Paul's Passing Thoughts

How to Debate A Calvinist: Part 1 – By John Immel

Posted in John Immel, TANC 2017 by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on November 13, 2017

The following is part one of a five-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s first session at the 2017 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five

“Have you read Calvin’s Institutes today?”

I must confess, I really struggled this year with what I wanted to talk about. My brain bounced off about a dozen things. I originally thought I was going to dig deeper into the impact of John Locke on American civil government, American religion, the American Revolution. But at the end of the day it didn’t really catch and sustain my attention too much.

Then I thought I might actually discuss death and life and exegete the first four chapters of the book of Genesis. And that didn’t really stick with me very long. And I toyed with a half a dozen other things that just don’t bear mentioning.

Then about two or three months ago I was reading an interaction on Paul’s Passing Thoughts between Paul Dohse and a guy by the name of “GraceWriterRandy”. Now, trust me, this conference is not about GraceWriterRandy, but he is a fantastic anecdote. And so I decided to go ahead and talk about what he did and how that applies generally.

So here is what I noticed. And what so caught my attention was that Randy presumed to set the tone for the entire conversation, and frankly it didn’t matter what part of the conversation. He decided that he was going to dictate the moral and intellectual terms across the board. He reserved the right to make the discussion as narrow or as broad as he wanted.

And then what really bothered me is that everybody accepted the premise. Everybody tended to follow along. So if Randy reframed the conversation, everybody accepted the shift. If Randy argued scripture, everybody started stacking up scriptures. If Randy shifted to moral criticism, everybody started lobbing moral accusations. If Randy challenged a definition, everybody started parsing meanings.

And this is when I realized that I actually had my topic of conversation: Arguments with Calvinists, and trying to unravel the roots of their arguments.

And this is why no one ever gets anywhere in a debate with a Calvinist, because they let the Calvinist shape the direction of the conversation. People rarely ever challenge the Calvinist root assumptions. They let the Calvinist decide that it is their sole right to define all things moral, spiritual, and intellectual. And the foundation of all their arguments is the myth of their [Calvinists’] own authority and their entitlement to dictated force.

So I came up with a brief algebra of historic “Christian” authority:

The Algebra of Authority

Catholic Algebra:
Absolute Truth = Apostolic Authority + Scripture = Error Free Doctrine + Apostolic Succession = Papal Authority = Orthodoxy = Government Force

I want you to notice that the fulcrum of Catholic doctrine is Apostolic Authority PLUS Scripture. Everything else, how they get their doctrinal interpretations, is a direct product of this. Catholics had decided long ago that the reason that “Scripture Alone” got so much traction is because the Catholic church, specifically Papal Authority, decided that it was their job to interpret what it said. But at the end of the day, Orthodoxy is what determines Government Force. In other words, the Pope has the right to compel you to what you think.

Here’s what happened when Protestantism showed up:

Protestant Algebra:
Absolute Truth = Scriptural Authority = Predestined Elders = Error Free Doctrine + Ecclesiastical Force = Orthodoxy

It is very important that you see the relationship here. Predestined Elder inherit the implications of their own Absolute Truth. The function of Predestined Elders in the Protestant world is to compel you to think whatever it is they think they have the right to compel you to think.

This is crucial for you to understand: Authority = Force

Any time somebody says, “I am an authority,” what they are really saying is, “I have the right to force you to do something.” There is nothing elegant about it.

So then how do you debate a Calvinist?

The answer is: You challenge the roots.

This is why I insist, particularly with regard to GraceWriterRandy, no one ever successfully challenges the roots of the assertion.

I have been talking about my web of tyranny now for the last six years. This is my contribution to the world of philosophy. I have identified what I believe are the five fundamental pillars of tyranny. It doesn’t matter what the ultimate end game is, all tyrannies have these five sub-categories or arguments: Dictated Good, Universal Guilt, Abolition of Ambition, Collective Conformity, and Incompetent Masses. The function of all these sub-categories is designed to create “Utopia,” or an alternate reality.

The reason I have rendered this as a web is because it is not specifically linear. In other words, there is not specifically a logical progression of one to the other. Instead there is a dynamic tension between all five, so all of the arguments act in harmony with all of the others to compel you down the path of this alternate reality; the right to determine some other realm of thinking.

What we have never really discussed is how the arguments fit into the web. On occasion over the last few years I have made reference to when an argument sits, but I want to have an overarching view. I want to start subdividing some of the arguments that you will hear. I’ve tried to pick archetypes of the arguments, and we will try to unravel them in later sessions.

If we are going to successfully debate Calvinist, we have to get good at identifying the foundational assumptions, because:

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.

Frankly, I don’t think we can have any better object lesson of this truth played out in our civil discourse than the logical assumption of a group of people tearing down historic monuments over wars that were fought long ago over offenses that are entirely manufactured. They are in actuality fulfilling a body of logic that produces some action.

Ideas are what drive human action. There is body of ideas, and a fundamental integration of those ideas, that produces your actions in any given day. This integration is called Philosophy.

Disciplines of Philosophy

– Metaphysics

– Epistemology

– Ethics

– Politics

– Aesthetics (art)

The roots are your metaphysical assumptions; whatever you accept about the nature of existence. Once you actually establish your foundation of metaphysical assumptions, you move to epistemology. That is what you believe your mind can understand. Once you identify what your mind can and cannot know, you move on to ethics. These are the moral judgments that you have about your actions; what is good and what is evil. This is how we define how we interact with other people through politics. Once man is able to establish these first four disciplines, he is able to refresh his existence with artistic expression. His art is a reflection of his most deeply held values.


The Orthodoxy Happy Dance

You might begin to talk to a Calvinist by presenting to him what Luther or Calvin said regarding a certain doctrine, and all is well and good until the Calvinist encounters something he doesn’t like. At this point he might respond by saying, “Well, Calvin might have believed that, but it was really the Synod of Dort that came up with this thing called T.U.L.I.P.” At this point they have made the Synod of Dort their authority over Calvin and Luther.

So then you proceed to point out a fallacy in T.U.L.I.P or the Synod of Dort, and now they might cite the Westminster Confession as being the final authority on the matter, rejecting the Synod of Dort. Notice what they are able to do. At any point in the argument that they don’t happen to like an given intellectual conclusion, no matter where it starts, they get to dance around between any given authority that suits them at any particular moment.

Take a look at the video below. This is an excerpt from a breakout session at the 2016 Cross for the Nations Conference in Indianapolis, IN. In this clip, you will hear John Piper make a reference to being committed to “the whole Calvinistic scheme.” Watch then, as Paul Dohse challenges Piper on the matter of election, Piper proceeds to engage in this orthodoxy happy dance.

Did you catch it? What you just saw Piper do is exactly what Calvinist do with impunity. They want the right to pick any given authority as their intellectual forbearers and then disown those intellectual forbearers whenever it suits their purpose. And this is why I call it the Orthodoxy Happy Dance, because orthodoxy at the end is this amorphous concept to which they get to appeal. They make an appeal to something that has no functional definition. At the end of the day, the real root of what they are advocating is their right to their own authority.

Notice that when pressed on the Calvin Institutes, Piper immediately became a Biblicist. What you will eventually realize, if you care to pay attention, is that Calvinists don’t read the Calvin Institutes ever. They read a few select excerpt here and there and then pretend that it is their intellectual pedigree, which they then believe gives them the license to tell you what to think. You peg them down on what they think and then they just jump to some other source of intellectual pedigree.

This sort of intellectual two-step is a direct violation of Aristotle’s Law of Identity; that A is A. Something cannot be “A” and “not A” at the same time. But with Calvinists, orthodoxy can be anything they want it to be. They have no intellectual integrity. They are not committed to anything specific. This is why every time you start debating Calvinists your conversations go nowhere.

Any time you have such a conversation, what you must do is make them responsible for their intellectual pedigree. If at any point they want to reject any point of Calvinism, they are rejecting the roots of orthodoxy. You will see this comment consistently:

“Calvinists don’t believe everything that John Calvin said…The Bible says blah, blah, blah…”

This is a glittering gem of colossal ignorance. It kills me every time I see it. I guarantee if you read anybody’s blog and you take somebody to task you will get a similar response. Pay attention to this. This is the formulation. They will identify themselves as Calvinists, and then they will pretend that they don’t believe what Calvin said. Suddenly they are independent thinkers and Biblicists. This is a gambit to what they believe they control – Biblical interpretation.

The next time you hear this line of logic, what you must say is, “So, you reject John Calvin’s ideas? Excellent! We agree on something. In your copy of Calvin’s Institutes, show me specifically to what you object.” This must be the only answer you will accept, but here is the thing; they will never do it. They will want to play their gambit of Biblical interpretation because they believe they own it.

Your rebuttal when they go back to the Bible, you say, “So, you are really saying that Calvin’s ideas are not in the Bible, right?” If they have to constantly run back to the Bible, then that means they cannot find those ideas in the Calvin’s Institutes. The moment they concede that point, then the next question you ask is, “So that means that Calvin’s teachings are unbiblical, right? That would make him a heretic, right?”   Follow this progression of questioning, and don’t let them leave this point! They must commit to what they are advocating.

You want to make sure they can never escape either an acceptance of Calvin or a rejection of Calvin. They must either accept that there is a synonymous relationship between Calvin and the Bible or there is not one. The moment you drive that wedge they are stuck. They use Calvin to establish their historic pedigree – “I have authority because I believe what all these other historic thinkers think.” Yet at the same time they want to turn around and claim intellectual autonomy whenever they choose. So which is it; historical authority or your own intellectual authority? That is the fulcrum of the debate.

If the truth is defined as “authority,” then there is no such thing as “I think…” The assumption is Authority = No Doctrinal Error; that the only way you can hedge against doctrinal error is to have authority. So the reason they argue “authority” is because they insist that they are the ones who get it all right. But the moment you confront them with something that isn’t right, they want to renounce the very thing that gives them authority. This is what you can never let them get away with.

The real argument here is that they have abandoned the right to the Aristotelian Law of Identity. They are constantly trying to say that “A” can be “B” and “B” can be “A”. They want to have a “both/and” reality.

  • Both final authority and error-filled humans.
  • Both defender of orthodoxy and an individual thinker denouncing Calvin’s doctrine.
  • Both herald of God’s mystic revelation and defender of “objective” truth.
  • Both lowly unoriginal mind slave and epitome of rational judgment.
  • Both champion of God’s hard truth and pitiful victim of undeserved criticism.

The way to defeat Calvinists is to deny them their authority and hammer away at reality. Reality is their enemy. The reason they engage in the Orthodoxy Happy Dance is because the moment they are confronted with the specifics of history they are toast.

But be forewarned:

  • Try to rebuff a Calvinist’s right to define all things and they pretend that no is their equal.
  • Try to reject a Calvinist’s monopoly on moral virtue, and they snarl that no man is righteous.
  • Try to refuse to let a Calvinist define reality, and they resort to force.

…To be continued


Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five
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God’s Acknowledgment of “Self” and the Full Circle of the Ten Commandments.

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on November 12, 2017

Originally Published May 25, 2016

“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” ~ Exodus 3:14

When Jehovah (I Am) identified Himself to Moses at the burning bush, He did more than just tell Moses His name. God made a philosophical statement about reality. God acknowledged His own existence, and in so doing He declared His intrinsic rights because of that existence. Furthermore, by acknowledging His own existence, God also recognized man’s existence. I believe this is at the heart of what the Bible means when it says that man was made in God’s image. We have a right to “self” because God has a right to “self”.   And for us to acknowledge our own right to “self” demands that we by extension must acknowledge others’ right to “self”, just as God acknowledges ours.

Do not misunderstand what I mean by “right to self”. I do not mean “self-ishness”, which the Bible clearly decries. “Selfishness” means to love oneself MORE than another. On the other hand, the Bible never teaches us to love others more than ourselves. Said another way, the Bible doesn’t teach that we should love ourselves LESS than others. It says we are to love others AS MUCH AS we love ourselves. Herein is the way in which we acknowledge another’s right to “self”, we treat others as WE would want to be treated. We see our own value as an individual and in so doing recognize that others have that same value. That value includes one’s right to existence and the means necessary to sustain that existence. The United States’ Declaration of Independence embodied that idea in this way:

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…”

“That all men are created equal” is to recognize that all men have the same basic right to “self” and to existence, and that equality of individualism is preserved in the rights to seek those things which would secure that existence. No one ever has the right to violate another’s right to “self”, EVEN GOD!

In a conversation with a close friend the other day, I posed the question, “why is stealing wrong?” My friend replied that stealing is wrong because God said so; it’s in the Ten Commandments. Stealing is wrong because God said, “Thou shalt not steal.” I then followed up with the next question, “Why did God say stealing is wrong?” For this my friend had no answer. All he could say was, “I don’t know, I never thought about it before.”

You see for my friend, as it is with most people (particularly Christians), that God “said it” was enough for him. It was nothing more than an appeal to authority. An authority says this or that, so we must do it or not do it. This is the same reasoning that led to the slaughter of 6 million Jews while millions of others gave their tacit approval. People’s behaviors are the product of their assumptions, to paraphrase John Immel. No matter how irrational the behavior may seem, if you find the assumption you will find the reason for the action.

So why DID God say that stealing is wrong? It is a simple question, and once challenged to think, my friend finally did ask it of me. Stealing is wrong because it is a violation of “self”, of the individual. Our possessions are the products of our labors which are an investment of ourselves. Your labor is an exchange of value. You enter into that exchange with an employer who trades you wages for your investment of yourself. Those wages then in turn are exchanged for those things that are necessary to further your existence – food, clothing, shelter, etc. – and if there is any surplus, luxuries – car, mobile phone, flat screen TV, etc. So in reality, everything you produce – labor, wages, food, clothing, car, TV, etc. – is a product of you as an individual. For someone to steal those things from you is to violate “you” (self) because those things represent what the individual produced as a function of “self”. You have a right to them because you produced them because you have a right to “self”.

Contrary to what people/Christians are taught, the Bible is not a theological book. It is a philosophical book. And the Ten Commandments in particular are not simply an authoritative codification of do’s and don’ts. It is a philosophical statement from God to man about the value of the individual. It is a statement about how God values Himself, and it is a statement about how God values man. Conversely it is a statement of how man is to value God and how man is to value man. God’s very first statement to man is an appeal to God’s own sense of “self” and value. God as an individual. “I am God. I exist. I have value.” Therefore, the way we show God that we value Him is to have no other gods before Him! We do not make vain attempts to conceptualize God’s sense of “self” by making an image to represent that. We do not mock God’s name because His name is intrinsically tied to who He is. To violate God’s name is to violate who He is.

Man, too, has value as “self”. Therefore, we honor our parents, we don’t murder, we don’t commit adultery, we don’t steal, we don’t lie, and we don’t covet, not because God said so, but because we acknowledge that this would violate another person’s right to “self”. This is the basis for morality. It can be said then that the definition of morality is anything that does not violate God or man as “self”.

God’s command to not covet seems all-encompassing. The last commandment perfectly reduces everything down to the root motivation for all violations of “self”. And that is self-ISHNESS. A desire to usurp for oneself that which rightfully belongs to another. And as we have said before, that is a desire caused by Sin. The Bible describes Sin as an entity that seeks to control others. It seeks to master and enslave. It seeks to violate another for it’s own benefit, to wield control over another.

The New Testament offers another perspective on covetousness.

“For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” ~ Ephesians 5:5

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” ~ Colossians 3:5

The apostle Paul had a unique insight among the other apostles in that he was a certified expert on Jewish law. This perspective gave him an ability to draw parallels between Old Testament and New Testament concepts that the others did not. Peter even declared that many of the things which Paul taught were hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16).   In these two passages in particular, Paul sees covetousness as being nothing more than idolatry. I’m not exactly sure how he gets there since he doesn’t elaborate on it.

Still, it is an interesting piece to the puzzle. Consider that one of the Ten Commandments speaks to idolatry. When one thinks of graven images, one usually thinks of idolatry. But Paul seems to suggest that idolatry involves more than just “idol worship”. It is a violation of God as “self”. Covetousness is a violation of man as “self”. What Paul has done here is to show the intrinsic relationship between the two. To violate man is to violate God, and to violate God is to violate man. Do not misunderstand, I am in no way suggesting that man IS God. But I do want to point out that there is a mutual recognition between God and man with respect to existence.

So to violate the tenth commandment is to violate the first, and thus we have come full circle. The Ten Commandments then are not statutes in and of themselves. It is not a means for God to show us “filthy rotten sinners” just how “holy He is” and how “sinful we are.”  It is a full-orbed treatise on morality and existence. It is not a law for authority’s sake. It is God instructing us on reality. What we see in the Bible is that LOVE is the motivating factor in all of this. To love someone is to ascribe value to them. Perhaps this is the relationship between idolatry and covetousness. To idolize something is to objectify it, to assign value based on its desirableness to oneself instead of an individual’s intrinsic value as another individual.

Whatever the case may be, when we show love to God and others, we have thus fulfilled the whole law because in this way we demonstrate a like view of both man and God, and we see reality the way God sees it.

Andy

We Disagree on the Premise…So How Do We Know Who’s Right?

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

Moses

Originally published October 17, 2016

One can always determine the validity of a metaphysical assumption (that being the moral and thus one that is correct and true) by considering the axiomatic results the logical conclusions of such assumptions must produce.

“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil…I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life…” ~ Deuteronomy 30:15,19

In dealing with reformed/protestant theologians, at best you will only ever get them to acknowledge that the two of you are coming from differing points of view (“we agree to disagree”). What they are really saying is that they are acknowledging a difference in metaphysics (the nature of reality and existence). They do this unwittingly because such a statement is philosophical and not theological, and they are not trained in philosophy even though their theological position requires them to adopt a philosophy. In other words, they won’t couch it in philosophical language.

Second, they will reject your premise out of hand because to them “authority” always trumps reason. So even though you have a more reasonable argument, it cannot possibly be valid because it is not authoritative.

I submit that it is indeed possible to objectively determine that one metaphysical assumption is indeed true and thus the correct “moral” premise. And you do that by evaluating each one and looking at what are the end results of each. I would submit that the premise that results in life would be the correct, moral, and valid view of reality and existence.

If we understand that the Bible is God’s philosophical statement to mankind, then what God is saying is, “This is how the world works; this is the way I made it to work; this is reality.”  Therefore, if you follow this philosophy to its rational conclusion, the result is life! (This is ostensibly what God was saying to Israel in Deuteronomy 30.)

Said another way, we can reject the metaphysical premise of authentic protestant/reformed theology and its accompanying epistemology of historical-redemptive hermeneutics, because following it to its rational conclusion the result is condemnation, fear, and ultimately DEATH!

Clearly, the one that results in LIFE would be the moral ideal, and thus the correct and true one!

~ Andy

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

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

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

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


We get to talk about philosophy!

The Gospel According to John Immel, chapter 3:1-3

  1. All people act logically from their assumptions.
  2. It does not matter how inconsistent the ideas or insane the rationale. They will act until that logic is fulfilled.
  3. Therefore, when you see masses of people taking the same destructive actions, if you find the assumptions, you will find the cause.

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

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

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

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

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

Disciplines of Philosophy

– Metaphysics

– Epistemology

– Ethics

– Politics

– Aesthetics (art)

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

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

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

Ponder that for a minute.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacrifice is destroying America!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pythagoreans celebrate sunrise.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Plato to Plotinus to Augustine

Plotinus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…To be continued

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

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

 

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