“The sheep are catching on. They are pushing back against being owned by anyone other the Lord who purchased us with His own Blood.”
In our day, most pastors, indeed, most, fit into two categories: the philosopher kings of the first gospel wave, and the philosopher kings of the second gospel wave. First, I will explain what a philosopher king is, and then I will explain the contemporary eras in which they function. Thirdly, I will describe some of the contemporary wars between them and the saints. Then I will explain the theory of the third gospel wave.
The contemporary reign of philosopher kings in the church began in circa 1950. The concept of the philosopher king as pastor began with St. Augustine. He got the concept from the fraternity of philosophers that has shaped Western culture; ie, Plato’s Academy, which was the first institution of philosophy and higher learning in Western culture. This philosophy was founded on four basic principles:
1. The total inability of man (Augustine projected that into Christian discipleship as well).
2. The ability of some to connect with the true, beautiful, and good (those who love knowledge).
3. Those who have striven and succeeded in knowing the true, beautiful, and good, should rule over the remainder of mankind; ie, philosopher (lovers of knowledge) kings.
4. The laws of men are necessary to restrain the ignorant, but are empirical, and not intuitive, and therefore not the most expedient in all cases for the philosopher kings.
Until the second century A.D., churches were primarily led by a group of common people. Various pressures that eventually culminated with Augustinian thought ushered in the one church—one bishop concept. In essence, a philosopher king for each congregation. Today’s seminaries have become Plato’s Academy where men go to become philosopher kings, and then go to congregations to lord it over the flock.
The First Gospel Wave
This era is from 1950 to 1970. It was primarily predicated on the inability of the saints. Just believe only and get your fire insurance. Commendable kingdom living was devalued because of a fundamental belief in inability on the part of the saints who are still “sinners saved by grace” instead of holy ones empowered by the Holy Spirit and aggressively colaboring with Him. The clarion call of the first wave philosopher kings was to get people saved in church under the auspicious of the enlightened ones. Hence, the same gospel that saved us was the predominate theme, not discipleship and kingdom living par excellent. Christians in our day are theologically illiterate because the philosopher kings of the first wave did not teach congregants the theology that they learned in seminary—deeming them unable to understand it. “Change” was just a pipe dream in the realm of theory. “You can’t fix stupid.” Pastors refused to counsel with the word of God and farmed counseling out to the secular philosophers. As one pastor told me: “I am not going to let counseling distract me from the gospel.”
The Second Gospel Wave
The second gospel wave not only devalued discipleship, it returned to pure Augustinian thought which rejected it all together. Man is so inept—even after conversion—that he can have no significant role in either salvation or discipleship. Augustine believed that biblical imperatives only exemplified God’s desires and besought Christians to pray that God would bring about His desires in the lives of Christians. He believed that goodness was manifested in a spiritual realm—not by Christians. Hence, theology only focuses on the works of Christ and our own depravity which continually magnifies the same gospel that saved us. Therefore, the primary goal of the second wave philosopher kings is Comfort Care until God comes for those whom He has predestined. This entails a constant, “showing forth of the gospel” that saved us and constantly reminding us of our total depravity.
In both waves, the survival of the philosopher king is paramount for the comfort of the sheep and the salvation of souls. Though enlightened, they are still totally depraved like the rest of humanity with expected behaviors following. Hence, some philosopher kings fall into deep sin, but must be protected for the benefit of the whole. Their fall would result in lost souls (first wave) and horrendous discomfort (second wave) among the pathetic, pitiful sheep. Those who are victims of the philosopher kings must be sacrificed for the benefit of the whole.
Eventually, the sheep begin to reject this notion. Because of this rejection, pure Augustinian theology eventually dies a social death within Christianity. Some examples are Colonial Calvinism and Confederate Calvinism. The saints begin to rise up. But after the pain and the memories of the tyranny subside, coupled with a historic shortfall of appropriate action/ education to prevent its return, the door is opened for the rebirth of the philosopher kings. This is commonly known in Reformed circles as “Gospel Recovery movements.” We are now seeing the beginning of this social death in our own day via the Philosopher King Wars. The following are examples of a few major battles, and are by no means exhaustive.
First Wave Wars
Jack Hyles is the premier philosopher king of the first gospel wave. For years, his family members and understudies reined unfettered terror upon God’s people. Regardless of this, fellow philosopher kings in the same denomination refused to confront him, and even went as far as to name a Christian college after him. Finally, after years of crying out from victims falling on deaf ears for the betterment and comfort of the whole, the organization Do Right Hyles-Anderson has struck a powerful blow for the justice God loves. Their ministry statement reads as follows:
This group was created to be supportive to all the victims of FBC/HAC and the IFB community. This is not a group started out of hatred, resentment or bitterness. The core of our group is grace, unconditional love, and redemption. We support all the victims. We want our voice to be heard. We will hold IFB churches accountable for abuse and corruption. And we will report any and all cases of abuse that are brought to our team of victim advocates. We’re not going away…this is a life long mission and we will help the helpless.
Undoubtedly, this organization played a large role in the very recent dethroning of Hyles’ son-in-law as pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond which at one time had the largest Sunday School program in the world. His sins, though criminal, are tame compared to the past terrors of the Hyles cartel. The fact that he has been dismissed by FBCH is a gargantuan step in the opposite direction from the tolerance of the past. This is about Christ’s 1 of 100, and the Jewish proverb, “He who saves one life—saves the world,” and not Socrates’ sinful sacrifice of the few for the sake of the many.
The ABWE Bangladesh Missionary Kids verses Philosopher King Donn Ketcham
For some 20 years, the abuses of GARB hero Donn Ketcham fell on deaf ears. Other ABWE/GARB philosopher kings such as Wendell Kempton covered for Ketcham in a massive and shameful cover-up. Nevertheless, Kempton is presently being honored with a multimillion dollar sports complex on a Christian college being named after him. For the most part, the GARB community has shown only token distaste for what has occurred. Again, protecting the enlightened ones is best for the community as a whole. Because of the ineptness of the great unwashed—the likes of Ketcham and Kempton must be protected due to their irreplaceable contribution to the totally depraved.
Second Wave Wars
SGM Survivors .com verses Philosopher King CJ Mahaney
SGM Survivors is one of many such organizations pushing back against philosopher king CJ Mahaney, who among other various travesties was taped black mailing SGM cofounder Larry Tomczak. Regardless of this, the who’s who of second wave philosopher kings are protecting Mahaney and investing in media spin on his behalf (John MacArthur, Mark Dever, Al Mohler et al). This has resulted in him being reinstated as president of SGM. However, the pushback against second wave philosopher kings is becoming more formidable by the day.
Julie Anne Smith verses Beaverton Grace Bible Church
There is perhaps nothing more representative of the revolution against second wave philosopher kings than the everyday Oregon housewife Julie Anne Smith. When big name second wave philosopher kings came to BGBC’s defense against this humble soccer mom—she didn’t even blink, calling out the likes of John MacArthur lackey Phil Johnson who has recently stopped blogging (supposedly by his own choice). MacArthur hack and executive director of his media, Fred Butler, recently published unconfirmed smut/slander concerning Smith’s daughter after she prevailed against BGBC in a 500,000 dollar lawsuit. After years of striking fear in the hearts of pastors coast to coast, the second wave philosopher king pastors are incredulous in the face of Smith’s unsinkable courage. Their fears of her are warranted as others will follow including American pastors who exemplify a spirit of spinelessness never before seen in any other generation.
The Third Gospel Wave?
The sheep are catching on. They are pushing back against being owned by anyone other the Lord who purchased us with His own Blood. He owns us, not the philosopher kings. Nor do the philosopher kings own us by proxy. We are only slaves to Christ, not cruel masters who demand our children to be their willing and unwilling concubines. We will follow those of the Lord who lead us by His example. We remember our brother Paul who exhorted us with tears to only follow him as he followed Christ. And trust me, the philosopher kings of our day are no Apostle Paul. Not only can they not even carry his water, they are the clouds without water that Jude spoke of. As clouds come and promise nourishment for the crops, they come with the same promises—but they have nothing but lies instead of rain.
Authority only resides in the full, complete, and infinite philosophical statement of the Scriptures. The only authority elders have is truth as judged by the Bereans. We are not obligated to follow delusional hypocrites because of their Reformed accreditation and name-brand clothing, but only the Chief Shepherd. We detest those who say that the very breath of God is nothing more than a narrative for mystic gospel contemplationism. The Scriptures are written for Bereans who’s hearts are set on fire by our Counselor and Helper—the blessed Holy Spirit. The Bible contains its own hermeneutic, and we do not need the arrogant to teach us how to read it or listen to it as it supposedly comes from them.
We pray for a third gospel wave that endeavors to make disciples, not “saved” mindless followers of philosopher kings. We pray for leaders who will equip us to be full of goodness, full of knowledge, and able to counsel each other (Romans 15:14).
Not those who suffer us to glory in our supposed total depravity in order to satisfy their own lust for control.
Chick-Fil-A, The Olympics, Jonestown, Julie Anne Smith, John Immel, Communism, Calvinism, and Redneck Suicide
“Stuff happens” is perhaps the most untrue truism tossed about in our society today. Everything happens for a reason. “Stuff “ doesn’t just “happen.” We often wallow in the symptoms, pooling together a collection of ignorance on the what rather than the why. And with a lot of confusion following unless you know the formula.
The determining factor in regard to most of what happens in Western culture centers on the question of “Who owns man?” Now, like all good Christians, you will answer this way: “God owns man!” Amen brotha! You go sista! Yes, God certainly owns man, but unfortunately, that often translates into some men owning others….on God’s behalf of course. In fact, that’s an excellent description of Reformed theology: men owning other men on God’s behalf. And if you don’t go along with the program—things get ugly.
The likes of Christian philosopher/church historian John Immel makes people nervous when he discusses issues like “who owns man?” and issues of self-esteem, but reality will come to his defense in every instance. For example, why did 900 people drink poison at the behest of Jim Jones? Who did they think owned them? Trust me, if someone tells you to drink poison, and you do it, you obviously think they own you—albeit on behalf of God notwithstanding. By the way, Pastor Jones’ theology was a blend of Marxism and biblical theology.
Between the 3rd and 6th century B.C., a fraternity of philosophers laid the groundwork for what utterly causes our culture to tick. Whether psychology, the penal correction system, public schools—you name it—the fundamental philosophy that drives it came from this fraternity. Socrates and Plato were chief among them. Even in casual conversation, their fundamental philosophical assumptions rule the day. Ever heard someone say, “You can’t help me unless you have experienced what I have experienced”? That’s Protagoras, a contemporary of Plato. Got “rule of law”? Well, my friend, Socrates died for it 2500 years ago.
Why did he think it was so important to ignore the cell door that was left open for him and wait on the cup of hemlock the next morning? Because even though the ruling was plainly unjust, he wanted to make a statement about what he believed: though democratic rule of law was imperfect, it is best upheld for the better good of society as a whole. Better to die unjustly than to slight what holds society together. But what was the underlying assumption that led Socy to die for this truth? The underlying assumption was the inability of man , and the need for the enlightened to save man from himself through government force.
Socy, bless his heart, wanted to set the right example for the totally depraved. Trust me, as one of the enlightened ones, he didn’t think he needed the law. He, and his understudy Plato, believed rigorous study in the realm of ideas (intuitive theory) led to enlightenment, and therefore the duty to rule the great unwashed who lived in the shadows of objectivity. This is the very reason why, in our day, that obtaining a license to practice psychiatry is so rigorous. It is eight years of study in the realm of mostly theory. The conflicting sum of 200 different psychological theories is irrelevant, Socy believed that truth was found in the mind through ideas, and the pursuit was higher than the Neanderthal concept of drawing conclusions from the obvious.
Any of the above ringing a bell? How many sexually abused in the church have been told that it is best for the church as a whole if they just keep their mouth shut? Ever heard the following? “No church is perfect.” What that really means is that rightness isn’t the point—this is the point: the church (with orthodoxy and polity) is the authoritative law that saves the great unwashed from themselves, and wielded by Reformed elders. Therefore, don’t be “selfish,” be like Socy, keep your mouth shut and drink the hemlock. I mean for crying out loud, Socy didn’t even claim to be a Christian! Can’t you at least show the same “humbleness” displayed by a pagan philosopher you totally depraved piece of crap?
This isn’t rocket science. A cursory observation of history reveals how the philosophy of Who owns man? left Athens in two different directions: secular and religious, with each having their own sub-propagators/philosophers. On the one hand, Plato+Hegel+Marx =Communism, and on the other, Plato+Augustine +Luther +Calvin =Reformed. In fact, among secular academics who don’t have a dog in the fight—this is a commonly held routine observation from a historical perspective. Christian ignorance about this historical paradigm would surprise them—or maybe not, but it explains almost everything on our side of the globe. For instance, I used to be perplexed about American politicians that are sympathetic towards communism; not anymore. They are sympathetic because they share the same fundamental assumptions about who owns man (government, or himself? God owning man is an entirely different consideration all together). Think, welfare state. Think, inept man needs government to take care of him. Even though it doesn’t work because you eventually run out of other people’s money, that is making a judgment on empirical observation—the “true,” beautiful,” and “good,” (Plato’s trinity) can only be realized intuitively. This is why Communists and Calvinists alike will not repent—their philosophy will not allow it because it refuses to be judged by results. The Athens fraternity was notorious for remaining resolute in their beliefs regardless of outcomes. Likewise, Reformed elders ape this mentality with, “This must be right because the conclusion was drawn from a gospel context.”
Christ Himself arrived on the scene when this Platonist philosophy was at its zenith in the form of Gnosticism. It is no accident that He deliberately shunned formal education and chose the beggarly leftovers of Greek/ Roman society. His Kingdom Gospel absolutely flew in the face of this philosophy on every level.
Albeit an unbalanced approach, the founding fathers of America grounded the Constitution on the ability of man (great, though flawed): man owns himself; the state is subordinated to the will of individuals, and truth can NEVER be the property of the state. The founding fathers were children of the Enlightenment which pushed back against the tyranny that always follows Platonist assumptions. This is why America is the greatest nation ever to exist on Earth. That didn’t just happen. Things happen for a reason:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such
Now again, the good Christian comes forward to protest: “America is great because God (pronounced more like “Gaaawwwwdddd” by the pious. Likewise, Gospel is pronounced, “Gaaaawwwwsssfffuuulll”) chose her!” True. But God, in case you haven’t noticed, uses things to bring about His ends. Look at Europe’s history, and then look at America. Choose one. What would you like the world to look like between the two? Throughout history, we have had to save Europe from their own philosophy, and their greatest leaders have always been advocates of the Enlightenment; namely, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. Other than that, Europe’s claim to fame has always been the Dark Ages. It should be self-evident that God allows ideas to have their own results, and something should be learned from those results.
The rats of European philosophy stowed away on the Mayflower and soon brought the Salem witch trials—generally thought of as a bad idea, but uniquely Reformed. Eventually, Southern Presbyterianism (=’s Calvin) became the underpinnings of Confederate thought and brought us the Patriarchy Movement. Again, one can find the European Reformed idea of who owns man in Confederate Presbyterian thought via a cursory observation of their writings—even to the point of disdaining the North’s industrial revolution and its implications regarding man’s ability. God isn’t opposed to innovation. Really, he isn’t. But farmers are easier to control. And, once you know how to plow a field, there is no need to reinvent the plow blade. And, it keeps the populous busy working rather than thinking. Thinking and IDEAS have always been the tyrant’s worst nightmare. I will never forget the words of the Reformed elder who shut down my blog when I still attended Clearcreek Chapel in Springboro, Ohio: “Paul, what is the web address of where you are putting forth your ideas?” Precisely.
This is what is driving the whole Chick-Fil-A controversy and much else that happens in our society from the mundane to the spectacular. This is about controlling ideas. In this case, Stalin’s gun is the one that fires the “bigotry” bullets, and the defamation is mental, not physical. If mental defamation does not work, defamation of the flesh will follow. This is the way it has always been—Calvin by no means excluded on any wise. In the Chick case, you have the following on one side: the social liberals, socialists, and the indifferent Reformed (who are supposedly “above the fray”). Besides, patriots (who love country more than Gaaawwwwwddddd), homosexuals, and dispensationalist evangelicals are no different to begin with. On the other side, you have evangelicals and patriots with misguided priorities. BUT, they yet understand something that is extremely important: tyranny against the freedom of ideas is a really, really, bad idea. Give them credit for knowing what a grave threat is at hand.
But the Olympics play into this? Absolutely. America is thumping everybody on the medals, and with extraordinary life stories to boot. A 15 year-old American girl is dominating the swimming competition. Because she sees herself as inept? Hardly. Because Jesus is swimming for her? I kinda doubt it. If that’s the case, she hasn’t mentioned it yet. Not to mention the judo gold medalist from Middletown, Ohio who was sexually abused by her coach in the same sport. Instead of buying into a no-can-do euro victim mentality, she had the coach who violated her trust and her dignity thrown in jail, and left for Europe to conquer the world of judo. You can tell her if you would like that what was done to her is not that big of a deal because we are all just a bunch of totally depraved numbskulls, but that is probably a really bad idea given her talents. And there is only one reason why the other nations can even compete with us over there—because they leave their socialist philosophy behind while competing. The ineptness of mankind can pass for social engineering, but not for Olympic excellence.
All our hope is in God. I get that. But there is also inspiration in a woman from Oregon named Julie Anne Smith. I don’t know a lot about her, but it seems that she was just an everyday house wife minding her own business until she began to notice that her pastor was a bully. Reformed of course. I wasn’t able to find the original post of a blog that she authored in protest of the pastor’s tyranny, but it alluded to her assertion that it was almost as if having ideas was a crime in that church. Again, the mere fact that she mentioned that is no accident. That idea drives the very soul of that pastor, and resulted in a big-time head-on collision in civil court. Julie Anne, as she prefers to be called, kicked some serious Reformed butt, and a sigh of relief could be heard from the blogosphere worldwide. Little ole’ Paul’s Passing Thoughts .com gets its share of downloads from attorney office IP addresses located in particular geographies that share the same venues as churches that I write about. Crushing ideas is a Reformed thing—they can’t help themselves. Here is what Martin Luther himself thought of reason (Webster: “reflect, think”), regardless of the fact that God himself said, “come, let us reason together”:
“Die verfluchte Huhre, Vernunft.” (The damned whore, Reason).
“Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom … Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.”
Martin Luther, Erlangen Edition v. 16, pp. 142-148
“Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but — more frequently than not — struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”
“Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and … know nothing but the word of God.”
“There is on earth among all dangers no more dangerous thing than a richly endowed and adroit reason… Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed.”
Martin Luther, quoted by Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic, (Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1963), p. 75
“Reason should be destroyed in all Christians.”
“Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his Reason.”
“To be a Christian, you must “pluck out the eye of reason.””
“People gave ear to an upstart astrologer [Copernicus] who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred scripture tells us [Joshua 10:13] that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.”
Martin Luther, “Works,” Volume 22, c. 1543
It’s an American thing. If a housewife from Oregon disagrees with being served up for an elders buffet, she can do something about it, and she did. And the Reformed crowd isn’t happy about it. Pastor John MacArthur (who has a personal relationship with Julie Anne’s former pastor) sidekick Fred Butler is now shooting Chic-Fil-A bullets at Julie Anne’s daughter. These controversies drag on for some time in American culture because neither the socialists or Reformed pastors can end disagreements quickly with the gallows. Not yet, anyway, but they are working on it. Luther himself said of Calvin’s Geneva: “All disagreements are settled by sentence of death.” But the most inspiring thing about Julie Anne is the way she is seeking to come to an understanding about why all of this happened to her family. She understands that things happen for a reason.
This brings me to the last subject of my title. “Country” and the whole stupid hillbilly thing is all the rage in this country right now. “Blue Collar” comedy that glorifies undignified stupidity and fixing lives with duct tape is the spice of entertainment for many—even in the church. At this year’s TANC conference, the “Hillbilly Ten Commandments” were discussed and the perceived cuteness of it among Christians while Reformed elders listen and wink knowingly at each other: “This is a good thing.” It may be fun, but it puts our freedom in danger. Stupidity is the blood that tyrants feed on. Act stupid if you will, and have fun doing it, but let it only be an act, even a ploy to fool Reformed elders and Communists. But only an act—our freedom depends on it.
Therefore, for the first time in my life, I will be standing in line at Chick-Fil-A. Why? Because I’m for Christian values? No, though I am. Because I’m a patriot? No, though I am one. I will be standing in line as a statement concerning the importance of freedom of ideas—the great enemy of every tyrant who has breathed upon the earth.