Paul's Passing Thoughts

Pagan Thinkers Inspiration Found In Augustinian Aesthetics

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on November 23, 2017

As John Immel so successfully detailed for us in past TANC conferences, Augustinian orthodoxy (and ultimately authentic reformation Protestantism)  is a fusion of Christianity and ancient pagan philosophy. The theological pedigree can be traced from men like Thales and Pythagoras to Plato to Plotinus. So then it should come as no surprise that medeival cathedral builders paid homage to these pagan thinkers in the construction of their cathedrals since they were so influential in shaping the orthodoxy.

Calvinism and the Problem with Perfection

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 8, 2017

PPT HandleOriginally published November 7, 2013

Augustine, Luther, and Calvin were first and foremost Platonists. They integrated the Bible with Platonism. Plato’s theory of forms posits the idea of two worlds; the mutable material world of illusion where reality can only be partially known, and another world where the immutable objective true forms exist. This material world is a shadow world; everything is shadows of the true forms. Therefore, man can only interpret and experience this world subjectively. The tendency is to interpret reality by observing the shadows. To the degree that mankind thinks the material world is reality according to the five senses, subjectivity and chaos will abound.

Therefore, Plato’s ethic was to improve the subjective experience of this life by accessing the true forms through ideas and mathematics—things that transcend the five senses (he believed math was an unchangeable rule and therefore not part of the shadow world). He believed that those who have the capability and willingness to bring more understanding of the objective into the subjective to be an elite minority. These were Plato’s philosopher kings whom he thought should rule society in order to decrease chaos as much as possible. Without philosopher kings, the world would be awash in a sea of subjectivity, everyone living by their own subjective presuppositions based on the shadows of this world. Hence, the arch enemy of the Platonic ideal is individualism.

Plato’s world of true objective forms was his trinity of the true, good, and beautiful. Experiencing the pure form of goodness in this world is impossible—only a shadow of good can be experienced subjectively. Plato’s social engineering has a doctrine, and to the degree that doctrine is applied, a higher quality of subjective existence occurs.

The Reformers put a slightly different twist on this construct. There is no doctrine to apply, only an orthodoxy that focuses on seeing and experiencing. Their version of Plato’s philosopher kings are pastors who possess the power of the keys. Orthodoxy is mediated truth determined by “Divines,” and passed down to the masses for the purpose of experiencing the objective power of the gospel subjectively. The Reformers made the true forms “the gospel,” and reality itself the gospel, ie., the work and personhood of Jesus Christ in particular.

Therefore, in the same way Plato envisioned a society that experiences the power of the true forms subjectively through ideas and immutable disciplines like mathematics, the Reformers sought a heightened subjective experience through a deeper and deeper knowledge of their own true, good, and beautiful—the gospel. And more specifically, instead of the gateway of understanding being reason, ideas, and immutable disciplines, they made the gospel itself the interpretive prism. So: life, history, the Bible, ie., everything, is a tool for experiencing true reality (the gospel) in a higher quality subjectivity. The Bible and all life events are a gospel hermeneutic. Salvation itself is the interpretive prism. All of reality is about redemption. Salvation itself is the universal hermeneutic.

But both constructs have this in common: Pure goodness and perfection cannot exist objectively in the material world. This is where Calvinism and Platonism kiss. The Bible only agrees with this if it is a “gospel narrative.” But if it is God’s full orbed philosophical statement to all men to be interpreted grammatically and exegetically, contradictions abound. To wit, if man possesses goodness and the ability to interpret reality objectively, Platonism and its Reformed children are found wanting. If Reformation orthodoxy is not evaluated biblically with the very theses of its own orthodoxy as a hermeneutic, even more wantonness is found.

The Apostles rejected Platonism because they believed goodness and perfection could indeed be found in this material world. There is no question of the quality of goodness inside of man that enables mankind to interpret reality objectively, the quantity of goodness notwithstanding.  In contrast, a dominate theme in the Calvin Institutes is the idea that no person lost or saved can perform a good work. Like Plato’s geometric hermeneutics, the Reformers believed the Law lends understanding to man’s inability to do good because eternal perfection is the standard. The best of man’s works are tainted with sin to some degree, and therefore imperfect. Even if man could perform one perfect work, one sin makes mankind a violator of the whole law. The Reformers were adamant that no person could do any good work whether saved or lost.

Why all the fuss over this point? Why was Calvin dogmatic about this idea to the point of annoyance? Because he was first and foremost a Platonist. The idea that a pure form of good could be found within mankind was metaphysical heresy. Because such contradicts every page of the Bible, the Reformers’ Platonist theology was made the hermeneutic as well. Instead of the interpretation method producing the theology, they made the theology the method of interpretation. If all of reality is redemptive, it must be interpreted the same way.

For the Platonist, the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh poses a huge problem. He is the truth. He came to the material world in a material body. Platonism  became Gnosticism and wreaked havoc on the 1st century church. Notice how the first sentences of 1John are a direct pushback against the Gnosticism of that day:

1John 1:1 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Christ is the true, good, and beautiful, and He was touched, felt, seen, heard, and understood. Game over. This is the paramount melding of Plato’s two worlds resulting in a plenary decimation of his philosophy. Nevertheless, Calvin et al got around that by keeping mankind in a subjective realm while making the material world a gospel hermeneutic. Reality still cannot be understood unless it is interpreted by the gospel—everything else is shadows.

Martin Luther took Plato’s two worlds and made them two stories: our own subjective story, a self  “glory story” that leads to a labyrinth of subjectivism, or the “cross story” which is the objective gospel. Luther made Plato’s two worlds two stories, but still, they are two realms: one objective and one subjective. In the final analysis mankind is still incompetent, and void of any good whether saved or lost.

Whether the Reformed gospel or Platonism, the infusion of objective goodness is the heresy. Man cannot have any righteousness in and of himself, whether lost or saved. The pushback against this idea can be seen throughout the New Testament. A few examples follow:

1John 2:4 – Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.

1John 2:20 – But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

1John 2:26 – I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1John 2:29 – If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

1John 3:2 – Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Christians can know goodness, and perform righteousness objectively. This speaks to the quality of the righteousness when it is performed—it is perfect and acceptable to God. We are not limited to a mere subjective experience in regard to righteousness. When we are resurrected, the quantity thereafter will be 100%, but our present righteousness is acceptable to God when it is performed by us. If it is accepted by God, it is perfect.

Even the unregenerate know good, and can perform it. The works of the law are written on their hearts, and their consciences either accuse or excuse them (Romans 2:12-15). Though enslaved to unrighteousness, they are free to perform righteousness (Romans 6:20). The very goodness of God can be understood from observing creation as well (Romans 1:20).

The only way the Reformers can make all goodness outside of man is to make the Bible a salvation hermeneutic. It is the only way they could integrate the Bible with their Platonist philosophy.

paul

The Church and its Protected Child Rape Zone

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 6, 2017

ppt-jpeg4The church as a protected child rape zone is the result of Protestant orthodoxy crossing with behavior found in historical Western tradition.  

TANC finds its humble beginnings in a familiar story circa 2007. This author who was not an author at the time was so blown away by the behavior of church elders that I had to know why they did what they did, and why everyone else in the same fellowship of churches would not confront them about it. Hence, the beginning of a relentless and tenacious journey.

Research concerning the truth and history about the institutional church can only match the 1963 “shockumentary [‘Mondo Pazzo’], presenting…bizarre behavior from around the world, including cruelty, graphic gore, and strange rituals” x 10. Hence, after ten years of research, one must pick and choose topics to focus on because this reality we live in is constrained by a thing called “time.” Should this post address Puritan urineology, or child rape as a church tradition?

Let’s talk about rape because of the four-hour phone conversation I had with a mother last night. This is indicative of the energy projected by those on the journey. The new birth does not do away with something that all humans are born with; a conscience, but it does turbo-charge it. Before the new birth, our conscience condemned us or excused us from guilt, but the new birth turns the conscience into an entity that loves justice and truth.

When you are born again, though weak in mortality awaiting the redemption of the body, you have been given God’s mind. In the home fellowship movement, we seek to bring that one mind into focus and practice among the family members. And in this new heart, we share God’s love for children. Among proponents of Protestant orthodoxy, not so much. Children in that venue are “little vipers in sanctified diapers.” The renowned Protestant Voddie Baukman once said that God makes children small so they can’t murder their parents. Really? I missed that tidbit of wisdom in the Scriptures somehow.

And in the church, this ideology of the total depravity of mankind by no means excludes children, or even newborn babies. In case you haven’t heard, newborn babies are little bundles of screaming selfishness that only have a self-concept of need. Yes indeed, their limited knowledge of existence with hunger being on the shortlist equals total depravity expressed in steroidal selfism. Who knew?

So, the rampant acceptance and cover-up of child rape in the Protestant church is somehow a big surprise to many. However, this ministry focuses on the WHY, not the WHAT. The WHAT is well documented on the many blogs that seek to save the institutional church that is well beyond saving. Even if the post American Revolution church was confused enough in regard to Enlightenment Era ideology to have some virtue, God’s family was never meant to be an institution of any sort, but rather a literal family functioning like any other family does by utilizing roles, gifts, and organization towards a common goal of love and support.

Institutions are about authority, not love. This isn’t complicated: authority has no need for leadership which persuades people regarding the truth. Authority compels by force and law; authority and leadership are mutually exclusive. The church is about authority just like any other institution, but family is about leadership.

What do we have thus far in this post? Authority, and mankind that doesn’t deserve justice due to its total depravity. In reality, by virtue of those two alone, what is that going to get you in the institutional church? See, the thousands of spiritual abuse blogs of your choice. The WHAT is firmly established and documented by gargantuan redundancy of a myriad of different cases all over the world.

And so it goes…your child was raped in the church during a church event? So what? After all, “We are all just sinners saved by grace.” Not only that, church is the only bus going to heaven, and therefore, it must be protected at all cost. No church is perfect, but the institutional church is the only means of “obtaining ongoing grace.” This is why you can’t call the police if your child is raped in the church: it will ruin the reputation of the church resulting in people not coming to said church resulting in them going to hell for eternity. Yes, what happened to your child is awful…but…you surely don’t want to be the cause of people spending eternity in hell do you?

Besides, God is “sovereign” and this obviously happened for a reason. In all of these “unfortunate” events, they are “opportunities” to “show forth God’s forgiveness.” By not forgiving your child’s rapist, you are acting like your sins or of a lesser sort when we are all “totally depraved.” Hence you are “just like the Pharisees” that Jesus fustigated.

Does any of this sound familiar? Sure it does, unless you have been vacationing on the moon.

And why is the church full of good Germans who look the other way? Again, and again, the institutional church is supposedly the only bus going to heaven.

The church as a protected child rape zone is the result of Protestant orthodoxy crossing with behavior found in historical Western tradition. This post is not about the individual historical-grammatical interpretation of reality versus the Protestant historical-redemptive interpretation of reality which this ministry has written about extensively, but it is about the New Testament mirroring the exact same societal elements taking place in our contemporary culture.

Man-boy-love is a longstanding Western tradition intrinsically connected with religion. Knowledge empowers the individual, and it is not in the best interest of religion to have educated subjects save the indoctrination of orthodoxy with its you can’t get to heaven without us moniker. Institutional paganism and religion have always had this in common: authoritative coregency regarding eternal salvation. What could be more lucrative in a quest for power and money? In the same way that faith married with authority will always lead to cultism, Protestant orthodoxy crossing paths with a certain longstanding Western ideology will result in a child rape zone and the subsequent cover-up by the good German Protestants.

This is where we discuss the New Testament as a Western historical prototype. Basically, God’s family turned the Western world upside down through persuasion, not authority. I understand the setting is Israel, but also understand that Greco-Roman culture was the dominate world persuasion during that time. During that time, Western thought dominated the world and was defined by the great Western thinkers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. This is very much the case in our day as well. Therefore, the New Testament is going to be a historical mirror for interpreting what is going on in our day generally, and technically defined by a literal/grammatical interpretation without excluding genre in context. This follows God’s plan for individual interpretation because He holds man accountable individually. God does not hold the individual accountable while writing the Bible in a way that excludes individual interpretation and leaving the individual to sort out vast claims of authority by men. This is where “there is no mediator between God and man other than Christ” is a bit too simple for those of us that outsmart ourselves. Perhaps “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me” is also too simple. It would seem that the meaning of the word “all” would be evident.

Building on the theme of this post, part and parcel with the founding principles of Western logic established in the 5th century by the big three, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle was the practice of pederasty.

Pederasty in ancient Greece was a socially acknowledged erotic relationship between an adult male (the erastes) and a younger male (the eromenos) usually in his teens.[2] It was characteristic of the Archaic and Classical periods.[3] The influence of pederasty on Greek culture of these periods was so pervasive that it has been called “the principal cultural model for free relationships between citizens.”[4]

Some scholars locate its origin in initiation ritual, particularly rites of passage on Crete, where it was associated with entrance into military life and the religion of Zeus.[5] It has no formal existence in the Homeric epics, and seems to have developed in the late 7th century BC as an aspect of Greek homosocial culture,[6] which was characterized also by athletic and artistic nudity, delayed marriage for aristocrats, symposia, and the social seclusion of women.[7] Pederasty was both idealized and criticized in ancient literature and philosophy.[8] The argument has recently been made that idealization was universal in the Archaic period; criticism began in Athens as part of the general Classical Athenian reassessment of Archaic culture.[9]

Scholars have debated the role or extent of pederasty, which is likely to have varied according to local custom and individual inclination.[10] The English word “pederasty” in present-day usage might imply the abuse of minors in certain jurisdictions, but Athenian law, for instance, recognized consent but not age as a factor in regulating sexual behavior.[11] As classical historian Robin Osborne has pointed out, historical discussion of paiderastia is complicated by 21st-century moral standards…

…The Greek practice of pederasty came suddenly into prominence at the end of the Archaic period of Greek history; there is a brass plaque from Crete, about 650-625 BC, which is the oldest surviving representation of pederastic custom. Such representations appear from all over Greece in the next century; literary sources show it as being established custom in many cities by the 5th century BC.[30]…

…The erastes-eromenos relationship played a role in the Classical Greek social and educational system, had its own complex social-sexual etiquette and was an important social institution among the upper classes.[32] Pederasty has been understood as educative,[33] and Greek authors from Aristophanes to Pindar felt it naturally present in the context of aristocratic education (paideia).[34] In general, pederasty as described in the Greek literary sources is an institution reserved for free citizens, perhaps to be regarded as a dyadic mentorship: “pederasty was widely accepted in Greece as part of a male’s coming-of-age, even if its function is still widely debated.”[35]…

…In Crete, in order for the suitor to carry out the ritual abduction, the father had to approve him as worthy of the honor. Among the Athenians, as Socrates claims in Xenophon’s Symposium, “Nothing [of what concerns the boy] is kept hidden from the father, by an ideal[36] lover.”[37] In order to protect their sons from inappropriate attempts at seduction, fathers appointed slaves called pedagogues to watch over their sons. However, according to Aeschines, Athenian fathers would pray that their sons would be handsome and attractive, with the full knowledge that they would then attract the attention of men and “be the objects of fights because of erotic passions.”[38]

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pederasty_in_ancient_Greece

Note my bold underlined emphasis above. How prevalent was this culturally during the time of Christ and the apostles? The apostle Paul used it as an example of the law’s role in justification. I am not going to use space here to articulate Paul’s usage of the word “guardian” in Galatians chapter 3 as Andy Young has already dealt with it here, but suffice to say that the word translated “guardian” is the very word “pedagogues” in that chapter. That’s how prevalent the practice of pederasty was during New Testament times. It is also behind the apostle Paul’s disdain for the Cretans during the same time. Paul also addressed this issue in the books of first and second Corinthians.

The American Revolution drove the reality of this practice that has never left Western reality underground because Americanism emphasized the freedom, ability, and dignity of the individual, but as Americanism and Enlightenment ideals dissipate, these practices will become more prevalent and even socially accepted. Of course, the biblical ideal of objective love defined by God’s law takes the idea of freedom of conscience much further, but that’s not the specific topic here.

Here is the point of this post: when these traditions come walking into the church, the tradition is covertly married with orthodoxy for the aforementioned reasons. Certainly, the epic example of the Catholic Church makes this point entirely. Add to this the fact that despite theological and warring spats between Catholics and Protestants, they openly share the same spiritual father: Saint Augustine who was an avowed Platonist which is also not happenstance. Fact is, Martin Luther and John Calvin NEVER left the Catholic Church. And, the institutional church spawned by Augustine in the 4th century may claim that it picked Platonist goodies off the metaphysical shelf and left the rest on the shelf, things like pederasty, but that is doubtful when one considers the true history of the Church. Augustine believed that Plato was a pre-Christianity Christian, and the Bible makes no sense without Platonism (See Susan Dohse’s conference series on Plato); are we to assume then that Plato’s societal ideals have been scrubbed from the metaphysical roundtable? Very doubtful. In fact, read the newspapers. Impossible.

Why? Why did it really happened? In one case where a mother went to the police and was brought up on church discipline accordingly, a pastor walked into court and demanded that the judge dismiss the case and turn the member-rapist over to the care of the church. While the judge was astonished and perplexed, we must understand that people ALWAYS do what they do for a reason. What is the logic that led this pastor to act in this outrageous way? Again, connect the dots of the aforementioned.

And what is at least one solution? Answer: utterly reject the idea that authority over salvation has been granted to the church. No, no, “all” means “all.” With all the pontificating in the institutional church about “the glory of God alone,” these men complicit in child-rape and drunk with control lust claim to have authority granted to Christ alone.

And in regard to this authority, what is the difference between churchianity and the worship of Moloch who demanded the sacrifice of our children? Why then did “believers” sacrifice their children to Moloch? Because Moloch had authority over faith and truth and Moloch said so. Likewise, the Pope says you can buy your loved ones out of purgatory and educated people deem it such. Jim Jones told his followers to drink poison and instructed them to feed the children first, and consequently, 900 fell in one day while hugging the children they sacrificed.

But in a twisted way these sacrifices are more humane than the church’s rape zone where the victims are blamed and relegated to torment on the installment plan.

May God give His family free revelation of His mind in facilitating the healing of those victimized by the church rape zone, and may we all come home to family and deprive the Platonist institutional church of its claim on salvation. We will no longer sacrifice our children in the present for a future pseudo-salvation. We will no longer fellowship with the good Germans of Protestantism. Nazism was not the only valid nationalism then, and the church is not the only valid way to salvation in the present. In fact, it is the wide road that leads to eternal destruction.

Come home to family in a family setting. Come home to leadership and not authority. Let us wrap our arms around your victims of tyranny and weep with them. Let us rejoice together in the one mind of Christ and his coming kingdom. Let us have the freedom to be persuaded in our own minds. Let condemnation vanish and let it give way to the law of love.

Let our appeal be to Christ alone who shares His glory and authority with no man. Let God be our Father, and Christ our brother who is not ashamed of us, but will return in His glory and slay the totally depraved and those who proudly call themselves, “sinners.”

paul

Colonial Puritanism was Commonly Known as “Platonic Christianity”

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 13, 2016

Originally published November 5, 2013

Excerpted from quaqua.org

In their new home, the Puritans implemented many of the same onerous legal restrictions upon religious liberty that had vexed them while living in England. For example, John Cotton, a leading Massachusetts cleric, implemented a law that no man could vote unless he was both a Puritan church member and a property owner (non-Puritans were dispossessed of their private property). Additionally, all colonists were legally required to attend austere Puritan church services. If the Church Warden caught any person truant from church services without illness or permissible excuse, the truant was pilloried and the truant’s ear was nailed to the wood. This approach was widespread and long-lasting in Puritan society. The Plymouth court of 1752 convicted defendant Joseph Boardman of “unnecessary absence from [Puritan] worship” and “not frequenting the publick worship of God.” In short, Puritan salvation was to be achieved through compulsory social engineering of the community, rather than voluntary individual piety.

The Puritans implemented a form of Platonic Christian Socialism, which was based upon an ideological synthesis of such influences as 1) Plato’s Republic, 2) a utopian interpretation of the New Testament (especially Acts 2:44-46), 3) a joint-stock agreement between colonial shareholders and the London-based John Peirce & Associates company, 4) a Continental European cultural attitude toward education (acquired during Pilgrim settlement in Holland), and 5) especially close economic and cultural bonds between Boston’s elite and the ruling class of England. During their first three years in the New World, the Puritans abolished private property and declared all land and produce to be owned in common (a commonwealth).

In Plymouth over half the colonists promptly died from starvation. Governor William Bradford observed that the collectivist approach “was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.” He lamented the “vanity of that conceit of Plato’s . . . that the taking away of property and bringing community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.” Governor Bradford implemented private ownership of property, but Platonic Christianity continued to dominate other aspects of regional social policy.

For his part, John Winthrop delivered a famous speech in 1630 that articulated the prevailing contemporary Bay Colony ethic of social collectivism:

[W]e must be knit together in this work as one man, we must entertain each other in brotherly Affection, we must be willing to abridge our selves of our superfluities for the supply of others’ necessities, we must uphold a familiar Commerce together . . . [and] make others’ Conditions our own, . . . always having before our eyes our . . . Community in the work, our Community as members of the same body[.] . . . [W]e shall find that . . . when [God] shall make us a praise and glory, that men shall say of succeeding plantations: the Lord make it like that of New England: for we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill.

Winthrop’s words were not mere inspirational rhetoric. Each statement reflected an expansive element of social policy, pressed to its logical end and enforced by the Puritans with deadly seriousness.

The leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony openly espoused rule by the elite. “If we should change from a mixed aristocracy to mere democracy,” Winthrop once explained, “we should have no warrant in scripture for it: for there was no such government in Israel . . . A democracy is, amongst civil nations, accounted the meanest and worst of all forms of government.” John Cotton wrote: “I do not conceive that ever God did ordeyne [democracy] as a fit government eyther for church or commonwealth. If the people be governors who shall be governed?”

Despite utopian aspirations, the Massachusetts colonies were quickly beset with political and religious division. Internally, the Puritans persecuted and even tortured non-conforming Christians. In Boston Common, dissenters were hung or buried alive. In 1636, Roger Williams, who became a Baptist, was banished in the dead of winter and led some religious dissidents away to found Rhode Island. The same year, Thomas Hooker, another preacher at odds with the Bay Puritans, founded Connecticut with a separate breakaway group.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony attempted to curtail further dissent by utilizing a tightly-controlled system of schooling and neighborhood monitoring. In 1635, the first “public school” was established in 1635. In 1636, by general vote of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Puritans established what was then termed “the School of the Prophets.” This divinity school, which grew into Harvard College and then Harvard University, was meant to superintend the lives of the colonists and prevent any further deviations from proper doctrine.

With Harvard established as the capstone of their system of social control, the Puritans then set about to construct supporting strictures. The Puritan paradigm utilized certain aspects of the Platonic paradigm of community child raising, including indentured servitude:

[There was a] practice common among English Puritans of “putting out” children–placing them at an early age in other homes where they were treated partly as foster children and partly as apprentices or farm-hands. One of the motivations underlying the maintenance of this custom seems to have been the parents’ desire to avoid the formation of strong emotional bonds with their offspring–bonds that might temper the strictness of the children’s discipline or interfere with their own piety.

A controlling, punitive culture gradually emerged. The Puritans enacted laws that curtailed parental rights, created community schools, established Puritan precepts as a civic requirement, imposed community taxation for majoritarian schooling, and encouraged citizens to report upon non-conforming relatives and neighbors. By separating children from their parents, community leaders could monitor all family members. No family member could rebel against the community scheme or the official dogma without putting other family members at risk of reprisal. Children became more vulnerable to various forms of abuse.

The Massachusetts Education Law of 1642 (re-enacted with a preamble and local taxation features in 1648) was a natural extension of the Puritan requirement that all citizens had to attend Puritan church services. School was, like church, an institution designed to inculcate a particular world view. Puritans thought that their world view should be sanctioned and disseminated under government auspices. This same precept necessarily underpins the enactment of every compulsory education statute, Puritan or otherwise.

In Connecticut, Yale filled the same role as Harvard did for Massachusetts. Much later in time, Congregational Reverend Eleazar Wheelock founded Moor’s Charity School in Connecticut to “civilize” Native Americans. In 1769, Wheelock moved the institution to Hanover, New Hampshire, and renamed it Dartmouth College. During the Framers’ Era, the Baptists complained vociferously about the oppression they experienced as a religious minority in Connecticut.

As the Massachusetts Puritan society became more overbearing, it developed a psychotic quality. Children committed suicide. Furtive adults coped with an environment in which due process and freedom of expression were denied. A dark era of suspicion and fear took hold, culminating most famously in the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692 — 1 2. (Salem is located near present-day Boston). The aim of the trials was to eliminate individuals with “heretical” views or conduct. In practice, heresy included political criticism of the colonial government, eccentric personal behavior, and criticism of the witchhunt itself.

During the purge, nineteen men and women were executed as witches (along with two dogs thought to be accomplices). About two hundred other nonconformists were imprisoned, and four accused witches died in prison. One man who refused to submit to trial was killed using an European torture technique, peine forte et dure, whereby heavy stones are placed upon a man until he is crushed and suffocated. (Plymouth held witchcraft trials as well, but the defendants were acquitted.)

As the bloodlust ebbed, a general sense emerged amongst colonial leaders that their entire community had gone terribly awry. To their credit, judges and jurors issued public apologies for their errors in judgment. Reverend Samuel Parris was replaced as minister after reluctantly admitting to some mistakes. Unfortunately, Chief Justice William Stoughton, the most culpable actor in the bloodfest, refused to apologize. He was subsequently elected to be the next governor of Massachusetts (a feat emulated by Earl Warren, who was elected governor of California after the internment of Japanese Americans).

Fortunately, the lessons of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were not lost upon the Framers of the United States Constitution. For example, home-educated Benjamin Franklin, one of the most influential Framers, frequently clashed with the officials and clerics in Boston. As a youth, Franklin bridled under the Puritan strictures in Boston, defied the Puritan culture of indentured servitude, fled to make his home in Quaker-dominated Philadelphia, and published criticisms of perceived Puritan bigotry.

Franklin also wrote a scathing criticism of Harvard. Writing under the “Mrs. Silence Dogood” pseudonym, he recounted her fictional deliberation about whether to send her son to Harvard. In the process, Dogood fell asleep and began to dream that she was journeying toward Harvard. Its gate was guarded by “two sturdy porters named Riches and Poverty,” and students were approved only by Riches. Once admitted, the students “learn little more than how to carry themselves handsomely, and enter a room genteelly (which might as well be acquired at a dancing school), and from thence they return, after abundance of trouble and charge, as great blockheads as ever, only more proud and self-conceited.” Franklin founded the University of Pennsylvania with a very different educational mandate.

After Franklin invented the lightning rod, many of the Puritans effectively accused him of sorcery. Reverend Thomas Prince, a prominent Congregationalist Puritan pastor of Boston’s Old South Church and a graduate of Harvard, led the the charge. Franklin, Prince decreed, had defied the will of God, the “Prince of the Power of the Air,” by interfering with His heavenly manifestation. Prince also asserted that Franklin’s rods had caused God to strike Boston with the earthquake of 1755. Franklin used his pithy wit to defang the campaign against his invention. Surely, Franklin observed, if interference with lightening was prohibited, roofs also defied God’s will by allowing people to stay dry in the face of His rain. Resistance to Franklin’s lightening rod subsided when it was discovered that his innovation prevented many churches from burning to the ground.

As another example, John Adams expressed concern about Puritan discrimination against Jews. Much of the discrimination was accomplished through Massachusetts’ imposed system of state-mandated religious observance and government-sponsored schooling. Harvard, for instance, implemented policies and quotas which were designed to curtail enrollment of meritorious Jewish students. John Adams unsuccessfully recommended revisions of the state constitution which would have enhanced free exercise of religion. Adams further urged that slavery be prohibited, darkly predicting it would lead to eventual civil war if uncurtailed.

Colonials living in the southern United States were equally wary of Massachusetts practices. In stark contrast to the Massachusetts model of public education, leading Southerners preferred apprenticeship and home education (a lifestyle that predominated until Reconstruction). Tutors and private schooling supplemented the educations of wealthy Southern children. James Madison, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry, all Virginians, experienced the same general regime of home-education and apprenticeship known to Benjamin Franklin.

In perhaps the most critical indication of all, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams spoke forcefully against the Platonic model of governance by Philosopher-Kings. Jefferson reflected the contemporary sentiment of many of the Framers and Founders when he stated in his letter to Levi Lincoln of January 1, 1802, that “I know it will give great offense to the New England clergy; but the advocate of religious liberty is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from them.” Jefferson made other comments at odds with the Puritan approach to education, parental liberty, and religious pluralism, including oppression of the Quakers by the Anglican sects. Notwithstanding Winthrop’s aspirations in 1630, statements such as “Lord make our Virginian colony like that of Massachusetts” were conspicuously sparse during the Revolutionary Era.

While it is true that Madison, Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson urged their communities to support education and morality in a general way, they pointedly refrained from endorsing Puritan-style compulsory education or compulsory attendance at school/church. Indeed, compulsory education for government schools did not exist during the Framer’s time. In the civic scheme envisioned by the preeminent Framers, community schools were to function much like public libraries. Some Framers encouraged communities to fund libraries and establish a system for purchasing books, but few legal scholars would suggest that the Framers were thereby endorsing a state power to compel use of library premises or materials. In the absence of conviction for a crime, such a constraint of liberty would clearly have run afoul of numerous Constitutional protections.

The Framers and Founders left no doubt that their Constitutional system of Ordered Liberty, which protected parental rights in so many complementary ways, was incompatible with the Platonic model for an Ideal Commonwealth. In Federalist Paper No. 49, a work promulgated by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, it is written:

The reason of man, like man himself, is timid and cautious when left alone, and acquires firmness and confidence in proportion to the number with which it is associated. . . . In a nation of philosophers, this consideration ought to be disregarded. A reverence for the laws would be sufficiently inculcated by the voice of an enlightened reason. But a nation of philosophers is as little to be expected as the philosophical race of kings wished for by Plato. And in every other nation, the most rational government will not find it a superfluous advantage to have the prejudices of the community on its side.

In a letter to John Adams, Thomas Jefferson observed:

I amused myself with reading seriously Plato’s republic. . . . While wading thro’ the whimsies, the puerilities, and unintelligible jargon of this work, I laid it down so often to ask myself how it could have been that the world should have so long consented to give reputation to such nonsense as this? . . . Education is chiefly in the hands of persons who, from their profession, have an interest in the reputation and dreams of Plato. . . . But fashion and authority apart, and bringing Plato to the test of reason . . . he is one of the race of genuine Sophists, who has escaped . . . by the adoption and incorporation of his whimsies onto the body of artificial Christianity. His foggy mind, is forever presenting the semblances of objects which, half seen thro’ a mist, can be defined neither in form or dimension. . . . It is fortunate for us that Platonic republicanism has not obtained the same favor as Platonic Christianity; or we should now have been all living, men, women, and children, pell mell together, like beasts of the field or forest. . . . [I]n truth [Plato’s] dialogues are libels on Socrates.

. . . When sobered by experience, I hope that our successors will turn their attention to the advantage of education on the broad scale, and not of the petty academies . . . which are starting up in every neighborhood . . .

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Adams (July 5, 1814), in 2 The Adams-Jefferson Letters, at 432-34 (Lestor J. Cappon ed., 1959)(hereinafter “Letters”).

In reciprocal letters to Jefferson, John Adams was equally critical. He said the “philosophy” of Plato was “absurd,” Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson (June 28, 1812), in Letters, at 308, berated Plato’s concept of “a Community of Wives, a confusion of Families, a total extinction of all Relations of Father, Son and Brother,” Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson (September 15, 1813), in Letters, at 377, and observed that “Plato calls [‘Love’] a demon,” Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson (October 10, 1817), in Letters, at 522.

In his most telling observations, Adams described his meticulous study of Plato’s writings, expressed delight at knowing that Jefferson shared the same “Astonishment,” “disappointment,” and “disgust” with Plato, and then concluded as follows:

Some Parts of [his writings] . . . are entertaining . . . but his Laws and his Republick from which I expected the most, disappointed me most. I could scarcely exclude the suspicion that he intended the latter as a bitter Satyr upon all Republican Government . . . . Nothing can be conceived more destructive of human happiness; more infallibly contrived to transform Men and Women into Brutes, Yahoos, or Daemons than a Community of Wives and Property . . .

After all; as long as marriage exists, Knowledge, Property and Influence will accumulate in Families.

Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson (July 16, 1814), in Letters, at 437.

George Bernard Shaw – Poster Boy for Platonist Collectivism

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 29, 2016

This is what evil looks like!

“You must all know half a dozen people at least who are no use in this world; who are more trouble than they are worth. Just put them there, and say, now sir or madam, now will you be kind enough to justify your existence? If you can’t justify your existence; if you’re not pulling your weight in the social boat; if you’re not producing as much as you consume or perhaps a little more, then clearly we cannot use the big organization of our society for the purpose of keeping you alive, because your life does not benefit us, and it can’t be of very much use to yourself.”

 

%d bloggers like this: