Paul's Passing Thoughts

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
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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

 

Susan Dohse: Colonial Puritanism; TANC 2014 Sessions 1-3

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 10, 2015

SUSAN 2014 SESSION 1

Do any of you remember the popular show Myth Busters? Well, Myth Busters was a popular show at our house, and the goal of that team of men was to disprove popular myths by using a scientific, investigative approach. And often, they would take legend, superstition, or even a stunt that had been re-done on television to see if it could really happen without the effects of Hollywood. And they would break it up into a scientific investigative approach and then determine if the myth was definitely a myth, could probably happen or that it would occur all the time.

Now I would like to provoke you to take on the role of a myth buster and rather than accept what’s in our textbooks or what you read on your online blog spots and what you hear from the pulpit, rather than accept that as factual, biblical or true. And this is why we call TANC a discernment ministry. It’s a ministry that encourages believers to become Bereans, searching the Scripture daily to verify what is taught from the authority of God’s word.

Well, the topic that I have chosen to present to you is based on a historical research approach, and I have selected three myths that I would like to try to bust. And I assure you that I could have and should have delved deeper into my topic, but I allowed time restraints to hinder me–cooking, cleaning, playing with the grandbaby. But I did read eight books and twelve inches of material that I printed from online resources. But what I want to do really is just to plant a seed. I want to plant a seed and hopefully provoke you to germinate that seed. You take my point of view, you look at my references, and then you go and research for yourself and see if you come up with the same or similar conclusions that I have.

Well, there’s a plethora of myth surrounding the early history of America, some from secular humanist research, many from the Christian historians, but you have to be careful. You have to be careful when you elevate historical figures to the rank of hero and you begin hero-worshiping historical figures without knowledge. Or you hold a group of people in such high regard that we are encouraged or we are told to encourage our children to emulate them. So therefore, it was important for me to frame any research that I did with dependable historical records, direct quotes from personal writings, sermons and speeches. Now the word “dependable” is – I glean that from a colonial historian who wrote the book The Times of Their Lives: The Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony by James Deetz – Now he said that if three or more historical documentations from firsthand accounts–court and church records, personal diaries, pamphlets and books–if three or more of those documentations agree fully or mostly, then the assumption can be made that that source is probably reliable, more reliable than not reliable. So I try to do the same as Mr. Deetz in preparation for this talk. I tried to look at historical documents, church and court records, personal diaries, pamphlets and books.

There is a resurgence of interest and emphasis on the Puritans today–their beliefs and their practices. In our Christian schools, heavy in the homeschool movement, and in our churches, there is a push to pattern how we study the Bible, their theology and how to contend for the truth from the Puritans in order to make significant changes that will reap eternal results. I quote from a professor at Southern Baptist Seminary, “No greater tribute to them could be made than to follow their example in this regard.” And “in this regard” is referring to how to study the Bible, their theology and how to contend for the truth. Well, that emphasis is causing me to have some grave concern, because there is a lack of foundation based on fact and true historical perspective. Myths are being presented as facts, and the same criticism that’s heaped upon those secular humanists who want to shape America’s history by eliminating and covering its Christian roots need to apply to those who try to shape America’s history by eliminating and covering its Calvinist roots.

Here are the three myths that I would like to bust. And if I don’t bust them, at least poke a hole in the balloon.  Myth number one: “The Puritans came to New England because of religious persecution and a desire for religious freedom.” Myth number two: “God could make any people his chosen.” And myth number three: “The Puritans have a biblical worldview.” These are three key foundational truths to what the Puritans believed. They believe they – why they came to New England, that God could make them his chosen, and what their worldview was.

Well, myth number one, the Puritans came to the New World because of religious persecution and a desire for religious freedom. The Puritans immigrated to establish God’s commonwealth on earth, a community of visible saints following the Bible and to found churches on a congregational model. The king gave permission for the migration in order for England to acquire new materials, to check the power of Spain, to find a new route to the Orient, and to convert the Indians. It’s very important to remember what was in their charter, the Massachusetts charter that was given to those colonial-minded people. Acquire new materials, particularly gold and silver, to check the power of Spain, to find a new route to the Orient, and to convert the Indians.

Now English history reports that the Puritans back in England wanted to purify the Church, the Church of England. And that’s how they got that nickname “Puritans.” The pilgrims, who were called separatists, chose to break away from the Church of England and many even left England for Holland. The pilgrims of Plymouth are not the same as the Puritans of Massachusetts. Both were Calvinists, but they were not the same. The pilgrims of Plymouth were Puritans, seeking to reform their church, and the Puritans of Massachusetts were innocent pilgrims who moved to this land because of religious conviction, not persecution. The name Puritan, it was initially an insulting moniker, very much like when the believers in the New Testament were first called Christians. It was really not a praiseworthy title. It was to make fun of them. Well, the same was the title Puritans. That title was to poke fun at them. (more…)

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