Who Could Have Guessed?

Recently, I posted a series of three ‘Ask The Pastor’ Posts. What I didn’t say in those posts is that these were the questions that I would be asked during my Colloquium Doctum interview for transfer of ordination into the Christian Reformed Church.

Today I underwent examination and passed unanimously and so I am now officially what I have been unofficially for the past 13 years, to wit, an ordained minister in good standing in the Christian Reformed Church. It seems the only minor issue was my strong rejection of open theism. I think I said that it was heresy and a canker that needed to be ripped out of the Church. I never would have imagined that sentiment could have been controversial in the least. There were also some questions about my rejection of women to hold ordained positions but apparently I convinced them that such a position isn’t akin to being a knuckle scraping troglodyte who habitually grabs and drags stray women by their hair. I probably should have worked harder to convince people that my position is the position that esteems women and reflects godly compassion for women while the contrary position in reality does just the opposite but I think most of the people in Classis’s position on that is pretty much set in concrete and not even my eloquence could have changed that.

I have mixed thoughts and emotions about my newly minted status with the CRC. First, I realize that the CRC is not a perfect denomination and has some challenges before it but as I map out the Reformed denominational landscape I do not see a denomination that isn’t without its substantial issues. In the end I think all of us, who are trying to be epistemologically self conscious about being Reformed, are, in many respects, in the same boat together, and together, regardless of what Reformed denomination we are in, we are either going to survive together or we are going to capsize together. I honestly believe I can help all genuinely Reformed people, regardless of their Reformed denominational stripe, by working for Reformation and awakening in the CRC. Second, I am relieved to have this behind me. I have been operating 20 years as a Reformed minister with independent Baptist credentials. It is satisfying to finally be a Reformed minister with Reformed credentials. Third, I feel conflicted. I have not pushed this credential issue over the years because I was never absolutely confident that Bret McAtee and the CRCNA was a good fit. As long as Classis was willing to ignore me, I was willing to let them ignore me. Now I am CRC. Have I made the right decision? I believe I have but only time will tell. Fourth, as contradictory as it might sound, compared to what I’ve just said about being conflicted, I am confident. When pressed with decisions that result in being conflicted I have always trusted Augustine’s motto of ‘love God and do as you please.’ By God’s grace I do love God and I have done as I pleased and now I am confident that God will work to glorify His name in this decision and the consequences that will be subsequent to it.

So, I am a CRC minister. Next time you see me you can address me as ‘Dominee.’

Failing that, ‘Your Holiness’ will be sufficient.

p.s. – Regarding the last part, in the famous words of Foghorn Leghorn,

“That’s a joke… I say, that’s a joke, son, don’t you get it?”

What’s In A Name?

Recently the name of the leading Democratic Presidential contender has wormed its way back into the news. Specifically we are being told that it is fear mongering to mention that Barack Hussein Obama’s middle name is ‘Hussein.’ Such mewling from the Democrats on this issue serves them well due to their every expanding, ‘poor me, I’m a victim’ party creed. Quite beyond that I want to briefly examine the issue of the name itself.

First keep in mind that the use of middle names among Presidents has a long and storied tradition. Just off the top of my head, without looking I can give you,

Warren Gamaliel Harding
John Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Clark Hoover
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman (The ‘S’ stood alone)
Dwight David Eisenhower
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (along with his brother Robert Francis)
Lyndon Baines Johnson
Richard Milhous Nixon
Leslie Lynch King (sometimes known as Gerald Rudolph Ford)
James Earl Carter
Ronald Wilson Reagan
George Herbert Walker Bush
William Jefferson Blythe Clinton
George Walker Bush

Some of these President’s were trademarked by their monograms, which of course included their middle initial (FDR, JFK, LBJ). The sum of the point is that the awareness and usage of middle names among those who are Presidential aspirants is not uncommon. So, given that reality why is it that Barack Hussein Obama is complaining that the usage of his middle name, by his opponents, is fear mongering?

The answer to that is twofold. First, Barak Hussein Obama, by complaining about this issue, morphs the issue from being about his Muslim origins into an issue about being victimized. Second, by complaining about this issue as fear mongering Barak Hussein Obama achieves the elimination of a story that potentially has real legs. What of Obama’s past? What kind of difference did it make growing up with Muslim Dads? Keep in mind here that the issue isn’t that Barak, or even his Dad’s were active Muslims. The issue here is (or at least should be) answering the question of the ways that the Islamic cultural matrix that Obama grew up in influenced him. The Americans listed above grew up in a culture largely defined by Christian categories. Some of them might have been unfaithful to those Christian categories but nobody can deny that those Christian categories influenced them. How did Muslim categories influence and shape Barak Hussein Obama?

This is also an issue because what Democrats are asking Americans to do, with the nomination of Barak Hussein Obama, is to elect somebody that only partially belongs to Ameri-euro culture. Take a look again at those names listed above. They are all Anglo Saxon Christian names and those men reflected, often times quite imperfectly, Anglo-ized Saxonized Christianized Culture. With the election of Barak Hussein Obama the case can be made that, at least symbolically speaking, America will have turned its back on its ethnic and cultural roots and will have officially embraced becoming a ‘World Nation’ as opposed to a Anglo-ized Saxon-ized Christianized nation where the oppressed of the world are welcome.

Many people who believe that nationality is bound up in abstract ideas that people of different cultures can abstractly embrace don’t find the above notion to be a problem. I think we are going to find out if they are correct. A look at how Nations around the world, where the kind of ethnic and cultural differences exist that we are insisting can make for a cohesive Nation, are pulling apart at the seams suggest that they are not.

Voting for Barak Hussein Obama may reveal if a radically polyglot nation can really be E pluribus unum.

William F. Buckley – A Short Requiem In A Minor Key

“The central question that emerges is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas where it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes-the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.”

William F. Buckley — American Man Of Letters
National Review, August 24, 1957

Everybody knows that Bill Buckley died Wednesday. I can’t honestly say that I was overwhelmingly influenced by Buckley, though like all conservatives, I read his columns and watched his ‘Firing Line’ production.

In many ways he was a man of subtle contradictions. On one hand he was the architect of Reagan era conservatism while on the other hand he remained a member in good standing of the Council of Foreign Relations.
On one hand he professed loyalty to conservatism, while on the other hand he gave Joe Sobran the ‘heave ho’ from National Review and embraced Trotskyites neo-cons (non-cons) such as Norm and Midge Decter (nee – Podhertz). Within his lifetime he gathered the conservative movement and within his lifetime he saw it splinter again.

Buckley will always be remembered as erudite, urbane, and witty. He still retains those character traits. Buckley could marshal those traits in defense of convictions, as can be seen above, that still lie outside mainstream America — convictions, that if were articulated today by a well placed conservative, would bring the wrath of the politically correct world down upon them.

Perhaps it is fitting that Buckley should die at the time when it seems that the Republican party, which was the ideological vehicle of ‘Buckleyism’ is officially burying that brand of conservatism underneath the rubble of the ‘conservatism’ of those people, who at the end of his career, he was unwilling to cast out of the movement and who finally took over his magazine.

Conservatives everywhere owe a great deal of gratitude to William F. Buckley, but it should be ‘eyes wide open’ gratitude. Buckley carried the conservative embers for most of his life, but at the end he passed the torch to a group, who are in many ways, the very opposite of what he contended for throughout his life.

We should thank God for William F. Buckley and pray that in our old age we will be able to finish well what we started.

While I’m Thinking Of It

I meant to add to my last post an addendum that ties things together in my mind. In that post we looked at some traits of socialism. Eventually where I hope to go with this is to segue into differences between Marxist Socialism and Fascist Socialism and to show concretely that the political differences that exist in this country among the two major parties is merely a contest over which stripe of Fascism one prefers. Anyway … there is another connector between this and what I have also written recently on Radical Two Kingdom Theology of the Westminster West variety (R2Kt virus).

The connector is that when the Church refuses to deal with, from the pulpit, the kind of issues that I am trying to clarify in my posts on Socialism and Fascism the consequence is that the larger culture loses the sense of the True Transcendent that is required for Biblical civilization to occur. If the Church will not speak a clarion word about how the Transcendence of God needs to be a guiding presupposition in the cultural life of any nation then that culture will embrace a false god with a false transcendence. R2Kt proclaims that culture lies in the common realm where all can participate but what we are already seeing in these posts on Socialism and Fascism is that culture while certainly a common realm is affected by presuppositions that either are or are not Biblical. While all agree that culture is a common realm we are learning that it is not a neutral realm. If culture is affected by presuppositions that are Biblical then those presuppositions along with the texts they grow out of need to be preached from Reformed pulpits and Reformed Churches all across the land.

To refuse to do so in pursuit of some lame academic theory is treason.

America, The Socialist Model?

We have already mentioned that one of the universal traits of all socialist regimes is the eclipse of the transcendent, or better put, the relocation of the transcendent to an immanent source — usually the State.

One implication of this is the elimination of the cultivation of the sense of the individual for the counter-cultivation of the populations sense of the Borg or the hive. This is especially true in socialistic regimes of the Fascist variety since Fascism is not interested in setting fellow citizens at odds through class warfare but rather desires to create a national identity where all classes are lost in their sense of belonging to a ethnicity or a nation. Since the Transcendent has been re-located in the immanent State, and since the State thus becomes the mega-phone of the Rousseauian ‘general will’ all concepts of individualism get lost in the sense of belonging to that which is Transcendent and is speaking as the voice of God. Individuals thus become either cogs in the machine (rational enlightenment version) or organs in the living breathing community (romantic enlightenment version).

There arise from this several implications. First, the nation, or people (ethnos) and even its culture is identified with the State. Any attempt to make distinctions between the country and the Government is completely lost since the State becomes the apex incarnation of the country. Now with the State becoming the apex incarnation of the country what normatively follows in successful socialistic systems is the rise of dynamic individual leaders who themselves become the living representative of the State. So, culture, ethnos, society, and country become exactly equated with the State. The State becomes a Nationalistic incarnation and it produces a dynamic larger than life leader who becomes the incarnation of the State, with the consequence that the leader is the visible manifestation of the State and the people. The leaders becomes the proverbial Queen Bee and all live to serve her and by serving her the hive is served.

Second, since the Transcendent is located in the collectivized Volk and since the mind of the Volk (general will) is known through the State, there is no salvation outside the State. In socialistic systems, it is the case that, ‘in the State one lives and moves and has their being.’ Individualism in this system is not merely an oddity but rather it is rebellion against God and so is a threat that must be removed.

Third, since the true Transcendent has been lost for an immanent transcendent there is no means by which a socialist state can be adjudicated short of implosion. Any other Transcendent that would arise to challenge the immanent transcendent of the State could only arise by means of some kind of individualism and as we have seen that individualism is immediately crushed.

Fourth, in Socialistic systems truth is normatively arrived at by way of consensus as opposed to the way of open debate or conflict. Conflict would be a threat to the idea of one universal general will and so truth is moved towards incrementally and is always cloaked in the idea of societal consensus. The only exception to this would be is when the State desires to demonize some faction within a society. At this point the purpose of introducing conflict into the general will would be in order to expose the minority opinion to mockery and castigation, thus serving the agenda of strengthening the State.

Now, we move to inquire whether or not any of this is relevant for America in 2008. What is interesting about this in terms of America is the way that we have arrived at some of our socialistic (and even Fascistic) leanings. Take for example the issue of individualism. What the Sate has done here to eliminate genuine individualism is to promote spurious individualism. In America over the last 75 years or so the State has worked very hard in breaking down every other covenantal institution besides the State, all in the name of individualism. Both family and Church have suffered in order to give the individual more ‘freedom.’ The consequence of this action though has not been more individualism but rather more Borg like sameness. With the increasing eclipse of these other God ordained covenantal institutions (Family and Church) — institutions that largely help in defining who we are as individuals — all that has been left, institutionally speaking, in order to provide contextual background in order for people to define themselves against, is the State. This in turn has resulted in people who are all being individual in exactly the same Borg like fashion.

In America the pursuit of Socialism has been largely accomplished through the Government schools. The Government schools have never had the purpose of educating children. The purpose of Government schools has always been to create a unified citizenry, who, because they have been taught a common anti-Christ narrative, all have a common anti-Christ purpose. The schools have always been socialistic in their desire to create a Borg culture, and as B.K. Eakman (The Cloning Of The American Mind) and others have pointed out the government schools are getting even more proficient at creating the mind of Borg.

So, we would have to say that, especially beginning with New Deal (yes, you can go further back then that even) legislation, that gave more and more power to the State, often in the name of securing the rights of individuals, and with the accelerated efficiency of Government schools in creating a common mind (school to work programs, no child left behind, values clarification, outcome based education, etc.) America largely has a socialistic mindset and ethos. By emphasizing the individual the individual has been eliminated.

Now there is another twist in the way America expresses its socialism and that is how it is managing to build a mono-culture (one Volk, one people, one nation) by appealing to multicultural categories. Most Americans believe that the pursuit of multi-culturalism would be proof positive that we are not a Socialistic people. What they don’t realize is that the cultural / societal solidarity that is being shaped in America is being shaped precisely because we are, as a people, unified in the way we approach multi-culturalism. We are agreed that all gods and all cultures are acceptable as long as they are privatized and know their place and will not seek to arise above the unitarian safety that comes in belonging to the State. In other words, all religions and cultures are welcome in our socialistic arrangement as long as the adherents don’t really take them with any great seriousness. I would also have to say that in this way we are far more Fascist in our socialism then we are Marxist. The goal seems to be to create a bond that reaches across class distinctions in order to build an America that desires to extend its multi-cultural nationalism, internationally. By emphasizing multi-culturalism we have arrived at a Borg like mono-culture.

Another oddity reveals itself in one of the places where this socialistic mindset and ethos is most clearly revealed. Today, it is in the Church, of all places, that one reaps some of the severest consequences for trying to bring an alternate Transcendent to adjudicate the Culture. So many Christians have bought into the Socialistic mindset that we are speaking of here that any attempt to unwrap the flag from the Cross is seen as heresy and gives reason for shunning. The Christian faith has largely been enrolled in the fight to export American multi-cultural Fascistic socialism. Any doubt of this is immediately eliminated where a challenging word is spoken against the current Warfare-Welfare State.

The reality that the State, in this country, is seen as the incarnational apex of the people and that all distinctions between country or people and State have been lost is revealed in the way that politics has become our Theology. This shows that we have lost a true transcendent and are socialistic. The reason that Americans fight so desperately over Politics is that we understand that whoever controls the State gets to define what the country is, and it has gotten to the point that most Americans don’t even realize that there should be a distinction between country and State.

We could go on to speak of how Americans increasingly identify with the Great leader (President). We could talk about the social ostracization that occurs when people color outside the socialist lines. We could talk about the preference for consensus in this country and the current lack of tolerance for conflict and passionate debate as a means to arriving at truth. (This has not always been the case in America.) All of this points to the reality that we are, at the very least, a Socialistic people.