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

From the Reformation to the Third Reich: Protestantism’s Impact on Western Culture – Part 8

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

The following is part eight of a multi-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

 

Christianity’s Solidarity with Socialism

There has been observation that the Founding Fathers were Christians and that a lot of the impetus for the American Revolution came from their Christian perspective.   Certainly any reading of George Washington makes it almost impossible to turn him into a deist. While it is true that many of the Founding Fathers were Christians and considered themselves Christian, they were primarily sons of the Enlightenment, and they held man as an effective, potent, rational creature.

This is in absolute defiance of historical orthodoxy. There is no way you can massage historic Augustinian/Lutheran/Calvinist orthodoxy into rational, competent, successful men. The practical outworking in the United States was that man’s exposure to the Dark Ages was directly centered around the Puritan doctrine, and it was that same Puritan doctrine that the Founding Fathers made an overt effort to separate from government and, in many instances, to defeat.

The reason Americans get so fussy about their right to define their own religion is not because they are emulating orthodox Christian doctrines. It is because they are children of the Enlightenment. It is the Enlightenment that told you that you had the rational capacity to read the Bible for yourself and understand it for yourself. That is entirely an Enlightenment conclusion.

And let me expand this a little further. One of the best contrasts to do is to look how Luther reasoned. He would make an assertion, and then he would stick a reference to a Bible quote. At one point in time, systematic theology was called the “queen of the sciences”, because it was this ability to be able to rattle off every scripture that was supposed to have been somehow designated to any of the main disciplines within theology.

Now if you actually look back through Bible interpretation from effectively Augustine forward, the dominant means by which the Bible was interpreted was by allegory,typology, and metaphors. It was not something that was rationalized.   It was nothing more than putting one’s finger on a verse and saying, “Because it says this, that necessarily means God means this.”

Of course, my degree was in systematic theology, and this is why I eventually abandoned systematic theology because it is really an interpretive methodology. It is not indicative of what the Bible says. The ability to take passages and verses of scripture and somehow cut and paste them together to arrive at doctrines is not reflective of audience, purpose, and intent of author.

That process of learning to identify audience and context are all concepts that came out of the Enlightenment. Once the Church lost control of the universities, men could start inquiring about the truth behind the doctrines in question that had been held for so long because the force of government could be brought to bear from descent. Men finally started to go out and do research, and the vast percentage of that research is actually very recent. Most biblical scholarship has been done probably within maybe the last 80 to 90 years.

All of these scholastic elements are born from the process of higher critical methodology, and most of the men who advanced these higher critical methods were considered outcasts by the Orthodox Church. One such individual who comes to mind is a guy by the name of Friedrich Schleiermacher.   He insisted that you have to learn to identify context, audience, speaker, and context for the writer of the book. Now here in 2014, finding some guy on the computer that can actually do a word study and start parsing out Greek verbs in an effort to recover, at least in his mind, an intent or meaning behind the text, is reflective of Enlightenment thought.

This is not the historic orthodox position, and you will notice in most of the Neo-Calvinist movement, they abhor higher critical methodology with impunity. They demagogue the moral high ground, and then they employ an interpretive methodology.   It is the manipulation of interpretive methodologies that gives them all the power to create any doctrine they want. And the moment you try to pause them and say, “Wait a minute. How can you just arbitrarily say, ‘Oh, Galatians here, Romans here and Genesis here and let’s all put this together,'” they become indignant.

Typically throughout the medieval times, other types of orthodoxy never had any ability to gain any traction because ultimately, you would be condemned for heresy and penalized by government. But in the United States those types of ministries had the opportunity to rise up. And more specifically, the men who actually carried them were either largely uneducated or not seminary-educated, which meant they were not Harvard or Yale graduates, which meant they were not indoctrinated into the Calvinist construct. They were committed to their own rational understandings of their own individual reading of the Bible. And this is crucial to understand.

The problem, however, is that such movements usually had nowhere to go because they had no intellectual framework. It turns out that that is exactly like Christianity back in the 1st century. It did not have a framework. It needed a framework, and unfortunately Christianity became attached to Platonism. Its abiding and enduring capacity is within that overarching philosophical statement. In philosophy the most consistent formulation wins, and as of right this minute in 21st century America, the only overarching full-formulation of Christian thought – and trust me, I have read thousands of pages from lots of different people – is the reformed Augustinian/Lutheran/Calvinist construct.

So having said all of that, let us revisit what inspired my part of this conference.

“The idea that freedom of man is a practicality is a pipe dream because he is enslaved to his own desires spiritually; hence, at the very least, indifference to political freedom on a social level. So will the New Calvinist movement cause political indifference in American society among Christians?”

That the idea of “freedom for the masses” is called a “pipe dream” is the political premise of collectivist governments. Such governments presume man’s nature precludes liberty because man can never control his impulses. Therefore, man’s true freedom is found in subordination to the state. The belief is that the state is a definer of morality, and individuals are at their highest and best when looked after by a paternalistic government.

Of course, we know where this logic leads because history gives us two absolute examples: the Soviet Union and National Socialist Germany. The fundamental political premise of Augustine/Lutheran/Calvinist doctrine is that Christians are to accept whatever government comes to power. This means that Christians must submit to any thug with a gun.

Socially and politically, the most disastrous part of the current New Calvinist movement is the doctrine that demands submission to authority. They do not teach indifference. They teach an intentional servitude. Intentional servitude is far, far worse because it is a doctrine of deliberate capitulation. Such a doctrine demands that Christians presume that any man claiming authority is ordained of God. This means that it does not matter how bad the oppression gets. People must assume that righteous action is submission. “Righteous” action is therefore non-action.

Political indifference can be ignited into political fervor in a blink if social pain becomes too great. But by contrast, people choosing to be passive in the name of “righteous” action is by definition already expressed in passion.  It is simply a passion for doctrinal submission.

The Lutheran Church gutted the Christian will to resist the rise of National Socialism. To be sure, the Evangelical Church was on the forefront of ushering in Hitler’s rise to power, and this is exactly what the historic doctrine will do today here in America. It will demand that people accept any thug with a gun who acts in behalf of the people, who acts in behalf of righteousness, who acts to establish God’s kingdom, to help usher in tyranny here.

Now you know the contrast between the philosophical foundations for collectivist tyranny and individual liberty. You have seen the root ideas of Augustinian and Calvinist theology. You have seen that this ideology sees no conflict with socialist economic doctrines. This ideology sees no conflict with a totalitarian state. Germany could make no distinction between Hitler’s socialism and Luther’s Christianity. I’m going to say that again…

The German people could make no distinction between Hitler’s socialism and Luther’s Christianity.

  • Augustine, Luther, and Calvin said, “Man is nothing. The Church is everything.” The Nazis said Du bist nichts; Dein Volk ist alles. “You are nothing. The people are everything.”
  • Augustine, Luther, and Calvin denounced reason. The Third Reich denounced reason.
  • Augustine, Luther, and Calvin had a doctrine that demanded submission to church authority. Church authority demanded submission to the state. The Nazis demanded submission to the state authority.
  • Augustine, Luther, and Calvin said the only real world was the transcendent, heavenly world. The Nazis said the only real world was the transcendent world created by the German people’s state.
  • Augustine said the material world was immoral. The Nazis fought the perceived Jewish materialistic spirit within and around them.
  • Augustine, Luther, and Calvin condemned men’s private interest, which meant they condemned private property. The Nazis condemned private interest which means they condemned private property.
  • Augustine demanded sacrifice. The Nazis demanded sacrifice.
  • There were no individual rights during the Dark Ages. There were no individual rights during the rise of National Socialism.

The Church and the National Socialists agreed in the fundamentals of human existence. From metaphysics, to epistemology, to ethics, to politics, to art, the Church and the National Socialists agreed that man is corrupt and egoistic – incompetent masses. Individualism is evil – universal guilt. Dogmatism is the only acceptable intellectual standard – abolition of ambition. The highest moral virtue is self-sacrifice to the state – collective conformity. Government is synonymous with providential divine will, and evil must be banished with force of government – utopian prestige. The method is dictated good.

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.

I have outlaid to you all of the assumptions, and now you can understand why people take the same mass action; why 40 to 65 million Germans remained complicit with the actions that went on within Nazi Germany. They all accepted the exact same premise. They held the exact same assumptions, and they followed those assumptions to the logical conclusion. When someone says to me that the state can dispose of man’s property at will, he has conceded the premise that the state owns man totally. So if they can take your money, they can take your life. If they can take your stuff, they can stick you in an oven. The moral justification does not change.

Sacrifice is the collectivist mantra, and it ends with tyranny. Once you establish the moral standard of submission to authority, there is no argument to be made for independent action. Once you accept the premise that it is immoral to take self-appointed action, all self-appointed actions are immoral. Once you accept the premise that personal inclinations are immoral, then all inclinations are immoral, and this includes your inclination to stand against tyranny. The same argument that shuts your mouth when the preacher says something you disagree with is the same argument that keeps your mouth shut when the tyrant starts shooting people in the head.

People blithely condemn self-interest as immoral, but if self-interest is immoral, then so is self-preservation. Self-interest and self-preservation are inseparable. So if you wipe out self-interest as a moral standard, you will existentially wipe out self-preservation. If you wipe out self-preservation, how then can you justify fighting against a tyrant who seeks your destruction? If you won’t fight for your own liberty, how can you live to fight for someone else’s liberty? If you don’t hold liberty as an ideal for your own existence, how can you advocate liberty for Jews, for African-Americans, for rich white people?

Hear me now.

Tyrants know this truth. If they can talk people out of self-interest, they have talked them out of life itself. Tyrants know that if your moral standard is sacrifice, you are already dead. All they have to do is hand you the knife. You will cut your own throat seeking to be moral. National Socialist Germany showed this history. The marriage of the Third Reich with the church doctrine of self-sacrifice brought the Western world within a hair’s breadth of returning to the Dark Ages. This is no accident. The doctrines at the root are the same.

In 21st century America, we are once again rolling through a philosophical cycle that has been repeated over and over in history. We are intentionally moving towards socialism. We have bought into the lie that socialism is a kinder, gentler economic organization. America’s root philosophy is the antithesis of all collectivist ideologies. Communism, socialism, Catholicism, and Calvinism, these are all collectivist ideologies. The Founding Fathers believed in the rational, effective, motivated individual man. They organized a government around the defense of the individual. The defining shape of government was to defend the sovereign individual against all encroachments.

We are sprinting headlong down the path of despotism. The slogans have only changed in name. A century ago, a fundamental transformation was done in behalf of the volk. Hope and change were done in behalf of the German people. Now the move towards socialism is done in the name of grandma’s healthcare. Christian grandma would never dream of walking next door with a gun and demanding her neighbor pay for her doctor visit, but she will think nothing of electing a politician who will hold a gun for her. Christian grandma insists that her politics are compassion, but never mind that compassion and compulsion are mutually exclusive. Never mind that compelling someone to provide an ability or a skill or an expertise at the point of a gun is slavery. Christian grandma, and everyone else who votes with her, handed the keys of the doctor’s office to men with guns. And if they can compel doctors to work for free, they can compel people to stay away from doctors for free.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is nothing hidden here. This is not any different than 1926. The documents have been written, and all you have to do is read. All you have to do is listen. There is nothing mysterious happening in modern American politics. History has repeatedly proven that socialist countries will slaughter millions to sustain the power of a select few. The moment you concede that seizing a man’s property is a moral government action, you have conceded that man is property of the state. The moment that man is property of the state, man can be disposed of as the state sees fit.

This is, of course, why Christians, with ever-increasing manifestation, are confronted with the abuse and tyrannies that our forefathers tried to resist. People wail about human depravity, moan that their leaders have the wrong form of church government, mumble feebly that the parishioners should pray more for their pastors, and demand that people sacrifice more in behalf of the church. The church is impotent to stop the problem because the church refuses to diagnose the problem.

I tell you the truth that the answer as to why this is happening is as easy to diagnose as the common cold, but the first thing you must do is dare to take responsibility for the content of our own minds. Mystic despots have ruled the world with portents of disaster for anyone with the ambition to challenge the traditions of power. Autocrats rely on being able to compel outcomes because no one opposes their arguments. Tyrants can only succeed when we refuse to think.

To be continued…


 

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

 

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 multi-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 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 eight

 

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 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 eight

 

From the Reformation to the Third Reich: Protestantism’s Impact on Western Culture – Part 6

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 13, 2017

The following is part six of a multi-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 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 seven
Click here for part eight

 

The Rise of National Socialism and the Assault on Capitalism

It is my conviction that the anti-Semitism and, of course, the Holocaust directly related to anti-Semitism is what obscures the larger discussion about National Socialism. I know that the eradication of a specific genetic population really hits us where we live. We know that is the one thing we can never escape, and so when there is organized, government-driven hostility towards the genetics of our creation, that’s hard to get out of your head. But you must also remember the National Socialists wiped out almost an equal number of people who were not Jews. They wiped out pretty much anybody who they decided stood in their way of whatever their statist ambitions were.

Let us begin with the champion of all Germans, Martin Luther. Little-known to people who do not pay any attention, Luther wrote a book entitled, On the Jews and Their Lies. I want to give you a few excerpts out of the introduction.

“I had made up my mind to write no more about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that those miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book so that I might be found among those who oppose such poisonous activities of the Jews and who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them…

“We propose to discuss their arguments and boast and prove convincingly before God and the world, not before Jews for, as already said, they would accept this neither from Moses nor from the Messiah himself… To this end, we quote Moses in Genesis 17… When God instituted circumcision, he said, among other things, ‘Any uncircumcised male shall be cut off from his people.’ [Genesis 17:14 ]”

Now I want you to notice Luther’s stated purpose. “We propose to discuss their arguments and boast and prove convincingly before God and the world…” He is trying to make a specific intellectual rebuttal. This is a theological treatise, and this is important. There is a common myth, one of many around us, that Luther was somehow just misled, and these are just some vague ramblings. No. This is just as important in Luther’s mind as the Heidelberg Disputation. This is just as central to Lutheran thought as the rest of his doctrinal works.

As I said, it is often stated in his defense that Luther was a victim of long-held prejudices. He was merely reacting out of his horrible biases, that it is the unfortunate writing of an ignorant soul, that he can’t really be held responsible for the actions of people 400 years in the future. I contend this is all nonsense. Luther wrote this when he was 60, and this is after a long-considered development.

Notice in his first comment he said, “I made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them.” He had a long history of dealing with the Jewish people in his mind. So he writes this at last because he ultimately believes he must organize a defense for Christianity against the Jews. So those people who actually insist that Luther is somehow not culpable here are people who are trying to wipe out reality and rewrite history.

And really, it will take you about an hour and a half to two hours to wade through, but on its face, On the Jews and Their Lies is a theological treatise with the same intentions as Bondage of the Will and the Heidelberg Disputation. The notion that he should not be responsible for the actions of people 400 years later is nonsense. The fact of the matter is that everybody expects people to conform and to act according to Luther in theology. This is a fundamental expectation. You cannot pick and choose. You cannot tell me his doctrine is what everybody should do because of his orthodoxy and then in turn tell me that something he wrote with just as much theological impact is somehow irrelevant to people’s actions. Luther was a definer of his time. He was not a victim of his time. Luther is the intellectual plumb line for all things orthodoxy, and it is expected that people conform, and it is nonsense to assume that he should not be directly accountable.

He goes on to say,

“Shame on you, you damned Jews, that you dare to apply this earnest, glorious, comforting word of God so despicably on your mortal greedy belly and that you are not ashamed to display your greed so openly. You are not worthy of looking at the outside of the Bible, much less of reading it. You should read only the Bible that is found under the sow’s tail, and eat and drink the letters that drop from there.”

Do I really have to unscramble that? This is the kind of language you would find in an elementary school. Gooey poop and pee, really? Now, I didn’t say it was a great theological treatise, and I didn’t say he was a whiz kid of theological defense. I’m only telling you he intends this to be held this way. But I do want to notice the theme that gets lost among the distraction, and that is Luther’s preoccupation with the perception of Jewish “greed”. In this short paragraph there are two references to it; “greedy belly” and “that you display your greed so openly.” Keep that in mind as you consider this next quote.

“They curse us goyim (literally means ‘nations’ but is used as a pejorative for all non-Jews). In their synagogues and in their prayers, they wish us every misfortune. They rob us of our money and goods through their usury, and they play on us every wicked trick they can. And the worst of it is that they still claim to have done right and well, that is, to have done God a service. And they teach the doing of such things. No pagan ever acted thus. In fact, no one acts thus except the devil himself, or whomever he possesses, as he has possessed the Jews.”

Beyond the entirely paranoid ramblings up here, again what is the theme? What is he really criticizing the Jews for? Their money, their wealth, their prosperity. He calls it greed. That’s designed to condemn it. But what he’s really upset about is that they have prosperity and he does not.   Notice the theme of this next quote.

“So we, the German Christians, are even at fault in not avenging all the innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they shed for 300 years after the destruction of Jerusalem. We, German Christians, are at fault for not slaying them. Rather, we allow them to live freely in our midst despite their murdering, cursing, blaspheming, lying and defaming. We protect and shield their synagogues, houses, life, and property. In this way we make them lazy and secure and encourage them to fleece us bodily of our money and goods, as well as to mock and deride us, with a view to finally overcoming us, killing us all for such great sin and robbing us all of our property. Now tell me whether they do not have every reason to be the enemies of us accursed Goyim, to curse us and to strive for our final complete and eternal ruin.”

Now I’ve spent a little bit of time searching through history, and I cannot remember any Jewish incursion to oppress the German people. I can think of no place in history where the Jews were pillaging and plundering their way to wealth. I’m being a little facetious here, but the point is I do not know where Luther gets all this. But I do want you to notice again the fundamental theme. Luther thinks that Jewish wealth and greed is a problem. With this in mind, it makes abundant sense why Adolf Hitler could say this:

“Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”

This is from page 65 in my copy of Mein Kampf. Now, it is important to note that even in its original inception, no one objected to Hitler’s thoughts published in Mein Kampf.   No one in the Christian Church thought this was a strange thing to say. There was no appreciable theological objection to Hitler equating defending himself against the Jews with being the work of the Lord and it necessarily being a Christian ideal. So what you are actually seeing here, as we roll from Luther to Hitler, is that a theologically-founded anti-Semitism was in fact considered Christian orthodoxy for most of Church history. The Christian orthodox position is what shaped how the Germans created their legislation, and this is well-documented.

Here is a guy by the name of Kirche Bischof (which is German for “church bishop”). He makes this comment in June 1933:

“If anyone can lay claim to God’s help, then it is Hitler, for without God’s benevolent, fatherly hand, without his blessing, the nation would not be where it stands today. It is an unbelievable miracle that God has bestowed on our people,”

The “unbelievable miracle” being Adolf Hitler.

Germany’s population was roughly 65 million people in 1930. I want you to notice this next quote from a pastor by the name of Mathias K. This was an interview after the war, and I want you to notice how he describes his mindset and the mindset of the German people.

“Part of my childhood memories is how the cattle were driven past my parents’ home to the cattle market. Those who had control of the cattle were the Jews. In every village it was the Jews who had the trade and traffic in their hands, and they had the cattle business, the grain train, and they had the general store where you could buy everything. The farmers had simply become slaves of the Jews, and they never got anywhere. The Jewish question ate away at those in the countryside.

“All that hatred sat deeply within the people. Strong anti-Semitic concerns were already there. It’s not at all the case that Herr Goebbels invented all of it. Rather the entire ideology and also the rhetoric were there. The Nazis had only to take it and carry it to its conclusion.

“So one can’t overlook the fact that when 1933 came and there were not a few good Christians who had no objection at all if the Jews got pushed back a bit. They didn’t start with concentration camps; it began with propaganda. But people said, ‘Oh, the cheeky Jews, let them get what is coming to them.’”

Again, I want you to notice the theme. The Lutherans equated their poverty with Jewish prosperity. They specifically resented Jewish prosperity. Jew meant prosperous. It meant upper class. This is the root of their hatred.

Here is another quote from a guy by the name of Erich Koch. He was the president of the provincial Protestant Church – actually, the president of the provincial Protestant Church synod, which means he was actually pretty important. I’m trying to think of an American variation, maybe like being the head of the Moral Majority or the Southern Baptist Convention. There will be somebody of that stature within the church.

“Externally, much has changed. But in our church the world of Christ according to the doctrine of Luther remains…Righteousness, truth and love should guide us, but not only at the level of charity but also in the joyful and active struggles for our Protestant confession of faith.”

He also said, and this is after the war in court records,

“I held the view that the Nazi idea had to develop from basic Prussian Protestant attitude and from Luther’s unfinished reformation.”

Now here’s the punch line. Erich Koch ultimately decides to resign his position as president of the synod, and he became one of the leading men to kill thousands of Jews and political dissidents, and he helped to enslave the remaining Slavic population.

This is the cover from a pamphlet called “The Cross and the Swastika.” It was created by a small church group in some Prussian province by Gerhard Hahn, president of the provincial church council. Here’s what he said:

“The cross of Christ and the swastika do not need to oppose each other. They must not do so, but rather they could and should stand together. One should not dominate the other, but rather each should maintain its own meaning and significance.

“The cross of Christ points towards heaven and admonishes us. Remember that you are Christian people carried by the eternal love of the heavenly Father, free through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, sanctified by the power of God’s Spirit.

“The swastika, however, points to the world as a divine creation and admonishes us. Remember that you are German, born in German territory to parents of German blood, filled with the German spirit and essence formed according to German nature.”

He goes on to say later in the pamphlet:

“The cross of Christ and the swastika must have a positive relationship!

The church must affirm without reservation Adolf Hitler’s total state, the last bulwark against the Satan of Bolshevism. It should not be forgotten that had it not been for Hitler, we would have long since sunk into Bolshevism and probably would no longer have churches and ministers.

The church must affirm without reservation the Fuhrer of the National Socialists, Adolf Hitler, the Chancellor of the German Reich. He expects the church to help build the Third Reich… It is the task of the Church to create and provide this foundation.”

There is no question in the mind of the Evangelical Lutheran Church that there is a synonymous action. The National Socialists and the church are only divisions in name. They are not divisions in fact. And this is very important for me to point out. The presumption is that somehow the Church was set apart and all this was done to them. This is historical error of the first order. And when I say Evangelical Lutheran Church, if you look at the Lutheran Church here in the United States, we are talking about a denomination with virtually no difference in doctrinal distinctions. The rudiments of Lutheran orthodoxy then are the rudiments of Lutheran orthodoxy today.

So let us ask the question. What causes this kind of devotion? Let us briefly explore the idea that Christians are led astray. There are three variations of this: Hitler was possessed. It was the devil. It was satanic delusion. I have heard this objection a few times, and this is one of those objections that – I’ll be blunt – you shouldn’t utter this in public. And here’s why. If there are Christians that would like to advance this excuse, I’m going to suggest that you should be quiet. You must understand what you’re really saying.

Of the 65 million people in the Germany, 40 million people named themselves “Lutheran.” So if Christians can be deceived by the devil on so massive a scale, Christians should be banned from all political action because their judgment is nonexistent. If you are going to blame this on the devil, delusion, mass delusion, mass hysteria, and say it is confined specifically to Lutheran Christians, then the logical assumption is that Lutheran Christians have no business around anything important.

Blaming mass action on demonic forces makes the governing force of man’s mind malevolent ghosts. If the devil can corrupt Christian epistemology, then the solution is to make sure Christians are kept far away from all the important decisions. There should be no Christian in the White House near the atomic nuclear button. And I guarantee you, if you want to offer this up, and you want to continue to advocate this as something that should be genuinely accepted in public, and you want to reasonably make this case, what will happen by offering this argument in public is going to guarantee that eventually legislation will be passed to prevent Christianity from being part of any public discussion.

Now here’s a variation on the same argument. I call it a kind of “Stephen Spielberg” defense. Remember in the Raiders of the Lost Ark, there was the maniacal Nazi who wanted to find Ark of the Covenant because he wanted to gain absolute power. Here, it was the idea that the Nazis led the world astray because Hitler was obsessed with cultic doctrines.   So, if Hitler had not had an obsession with cultic doctrines and held to real Christian doctrines, the Nazis would not have done these things. Well, first of all, this still means that Christians were incompetent to grasp the truth. In other words, they saw what was happening, they heard what Adolf Hitler said, and they still could not grasp what the man was saying. This, of course, still speaks to Christian epistemological incompetence.

But I want to make a secondary point, and it has to do with the source of moral action. I know that this gets to people because, as of right now, most Christians are under the expectation that the last best hope for human morality is Christianity. The Neo-Calvinist movement has set themselves up as the source of this last great hope. Without them, the United States is doomed to total moral chaos, and the reason they say this is because the Bible says thou shalt not whatever. That the Bible is the actual source of morality. And I know why people say that, but what you are really saying is that the source of morality is located in a metaphysical otherworld.

Now here’s the problem. The moment you open the door to the source of morality being in an otherworld, you have severed morality from this earth, and you have no control of what walks back through the door that leads to this otherworld. If the Christian God is the source of morality, then why can it not be the Muslim god or the Hindu god? If morality is merely the product of a transcendent religious world, then the entire spectrum of the transcendent religious world is available. But by simply repeating the mantra of “The Bible says, the Bible says, the Bible says,” Christians think that they are going to somehow gain traction.

The easiest way to defeat this argument is to say, “So what?” It is ultimately no argument, and at its root, it ultimately severs man from morality. If there is no reason to be moral, then man has no means to be moral. This is exactly historic Calvinist teaching, that because there is this transcendent world, this heavenly realm, and man is metaphysically corrupt, he cannot do good anyhow.

So at the end of the day, the Christian doctrine ultimately condemns man to the exact same place as antinomianism does.  Antinomianism says that there are no laws man is morally obligated to keep. The doctrine of pervasive depravity is effectively the same thing. The nature of man’s depravity is so vast he cannot keep the law. He cannot be moral. We are in exactly the same place. Ostensibly, Christianity is not advancing morality, and we see the prime example in National Socialist Germany.

Next I would like to actually address the assumption that the people just did not know what Hitler and the Nazis were going to do. Let me first reiterate that there really was no practical distinction between the Church and the National Socialist Party. It does not matter whether Hitler or Goebbels or any of the rest of those guys actually had a statement of orthodoxy in and of themselves. That is irrelevant. The point is that whatever the people heard from the leadership, they saw no conflict within their Christianity. This is crucial.

In 1925, the social malcontent, out-of-work painter, and a ham-fisted scribbler wrote a book about his struggles while cooling his heels in the clink. The miles and miles of rambling prose revealed a mind filled with logical conundrums, philosophical plagiarism, and dead-end German phrases. The book correctly received a cool reception, and from the few that waded through the tedious, often bellicose rants, the “Fuhrer of the Beer Hall Putsch” was a joke rat in an Austrian-Jewish punch line.

The book, of course, was Mein Kampf, and its author was Adolf Hitler. The book was not well-written. Having read it myself, I can tell you it is not compelling. On occasion you’ll run across something that is kind of cool. Since I do not speak German I cannot testify to this first-hand, but some commentators have observed that there are some sections of it in German they cannot translate because it makes no sense even in German, so it has no ability to be translated into any other language.

There are many historically inaccurate details. Hitler was fond of quoting contemporary thinkers but often quotes them inaccurately or draws erroneous conclusions. He is given to long passages that are devoid of reality. There are quite a few of those. Despite all these shortcomings, however, it sold roughly 240,000 copies by 1933, about the time he was voted chancellor.

After he was elected chancellor, Mein Kampf was a wedding gift to every newlywed couple and every soldier. By 1942, 10 million copies were in print, available to a total population of people in excess of 65 million. His ideas were not a secret. There is no way anyone could have honestly said, “I don’t know what this man is about.” He was not a master communicator. He did not have some massive Svengali-like hypnosis or Criss Angel ability to compel you to think things. I read the book, and never once was I compelled to utter, “Sieg heil,” not once.

The error behind assuming that it was Hitler’s force of personality that did this leads people to ignore the ideology. It leads people to equate tyranny with the flamboyant and the charismatic. Political action is not sustained by personality. It is always ideology. Ideology is philosophy turned into political action. There was nothing unclear about Hitler’s program.

Adolf was a shrewd judge of political actions and adversaries. He told everyone what he thought and how the political program should progress. He detailed re-armament in spite of the Treaty of Versailles, territorial expansion in spite of the Treaty of Versailles, the abolition of democracy, which at that time would have been the Weimar Republic, and a commitment to socialism.

He believed in the German state. He believed that the people born of the German blood were property of the German State. He believed in eugenics and the elimination of the Jewish threat. Now mind you, the bulk of Germany believed in eugenics, but the specific application to Jews had not manifested yet. The Final Solution hung out there, but no one ever really objected.

He detailed his contempt for the Catholic Church, because he knew German Catholics were not German first. He knew they were Catholics first, and since he knew he could never influence Rome, he knew he could never dominate them.   Since he could never dominate Rome, he knew he would never have access to their minds.

But for all of its failure, what Mein Kampf revealed was threefold:

  1. It was a crystal clear picture. It was a detailed blueprint for National Socialism.
  2. It showed a man who had an amazing capacity to size up his political adversaries and allies.
  3. Above all, it showed that he was a man who believed it was moral to build the first and exploit the second with impunity.

And this is the bottom line. The political ideal, the social ideal, the government ideal was no secret. It was available for anyone paying attention. And the people did pay attention, and they agreed. And that is the point. The people of Germany voted to put Hitler in power. And that’s because they saw no fundamental distinction between what they believed as Christians and his specific policies.

There was no mass delusion. There were no demonic forces. There was no fiendishly clever super secret plot. The German people willingly, openly, purposely took action in accord with National Socialism. From the least to the greatest, they voted for a man who pledged lies in service to despotism, and the Lutheran Church insisted that Hitler was God’s man to protect the people.

So what was the appeal of the National Socialist Party? Before I can explain the answer to that question, I have to lay one more foundation. I have to talk to you about a dirty word in America. I have to talk to you about capitalism.   But that will be in the next article.

To be continued…


 

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 seven
Click here for part eight

 

From the Reformation to the Third Reich: Protestantism’s Impact on Western Culture – Part 5

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 11, 2017

The following is part five of a multi-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s fourth 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 six
Click here for part seven
Click here for part eight

 

Editor’s note: I realize up front that this next article is long, but the content is powerful and emotional, and I do not want to break up the continuity or diminish the sense of John Immel’s passion in this segment.

 

The Inspiration of John Locke

Aristotle had become re-institutionalized into Western thought. We now fast-forward about 500 years to the Age of Enlightenment and the Renaissance.   Reason has become effective and successful. Man’s life on earth is effective and successful, and we are trending towards where the seeds of political liberty are finally starting to emerge.

The continental rationalists started with Descartes. Descartes started with doubt. He said to himself, “I think. Therefore, I am.” This is an unfortunate formulation because it is effectively a primacy of consciousness formulation. It starts with consciousness first and then presumes being. It presumes existence. This, of course, causes all sorts of problems. Subsequent thinkers like Spinoza and Leibniz take these concepts and run with them. It produces some real conflicts in philosophy.

Finally we arrive at John Locke. John Locke is an empiricist, and he says exactly the opposite. He says, “Wait a minute. It is not reason that is first. It is actually the nature of human experience and perceptions by which we encounter the world.” So that sends us on the right track. It sounds very similar to Aristotle, but it is not Aristotle.

You must grasp that during this time period there are no options in Christianity. You have Catholicism, and you have Lutheran-Calvinist orthodoxy. There are other variants of Christianity out there, but for the most part, they are so politically and socially insignificant as to really not be an option. We are also still within the framework where being an atheist is punishable by death, and that prevails, depending on the country, well into the 19th century. So you really don’t have a genuine secular alternative, meaning a State not wrapped around religious orthodoxy.

Well, people are finally starting to become bold. They can tell that there must be a dramatic shift, and the fundamental problems and conflicts that they are identifying are directly tied to church tyranny and political freedom. Locke is the philosophical apogee of the Enlightenment and the advocacy of reason, and as we will see shortly, the assault against reason starts almost immediately after Locke. Fortunately for us, by the time of the American Revolution, John Locke was a household name, and the concept of natural rights had spread throughout the colonies.

The brilliant thing about John Locke was his political philosophy. Locke wrote a few books. His most influential was The Second Treatise of Government. I do also do recommend you pick up A Letter Concerning Toleration. I’m going to give a few excerpts from that one because it will give a sense of how Locke is arguing against church-statist control.

“Since you are pleased to inquire what are my thoughts about the mutual toleration of Christians in their different professions of religion, I must need answer you freely that I esteem the toleration to be the chief characteristic of the mark of the true Church. For whatsoever some people boast of the antiquity of places and names, or the pomp of their outward worship; others, of the reformation of their discipline; all, of the orthodoxy of their faith – for everyone is orthodox to himself – these things, and all others of this nature, are much rather marks of men striving for power and empire over one another than the Church of Christ.”

There could be no greater truer aphorism. Everybody assumes that their own definition of Christianity is right. Everybody assumes that. And I find it fascinating that he points out that we cannot make orthodoxy the premise by which we have religious toleration. Here is another excerpt.

“In the second place, the care of souls cannot belong to the civil magistrate, because his power consists only in outward force; but true and saving religion consists in the inward persuasion of the mind, without which nothing can be acceptable to God. And such is the nature of the understanding, that it cannot be compelled to the belief of anything by outward force. Confiscation of estate, imprisonment, torments, nothing of that nature can have any such efficacy as to make men change the inward judgment that they have framed of things.

“It may indeed be alleged that the magistrate may make use of arguments, and thereby, draw the heterodox into the way of truth and procure their salvation. I grant it; but this is common to him with other men. In teaching, instructing, and redressing the erroneous by reason, he may certainly do what becomes any good man to do. Magistracy does not oblige him to put off either humanity or Christianity, but it is one thing to persuade and another to command, one thing to press with arguments, another with penalties. This civil power alone has a right to do; to the other, goodwill is authority enough.”

I want you to notice he is correctly making the distinction that authority and force are the same thing. Governments are tools of compulsion. When you hear men making the argument that they have the right to ask you to submit to their authority, they are really declaring the right to use force against you to compel you to a given outcome.

Locke is making the correct assessment that the nature of government compulsion should not be mixed in with religious conviction. This is an evolution of thought. You have lived with this for so long in your lives that you honestly have a hard time conceptualizing it not being true. In all of my subsequent discussions with people, whenever we disagreed, whenever we’ve come at these things at different ways and from different frameworks, one of the things that I find so impressive is how genuinely indignant people are that they shouldn’t be entitled to their own opinion. We are absolutely daughters and sons of the Enlightenment! Until the Enlightenment, such a notion did not exist – it was nowhere – that one has the right to be an independently thinking creature in one’s own behalf. This is absolutely the product of the Enlightenment and more particularly of John Locke’s arguments.

Here’s another quote from A Letter Concerning Toleration.

“The care and salvation of men’s souls cannot belong to the magistrate; because, though the rigor of laws and the force of penalties were capable to convince and to change men’s minds, yet would not that help at all to the salvation of their souls.

“For there being but one truth, one way to heaven, what hope is there that more men would be led into it if they had no rule but the religion of the court and were put under the necessity to quit the light of their own reason, and oppose the dictates of their own conscience, and blindly to resign themselves upon the will of their governors and to the religion which either ignorance, ambition, or superstition had chanced to establish in the countries where they were born?”

That’s a wordy way of saying men should be entitled to the rights of their own lives, and the nature of their religious convictions should be determined by conscience. You take that for granted. In the United States of America, we have a hard time conceptualizing religious wars because our Founding Fathers were brilliant. They approached the nature of government with the expectation of the separation between Church and State.

As a result, the result of our religious disagreements in the United States are church splits for the most part. One group in the church wants the color of the carpet to be pink. Another group says they want it to be blue. They get fussed, and they decide, “You know what? I’ll start my own church. Doctrinally blue is better.”

Well, that’s the sum, and it frankly doesn’t matter how egregious the doctrinal fight. At whatever point of disagreement, everybody goes, “Well, I’m just going to start my own church.” And they do, which is why in America religion has exploded with flavors of denomination, and in almost any given city you can see where first church became second church that became third church that became fourth church on all four corners – it was essentially the same people and the same orthodoxy. This is directly tied to the fact that the American Church has never had access to genuine civil power.

I made this point earlier. A secular government is a free government because a secular government should be agnostic. Its interests have no interest in religious orthodoxy it. It is not interested in a doctrinal standard, and I understand why Christians find that truly scandalous, but you must hear me here. Your freedom is directly tied to a secular, agnostic government. Now, that is different than a government that professes atheism and chooses to oppress alternate positions. That is actually the reverse form of political tyranny. What I am talking about is a government that gives no advantage and gives no penalty based on religious conviction.

Here is another excerpt from Lock. I find this example humorous.

“Let us suppose two churches – the one of Arminians, the other of Calvinists – in the city of Constantinople.

“Will anyone say that either of these churches has right to deprive the members of the other of their estates and liberty because of their differing from the same doctrines and ceremonies… (while the Muslims laugh to see with what inhuman cruelty Christians thus rage against Christians?)

“One of these churches has the power to treat the other ill. To which of them does this power belong and by what right?

“It will be answered, undoubtedly, that it is the orthodox church which has the right of authority over the erroneous or heretical. This is, in great and specious words, to say just nothing at all. Every church is orthodox to itself; to others, erroneous and heretical.

“So the controversy between these churches about the truth of their doctrines and the purity of their worship is on both sides equal; nor is there any judge, either at Constantinople or elsewhere upon earth, by whose sentence it can be determined.

“If it could be manifest which of these two dissenting churches were right, there would not accrue thereby unto the orthodox any right of destroying the other. For churches have neither any jurisdiction in worldly matters, nor are fire and sword any proper instruments wherewith one convince men’s minds of error, and inform them of the truth.”

At the 2013 TANC Conference, Susan Dohse did a fantastic job of explaining Augustine and his use of violence as a doctrinal standard to compel men to the Church. I invite you to go back and review what she said. What Locke is saying here is in direct defiance of Augustinian ideology. It is in direct defiance of Calvinist ideology. Both men presumed the right of the Church to compel rational compliance.

Locke’s arguments become foundational for what ultimately becomes the secular government of the United States; the belief in the expectation of the division between religious conviction and political power. In his book, Second Treatise of Government, Locke opens his work with a definition of terms. He summarizes his initial thoughts:

“Political power, then, I take to be a right of making laws with penalties of death – and consequently all less penalties – for the regulating and preserving of property, and of employing the force of the community, in the execution of such laws, and in the defense of the commonwealth from foreign injury; and all this only for the public good.”

Now he is defining his terms about the nature of what political force is, what is the legitimate purpose of government. It is specifically for the defense of the property and the “public good.” Now I want to make this distinction. When I say “public good”, most people confuse this with the collectivist assertion of “common good”. Locke doesn’t mean this. When Locke says for the “public good,” he means the good of individuals.

The State of Nature
This becomes a common phrase in the Enlightenment. Thomas Hobbes used it, Jean Jacques Rousseau used it, and so it is ambiguous and inconsistent. For Hobbes, state of nature meant that man is basically a barbarian and that the nature of his barbarity needs restraint. So because of that need for restraint, government’s function is designed to handcuff man in his most base passions. This idea is echoed by Edmund Burke when he said that it is through government that man forges his fetters by virtue of the fact that he really doesn’t have self-control. This a very Hobbesian position.

Rousseau has a very similar concept of the state of nature, but he doesn’t think man is a barbarian as such. He thinks that the state of nature is man’s highest ideal. Man in his natural form is the height of the perfect predator in nature. He still thinks that the function of government is to restrict man, and therefore man gives something up when he enters society.

Here’s Locke’s definition. To understand political power correctly, man must first understand the state of nature. Man is perfect, so he is free, meaning man is at liberty to act as he pleases. He acts to dispose of his own possessions, and he acts to dispose of his own person. Think of it this way. If you live on a desert island by yourself, you are at liberty to organize your desert island to your own benefit, and it would require of you your highest and best reason to do so. Your very survival would be dependent upon your ability to organize your environment to your advantage, and you are perfectly free to dispose of everything that you create and your entire person to that end. The state of nature is a state of equality. All the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal. All the men are born to the same advantages of nature.

Now expand the example I gave so that now we two people on the same desert island. The exact same state exists between both men. They both have the ability to act and to dispose of themselves in the exact same fashion. That is their natural right. Locke goes on to say this means that God would not and could not appoint some men to subjugate others, and he says that the law that governs the state of nature is reason. Reason teaches all men that all men are equal and independent.

Now notice how this goes. Man’s existence requires his survival, and his survival requires that he successfully manages his own environment, that he specifically sets out to organize that environment such that he disposes all of his work product in service to that survival. All men exist in this state, and the reason they do so, the reason they are successful in this state is because the only way they can survive is by reason.

Notice how Locke is making the equation: Existence → survival → liberty → work → reason. All are integrated.

The state of nature is a state of liberty, but it is not a state of license. The law of reason says that since no man may harm other man’s life, health, liberty, or possessions, there is no subordination among men that authorizes one to destroy another. Inasmuch as man preserves his life, he must also seek to aid the preservation of another’s liberty, health, limb, and property. Notice that Locke’s state of nature requires man to acknowledge exactly the same thing in another man that he demands for himself. Reason, the law of nature, wills peace and the preservation of man.

Therefore, the law of nature puts in everyone’s hand the right to punish the transgressor of reason and to hinder the violation of reason with violence. Without the power of retribution, the law of nature would be in vain. In other words, without the ability to recompense the irrational, to give retribution to the irrational, reason could never thrive and survive. The law must have power to preserve the innocent and restrain offenders. If any one may punish evil, then everyone must be qualified. What any may do in prosecution of the law, everyone must be able to do to prosecute the law of reason.

Man’s power over another is not arbitrary or absolute. Individuals cannot vent their passions against a criminal without limitation. Retribution must be in proportion to criminal action. Violence can only be used to obtain reparation and restraint. But if criminals abandon restraint and reason, and declare themselves outside of the law of reason, these criminals become dangerous to men of reason and peace. So the dividing line of violence is when the un-reasonable and irrational initiate violence against reasonable and peaceful men. They trespass against the peace and safety of the whole of humanity. This abandonment grants mankind the right to destroy the one who abandons the law of reason, to make him repent of his actions, to deter him in continued action, and to make an example of those who would follow in his footsteps.

Every man has the right to punish the offender and executioner of the law of nature. The man who has been injured by a man who abandons the rule of reason not only has the right of punishment but also the right to obtain reparations. Furthermore, all people who respect justice may join the injured party to assist in recovering his restitution. The man who murders or commits unjust violence and slaughter has declared war against all mankind and may be destroyed just like you would kill a lion; a tiger with whom man cannot have society or security.

Locke is standing the historic philosophical perspective on its ear!

He is centralizing the entire right of man to exist for the sake of himself, and he is arguing directly that the nature of man’s existence demands that he be able to resist with violence all who wage war against his peaceability.

Locke says that punishment must be proportional to the crime, but the punishment must be sufficient to make continuing in the same action an ill bargain. This leads to Locke’s next point.

The State of War
This is a state of enmity and destruction intended by one man against another by word or action. The state of war is a deliberate intentional design to take a man’s life or property. When a state of war is initiated, the innocent has the right to destroy that which threatens his destruction just like you would kill a wild beast, because they have no commitment to common law or reason. The man who seeks to place another man in his absolute power has initiated a state of war. The man who seeks to place another man in his absolute control seeks to make him a slave. Slavery is merely the same as a state of war.

This was revolutionary. The determinism of Augustinian and Calvinist doctrine placed men in a specific relationship to their Creator. Their Creator appointed them their position. The justification for slavery was that it was your ordained place. Locke’s argument here says this is not true. Slavery is really an act of war. It is the possession of another man’s life that is not yours to possess. The nature of reason and the nature of peace eliminate slavery.

Of course, most of you who have done any work at all with American history know that slavery was one of the hardest things against which we fought. The universal justification for slavery was church doctrine. Modern Calvinists like to pretend that they have always been on the side of peace and prosperity and the brotherhood of all men. That is all nonsense. For centuries the right to enslave was considered an orthodox position. And the same argument that everybody used was when they would point to the fact that Paul consecrated the state of slavery when he told Philemon to go back to his slave master. And it frankly doesn’t matter that he ultimately told the slave master to take it easy. Ultimately, what Paul did is confirm that slavery was, in fact, something ordained by God. That’s one among many of the arguments.

The argument that inspired the Methodists and the Unitarians was this argument: natural rights. And this argument from John Locke was the inspiring force that started the Church to rethink the idea behind slavery.   Back in the 1700s, if you weren’t Calvinist orthodox or some variation of Calvinist orthodox, there were very few options, but the Methodists and the Unitarians happened to be two of them, and they rejected the fundamental translation making this argument. It took about 30 years to persuade the bulk of the colonies that slavery was in fact immoral.

The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth and not to be under the will or legislative authority of men. In society, the liberty of man is not under any legislative power except what is established by consent. Freedom from absolute arbitrary power is so fundamental to man’s life that he may not part with it, not even by consent.

Did you hear what I said?

Man cannot give up. It is so fundamental, this thing that man is, these natural rights and this reason is so fundamental to who he is he can’t even give it up by consent. Man may not enslave himself to anyone because no man can give more power than what he has. This is a brilliant argument. Slavery is a little more than a state of war sustained by legislative means. It is merely the relationship between conquered and captured.

Private Property
Locke’s definition of private property is an essential evolution of thought. He correctly establishes the roots of private property. Private property is the product of labor. Individuals employ their industry to create the substance of their lives. Man in the state of nature must work to survive. Man’s survival is directly tied to his labor. This makes man’s work a direct function of his life. This makes what he works at his property, and it must be private. Seizing man’s property then is the same thing as seizing his life. In an evolution of thought where it has always been assumed that the state is the political and social primary, where man is disposed to the will of the state, to correctly identify the location for the nature of work product, life and property was a profound advance.

Consider our discussion of the soul-body/mind-body dichotomy from the previous conference in 2013. The ability to take man and divide him in half and distribute those halves across whatever world you want to distribute them. For instance, John Calvin basically says that you have no right to complain about the nature of your existence. Who cares if you are persecuted? Who cares if the government comes and takes whatever they come and take? Ultimately, your treasures, your life, your values are all stored away in some other place, but here on earth you just have to suck it up, and that is your specific Christian responsibility.

That is Calvin’s argument. But notice he succeeds in doing this based on the soul-body dichotomy. He can say that your physical self is actually immoral and irrelevant. Your spiritual self is this thing that gets magically transported someplace else. By dividing man, he can make the moral justification that tyranny is morally acceptable.

The Dark Ages was rooted in this dichotomy. This was the justification for the church to seize earthly production. Man’s focus should be in the afterlife. Man’s material existence is morally inferior which means man’s industry is morally questionable.

But Locke is one of the first philosophers to successfully make the mind-body/soul-body integration. correctly identifies that man is indivisible from his work. He correctly integrates human existence by identifying reason as the root of man’s production and production as the root of man’s life. Thus, man’s life and man’s property are corollaries of the same existence. This is profound and powerful. I want to dance every time I consider this! This is an amazing philosophical achievement.

The standard objection to private property has always been that private property prevents some men from actually getting resources. In tribal cultures this had some validity because tribes did not have the concept of private use, but in fact they held everything in common. This social dynamic historically produced lack. But Locke applies reason to the process of wealth creation. He correctly identifies that man creates his own level of prosperity. Wealth is not static because wealth is the product of labor, and labor is expansive.

I want to read you a prolonged section from Locke.

“This is certain, that in the beginning, before the desire of having more than man needed had altered the intrinsic value of things, which depends only on their usefulness to man’s life; or had agreed that a little piece of yellow metal, which would keep without wasting or decay, should be worth a great piece of flesh, or a whole heap of corn; though men had a right to appropriate, by their labor; each one unto himself, as much of the things of nature, as he could use: yet this could not be much, nor to the prejudice of others, where the same plenty was still left to those who would use the same industry.

“To which let me add, that he who appropriates land to himself by his labor does not lessen, but increases the common stock of mankind: for the provisions serving to the support of human life, produced by one acre of enclosed and cultivated land, are ten times more than those which are yielded by an acre of land of an equal richness lying waste in common. And therefore, he that encloses land and has a greater plenty of the conveniences of life from ten acres, than he could have from a hundred left to nature, may truly be said to give ninety acres to mankind: for his labor now supplies him with provisions out of ten acres, which were but the product of an hundred lying in common.”

Notice his reason, that the nature of labor expands human prosperity, and he is exactly right. Man must successfully use his resources as effectively as possible. Private property demands of the man his highest and best reasoning capacity, his greatest efficiency. This is what has always elevated the rise of man’s natural material wealth. Private property is at the heart of increasing and never-ending prosperity. Locke correctly identifies that things laying in common actually do not have the optimal uses, but private property expands human resources because of labor and ownership.

Paternal Power
Locke correctly identifies that men do not give up rights when they join social contracts. They do not give up liberty to gain security, and this is actually a very important concept. It was very common for people to say that men needed to give up something to join society. Like I said, this was Hobbes and Rousseau and pretty much every other philosopher on the other side of this argument. The presumption is that I am only in restraint because there is no government compelling me to some given action, and that for me to enter society, to enter political agreements, what I’m really giving up is the nature of my own liberty. Locke says, “No. This is wrong.”

Remember the Augustinian and Calvinist doctrine of subordination. Government’s function is to restrain men. Government is compulsion to moral action, but Locke says not so.

“So that, however it may be mistaken, the end of law is not to abolish or restrain but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all states of created beings capable of laws, where there is no law, there is no freedom, for liberty is to be free from restraint and from violence of others, which cannot be where there is no law. But freedom is not, as we are told, a liberty for every man to do as he lists: (for who could be free, when every other man’s humour might domineer over him?) but a liberty to dispose, and order as he lists, his person, actions, possessions, and his whole property, within the allowance of those laws under which he is, and therein not to be subject to the arbitrary will of another, but freely follow his own.”

I want you to notice the part I emphasized above. The nature of liberty is to be freed from restraint or violence. The reason I enter into political agreements is because I want to secure for myself security. I want to emphasize this point.

Locke is brilliant here. The legitimate function of government is to defend the individual from all encroachments. The function of government is to secure man’s freedom. Man’s freedom is expressed in his action to dispose his life and property. Government’s limited function is to defend man in that freedom or pursue restitution or retribution for those men who enter a state of war.

Notice how does progression works. Man is the sovereign political unit. Man creates private property. Man needs a means to defend himself from the irrational, so he voluntarily enters into agreements with other men with the exact same premise. They consent to government to gain liberty, not to lose it. Government’s function is no longer fetters. Government’s function is defense. It is the defense of the individual who is living his life in the pursuit of life and prosperity and happiness. Now you can begin to understand where the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the framers of the Constitution got the substance of their arguments.

The Beginnings of Political Societies
It is here that Locke identifies the correct order of social relationships. Historically, it was assumed that State was the social primary. Men were born into the State, and their lives were disposed of at State will. Locke says this is backwards.

“Men being by nature all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put out of this estate, and subjected to the political power of another, without consent. A man can only divest himself of natural liberty, and put on bonds of civil society, by agreeing with other men to join and unite for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living amongst another, in secure enjoyment of their properties.

“This any number of men may do, because it injures not the freedom of the rest; they are left as they were in the state of nature. When any number of men have so consented to make one community or government, they are thereby presently incorporated, to make one body politic, wherein the majority have a right to act and conclude the rest.”

Here is his progression. Man is first a free and sovereign agent. Man labors to create property to satisfy his survival and enjoyment. He seeks social relationships to expand his freedom. His consent is to social contacts, and government is by consent of the governed for the express purpose of defending his life, peace, and property.

Legislative Power
The extent of Legislative power cannot take from any man any part of his property without his own consent. The reason man enters into political agreement is to sustain and enjoy his property, so he cannot then enter society and then have society expropriate his property. Thomas Paine echoed this concept.

“It is a perversion of terms to say that a charter gives rights. It operates by contrary effect – that of taking rights away. Rights are inherently in all the inhabitants; but charters, by annulling those rights, in the majority, leave the right, by exclusion, in the hands of a few…They…consequently are instruments of injustice…The fact, therefore, must be that the individuals, themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, enter into contract with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.” ~ Common Sense, chapter 5

Dissolution of Government
Since government is by consent, the government is dissolved when the legislature takes upon itself the power to make laws that people do not appoint them to make. This is very important. A legislature does not become autonomous and sovereign by the fact that it was created. The people sustain their political sovereignty. When a legislator acts in this fashion, the people have no obligation to obey the laws. They can refuse to obey as an act of refusing to be subjugated. And the logical outworking is everyone returns to the state of nature, at the pleasure of his will as he was before contract.

So rejecting the legislature, an unjust legislature, is not chaos. It is not anarchy. It merely means that man reverts to his original state of nature. This would be the answer to a runaway bureaucracy that is neither elected nor subject to the people like when Congress decided to start giving legislative power to bureaus in the United States. Just an observation.

  • Governments are dissolved when a single person sets up his own arbitrary will in place of laws, like presidents who pass endless executive orders.
  • Governments are dissolved when a single person hinders the legislature. When this person suspends legislature, he is in effect putting an end to the government the people instituted.
  • Governments are dissolved when one man seeks to alter elections and thereby change the legislature to which the people consented.
  • Governments are dissolved if the “prince” (Locke’s word) or the legislature deliberately delivers the people into the subjugation of a foreign power.

The people entered into political agreement to be governed by their own laws. They cannot be transferred into a government that was not authorized by their own consent.

Americans, hear me…

It is treason for any member of the American government to act to deliver the American people into the hands of the United Nations!

We did not authorize the existence of them to govern us. Our constitution is unique and proprietary. We have the right to define our own body of laws.

Here is Locke’s summary. When legislators and agents of the government act against the trust of the people by invading their property, they, the government agents, are the ones who are initiating force, and they are the ones who are the rebels. They are the ones committing treason against the people. Never lose sight of the fact that men enter into civil government to exclude force from social interaction and to preserve their individual property and peace and unity. So those representatives of government who use force in opposition to the laws are the rebels against the state of nature. They are hiding behind the pretense. They claim authority to justify their actions, but they are the ones who bring back and initiate the state of war. They are the ones who have overthrown the government.

This is a profound and important distinction. The government of the United States is for the people and by the people. The fact that we elected legislators does not make them the politically sovereign unit. The State in the United States is not sovereign. The people are sovereign, and they grant limited function to the legislators, the state governments, the federal government, and the judiciary.

We have catastrophically lost this concept in the United States, and I want to draw your attention because this point is specifically and expressly made in the Declaration of Independence.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they that are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable 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 to those ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it and to institute new Government, laying its foundations on such principles and organizing the powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.” ~ from, The Declaration of Independence

Please notice the emphasized part. This is John Locke. This is at the root of our government. The United States government is not the political sovereign. The people are the political sovereign, a people committed to reason, peace, life and prosperity and property. When governments use force in direct violation of the express social contract, the government is committing treason.

Now you can have some sense of scope. Now you’ve seen the evolution from the disaster that was Augustinian ideology to the evolution of thought that began to inspire men to believe and commit themselves to trust in reason and for man to begin to solve his own problems. Then comes John Locke, and he successfully identifies the core elements of political liberty.

This was huge, and it was this event that created the sense of life in the Enlightenment. Generations of European Christians accepted the premise of human depravity as self-evident, as have all socio-political organizations founded on the metaphysical premise that man is a sinner who inhabits a fallen world.

By the late 18th century and early 19th century, this social assumption had been dealt a mortal blow. People were living through the greatest expansion of liberty and knowledge and prosperity the world had ever seen. Men had the proof that life was filled with opportunities, that the future could be bright because the future could be built. Every technological advance, every disease, every pain, every new level of mass prosperity was one more example of the fraud the Church had perpetrated on humanity. It was a conclusion born from seeing the world’s harsh and brutal environment mastered and ordered and pacified.

The Medieval Age had no such contrast. The world of gargoyles and superstition and brutality was all anyone had ever known. So there was an internal logic to the Church’s ban on reason and science. All the world knew was despotism and dogmatism and the poverty that those twin destroyers bring. But the 17th century was the beginning of the Enlightenment and the full immersion of Aristotelian thought into the minds of men, and by the time history arrives in the 19th century, man was without excuse.

The Roaring Twenties roared for a reason. Man was fruitful. Man enjoyed life. And for the first time in world history, man could see a vision of life that held endless possibilities. It seemed that man was on the verge of solving the world’s problems. Man woke up seven days a week and saw man’s ability to triumph. He went to church one day a week to be told he was a sinner, life was hopeless, and man’s highest ethical ideal was death. But man knew there was a disconnect. Something was wrong with this picture.

The men of the Enlightenment could see the living contrast between the American form of government and the despotism that had dominated the whole of Europe. Indeed, anywhere medieval doctrines have dominated American life, they could see the manifestations of slavery, poverty, and war.

Church doctrine condemned the whole of man’s existence, but man’s existence was very obviously not the impotent, ulcerous, cancerous sore described by the preacher. America’s founders knew that the Church must be separated from the State, and for only the second time in human history, there was a truly secular state. The state was agnostic, giving no advantage to statements of orthodoxy. Man was free to follow his conscience. Man was free to create and prosper, and the greatest political achievement man had ever known led the world into the greatest expansion of peace and prosperity the world had ever seen.

Government’s only function was the defense of the individual in pursuit of his life, liberty and happiness. The shining light on the hill, the amazing beacon of hope, the culmination of the Enlightenment thought and political organization, was the United States of America.

To be continued…


Click here for the introduction
Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part six
Click here for part seven
Click here for part eight

 

%d bloggers like this: