You might be a gnostic, if…

You might be Gnostic if you think that full time Christian ministry is superior to Artists who paint landscapes.

You might be a Gnostic if you allegorize the parts of Scripture you find embarrassing.

You might be Gnostic if you think that the reason you make money is so that you can give most of it to really important things like Missionaries and the Church.

You might be Gnostic if you think that the most holy things you do during the day is pray, read your bible and share the 4 spiritual laws with somebody.

You might be Gnostic if you think the pastor shouldn’t Preach on anything that isn’t “Spiritual.”

You might be Gnostic if you think the New Testament is a more “Spiritual” section of the Scripture then the Old Testament.

You might be Gnostic if you think that the Church in the NT is more “Spiritual” than the Church in the OT.

You might be Gnostic if you think that theonomists are heretics.

You might be Gnostic if you think that there is no such thing as Biblical culture.

You might be Gnostic if you think that Water, Wine, and Bread are only effective as you think the right thoughts about them.

You might be Gnostic if you watch closely for the arrival of an Israelite Red Heifer.

You might be Gnostic if you have read more than one of the Left Behind series.

You might be Gnostic if you think communion isn’t one of God’s means of Grace whereby He nurtures His people with Grace.

You might be Gnostic if you think that the essence of the Christian faith is only complete with the proper propositions.

You might be Gnostic if you think that inside of you are two men, named Mr. Spiritual and Mr. Carnal that are fighting for control.

You might be a Gnostic if you think Plato, and not Paul, was correct on time.

You might be a gnostic if you don’t think we will drink wine on Yahweh’s mountain.

You might be a Gnostic if you would rather think about right triangles in heaven.

You might be Gnostic if you don’t find this amusing.

Leithart isn’t Wilson

This is a dangerous post.  I believe I can now quote and interact with Leithart’s scholarly works in good conscience.  True, he was involved in the Sitler affair, and he made some bad decisions.  But he repented of them publicly.  Wilson hasn’t.

And James Jordan kept himself from that whole fiasco.

Leithart and Jordan are public theologians.  Jordan forces me to wrestle with the Hebrew text.  I can respect that.

The North-Rushdoony Split on Church Membership (Dominion Files: 2)

My good friend Kevin Johnson correctly challenged some reconstructionists on church membership.  They are devotees of Rushdoony, accepting even the worst aspects of his position.  That reminded me of an old North book, Westminster’s Confession, where he identified the basis of the split in Christian Reconstructionist circles.

Mr. Rushdoony always gave me a nearly free hand regarding what went into it. Here is what really happened. I submitted to his Chalcedon Report my monthly essay. It relied on an insight regarding biblical symbolism in James Jordan’s 1981 Westminster Seminary master’s thesis. My essay discussed the background symbolism of the Passover.  Rushdoony sent it back and insisted that I rewrite it, saying that it was heretical, and even worse. I refused to rewrite it. I did not insist that he publish it; I just refused to rewrite it. He…had rejected one other article of mine in the past, so I was not too concerned.
He refused to let the matter rest. He challenged me to make my theological position clear, to prove to him that it was not heretical. I then wrote an extended defense. He still said it was heretical. He then said thatJordan and I would have to recant in writing, and also agree in writing never to publish our essays in any form, before he would agree that we were no longer heretical. When we refused, he submitted a protest to our church elders informing them of our heresy, and asking them to discipline us both. When the church sent the essay (and my extended defense of it) to other theologians, including Westminster Seminary’s John Frame, they replied that it was somewhat peculiar but certainly not heretical. The then elders asked Mr. Rushdoony to submit formal charges against us regarding the specific heresy involved. He refused. They also reminded him that he was not a member of any local congregation, and therefore was not subject to discipline himself should his accusations prove false. He blew up when challenged on this. He then publicly fired me and Jordan from Chalcedon, announcing our dismissal without explanation in the Chalcedon Report. This surprised Jordan, since he was not
even aware he was employed by Chalcedon, not having received money from Chalcedon in years.
My full essay, “The Marriage Supper of the Lamb,” was later published in Geneva  Ministries’ Christianity and Civilization, No.4 (1985), and sank without a trace. I have never received a single letter about it, pro or con. The “crisis ofthe essay” was clearly a tempest in a teapot. But it points to the underlying tension which Mr. Clapp refers to. What is this disagreement all about? It is Tyler’s disagreement with Mr. Rushdoony about the requirement of local church attendance and taking the Lord’s Supper. We think all
Christians need to do both. The Tyler church practices weekly communion. In contrast, Mr. Rushdoony has refused to take Holy Communion for well over a decade, nor does he belong to or attend a local church. This underlying difference of opinion finally exploded over a totally peripheral issue (334-336).

 

 

Review: Marx’s Religion of Revolution

By Gary North

North explores a different angle of Marx’s thought:  Marx was more heavily influenced by the earlier pagan, chaos religions than previously recognized.  This is a legitimate approach.  We all have axioms that we take for granted and that filter the rest of our thought.  This is the foundation for his later thought.  North writes: ““Marx held to the orderly Newtonian worldview of physical-natural cause and effect, but he resurrected and baptized an ancient tradition of social chaos. His worldview was a strange mixture of Western linear history (Augustine), Western utopian-ism (communism), scientific rationalism (Newton), eighteenth- century classical economics (the labor theory of value and the cost of production theory of value), atheism (dialectical materialism), and pagan cyclical history (the chaos festivals)” (North xviii).

Chaos religion–and its festivals–allowed man to tap into the primal unformed chaos.  Thus, the violence, the overturning of social norms, the sexual orgies that one always found in pagan festivals–and in Communist Revolutions.  North suggests that this ritual morphs into a secularized form:  secret societies (76).

Rather than giving an analytical review of Marx’s thought, I will simply list five or six problems embedded in Marxist thought.

Problem 1: Lenin’s problem:  “the Social-Democratic consciousness of proletarians does not develop by itself.” (xxxix).

Problem 2: Problem with the labor theory of value:  activity is a meaningful economic substitute for value.  Contrast with subjective theory of value.

Problem 3: Problem in Marxian doctrine:  progress only comes from the clash of classes.  How then will progress be possible “after the Revolution” (North 51)?

Problem 4: how does a lawlike determinism arise from flux and chance (60)?

Problem 5: North: If all profits stem from the employment of human labor, then it follows that greater profits can be made in businesses that are labor intensive. The more machinery one employs in the production process, the less profit should be available, since there are fewer laborers present to exploit….Yet what we do see is precisely the. reverse: the most profitable industries tend to be those in which large quantities of constant capital are employed  (123).

Problem 6: North: Here is the central flaw of all socialist systems: how can the allocation of scarce resources take place in a society devoid of money (142)? How much is x worth?  How do you know?

Problem 7:  how can the total wealth of nature be released under socialism without the use of mass production methods that require the division of labor? Perhaps even more fundamental, how can the socialist planning board allocate scarce resources efficiently without some kind of pricing mechanism involving the use of money (182-183)?

Gary North on Charismatics

I am sort of a quiet charismatic.  North has an interesting take on part of the history of the movement.  Early Charismatic antinomianism was wrong, as it inadvertently emphasized a power from below.  But what if later ones corrected that and got it right?

Then, in the late 1970’s, a handful of Pentecostal-charismatics discovered Christian Reconstruction. They finally got the answer they had been waiting for: God can heal a sick society. Better yet: God will heal a sick world through a great movement of the Holy Spirit. These men dropped dispensationalism, and adopted a world-and-life view that is consistent with the victories that charismatics have seen first-hand.

Meanwhile, within the “Tyler” branch of the Reconstructionist movement, there came a new emphasis on liturgy, especially the power of the sacraments, and especially weekly communion. This emphasis on communion soon led to the split between “Tyler” and “Vallecito,” for Mr. Rushdoony adamantly refuses to take communion-weekly, monthly, or annually. The Tyler church also adopted formal healing services as a part of public worship. The elders went to sick people and anointed them with oil. (The first step, it must never be forgotten, is the sick person’s confession of sin. Ethics is primary, not the details of liturgy.) My wife was healed miraculously of a life-long affliction as a result of one such visit. So were others in the church.

This growing alliance between charismatics and Reconstructionists has disturbed Reformed Presbyterians almost as much as it has disturbed premillennial dispensationalists. it has led to accusations of heresy against both groups from all sides: pietistic Pentecostalism, pietistic Scofieldism, and pietistic Presbyterianism. The critics worry about the fact that the Pentecostalism’s infantry is at last being armed with Reconstructionism’s field artillery. They should be worried. This represents one of the most fundamental realignments in U.S. Protestant church history.

A warning to recons on Marinov

My friend Kevin Johnson did several good criticisms of Marinov’s anti-church theology.  If someone wants to be a theonomist, that’s fine.  Just try to avoid the Rushdoony-worship and the violent anti-church theology that comes with it.

And avoid cults.  Marinov’s group is just one bad Kool-Aid batch from disaster.

Review of Ames’ Marrow

Ames, himself an English Puritan living in the Netherlands, gives us a manual that will become the dominant intellectual book in New England for several centuries (I hope at this moment we can bury the nonsense that Reformed theology is just the 5 Points found in John Calvin).

williamameschart

Ames’ manner of presentation reflects his commitment to Ramist logic, and thus Ames’s writing is remarkably clear and easy to read. We don’t agree with Ames in every point, but this is a very useful manual and will repay careful study.

Key themes

Faith is more than assent, but also designates “an act of the will” (1.2.3-5). For Ames, since faith “must consist of a union with God,” it can’t be mere assent (18).

Ames has an outstanding discussion of God and his essence, particularly of “ideas in God.” He has the standard arguments for God’s decrees, and seems to point towards a gentle supralapsarianism, but its definitely muted compared to Perkins.

Much has been made of Ames’ voluntarism, and he certainly does place the will in a more prominent role than earlier divines, and it certainly “cashes out” in his ethics.

Questions and criticisms

Is it true that “living well is more important than living happily” (1.1.8)? Is Ames breaking from the Aristotelian eudaimion tradition at this point?

Ames argues that the kings are not subject to Christ, but to God (1.19.31). Maybe he means by this that Christ is properly king and head of the church. Fair enough, but Revelation 1.4-5 says that he is also rulers of the kings *on earth.*

While as a good Presbyterian I would have liked to see Ames mention rule by elders and presbyteries, his stuff on church govt is still quite good. I disagree with him on what he left out, not on what he actually said.

Conclusion

This text is a fine snapshot of pre-Westminster Puritanism. More importantly, it would become the standard textbook in New England for almost 200 years. It’s been accused of being a “checklist,” but even so, that adds to his value. Accordingly, Ames is very clear on what he means.