Surveillance-Proof Cell Phone Technology

cone of silence7Surveillance-Proofhow to think

by JUDITH MILLER

October 2014

“Technology companies take heat for making phones the government can’t tap.”

Liberalism’s Police State Policies seek to snuff-out Technology

copsLaw enforcement officials in New York and Washington criticized technology superpowers Google and Apple this week for selling cell phones and other devices that cannot be accessed by the government, warning that such technology jeopardizes public safety. In his first major policy address, FBI director James B. Comey called on Congress and the Obama administration to counter the expanding use of such devices, which he and other law enforcement officials assert endanger efforts to prevent terrorism and fight crime. Without lawful government access to cell phones and Internet devices, balloon faceComey warned, “homicide cases could be stalled, suspects could walk free, and child exploitation victims might not be identified or recovered.”

Comey, who became FBI director last year, said that he understood Americans’ “justifiable surprise” at former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about U.S. government surveillance practices. But Apple and dome of silence2Google’s recent efforts to protect electronic privacy go too far, he maintains. “Perhaps it’s time to suggest that the post-Snowden pendulum has swung too far in one direction—in a direction of fear and mistrust,” he said, speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “Justice may be denied because of a locked phone or an encrypted hard drive.”

cones of silenceEchoing a similar theme at a breakfast forum sponsored by the Manhattan Institute in New York, NYPD commissioner William Bratton and Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. warned that Google, Apple, and any other company that sells devices that even the product makers cannot access will endanger efforts to prevent crime and terrorism, prosecute criminals, and ensure public safety. “It is outrageous that in the interest of making money, they are thwarting security and crime fighting,” Bratton said, noting that he was especially concerned about the effect of such encrypted devices on his department’s much praised counterterrorism work.cone of silence4

Law enforcement officials have long expressed concern about what Comey calls “going dark”—the proliferation of technology that the government cannot access. But the criticism of Apple and Google by the nation’s chief federal law enforcement official, New York’s most prominent prosecutor, and a veteran police chief who heads the nation’s largest and most sophisticated police force is unusual. Apple and Google’s operating systems run 96.4 percent of smartphones worldwide. Spokesmen for the companies did not respond immediately to requests for comment. But industry and privacy advocates have beaten back earlier efforts by law enforcement officials to secure from Congress legislative “fixes,” as Comey called them in his speech on Thursday.

cones of silence5Speaking on background, a city official said that Vance had not coordinated his criticism of the technology giants with the FBI director or with Bratton. “This is just something that Mr. Vance has felt strongly about for some time,” he said. “So do most people in law enforcement.” In a Washington Post op-ed last month, Vance warned that efforts to assure personal electronic privacy were endangering law enforcement efforts. He called on Apple and Google to stop selling encrypted devices and urged Congress to act if the firms don’t. “This is not a matter of good or bad corporate citizenship,” he wrote. “It is a matter of national public safety.”

cone of silence6Concern in Washington about such technology has been increasing. Comey’s predecessor, Robert Mueller, asked Congress to force communications companies to sell only devices and systems that can comply with a wiretap order to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages. That effort went nowhere on Capitol Hill, and suspicion of government spying soared following Snowden’s revelations. First Apple and then Google announced that they would use encryption on new phones that wouldn’t permit them to help police execute warrants to examine data on a cell phone or other device.Physics1

When asked whether such encrypted devices were impeding specific investigations, Vance said that he could not yet identify one. His office, he added, was “closely monitoring” several investigations. Comey repeated his warning that sales of such technology would create what he called a “black hole” for enforcement, depriving investigators of the forensic data needed to solve crimes.

But technology experts have argued that strong default encryption is needed to protect users from unwanted violation of their private data by governments and hackers alike. In a statement yesterday, Nuala O’Connor, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, defended the encryption of cell phone and other personal communications devices. Law enforcement officials, she said, have “many legitimate ways to obtain the data stored on our devices. Weakening the security of smartphones and trusted communications infrastructure should not be one of them.”

*****

Judith Miller is a contributing editor of City Journal, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a FOX News contributor.

Article from city-journal.org

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The Church and the ‘Gay Agenda’

gay paradeMessage to the Church: By a So-Called ‘Ex-Gay’

BY MATT MOORE , CP GUEST COLUMNIST

 (You all know how much I don’t like the term “Ex-Gay”, but for the sake of not having a super long title, and since it’s the most recognized term for people like me, I’ve chosen to use it here. Please don’t assume that by using that term I mean that I have ceased to experience same sex attraction or have experienced any kind of sexual “re-orientation.”)

With the ever quickening shift of our culture away from agay-nativity moral/biblical view toward sexuality, I think there is a very real temptation for some Christians, especially in the American Church, to shift alongside the culture and adopt a different (unbiblical) view of sexuality…or just to sit back and remain silent about it. And I don’t think my concern is unwarranted, because it’s already happening. I’m not going to call out any names, ministries, or church denominations in this blog—-I don’t wish to give them any more publicity than they have already attained.

Duomo di MilanoWhat I do want to do with this blog is urge every Christian that stumbles upon it not to compromise the gospel for the sake of social acceptance—or for the sake of anything else for that matter. Do not listen to the voices out there demanding your silence in the name of what they call “tolerance.” Do not reject, or even subtly neglect, the truths in the Bible–such as truths about the sin of homosexual behavior–just because they are hard for the world to hear and accept. Don’t listen to the professing “Christians” telling you the Church has misinterpreted the Scriptures for 2,000 years and that the Bible really does not condemn homosexual behavior. And please, do not throw out the truth of God because you hear of gay kids being bullied or committing suicide—these stories are horrifyingly sad—but the condemn-able sins of the bullies do not make homosexual behavior any less of a sin. We should all (regardless of religious affiliation) be deeply troubled about kids being bullied for being gay (or weird, quirky, ugly, etc. for that matter) and do all we can to combat it, but denying the revealed truth about God regarding homosexuality cannot be an option for the Christian.occupy-4

Now hear me… and please hear me clearly… I am not saying you need to get on Facebook every morning and post verses from Leviticus. I’m not saying you need to get all Westboro and picket gay marriage ceremonies. What I’m saying is that when you are put in a situation where you must take a stand on this issue—whether that be in sharing the gospel with a gay person, a discussion with family members, or whatever the case—stand firm in the truth. Do not be ashamed in saying, “I don’t fully understand homosexuality, and I know those who struggle with it don’t get to choose who they’re attracted to; I cannot possibly begin to understand what’s that like. But I know that God condemns the behavior and forbids acting out on those temptations for the good of the person, because He loves them. God created our bodies and He created sex, so He has the authority to say how, and with whom, it should take place. He doesn’t want us to disobey Him because all disobedience does is separate us further from God and harden our hearts even more toward Him. I know that if they will turn from sin, trust in Jesus for forgiveness from ALL sin, and enter into a relationship with God through Him, they will experience far greater joy than anything in this world—including a gay relationship—could ever offer them. And I believe, even though it saddens me deeply, that if the person will not turn from sin and follow Jesus, God will be just in condemning them…. not because they’re attracted to the same sex, but because they’ve rejected His Lordship, authority, and offer of salvation in Jesus.”

I am also not saying that holding firmly to the truth means you homer_endshould separate yourself from the gay people in your life. By all means, bring them into your homes, go into their homes, share meals, share discussions… do life with these people and love them unconditionally. But please do not, even for a second— for the sake of their souls—condone their embracing of sin. Do not, even for a second—for the sake of their souls—assure them that they are safe in Christ. Now, I understand the ramifications of not compromising on this issue. I understand that in many situations, no matter how loving, tender, meek and lowly you are, the person embracing sin will angrily reject you and your friendship and separate themselves from you if you will not actively and vocally support their lifestyle. Even when this occurs… do not compromise the truth of God, and your witness, by condoning their embracing of sin. It is the gospel that is causing the division, not you… and Jesus promised this would happen.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”- Matthew 10:34-39

If you’ve followed my writing for any amount of time, you know how hard I push for extending sympathy, love and a humble attitude toward the gay community. But it’s vital that we be just as adamant about standing in the truth of Jesus as we are about extending the love and compassion of Jesus. The embracing of homosexual behavior (or the silence in regard to it) in the church is nothing more than a denial of the reality of sin and ultimately a denial of our Lord who came to save us from sin.

From personal experience I can tell you that it is when the body of Christ holds tightly to the truth of Christ, while extending the love of Christ, that hearts are softened and changed. Earlier this year when I doubted everything that I had come to believe (the Bible) and was considering leaving the Church to enter into a gay relationship, my brothers and sisters in Christ came alongside me and truly exemplified the love and patience of God toward me. They talked with me, listened to me, cried with me. And they were also unwaveringly honest with me about the danger of embracing sin again… that it would ultimately mean that I was rejecting Christ.

They assured me with all of their hearts that they were there for me no matter what I chose…. but if I decided to choose to embrace what God defines as sin, I could not be able to remain a member of the Church (I know that sounds harsh to most people…. but it’s exactly what Paul commanded the Corinthian Church to do regarding the unrepentant sexually immoral man in 1 Corinthians 5. It’s also what how Jesus commanded the situation to be handled in Matthew 18:15-17). Through their biblically balanced approach with my temporarily unrepentant heart, and me I experienced both the patience and compassion of God—- while also being constantly reminded of the serious consequences of not repenting. Obviously, here I am and I chose to believe God, turn from sin and keep trusting in Christ–and it was both the kindness of God and the fear of God (continually brought to my attention through other Christians) that the Holy Spirit used to produce repentance in my heart.

Don’t believe the voices out there saying that it’s impossible to both be truthful and graceful. It is possible. I urge you all, for the sake of the souls of the lost, extend the love of God with all your heart—and stand firm in His truth—so that when people do trust in the Jesus you’ve been telling them about, they trust in the real Jesus and not some imaginary, sin-condoning Jesus who doesn’t exist and can’t save them.

*****

Matt Moore is a Christian blogger who was formerly engaged in a gay lifestyle. You can read more about him at http: www.moorematt.org.

 Article from Christianpost.com

 

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A Biblical Approach to Addiction…

cowboy serenadeRedeemed Rebels: A Biblical Approach to Addictiondirty mac

By Jeff Durbin

Sometimes we can catch a glimpse of God’s majesty in His providence in such a way that we are left bewildered and in awe all at once. These are sweet moments. That is certainly the case concerning my redemption out of the headlong plunge into depravity and my slavery to drug and alcohol addiction. After my addiction, my wife Candi and I used to ask God and ourselves these questions:

jazzjamWhy, God?

Why did you allow me to go that way?

Why didn’t you do something to stop me?

Why did I lose so much of myself, destroy so much, and come close to losing my life so many times?

About a decade after my descent into darkness and my reaching out to Godconsequent redemption, we caught that glimpse of His sweet providence. I found myself as the chaplain at one of Arizona’s oldest drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, standing daily in front of a room filled with people undergoing detox, lives shattered, hopeless addicts. Every day I looked across the room into tear-filled eyes. I recognized those eyes. Those were my eyes.

I watched God bless the proclamation of His gospel and after four years simply lost count as He redeemed people from their EmilyCarr-Indian-Church-1929slavery and brought them to life. This ultimately led to the formation of what is now called, Apologia Church. Apologia Church was a church plant that grew up because God was saving so many addicts; we needed a place and a community for them. If you could have looked upon my bony frame and pale lifeless face in the midst of my addiction and told me that in ten years I would be an expert guest on The History Channel being interviewed about the Christian approach to drug and alcohol addiction, I more than likely would have laughed you out of the after-party I was getting high at, dropping two or three more tabs of Ecstasy as I showed you the door. I loved my sin. I loved being a rebel. There’s a problem, though: God loves to make Himself famous through redeeming the rebels.

Hello, my name is Jeff, and I am a Redeemed Rebel.

If you are familiar at all with one of the most popular approaches to drug and alcohol addiction (Alcoholics Anonymous and its variants), you know that I chose those words very carefully.church-a-float That statement is loaded with content that is not taught or believed by the drug and alcohol treatment industry. More to the point, the approach to drug and alcohol addiction pursued by a vast number of Christian churches in our culture today doesn’t even resemble the Biblical model, definitions, or path to healing and peace. We have handed our certificates of authority to the secular world and washed our hands of our responsibility to take dominion over the field of drug and alcohol addiction for the glory of Christ. The problem at bottom is rebellion. The way to healing is redemption in Christ—the whole problem and the whole person.

Of course, this does not deny the chemical and toxicity factors involved in drug and alcohol addiction. As Christians, we can affirm the deeper issues involved in addiction (sin and idolatry) as well as addressing the physical components tangled together with them. We can (and should) engage this issue in a holistic fashion because we have a worldview that comports with reality: human beings are not simply bags of biological stuff dancing out their DNA. Treatment methods practiced by the secular community are not monolithic. However, there is a consistent trend to devalue the human being to the same level as a lab rat. The disease model of addiction is pervasive and offers no new identity, does not address the real issues that lead to addiction, and focuses more on coping skills that mask the core issues leading to addiction in the first place.

Our “checking out” on this issue has led to a broken system that does not point people to the real nature of their problem, nor to peace.  The result is that we have inadvertently created an entire industry that is a revolving door, never addressing the core issue, and in general amounts to nothing more than a switching from one idol to another by way of the long-term detoxification, intensive outpatient protocols, and underlying worldview propagated in the “addict” community.

I entered into the addiction industry as a chaplain, as a Christian. I had a history of very serious drug and alcohol abuse. At the height of my addiction you could have followed me as I walked down the Las Vegas Strip, at six in the morning, after two days of partying, drinking from the hotel’s complimentary ice-bucket that I had the bartender fill with Long Island Ice Tea (don’t worry; I had a straw) after a binge of copious amounts of Ecstasy, Cocaine, and opiates. You also could have been a spectator of me floating down an Arizona canal at sunrise, nearly drowning, when I blacked out shortly after choking down four tabs of Ecstasy chased by a whole bottle of rum. There was a trail of blood for nearly a mile from all of the slices into my body from the random sharp objects and broken bottles in that canal. Suffice it to say, I was lost in addiction and I felt like there was no escape.

So how did I get free? I experienced redemption in Jesus Christ. I am not ashamed to admit that the experience of new life in Christ is entirely supernatural and a God-thing. I almost died one night. Most users of Ecstasy are smart enough to do their research and know that Ecstasy users are in danger of overheating. I dropped six tabs of Ecstasy that night, followed by at least a bottle and a half of vodka. Everything seemed like the normal drug-infused party until all at once I realized my heart was running as if someone had their foot on the gas-pedal and would not let it up. I looked at my arms and was shocked to see that they were as red as blood and my temperature was so high that I could’ve melted a frozen stick of butter in a matter of seconds just by holding it. I ran to the freezer and grabbed a bag of ice, turned the air conditioning down as low as it could go, and dumped the ice in a bath of cold water. It didn’t help. I melted the ice and turned a cold bath into a warm one.

At this point of my life, I had what I now believe was a false profession of faith. I knew about Christ, knew the Bible, and had even attended Bible College. I sat on the bed, realizing what was happening, and began to talk to God. I told Him I knew what was happening. I knew that my addiction was a display of my sin against Him. I asked Him not to kill me. I told Him that I knew that He had every right to kill me at that moment and that I deserved it for rebelling against Him. I pleaded with Him not to take my life, yet. I begged Him to crush my life. I pleaded with Him to destroy everything in my life and to help me. All at once, my heart stopped pounding, my temperature went down, and I was as sober as a fundamentalist Baptist preacher on Sunday morning.

About two weeks after this incident, God answered my prayer. He was quite good at it. In a single day, before noon, my water was shut off, my electric was cut, my car was dragged out of my parking space, my phone was shut off, the company I was working for put a stop payment on my check, and there was an eviction notice on my door. I told you He was good at it.

The music had stopped. No more voices. No more lights. There was only silence. There I was, sitting in eerie quiet, looking into the face of my wife, my one-year-old son, and a brand-new baby girl. This was my doing. I did this.

All I had was God’s Word and this inescapable moment of reckoning. I began reading the Bible again. I saw Jesus’ promise of eternal life and forgiveness. Only this time, I saw Christ calling people to repent. His call to come and die to self leaped off the page and cut my heart. I began to wonder if I had ever actually turned from my sin and trusted in Christ. The truth of my wretched condition was so real I felt like I was covered in a coat of sin made of cement.

My problem was not the drugs or alcohol. I could see that. This was my sin against God. I ran to my closet and closed the door. I didn’t even mention the drugs or alcohol. I told God that I knew that my sin was the problem. I told Him I wasn’t good and that I had nothing to offer Him. My body was trembling like a leaf and I was overwhelmed with grief—grief over my sin against such a beautiful and merciful God. I don’t remember every detail of what I said to God that day. I do remember pleading with Him to save me from my sin and I told Him to rule my life. That’s where it happened. That’s where my heart changed.

I immediately got to church. I had an insatiable hunger for intimacy and obedience toward God. I surrounded myself with Christians who loved God and loved me. I filled my life with God’s Word. Even my driving time was time for worship. My stereo played sermons about God’s attributes and salvation. My heart was full and I was experiencing life with God in a way I did not expect nor did I think was possible. I did not attend any specialized group detached from the church. I was not perfect, either. A war had begun within me. I surrounded myself with Christians who kept me accountable, loved me, and spoke into my life. My wife was probably God’s sharpest tool in His arsenal to shape me and encourage me. I couldn’t think of my past in any other way than rebellion and I couldn’t imagine my future being anything other than knowing and enjoying God.

Bootleg Worship

Many years later, while in ministry and working as a pastor, I received a phone call from a friend asking me to come and speak for a chapel service at the hospital where he worked. I had never been involved in specific ministry to drug rehabs, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to preach the gospel to a captive audience. I went that night.

Right in the middle of preaching, I experience that moment of bewilderment and awe that I mentioned to you. I realized that I was looking into the eyes of myself. In an instant, the vision of God’s sovereign hand and providence over my life was right before me in high definition. I felt the presence of God in that small room, spilling over with very broken people, in a way that I cannot explain. God had pulled me out of darkness and allowed me to drink it in for this very moment. He had redeemed a rebel. And He was about to redeem some more.

I began to preach. I reached for Romans 1 and told them the story of the fall. All of us are made in the image of God and we were made to glorify Him and to worship Him. But we have chosen darkness over light and rebelled against the infinite God of love and holiness. The Apostle Paul wrote:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:18–23 ESV)

We are all inescapably bound to a relationship with God. We cannot help being what God has made us to be. As a result of abandoning God and rebelling against Him, we have not decided not to worship. Now we will worship anything. Our default position, as fallen people in God’s world, is idolatry. We will switch God for idols. John Calvin said it well: “The human heart is an idol factory … Every one of us from our mother’s womb is an expert in inventing idols.”

We are created for worship. Because of our estrangement from our Creator, due to our rebellion, we are in a lifelong pursuit of the blessings we can only have in and through Him. God is a community as Trinity. Therefore, as His image, we will long for fellowship and intimacy. Only now, in a fallen condition, we will suffer with loneliness and we will switch God, the only true source of deep and lasting fellowship, for false intimacy and fellowship. The reality of our sin and guilt before God is manifest. Rather than running to the light where there is provision for eternal cleansing and peace in Christ, we run to the bottle to wash our consciences and to forget. Guilty people have been known to drink a lot. However, guilt and shame can swim very well.  In God’s presence is fullness of joy and in His right hand there are pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11). As His image, we will have an undeniable and necessary pursuit of pleasure and joy; but now, we will exchange God and true pleasure in Him for a fictitious, pseudo, fleeting pleasure whether chemical, physical, or mechanical. This is our plight as fallen people: the dark exchange. Paul said it:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:24–25 ESV)

My contention, as a pastor and a Christian is simple: we do not have a drug, alcohol, sex, or gambling problem. We have a worship problem. Addiction is idolatry. We glory in, and sacrifice to, something other than God. It’s in our nature as fallen people. We don’t want God. We’re at war with Him. So we try to function as His image, in His world, gaining from anything else what we can only have with Him. This isn’t just a problem for the unbeliever. Even as Christians, bought by the blood of Christ, we have a work of sanctification happening as God conforms us to the Image of His Son. We are to “put to death” all the sin that is ultimately idolatry in our lives (Colossians 3:5). The Apostle John gave a final exhortation to a body of Christians in the first century. He said:

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21 ESV)

Before this problem is ever chemical, it is spiritual. This is a worship problem. But there is hope. Our message to the world is that there is real hope, a new identity, cleansing from our guilt and shame, freedom from loneliness, true peace, pleasure, and joy, gladness over depression, and an internal source of power that will be victorious over our broken condition.

Addiction is idolatry. We are idolaters because of our sin before God. Our freedom from this condition starts with eternal life and redemption in Christ. The Lord Jesus came to redeem rebels. He did not have a separate message for addicts. He had a single message of reconciliation and peace with God through Him. He calls us to repent of our sin (not simply addiction) and to turn to Him in faith, being joined together with Him in His death and resurrection. We will experience new life and the promise of new birth, a new identity, and the very direct power of God Himself causing us to desire Him and to flee from our idols. God says:

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:25–27 ESV)

 *****

Jeff Durbin is Pastor/Elder of Apologia Church in Tempe, AZ and has worked for many years as a hospital-chaplain. Jeff is a popular speaker for camps, conferences, churches & schools across the nation. He has participated in outreach to various different religions across the nation and has even engaged in public debate against Atheism. Jeff was featured on a series for the History Channel called, “The Stoned Ages” about the Christian approach to drugs and alcohol. Jeff hosts a weekly radio program heard on KPXQ called “Apologia Radio” and is heard internationally via podcast at apologiaradio.com. Jeff is a World Champion martial artist with 5 Black-Belts and and has starred in popular video games and even played Michaelangelo and Donatello for the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchise as well as Johnny Cage in “Mortal Combat” the world-tour. The younger crowd may have even seen him as a fighter in MTV’s “the Final Fu”. Jeff has been married to his bride, Candi, for over 14-years. Candi and Jeff have 4-children: Sage, Immagin, Saylor, and Stellar. Two more children are in heaven with Jesus, as they went to be with the Lord during Candi’s pregnancy.

Article from Chalcedon.edu

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How the Apostle Paul Repudiated Antinomianism

crossLiving Letterswine candles

By Rev. R.J. Rushdoony

2 Corinthians 3: 1-18AAA

v.1. Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?

v.2. Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:

v.3. Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

sunset churchv.4. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:

v.5. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;

v.6. Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

v.7. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:sanctuary

v.8. How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?

v.9. For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

v.10. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.

v.11. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

v.12. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:

v.13. And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:

v.14. But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which veil is done away in Christ.

v.15. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.

v.16. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.

v.17. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

v.18. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.10 commandments...

Paul in this chapter has one concern. He has been having problems with the Corinthian church. He is going to visit them again, and he knows that they are already raising objections. The last time he was there, he called attention to many sins in the members, and demanded that they deal with the sins, and that the congregation repent. As a result, there were a number in the church who were very unhappy about Paul returning.

It was the custom in the early church to send letters to churches about a visiting teacher. Churches thus separated by great distances were made aware of the visitor’s standing in the church. There were many persons with heretical ideas trying to pass themselves off as leaders in the faith. But Paul was too well known to require any such letters. However, as v. 1 makes clear, there were some who demanded such letters of commendation. This was clearly insulting. First, Paul was an apostle widely known in the churches. He needed no introduction. The Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) required such letters, but not of the great men of the church, only of relatively unknown teachers and leaders. Second, this demand by some of the Corinthians was clearly insulting and intended to put Paul on the defensive. Jesus Christ had called Paul to be an apostle. Were these critical Corinthians a higher authority?

The Corinthians said in their letter to Paul that he had originally come to them and was returning without letters of recommendation. Even in New Testament times there were a great many false apostles and false teachers who were going here and there trying to exploit the churches. So very early in the church’s history, the decision was made that if you went to a strange city or church, even if you are just planning on joining a church, or going as a teacher, you would take a letter of recommendation; then the church would know you are recommended by another church of Christ.

These letters were required of people who were not well known. They would not normally be required of an apostle, and certainly not required of someone who was not only an apostle, but one of the greatest teachers in the early church, Saint Paul. In v. 1, Paul says, “You asked for letters of commendation and I did not bring any.” Why should Paul have to bring them? Very few people were better known in the early church than Paul. Much of the New Testament is written by him. In the entire Bible, he is one of the major figures and writers. In asking for a letter of commendation, the Corinthians were being insulting. That was the only purpose in so doing.

It is, as I have already pointed out, very important to bear in mind that this was a good custom. It was simply being misused in being required of Paul. We still have letters of transfer from one church to another, not always necessarily used, but commonly used across the church. But letters can mislead, especially in our time. There are too many churchmen and too many sessions or boards that don’t like to say anything negative about anyone. So if someone transfers to another church in another city, they won’t say, “This man has been a member of our church, but he has also been a troublemaker. He has this fault and that, which you had better bear in mind.” They don’t say this.

We had a supporter visit us who had been driven almost to bankruptcy because he had hired as the treasurer in his little corporation a prominent church member. And he was robbed of virtually all his capital. Had not he had a father who could bail him out to a degree, so that he was able to survive, he never would have made it.

He subsequently found out that this man had robbed a number of people in that church, and in a church in another city where he had previously been. He tracked it down to three or four cities where the man had pulled this same scam, and gotten away with it because churchmen said, “Well, he is a brother in the Lord, you can’t take him to court for that.” In fact, this young man found himself in trouble with the church, because he wanted to take this man to court.

Fraudulent leaders were not uncommon in the church because success attracts pretenders, and the church was a rapidly growing power. An example of a fraudulent leader was Peregrinus, a cynic philosopher from the time of the Antonines. A very compelling and forceful figure, he immediately became very prominent in church circles. He had no lack of letters of commendation when he went from city to city. He gained a strong following for a time among some churchmen. But he was a scoundrel. He was finally imprisoned for some of his doings by the Romans, the ungodly Romans. In time, his radical antinomianism revealed his unbelief and the church condemned him. But he continued to have some followers. This kind of thing has taken place over the centuries.

In addition to requiring Paul to bring letters of commendation with him, the Corinthians were offering to write letters of commendation for Paul to take with him. This is a way of saying, “We are putting you under our authority.” So, Paul says: “We have our sufficiency of God, and it is God who will commend us, and God who has commended us to those who are of the faith. He has made me and my associates able ministers of the New Testament” (see vv. 5–6).

Paul, in v. 2, says that he does have letters of commendation, human letters, the Corinthians themselves. What they have learned in the faith because of Paul has permanently changed them. Their lives can be read by all men. Paul says, in effect, “I am a letter writer. You are my letter, written in our hearts, known and read of all men.” The Corinthians’ character has been reshaped by Paul in many cases, so that they are Paul’s letter of commendation. Paul says, “If you are truly converted, you are a letter of Christ, ministered by us, not written with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart, i.e., your lives.”  They are now letters of Christ, written—not with ink—“but with the Spirit of the living God” in the tables of their hearts (v. 3). This, however, is not Paul’s doing, but the Lord’s, for “our sufficiency is of God” (v. 5), and it is God who will commend Paul, and God who has commended Paul to those who are of the faith. Paul’s confidence is that God has worked in their hearts to some degree, and he gives God the glory (v. 4).

Paul, having dealt with the matter of letters of credentials, concentrates on the glory of the law. He is not an antinomian. God has given Paul the calling and the power to be an able minister of the New Testament, “not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (v. 6). This much misunderstood sentence is used by antinomians to repudiate the letter of the law, i.e., its literal meaning, in favor of a “spiritual” one. This is plainly false. Antinomians say this means that the law is not any good; it is the Holy Spirit that is important. Paul is referring in the letter to the law, and the spirit to the Holy Spirit in Christ. But what Paul is saying is this: the law finds us in our sin and condemns us, which is good. Then the Spirit gives life. Both are the working of the Lord. In fact, Paul goes on to say that the ministration of death, that is, the law, written and graven in stones, was glorious. He is definitely saying that the law is of God, and it was glorious.

Moses, because he was the giver of the law, was so full of the Spirit that he had to wear a veil over his face, because the Israelites could not look at him. As sinners, they felt in his countenance the glory of the Lord, and were fearful and afraid. Because their minds were blinded, they did not see that the glory of the law was the glory of God and the glory of the Spirit. Sadly, Paul says, “They are blinded to this day. They do not see the glory of the Lord in the law.” The implication being, if they truly have the Spirit, they will know the glory of God both in the law and the Spirit. But the veil is on the hearts of Israel to this day. But when Israel turns to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away (vv. 13–16).

So there was a great glory in the law, and it is still there. But now it is surpassed and superseded by the fullness of glory in the Holy Spirit. Paul is not separating law and Spirit, he is binding them together. As Philip Hughes observed, “There is no question of a new law or no law. Neither God changes, nor His law. The Holy Spirit gave the law, and He in no way invalidates it.”1 The error or sin is in separating the word from the Spirit who gave it, as though law is on a lower plane than the Spirit. This is a very serious error. The law is covenantal law given by the Spirit to lead us into covenant faithfulness. If we read the law as no different than the Code of Hammurabi, we shall see it as a promise of death unto sin. If we read it as the Spirit gave it, it is a covenant law, of a covenant of life under God. It is thus the way of life, rather than that of death.

How much the law, the supposed ministration of death, was the ministration of the Spirit appeared in the glory which shone in and through Moses. To keep the law “is the way of life and of love.”2 Clearly, there is a glory in the ministry of condemnation; therefore, how much more is the glory of the ministry of righteousness, of keeping the law in the Spirit?

Paul in v. 9 speaks of the law as providing both a ministry of condemnation and a ministry of righteousness because it provides both the laws of judgment and the laws of atonement. Both are parts of one and the same law. “Condemnation is the consequence of breaking the law; righteousness is precisely the keeping of the law.”3 Christ keeps the law for us, and in Christ we become lawkeepers. Both aspects of the law are glorious (v. 11). Because of our magnificent hope, Paul speaks plainly and forthrightly (v. 12).

In this respect, Paul, unlike Moses, speaks plainly. Moses used a veil because the people could not look plainly at the end of the law (v. 13). The end or conclusion of the law was the atonement; this Israel could not see because of its sin. They wanted a purely legal system, not a religious conclusion by atonement. This blindness remains to this day, Paul adds, although the veil was done away in Christ (vv. 13–14). The veil is still on their hearts when they hear Moses read (v. 15). When they turn to Christ, the veil will be taken away (v. 16).

Paul then identifies the Holy Spirit, the lawgiver, with Jesus Christ, “and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (v. 17). Paul identifies God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost as equally God. He is Trinitarian faithfully and fully. Moreover, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Paul here speaks of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost as one being. Then he goes on to say that there is freedom in that one being, in the law and in the Spirit. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (v. 18). So, if we go from the glory of the law to the glory of the Spirit, we are continually changed by the Holy Spirit into greater and greater conformity to the law, which is the expression of God’s being and nature. We in Christ are changed constantly by the Lord into that image required of us as members of the new humanity in Christ, the last Adam.

We have thus a strong statement of the unity of the faith, of the Old and New Testaments, of the Trinity, of God’s purpose in creation, and more. “Clearly Moses is the ‘type’ or ‘model’ of Paul’s role.”4 Attempts to divide wrongly the Bible are false. Because Paul is so totally the follower of Jesus Christ, he is also the great follower of Moses. The one requires the other. This the Sermon on the Mount makes clear.

Paul’s enemies have always tried to separate him from Moses and Jesus, a dishonest effort. Paul is totally their follower in the most faithful sense. The Bible is the best document of commendation for Paul.

 *****

 *(From the upcoming commentary on Corinthians ~ 2 Corinthians 3:1–18)

References

  1. Philip Edgecombe Hughes, Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians(Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, [1962] 1980).
  2. Ibid., 102.
  3. Ibid., 104.
  4. Frances Young and David F. Ford, Meaning and Truth in 2 Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1987), 82.

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916-2001) was the founder of Chalcedon and a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical Law to society.

Article from Chalcedon.edu

 

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The Philosophical and Theological Roots of Christian Reconstruction

The Importance of Christian Reconstruction

By Mark R. Rushdoony

My father coined the term Christian Reconstruction in AAB1965, the year Chalcedon began, in order to describe the work he saw ahead of the modern church. It is a term that our critics in and out of the church have branded to our disadvantage. Our opponents claim it’s a “political agenda,” that it is a legalistic attempt at imposing a moral order on society, or that we are the “American Taliban.” We have been branded as extremists.

AAFEven many who are sympathetic to our theology avoid the label. Some have said Christian Reconstruction has failed, that, since no great change has resulted, we ought to drop the term. Such thinking misses the point entirely. Christian Reconstruction is not a strategy with a five or ten-year plan, but an analogy of the Christian responsibility to a culture failing because of its repudiation of Christianity. Christian Reconstruction is a description of our labors in the Kingdom of God.

Chalcedon’s Beginnings

Chalcedon was originally envisioned as a college or seminaryAAD but took form as a non-profit educational foundation. It officially began in Los Angeles in late summer, 1965.

The 1960s were a time of radical and rapid changes in the West. In 1963 John F. Kennedy was murdered. Few remember that he was an ineffective President Pentecost3whose agenda faced crippling opposition from his own party. “Mr. Conservative,” Barry Goldwater, seemed to have a very promising strategy for success in 1964: he would control the West, Mid-West and South, leaving Kennedy with only the insufficient electoral votes of New England. After his (Kennedy’s) death, however, Texan Lyndon Johnson took much of Goldwater’s western and southern support. Moreover, he shamelessly milked the name of the fallen Kennedy in what became the Kennedy cult. It worked. Legislation that had stalled under Kennedy was quickly passed by Congress and Johnson won in a landslide. He then began his own sweeping social agenda, the “Great Society.” His ambitious “War on Poverty” threw money (and debt) at welfare programs. Conservatives were left in the dust and were very discouraged.AAG

Moreover, the youth revolt of the 1960s was beginning. Hippies and communes became common, as well as lawless demonstrations on college campuses and public venues. Police were unprepared to deal with mass demonstrations. Additionally, in 1965, the summer we moved from northern to southern California to begin Chalcedon, the Watts race riot occurred.

Travel Trend Myanmar TourismMainline churches had become rather anemic by then. Modernism or neo-orthodoxy had taken control of many denominations, and there was a new intellectual disdain for Christianity.

Even the arts were undergoing dramatic upheavals. Rock ‘n roll went from silly love songs to a rebellious, angry tone. Movies began to mimic the youth movement by elevating “anti-heroes” to prominence. As the decade progressed, they dropped their self-censorship and by the 1970s were full of gratuitous nudity just to be “edgy.” The counter-culture produced its own pop and psychedelic art; Norman Rockwell was passé and ridiculed. Everywhere one turned there was a visible repudiation of anything old. (i.e., Traditional)

Those who were caught by surprise by the truly revolutionary cultural changes were confused. They were anxious to put events into context, a narrative. There was a radical student saying variously attributed to Jack Weinberg and Jerry Rubin: “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” It is easy to forget just how young this youth revolt was; it repudiated the majority of Americans and their ideas as “establishment.”

Chalcedon’s Message

My father spoke to the root causes of what seemed to be a sudden manifestation. The revolution had been a long time coming. It was the repudiation of a culture and its ethics for a “new morality.” The revolt was against the implicit Christian morality in the culture. A large number of young people refused to live under a morality in which they no longer believed, they saw American culture as hypocritical, and to a large extent they were correct; Americans held to a public ethic that was far more Biblical than their faith.

The new religion of America, my father said, was humanism. After the Enlightenment, natural law had been seen as a cosmic truth observable by rational thought. Natural law served as a transcendent absolute, even if no one really knew what it was. Darwin, however, had dealt a deathblow to natural law a century earlier and generations of school children had been taught that nature was characterized by chaos, change, and violence, not by any law or absolutes. The revolution had taken place years earlier, my father said. The worldview of the West had shifted. What was happening was the result, the post-revolutionary purges of all Christian influence in public life.

There was little Christian faith left in the public sphere in 1965, so there was little resistance, and that came more from a “conservative” disdain for the “bad behavior” and impertinence of the rebels than from principled objections. When rebels asked “Why should we …?” conservatives could only respond with “How dare you …” They were comfortable with the way things were; the generation of the 1960s was not.

The problems that seemed to come out of nowhere in the 1960s were merely manifestations of the shift from Christianity to humanism, the faith in the pre-eminence of man, the only possible conclusion one can derive from Darwin’s biological scheme. The student rebels and those who sided with them understood the implications of their Darwinian educations.

The rebellion of the 1960s (and Darwin himself) was a manifestation of man’s desire to make good on Satan’s promise that men could “be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Humanism is the philosophical embodiment of that desire to be as gods, to supplant the authority of God with man’s. Western culture had been living on a borrowed Christian worldview and ethic. There was an intelligent, if perverse, consistency in the rebels that was lacking in the conservative element of society; the latter was coasting and merely wanted the ride to continue.

Worldview

My father put the revolution in perspective by identifying it not as a random, chaotic aberration, but as a manifestation of a worldview. All men, whether they know it or not, operate in terms of one of two verses in Genesis 3. Some follow Satan’s promise of Genesis 3:5, the desire to be as gods, to be autonomous of the Creator, and to determine for themselves what is right or wrong. The only alternative is to follow God’s promise of Genesis 3:15, that He would send the seed, or descendant, of Eve to crush Satan and his rebellion. Biblical history, and our own, is the outworking of these two plans, what Augustine called the City of Man verses the City of God. The 1960s was humanism’s Battle of the Bulge; it caught Western culture by surprise and they quickly were overran it.

What Are We to Do?

So Chalcedon began in the midst of the revolutionary changes. My father often was asked to comment on current world events. People wanted to know what was happening and where it was leading. The hard part was when he got to “What can we do about it?” He very early became fed up with conspiracy thinking (which largely controlled conservative thinking) because it led to a focus on evil and its power. His alternative was Christian Reconstruction, an analogy of the sanctifying change that could be manifested in individuals, families, churches, associations, businesses, and more as they submitted to God. It meant focusing not on evil but on righteousness as the alternative, a righteousness that begins with regenerate man and extends outward to the culture as he submits his life and thought to God. While conservatives sought to undo their losses via court or political action, my father said, “Let’s rebuild Christian civilization, beginning with us.”

Christian Reconstruction was, and is, a hard sell, because its ultimate goal seems so very distant to our culture and even to our imperfectly sanctified imaginations. It is an all-encompassing idea that involves all men and institutions. My father’s vision of Christian duty was so broad that his secular critics have sometimes falsely seen him as the mastermind of all things on the “right” that they despise. Others have been narrow in their work, focusing on education, or economics, abortion, or various particular Christian works. My father’s work addressed everything. It saw Reconstruction as the Christian’s calling. The secularists saw a big-picture approach in my father’s message of Christian Reconstruction and took it, if not seriously, at least as the antithesis of their own.

To Christians, it was a hard sell and remains so. Some wanted a simple strategy: Stop communism, elect the right president, stop this or that conspiracy. Often all they wanted to do was turn the cultural clock back to a time where they would feel more comfortable. That is the problem with a conservative mindset; it tries to reset the clock, not the culture. My father never longed for the past; he always looked to the future. He often addressed the challenges presented by the changing times by saying, “These are exciting times in which to live.”

Theology, Worldview, and Action

It was often the theology of Christians that was the impediment to accepting Christian Reconstruction. Dualism led to a Pietism which prioritized a false sense of what was “spiritual.” Dispensationalism left the church without a sense of place in the Kingdom of God. Antinomianism left it without an objective ethical and judicial standard. A defeatist eschatology led many to believe disaster was all that we should expect. “Isn’t it wonderful how bad things are? It means Jesus is coming back soon” was a common refrain in premillennial dispensational churches. Often churches would make a point of repudiating not only the dominion mandate but even the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Evangelicals focused on the “simple gospel’ and avoided too much more. Even the Reformed community had succumbed to a “reformed” dispensationalism which reduced the number of God’s irreconcilable plans to two: law and grace. Many had reduced the sovereignty of God to the five points of Calvinism which only address soteriology. If the Evangelical Arminian reduced God’s sovereignty to His allowance of man’s free will, the Reformed reduced it to His predestination. Both tended to keep His law-word out of church and state.

The message of Christian Reconstruction proposes that our culture is crumbling because it has repudiated the application of Christianity. God as Creator and Lord has been replaced by Darwinian mythology and His law has been replaced by statist law. We have de-Christianized our education, family life, science, art, economics, and more. Western civilization was a product of Christianity. Without that ethical and judicial foundation, the superstructure is unstable. The church often compounds the problem by offering only subjective spiritual platitudes. Otto Scott once referred to “the thin veneer of civilization”; our culture is less civilized than it once was, and it now flirts with barbarism.

There are no easy ways to rebuild a weakened structure. Reconstruction of a historic structure is far more difficult than new construction. When a structure is found unsound, though, the decision to start over becomes easier. Christian and home schools were attempts to start anew rather than salvage an existing educational structure. More couples are now abandoning state marriage licenses as those became an offense to a Christian understanding of the institution. Other areas are not easy to replace, as state action sometimes forbids competition. Alternatives to humanistic courts of law, child welfare services, and medical care have to be created.

The early church progressively built its own subculture, which in time became the dominant culture, Christendom. Its theology was not perfect and its institutions were merely stepping-stones to something better. Nevertheless it made great strides.

Christians are the covenant people of God. They are called to be His people, distinct from the world by their works of charity, or grace. The message of Christian Reconstruction is one of Christian duty to follow up faith in God with faithfulness to God. It is not an easy message or an easy task. It cannot be done by one generation, nor must we even think it necessary to plan what the Kingdom will look like in the distant future. God does not demand results from us, only faithfulness. We plant seed, God gives the increase. The alternative to Christian Reconstruction is decay and collapse. It is easy to ponder what Jesus would do. The pertinent question is what should we do, as wise and faithful stewards of His Word and Kingdom, in His absence?

 *****

Rev. Mark R. Rushdoony is president of Chalcedon and Ross House Books. He is also editor-in-chief of Faith for All of Life and Chalcedon’s other publications.

Article from Chalcedon.edu

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The Economy and Technology are Defeating the Liberal Establishment

We are Not on the Road to SerfdomA

By Dr. Gary North

A. Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdomin 1943. It was published in 1944. Americans who read the 1945 Readers Digest version liked it. University professors didn’t. This is one more bit of evidence that American voters have more sense than university professors. Are you surprised?

distant sunWhen Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom, he had a marketing problem. The book’s title was absurd. He knew that. He knew the difference between Western serfdom, which had limited but defined property rights and the rule of law, and socialism, which in theory had neither. Serfdom was a system of liberty compared to Communism, Fascism, and National Socialism. But he was trying to sell the book to educated Leftists, who were favorable to socialism. He could not very well have sold copies in 1944 based on a title like The Road to Fascism, which was in fact the road the West was on in 1944.in a flash

We have been on the road, out of “serfdom” ever since 1947, the year after Truman removed wartime price and wage controls. Anyone who doubts this development has no awareness of the lack of influence that free market ideas had in 1945. It was worse on campus, but it was bad in general. Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson was a breath of fresh intellectual air in 1946. He was alone among financial journalists in 1946.

He would not be alone today.

FEDERAL TAX REVENUES AND LIBERTY

I ran a chart on federal tax revenues as a percentage of GDP. Go back and refresh your memory.http://www.garynorth.com/public/9539.cfm

MThere was a reason why I ran it. I wanted to drive home a point: the federal government is no deeper into our pockets than it was in 1947.

Think about this.

I got into the conservative movement in 1956. That was the year that Dwight Eisenhower was reelected President. I think most people like to think of those days as the good old days. Certainly, the popular television show Happy Days was premised on nostalgia for that era. But the reality is this: in terms of taxes collected by the federal government, the good old days were no better than today. With the top tax income rate at 91%, it was a lot worse. It was confiscatory.O

What we forget is the enormous increase of productivity that the world has lived through since 1947. The output of American workers has risen steadily because of innovation, capital formation, and the greater wealth of our trading partners. As the rest of the world has gotten rich in the postwar era, everyone has prospered. When our neighbors get richer, we get richer. This includes our neighbors who live 10,000 miles away. This tremendous increase of productivity has enabled us to pay our taxes to the federal government and still enjoy an enormously increased standard of living.

space shuttleWhen we think of the automobiles that Americans drove in 1946, or when I think of the 1952 automobile that I drove in 1958, there is no comparison. The cars today are safer, get far better mileage, are more stylish, handle better, and last longer. While a man my age looks back nostalgically at a 1955 Chevy hardtop convertible, he would not want to have to drive one on a regular basis.

The dream cars of 1955 had more to do with fantasies about the dream girls of 1955 than they did with transportation.

The federal government is intrusive in ways that we would not have imagined in 1955. The extent of bureaucratic tyranny in specific cases is considerable today. But when we consider how often we have been personally abused by some federal bureaucrat, most of us cannot say that we have suffered to any worse degree than citizens who were out of step in 1955. There was political correctness in 1955, too.pathway doors

We no longer face the Soviet Union. We no longer face the threat of nuclear war. We deal with a Pentagon that is bloated, but it’s far better to have a bloated Pentagon than a world war. American troops have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, but those troops were volunteers. There is no military draft today. There was in 1955.

The federal government has expanded beyond what it was in 1955, but it has done so over the last decade by means of borrowed money. That ability is going to be curtailed at some point. When that curtailment takes place, the federal government is going to be put on a diet. There will be a contraction of government control over the economy.

Americans will not tolerate total taxation to exceed about 20% of GDP. The politicians can promise all kinds of benefits, but the reality is this: if the government cannot borrow the money, it is not going to be able to fund the projects. American taxpayers will not put up with extensive taxation. Our nation is a low-tax country. Compared to Europe, it is a very low-tax country. Any politician who thinks he can get the voters to approve a major tax increase is going to find himself an unemployed former politician soon enough. Even if he is in a safe political district, his fellow Congressmen are not.

CONSERVATIVE HAND-WRINGING

This is one of the reasons why I get tired of hearing from old-time conservatives that the country is going to hell in a handbasket. We have lost freedoms, but we have also gained freedoms. If we think of freedom in terms of the availability of choices that we can afford, we are the beneficiaries of an enormous increase of freedom over the last half-century. The government has grown, and it has grown arrogant, but the ability of any given bureaucracy to affect the American economy, other than the Federal Reserve System, is minimal. The Federal Reserve System was an inflationary monster in World War II, and it remained an inflationary monster during the Korean War. We should not be naïve about how lawless the Federal Reserve system was. It was in the hip pocket of the President to a far greater degree under Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman than it is under President Obama.

We have seen the defeat of the liberal Establishment again and again. This is not because we are well-organized politically. It is because the economy is growing, and technology is moving at an ever-increasing rate toward decentralization. The federal government cannot regulate the Internet. Therefore, it cannot regulate public opinion.

In 1963, there were only three television networks. The liberals controlled all three. Today, there are hundreds of alternatives to the status quo. If we count Internet options, there are millions of alternatives. In November 1963, there were three television network news services. They were all liberal. They dominated American information distribution. Not today.

There has been extensive moral decline since 1955, but the federal government is not the primary agency of that decline. I have no doubt that federal policies have reinforced this decline, but morality is mostly individual, and people have made their own choices morally without checking with the federal government. Where life really counts, in our day-to-day moral decisions, the federal government is a minor player.

We attribute far too much power and far too much influence to the tenured bureaucrats who staff the agencies of the federal government. These people are not innovative, not driven by some sense of messianic mission, not communists, not socialists, not much of anything. They are what bureaucrats are around the world: timeservers. They fill out forms. Why should we expect anything different? Why should we think American bureaucrats are exceptional? Why should we think that the vast expansion of bureaucratic power has not been accompanied by a vast expansion of paralysis, incompetence, and petty tyranny?

THE DEFICIT

The expansion of the federal government is completely dependent today on the availability of investors who are willing to turn over their money to the Department of the Treasury. They’re willing to do this at almost a zero rate of interest. This is what has kept the system growing. This will not continue indefinitely. It cannot be maintained at the rate of increase which we have seen over the last 10 years at the same low rates of interest.

This means, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the federal government is going to hit a fiscal brick wall. Where will Congress get the money when the Treasury can no longer, not roll over the debt? There will be political resistance if the politicians attempt to replace borrowed money with tax increases. That isn’t going to happen. If Congress goes to the Federal Reserve, as seems likely, there will be mass inflation (20% range). For a time, there may even be hyperinflation, although I doubt it. But there is not going to be some huge increase of taxes imposed on the rich or anybody else.

If we think that the Establishment really controls Congress, which I think it does, the Establishment is not going to tax itself to pay for the goodies that middle-class voters think they are entitled to. Consider the Social Security tax on salaries. It is not imposed on salary income above $110,000. Why not? Because, that would not be in the interests of members of the Establishment. There is little chance that the Congress of the United States is ever going to pass a piece of legislation that imposes the Social Security tax on all salary income. The Establishment that runs this country is made up of people who have salaries a lot higher than $110,000. They are not going to provide the PAC funds to re-elect Congressmen who are dedicated to the proposition that rich people should pay the same percentage of Social Security taxes on all of their salary income the way that the vast majority of American workers pay on their salaries.

Either we live in a high school civics textbook democracy or we don’t. Either you believe that the system is really controlled by the American voters, or else you believe that the American voters are manipulated, and the system is really run by a relatively small number of people who work together to control what Congress does. I think it is the latter. I think most conservatives believe that it is the latter. Voters get an echo, not a choice. The choices have been vetted before voters get an opportunity to vote.

BUREAUCRACY IS NOT SOCIALISM

This is why I do not understand why conservatives believe that there is going to be a massive increase of socialism in the United States. There will be a lot of regulation. There will be a lot of special-interest legislation that benefits the Good Old Boys back home and the Old Boy Network that has its headquarters in New York City. There will be a lot of corruption. There will be a lot of Congressmen running around with their secretaries. There has been all this since 1788. What there isn’t going to be is socialism. The idea of socialism is dead in the water. It has almost no supporters any more, outside of universities. It has no legitimacy any more. There is no drift into socialism, because, since at least December 31, 1991, there has been a drift out of socialism. The USSR went belly-up.

It astounds me that there are still conspiratorial conservatives who tell us that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a deception. It also astounds me that anybody could believe this. I think it is a hangover of the outlook of the 1950s and 1960s, in which American conservatives really did think that the West might lose the Cold War. If we had stumbled into a nuclear war, as we almost did on several occasions — thank God for Stanislav Petrov — the West would have lost the war, but not the Cold War. In any case, we did not go to nuclear war, and we did not lose the Cold War. We won it. Our opponent disappeared in late 1991.

The simplest proof of this is to look at a map of Russia. The Soviet names of cities, which had been substituted for czarist names, have been changed back to the czarist names. Leningrad is back to St. Petersburg. It had been re-named Petrograd in mid-August 1914, a few days after Russia entered World War I, then Leningrad in 1924, three days after Lenin died. It was re-named St. Petersburg in September 1991, a few weeks after the failed coup by the Communists to regain control (August 19-21), but before the Soviet Union was officially disbanded — getting the czarist name back for the nation (December 31): Russia. Anyone who does not think name changes are significant has no understanding of how societies operate. What we call our cities reflects who we are as a people. Lenin was not St. Lenin, for there were no saints in Marxism. There were, however, pseudonyms: Lenin (Ulyanov), Stalin (Dzhugashvili), Trotsky (Bronstein).

I don’t care if Obama is a socialist, if he really is. Obama does not run the country. The entrenched Civil Service-protected bureaucracies run the country. They write 83,000 pages a year of three-column, fine print regulations that run the country. The people who implement the Federal Register run the country. The President and Congress have very little say in the details of running the country. The only major piece of legislation that Obama got through, other than a Keynesian stimulus package, which was no worse than George Bush’s Keynesian stimulus package, was Obamacare. The Supreme Court may throw it out next month. The man has almost nothing else to show for the first four years of his administration. He is not Franklin Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson.

The system rolls along. For as long as investors turn their money over to the federal government in exchange for IOUs, the system is going to continue to roll along. When they stop turning their money over to the federal government, the Federal Reserve will begin to buy up the IOUs in order to make up the difference. But, at some point, the Federal Reserve will stop. The Federal Reserve will not go to hyperinflation unless Congress mandates it and threatens to take over the Federal Reserve. There will be time under those circumstances to hedge our bets. In any case, times of hyperinflation do not last very long. At the end of the period of hyperinflation, the government goes back to a stable money system, and the economy recovers. A lot of people will lose their wealth in the interim, and a few people will get very rich. If they sell their gold and silver and get into something like cash, they will do very well in the aftermath. But the bottom line is this: hyperinflation does not last very long. It is no solution, and central bankers know this. That is why I don’t think we are going to get hyperinflation.

NEEDLESS DESPAIR

So — why all the weeping and wailing? Why all the despair? Why do people think that the juggernaut of the modern Keynesian state is not going to go off the tracks? Why do we think that the bureaucrats in Washington have any insight into how anything works? Why do we think the Establishment, which has to rule by way of bureaucrats in Washington, is in a position to direct the American economy? Has any Establishment-crafted decree matched the culture-changing influence that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have had — a pair of Harvard dropouts?

Bureaucrats on the one hand and the free market on the other hand decide how the politicians’ laws are implemented. The Establishment, including Congress, can nudge the direction society takes. The Establishment does not run the show. In world wars, generals take over. Politicians are there mostly for show in wartime.

If the federal government cannot increase the percentage of taxes that it collects from the American people, which it has not been able to do since 1947, then there are distinct limits on the expansion of the federal government. We are not moving into a comprehensive tyranny. We are moving into a time in which the federal government is going to go bankrupt, and when it does, it will lose more power than it has ever lost since 1788. Bankrupt means bankrupt. Washington’s checks will bounce or else not buy much. Bankruptcy means the federal government will not be able to pay the bureaucrats. Bankruptcy means the federal government is going to shrink in its ability to interfere with our lives. This is the meaning of the Great Default.

We are surrounded by people who have little understanding of history. This includes spokesmen on the Right and on the Left. It surely includes the vast majority of voters in the middle. Yet I am astounded at the extent to which the resurgent Right wing is filled with people who tell us that we are inevitably marching on the road to serfdom. These people do not seem to understand that Hayek won the Nobel Prize in 1974. They do not understand that he is far better known today than he was in 1974. Even on campus, he is more respected today than he was in 1974, let alone in 1944. As he told Mark Skousen and me when we interviewed him in 1985, awarding a man the Nobel Prize keeps him from getting much work done. The number of interviews increases.

We are not on the road to serfdom. We are on the road out of the mythology of Soviet economic planning. Anyone who got behind the idea of Soviet economic planning has lost his reputation after 1991. The Soviet economy was a sham. It was a statistical Potemkin village designed to impress Western intellectuals, which it did. The USSR was, in the words of Richard Grenier in the 1980s, “Bangladesh with missiles.” Professor Samuelson was completely taken in. Grenier wasn’t.

The capitalistic West won the Cold War. It won the intellectual battle against the idea of Marxist Communism. It also won the intellectual battle against the idea of socialism. We have not yet won the intellectual battle against Keynesianism, but Keynesianism is close to the hearts of most people, most of the time. People want the state to bail them out when they get in trouble. Keynesianism is an inherently incoherent system, with arcane formulas offered by tenured bureaucrats, who tell money-seeking voters and power-seeking politicians what they want to hear. The problem with Keynesianism is not the supposed methodological rigor of Keynesianism. The problem with Keynesianism is that it offers voters endless bailouts. Voters like bailouts in recessions. They don’t like socialism. They just like bailouts.

When the government goes bankrupt, as it is going to do, the bailouts will cease. Then Keynesianism is going to suffer a reversal. I have proposed an academic plan to help speed it along into well-deserved ridicule, but it is going to wind up in the ash can of history with or without prodding from inside academia.

CONCLUSION

The rotten economic policies of the Federal Reserve are going to push the economy through the wringer. I have no doubt about that. This does not mean that the country is going in the direction of socialism, and it does not mean that there is any systematic effort to impose tyranny. There are a lot of bureaucrats who want to expand their jurisdiction, because that is the way bureaucrats get promotions and raises.

The fact that there are individual examples of petty tyrannical behavior, meaning arrogant bureaucratic behavior, is not proof of a systematic policy to take us down the road to serfdom. It means that we find out about these incidents through the Internet. That was harder to do in 1963 or even 1993. When Matt Drudge blew the digital whistle in 1998 on Newsweek for having suppressed a story on Bill Clinton and an intern, the road out of serfdom got smoother. Drudge still is a dominant news site. It gets about 3,000,000 hits a day. In contrast, Newsweek was sold for one dollar in 2010.

Ludwig von Mises wrote in 1920 that socialist planning is irrational. Central planners are blind without capital markets. He was right. Socialist tyrants are blind. Their bureaucratic enforcers are blind. They can impoverish millions of people for a time. They can create terror for a time. A few have killed millions. But then their economic systems always implode. Communism is dead. Socialism is on a catheter. We are not on the road to serfdom.

Leningrad is St. Petersberg. It is not going back to Leningrad.

The immense size of Washington’s bureaucracy means that there are a lot of bureaucrats around who are going to lose their jobs after the Great Default.

As Gabriel Heatter used to say in his 1940s news broadcasts, “There’s good news tonight!”

*****

Article from GaryNorth.com

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Even Rock Star Bono can “Get-it”

U2 Frontman Bono Channels Grover Norquistbono11

Michael Schaus | Oct 2014

 The self-proclaimed “Robin Hood of Rock” is beginning to sound a little more like Grover Norquist than a traditional pop-culture leftist. The U2 frontman, Bono, recently praised Ireland’s extraordinarily low tax rate, while claiming that the move has brought unparalleled prosperity to the Emerald Isle. According to the UK Independent, Bono boasted about the tax-policy’s ability to bring wealth to Ireland for the first time in centuries:

occupy and the elite“We are a tiny little country, we don’t have scale, and our version of scale is to be innovative and to be clever, and tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we’ve known.”

He even managed to point out that the increased economic growth has boosted social services and government functions throughout the region:

Because of its generous tax allowances, he added, Ireland has reaped the benefits of “more hospitals and firemen and teachers”.

And he’s quite right. In his quest to rid the world of poverty, it’s nice to U.N. Buildingsee that Bono is not blinded by some sort of ideological stubbornness to “progressive” initiatives. After all, the tens of thousands of jobs that migrated to Ireland (in a quest to seek marginally more favorable tax conditions) had quite a beneficial impact on local communities, families, and anti-poverty programs. I mean, sure, seems obvious; but when billions of dollars start flooding into Ireland, it tends to help their overall economic condition.

Of course, most of this is old news to economists named Art (who drew a “Laffer” curve on a cocktail napkin) and students of the Austrian school. But, it’s still pretty impressive when the self-styled “Robin Hood” of pop-culture stumbles across economic enlightenment. Increased economic activity (and by extension, economic growth) is a boost to everyone in the community.

Not only are tens of thousands of people finding themselves with newfound wealth, but their newly-acquired spending habits are enriching those around them. And, regardless of their low tax rate, the government coffers are seeing an uptick in revenue, due to the velocity of money picking up in the increasingly dynamic economy. After all, we’re not just talking about Apple moving a few thousand jobs to Cork, but international giants of all industries are eyeing Ireland for their corporate headquarters.

Capitalism as it turns out, is a rather effective anti-poverty program. Which pretty much explains why Bono is defending a “controversial” anti-tax government. I mean, he’s made a name for himself in philanthropic circles for doing everything in his power to combat poverty. And, to be fair, his quest has not been one long parade of bleeding-heart liberalism. In 2003 he won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to alleviate world debt; and he’s even gone out of his way to praise the efforts of George W Bush’s to combat Aids in Africa.

I guess it only makes sense that he finally identified capitalism for what it truly is: The world’s most highly effective anti-poverty program.

Of course, the UK Independent was sure to point out that Ireland’s tax policy is “controversial.” And why is it “controversial”? Well… because other countries are tired of seeing their major corporations emigrate to the industrialized world’s lowest tax jurisdiction. Essentially, governments that have called upon tax-exempt EU bureaucrats to “investigate” Ireland’s tax structure (and expressed disdain for Ireland’s competitive tax rate) are engaged in state-sponsored envy. They are institutionalizing greed. After all, the objective of governments should be the protection and encouragement of civilian prosperity… And it seems to me that Ireland is doing a fine job of attracting some much-needed capital.

Now, c’mon Liberals… If a rock star can (eventually) “get it”, surely you can wrap your brains around this concept as well, right?

*****

Article from Townhall.com

 

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