Paul's Passing Thoughts

From the Reformation to the Third Reich: Protestantism’s Impact on Western Culture – Part 7

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 14, 2017

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

Click here for 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 eight
Click here for conclusion


The Rise of National Socialism and the Assault on Capitalism, Continued…

Capitalism has become a byword in the United States, actually a byword globally. Rarely do you hear anyone speak openly about being a capitalist, and that is because there is an-all out assault to destroy capitalism. And that assault is largely led by the fact that most people have no clue what it is. No one has ever explained it to them. Capitalism is not specifically economics, and most people are only vaguely aware of what economics are.

There is a common mis-conception that there are forms of capitalism and that various governments practice various forms of capitalism. This is actually not true. There is only one form of capitalism. In the 18th century, a group of French economists called the Physiocrats identified that wealth was the product of individual production. John Locke arrived at a similar conclusion – that property was the product of human labor; his reasoning power and his action to organize whatever his substance is.

The Physiocrats said that the nature of production is the source of wealth, and they came up with the term “laissez-faire capitalism”, which literally means “let them do as they please.” They identified correctly that individuals will solve their own problems with their own production and that the government should not be anywhere close to it.   This was a profound contrast to the traditional explanation of a nation’s wealth, e.g., it was either the wealth of kings, the country’s gold reserves, the country’s arable land. They were the first to formulate that government should keep their hands off of economic transactions.

This is where the issue of “forms” of capitalism comes into play. Capitalism is like the definition of water. The chemical formula of water is H2O. Now you can add a lot of things to H2O, and you can add some tasty things to H2O. You can add some sugar and some Kool-Aid, and you still have water, but you also have now Kool-Aid. And you can drink it. But if you are in the Jim Jones cult and you add something else, suddenly water becomes poison. And my metaphor is apt with capitalism. As John Locke correctly identified, it is a man’s labor that produces prosperity. A man produces to advance and sustain his life, and that production is his property alone. There is no distinction between the man and that which he produces.

When you start out as a farmer in a basic economy, you have a seed of corn, you plant a seed of corn, and you have to wait 12 weeks for that seed of corn to come up and actually have a harvest. Now if you are only planting one seed and getting one ear of corn out of your cornstalk, you are going to be hungry.

But let us assume you have the ability to produce thousands of seeds of corn and then have a specific harvest. Now you spend all of your time planting that corn and then specifically getting that harvest. But corn is not shoes, and it is not shirts, and it is not beef. So you have to have a means by which to get these other things. The only peaceable way to get those other things is to trade, and the nature of trade means without force.

There is no compulsion in a free economic transaction. The parties are willing, and the parties decide on the values that they want to trade. That’s it. This concept is only possible in a politically free environment. Capitalism is the product of liberty, and this is crucial to understand.   It is the individuals who enter into social contracts, and it is the government that is given the limited permission to act. It is only within that environment that people are free to trade. There is no compulsion, and when I say compulsion, I mean force. I mean violence. Just because you want to eat, your necessity is not the guy who has food. You do not get food from him by compelling him to give it to you. If you were by yourself out in the middle of nowhere and you were hungry, you would still have to work to feed yourself.

Conversely, just because you would go to a guy who already has the food does not mean he compels you to come to him to get food. The responsibility of your survival, of individual survival, is the responsibility of the individual. The peaceable way to make that happen is to exchange value for value. In a social context, there are many people offering value into this environment, and you have the ability to pick whatever you want or not. The absence of compulsion, the absence of violence, is the central theme.

There are only two kinds of markets: compulsory or free. In a compulsory market, you have no choice about what can be bought or sold. There is no choice about the disposal of property, and there is no recognition of private property. In the United States we do not have a capitalism economy. We have a mixed economy because we have compulsion. We have to ask the government permission to take action to exchange our goods and services. This is not a capitalist economy.

The other kind of market is a free market. This presumes private property. The definition of private property is the right to an action, the right to dispose of that property or the right to retain that property. A free market then is simply two people willingly exchanging values. A free market is never present when there is fraud, which is a misrepresentation of reality, where you have specifically deceived the other party about the nature of reality. A free market is never present when there is force or implied force, which is extortion.

So a free market only exists where there is private property and free individuals. Free individuals produce value, and they must be entitled to their private property, and private property by definition means they can dispose of it as they see fit.

Next we have to have a root discussion of money. You have to understand what money is and what money is not. You don’t work to get money. You work to create money. Consider once again the seed planting example. After you harvest your field you now have a big sack of corn. Your neighbor may need corn to feed to his herd of cows so he is willing to trade you a sack corn for one cow. The problem is you may not need a cow, what you need are new tires for your tractor. Obviously, cows are not tires.

In this situation, trade becomes an inefficient means of exchange. In addition, payment in kind is impractical at a distance. What is needed is the creation of a medium of exchange, and this was the emergence of money. You needed a means by which you could represent a bag of corn or a cow or tires for the tractor.

Furthermore, when you are done harvesting your corn you now have tens of thousands of seeds. What you do not eat between the end of harvest and the beginning of next season is your excess. This is work (production) that is now stagnant. It is not doing anything. It is not producing anything. This excess prosperity is called capital. You need that excess prosperity to continue through time which allows you to plan for your next action of prosperity, your work to produce more.

Well, in an agricultural environment the distance on your production is your growing cycles, maybe a year. But the more industrialized you get, the longer your production cycle, your sight line, has to be, so you need larger and larger holds of production held in store. This is the root of capital. It is production held in a static state that you have the ability to then distribute down through time so you can produce your next action.

Well, of course, for lots of reasons, gold and silver became the standard means by which you could actually take a cow and exchange it for corn, and that coin then began to hold value. Over time, a particularly productive person might accumulate lots of coin. That coin represents capital, but that accumulation of capital is not producing anything. At the same time, this productive individual has no reason to give up this capital unless he has some incentive to put his gold at risk. In a capitalist society there is a fundamental need to take capital (static production) and then give it the opportunity to be put into production either by the holders of the capital directly or by other people who want to take the risk. This is the basis for interest or usery.

Now in a free market, in a capitalist culture, you have no guarantees. The government is not there to penalize you, and it is not there to advantage you. If at any point the government enters in and compels or restrains economic action, we are no longer talking about capitalism.

The single greatest expansion of prosperity occurred between the 18th century and the 19th century. And the reason the greatest expansion of prosperity occurred is precisely because John Locke correctly defined the exact requirements for government. The United States of America, and for a very brief time Great Britain, put into practice the logical result which was “laissez-faire” capitalism. This time period is called the Industrial Revolution. Man set out to solve his own problems, and wealth exploded.

There is a common misconception then when someone gains wealth it is because he took it from someone else, as if there is a giant pie, and every time someone takes a piece there is less for everyone else. There is no pool out there somewhere called “wealth” from which people partake. Wealth is created when individuals produce. Therefore when production increases, so does wealth. Man creates his own level of prosperity. He creates it every day he applies his work product.

The assault against liberty and capitalism and the production of wealth started almost immediately. It specifically started with doctrines that were designed to:

  1. Eradicate reason from man
  2. Place man back in state control

This two-fold philosophical assault against wealth is what led to the rise of Hegel and then Karl Marx. These men crafted an immoral justification for the destruction of capitalism. But here is the thing. You cannot destroy capitalism without destroying liberty, and you cannot destroy liberty without destroying capitalism. Since capitalism is merely free individuals acting to exchange values willingly, the moment you put the government in charge of either side of the equation, either production or person, you are destroying liberty.   This is exactly what happened at the turn of the 19th century.

Even though the First World War did not go well for Germany, it still became an enormously successful industrial nation. They had some totally inept leadership. The Weimar Republic was a joke. In their minds they were still Prussian. They were still sort of under monarchy and tried to throw that off somewhat.

Following WWI the rest of Europe decided to pile on the German people and really make them pay for it. Over time that began to wear on them. With economic collapse right on the horizon, you can begin to understand why the German people consistently discussed the issue of greed. They resented other people’s prosperity, and this is central to the rise of National Socialism.

Here are some excerpts of what became the National Socialist platform, originally published in 1920. This will give you some sense of what they are after. As you read through these, pay close attention to what they advocated, and contrast that with John Locke, and liberty, and the United States.

“12. In view of the tremendous sacrifices in property and blood demanded of the nation by every war, personal gain from the war must be termed a crime against the nation. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits.”

Now think of what this really means. They are saying sacrifice is an ethical ideal, and because some sacrificed, anybody who prospered from their sacrifice, equating their profit with sacrifice, must necessarily have all of what they created confiscated. This completely eliminates the reality that the government is what went to war. The government is what caused the death and destruction, and in order to fight the war, the government asked businesses to create this production.   Now they are blaming profit for their problems when in actual fact it was the government’s fault.

“13. We demand the nationalization of all enterprises converted into corporations.”

“14. We demand profit sharing in large enterprises.”

Where have you heard that in modern American culture? The endless determination to denounce big business as if the people who do not work have a moral right to the product of somebody else’s work?

“15. We demand a large-scale development of old age pension schemes.

“16. We demand the creation and maintenance of a sound middle class, the immediate communalization of large department stores which are to be leased at low rates to small tradesmen.

“17. We demand the most careful consideration for the owners of small businesses in orders placed by national, state, or community authorities.”

This is the absolute eradication of private property. For people who have been successful, the nature of their success necessarily means that the government should somehow penalize them for their success. The communalization of large department stores. The reason that large department stores appeared is because they became better at delivering the best quality products for the best price to the most people. How many times have you heard people say that Walmart is somehow fundamentally evil? Yet everybody benefits because Walmart gets you the products you are willing to pay for at some of the best prices anywhere. Your life is better, and yet somehow because Walmart cannot be fleeced every five minutes for its money there is something fundamentally evil about that.

“18. We demand land reforms in accord with our national needs and a law for expropriation without compensation of land for public purposes, abolition of ground rents and prevention of all speculation in land.”

This is talking about the seizing of property.

“19. We demand ruthless battle against those who harm the common good by their activities…”

Now watch what they define as harm.

“…persons committing base crimes against the people, usurers, profiteers, etc., and are punished by death without regard to religion or race.”

In other words, bankers. Bankers were Jews. Jews had capital. Profiteers, people who made money. Give over your profits or we are going to kill you.

When it came right down to it, they could declare anybody they wanted to be a profiteer, and that is exactly what they did. That was the real focus of the Jewish hatred, centralized in their ultimate covetousness. They wanted prosperity, but in their view the way to get prosperity was to seize it from most people who had created it or to kill them. The presumption was that if somebody else has it, if I do violence to them, I can get it.

“The Party as such stands for positive Christianity, without associating itself with any particular denomination. It fights against the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and around us, and is convinced that a permanent revival of our nation can be achieved only from within, on the basis of Public Interest before Private Interest.”

Take note of that: “Public interest before Private interest.” Man is first and foremost the property of the State. You have no private interest. Your only interest is your specific responsibility to the collective. These are the founding ideas that brought forth Adolf Hitler. He is not the cause. He is merely the extension of a logical body of ideas. And at the root, what causes good men to do nothing? Change the definition of good.

I just produced for you from start to finish how they defined good.   At the root, they said man is not entitled to his own life. He is not entitled to his work product. He must sacrifice his life on behalf of the collective. They changed the definition of good.

“You didn’t build that.”

That is not your property. The government has to give you permission. You want to understand what actually happened in the rise of National Socialism? You want to understand why the Church was so specifically involved in the rise of socialism? Because the Church fundamentally believed the exact same things. They ultimately believed that man had no business with himself.

The reality is that socialism is not a kinder, gentler economic organization, and I frankly don’t care how you parse it up. I don’t care whether you say it is communism, socialism, or fascism. Ultimately, the end result is about who owns man? As long as the state owns man, there is no liberty. And if there is no liberty, there is no production, and if there is no production, there is no prosperity.

To be continued…

Click here for 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 eight
Click here for conclusion


The Philosophy of the Reformation and Its Historical Impact, by John Immel – Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on December 19, 2016

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

Click here to read Part 1
Click here to read Part 3
Click here to read Part 4

People hear “philosophy” and they tend to think of academics talking about useless ideas. This perception has everything to do with the collapse of philosophy as a science. In the middle 1700s, Immanuel Kant took hold of “reason” and wrote a book called The Critique of Pure Reason. His goal with to reduce reason to ash. He wanted to destroy man’s competence and reason so that the Christian religion could regain its monopoly on faith.

If you tell people long enough that thinking is irrelevant, then eventually everyone thinks thinking is irrelevant and the average fifteen-year-old sitting in math class says, “Why do I need to know this?” Or the average eighteen-year-old sitting in advanced history class says, “Well, why do I need to know this? Why isn’t it okay that I’m stupid?”

Now they don’t say that out loud because they feel entitled to what they do know, their mastery of the latest X-Box game or their knowledge of whatever is in pop culture, for example. But they see no causal relationship between their given body of thought and their given body of action. No one has ever explained to them that the content of their thinking is in fact a cohesive whole.

Everybody has individual stray thoughts, but those don’t amount to much. On the other hand, full philosophical statements have enormous power. For example, the statement, “Give it over to the universe,” is a philosophical statement. It is a tenet from the book The Secret written by Rhonda Byrne in 2006. This philosophical statement summarizes the elements of quantum physics and the mystical assumption that the universe is a conscious creature that is aware of your needs.

Another example is, “No one can know anything for sure.” This philosophical statement presupposes that there is no objective truth. It is a summation of Friedrich Hegel and Immanuel Kant’s full philosophic conclusions. When somebody insists to you that you cannot know anything, that there is no absolute in life, they are citing a deep philosophical tradition that goes back to the mid 1700s.

Here is another example. “Jesus died for our sins,” is often believed to be a “Biblical” statement.  While it is true that Paul makes this statement in 1 Corinthians 15:3, the traditional “orthodox” interpretation of that statement is rooted in the doctrines of “original sin”, federal guilt, atonement, and the ratification of a new covenant.  And further notice that doctrine of “original sin” first recorded by Irenaeus, who lived from AD c125-c202, differs from Saint Augustine’s theology of “original sin.” Irenaeus taught that God saw sin as a necessary step for the education of mankind rather than some obstacle that God must continually overcome (source: Notice that Augustine’s variation of Original sin necessitated the concept of federal guilt: the presumption that Adam ultimately is responsible for the simple destruction of the whole race. And then notice that to solve the problem of “salvation” that these doctrines advance requires a specific understanding of “atonement.” All of these doctrines emerge almost 400 years after the gospels were written and are the requisite foundation for the throwaway line “Jesus died for our sins,” to be understood.


Can’t we all just get along?

In each statement discussed above there are layers upon layers upon layers in understanding. The conceptual layers are philosophy. It is the progression from the assumptions all the way through to the final summation that ultimately ends up on a bumper sticker. When you see a bumper sticker such as the popular one now that says “coexist” written out in formula or symbols representing all the various spiritual faiths and beliefs. But the bumper sticker means to ask the question: “Can’t we just all get along?” And the bumper sticker presumes that all religions are created equal. If one does not know the content of each religion, then it seems “logical” that people of faith should all be able to coexist.

This is the ultimate power of philosophy, taking ideas, very big, very large ideas and ultimately rolling them down so that you and I can grasp ideas in the simplest terms.

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.

Humans are the sum of their collective ideas. Humans are built to think and to use our minds to engage the world in which we live. The command from the beginning, “be fruitful and multiply,” rule and subdue the earth, presupposes a mastery of the earth. It presupposes the ability to master the earth, and it specifically presupposes that you are charged with the responsibility to master the earth. The one thing that sets man apart above all else is that man is not specifically designed to live in any given environment. He must alter his environment to live in it, which means he must think. He must manipulate his environment to his advantage. Every other creature, every other animal is specifically built to function within its environment. Man is not. Man is utterly separated from all the rest of creation, set at its pinnacle as a master of that creation by virtue of his rational mind. This means by necessity we must understand the difference between good and bad ideas.

Disciplines of Philosophy

– Metaphysics
– Epistemology
– Ethics
– Politics

So when I talk about philosophy, I’m not talking about vain concepts, “vain philosophies,” or intellectual beach balls batted around in ivory towers. I am specifically referring to how we know what we know. The nature of existence is called metaphysics. How we know what we know is called epistemology. How we value what we know is called ethics. And how we interact with people is called politics.

Our metaphysical assumptions about the nature of existence is the beginning of the path down to mass of action. They are the concepts that are above the physical realm that we must come to understand and are in fact transcendent specifically of the here and now. Once we understand this, then we understand epistemology. Man understands how he knows what he knows. Once he understands his existence, he then understands how he interacts with that existence. That ultimately produces his values.

Here is an example. How do you know you should drink water? What is the value of water? You value water because it is necessary to keep you alive. Your specific metaphysical truth that your body needs water to survive makes water good. Those are your ethics. Now let us ask this question. Once we have our ethics, how do we know how to interact with human beings? That is the study of politics. This is the driving force of human existence, from the most rudimentary, to how man understands, to how man derives his specific set of values, to ultimately how man interacts with the rest of the world, the other individuals in the world.

What does this have to do with Calvinism, Reformed theology, and spiritual tyranny?

Absolutely everything.

The existing fight over Neo Calvinism and the Neo Reformed movement in the United States is specifically built upon philosophical issues. They portray the nature of human existence as a moral evil. Man’s very being IS the problem. It is this metaphysical premise that has undergird man’s trend towards destruction. This is a bold statement, but you will understand shortly.

I want you understand a specific principle. The major metaphysical premises, which are your foundational assumptions, determine your epistemological qualification. This speaks to the idea of competence. When we discuss epistemological qualification, we are talking about where we decide who is qualified to do what.   Epistemological qualification defines ethical standard. Once you decide how competent you are, that determines what your ethics are. From there, ethical standards prescribe political culture.

This is high-level stuff but let me try to break this down a little more. Foundational assumptions (metaphysics) determine how effective man is to understand his world, defines moral value, and prescribes government force.

Plato was one of the first man to author a full comprehensive philosophical statement. There were others prior to him, but Plato has dominated the vast percentage of western history, which is ultimately the heritage of the United States. Here is Plato’s premise:

“This world is a mere reflection of other worldly forms.”

platocave-smIn other words, if I were to hold up a bottle of water for you to consider, that bottle of water does not really exist. There is actually a pure and true bottle of water in some other place. The bottle that I hold in my hand is imperfect. It is a form of something else. This assumption therefore determines that man cannot know truth because he experiences the imperfect shadow world. The metaphor Plato uses is that man stands in a cave. There is a fire in the cave that ultimately casts a shadow on the wall. All man sees is in fact that shadow. That’s all man truly understands about the nature of the world. In Plato’s philosophy, only select men of the highest character and a longstanding study can achieve enlightenment.

When you make these first three assumptions about reality, the resulting conclusion is that “philosopher kings” should govern the great unwashed.

Do you see the progression?

The moment you accept as true that man is incompetent, the moment you decide that truth is beyond his capacity, that is the moment you accept that only a select few are somehow able to know the truth, and they are the only ones uniquely qualified to force the rest of us to their enlightened understanding.

Here is another example.

Karl Marx said that history is a community fight over resources. That was his metaphysical premise. The community is first and the community creates truth. Therefore, all members of the community must work for the common good, and the common good is synonymous with the collective will. This means that government is right to force each person to provide according to his ability and to be given only according to his need. Notice that the metaphysical premise ultimately turns part of a culture into slaves.

Here is another example.

Augustine said “original sin” means the “fall of man.” That is the metaphysical premise. This means that man qua man is fully and entirely disqualified. His very existence is a moral affront. The nature of sin so fully corrupted who and what he is that ultimately man cannot know any good. In other words, you cannot know that water is good for you. The nature of your depravity so corrupts what you are that you cannot define good. The conclusions that arise from this assumption are of vicious nature. Primarily, man has no ethical standard because he has no good. He can never act with good on his own. It then follows that:

God must enforce moral standards, and the doctrine insists that the Holy Mother Church is responsible to use that force against depraved humanity.

Anybody who has an inch of knowledge about Catholic church history knows this is where the disaster of the Dark Ages comes from: the massive tide of human destruction and the warfare. The warfare and destruction is no accident; it follows from the metaphysical premise. When you presume that the masses of humanity are functionally incompetent, you can arrive at no other conclusion than that man must be compelled by force.

This is my contribution to the discussion of philosophy in the world.

Universal Guilt + Mass Incompetence = Dictated Good

The first three elements of every cause of tyranny follow exactly this way. All tyranny is derived from two primary presumptions. I call them universal guilt and mass incompetence. Universal guilt basically says that because man is pervasively guilty of some primary moral inferiority, he has no redeeming quality in and of himself. These ideas combine to a government model for dictated good.

This philosophical equation is the source of all tyranny!

Every time you hear a despot, a tyrant, an autocrat speak, if you listen to him long enough you will hear him tell you how incompetent you are and how guilty you are. The primary example in our current culture is the environmentalist propaganda campaign to “Go Green.” Notice the political forces in our culture saying that man is polluting the world and destroying it. Man, is incompetent to do anything else. We must therefore revert to a primitive state where the world is somehow saved. Notice then the themes within the propaganda: man, is universally guilty of destroying the world and he is collectively incompetent to fix the world. The political conclusion is: government must destroy anything that is modern – get rid of cars, get rid of oil, get rid of power, get rid of coal.

Universal guilt equals the metaphysical premise. Mass incompetence equals man’s epistemological determination. In other words, man can’t get the point. He is incompetent at his root. The only thing that’s left is dictating good, and this prescribes the function of government.

Now notice that this is the central premise of John Calvin. Pervasive depravity has wholly corrupted human existence. This determines that all good is the product of God’s specific sovereign action. Notice the vast gap that this places between good and man. Notice how far this removes man from his very environment. This defines man’s life as predetermined in action and in outcome. Lastly, this prescribes an elect few who are divinely appointed to shepherd the flock in God’s behalf.

Americans live with ontological certainty of religious freedom. That big word, ontological, means we are positive that we should be entitled to our own faith. We have never suffered a religious war in the United States. Churches tend to fracture and divide long before it becomes a fight, long before it comes to blows, long before it becomes bloodshed. events-protestant-reformation-1517-1555-iconoclasm-protestant-soldiers-bka24tBut Calvinism validates violence— or civil force.

To John Calvin, total depravity equals mass incompetence. The irresistible grace of the T.U.L.I.P. acronym equals universal guilt. Irresistible grace implies that the prevailing manifestation of humanity is in fact incompetence, so he must be given a specific grace, but only a select few that will get there. Those select few, those who have experienced limited atonement, are the ones that get to dictate the good. They are the ones that get to wield the force to compel a given body of outcome.

Take each of the doctrines of T.U.L.I.P. and pull them apart – the total depravity, the unconditional election, the irresistible grace, the perseverance of the saints – begin to pull those doctrines apart and notice how they fit into the logical progression that I’ve discussed.

Now you can grasp where our current Christian malaise comes from. It is no accident. The doctrines lead to the exact same result. Every time this body of doctrine has risen its ugly head in the world it has led to bloodshed and destruction. It leads to political force. It leads to civil force. This is where it ends.

And now you understand where tyranny comes from.

~ John Immel

Click here to read Part 1
Click here to read Part 3
Click here to read Part 4
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