28 December 2016

The Head of State and the benefits of Constitutional Monarchy

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has intervened and blocked the nomination of the first female candidate for Prime Minister. Incidentally as a member of Romania's Tatar community she would have been the first Muslim as well.
It seems odd today, but back in the 19th century as many nations were being transformed into modern states, Constitutional Monarchy was certainly one of the more popular forms of government. It seems quaint and archaic because few today see a role for a monarch. And yet thinkers of the time understood that it was important even in a parliamentary or constitutional system to have someone who could function as caretaker.

07 December 2016

Identity Politics and the Myth of Cultural Marxism

The nightly news seems to be dominated by police shootings. A seemingly endless stream of racial tensions have dominated American culture over the past couple of years prompting a call to revisit the unresolved questions of the Civil Rights Era. A new generation is wrestling with the issues, and minority communities have been forced to grapple with the reality that a Black president did not signify the end of racial tension. In fact many have come to believe the election of Obama has inflamed simmering passions and instead of moving our culture closer to a state of peaceful coexistence, things have taken a bad turn.

29 November 2016

A Lutheran Interpretation of Reformed Two Kingdom Theology: Some Observations and Considerations

http://justandsinner.libsyn.com/a-critique-of-escondido-two-kingdom-theology

Jordan Cooper of Just and Sinner recently lectured on some of the significant differences between the Reformed and Lutheran versions of Two Kingdom Theology. The Reformed variety usually associated with Westminster Seminary West in Escondido California is often conflated with the Lutheran variety and this troubles Cooper. He wants to set the record straight. This has probably been furthered by the fact that to many, Westminster West also has (more or less) embraced a Lutheran Soteriology and understanding of sola fide.

27 November 2016

2016: Theonomy Revisited

Every once in a while I feel it necessary to check-in with the Old Guard Theonomists. There aren't that many of them left. While I have always disagreed with them I at least appreciated their integrity. The Theonomy of the 1980s and 1990s was open in its rejection of Classical Liberalism in the form of democracy, rights, individualism as well as its rejection of Libertarian impulses.

17 November 2016

A Generation Passes

Chick, Ruckman, LaHaye and Schlafly

So far this year has seen three significant figures pass from the Evangelical and Fundamentalist scene. The torch is being passed and at this point there are only a handful of leaders remaining from that older generation that rose to prominence in the 1970s with the creation of the Moral Majority. The remaining voices, men like James Dobson and Pat Robertson are now in their eighties.

30 September 2016

The Sanctification of Social Conformity: Offering Incense to Caesar and Christian Second-Class Citizenship (Part 2 of 2)

Our criticism of the system is on the one hand an example of shining light in the darkness but primarily our concern is to expose the nature of the system and thus reveal the apostate nature of Christendom which has constructed this system and is still heavily invested in it. As has been said before, lost people are going to engage in such behaviour. It's no great shock. But when professing Christians do it, then it needs to be called out and exposed. This criticism needs to be understood as not anti-state or political. At worst the result of criticism and exposure should be non-participation... which admittedly can threaten the system and the world will certainly find it offensive and accuse us of being 'bad citizens'. But considering that Christians will only ever be a small minority in any given social system, there is no real or existential threat. The state may not view it that way, but it is nevertheless true.

The Sanctification of Social Conformity: Offering Incense to Caesar and Christian Second-Class Citizenship (Part 1 of 2)

In Roman times Christians were excluded from many aspects of society, many occupations, clubs, guilds and other means of fully participating in the social order were all but closed to them.

They often excluded themselves because participation and membership in these organisations meant worshipping Caesar. All too often simple rituals, prayers, libations and other elements of the pagan cult were part of the warp and woof of daily life in these institutions. Christians could not in good conscience participate in even these seemingly harmless, even trite rituals. As a consequence they were decried as anti-social.

22 September 2016

Sacralism and the Invitation System

Iain Murray's 'The Invitation System' rightly condemns the Altar Call for its tactics of coercion and manipulation, for making emotional appeals that lack substance. As an unbiblical method it creates a false conversion and ultimately does more harm to the hearer than if they had never heard the gospel in the first place.

The Altar Call is built on a spurious theological foundation. Misunderstanding conversion, the gospel, sin, repentance and salvation it is a dangerous caricature of the true gospel invitation to heartfelt repentance and brokenness.

At this point I heartily agree with Murray, who condemns the theology of Charles Finney as well as those who came after him and took up his mantle and legacy. This theology gave us Moody, Sunday, Graham and it could be argued was re-cast once more in the Seeker movement. These men have done irreparable harm to the cause of Christ.

And yet, for all that, in another form this is the very theology advocated by Murray.

How so?

15 September 2016

The Cosmology of Tolkien

Updated March 2017

While perhaps a little off-topic for this website, I wanted to share a few thoughts regarding Part 1of this lecture on Tolkien's Silmarillion. The topic has long attracted me and in fact there are aspects of it that grow more interesting to me over time.

For many years I have been interested in both Tolkien and Lewis and in particular how their Cosmological understandings play out in their fantasy works. Their writings reflect the Middle Ages, the era both authors appreciated, but some time ago I realised this question was more complex than the intricacies of Medieval Scholastic Speculation. There are larger questions regarding Apocryphal literature. That's easy enough to dismiss but I continue to revisit the issue in light of the New Testament's interaction and utilisation of certain works.

28 August 2016

Jeroboam's Altar and Christo-Americanism

Like Babylon and Assyria of old, America can indeed be called the 'servant' of God and His Providence. In the New Testament the state is in the same spirit called His 'minister'. The ideas if not the words are the same.

The Dynamic Principle in Sociology

This was recently added to the glossary.

The Dynamic Principle in Sociology states: All political and economic models break down due to competing interests and ideas. Academic models are based on stability or at least temporary equilibriums which do not exist in the reality of any given moment. Real world forces and contingencies always exert pressure and never allow any political or economic models to function in the sterile environment of the ivory tower. Sociological fundamentalisms are based on subjective frameworks both in terms of ideology and context and are therefore de facto invalid and unworkable.

25 August 2016

Rust Belt Appalachia Musings

There have been numerous reports as of late of towns within the Rust Belt that are trying to crack down on slum rentals by demanding inspections. Just recently in New York they put forward a proposal to grant interior access to inspectors which would force renters to allow government officials into their homes.

Obviously not all renters are thrilled with this prospect, nor are the landlords.

20 August 2016

Finance Capital and the Real Economy

The recent episode regarding Macy's is telling. Macy's like many other retail outlets has been struggling for some time. Sales are down and many large retail outlets have been trying to cut costs and reorganise. It's turned the shopping experience into frustration as many of the stores keep limited inventories on hand and instead direct you to their websites. This is while you try (and fail) to find someone to wait on you.

It might seem counterintuitive but Macy's announcement to close 100 stores sent their stock soaring by 17%. It was a great day on Wall Street. How can this be? Isn't the closing of stores a bad thing?

17 August 2016

Inbox: What does it mean to speak prophetically in our day?

I believe special authoritative revelation ceased with the end of Apostolic Age. Christ himself was the Final Prophet as it were, at least according to the clear teaching of the book of Hebrews. And that's just for a start.

His Apostles by extension were specially commissioned to 'finish' (again, as it were) His ministry and bring out the full revelatory glory of His Person and work as well as provide us the authoritative foundations for the New Covenant era. They weren't just Prophets, they were akin to the Twelve Patriarchs, but this time of the New Israel.

13 August 2016

MacArthur's Grave Error

In another recent sermon entitled 'Who is God's Candidate', John MacArthur exposes deep flaws in his thinking, his own internal contradictions and a commitment to Judaized theology that overarches all of this thought.

09 August 2016

MacArthur's Warning

John MacArthur's recent 'We Will Not Bow' sermon is getting some attention. It's evident the Christian Right is in turmoil with regard to both their political project and society in general.

02 August 2016

A Pseudo-Two Kingdoms Debate

Tuininga v. Boot


Listening to this debate was something of an exercise in frustration. It was a case of Dominionism v. Dominionism and the debaters admit as much--- that the differences are minimal. It really comes down to questions of form and expectation.

09 July 2016

Evidence and the Rule of Law

As the years march on post-2001 we're still only beginning to grasp the full implications of the Patriot Act and the fundamental changes that have swept through our society.

04 July 2016

Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy

There is an oft-repeated but utterly fallacious argument that Democracy and Capitalism go hand in hand. Capitalism is about 'voting' for what goods and services you want and is thus an extension of the democratic system.

02 July 2016

The Day of Lies

This Sunday will effectively be the July 4th Sunday, the day in which the National holiday is commemorated. In the Patriotic liturgy that has overtaken American Evangelicalism we might call this a high holy day.

But in truth it is a day of darkness, a day of evil, a day of lies.

28 May 2016

Memorial Day: A Lamentation

Memorial Day was born out of the US Civil War. All wars deal heavily in propaganda but a civil war can be the most vicious in this regard and perhaps the most emotional and subject to future sentimentality. The US Civil War and its many myths is no exception. It was only a lesson in what was to come.

Obama the Sociopath, Human Rights and Nuclear Weapons

The Right-wing media assails Obama for his 'apology tours' in places like Cuba, Vietnam and Japan.

The reality couldn't be more different. He's not apologizing. His tours are exercises in smug triumphalism and obfuscation of the historical record.

11 May 2016

Zuckerberg

The world is a crazy place. Black is white and white is black, evil is good and good evil.

Mark Zuckerberg is esteemed, a tech-sage, an icon to be emulated and listened to. Zuckerberg is the man who made social media part of the warp and woof of daily life. Zuckerberg, the man who helped society flourish through connectivity.

07 May 2016

Inbox: Finance Capital and Why I Don't Have a 401K or an IRA

This is not meant to condemn those that do or those who invest in the market. You must form your own convictions but I will briefly explain why I do not own investments or a retirement account.

01 May 2016

Solomon's Basilica: Church Buildings and Confusion

This is not a comprehensive piece on Church buildings. I could easily put together a book-length piece on this but for now I'll only raise a few points spurred on by something I saw recently.

We could debate over when Church buildings appeared. There's some evidence to suggest they began to appear during the interlude in persecution that occurred in the 3rd century between Decius and Diocletian.

23 April 2016

Materialism, Nihilism and the Subjective

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCVRrybYWNE

This 4 minute video while both humorous and repugnant reveals more than it intends. Like it or not this is the social trajectory and it is a path of self destruction. Both dominant secular models that of the Scientific Materialist relying on sceptical inductive empiricism and that of the Subjective Individualist resting in existentialism have led the culture to epistemological chaos and can offer no remedy.

14 April 2016

Pakistan: Imperial Blowback and the Shapur Effect

In 1757 the British defeated a joint Mughal-French army at the Battle of Plassey. This set them on a course to dominate the whole of the Indian Subcontinent forever changing its history.

09 April 2016

Arlington Cemetery: Tribalism and Idealism, Propaganda and Reflection

It always impresses me when you cross the Arlington Bridge over the Potomac. After whipping around the Lincoln Memorial and skipping the right turn to Foggy Bottom and Watergate you cross the bridge and if you look up there's Robert E. Lee's house looming over you and overlooking Arlington Cemetery.

02 April 2016

Psyops and State Idolatry

My wife and I are always struck by the security in places like Philadelphia and Washington DC. We remember these places in the 1990s and in many ways these cities have from our standpoint been all but ruined. Security now dominates every museum and historical monument. Streets are closed, buildings blocked and its all for naught.

25 March 2016

Imperial Narratives, Urban Planning and Architecture

The movie Downfall (Der Untergang) contains many fascinating scenes but there's one in particular that recently came to mind. In the movie Hitler is pondering a magnificent scale model of the Berlin he imagined, the Berlin that he dreamed up with his architect Albert Speer. This Berlin was not just the Berlin of Bismarck and the Hohenzollerns but a new Ultra-Imperial Berlin, the "Welthauptstadt Germania" the city of not just a European power but a world empire. It was a city that would exhibit art and culture from around the world.

19 March 2016

Dispensationalism, the Restrainer and the NKJV

As much as I appreciate the New King James Version for both its textual basis and philosophy of translation I was disappointed to find a theological insertion. At this particular point they deviated from principled translation protocols and made a judgment call. The judgment favours a certain type of theology but is without substantial textual basis. It is therefore misleading and ought to be corrected.

14 March 2016

Paul, the Cretans and Addressing Social Sins

Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons (Titus 1.12)

This quotation taken from Epimenides and utilised by the Apostle Paul is used by some to argue that Paul was 'taking on' the evil forces at work in the culture. He was challenging the culture of Crete and therefore those Christians who argue for Two Kingdom theology, those Christians who reject Dominionism are necessarily in error.

10 March 2016

Imperialist Wars, Conscription and Democracy

If you're listening to the second season of the Serial podcast then you're learning about Bowe Bergdahl and the circumstances of his capture and the swirl of events that surrounded it.

I'm mildly interested in the story but if you're listening there's a lot more that you can glean. There's something to be learned about these modern wars, how they're fought and it leads one to reflect.

07 March 2016

Inbox: Lutheranism, Kuyper and the Two Kingdoms

In terms of the differences between the confessional Lutheran position and my own maybe I can shed a little light, but I will be brief and paint with a broad brush. I'm also throwing a variant of Reformed Theology into the mix because I think it's pertinent and may shed a little light for some readers on a seemingly obscure point of dispute in contemporary Reformed circles.

26 February 2016

The US Fifth Republic

This is a subjective exercise to be sure but it is certainly in keeping with the frameworks imposed by many others on the American narrative and its historical development.

Many countries occasionally will replace their constitutions, re-write their laws and effectively re-create themselves. This can be occasioned by a huge political shift, a coup, a war or something along those lines.

21 February 2016

The False Narratives of Meese, Scalia and Originalism

Recently former Attorney General Ed Meese was interviewed on LPR's Issues Etc. and asked to comment on the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the coming battle over a replacement for him.

Meese consistently expressed concern for the Constitution, praised Scalia for his stances, values and defense of the document. In addition Meese also identified himself as a devoted Lutheran.

The entire interview was a fraud.

14 February 2016

The Razor's Edge: Covenant Faithfulness and Apostasy Part III

When you break with a group like the Brethren you have taken a wholly different path and it's no surprise that some who have done this end up working out the implications.

For many years I've often thought about someone like Garrison Keillor, host of the radio show 'A Prairie Home Companion'. He's retiring this year and has recently been making the news. Many people mistake him for being a Lutheran as his show based on a fictional town in Minnesota often pokes fun at Upper-Midwestern Christian and thus Lutheran culture. But Keillor was raised Plymouth Brethren and he's mentioned it many times in the show and done pieces about how his family didn't celebrate Christmas etc...

The Razor's Edge: Covenant Faithfulness and Apostasy Part II

The antithesis requires that our children will grow up knowing that it means something to be a Christian and this affects the whole of life and the decisions and plans that we make.

But it also means that they will realise it's not the 'both-and' of mainstream Christianity but the definitive 'either-or'.
There are plenty of issues and questions that can be addressed and answered by the incorporation of 'both-and' thinking, and can even be done so in a non-accommodationist way. We can widen the question, embrace types of multi-perspectivalism and thus to a degree embrace and entertain a reduction in certainty without giving in to absolute extremes.

13 February 2016

The Razor's Edge: Covenant Faithfulness and Apostasy Part I

When the antithesis is heightened, so is the risk. The Plymouth Brethren represent not only a more conscientiously separatist form of Christianity but their antithesis in this case also extends to the Christian narrative as a whole.

08 February 2016

30 January 2016

Saudi Arabia and Iran: 1979 and the Islamic Narrative

In 1979 a group of Salafis overtook the Grand Mosque at Mecca. This group deliberately associated themselves with the Ikwhan movement from the days before the Saud family formally took over the reins of the new kingdom. As ultra-conservatives they believed the Saud family had been morally and theologically compromised. They had become too friendly with the West and were no longer worthy of being the guardians of the holy sites of Mecca and Medina. The house of Saud was illegitimate.

26 January 2016

Evangelical Compromise and Wheaton College

While not a fan of Wheaton, this is one of those moments where the divide between Christians and the world becomes all too clear. The world is not going to understand the stance of an organisation like Wheaton in retaining 'statements of faith' as criteria for employment. Of course there are tensions present in the Christian College which attempts to maintain epistemological antithesis with the world and yet operate within it. Evangelical schools like Wheaton also seek to synthesize Christian beliefs with the world system in a way that Christians can be educated (as the world reckons the concept), but also maintain a distinct Christian identity.

02 January 2016

Ghosts of Trieste

When poking around in the 19th century the name Trieste often comes up. Today situated in the northeast corner of Italy it was the Habsburg's chief port for many generations and the fourth city of their empire.

01 January 2016

Biblicism, Transgenderism and Epistemological Chaos

While many conservative and Christian cultural commentators will speak of the dominance of postmodernism I would argue that particular category and the relativism that goes with it is really limited to sociological questions, hermeneutics and ethics. When it comes to most interpretations of reality, Scientific Realism and Modernism still reign. The postmodern thinker will most certainly subjectivise the interpretation of that reality but the scepticism rooted in postmodernism is largely shared with Scientific Realism (Materialism) and its commitment to inductive epistemology.