Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Disaster of Sacrifice as the Ultimate Moral Standard – Part 1

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

The following is part one of a four-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s first session at the 2016 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for part twoClick here for part three
(Links to the archived files are found below)


We get to talk about philosophy!

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.

Here is the fundamental premise that I’m trying to bring to light. People act consistently from their body of ideas. They will fulfill that logical conclusion. They cannot escape it because human beings are designed to integrate their concepts from the most basic premises all the way to the highest concepts.

This explanation is best captured in the diagram at the right. My claim to fame within TANC Ministries is to discuss the roots of tyranny. Where does tyranny come from, and why does it exist? This is my contribution to philosophy. I’ve identified five pillars which are the basis for all tyranny. I’ve arranged them into a spider web because I want you to understand that they are all inter-connected. These are not stand-alone events: universal guilt, incompetent masses, collective conformity, abolition of ambition, and dictated good.

In all tyrannies, you will find these fundamental doctrines (and I don’t care if the tyranny is communist, socialist, or Calvinist) behind the arguments that people use to sustain such tyranny.

Man organizes his ideas in a hierarchy.   I laid this out consistently in both the 2012 and 2013 TANC conferences – find the assumption and you will find the cause. One of the most challenging things I think people have when they are evaluating the content of ideas is learning to see root principles; learning to see what is at the bottom of what everyone is thinking.

To do that you have to learn to think philosophically. All men organize their ideas into a cohesive whole, and that science is called philosophy. Now they might not be aware of it, it may not be explicit, but all men have an integration of their ideas. In the world of philosophy that process goes by these sub-divisions or disciplines:

Disciplines of Philosophy

– Metaphysics

– Epistemology

– Ethics

– Politics

– Aesthetics (art)

The nature of existence is metaphysics. How man knows what he knows is called epistemology. How we value what we know is ethics. (The bulk of this series will involve the discussion of ethics) How we interact with people is politics. And how man creatively reflects his existence back to himself is called aesthetics or art.

This series of discussions will focus on the central ethical assumption of the Western world, indeed, the whole world:

Gospel According to John Immel 7:17
”Sacrifice as the highest moral ideal is the lynch pin of the coming Protestant Dark Age.”

Ponder that for a minute.

You can see that I crossed out the word “Protestant”, and I did that, not to minimize Calvinist Christianity’s role in the coming Dark Age, but to emphasize that Western culture is heading towards a collapse. The Western world is committing ideological treason to the ideas that brought liberty and light to the whole world. The Western world’s central philosophical betrayal is the renewed embrace of the primary ethic of sacrifice. Twenty-first century man has decided to abandon the power of individualism a replace it with the primordial ethics of shamens, tribal warlords, and despots.

There is no small irony that in the Western slide into self-destruction, Christianity is paving the way with Augustinian and Calvinist doctrines from ages past that have already proved what they will create. They have already proved that the ideas taken to their logical conclusion will create death, poverty, suffering, and darkness.

It is ironic because Christians like to pretend they are ethical innovators. They love to talk about being separate from the world, and that being “worldly” is the same as being evil, that as Christians they have unique and transforming ideas. Christianity likes to pretend that it originated all the good ideas, and only the bad ideas exist in the world. Christians like to think that self-sacrifice is a wholly unique Christian concept that started when Jesus hung on the cross. They like to think that the world is committed to selfishness and ego, and individuals engaging in self-interest are “worldly.”

But like most myths, when studied beyond the surface it becomes clear that Christianity regularly steals its ideas from other sources. It becomes clear that Christianity repackages worldly ideas and presents them in its own name. For example: taking over Sunday as a day of divine service (it was originally a Greco-Roman holiday dedicated to Zeus); taking over a pagan winter festival and decorating trees and calling it “Christmas”; and probably amongst the most egregious rip-offs in history is the ex-appropriation of Jewish scriptures as the source of Christian authority all the while persecuting and killing the very people to whom the documents were written.

So here is the myth revealed: Christianity did not invent sacrifice for the “greater good”. Indeed, the oldest of all worldly ideas is sacrifice as the highest moral standard. The oldest moral standard known to man, practiced in all cultures and in all continents, is the foundational premise that man must sacrifice himself, must sacrifice his self-interest for the gods, for the tribe, for the people, for the king, for the nation, and the “greater good.”

For the whole of human history, it has been presumed that man is a sacrificial animal. Don’t be deceived that because we don’t see virgins tied to alters and priests holding bloody knives that we in the twenty-first century are more enlightened. We are not. Indeed, the nature of sacrifice today is more pervasive, more destructive, and more vicious. In ages past a sacrifice was done to receive a favor from the gods. It was expected that the destruction of one value would provide something of greater value. Today it is presumed that to receive any benefit from a sacrifice disqualifies the action. Today we sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice alone.

The result is the modern man is offered two existential options:

Sadism – sacrifice enforced as the hands of others
Masochism – self-inflicted sacrifice

Sacrifice is destroying America!

  • Sacrifice is destroying a free society at the root
  • Sacrifice corrupts government
  • Sacrifice destroys achievement
  • Sacrifice destroys the meaning of words
  • Sacrifice destroys marriages
  • Sacrifice gives Calvinist thugs the moral power to perpetrate their tyranny.

But before we trip too far down that path I want to give you a sense of history.

Sumerians – 3500 BCE
From the land of Ur, kings were gods, and the people were created to serve the gods. Fertility was the most sought-after boon from the gods. To acquire these boons people gave sacrifices. There were sacrifices of animals, and there were sacrifices of grain, and there were sacrifices of people. There belief was that the sacrifice of people made it possible to follow the king into the after-life. If was also a common practice for women to sacrifice themselves to follow their husbands into the after-life.

Hindu Vedas – 1700 BCE to 1100 BCE
The belief that the Vedas are divinely inspired documents without human authors. Within these scriptures they detail human sacrifice. Some scholars say that human sacrifice was continued in Bengal in the ancient world through the 19th century. The Thuggee cult that was dramatized in the film, Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom was real. They followed Kali, the goddess of destruction, and it is believed they killed somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million people!

Shang Dynasty – 1523 BCE to 1050 BCE
The Chinese culture was dominated by ancestor worship. When a man died he passed into the “upper regions.” These ancestors had the power to impact the lives of descendants back down on earth. To inspire these ancestors to act on their behalf, people on earth gave sacrifices – animals, food, grain, wine, and other men. It was believed than man’s abasement before the spirits by offering these sacrifices would show the correct humility so that they might be worthy of good fortune. When the kings died, it was common practice to slaughter members of his elite guard and bury them in the tombs to guard the Shang kings in the after-life.

Abraham (Abram) – 1700 BCE
Now consider the geographical region of these first three civilizations: Mesopotamia (Middle East), India, and China. The Bible in the book of Genesis tells about a man named Abram who came from this very same general region, Ur of the Chaldeans.

“Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there.” ~ Genesis 11:31

“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.” ~ Genesis 22:1-3

There are two things I want you to see from these passages. First, notice where Abraham and his whole family is from; Ur, the land of the Sumerians. Second, notice that Abraham never considers the command to sacrifice Isaac to be something unusual.   The chances are that he was not the first man to believe that some god somewhere told him to sacrifice his child.

This is very important. Abraham would have been amidst a pantheon of gods. In his culture, everywhere he looked there was a god. And he has this personal God of his own called “Yehowah” (Jehovah) who isn’t know to too many people, if anybody other than Abraham. His household knows Him simply because they have seen Abraham prosper because of Him. So this obscure God says to this man, “Go kill your kid,” – there’s nothing abnormal here to Abraham’s mind.

It is crucial that you understand that at no point in history is sacrifice as a concept unique. Let that sink in for a moment.

Pythagoreans – 570 BCE
I did a full analysis on the Pythagoreans and their impact on Western thought at the 2013 TANC Conference. But a brief review is in order. Their abiding and enduring impact begins with their contributions to music and mathematics. However their greater impact on Western culture is metaphysical. What they offer is profound and unique.

The Pythagoreans celebrate sunrise.

“Man has two parts, a high part and a low part. The low part is the body, the high part the soul. These two are in eternal conflict with each other. The soul is akin to God, to another dimension. Once, it was a god-like creature, inhabiting another, superior, spiritual world. But it sinned. And the result was it fell from grace. And as punishment was included in the body on this earth. The body is therefore the prison, the tomb of the soul. And we are destined, each of us, to go through a series of “reincarnations”. At the end of our earthly span, our soul goes back to the other world, and it gets the appropriate reward or punishment (depending upon its behavior), and then it comes around again, what they call the “wheel of birth.” Sometimes it comes up in another human body, sometimes in an animal body. It lives out its cycle…until…the soul can escape from this body and earth permanently, reunite once and for all with God, and thereby achieve true happiness and salvation…

“How do you [get to it]?…purification…you have to live a good life…an ascetic life…[but] the Pythagoreans at their most ascetic are frenzied hedonists in comparison to the Christians that are yet to come…”

“…to be free of the flesh is man’s highest ethical ideal.”

You can hear the echoes of later Christian doctrine all over this. Here is what the Pythagoreans did. For the first time there was formal concept of man divided against himself – that man was actually two things; spiritual and material. The spiritual was good and the material was functionally evil. They are the developers of human depravity in Western thought.

Most cultures prior to this accepted that the gods were to be revered and their domains were set apart, but it was assumed that man had a right to engage or interact with the gods on some level. The divine was not specifically hostile to man as such, and man by definition could beseech the gods and get boons from them. The Pythagorean premise begins the separation between the material and the spiritual.

Now to my knowledge the Pythagoreans do not participate in human sacrifice in the literal meaning, but they introduce what amounts to a “living death.” For the first time in philosophical history, the presumption is that this stuff (body, matter) that we inhabit is somehow functionally and morally wrong.


Plato to Plotinus to Augustine

Plotinus

I detailed the is a previous conference, but I never get tired of pointing this out. Augustine’s theological pedigree is rooted in Plato’s philosophy via the neo-platonist Plotinus. Plato’s The Republic basically says this: Lesser men are driven by their passions and not fit to rule themselves. Lesser men must subordinate themselves (a.k.a. sacrifice) their base nature to the Philosopher Kings. This is the appropriate order of the world.

Those intellectuals who have the ability to formulate a full philosophical statement, as Plato did, are the ones with the most intellectual power. It is very difficult for people to be philosophical and intellectual innovators. One percent of one percent of one percent of one percent of people in world history will every try to do such a thing. Most people uncritically adopt philosophical statements from whomever they are learning.

Plotinus picks up ideas from the Pythagoreans, the Cynics, and the Stoics who all believed in the soul/body dichotomy, a doctrine which metastasizes as it develops throughout history. While the Pythagoreans would have been considered raving hedonists by comparison, by the time we get to the Cynics, their commitment to the destruction of the body is transcendent. And this is what Plotinus picks up on. By the time we get to Plotinus, he is determined to philosophically eradicate the material world as such, and that specifically means the body.

Plotinus drops all vestiges of the humanist element in Plato’s philosophy. What I mean by that is while Platos’s ideas were wrong, he still held that humanity had virtue. He believed man had value and he still advocated for the betterment of man, but Plato’s was not a religious position even though it had religious elements. But by the time we get to Plotinus, the religious element of spirit-good/matter-evil had reached a peak.

Plotinus probably would have faded into oblivion had it not been for Augustine. Augustine uses Plotinus’ anti-material metaphysic and weaves the Pythagorean’s soul/body dichotomy into Christianity. Augustine said that the nature of man’s sacrifice is individual. This is important. Up until Augustine, men didn’t really consider themselves individuals. They might have identified that they were sole people, but they were always part of something larger. Their nationalities mattered, their participation in the tribe mattered, they conceptualized themselves in the collective mindset. Augustine is the first philosopher to introduce individuality and more importantly, a morbid introspection. Most of you are very keen on doing self-analysis and looking inside and then finding your flaws. This is Augustine’s heritage.

He metastasizes the Pythagorean concept of asceticism and turns it on human life as such. Life qua life is the greatest threat to define existence. The whole of this theology has a singular aim; to make man’s life unlivable and make death the moral ideal.

So now here is the problem. Augustine’s doctrine becomes the de facto standard of Christian orthodoxy for effectively the next thousand years. He stands intellectually unopposed.   There is no legitimate intellectual resistance to Augustine’s doctrine until St. Thomas Aquinas. The reason he is so successful at this is because his doctrine is both heresy and treason to oppose. In other words, it is backed by government power.

The logical conclusion of a doctrine that condemns is called asceticism. Asceticism is the soul/body dichotomy – the intentional destruction of the evil material world put into practice. It is no longer a theory. The kind of asceticism the worked its way across Europe was the practice of trying to incrementally destroy the body. Consider the lengths to which they went to destroy the body: staring into the sun until blind so as not to lust after women, sitting on rocks until their legs wasted away, drinking dirty laundry water.

So Christian Europe basically decides that the apostle Paul’s metaphor to beat his body into submission is to be taken literally. Asceticism was the social ideal during the Dark Ages. The problem is, you can’t really practice asceticism because it will kill you, yet the cultural heroes were all ascetics. They are individually self-destructive but they are held up as a moral ideal. They are venerated even though you don’t really do what they do.

This is the mind set of the European Dark Ages. The Dark Ages are dark in principle because the ideas behind the societal action are dark in principle. If your metaphysics is dark, man can’t know anything because his epistemology, what he knows, his mind, is dark. If his mind is dark, by definition he seeks out darkness. He values darkness. He seeks to destroy. And that means his politics, how he interacts with people, is by definition destructive. Notice the progression. You start with the Augustinian premise of original sin and self-destruction, man is materially and fundamentally evil, it results in a logical conclusion.

Four hundred years after Jesus came preaching life in the covenants of promise, Christianity becomes a cult of death that rules the world with a nihilistic iron fist. But for all of the destruction that Augustine’s ideas created he had one flaw in his theology. He left one avenue of self-interest in his doctrine. That flaw left the world one last glimmer of hope, one last place for man to escape the destruction of human sacrifice. That flaw would remain in human thought for about a thousand years.

…To be continued

John Immel 2016 Session 1 Archive Video (YouTube)  Audio Only (mp3)

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 the 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 the 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 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 9, 2017

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

Click here for the introduction
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

I’m going to continue with my case on the nature of philosophy, how it is a driving force of human action. It has impacted the evolution of Western thought in particular, and specifically it shaped National Socialist Germany. It is currently shaping the United States of America.

At the TANC Conference of 2013, I began to explain the evolution of Western thought, and I started all the way back from Thales around 600 BC. One of the biggest challenges I have is that Christians tend to believe that Christianity just sprang up out of a whole cloth, but it actually has a very specific place in the larger context of the evolution of Western thought. The roots of those ideas can be seen as far back as Plato and Pythagoreans, and many of our doctrines come from the Cynics and the Stoics.

I’m going to pick up where I left off in the timeline I began last year, around 150 AD, because this will lay a foundation. I’m going to touch briefly on Plato because the roots of current Christian doctrine can be traced from Plato to Augustine to Luther to Calvin. Actually, it is not really all that much of a dirty secret. The fact of the matter is that anyone can find this relationship with no effort at all. It is hidden in plain sight for anybody to find.

You will recall from our study of the Cynics and the Stoics that they believed the flesh, the material world was corrupt. They were responsible for the introduction of the soul-body dichotomy into Western thought.

Christianity largely picks up this soul-body dichotomy from these ancient Western thinkers. The Cynics and Stoics ultimately believe that the way man achieves knowledge and virtue was by the discipline of the flesh. Because the flesh was weak, it required kind of like an athlete’s training.

Plotinus

Around 200 AD a man by the name of Plotinus picks up on the Cynic and Stoic doctrines. Plotinus takes these concepts to the next logical progression. Not only is the material world inferior, it is in fact totally morally depraved.

Consider what Plato taught. Plato believed that this earth was a shadow variation of a perfect world. This world was not true reality. It was really the reflection, the shadow on the wall of a cave. The otherworldly realm was called the world of Forms. Plato believed that man’s grasp of reality was limited. Plato believed that man’s ethical standard was his subordination to the state. He believed that man was inferior. He believed that certain men, what he called philosopher kings, should be in charge. They should dictate good.

Plato still has a secular philosophy. In other words, he still believed that select men can get to this transcendent world, this world of Forms, by virtue of his reason. Now it wasn’t a clean blanket statement that all men had this ability. It was really reserved for a select few men who specifically practice virtues that gave them access to the forms and higher levels of knowledge, but it was still a secular version.

By contrast, Plotinus dropped all vestiges of the human element. According to Plotinus’ disciples, Plotinus had zero interest in the physical life. His entire obsession was attaining a transcendent reality. But his transcendent reality was a religious transcendence. He accepted the premise of the mystery cults, the Gnostics, where because man is specifically corrupt, there was a certain initiating practice that gave them access to the knowledge, and they were uniquely qualified to get to this knowledge by virtue of their specific denial of fleshly existence.

This means that the secular transcendent world is graspable because man is the secularizing part. But a religious transcendent world is not graspable because man has no place in that world. Here is how Plotinus described this. Listen to the echoes of what becomes Christianity.

“The One is, in truth, beyond all statement; whatever you say would limit It; the All-Transcending, transcending even the most august Mind, which alone of all things has true being, has no name. We can but try to indicate, if possible, something concerning it. If we do not grasp it by knowledge, what does that not mean that we do not seize it. How does man come to seize knowledge of a transcendent being? It is impossible for man to cease transcendent knowledge by reason.”

I want you to notice that he wanted reason to be part of man’s incompetence.

Once you understand Plotinus, it becomes very simple to understand Augustine, because this is the version of Platonism that Augustine got hold of. He did not have the original Plato. Augustine sees in his mind the one, the All-Transcendent, as the Christian God. It is from this framework within which he places Christianity, because there was a problem with early Christianity.

When Jesus showed up on the scene, He was in Israel talking to Israelites about Israel issues. He repeatedly stated that He came to the lost children of Israel. This is why, particularly in the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Matthew, you see virtually no recognition of a world beyond Palestine. You see functionally no understanding of the broader Hellenistic world.

By the time we get to the Gospel of Luke, being a Roman and having much more concern with the broader Hellenistic world, his original works are actually addressed to someone named Theophilus. While Luke’s interest is to a broader Greek world, even then Luke’s focus is only inasmuch as he wants to show the progression of the Great Commission going to the outermost parts of the earth to these people. So even by the time we get to the Book of Acts, he is still just focused on that evolution.

And herein lay the problem. As this Jewish movement, which started out in this little backwater no nothing territory of the Roman Empire, moves in to the broader Hellenistic world it is confronted with some profound intellectual problems.

The Hellenistic world has no association with the Jewish background of the things that Jesus said and did. There was no quick way to explain the nature of the Jesus movement to this broader Hellenistic world because there was no full philosophical statement. It was a collection of stories and aphorisms and parables. And so to that world and to that mind, Christianity did not have a lot of direct relevance.

By the time we get into the 2nd century, Christianity is really reeling. Christianity needed an integration into a broader philosophical statement. One of the first who tried to do this was Philo. Philo was a Jew, and he was definitely a Hellenistic Jew, and his goal was to take Platonism and merge it into Judaism.   He is one of a number who were making these attempts at philosophical integration.

This is the fundamental problem that landed on Augustine’s lap. Augustine set out to finalize the integration of these ideas, and he used the turnkey solution of Platonism to do it.   Concurrent with this, the Roman Empire was crumbling. There was a lot of chaos happening in the world, both political and social. People were looking for some means and some way to begin to explain these things, so a corrupt material world and a corrupt man in a war-torn and war-ravaged and famine-ravaged existence seems to make an enormous amount of sense.

First Council of Nicea

Then there is the political side of this equation to consider. Around 250 AD, Christianity began to emerge as a player in the social-political structure of the world. By 300, the Church was full of all sorts of political ambition. Bishops became effectively synonymous with rulers.

Constantine then capitalizes on the Christian statist ambition as he presided over the Council of Nicaea. Constantine says, “You know what, guys? I’m tired of hearing you bicker. I’m going to put an end to this.” He declared a specific orthodoxy to be upheld. He called all opposing positions to be demented and insane, and then he proceeded to persecute anyone who happened to believe otherwise.

Constantine galvanized ecumenical support for his power in the failing Roman Empire, using his civil authority to condemn. In trade, the winning bishops pledged their allegiance to Constantine. Constantine died in 337, but the Council of Nicaea lasted for almost another 25 years.   With each year that passed, the Church became increasingly more embroiled in civil governance.

Fast forward to the appointment of Flavius Theodosius to emperor in 379. Theodosius’ role in history and more importantly, Church history, has been airbrushed out of existence, as Charles Freeman notes in his book AD 381. This is a profound failing because in 381, for the first time in Greco-Roman history, religious orthodoxy became synonymous with political power. In 381, the power of the state was galvanized into Christianity forever. This forever changed the face of the world. From this point forward, the leading Christian theological concern was who had the authority, the force, to compel doctrinal outcomes. No matter the specific theological hair being split, the underlying fight was who held the force to suppress the dissenting opinion.

Here’s why this is important. Secularism gets a black eye because we tend to assume that secular means immoral. But secularism only means the division of religious orthodoxy from political orthodoxy. A secular state is effectively an agnostic state where the force of government does not care what the specific religious convictions of people are. Even though they believed in hundreds of gods, the Hellenistic world, and in particular the Classical Greek world, was effectively a secular state. Man could believe what he chose. He was not compelled by doctrine to believe anything.

The only other manifestation of a truly secular state in the history of the world is the United States of America. It is important for people to grasp this. The single greatest political achievement the world has ever seen was a secular state, meaning that man was free to believe what he wanted. I’m going to talk about this at length later on.

Theocracy on the other hand is the merging of political power with the theological orthodoxy. A theocracy means that man is compelled to a given theological standard by force of government. And this is exactly what happened with Theodosius. Augustine’s doctrine was then able to reign effectively for the next thousand years without contest. No one could muster an objection because it was considered treason to object to Augustinian doctrine.

Augustine decides he has cared for all the basic premises:

  • The soul/body or mind/body dichotomy derived from ancient Greek doctrine
  • Man is epistemologically corrupt
  • The abandonment of reason
  • A commitment the presumption that select men are morally correct to dictate intellectual content (dogmatism)
  • The primacy of the state (the church)

Central to all of these premises is asceticism. Asceticism is a philosophical commitment of the individual to destroy every facet of his physical existence. Asceticism is the practical application of the soul-body dichotomy put into practice. Christian asceticism took the apostle Paul’s determination to beat his body literally and seriously.

The Church taught that asceticism gave access to the supernatural through mortification, literally, the death of the flesh. Paul Dohse has written at length about the doctrines of mortification and vivification. Most Christians tend to assume that when we talk about mortification, we’re really talking about something they can pick and choose. But in this case is means the literal death of the flesh.   Self-destruction would earn God’s pity. Self-destruction showed that man was full of guilt.

Some examples of ascetic practices included celibacy. This was very common. Virginity was considered an ethical ideal tied to the belief that the natural world was evil. This actually hit women very hard through the Dark Ages because women were either virgins or whores. Women were seen as tempters of men. Celibacy was the means to prevent. Celibacy was also a means by which the Catholic Church could keep their property from disappearing into inheritance. Priests that don’t marry don’t have kids, won’t have wives. The Church gets the money. The Church gets taxes. The Church keeps it, because when the priests dies, he doesn’t give it away to his family.

Another ascetic practice was the renunciation of material possessions. For example, a man by the name of Alexander married poverty, which I think is hilarious considering our current preoccupations with re-defining marriage in America. Alexander would beg for his food and did not keep his excess. One commenter on Alexander’s wife said that his form of monasticism was better because it didn’t create the housekeeping problems of say, the Franciscans. In other words, he didn’t have cleric. I think that’s hilarious.

Another ascetic practice is the renunciation of food. The ideal Christian fasted for 40 days, as practiced by Jesus. It also turns out that starvation past 40 days killed you.

They reduced or prevented sleep. They turned sleep into torture. They slept on beds of nails. They were beaten if they fell asleep. Syrian monks tied ropes around their abdomens and slept standing up. Others hung themselves in awkward positions.

They condemned hygiene. They refused to cut their hair, fingernails, or toenails. They dressed in filthy rags and allowed sweat and dirt to accumulate.

They abandoned movement. It was common to lock themselves away in monasteries, but then they would take it further and lock themselves into ever-smaller and smaller cells. Truly horrific is that some ascetics would go into the desert, sit down on a pile of rocks and stay there until their legs are rotten away. They beat their bodies. Men would stare into the sun until they were blind so that they would never succumb to the lusts of the eyes. Monastic orders wore girdles around their loins so that they would not desire women. Castration and self-flagellation were very common.

Here is the point that I want to make. These practices never made it into general practice for the simple reason that it is not livable. It is by definition designed to kill. It is a commitment to death and destruction that cannot be practiced. But the point is that these kinds of practices were venerated. It was seen as an ethical ideal. The men who did practice such action were considered saints. The Church turned these people into heroes.

Because of Augustine, throughout the Dark Ages we have an entire intellectual collapse. Reason cannot grasp God, and there is no earthly reality. Imagine an entire culture built around this fundamental presumption. This is the proof-text mindset- the need to use authority to validate ideas. The proof-text mind cannot think in terms of causality. It is a mind that equates causality with authority. It is a mind that does not grasp principles.

Of course, what this really means is that we are talking about an entire culture built on rational dependence. In other words, it is a culture that gets all of its rational content from somebody who dictates. This is impossible for a scientific society, because a scientific society is built around rational independence, the ability to independently review and explore the world find commonalities and causalities.

What were the results of the Dark Ages?

Intellectual stagnation. It paralyzed all critical thinking. Authority was what governed human interaction, and the result was war, war, war, and more war. God was always in the business of smiting someone else who got it wrong through the sword of the church/state. The concept of “rights” was really a discussion of prerogatives. The “Divine Right of Kings” is really the divine prerogative of kings.

The intellectual stagnation of the Dark Ages produced infant mortality rates estimated at 50 percent, some sources suggest maybe as low as 30. A villager serf, his wife, and surviving children shared a living space of roughly 700 square feet, and they shared that space with livestock.

By age 12, a boy was considered old enough to pledge his life to his sovereign, meaning he was considered old enough to go to war. By 12, girls were considered old enough to marry. They were sold as a chattel, considered a societal burden because they were a mouth to feed. They could not endure the rigors of agricultural life. The concept of a dowry was designed to make marriageable females more attractive to male suitors. Men were basically paid to take on women.

Ninety-five percent of the population worked at agriculture with farm implements out of the Stone Age. Yields were estimated at a quarter of the seed sown. Therefore, it took roughly two acres to feed one person. By comparison, modern farming methods yield in excess of 80 percent, and it takes less than a third of an acre to feed one person. There was no concept of germs, no antibiotics, no vaccines, no anesthetic. Anesthetic was considered sinful. Your pain was necessarily the product of your sin, and God deliberately did it to you. And this all made sense because suffering was a virtue.

Death was a virtue. Pain was merely the natural state of human existence. Practically 95 percent of the populace were slaves, 2 percent did nothing, and the nobility fought wars of conquests for profit. The largest class were the people called the villani. It means villager, but it is the root of our modern word villain. They were born into generational slavery.

This is important to understand. As a class society based on determination, if you were born a serf, you would be a serf. Your grandson would be a serf. Your great grandson would be a serf. Your great grandfather would be a serf. There was effectively no escape. You were committed. You were basically born into subservience, and there was no ability to get out of it. This is the logical conclusion of Augustine’s theories of predestination carried out to their practical application.

“Justice” was meted out with brutal efficiency. A man who stole from a lord’s property, which was effectively everything in sight, could be penalized by being pilloried, drawn and quartered, cut open, or have limbs, noses, or ears cut off. Women, who were accused of crimes, say, daring to seduce a priest or lord (and when I mean by seduced, I mean they lusted after her) had their genitals impaled with hot irons, were locked in iron maidens, burned at the stake, or drowned.

The Church sanctioned all of these actions by government using Romans 13:1-2

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

This is the foundation of the “Divine Right of Kings”; the presumption that the king is appointed of God, and whatever he happens to do is exactly what God chooses. This is also a corollary of the doctrine of predestination. It is what God intends. What you see manifest is specifically what God desires.

The Dark Ages are dark in principle, and it is imperative that you understand what this means. Philosophically, it is specifically trying to separate all of man from any good. The fundamental formulations of Augustinian doctrine sought to eradicate man on every fundamental level. Christianity elevated pain and suffering and pestilence and poverty to the highest ethical ideal.

The whole of historic Christian doctrine revolves around the veneration of death. Human suffering reaches its pinnacle in Western thought. Destruction of the flesh is the ethical ideal. It doesn’t take an art scholar to understand why the symbol of a fish (the Greek word ιχθυς “ic-thoos”) in remembrance of the disciples was replaced by the cross as an enduring icon of Christianity. For the first 400 to 500 years, the cross does not appear in Christian art. But by the start of the 6th century, the cross, which is an emblem of political subjugation and torture, becomes Christianity’s central icon.

But then, what other icon would be appropriate for a religion built on human suffering? Four hundred years after Jesus came to preach life in the covenants of promise, Christianity became a cult of death that ruled the world with a nihilistic iron fist.

I get some heat on occasion for calling Christianity a cult of death. But I challenge you, show me I’m wrong. The sum of Christian doctrine is based on the death of man. It is obsessed and fixated on man’s death. And it worships an icon of death and culture. It holds out Jesus’ death and destruction as its highest ethical action. At its root, it preaches that man’s highest ethical ideal is his own self-destruction.

In the introduction I challenged you with this statement: The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. But that statement requires a necessary assumption. If there are men who are good, that presupposes they have values. And the nature of values are such that good men must act consistent with those values.

So then, what causes good men to take no action? What must be the primary assumption?

Change the definition of good!

Turn death and destruction into “good.”

If you want to understand what happened in National Socialist Germany, you must understand that the resulting behavior stemmed from a metaphysical premise that assumed a change in the definition of what was “good.”

Now for me to actually explain why this is so important, we are going to have to do some more remedial work, because most people reading this don’t hold the Augustinian standard of “good” in their head. Most modern Calvinists don’t hold the Augustinian, Luther, and Calvin doctrine of good in their head. Most of them get their definition of good from a very different source. And that’s what we’re going to talk about in part three.

To be continued…


 

Click here for the introduction
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

 

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