Democracy

Today in my reading on the BBC news website (I know, why would a free-market conservative read it?) I came across this article: France’s Macron urges EU to shun nationalism http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-43794856. This opening line struck me:

“there seems to be a European civil war” between liberal democracy and rising authoritarianism.

One of the reasons why so many people across a range of age groups are deserting traditional media is that they are tired of simplifications and platitudes in reporting and analysis. Rather than ask a deeper philosophical question about the problems and limits of democracy, lines like the above have the potential to dupe gullible readers into thinking that all nationalists are fascists or that democracy is inherently good.

Christianity has a concept of sin – a concept that ought not to be controversial. Simple observation and a cursory glance at 20th century history tells us that people are capable of evil – great evil. Western civilisation’s traditional doctrine of the rule of law was developed in the knowledge that man has certain inalienable rights given to him by God. The state may not behave arbitrarily against these rights – and neither may the people. A war on man’s rights – albeit a democratic war – is a war against the Creator Himself.

When parts of Europe clamour to have our rights defended, not to see them destroyed by democracy or authoritarianism, this clamour is made in the name of liberty, a concept we used to hold dear. One man’s freedom can mean another man’s bondage, however. The arguments made by many that society should accord them more things, really mean taking something away from somebody else. Each suggestion of this should not be met with servile, spineless acquiescence, but a rational examination of the motivation and justification for such a suggestion.

In taking rights away from prisoners, society is acting to uphold justice and the doctrine of individual responsibility. Everything comes at a cost; all human action is transactional. When a criminal breaks the law, he pays the price. This is what the ancient Greek expression for retribution literally means: paying the price. The justification for imprisoning convicted offenders is vindication and deterrence: evil acts should be publicly denounced as evil and people should be discouraged from doing them.

In light of the above, we must ask ourselves whether the same reasoning applies to matters such as membership of the European Union or strict border controls or state provided education. To take the first example, membership of the European Union affords a nation certain liberties, but it also deprives that nation of liberties. The nation can no longer exercise control over its borders in respect of European Union citizens; the nation cannot impose tariffs on goods imported from the European Union or decide to impose no tariffs at all on goods imported from outside the European Union. Once a Directive has been passed, an EU nation has no discretion on whether to implement it or not. Matters decided by the Court of Justice of the European Union cannot be referred to independent arbitrators. The list goes on.

In considering these restrictions, we must ask whether they are justified, and, to the extent that they affect individual rights, whether the democratic majority has the authority to infringe on the rights of individual human beings where no blameworthy act has been committed. If one wishes to argue that the will of the majority is what makes a course of action right rather than a feature intrinsic to that action, we may ask why we should accept such an axiom. Intuition seems to tell us that things are objectively right or wrong, irrespective of the wishes of the majority. Maybe it’s time for the liberal intelligentsia to listen to the reasons given by people along the spectrum of nationalists rather than accuse them all of being authoritarians. Perhaps many  – or even most – of them simply wish to defend their rights against onslaught from radical democrats and tyrannical officials.

Weigel, The Canonization of St. John Paul II, And SSPX.

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JohnPaulII-Pope

In George Weigel’s new book ‘Lessons in Hope’ this is the primary rejection of traditionalists’ rejection of the canonization of Pope John Paul II and the Vatican II council:

“The formal investigative process included testimony from serious critics of John Paul II, including the schismatic followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Their large dossier accused the Pope of just about everything in the Lefebvrist parade of horribles—but not, it seemed, liturgical abuses, thus confirming what John Paul II had said: the Lefebvrist rejection of Vatican II was primarily a matter of the Council’s endorsement of religious freedom, its openness to interreligious dialogue, and the new emphasis to placed on a Church engaging the world. (p. 334)

Of course, not all traditional Catholics are in the SSPX but their condemnations of me ring similar to those attested by myself that are full communion with Rome, as well as the Lefebvrist quoted by Weigel. And in my opinion, as I’ve heard many traditionalists in full communion with Rome mention with admiration with Marcel Lefebvre; they’re closeted support of these beliefs are deafening.

In fact, if one goes to the SSPX website on the topic of Pope John Paul II’s canonization, it’s filled in my opinion with a diatribe of illogical condemnations of the canonization of Pope John Paul II:

“If John Paul II is a saint, his theology must be irreproachable, down to the smallest detail.” (This isn’t true because the theology of Saint Augustine can be troublesome at times…)

or

“If John Paul II is truly a saint, the Catholic faithful must recognize the value of the religious witness of the Jewish people[4]. They must then condemn the example of Pedro de Arbues (1440–1485), Grand Inquisitor of Aragon, who was martyred by Jews in hatred of the Catholic faith.” (This is quite the logical leap, no one has to do anything here.)

The SSPX objection is ironically against Catholic Doctrine because when a Pope declares one a Saint he uses the language of papal infallibility publicly which the SSPX hold that the papacy cannot declare an error in their infallibility by the protection of the Holy Spirit:

“In honor of the Holy Trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, with the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and of Our Own, after long reflection, having invoked divine assistance many times and listened to the opinion of many of our Brothers in the Episcopate, We declare and define as Saint Blessed N. and inscribe his/her name in the list of the saints and establish that throughout the Church they be devoutly honored among the saints.”

The website Shamless Popery lists all sort of other reasons but theologically there’s no more convincing than the language of infallibility which leaves the SSPX and Traditionalists who claim that recent Popes who are canonized are not Saints in Heaven:

Option A: False Canonizations

Option B: Saints in Heaven

The logical implication is that the line of Popes and the doctrine of infallibility doctrine have rendered that the SSPX must accept these Popes as Saints (which will get more interesting with the future canonization of Pope Paul VI) find themselves outside of the Church by their rejection of infallibility of the magisterium.

Economic Propositions (4)

The question of the nature and origin of the state is foundational to ethical, political, and economic philosophy. In assessing what the state may and may not legitimately do, one must first determine what the state is. Such discussions form the content of tomes, so it lies beyond the scope of this post to cover the matter in depth; however, it is the author’s hope that it will predict fruitful discussion.

The concept of the state presupposes the concept of authority: the state issues laws, proclamations, standards, etc, and the people comply. Authority comes from somewhere: God, the people, somewhere. The Bible teaches us that all authority comes from God (Romans 13:1), but this does not entail that all authority is exercised justly. The Bible teaches firmly against rebellion (1 Samuel 15:23), but this may not necessarily be an absolute. A more nuanced view may be that rebellion should only ever be for a just cause and only ever as a last resort and always aged according to the “civilised” code of war.

In the light of the above, toleration of unjust conduct by the state must be distinguished from approval of such conduct. Leaving aside practicalities and cowardice, which are inferior concerns, a good man will not rebel against the state over a particular infraction because he will trust in the LORD to act as vindicator and appreciate that there is a scale of iniquities. Where an infraction is of a lessor kind, armed rebellion will be a disproportionate response because of the suffering it will cause as a consequence of anarchy. Smaller forms of protest will be more appropriate in such cases.

Considering now the nature of the state, an analogy that may prove useful in understanding it is the incorporated company. A non-natural legal person can do most things that a natural person can do, but it cannot do them of itself. It is a principal and its aims are carried out by agents. The corporation is created for a particular purposes (its “objects”) and it has a constitution that governs its conduct, what it can and cannot do (memorandum, articles of association, resolutions of the board of directors, shareholders’ resolutions).

Similarly, the state behaves as if it were a person and can do many of the things a natural person can do – but not all. It acts through agents (the executive, the legislature, the judiciary) and it is bound by the decisions of its agents (in a non-lawless society) until such decisions are revoked by a higher power (e.g. a court of first instance’s decision may be reversed by a court of appeal, but until that time, the court of first instance’s decision stands). The state will have some kind of constitution: it may be written, as is the case in the USA, or it may be unwritten, as is the case in the UK. Where decisions are made that contravene the constitution they may be challenged before a body that is competent to the judge the matter (e.g. the Supreme Court in the USA and the High Court in the UK).

In the old days, before the Companies Act 2006, the objects of a company acted to some extent like a straightjacket, confining the company to particular kinds of business. If the directors or shareholders wanted to expand into a business that did not fall within the list of approved objects, it was necessary to formally amend the company’s constitution. Reflecting on this, we might ask whether some of the things that the state does today, which most people take for granted, legitimately fall within its objects. If such things do not, and never could because of some fundamental philosophical principle, then a reforming force should remove such matters from the state’s remit.

This is where issues surrounding free will, consent, tyranny, and purpose come in. The fact that God allows us to autonomously make decisions and feel the consequences of them does not entail that all of those decisions are good. In English law, directors of companies have fiduciary duties towards their companies: they must act in loyalty and good faith towards their companies, seeking its benefit.

172
Duty to promote the success of the company
(1) A director of a company must act in the way he considers, in good faith, would be most likely to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members as a whole, and in doing so have regard (amongst other matters) to—
(a) the likely consequences of any decision in the long term,
(b) the interests of the company’s employees,
(c) the need to foster the company’s business relationships with suppliers, customers and others,
(d) the impact of the company’s operations on the community and the environment,
(e) the desirability of the company maintaining a reputation for high standards of business conduct, and
(f) the need to act fairly as between members of the company.

-Companies Act 2006, s170(1), via http://www.legislation.gov.uk

Similarly, the agents of the state should act in good faith towards the state, which, in a sense, is the people of the nation. In considering policies, they ought to think about the long-term benefits and costs, not only the short term. As a final thought, consider this in application to the question of money supply. If the state increases the money supply, but the demand for money stays the same, the value of the individual monetary unit will decrease. This will be a disbenefit to the people in the long-term. Would it not be better to avoid this altogether?

 

Men in and of the Church

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This follows on from yesterday’s points on men in the church.

The Rev Karl Hess noticed something from Mundabor’s blog (well, we are in the same business, after all)

[…]Comment Sissy showed up (nickname: “anonymous”; you never know which “anonymous” is “anonymous”) and said the critics of the Novus Ordo were uncharitable, un-this, and un-that. There had been no vitriolic comments, merely a very mild sarcasm.

A good soul, nickname “Templar” (nice one, by the way) intervened with the following words:

I grew up in New York, the Priests from my parish lived exactly 7 doors down from me and our interaction with them was daily and very personal. They were mostly Irish and Italian, most cussed like sailors (refraining only from taking the Lord’s name), used acerbic wit to cut down many a sinner, and wouldn’t back down from a fight if it came to it.

Good Bye good men.

Now we have anonymous posters who wring their hands over bruised feelings, and perceived slights. What you sow is what you reap. We have raised up milquetoast Catholics. Where is the Church Militant? Where are the Warriors? Islam is burying the world through birth rate and butchery, and us Catholics are afraid of some rough language.

The poster hits the bull’s eye in a very pithy way.

We live in times of such unmanliness that by every exchange of opinion that reaches the level of more than mild disapprobation someone – the Comment Sissy; they are everywhere – feels the need to intervene and say how “disparaging” and insensitive other people are.

In former times, such people would have been invited to go play with their dolls; nowadays, the Comment Sissy is socially accepted, and thinks he has firmly taken the moral high ground; it is like a pervert game of political correctness, in which the first one crying “disparaging” has won.

Rev Hess said it reminded him of another Catholic priest about 500 years ago.

I  have  indeed  inveighed  sharply  against  impious  doctrines,  and  I  have  not  been  slack  to  censure  my  adversaries  on  account,  not  of  their  bad  morals,  but  of  their  impiety.  And  for  this  I  am  so  far  from  being  sorry,  that  I  have  brought  my  mind  to  despise  the  judgments  of  men,  and  to  persevere  in  this  vehement  zeal,  according  to  the  example  of  Christ,  who,  in  his  zeal,  calls  his  adversaries  a  generation  of  vipers, blind,  hypocrites,  and  children  of  the  devil.  Paul  too  charges  the  sorcerer  with  being  a  child  of  the  devil,  full  of  all  subtlety  and  all  malice;  and  defames  certain  persons  as  evil  workers,  dogs,  and  deceivers.  In  the  opinion  of  those  delicate-­‐eared  persons,  nothing  could  be  more  bitter  or  intemperate  than  Paul’s language.  What  can  be  more  bitter  than  the  words  of  the  prophets?  The  ears  of  our  generation  have been  made  so  delicate  by  the  senseless  multitude  of  flatterers,  that,  so  soon  as  we  perceive  that  anything  of  ours  is  not  approved  of,  we  cry  out  that  we  are  being  bitterly  assailed;  and  when  we  can  repel  the  truth  by  no  other  pretence,  we  escape  by  attributing  bitterness,  impatience,  intemperance,  to  our  adversaries.  What  would  be  the  use  of  salt,  if  it  were  not  pungent?  or  of  the  edge  of  the  sword,  if  it  did  not  slay?  Accursed  is  the  man,  who  does  the  work  of  the  Lord  deceitfully.

From The freedom of a Christian (PDF)

I think we can all sympathize, we’ve all met the commenters, that have no facts, but are so very easily offended, and so make personal attacks. Indeed, we’ve had a few here, over the years, they rarely last long, though.

Something in the Air

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Several things caught my eye in Philip’s excellent article the other day. I hate writing posts in commboxes (although I do it far too often), so I thought I would discuss it here.

The first comes from the Catholic Herald, always a good source of information.

[O]n 8 April, I made the 2.5-hour drive to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts for Divine Mercy Sunday. And how could I not? Judging by the licence plates in the parking lots, pilgrims travelled from every corner of the United States. According to the programme, many more flew over from Europe. I practically live down the street.

It was a deeply moving occasion, despite Mother Nature’s lack of cooperation: it was finger-numbingly cold, with snow flurries dropping in and out. Yet 15,000 pilgrims descended on the little mountain town, bundled in parkas and blankets. Some charitable souls drifted through the crowd passing out hand warmers.

Aside from the official proceedings, what struck me most was the demographic make-up. There were Hispanics, Filipinos, Africans, and Chinese – but hardly a Caucasian in sight. That’s grossly unrepresentative of the national Catholic population: 59 per cent are white, 34 percent are Hispanic, 3 per cent are Asian, and 3 per cent are black.

Of course, this has nothing to do with race and everything to do with trends in migration. Immigrants, whatever their faith tradition, tend to be more devout than their native-born counterparts. This is true even in countries like Sweden, where predominantly-white immigrants from Poland are contributing to a boom in the Catholic population.

But are these new Catholics a permanent feature of American and Western European countries? That seems doubtful. A new Gallup polldemonstrates that the rate at which Catholics attend Mass continues to fall since 1955, from 75 per cent to 39 per cent. This, despite the fact that the nominal Catholic population has grown considerably thanks to mass immigration from South America. Meanwhile, attendance at Protestant services has remained fairly stable.

The lack of Protestant immigration actually gives them an advantage with this metric. The children or grandchildren of immigrants who stop practising the faith are more likely to identify – if only nominally – with their family’s religion. Because Catholic immigration is so high, there are many “cultural” or “lapsed” Catholics: those who identify with the Faith, but don’t attend Mass. Meanwhile, Protestants who have “un-churched” are more likely to identify as irreligious.

True enough, out here the Catholic Church is made up of probably close to a majority of Hispanics, of all ages, and who are treated quite badly by the established Anglo congregations, to the point of nearly two churches in one building. A good many of the Anglos strike me as mostly CINO’s (Catholics in name only). Given it is Hispanic immigration, I don’t see it as much in the Protestant churches but suspect it is mostly a lack of Hispanics not a difference in attitude.

The funny part is, Islam also has this problem, they too are losing the immigrants’ children.

Here, again, Pew’s study of Islam in America is enlightening. Nine per cent of ex-Muslims converted to a different faith, and one per cent said they were actively searching for a spiritual path. That means only 10 per cent remain open to engaging with organised religion. The other 90 effectively become secular or “spiritual-not-religious”, which usually amounts to the same thing.

Apparently, it is something in the air in America. part of it, of course, is the churches themselves, I’m not a particularly regular attendee myself. My local church is good on liberal platitudes, on real (what some call, muscular) Christianity, not so much. Other choices such as LCMS are quite inconvenient for me, perhaps it will solve itself, or God will show me a way, but for now, that’s how it is.

In a Federalist article, Mathew Cochrane notes that one of the weaknesses of our churches is that we are driving away men. He quotes Ross Douthat’s “God and Men and Jordan Peterson” New York Times column to good effect.

The men fled; the women stayed.

That’s the story of Easter weekend in the New Testament. Most of Jesus’ male disciples vanished when the trouble started, leaving his mother and Mary Magdalene and other women to watch by the cross, prepare his body for his burial, and then (with the men still basically in hiding) find the empty tomb.

Male absence and female energy has also been the story, albeit less starkly and dramatically, of Christian practice in many times and places since.

Except that is not true, all concerned missed the real story, didn’t they? How many times had Jesus told them he would rise from the dead? None of them, not a single one, believed Him – they went to the tomb to properly prepare his corpse and were gently chided by the Angel:

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise” (Luke 24:5-7).

There is also this,

As one blogger quickly pointed out, two key issues with Douthat’s presentation of the story highlight a disregard for men. First is the enormous factual error: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, both men, were actually the ones to prepare and bury Jesus’ body (John 19:38-42) while the women watched (Luke 23:55-56) and returned with additional spices several days later. Unlike Douthat, Mark the Evangelist is quite right to observe that Joseph “took courage” before going to the guy who just had Jesus executed and asking him for the corpse (Mark 15:43).

Yep, that’s how you are going to attract men, NOT.

The Son of God (3)

This post continues a series looking at the different nuances of the term “Son of God”.

Ruler of the Council

But [the gods’] king is Baal the Conqueror, our judge, higher than all

-Baal in Stories from Ancient Canaan, ed. and tr. Michael Coogan

And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord‘s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

-Joshua 5:14-15

And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. And it came to pass, when the angel of the Lord spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the Lord.

-Judges 2:1-5

Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down…And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.

-Daniel 8:11, 25

Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion…Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

-Psalm 2:6, 12

A number of pantheons in the ancient world had a father figure whose rule was exercised on his behalf by a vicegerent in the divine council. Often there were stories to explain how this second figure rose to take on the role of the father. Thus Baal gained the rule from El by defending the gods against Yam (the sea) and Lotan (the sea monster), a symbol of chaos. Similarly, Marduk took over from Anu by defeating the sea-dragon Tiamat. Zeus took the rule from Cronos by defeating him and his allies, the Titans, in battle, assisted by the other Olympians. Horus rose to take over from Ra by defeating Set, sometimes presented as a court trial, who had murdered his father, Osiris. The Hittites also appear to have had a similar belief structure.

In Israel’s worldview, there was a corresponding motif, but with a twist. YHWH occupied the position of Father and of Ruler of the Council. The second YHWH figure, the Ruler of the Council, was identified by various names: the Angel of YHWH, the Commander of the Host, the Word of YHWH, etc. At this stage in Israel’s history, the Word had not yet become flesh, and there was no Trinitarian language; but a careful reading of the texts showed that there were three YHWH figures: the invisible YHWH (Father), YHWH’s Vicegerent (Son), and the Spirit of YHWH.

Jesus as THE Son of God (Luke 1:32), is the ruler of the Divine Council, YHWH’s Vicegerent. His elevation story is His victory over the Serpent, His death on the Cross. His glorious enthronement is the resurrection and ascension, to be completed at the Parousia Last Judgment. As YHWH’s Vicegerent, He will one day hand the rule of the cosmos over to the Father.

And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

-1 Corinthians 15:28

The Son of God (2)

This post continues our exploration of the different nuances of the term “Son of God”. In Post 1, we looked at the comparison between Christ and Adam.

A Divine Figure

The gods pronounced their blessing and went, the gods went to their tents, the Council of El to their divine homes.

Kirta in Stories from Ancient Canaan, ed. and tr. Michael Coogan

But Baal has no house like the other gods’, no court like Asherah’s sons’

Baal in Stories from Ancient Canaan, ed. and tr. Michael Coogan

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

-Genesis 6:1-2

When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God / angels of God

-Deuteronomy 32:8, LXX

Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord.

-Job 2:1

When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

-Job 38:7

He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

-Daniel 3:25

The term “son of God” had predominantly divine connotations in the ancient Mediterranean, referring to gods and demi-gods (heroes). Many cultures had pantheons in which a father god governed the cosmos by means of a divine council, composed of members of his own family. In psycho-cultural terms, this is understandable as a projection of the world of men. In these cultures, businesses were largely family affairs (with domestic slaves being considered a part of the household), and monarchical government was dynastic. Even in places and times with more democratic or oligarchical structures, family was important: for most of the Roman Republic, the patrician cluster of families ran the state, sons succeeding fathers in vying for the most prestigious positions in the cursus honorum. Thus we see the children of Anu making up the divine council in the Mesopotamian pantheon; the seventy sons of El in Canaan; the children of Ra in Egypt; and the offspring of Zeus in Greece (before that in the cosmogony, the titans, children of Gaia and Ouranos, led by Kronos).

The Hebrew worldview of the Old Testament period corresponded with this model, but with its own take on things. Sharing the seventy sons motif with the Canaanites, the biblical narrative outlines seventy Gentile nations, each allotted to the administration of a son of God (Genesis 10-11; Deuteronomy 32). This use of the number seventy as a symbol of the nations, is picked up in the Gospels as a sign that Jesus’ mission will advance beyond Israel, a central theme in Luke-Acts, and a development of Isaiah’s message.

A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

-Luke 2:32

After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.

-Luke 10:1

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
-Luke 10:17

Israel was Yahweh’s portion among the list on nations: number seventy-one, one might say. For this reason, Israel was forbidden to enter into alliance with the sons of God. This was further strengthened by the fact that many of them were under judgment for disloyalty to Yahweh in the form of maladministration of the nations and accepting worship that belonged to Yahweh alone.

God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.
Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

-Psalm 82

The identification of Jesus as the Son of God marked him out as divine. But he was THE Son of God, not A son of God, which meant that he was not quite like the others. This nuance, the subject of the next post in this series was important because it pertained to His authority over the nation of Israel and the distinction between Him and the spiritual beings with which the Gentiles were familiar. The Apostles brought the Christian message to a world that was largely supernatural in its outlook, and polytheistic in its belief-structure. In our post-Enlightenment world, it become necessary to re-acquaint ourselves with this worldview in order to properly understand the context of the Bible.

 

 

 

The Decline of Christians in the U.S.

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Gallup Poll just released some numbers yesterday on Christian weekly attendance in the United States. Let’s examine the numbers:

In 1955, 3 out of 4 Catholics regardless of age went to Mass. A change occurred in the 1960s which indicated a drop off from younger Catholics (21-29) less likely to attend, a drop that hit approximately 35% from 73% in 1955. The trajectory has been down with all groups in the United States since 1955 with a small bump in the 80s, perhaps due to the pontificate of John Paul II.

Overall, the decline has been sharper in the  Protestant denominations which in 1955 had 71% identify with being Protestant, whereas today it’s at 47%. The Catholic Church has held steady from 24% identifying to 22% due to a rise of Hispanics in the United States. The Protestant denominations have held a better percentage of those who attend church weekly.

Gallup indicates that it believes the trend will continue due to the rise of 33% of the younger generation identifying as ‘no religion at all.’ What the data doesn’t inform readers, which would be both telling and helpful is whether the rise of these ‘nones’ are from children whose parents were “Spiritual but not Religious” in the 1990s.

The poll doesn’t address nations such as the United States and in Europe who have now accepted multiculturalism and diversity ideology in comparison to those nations such as Poland who have rejected the ideology and have a high percentage of practicing Catholics in their nation. Naturally, compared to such data, that has been found that roughly the devout faithful have always been in the 20% range, during any period; is there a correlation with the rise of diversity ideology that many who were nominal in their faith no longer feel the need to identify as Christians?

If the devout range has held firm, does it preclude that clarity of Christian beliefs should be preferred over a watering down to attract those who find diversity identity ideology more attractive?

http://news.gallup.com/poll/232226/church-attendance-among-catholics-resumes-downward-slide.aspx?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=Catholics%27%20Church%20Attendance%20Resumes%20Downward%20Slide&utm_content=o_social

Economic Propositions (3)

Ludwig von Mises in his various works on praxeology argued that economics qua economics, was an a priori science. It was concerned with using the kind of reasoning employed by Kant in The Critique of Pure Reason to deduce laws of action. Economics could not tell us about morality – for that we must look elsewhere – but it could recommend a course of action for achieving particular goals. Whether those goals were desirable was for the one seeking advice to decide. Under this model, economics cannot give detailed predictions because humans are individuals with free will and specific, subjective perceptions. For example, if you create an environment that is conducive to business, you cannot predict which specific companies will do well in this environment, because those companies are composed of and managed by individual human actors, who can make bad choices as well as good ones. All you are doing is allowing people to use their free will, in the expectation that the overall effect is better than the alternative: you are not guaranteeing that people will use it wisely.

Is this approach worth the loss of predictive power? The question. argued von Mises, was false, because it presupposed that other economic methodologies were capable of absolute prediction – which they are not. (This was ironic because von Mises was prescient about the Great Depression.) An empirical approach is inductive, not deductive. It draws inferences from observation constructs hypotheses, which it then tests using human subjects or computer models. Such an inductive approach is not capable of absolute prediction because observations about how things currently are say nothing certain about how they will be. The accurate predictions made by science regarding the movement of astral bodies, for example, work because the universe appears to behave generally as if it were a closed material system. But science is not able to predict when its a posteriori laws will be suspended by miracles. Miracles are not predictable? Does this entail that they are not real? No, because empirical, a posteriori evidence confirms their existence (e.g. witness accounts in the Gospels). Just as natural science is limited in its ability to predict phenomena involving an element of free will (since miracles occur by the will of God or some other spiritual force), so economic science cannot accurately predict economic phenomena involving human free will.

“Free will is valuable.” This proposition cannot be verified by simple observation – it should not be confused with the proposition, “Some humans value free will.” It cannot be deduced from other statements. It lies beyond the scope of economic science. Value judgments, argued von Mises, lie elsewhere. If we know the truth of this proposition, we know it by revelation from God. Since God is the objective reality from which we are all derived, and on which our existence is contingent, this proposition if true, means, “God values free will.” We know the truth of this proposition from our relationship with God, from Scripture, and from a divine spark of intuition or inspiration. Given our commitment to free will as Christians, we ought to embrace an economic methodology that acknowledges this human trait and we ought to value and recommend an economic system grounded in liberty, holding to the axiom that state intervention should always be kept to the bare minimum.

Pursuing such a policy does not insulate us from hardship, however. Liberty does not entail comfort at all times. It must be gained and guarded with blood, sweat, and tears, through physical and intellectual action. The development of free market economies is hindered by wars and disease, which kill people, disrupt supply lines, and lead to economic and political migration. In all this discussion, it is important to ask the big metaphysical questions, otherwise we will be blindsided by disappointed expectations. Deciding that it is good to follow a free market approach does not entail that such an approach will bring about heaven on earth: it may simply be the best option available. My commitment to various eschatological propositions and deeper metaphysical ones, leads me to believe that only when Christ returns will all the tears be wiped from our eyes – not before.

The Son of God (1)

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

-Matthew 4:3

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. What does this term mean? The answer is: many things, dependent upon the context.

Adam

Luke’s genealogy describes Adam as the “son of God” (Luke 3:38) and Paul compares Christ with Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). Adam was a direct creation of God, whereas other humans, according to the biblical narrative, were the product of Adam and Eve and their descendants (and there may have been humans who came about before Adam and Eve, depending on how one parses the language in Genesis 1-2).

Adam was created to rule over the earth, acting as God’s vicegerent, and the executor of the wishes of the Divine Council.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

-Genesis 1:26

Adam was by nature mortal, but he had access to the tree of life. His immortality was conditional upon obedience to the will of God: disobedience meant forfeiting the eternal life of Paradise.

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

-Genesis 3:3

Jesus, as the Adamic Son of God, came to restore what Adam had lost: by His refusal to give in to the Serpent’s temptation, by His obedience to the Father, dying on the tree of punishment and shame, He regained the kingdom of the earth and brought eternal life to “Adam’s helpless race”. The desert temptation forms a mirror to the temptation in the Garden, the tree of the Cross to the tress of life and knowledge, the resurrection to the death of Adam, victory to defeat. The heavenly Eden breaks out in pockets now through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Church: salvation, healings, ethical reform, overcoming adversity. The global Eden is coming with Christ at His Parousia.

And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

-Revelation 22:1-5