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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President Obama approving Drones over U.S.A.?

GAO: DHS Flew Drones for 1,726 Hours Over Interior of U.S.border patrol 3

By Brittany M. Hughes

October  2014

  (CNSNews.com) – The Department of Homeland Security flew drones equipped with video cameras over the United States–away from border and coastal areas–for 1,726 hours from fiscal 2011 through this April 2014, according to the Government Accountability Office.

border patrol 2At times, the drones — or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) — were being used for purposes other than border or immigration enforcement. But the GAO does not have a full accounting of when and where the drones were flown, or what they were used for during the flight hours spent in “other airspace.”

In a series of briefing slides provided in August to the staffs of the House anddrone 4 Senate appropriations subcommittees on homeland security (and publicly released this week), the GAO examined whether DHS’s use of drones complied with U.S. privacy and civil liberty laws. In the slides, the GAO noted that DHS border patrol drones, which are primarily used to “support border security operations,” were sometimes flown away from the border “in support of other federal, state or local law enforcement activities and for emergency humanitarian efforts.”

washington dc“DHS’s review reported that CBP operates UAS in accordance with its authorities, which do not limit use to border and coastal areas,” the GAO reported on briefing slide No. 2. “The location of UAS operations is limited by FAA requirements and CPB policies and procedures.”

These flights included missions to “provide aerial support for local law enforcement activities and investigations,” to agencies including the FBI and multi-agency task forces, and to “provide aerial support for monitoring natural disasters,” the report added on slide No. 11.

The GAO also referenced the 639-page Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 — the law that Congress passed with bipartisan support in January that fully funded the federal government for the remainder of fiscal 2014. Buried on page 250 of that law is verbiage that provides DHS with the authority to fly border patrol drones inside the United States for purposes other than border or immigration enforcement at the “discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security.”

On briefing slide No. 27, the GAO quoted the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which states: “For necessary expenses for the operations, maintenance, and procurement of marine vessels, aircraft, unmanned aircraft systems, and other related equipment of the air and marine program, including salaries and expenses, operational training, and mission-related travel, the operations of which include the following: the interdiction of narcotics and other goods; the provision of support to Federal, State, and local agencies in the enforcement or administration of laws enforced by the Department of Homeland Security; and, at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security, the provision of assistance to Federal, State, and local agencies in other law enforcement and emergency humanitarian efforts.”

This language has been included in annual appropriations bills since at least fiscal 2011, and was most recently included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act signed into law in January.

Between Fiscal Year 2011 and last April, border patrol drones logged 18,089 flight hours, the GAO reported. Of these, 3,184 hours, or 18 percent, were spent at the Northern border from Michigan to Washington. Another 10,396 hours, or 57 percent, were flown at the Southwest border, while 1,189 hours, or 7 percent, came from the Southeast border off the coast of Florida.

Another 1,594 hours, or 9 percent, were used for non-operational purposes such as training and transit.

An additional 1,726, or 9 percent, were used in “other airspace” outside of a border zone.

Responding to CNSNews.com’s email request for a more detailed breakdown of the “other airspace” flight hours logged by CBP drones, Rebecca Gambler, director for Homeland Security and Justice for the Government Accountability Office, stated: “We do not have a further breakdown of the UAS flight hours (9 percent/1,726 hours) listed in our report as ‘other airspace.’”

According to the GAO, CBP has nine drones equipped with a video camera, infrared cameras, radar to detect movement, imaging systems to show terrain and buildings, and radar used to detect images of maritime vessels, the report stated.

The GAO added that the video recorded by drones is stored for a maximum of five years “to use in analysis and intelligence products.”

While the GAO found that drones “do not have the capability to collect images from nonpublic areas, such as the interior of homes or business,” the report does not mention whether air surveillance is taken of backyards or other outdoor private property.

Of the nine drones, three of the drones are located in Sierra Vista, Ariz., three are in Grand Forks, N.D., and three are in Corpus Christi, Texas. A center in Jacksonville, Fla., “remotely operates aircraft launched from other [centers],” the report stated.

The GAO reported CBP began using drones in 2006, with all four centers operational by Fiscal Year 2011. The report added the CBP is allowed to use the drones only in airspace and locations defined by the FAA.”

The report also noted a recent review of CBP drone use by DHS “did not address the extent to which CBP use of UAS is within border and coastal areas.”

The GAO also stated that CPB utilizes an “oversight framework and procedures” to ensure compliance with all privacy laws, as well as a “Working Group” tasked with “identifying potential privacy, civil rights and civil liberties concerns with current or planned UAS uses.”

California

 (Thinkingrightblog.com) Just days after the discussion about controversial use of drones to monitor the activities of United States citizens on American soil, the Riverside County Sheriff in California and the Federal Border patrol have admitted using the thermal imaging from drones to pursue alleged triple murderer Christopher Dorner.  The manhunt for Dorner now covers four states and parts of Mexico.

The use of drones was later confirmed by Customs and Border Patrol spokesman Ralph DeSio, who revealed agents have been prepared for Dorner to make a dash for the Mexican border since his rampage began.  He said: “This agency has been at the forefront of domestic use of drones by law enforcement. That’s all I can say at the moment.”

Similarly, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department implied their use of drones as well.  A senior police source said: “The thermal imaging cameras the drones use may be our only hope of finding him. On the ground, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”Asked directly if drones have already been deployed, Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz, who is jointly leading the task force, said: “We are using all the tools at our disposal.”

 Elsewhere

 (Thinkingrightblog.com) Privacy advocates have been raising concerns about the drone program and the potential for civil rights abuses.  Several state legislatures are considering limiting the ability of unmanned government drones.  Oregon became the most recent state to consider limits on the deployment of drones in the United States. A new bill sets out licensing requirements for drone use in Oregon and would fine those who use unlicensed drone to conduct surveillance. New limitations are also proposed for federal evidence collected by drone use in a state court. FloridaNorth Dakota, and Missouri are among the other states that are also considering laws that limit drone use within their jurisdiction.

I seriously doubt that many have a problem with the use of drones to help with an ongoing manhunt like the one underway to find Dorner.  However there are currently no guidelines for the use of unmanned drones or discussion about the slippery slope to the invasion of privacy.  While drone use is obviously limited by the Constitution, our court system has shown that it is often not the best place to set policy for new technology.

*****

 

 

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Houston’s Mayor Subpoena’s Churches Sermons

washington dcCity of Houston Demands Pastors Turn over SermonsEmilyCarr-Indian-Church-1929

By Todd Starnes

Oct 2014

 The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

statue of liberty“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christina Holcomb said in a statement. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.”

ADF, a nationally-known law firm specializing in religious liberty cases, is representing five Houston pastors. They filed a motion in Harris County court to stop the subpoenas arguing they are “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious.”

“Political and social commentary is not a crime,” Holcomb said. “It is protected by the First Amendment.”writing the constitution

The subpoenas are just the latest twist in an ongoing saga over the Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance. The law, among other things, would allow men to use the ladies room and vice versa. The city council approved the law in June.

The Houston Chronicle reported opponents of the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot.

However, the city threw out the petition in August over alleged irregularities.

After opponents of the bathroom bill filed a lawsuit the city’s attorneys responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors.

The pastors were not part of the lawsuit. However, they were part of a coalition of some 400 Houston-area churches that opposed the ordinance. The churches represent a number of faith groups – from Southern Baptist to non-denominational.

“City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” said ADF attorney Erik Stanley. “This is designed to intimidate pastors.”

Mayor Parker will not explain why she wants to inspect the sermons. I contacted City Hall for a comment and received a terse reply from the mayor’s director of communications.

“We don’t comment on litigation,” said Janice Evans.

However, ADF attorney Stanley suspects the mayor wants to publicly shame the ministers. He said he anticipates they will hold up their sermons for public scrutiny. In other words – the city is rummaging for evidence to “out” the pastors as anti-gay bigots.

Among those slapped with a subpoena is Steve Riggle, the senior pastor of Grace Community Church. He was ordered him to produce all speeches and sermons related to Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality and gender identity.

The mega-church pastor was also ordered to hand over “all communications with members of your congregation” regarding the non-discrimination law.

“This is an attempt to chill pastors from speaking to the cultural issues of the day,” Riggle told me. “The mayor would like to silence our voice. She’s a bully.”

David Welch, director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, also received a subpoena. He said he will not be intimidated by the mayor.

“We’re not afraid of this bully,” he said. “We’re not intimidated at all.”

He accused the city of violating the law with the subpoenas and vowed to stand firm in the faith.

“We are not going to yield our First Amendment rights,” Welch told me. ‘This is absolutely a complete abuse of authority.”

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, said pastors around the nation should rally around the Houston ministers.

The state is breaching the wall of separation between church and state,” Perkins told me. ‘Pastors need to step forward and challenge this across the country. I’d like to see literally thousands of pastors after they read this story begin to challenge government authorities – to dare them to come into their churches and demand their sermons.”

Perkins called the actions by Houston’s mayor “obscene” and said they “should not be tolerated.”

“This is a shot across the bow of the church,” he said.

This is the moment I wrote about in my book, “God Less America.” I predicted that the government would one day try to silence American pastors. I warned that under the guise of “tolerance and diversity” elected officials would attempt to deconstruct religious liberty.

Sadly, that day arrived sooner than even I expected.

Tony Perkins is absolutely right. Now is the time for pastors and people of faith to take a stand. We must rise up and reject this despicable strong-arm attack on religious liberty. We cannot allow ministers to be intimidated by government thugs.

The pastors I spoke to tell me they will not comply with the subpoena – putting them at risk for a “fine or confinement, or both.”

Heaven forbid that should happen. But if it does, Christians across America should be willing to descend en masse upon Houston and join these brave men of God behind bars.

Pastor Welch compared the culture war skirmish to the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto, fought in present-day Harris County, Texas. It was a decisive battle of the Texas Revolution.

“This is the San Jacinto moment for traditional family,” Welch told me. “This is the place where we stop the LGBT assault on the freedom to practice our faith.”

We can no longer remain silent. We must stand together – because one day – the government might come for your pastor.

*****

 

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Marxism — Cultural Marxism — and Protestant Theology

Cultural Marxism Is an OxymoronKarl Marx

By Dr. Gary North  2014

“A specter is haunting American conservatism. It is the specter of cultural Marxism”

Specter:

  1. a visible incorporeal spirit, especially one of a terrifying nature; ghost; phantom; apparition.
  2. some object or source of terror or dread: the specter of disease or famine.

CONFESSION, INFILTRATION, AND SEPARATION

Let me start with a scenario. A group of theologians inside a Protestant denomination begin to preach the doctrine that Christianity is true, except for two doctrines: first, Jesus was not divine in any way, and second, the Bible is not literally true. What would you say about the orthodoxy of these people?expressionism

The West began to hear these arguments in state-funded German universities in the early 1800’s, but this basic approach for interpreting Christianity and the Bible had begun in the middle of the 17th century in England: the Tew Circle. This is not generally recognized in academia, but historically it was the case. The historical background was presented in a comprehensive form over 30 years ago in a book titled The Authority of the Bible, by H. G. Reventlow. The book and its author are virtually unknown to scholars, but the book is a masterful monograph.

sunset churchThis outlook began to be accepted more widely in American Protestant academic circles about 1875. It spread very rapidly. It became known as theological modernism, and by 1930, it had captured most mainline American Protestant churches above the Mason-Dixon line. The main exception was Missouri Synod Lutheranism, in which the battle continues.Darwin tree

Those who were members of non-mainline churches regarded this outlook as anti-Christianity. The most famous manifesto against it was J. Gresham [GRESSum] Machen’s [MAYchen] book, Christianity and Liberalism (1923). He was correct.

The non-mainline churches began to grow. Growth in the mainline denominations slowed after 1925. Sometime around 1960, the year John D. Rockefeller, Jr. died, they began to shrink. Rockefeller, more than anyone else, had funded theological modernism after 1920; as we read in Shenkel’s book, The Rich Man and the Kingdom (1996). This shrinking process continues.

A similar infiltration/separation process occurred inside Marxism.

CULTURAL MARXISMoccupy and the elite

Marxists in the USSR in 1960 regarded the movement known as cultural Marxism with the same degree of skepticism that Bible-believing Christians regarded theological modernism. In other words, they denied that it was Marxism at all.

When you abandon the fundamental tenets of a particular ideology, and yet you attempt to retain that ideology’s name, because there are lots of adherents to that ideology, you will be regarded as an invader by the defenders of the original ideology.

Cultural Marxism is to Marxism what modernism is to Christianity. Anyone who regards cultural Marxism as Marxism has not understood Marxism. Yet it is common in conservative circles to do this. This is a strategic mistake because it is a conceptual mistake.

The heart, mind, and soul of orthodox Marxian socialism is this: the concept of economic determinism. Marx argued that socialism is historically inevitable because of the inevitable transformation of the mode of production. He argued that the mode of production is the substructure of society, and culture in general is the superstructure. He argued that people hold a particular view of society’s laws, ethics, and politics because of their commitment to a particular mode of production. The dominant mode of production in 1850 was capitalism. Marx named this mode of production. The name has stuck, even though original Marxism is culturally dead.

Marx gained support for his position precisely because it was purely economic/materialist. It abandoned all traces of historical explanation that were based on the idea that ideas are fundamental to the transformation of society. Marx believed that the deciding arena of class warfare is the mode of production, not the arena of ideas. He saw ideas as secondary outgrowths of the mode of production. His view was this: ideas do not have significant consequences. Take this idea out of Marxism, and it is no longer Marxism.

This is why it never ceases to amaze me that conservative analysts accept the idea of cultural Marxism. They go to the writings of the Frankfurt School to get footnotes to support this idea. The sharper analysts take it back to Antonio Gramsci’s prison writings in the 1930’s. He was officially a Communist. He was an Italian. He had spent time in the Soviet Union in the 1920’s, and he believed that the Leninist tradition was incorrect. The West had not proven to be a fertile ground for Communism, precisely because the West was Christian. He recognized clearly that until Christianity was broken as a primary commitment of the West, there would be no proletarian revolution there. History certainly has borne him out. It never came.

Gramsci argued, and the Frankfurt School followed his lead, that the way for Marxists to transform the West was through cultural revolution: the idea of cultural relativism. The argument was correct, but the argument was not Marxist. The argument was Hegelian. It meant turning Marxism on its head, just as Marx had turned Hegel on his head. The idea of Marxism in the earliest days was based on a rejection of the spiritual side of Hegelianism. It placed the mode of production at the heart of the analysis of capitalist culture.

I wrote a book on Marx back in 1968, when the counter-culture was growing rapidly. It was titled Marx’s Religion of Revolution. You can download the 1988 edition here: http://bit.ly/gnmror. It was clear to me in 1968 that Marxism was a religion of revolution, a view that went back to the Cronos festivals of ancient Greece. Marxism was not a scientific analysis of society, including its economy. I spent no time on cultural Marxism. It would have been much easier to show the religious side of Marxism by spending time on the cultural Marxists. They clearly saw that these cultural issues involved religion in Western culture, which is an outgrowth of Christianity. But that would have defeated the purpose of my book. I was showing that original Marxism was a religion. To invoke cultural Marxism would have distracted the readers. Cultural Marxists would have made easier targets, but to discuss them would have weakened the argument in my book.

The cultural Marxists divided the Marxist camp. Their attack on culture may have been presented as a tactic, but it was more than a tactic; it was a strategy. It was a strategy based on the abandonment of original Marxism. I used this as an argument in my critique of the documentary, Agenda: http://www.garynorth.com/public/10256.cfm.

We can discuss this split in Marxism in terms of a particular family. The most prominent intellectual defender of Stalinism in the United States during the 1940’s and 1950’s was Herbert Aptheker. His daughter Bettina was one of the leaders of the Free Speech Movement, which began in the fall of 1964 at the University of California, Berkeley. She became far more famous than her Stalinist father. That campus event launched the student rebellion and the counter-culture movement. But the very term “counter-culture” is indicative of the fact that it was never Marxist. It was an attempt to overthrow the prevailing culture, but Marx would not have wasted any time on such a concept. Marx was not a Hegelian. He was a Marxist.

She and her father split in 1968. When the USSR invaded Czechoslovakia, she opposed this. The mainstream Communist Party of the USA, where her father was a major figure, backed the USSR.

Years later, she wrote that her father had abused her sexually from age 3 to 13. Deep down in her father’s worldview, he was conducting his own personal Gramscian agenda. He was attacking Western culture in his own home. But this did not affect his orthodox Marxism. It affected his daughter’s.

Bettina Aptheker is now on the payroll of the University of California, and she teaches cultural studies: feminism. The movement she launched at Berkeley with Mario Savio died out in the early 1970’s. She is still a critic of capitalism, but her criticism is not based on the writings of Karl Marx. Neither was the counter-culture.

THE COUNTER-CULTURE

Let’s get it straight: Marx was wrong. Gramsci was right. But Marxism was not the primary cause of the counterculture. The counter-culture was based on culture. The alliance between theological modernism and the Progressive movement, which began in the mid-1880’s and peaked around 1920, was the theological underpinning of the roaring twenties. Then the Great Depression came. Then World War II came. When the boys came back from over there, after 1918, they were no longer committed to anything like Orthodox Christianity. When their boys came back from World War II, the cultural erosion that had taken place after World War I was pretty much complete. This had nothing to do with Marxism. Marxism was committed to a defense of cultural change that was based on changes in the mode of production. But there was no fundamental change in the mode of production in 1945, other than the rise of modern management, which took place during World War II. This consolidated capitalism; it did not weaken capitalism.

The problem is this: conservatives take way too seriously the claims of the cultural Marxists, who in fact were not Marxists. They were basically Progressives and socialists. They would have been the targets of Marx in 1850. He spent most of his career attacking people like this, and he spent almost no time at all in attacking Adam Smith, or the classical economists. He never replied to the neoclassical economists and Austrian School economists who appeared in the early 1870’s. Marx had plenty of time to respond to these people, but he never did. He spent most of his life attacking people who would be called today cultural Marxists. He regarded them as enemies in the socialist camp. He attacked them because they did not base their attack on capitalism in terms of his theory of scientific socialism, which rested on the concept of the mode of production.

Gramsci understood clearly in the 1920’s that if he stayed in the Soviet Union he would wind up in a Soviet concentration camp. He might even be executed. He realized that Stalin would have probably have killed him. So, he went back to Italy, knowing full well he would wind up in Italian concentration camp, which he did. The fascists let him read. They let him write. In doing so, they undermined Marxist Communism.

It is difficult to trace the historical influence of the Frankfurt School. Moving from a tiny sect to the general culture requires a study of complex causation. The basic movement towards cultural relativism began in the late 1880’s, and the marks of this were theological modernism and the Progressive movement. Freudian psychology was part of this by 1925. Freud was the justification for relativism; the Frankfurt School came later. Theological modernism gained more converts than the Frankfurt School ever did.

The counter-culture that began in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination was far more the product of the Rolling Stones than it was of the Frankfurt School. Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll in the mid-1960’s replaced sex, beer, and rock ‘n roll of the late 1950’s. It was a powerful brew. Do not try to trace the counter-culture to the Frankfurt School. It is better to trace it to World War I, which uprooted the institutions of the West. What went on in the back seats of Model T’s after 1918 had more to do with the counter-culture than the writings of the Frankfort School.

CONCLUSION

Marx might have argued that it was the mode of production, as manifested more by the Model T than by anything else in American culture, which reshaped that culture. My argument is this: what went on in a handful of Protestant theological seminaries north of the Mason-Dixon line, beginning in 1875, had more to do with the counterculture than either the Model T or the Frankfurt school. This pushes the issue of culture back to where it belongs, namely, theology, which is why I began this discussion with the issue of theology. What people believe about the doctrine of hell has more to do with their behavior than what they believe about the relationship between the mode of production and proletarian revolution.

The West never came close to proletarian revolution. The Left likes to believe that it did. They like to argue that “Franklin Roosevelt saved capitalism from itself.” This is another way of saying that John Maynard Keynes saved capitalism from itself. Both arguments are incorrect. Roosevelt and Keynes met only once. Roosevelt correctly assessed Keynes as a mathematician, not an economist. This was true. Keynes got his degree in mathematics, not economics. Roosevelt was the source of what we call Keynesianism, 1933-36, not Keynes, whose General Theory appeared in 1936. But scholars like to believe that academic arguments shape the world. They don’t. They conform what has already begun to take root in the thinking and practices of the general public.

When men decided that “thou shalt not steal” means “thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote,” the Keynesian worldview was born. This view is dominant today. Marxism is dead. So is cultural Marxism.

To win this battle, we must persuade men that, “thou shalt not steal” means this: it is immoral to steal, with or without majority vote.

This has nothing to do with the mode of production.

*****

Article from GaryNorth.com

 

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