Paul's Passing Thoughts

Calvinism “Leans” Left – guest writer, John Immel

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on June 17, 2019

The following question was posted in a Facebook group that I follow:

This is a great question. Here is my answer. Calvinism isn’t a leftward LEAN. It IS at the core Leftist ideology.

Here is what I mean. In modern parlance being politically LEFT means being statist/collectivist or totalitarian/tribalist or Man is morally subordinate to the state for the benefit of the body politic.

Being politically right means governing in accord with the American constitution- that Man is a free moral agent who can pursue his life, liberty and happiness; and the government’s singular function is to protect the individual. The American constitution sets up a secular state independent of any religious orthodoxy- men are free to believe what they want without a political theological litmus test.

Statist/Collectivism has been the dominant philosophical framework in recorded history. Without going into a lengthy discussion of the evolution of western political thought (e.g. the Pythagorean Soul/Body dichotomy. You can read the extended discussions here),  the culmination of Statist doctrine is Plato’s Republic. He set up a clear delineation between the fleshly, morally depraved masses and the soul-enlightened Philosopher Kings, men who were not subject to the depravity of fleshly existence and (somehow) uniquely qualified to rule over all men. Plato pontificated that the Philosopher Kings would be benevolent dictators, but the reality is Plato’s kings have always been despots.

Fast forwarding a few hundred years, and Augustine grafts three centuries of disorganized, vague intellectual Christian traditions into Plato’s despotic framework. It proved a powerful combination- this statist framework dominates the whole of the Dark and Middle Ages with only a couple deviations where Aristotle was rediscovered and rational independence was the leading political principle.

Enter the Enlightenment and the Reformation. Saint Thomas Aquinas rediscovers Aristotle (circa 1250) and does an exceptional job revisioning Christianity in Aristotelian terms which lead to the very rational independence and political freedom mentioned above. And this freedom is what Martin Luther found so unacceptable.

Let’s back up a tick. The modern legend is that Luther sought to champion intellectual freedom against an entrenched, immoral Papacy that was advancing an erroneous doctrinal definition of grace. The Reformation battle cry becomes the “5 Solas.” And the leading “Sola” is “Scripture Alone” which people are led to believe means individuals are empowered to read the bible for themselves, and this self directed bible reading is the foundation of correct Bible interpretation. Alakazam! Poof! No more Popes telling us what to think.

This is total fiction.

Luther was fully antagonistic of independent reason and political freedom. He NEVER believed the “laity” and the right of interpretation. Unfortunately Protestant history is a revisionist history that has erroneously taught that the Reformation was an individualist/independent thinking movement. The truth is Luther’s “reforming” effort was to unseat Aristotle’s influence on what he saw as a wayward Catholic “free thinking” leadership and a demand to return it to the “orthodoxy” of Augustine.

Forget reading Luther’s 95 theses. That is merely window dressing to his real dispute. I highly recommend reading the Heidelberg Disputation, particularly the later parts that typically don’t get published. If memory serves, points 16 through 25 are all about Plato vs Aristotle; the superiority of Plato and the evil of Aristotle.

You have to work to find it because revisionist historians don’t like the details available for public consumption, but the pro Plato/anti Aristotle is at the core of Luther’s “reformation.”

And so it goes to Calvin and his Institutes of Christian Religion. Do a fast review of how many times he references and applauds Plato and condemns all free thinking Aristotealian ideas. Make no mistake, Calvin’s ICR was a formal effort to close all of Augustine’s theological loopholes that implied independence and freedom and set up the justification for a totalitarian Christian state. Even a casual review of Protestant history illustrates that the totalitarian theory and the mystic depot practice lined up . . .

Until the Enlightenment and post-constitutional America. There are many steps to synthesize here, but for brevity, Thomas Jefferson successfully distills John Lock’s Enlightenment political theory into the greatest political achievement in human history- a document that totally liberated man from the crushing power of Government in general and theocratic tyranny in particular.

The effort to separate church and state was specifically designed to prevent the Massachusetts Theocracy (aka Puritan theocracy aka Calvinist theocracy) from ever rising anywhere in the colonies.
And by doing this, the American constitution severed the cords that had forever bound Calvinism with government force.

But the theocratic/Statist aspirations are at the root of Protestant Orthodoxy. And this is why, generations later you see contemporary Calvinist true believers advocating unapologetic statist public policy. This is why the “LEAN” left. But as I said it isn’t a lean. They are men who take Calvins synthesis seriously and seek to enact the political vision that subordinates all men to church authority. And the only way they can ever achieve that is to set up a totalitarian state that compels compliance; modern “leftist” ideology. Socialism, Communism, and Fascism are merely the secularized version of the same philosophical premise- individuals must be subordinate to the collective. It is the flip side of the same coin. They advocate the same political outcomes because they share the same premise.

Make no mistake, the current leftist political trend in the Calvinist movements is not an aberration or the error of a few stray thinkers. On the contrary it is the effort to be consistent with Calvin’s synthesis.

~ John Immel

The Marriage Of Faith And Force Is On The Horizon

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 18, 2018

For your consideration:

Briarwood Presbyterian Church Police Department Bill Died for Lack of Action in the Legislature

Briarwood Presbyterian Church

From the above article:

A bill that would have allowed the megachurch to hire certified peace officers died when the Legislature adjourned Friday, the second year in a row the measure has died. It was passed by the Senate and House last year but was not signed by the governor. This year, it passed the Senate but did not come up for a vote in the House…

…But critics see the potential for abuse. Randall Marshall, acting executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama said, “Briarwood Presbyterian Church, as well as many other such institutions, already meet their security concerns through the use of private security, which does not implicate state power, or off-duty police officers who ultimately are answerable to their governmental employer for any abuse of the authority vested in them by the state…”

…Concerns over the legislation centered on the notion of a religious body with lethal force at its disposal. Moore maintains the church “would not use a police authority to enforce its views, nor would the proposed legislation authorize such…”


How Political Landscapes Lead to Spiritual Oligarchy

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on February 6, 2015

PPT HandleOriginally published January 19, 2013

It may not seem like the present Obama administration could ever have anything in common with the present-day New Calvinist movement. But not only has there been stranger bedfellows in the past, there are always reasons for such alliances.

I’m not much of a political animal, but I also recognize that throughout history politics and religion are never strangers to each other, and again, there are reasons for that. America was an experiment, and the founders of our country had the Reformers on their mind. Why? Because historically, and as coined by philosopher Ayn Rand, faith and force are the destroyers of the modern world. Putting the government in charge of truth has always been a really bad idea, and the Reformers were not the least bit shy about enforcing their truth with a burning stake or hangman’s noose. Let us remember, the Puritans compiled the Westminster Confession at the behest of European government. It was primarily a government document.

Biblically speaking, what is more apparent than the end of the world culminating with a marriage of “church” and state? Hardly anyone disagrees on that point. And a cursory observation of Revelation showcases the slaughter of dissenters that comes part and parcel with such marriages. Always. That information intimidates Reformed types more than their jealously for the numbers who follow Joel Osteen—who they really fear is Ayn Rand types; i.e., thinkers that could be used mightily among the sanctified.

Also, I believe that the final form of faith and force that will destroy the modern world will have feet of iron mixed with clay (per the prophet Daniel), indicating a weaker control over the world than past oligarchies. And the reason for this? Plain and simple: the Information Age. Despotism has always been nourished, and will always be nourished by a tight control of information. That is why our brilliant founders were big on saturating America with information, and the advent of computers and other super-information devices will prevent the former glory of tyranny from experiencing its full potential.

President Obama is obviously not that crazy about the philosophy of freedom that America was founded on. Neither is he crazy about the philosophy of competence in regard to the masses also propagated by the founders. And neither are the New Calvinists. They believe the masses need philosopher kings. Obama believes the masses need welfare and thoughtfare. This is also the philosophical tie that binds Catholicism to the Reformers—a different doctrine to obtain the same results notwithstanding.

Per the usual, when the climate is just right, political tyrants of the day and spiritual despots get together for pizza. Political tyrants need the primary topping that spiritual despots need. Who orders a pizza without pepperoni? Who does that? And the primary topping for spiritual tyrants and dictators is control. All religious movements bring their numbers to the table for a piece of the action and to use the government to tighten the control over their people that they already have which is never enough. This is the way it has always played out. The exception is followers of God who reject caste systems. Spiritual caste and political/social caste have never passed on dining together and never will.

And what is unique about Reformed theology is its attitude towards secular rule. Actually, the more it humbles man, the better. Humbleness is the only means to grace, and the more, the better. More humbleness, more grace. Who is better at humbling man than the array of tyrannical dictators of the ages? So, what I am saying is that people often get confused about strange alliances; say for example, Rick Warren and Barack Obama.

Look for the pepperoni.