same Soul

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on October 18, 2014

PPT HandleOriginally posted September 27, 2012

When I didn’t know any better as a Christian, I was indifferent to politics because it made no sense to me. My problem was the following: I was always focused on outcomes. It never made any sense to me that regardless of outcomes, people would vote the same ideologues into office time and time again. In my frustration I would think, “Politics is a waste of time because people are stupid. Regardless of outcomes, they vote these same people into office time and time again.” This made absolutely no sense to me.

Until recently, church never made any sense to me either. Consider this picture: vast institutions pregnant with ultra-educated people coming up with ideas that plainly contrast Scripture. Again, regardless of the poor outcomes, the SYSTEM remains intact. The system seems to offer a devil that we know, and have become comfortable with, as opposed to a devil that we don’t know.

If you think about it, what is the difference between contemporary Christianity and the slave caste system of the Civil War era?  To stand up against injustice is really the same thing as challenging the system. Action is stalled because people hope that the system will change (good luck with that)—that’s easy, changing the system is hard. However, we will fight harder to not change the system, as opposed to changing the system because it’s what we know. Hence, the system takes precedent over God’s justice and is protected by political spin dressed in biblical garb.

But people aren’t stupid, they just prefer whatever the normal is for the day—especially if they aren’t the ones being tied between two horses running in opposite directions. Pathetic, but it is what it is. And both politics and religion are kept alive by the same heart in this regard; the epic question of, “Who owns man?” Ownership is the soul of politics and religion.

Since the day that the framers of the American Constitution posed this question and answered it with the resolve of “Give me liberty or give me death,” be sure of this: the question of who owns man is the soul of American politics and always will be. Whether the American public realizes it or not, those who vote for Obama think government owns man. People who vote for Romney (albeit not their preferred choice) believe that we own ourselves, and are responsible to no other than God for the sum and substance of our life.

That’s the crux, until the day that the former wins the day—then politics will not be necessary because everything is decided in regard to the arena of ideas—there won’t be any arena—the government decides what a good idea is, and what it isn’t.

And religion is no different. That’s because the American framers of the Constitution were home wreckers. They caused the divorce between the European marriage of church and state. In Europe prior to the Enlightenment era that gave birth to the framers; as it was in the government, so it was in the church. There was no arena of ideas save the think tanks that devised efficient machines to eliminate free thinkers with as much pain as possible. Never before in human history has more science been poured into the technology of death machines than in Medieval Europe. And as part of the totally depraved masses, suggesting ideas privately or otherwise was extremely hazardous to one’s health.

It was a very efficient marriage. The church came up with the ideas and controlled them, and the government enforced the churches’ ideas. But there was a problem. The problem can be seen in one Bible verse among God’s full philosophical statement to man regarding truth: “Come, let us reason together saith the Lord.”

Reason. Even God presents His truth in an arena for man’s hearing. In the book of Job, we even find God challenging Satan in that arena. Like no other creatures, we are the ones called to reason—it is how we are wired by God. The results of shutting down man’s ability to think are abundantly evident from European history. Man is created to think. A man who is not allowed to think is exactly like a fish out of water. Eventually, he will start flopping around.

The framers understood this. They knew that any attempt by government to control ideas would only result in a repeat of European history. They also knew that religion is the fundamental gene pool in that regard. But systems die hard. Regardless of the eight-hundred-year European raging fire that could not be extinguished with blood, European religious tyrants who came to setup shop in America could only propagate their system in the government protected American-made arena of ideas.

The divorced couple must play by American rules thus far. In the American political system, it’s communism/socialism. In the religious realm, it’s European Reformed theology. The fight between the Europeans and the yanks continues in the arena of ideas instead of the battlefield. But be also certain of this: every drop of blood spilled in human history has been over ideas. The American framers of the Constitution, for the first time in history, invented a caste system that could implement ethics through politics without blood. Preferable in my book. And I am allowed to say so.

The soul of politics and religion is therefore the same. Who owns man? What could be more obvious? Does government own man? Or does man own man? It could be rightfully argued that God owns man, but even he says, “Come, let us reason together” while the European Reformer Martin Luther called reason a “whore” who should have “dung rubbed in her face to make her ugly.” The separated spouse, government, thinks they know best as well. Thinking, ideas, and reason, in the hands of the masses are supposedly the same as handing an eight-year-old a loaded gun as a play toy. And in the American arena of ideas, many are convinced that this is true.

TheNow you know the heart of the election that is now upon us. Obama has clearly stated that it is common sense that man exists for the government, and doesn’t build anything: “I hear business owners say, ‘I built this or that.’ You didn’t build that.” And obviously, the idea that led to the building project had nothing to do with it as well. The contrast can be pointed out in a recent speech by Romney at the Dayton, Ohio International airport in which he said that FREEDOM of IDEAS are critical to the overall American economy and wellbeing. It is also reflected in his recent bemoaning that 47% of Americans are dependent on the government and will not vote for him. Right. Exactly. That’s the crux: who owns man? And is he created to reason and think? And is it ok with God when man’s ideas produce positive outcomes?

What is at stake in this election?  You only need to look at the government’s estranged spouse—the church. For the most part, European Reformed theology has won out in the arena of ideas. The caste system formed by the Westminster Confession and rabid Puritans has been embraced willingly by those convinced that the church owns them. Sure, there is rape. Sure, there is the denial of ideas. Sure, there is injustice. Sure, there are no other answers but “the gospel.” Sure, we are still totally depraved and helpless. Sure, church is boring. Sure, the church is full of mindless followers. But what else is there? If not for the system, then what? If not for the system of Reformed “orthodoxy” enforced by church “polity” and executed by various and sundry unpleasantries that replaced the burning stake forbidden by our American forefathers, then what?

Ownership by government always leads to the same thing. Always. There are no exceptions. Regardless of outcomes, many American voters who like to be owned by their religion will also vote to be owned by the state. I also wonder how much this might be connected to the whole issue of culpability before God. After all, if we are unable to think for ourselves, and our ideas are dangerous to our own wellbeing, how can God hold us responsible? This provokes one to think of Nazi Germany and that people’s refrain, “The government made us do it.”

“One thing we don’t discuss in mixed company is politics and religion.” Right, because there is no doubt; that divorced couple is a volatile subject, especially when the two are poligion. We do know the devil of poligion, but change is hard and inconvenient. Luther suggested that reason be consigned to the “closets of the house” and we have obeyed. And whatever you do, don’t look in the closet—the monster of history is in there.

Nevertheless, when you pull the lever in November, the question isn’t, “Romney or Obama?” The real question is the soul of politics and religion: “Who owns you?”

“Secular” Is NOT Synonymous with “Evil”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 27, 2014

Gnosticism does not interpret reality in three dimensions. That’s why it is of the Dualism family of philosophy. EVERYTHING is good or evil, material or invisible. This is the “knowledge of good and evil.” ALL of reality is interpreted and defined by one or the other. This also involves Anti-Type epistemology as well: opposites define each other; we would not know light if not for darkness, and evil gives deeper understanding of good and vice versa.

This was the basic hypothesis of the Calvin Institutes (see 1.1.1.) and Protestantism in particular. Martin Luther interpreted ALL reality via the “glory story” and the “cross story.” The story of man and the story of redemption. Luther believed that man cannot reason or know reality, and God sent Christ to marry the invisible to the visible as the only gateway of wellbeing—the only gateway of understanding between the shadow world and the true forms through suffering. This IS the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic so highly touted in Reformed circles. It is behind comments by the likes of John MacArthur Jr. that people doubt their salvation because they have not suffered enough as a Christian.

This worldview has seriously crippled Christianity’s ability to minister to the world because, among many examples, the secular is always defined as being evil. America was founded on secular principles: separation of church and state. The founding fathers saw the secular as a force for good that freed man to pursue life and happiness. This was the first time in history where faith and force were separated.

Other words that are unfortunate Christian synonyms for evil… “flesh,” and “leaven.” The latter often denotes influence whether good or evil; the former, like the secular, can be used for good or evil. The framers recognized that church and secular together,  never turns out well. This is why movements such as the Moral Majority are egregiously misguided.

Here is an example of God using the secular for good purposes, and His call to Christians to support such:

Romans 13:1 – Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

paul

Politics and Religion Have the Same Soul

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 27, 2012

When I didn’t know any better as a Christian, I was indifferent to politics because it made no sense to me. My problem was the following: I was always focused on outcomes. It never made any sense to me that regardless of outcomes, people would vote the same ideologues into office time and time again. In my frustration I would think, “Politics are a waste of time because people are stupid. Regardless of outcomes, they vote these same people into office time and time again.” This made absolutely no sense to me.

Until recently, church never made any sense to me either. Consider this picture: vast institutions pregnant with ultra-educated people coming up with ideas that plainly contrast Scripture. Again, regardless of the poor outcomes, the SYSTEM remains intact. The system seems to offer a devil that we know, and have become comfortable with, as opposed to a devil that we don’t know.

If you think about it, what is the difference between contemporary Christianity and the slave caste system of the Civil War era?  To stand up against injustice is really the same thing as challenging the system. Action is stalled because people hope that the system will change (good luck with that)—that’s easy, changing the system is hard. However, we will fight harder to not change the system, as opposed to changing the system because it’s what we know. Hence, the system takes precedent over God’s justice and is protected by political spin dressed in biblical garb.

But people aren’t stupid, they just prefer whatever the normal is for the day—especially if they aren’t the ones being tied between two horses running in opposite directions. Pathetic, but it is what it is. And both politics and religion are kept alive by the same heart in this regard; the epic question of, “Who owns man?” Ownership is the soul of politics and religion.

Since the day that the framers of the American Constitution posed this question and answered it with the resolve of “Give me liberty or give me death,” be sure of this: the question of who owns man is the soul of American politics and always will be. Whether the American public realizes it or not, those who vote for Obama think government owns man. People who vote for Romney (albeit not their preferred choice) believe that we own ourselves, and are responsible to no other than God for the sum and substance of our life.

That’s the crux, until the day that the former wins the day—then politics will not be necessary because everything is decided in regard to the arena of ideas—there won’t be any arena—the government decides what a good idea is, and what it isn’t.

And religion is no different. That’s because the American framers of the Constitution were home wreckers. They caused the divorce between the European marriage of church and state. In Europe prior to the Enlightenment era that gave birth to the framers; as it was in the government, so it was in the church. There was no arena of ideas save the think tanks that devised efficient machines to eliminate free thinkers with as much pain as possible. Never before in human history has more science been poured into the technology of death machines than in Medieval Europe. And as part of the totally depraved masses, suggesting ideas privately or otherwise was extremely hazardous to one’s health.

It was a very efficient marriage. The church came up with the ideas and controlled them, and the government enforced the churches’ ideas. But there was a problem. The problem can be seen in one Bible verse among God’s full philosophical statement to man regarding truth: “Come, let us reason together saith the Lord.”

Reason. Even God presents His truth in an arena for man’s hearing. In the book of Job, we even find God challenging Satan in that arena. Like no other creatures, we are the ones called to reason—it is how we are wired by God. The results of shutting down man’s ability to think are abundantly evident from European history. Man is created to think. A man who is not allowed to think is exactly like a fish out of water. Eventually, he will start flopping around.

The framers understood this. They knew that any attempt by government to control ideas would only result in a repeat of European history. They also knew that religion is the fundamental gene pool in that regard. But systems die hard. Regardless of the eight-hundred-year European raging fire that could not be extinguished with blood, European religious tyrants who came to setup shop in America could only propagate their system in the government protected American-made arena of ideas.

The divorced couple must play by American rules thus far. In the American political system, it’s communism/socialism. In the religious realm, it’s European Reformed theology. The fight between the Europeans and the yanks continues in the arena of ideas instead of the battlefield. But be also certain of this: every drop of blood spilled in human history has been over ideas. The American framers of the Constitution, for the first time in history, invented a caste system that could implement ethics through politics without blood. Preferable in my book. And I am allowed to say so.

The soul of politics and religion is therefore the same. Who owns man? What could be more obvious? Does government own man? Or does man own man? It could be rightfully argued that God owns man, but even he says, “Come, let us reason together” while the European Reformer Martin Luther called reason a “whore” who should have “dung rubbed in her face to make her ugly.” The separated spouse, government, thinks they know best as well. Thinking, ideas, and reason, in the hands of the masses are supposedly the same as handing an eight-year-old a loaded gun as a play toy. And in the American arena of ideas, many are convinced that this is true.

Now you know the heart of the election that is now upon us. Obama has clearly stated that it is common sense that man exists for the government, and doesn’t build anything: “I hear business owners say, ‘I built this or that.’ You didn’t build that.” And obviously, the idea that led to the building project had nothing to do with it as well. The contrast can be pointed out in a recent speech by Romney at the Dayton, Ohio International airport in which he said that FREEDOM of IDEAS are critical to the overall American economy and wellbeing. It is also reflected in his recent bemoaning that 47% of Americans are dependent on the government and will not vote for him. Right. Exactly. That’s the crux: who owns man? And is he created to reason and think? And is it ok with God when man’s ideas produce positive outcomes?

What is at stake in this election?  You only need to look at the governments estranged spouse—the church. For the most part, European Reformed theology has won out in the arena of ideas. The caste system formed by the Westminster Confession and rabid Puritans has been embraced willingly by those convinced that the church owns them. Sure, there is rape. Sure, there is the denial of ideas. Sure, there is injustice. Sure, there are no other answers but “the gospel.” Sure, we are still totally depraved and helpless. Sure, church is boring. Sure, the church is full of mindless followers. But what else is there? If not for the system, then what? If not for the system of Reformed “orthodoxy” enforced by church “polity” and executed by various and sundry unpleasantries that replaced the burning stake forbidden by our American forefathers, then what?

Ownership by government always leads to the same thing. Always. There are no exceptions. Regardless of outcomes, many American voters who like to be owned by their religion will also vote to be owned by the state. I also wonder how much this might be connected to the whole issue of culpability before God. After all, if we are unable to think for ourselves, and our ideas are dangerous to our own wellbeing, how can God hold us responsible? This provokes one to think of Nazi Germany and that people’s refrain, “The government made us do it.”

“One thing we don’t discuss in mixed company is politics and religion.” Right, because there is no doubt; that divorced couple is a volatile subject, especially when the two are poligion. We do know the devil of poligion, but change is hard and inconvenient. Luther suggested that reason be consigned to the “closets of the house” and we have obeyed. And whatever you do, don’t look in the closet—the monster of history is in there.

Nevertheless, when you pull the lever in November, the question isn’t, “Romney or Obama?” The real question is the soul of politics and religion: “Who owns you?”

paul

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