Damage Control

Fact — Rev. Jeremiah Wright is exposed saying some loony tune things.

Fact — B. Hussein Obama doesn’t slam his former Pastor for saying loony things instead choosing to draw parallel lines between Wright’s racist comments and his grandmother’s racist comments.

Result — B. Hussein Obama begins to lose the White Middle Class Blue collar vote.

Campaign Obama’s Solution?

Trot Rev. Wright out once again into the media spotlight to say the same kind of things he was caught saying earlier. This affords candidate B. Hussein Obama the opportunity to get another crack at the denunciation speech where he clearly and unequivocally denounces Wright and distances himself from his former pastor. This is the speech that he should have given but failed to give the first time around.

Essentially this whole scenario is, what golfers call a ‘mulligan.’ A mulligan is where you hit the first tee shot so badly that you take a do over. B. Hussein Obama so royally messed up on ‘the pastor issue’ the first time that all of this is being staged a second time to give him another crack at being righteous before the white middle class bule collar vote. It also gives him leverage against the Republicans in November if he gets the nomination because he can deflect criticism by saying, ‘well, the first time I was trying to be gracious to my former pastor. I believe that long time friends should be dealt with gently. But, when my pastor continued in his errors that I tried to cover with love I did denounce him.’

In my opinion this is all staged. It is all grist for the voters.

This -n- That

First, my daughter Anna is planning to spend her summer in Eastern Europe on a Missions Trip. She is going under the auspices of Christian Reformed World Mission. Like most missionaries Anna has to raise funds for this trip. I think she is over 50% to the total that she needs. If any of the readers here at Iron Ink have some spare change laying around and you believe that the Lord Christ would have you help support Anna we and she would be both glad for and humbled by your support. If you don’t have spare change sitting around but you still want to take an interest in Anna and Eastern Europe we would very much like to keep you in the loop, If you would like more information you can contact me through the e-mail that this blog provides or you can e-mail Anna directly at confedbellatgmaildotcom.

Second, my wife and I are in Sunny California right now, somewhere near the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. If I am not as verbose in posting this week it is because we are enjoying friends and / or we are out sightseeing. The flights were uneventful (praise our merciful God) and I had lots of time to catch up on some reading. I read about Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga, Napoleon’s defeat and Wellington’s victory at Waterloo, and the defeat of Atilla The Hun at Chalons. I also worked through a short paper giving a taxonomy on different Reformed views of the Covenant. Also I read a short piece by Margaret Sanger on ‘The Wickedness of Creating Large Families.’ (I read that just to see how the wicked think — yes, they think wickedly!) Finally, I read 15 pages in a Stanley Hauerwas publication. So, while the flights were terrifically boring and absurdly cramped it was a good day.

Machen, Law and Sin

“Although Christianity does not end with the broken heart, it does begin with a broken heart; it begins with the consciousness of sin. Without consciousness of sin, the whole gospel will seem to be an idle tale…. But if the consciousness of sin is to be produced, the law of God must be proclaimed in the lives of Christian people as well as in word. It is quite useless for the preacher to breathe out fire and brimstone from the pulpit, if at the same time the occupants of the pews go on taking sin very lightly and being content with the moral standards of the world. The rank and file of the Church must do their part in so proclaiming the law of God with their lives….

J. Gresham Machen
Christianity and Liberalism

Of course Machen didn’t realize that the Church needs to distinguish between the need of the Church to proclaim the law of God in the personal and private lives of it’s members and the need of the Church to proclaim the law of God in their corporate and public lives of it’s members. Machen never learned that while the former is required the latter is not possible since God’s inscripturated Word doesn’t apply to the common realm. In the public and corporate life of any given culture Christians may take sin very lightly and be content with the moral standards of the world.

Witte On Form & Freedom

Last week I finished John Witte, Jr.’s book ‘The Reformation Of Rights; Law, Religion, and Human Rights In Early Modern Calvinism.’ In my estimation Witte crafted his book so that the first half presented Calvinists who emphasized the need for a Calvinistic social order and structure, still admitting the need for freedom and liberties within that order while the last half of the book presented Calvinists who emphasized the need for a Calvinistic social order and structure to allow for expansive freedom and liberties within that Calvinistic social order.

This follows the idea of form and freedom of which Dr. Francis Schaeffer often referenced. Dr. Schaeffer argued that the countries that embraced the Reformation excelled because they found the proper relation between form and freedom. Expansive liberties can only survive among a religiously homogeneous people who can live within a set social order form precisely because they are religiously homogeneous. The danger, over time, of providing increasingly expansive liberties, is that the homogeneity of the people begins to break down thus causing threat to the very social order that generously provides the expansive liberties. To the contrary if any social order does not provide genuine liberties then that social order can only survive by dint of brute force and will constantly be in danger of being overthrown. Witte’s book testifies that the genius of successful Reformed social orders is found in creating a delicate balance between form and freedom.

The issue of expansive liberties applies especially to minority religious groups that exist among a majority expression. Questions arise as to how much freedom can be extended to them without overthrowing the social order. Ancient social orders such as imperialistic Rome solved this problem by allowing all religions as long as all of the religions worshiped Caesar. As such the religious homogeneity that provided the social order glue was Emperor worship with the the other religious expressions being submissive after thoughts to the true religio licita. All other religious expressions had to serve the lawful religion. The refusal of Christians to confess ‘Caesar is Lord,’ confessing instead that ‘Jesus is Lord,’ accounts for why the Christians were arrested for treason and sedition. Imperial Rome understood that Christianity, in attacking the lawful religion of the social order, was attacking the social order that was based on the religious homogeneity of the people.

Witte’s work reminds us that Reformed tradition through thinkers like Calvin, Beza, and Althusius, provided for a distinctly Reformed social order, while later Reformed writers like Milton and other English puritans with unfamiliar names like Overton, Lilburne, and Walwyn emphasized the necessity for expansive liberties.

“For by natural birth, all men are equally alike born to like property, liberty, and freedom, as as we are delivered of God by the hand of nature into this world, everyone with a natural, innate freedom and property (as it were writ in the table of every man’s heart, never to be obliterated) even so we are to live, everyone equally and alike to enjoy his birthright and privilege; even all where God by nature hath made him free.

[E]very man by nature [is also] a King, Priest, and Prophet in his own natural cirucit and compass, whereof no second [person] may partake, but by deputation, commission, and free consent from him whose right and freedom it is.”

The interesting thing to note though is that the men mentioned above were originally pushing for those expansive liberties against a prevailing social order that was not Reformed (King Charles’ High Anglicanism) though Milton continued to push for them in the new Cromwellian order. Further it is interesting to note that almost a century prior the very kind of expansive liberties that the Puritans pushed for during the oppression of King Charles and Arch-Bishop Laud their Calvinist forefathers had rejected in Geneva when they were pushed by the Genevan man of letter Jean Morley. Some might conclude that what was previously considered out of bounds in a Reformed social order a century leader was considered standard Reformed fare when pursued in defiance of an oppressive order that was anti-Reformed. Is this a case where Reformed views had changed or is it case that different circumstances call for different responses?

So great was the emphasis by Milton on rights and liberties that Witte notes that the Puritan era English Parliament would eventually group Milton and the ana-baptist Roger Williams together as radicals who deserved censorship. With this admission Witte calls into question John Milton’s Calvinistic credentials.

In a future post I will seek to highlight and summarize Milton’s appeal for far reaching expansive individual and personal liberties. Some would see in these appeals a template for future liberties that would be granted by future Democratic and Republican governments so coming to fruition in the West.

The Transitional Time Between Self Government & Tyranny

“A people cannot be debased in a single generation; and the Spaniards under Charles V and Phillip II proved the truth of the remark, that no nation is ever so formidable to its neighbors for a time, as a nation which, after being trained in self government, passes suddenly under a despotic ruler. The energy of democratic institutions survives for a few generations, and to it are super-added the decision and certainty which are the attributes of government when all its powers are directed by a single mind. It is true that this preternatural vigor is short-lived national corruption and debasement gradually follow the loss of the national liberties; but there is an interval before their workings are felt, and in that interval the most ambitious schemes of foreign conquest are often successfully undertaken.”

Edward Shepherd Creasy
Fifteen Decisive Battles Of The Western World — pg. 206

These United States are living at the tail end of Creasy’s interval.