31 December 2017

Hungary's Bitter Road Through Modern History

Viktor Orban is at this point all but a pariah to the powers that be in Brussels and Washington. He continues to resist the EU and has voiced considerable opposition not only to the policies of Europe but even the ideology of the post-war project.

29 December 2017

Considering the Panopticon Beast

Facial recognition software, biometric data, high-speed processing and lower-order or Narrow Artificial Intelligence are being wed to authoritarian political structures. It is the Panopticon for a new age.*
I must admit, I found this video to be deeply troubling. I found myself wondering about the future of the Chinese Underground Church. The tools of totalitarianism are becoming so pervasive that nonconformists (of any stripe) are literally going to be forced back into the mountains and forests... as in the old days.
And yet in the old days, the state apparatus did not possess drones with thermal imaging and the easy means to access remote places.

24 December 2017

The Jerusalem Embassy, Dispensationalism and American Evangelicalism

Moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem provides a convenient distraction for the embattled Trump administration. Embroiled in layers of investigation and cover-ups to hide cover-ups, the shift in media coverage provides them with some welcome respite.

09 December 2017

The Presbyterian Fallacy

Recently I encountered (yet again) another example of what I have termed The Presbyterian Fallacy.
Briefly by way of context, Episcopal forms of Church government do not claim their authority is based on Scriptural exegesis. While they believe their polity is 'Biblical' in the sense that it 'flows' from Scripture, they will freely admit that it's not something that can be appealed to chapter and verse. They would argue the New Testament does not prescribe a specific form of polity. Or they might argue that the Apostles established a type of regional hierarchy which over time legitimately developed into the episcopacy.

23 November 2017

Final Salvation and Today's Calvinism

The question of Final Salvation is further clouded by what could be described as Today's Calvinism and the metanarratives it has attached to Historical Theology. I'm not merely referring to the so-called New Calvinism or movements like Young, Restless and Reformed. 
By Today's Calvinism I'm speaking of Reformed Theology and Calvinism in general terms. Specifically I'm speaking of North American Calvinism in the wake of the 19th century. While international Calvinism went into decline and largely succumbed to Liberalism, the remaining sectors of conservative Calvinism underwent changes.

19 November 2017

Roy Moore and Old Testament Law

In a previous post I expressed some scepticism and ambivalence with regard to the recent spate of harassment claims. The men are indeed bestial and ungodly in their behaviour and yet many of these women, especially in the arts or corporate settings are not wholly innocent.
In other cases the behaviour can only be described as predatory. While an aspiring entertainer or businesswoman can always walk away and maintain virtue (even at great cost) there are those in other situations that are under real authority in the form of the state and thus under actual threat. These situations are often different in their nature and the women subjected to abuse are truly victims. I'm speaking of officials who hold badges and offices, who wear uniforms and carry guns. These men who use their authority to abuse the weak are of a different and very pernicious stripe.

12 November 2017

Feminism in High Gear: Pence's Rule and The Church in an Age of Scandal

Feminism could be described as being 'kicked into high gear' due to the rash of recent scandals.
On the one hand misogynist predatory behaviour is vile and always wrong. These people don't need defending.
On the other hand, society's war on men and boys and the feminisation of men is equally problematic. I say it again, it is equally problematic. That will offend some people.

05 November 2017

Prolegomena and the Question of Final Salvation Part 2

But again, isn't certainty eliminated? By no means. Does it become all but impossible to form creedal statements and confessions? Not in the least, but of course I question the motives behind this impulse. The statements will out of necessity become broader and thus more inclusive. Once again at this point I will be accused of being an ecumenicist, a liberal, one whose doctrinal sea is a mile wide but an inch deep.

Prolegomena and the Question of Final Salvation

I write this as something of a sequel to the essay on Salvation and the Question of Works.
It's one thing to discuss the nature of saving faith and to refute the spurious charges of rapprochement with Roman Catholic soteriology. But there's another issue or aspect of this debate that also deserves mention. This is the question of what is sometimes referred to as Final Salvation. I have written about it before and alluded to it in the recent aforementioned post but a few more comments are in order.
I mentioned that Eternal Security and Perseverance of the Saints are not the same thing. I would argue that the older Reformed doctrine of perseverance has all but degenerated into a Once-Saved-Always-Saved baptistic version of Eternal Security. I also talked about how salvation is presented in larger terms in which Justification is an essential component or aspect but it is not given the place of prominence, at least not in the way Solafideist theology has prioritised it. Additionally I mentioned how even these soteriological questions are cast in terms of the Already and the Not Yet.

29 October 2017

Inbox: Middle Class Values

What practical choices do you make that are odds with Middle Class life? How are they perceived?
I greatly appreciate the spirit of the question being asked and obviously such concerns resonate with me. On a practical level it is however difficult to answer as I believe each person has to work out these things for themselves.

Saving Faith and the Question of Works

Recently I encountered someone bringing a rather novel interpretation to the 'Lord, Lord' passage of Matthew 7. The well-known pericope contained within the Sermon on the Mount is for many (and rightly) a source of trembling. It speaks to self-deception and false faith.

23 October 2017

Ghosts of WWII: The Murderers Among Us and 1989's Music Box

The title comes from Simon Wiesenthal's famous work. It's the story of ex-Nazis and fascists with dark pasts blending back into the world and it's one that draws me back time and again.

06 October 2017

The New Testament and the Septuagint

The Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced in Intertestamental Egypt by Jewish scribes is frequently cited by New Testament authors and their use of it has generated a great deal of controversy and even confusion... even today.
It is not exclusively used when citing the Old Testament, but its use at times seems to dominate. The problem is the Septuagint doesn't always match the actual Hebrew Old Testament. Sometimes the Jewish translators seem to employ a fairly loose or dynamic principle of translation... something most conservatives of our day would be rather uncomfortable with.

01 October 2017

The General and Luke 16.15

The recent racist incident at the USAF Academy was certainly appalling and is rightfully condemned but I'm afraid I cannot go along with the world's praise of Lt. Gen Jay Silveria, the Superintendent of the school.
His speech is almost ubiquitous at present dominating news feeds and newspapers and I'm sure he'll get a few feathers in his cap. Many are saying, "This is the speech we wish the president would give."
"This is the right response to racism."
This is insanity on display. These commentators as well as the general are blind. This is true in terms of our culture and its history but they are also spiritually blind and their moral judgments are askew. Allow me to elaborate.

05 September 2017

Interpreting Augustine's City of God

Helm's writings have always been worthwhile, even when I disagree with him. Provocative and thoughtful, his is a website worth a regular visit. In this case it was not so much a matter of agreeing or disagreeing. Instead I read with interest as he delved into the long disputed interpretation of Augustine's City of God.
What is Augustine's eschatology? Anti-Chiliastic to be sure, what is his expectation for the Church in this age? How does the Church relate to the culture and the state? These are questions people still debate even in the 21st century.

03 September 2017

A Christian Preface to the Apologia on Syllabic Poetry: A brief discussion of Christianity and the Arts

This is an older essay that I've chosen to revise and publish at this time due to its reference in a recent discussion. Most readers will not find it to be of interest, some will find it baffling. A few may find it to be stimulating or at least I hope so.
What is a Christian view of the arts? That's a large topic and one that I cannot fully explore at this time. It is a worthwhile subject to be sure and yet for all that I would say its value is perhaps more limited than many would acknowledge.

12 August 2017

Christian Nonviolence and Pacifism: Some Badly Needed Clarifications (Part 3)

Christ brings division, even among Christians (1 Cor 11)... the peace we seek, is found only in him. False worldly peace doesn't excuse the gun-toting, gun-enforced pseudo-peace of either the Right wing militarist or the Libertarian, nor does a lack of peace in a world of violence grant permission for Christians to take up the sword. Thousands of pages have been written attempting to defend the Christian war ethic, just war, 'self-defense' and a host of other lies and scriptural distortions.

23 July 2017

Christian Nonviolence and Pacifism: Some Badly Needed Clarifications (Part 2)

Non-violent activism is not pacifist but political, a form of manipulation rather than overt coercion. But it is coercive nonetheless. Once again while a number of figures associated with this kind of activity are on a certain level admirable, they are not actually following the ethic of the New Testament.

22 July 2017

Christian Nonviolence and Pacifism: Some Badly Needed Clarifications (Part 1)

Pacifism and Nonviolence are controversial and sometimes confusing topics. This is compounded by the fact that they mean different things to different people. Not everyone is in agreement as to what they mean as far as concepts, let alone what are their limits and goals.

29 June 2017

A Bird's Nest and the Limits of Compassion

It's a minor thing but it continues to gnaw at me. My work takes me to many people's homes and I often get a window into how people live and think.

25 June 2017

Princeton Seminary: Twenty Years of Reflection

If you've never been to Princeton, New Jersey I highly recommend it. It's a fascinating place filled with history and character. There's much to see and yet the real thrill is to just walk around, enjoy the streets and wander the magnificent old buildings of one of the most renowned of the Ivy League schools.

19 June 2017

BK Kuiper and Sacralist Historiography

I've touched on this issue before but I recently encountered it again and have been meaning for several years to write a small piece about it.
BK Kuiper's The Church in History remains popular among homeschoolers and is particularly regarded in Reformed circles. They would say he writes from a distinctly Reformed perspective and provides a matching metanarrative. His critics would argue he writes with a distinct and at times misleading bias.

12 June 2017

The Moravian Way: Pilgrim Missiology vs. Magisterial Dominionism

It is one thing to evangelise the lost in other cultures, but this is quickly followed by another question. After becoming Christians, how do the converts live and interact with their society? This is an issue missionaries have long wrestled with. Undoubtedly, every society presents cultural elements and norms that are religious in nature and present a problem for the Christian, especially the new proselyte.

17 May 2017

Corporate vs. Individual Boycotts

From time to time the issue of Church boycotts comes to the fore. Usually what is meant by this is that certain denominations and para-church organisations will decide to collectively boycott a particular retailer or organisation due to moral objections regarding a product or sponsorship.
I do think we need to reject certain corporations and institutions. As Christians we understand that we live in a lost and sinful world full of idolatry and like the Early Church there are aspects of society that are all but closed to us. This is not the viewpoint of most who advocate this view. Frankly they're confused and their proclivity to call for a boycott is not rooted in antithesis but is instead a political tactic meant to 'break' an opponent. Their hope is that their numbers are sufficient that the company or institution will take such a financial hit, that they'll reconsider the policy.

07 May 2017

Urban Christianity: Chelcicky vs. Keller

Tim Keller is but one among many who argues that Christians ought to live in and focus on the city. It's the centre of culture and the focal point of ideas and activities. If we're to live out the Dominionist ethic (he seems to argue) then the city is the effective place to carry this out.

06 May 2017

Rome, Classical Liberalism and Sola Scriptura

On the one hand many Protestants champion Classical Liberalism as an outgrowth and even the natural offspring of the Magisterial Reformation. Reason over tradition, progress, the rights of the individual, civil society and democracy are all viewed as legitimate fruits of Reformation thought applied to the sociological realm.
And yet it all went wrong and in the background there has always lingered a rather potent Roman Catholic critique. It perhaps reached its zenith in the 19th and early 20th centuries and yet the cultural crisis of that era may in fact be eclipsed by the realities of our own day. We are still living in the wake of the World Wars, still living out their implications.

05 May 2017

The Criminal Syndicate known as Verizon

Increasingly there are many US corporations that are prima facie immoral. Their business practices are openly dishonest and in working for them you cannot maintain your integrity. You are necessarily part of the planned obfuscation and manipulation of consumers.
These businesses operate boldly under the banner of caveat emptor. They are not looking out for you in any way shape or form. You are a 'thing' to be exploited and squeezed. If you don't scrutinise the fine print, ask the right questions and in every way watch your back... that's your problem.
Their goal is clearly to entrap you, to snare you into signing a contract that they will resist freeing you from.
Such has been my experience with the mobile phone industry and yet it is but one of many such examples. I am committed to using a burner flip-phone. I will not sign a contract with a cellular carrier. I will go without a phone before I do that. They are without a doubt one of the most dishonest lots I have ever encountered.

29 April 2017

Mystery, Logic, Engineering and Neo-Luddism

When philosophers, apologists and other thinkers labour to destroy certainty, attempts at coherence and confidence in logic, the scepticism they produce sends many into crisis and the response can range from the robust to the frantic, the diligent to the foolish.
One of the most common arguments I hear (and often at that) from within Christian circles is that scepticism is wrong because if the world adopted this view then we could have no inventions and no technology. They will usually buttress this reductio ad absurdum by arguing that it's a good thing their auto or aeroplane mechanic wasn't a sceptic. 
This argument rests on several fallacies.

The Woman's Desire


The question over the woman's desire in Genesis 3 has been a battleground for several decades now. The linked Rachel Miller article on the Aquila Report refers to a Westminster Theological Journal article from the 1970s by Susan Foh. I remember being pointed to the article in the late 1990s. I think by then the controversy had been resolved in the minds of most people. After all this was the era of Hillary Clinton as first lady. The culture wars were on and in earnest. How could you even question this reading of Genesis? Are you pro-feminist?

16 April 2017

Biblical Studies: Slipping into Reductionism?

The counter to Systematic Theology is to focus primarily on Biblical Studies and largely within a framework that is often called a Redemptive-Historical hermeneutic.

02 April 2017

Feminism Repackaged, Revised and... Re-claimed?

Increasingly Evangelicals are trying to 'claim' feminism and wed it to the anti-abortion movement. This is such a strange shift and yet is part of a larger drift within the Evangelical movement.

19 March 2017

Tolkien, Liberalism and Modernity

It is not uncommon to hear it suggested that Tolkien's idealised depiction of The Shire reflects the type of society envisioned by Libertarians. They would point to the fact that despite having a mayor and a few officials The Shire is largely self-governing and self-regulated.
Tolkien mentions an unofficial system of patronage in which some of the wealthier hobbits provide for those in need so that no one is truly destitute.

18 March 2017

Today's NIV

Recently I reported in a comment of an experience I had at a local Evangelical Church that related to the newer edition of the New International Version (NIV).
Starting in 2011, the NIV switched over to gender-neutral pronouns. As to the reason why, I'm sure some justifications have been given but at the end of the day it must be admitted it's a capitulation to the gender-climate and political correctness.

04 March 2017

Gnosticism through a Dominionist Lens Part 5

In the world but not of the world

Gnosticism through a Dominionist Lens Part 4

Elitist Knowledge

Gnosticism through a Dominionist Lens Part 3

The Matter of This Age

Gnosticism through a Dominionist Lens Part 2

Varieties of Contra Mundum

Gnosticism through a Dominionist Lens Part 1

The Hellenistic-Judaizing Spectrum
After watching this brief lecture from Ryan Reeves a professor at Gordon-Conwell I've decided to use it as something of an object lesson, a framework with which to interact. The information is fairly basic but is viewed and interpreted within a framework that I would argue is something less than Scriptural.

01 March 2017

Ockham's Razor, Scepticism and Biblicism Part 5

Recovering Authoritative Scripture and Questioning the Western Heritage

Ockham's Razor, Scepticism and Biblicism Part 4

Anchoring and Scepticism

Ockham's Razor, Scepticism and Biblicism Part 3

The Razor and Rationalist Views of the Text

Ockham's Razor, Scepticism and Biblicism Part 2

Saving Faith and Scepticism

Ockham's Razor, Scepticism and Biblicism Part 1

This is a re-working of a post from 2010 on Nominalism and Thomism. I have updated, clarified and expanded the original article.
 I apologise in advance as there is a degree of redundancy and overlap with the 'Riddles of Fundamentalism' piece. That said, this essay ventures into other realms not covered in that series.
Part 1: History and Inference
Nominalism is often blamed for the philosophical scepticism that arose in the 14th century leading to a climate that allowed The Great Schism to happen, a breakdown in the authority and prestige of the Papacy and ultimately the basis for the social consensus. It had sowed the seeds which led to the breakdown of the Scholastic justification of the Papal System and even Christendom itself.

17 February 2017

Establishment Civil War: Deep State Narratives and a Proposed Taxonomy of Factions Part 5

Crisis, Conflict and Taxonomy
The period of 2006-2008 brought the final implosion and collapse of the George Bush regime. Many of the ideologues had been forced out or had willingly abandoned ship. US foreign policy was in shambles, the military was shaken and the economy was on the brink of catastrophe.
This crisis which would extend over the whole of the Obama presidency has created the conditions for what could be rightly called an Establishment Crisis or even a Deep State Civil War.

Establishment Civil War: Deep State Narratives and a Proposed Taxonomy of Factions Part 4

A System in Crisis and the Threat of Phoenix-style Counterinsurgency
By 2006 PNAC/Neo-Conservative project had been discredited. Clearly their grasp of geopolitics and its doctrinal application in terms of Rumsfeld's military doctrine had failed. As Wesley Clark famously revealed they had planned regime change operations in numerous countries but Iraq had become something of an albatross.

Establishment Civil War: Deep State Narratives and a Proposed Taxonomy of Factions Part 3

The Various Reincarnations of the Rollback Faction
The Deep State underwent a period of reorganisation in the 1970s. The CIA survived the various commissions which though revealing tremendous amounts of information functioned in many ways as a means of damage control. Cynicism set in but society marched on. The 1970s were an era of social darkness, a time of intrigue, lies exposed and deeper lies being hidden.

Establishment Civil War: Deep State Narratives and a Proposed Taxonomy of Factions Part 2

The Crisis of the 1970's and Watergate
The loss of America's absolute ascendancy of the world economic scene brought a degree of dynamism and instability. Germany, and Western Europe were becoming economically powerful and in Asia, Japan had recovered. South Korea would soon follow. They were in many ways (and still are) US satellites. The US militarily occupies these nations and controls both their military and foreign policy. But what to do about their economic competitiveness? Some believed they needed to be subjugated, limited and controlled. How to do this? There was no consensus. Others believed they needed to be incorporated and managed. This could be done in part through cross investment, collaboration and through such an agenda it was possible to strengthen both their interests and that of the United States.

Establishment Civil War: Deep State Narratives and a Proposed Taxonomy of Factions Part 1

The Nature of the Deep State and the Post-War Era
I could spend 2 years, write 1000 pages, breakdown and footnote everything and make my case. Apart from a few observations and explicitly Christian commentary my narrative regarding the Deep State wouldn't be unique. I don't have the time or resources for such projects so instead I offer an account based on my years of study, investigation and reflection. What I hope to do is develop a background narrative leading up to the various divisions within the Deep State power structures that command the contemporary US Empire. Due to events of the past decade I believe they are presently in a state of crisis which has produced a great deal of instability and even volatility.

15 February 2017

Lutheran Sacralism: Veith on Economics

GE Veith is a retired professor, formerly associated with Virginia's Patrick Henry College. A conservative Lutheran he has long been associated with Evangelical and Dominionist projects from World Magazine to Wheaton, the Heritage Foundation and Patrick Henry. His writings primarily focus on the Christian relationship to arts and culture. The link is to a talk on economics given by Veith at the 2016 Just and Sinner Conference.
I respond due to the fact that he's a popular teacher and the message he presents is one that resonates with contemporary Evangelicalism. As he represents a posture and theology contrary to what is taught in the New Testament, it needs to be challenged. I hope my brief comments will at the very least introduce a different set of categories and concepts for readers to interact with and consider whether Veith is representing the Christianity of the Apostles or something quite different.

07 February 2017

Inbox: Neo-Evangelicalism within the Framework of Evangelical Development

What's the difference between Neo-Evangelicalism and regular Evangelicalism and when did it arise?
It's not an easy question because no one can agree on what these terms mean. That said, though it's hard to be precise many seem to know almost intuitively what is meant.
If I were to provide a generalised narrative that is so broad as to be inaccurate and easily criticised, but still provides a starting point...
I propose three phases:
There won't be another phase.

01 February 2017

American Dominionism and Europe's Evangelicals (Part 2)

These social and cultural changes and this shift within European Evangelicalism began to take place just as the 'new' theology started to arrive and wield a greater influence. It has been aggressively promoted and heavily backed by American money. The effects have been nothing like what is happening in the United States and frankly seem 'minimal' by comparison.
Nevertheless the ideas are there and they are growing.

American Dominionism and Europe's Evangelicals (Part 1 of 2)

The influence of Dominion theology continues to grow. It's nothing new in terms of the European Evangelical scene but it clearly continues to gain influence and now like its American cousin has become almost universal.

23 January 2017

The Rise of the New Religion


It is not uncommon to encounter these types of articles and essays but as usual the author misses something. While he celebrates the demise of religion in the face of secular reason, it has completely escaped him that rather than religion being replaced by secularism, a religion is being replaced by... a new religion.

08 January 2017

Riddles of Fundamentalism 5: Biblicism, Oracular Presence and Concluding Thoughts

Faced with the overwhelming and crushing burden of philosophical collapse and the onset of scepticism we are presented with another option. It comes in the form of a Person, a Way, a Door, a Prophet. We are called to listen to His Voice and trust in Him. As Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ, the Word of God... Scripture comes into the picture. It contains the accounts of the good news, the doctrine, the paths of discipleship and it is, is centered on, and culminates with the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

07 January 2017

Riddles of Fundamentalism Part 4: False Fideisms, False Biblicisms and the Quest for Coherence

It is at this point in the discussion wherein fideistic and anti-modernist labels that are used to describe many 20th century movements such as Neo-Orthodoxy, Barthianism and the 21st century Emerging Church are exposed as flowing from the same polluted Athenian font that continues to overshadow virtually all Western intellectual endeavour.

05 January 2017

Riddles of Fundamentalism Part 3: Faith and Epistemology

While often accused of being Anti-Modern and fideistic, Fundamentalist epistemology could be more accurately described as representing a Evidentialism with a strong tendency to rely upon Coherentist arrangements and interpretations of empirical data, all resting upon axiomatic basic beliefs. Its Foundationalist ideology must be understood as a variant of Empiricism and within the general flow of what has come to be known as the Analytic tradition.

03 January 2017

Riddles of Fundamentalism Part 2: Epistemology, Social Context and the Charge of Anti-Modernism

Industrialisation proved traumatic for Western society. Traditions, what we might call social forms of coherence, accepted norms, standards and commonalities were modified and in many cases jettisoned. A new urban culture began to form that changed many economic, social and thus finally familial and traditional dynamics. While on the one hand this was the outcome of modern thinking and the science and technology it produced, in another sense its non-coherence and fragmentation led to a social crisis. The mechanistic view of the universe first moved God to the periphery and then abandoned Him altogether. Science and technology came into their own and created a new type of Foundationalism for the new era. The previous coherence of what we might call Enlightened Christianity, the form familiar to late colonial and early Republican America was no longer needed or viewed as valid.

02 January 2017

Riddles of Fundamentalism: Modernist Epistemology and the Question of Biblicism Part 1

The other night I was watching the old Fess Parker version of Davy Crockett and found myself trying to explain to my kids his mannerisms and the 'can-do' and 'aw shucks' common sense of the frontiersman.

It's just a movie of course and yet there's something to be said on that topic. The old backwoods sensibility and pride in lack of sophistication is something deeply rooted in sections of American culture. It took one form in the log cabin and another in the halls of academia along the Eastern Seaboard, and yet it's something common to the American experience and its intellectual tradition.