Christianity is Worth Fighting For … Rushdoony

Chrysostom, in dealing also with the conflict w/ Caesar warned his people in his sermon “Concerning the Statutes” Homily III 19

“This certainly I foretell and testify, that although this cloud should pass away, and we yet remain in the same condition of listlessness, we shall again have to suffer much heavier evils than those we are not dreading; for I do not so much fear the wrath of the Emperor, as your own listlessness.”

“Here Chrysostom put his finger on the heart of the matter: the threat was less the Emperor and more a listless and indifferent church. The same problem confronts us today. The greater majority of church members do not feel that Christianity is worth fighting for, let alone dying for. They only want the freedom to be irrelevant, and to emit pious gush as a substitute for faithfulness and obedience. In soap opera religion, life is w/o dominion; instead, it is a forever-abounding mess, met with a sensitive and bleeding heart. Soap opera religion is the faith of the castrated, of the impotent, and the irrelevant. The devotees of soap opera religion are full of impotent self pity and rage over the human predicament, but are devoid of any constructive action; only destruction and negation become them.”

R. J. Rushdoony
Roots of Reconstruction — pg 27

Wesleyan Seminary Dean Insists That God Does Not Conform To Universe’s Rationality

“I allow for the things of God to be beyond rationality, to be suprarational. I believe this is a rational thing to do since, if God created the world out of nothing, He is outside this universe and not conformed to its rationality.”

Dr. Ken Schenk
Wesley Seminary Dean and Professor of New Testament and Christian Ministry

I am working on wondering what the point of interacting with you is any further Ken since you hold that God is beyond rationality. If God is beyond rationality and if the creator creature divide is so vast then all of this is speculative hookah smoking and there is no such thing as either one of us being ‘right’ and our systems are left to being promulgated and embraced not because they correspond to reality but because they find a way to get in the stream of popularity and as such I might be better served by learning more about marketing then I do about doctrine.

If God is trans-rational or supra-rational then all your ratiocination in the world is just so much making of mud pies. On one hand you insist that God doesn’t conform to our rationality while on the other hand you continue in a rationcination that presumably anticipates a correspondence to a God that by your own admission doesn’t conform to our rationality. You are lost in a sea of subjectivism Ken. You have a man of water climbing a ladder of water affixed to a sky of water speculating about a God who is beyond rationality.

How, pray tell, could we find out that God is irrational? If God doesn’t conform to our rationality then how could we ever label him either as supra-rational, trans-rational, rational or irrational? Your God is so transcendent – so other that he dwells in Kant’s noumenal realm making conversation about him meaninglessness (aka – Logical positivists), with faith defined as being a Kierkegaardian existential leap.

And why would you ever think that this universe has a rationality that is unique to it? Where is that idea taught in Scripture? If God is “outside this universe and not conformed to its rationality” then how could we believe that God’s Word conforms to our rationality? If God does not conform to our rationality then it could be that when the Scripture says that God is love what it really means (admitting that we can’t really know what it means since God doesn’t conform to the universe’s rationality) is that God is a Ice Cream Cone.

Like many denominations in the West the Wesleyans have a major problem in their Seminary faculty. Let us pray that God is pleased to raise up new Denominational training centers where men are ‘t taught to be irrational.

Dabney on Fiction … McAtee Applying Dabney

Speaking of the dangers of an immoderate reading of fiction, R. L. Dabney wrote,

“But there is also an injury to the moral character as well as to the habits of mental industry, which is a necessary result of the fundamental laws of feeling. Exercise is the great instrument ordained by God to strengthen the active principles of the heart. On the other hand, all the passive susceptibilities are worn out and deadened by frequent impressions. Illustrations of these two truths are familiar to every one; but there is one well-known instance which offers us at once an example of the truth of both of them. It is that of the experienced and benevolent physician. The active principle of benevolence is strengthened by his daily occupations until it becomes a spontaneous and habitual thing in him to respond to every call of distress, regardless of personal fatigue, and to find happiness in doing so. But at the same time, his susceptibilities to the painful impressions of distressing scenes are so deadened that he can act with nerve and coolness in the midst of suffering, the sight of which would at first have unmanned him.

Now, all works of fiction are full of scenes of imaginary distress, which are constructed to impress the sensibilities. The fatal objection to the habitual contemplation of these scenes is this, that while they deaden the sensibilities, they afford no occasion or call for the exercise of active sympathies. Thus the feelings of the heart are cultivated into a monstrous, an unnatural, and unamiable disproportion. He who goes forth in the works of active benevolence among the real sufferings of his fellow creatures will have his sensibilities impressed, and at the same time will have opportunity to cultivate the principle of benevolence by its exercise. Thus the qualities of his heart will be nurtured in beautiful harmony, until they become an ornament to his character and a blessing to his race. This is God’s “school of morals.” This is God’s plan for developing and training the emotions and moral impulses. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” And the adaptation of this plan of cultivation to the laws of man’s nature shows that the inventor is the same wise Being who created man. It is by practicing this precept of the gospel that man is truly humanized. But the beholder of these fictitious sorrows has his sympathies impressed, and therefore deadened, while those sympathies must necessarily remain inert and passive, because the whole scene is imaginary. And thus, by equal steps, he becomes at once sentimental and inhuman. While the Christian, whose heart has been trained in the school of duty, goes forth with cheerful and active sympathies in exercises of beneficence towards the real woes of his neighbor, the novel reader sits weeping over the sorrows of imaginary heroes and heroines, too selfish and lazy to lay down the fascinating volume and reach forth his hand to relieve an actual sufferer at his door.”

1.) This is not to throw out all reading of fiction. It is merely to note the effect of a constant diet of fiction upon the Christian mind. And since we are going to be saying something about the pulpit, this isn’t intended to communicate that the Sermon story has no place whatsoever.

2.) We need to keep in mind that whatever Dabney has to say here about the immoderate reading of fiction would apply to the immoderate viewing of films, plays, and television.

3.) I’ve spent a significant portion of time in my adult life reading sermons. I can tell you that over the last two to three hundred years sermons have changed a great deal. If you listen to sermons today as compared to a sermon from almost any of the Puritans you see the centrality of the sentimental in sermons and interestingly enough that happens quite often via the telling of the fiction story from the pulpit as part of (and often central to) the sermon. In the Preacher business this is called “narrative preaching.”

4.) Dabney’s point is that the saturation of the feelings, via the absorption of fiction, without some kind of corresponding action leaves one to rot, much like a sponge that soaks up water that is never squeezed out. If this is true and if it is true that the sermon has largely become a platform for story telling, then one is left to wonder if much of our modern sermonizing is resulting, not in building up the saints, but is working to leave them to rot.

5.) Story telling from the pulpit and fiction in general is like a drug for the person who is hooked. Once hooked the fiction and story telling must get better and better — more and more sentimental and sensational — in order to work within the listener or reader the desired effect. Pity the Preacher who doesn’t do the sappy and sentimental story because a generation raised on story telling and fiction is a generation that will not abide a Preacher who is didactic as opposed to sentimental and sensational.

6.) Dabney writes, “it is by practicing this precept of the gospel that man is truly humanized.” Based on this statement Dabney would be chastised by many Reformed people today since according to R2K it is not possible for the Gospel to be practiced by men since the Gospel, according to these definitions, is only what God does. Silly Dabney.

7.) I’m going to contend that this push towards the fiction in our culture but also in the Church is closely tied up with the feminization of the culture and the Church. Fiction fills the role of wooing the reader. Biblically speaking, it is women who have been wooed and men are active in the wooing. Fiction feminizes men because it casts men in the role of the one wooed.

For a two good books that go into this subject with greater depth see,

Hugh of St. Victor and the Purpose of the Church

“For the Incarnate Word is our King, who came into this world to war with the devil; and all the saints who were before his coming are soldiers as it were, going before their King, and those who have come after and will come, even to the end of the world, are soldiers following their King. And the King himself is in the midst of His army and proceeds protected and surrounded on all sides by his columns. And although in a multitude as vast as this the kind of arms different in the sacraments and the observance of the peoples preceding and following, yet all are really serving the one King and following the one banner; all are pursuing the one enemy and are being crowned by the one victory.”

Hugh of St. Victor
Medieval Theologian

This is the vision the Church has lost; Christ the Warrior King leading His trans generational army to conquer the enemy.

Bavinck On The Difference Between Reformed and Lutheran … Behold R2K is Lutheran

The difference seems to be conveyed best by saying that the Reformed Christian thinks theologically, the Lutheran anthropologically. The Reformed person is not content with an exclusively historical stance but raises his sights to the idea, the eternal decree of God. By contrast, the Lutheran takes his position in the midst of the history of redemption and feels no need to enter more deeply into the counsel of God. For the Reformed, therefore, election is the heart of the church; for Lutherans, justification is the article by which the church stands or falls. Among the former the primary question is: How is the glory of God advanced? Among the latter it is: How does a human get saved? The struggle of the former is above all paganism- idolatry; that of the latter against Judaism- works righteousness. The Reformed person does not rest until he has traced all things retrospectively to the divine decree, tracking down the “wherefore” of things, and has prospectively made all things subservient to the glory of God; the Lutheran is content with the “that” and enjoys the salvation in which he is, by faith, a participant. From this difference in principle, the dogmatic controversies between them (with respect to the image of God, original sin, the person of Christ, the order of salvation, the sacraments, church government, ethics, etc.) can be easily explained.

—Herman Bavinck
Reformed Dogmatics — Vol. 1: Prolegomena (Baker, 2003), 177.

This quote reveals how R2K is more Lutheran that it is Reformed. R2K is not concerned with how God’s glory is advanced in the common realm because God’s glory can’t be advanced in the common realm because the common realm is common. It is a realm where good and evil grow together and the only realm where the glory of God that is advanced happens in the Church. If R2K struggles against paganism / idolatry it struggles against it only in the Church. It is clear, per Bavinck, that R2K’s primary struggle is Lutheran in as much as it see’s works righteousness everywhere, especially in those of us who are not R2K. R2K does not think it is possible to make anything in the common realm uniquely subservient to God.

R2K is not Reformed. It is instead a mish mash of Lutheran thinking, and Anabaptist thinking, heavily seasoned with Dualism.