Sunday, November 30, 2014

Inventing the Middle Ages

Norman Cantor (1991) takes the various approaches to medieval historiography and uses them to illustrate scholarship in general, and from there draws a number of interesting conclusions about modern politics, religion, and social life (Cantor, 410-414). Cantor got in trouble for writing this work. While 80% of this work is brilliant scholarship, the other 20% make the tabloids look like peer-reviewed journals! The subtitle of the book should read "Professor Guilty of Sex Scandal: Cantor Tells All!" Then again, that is also why the book is so highly entertaining. After reading this book one may legitimately talk trash about various historians. Just kidding...sort of.

The study of the middle ages in the twentieth century was a microcosm of the larger battle for Western civilization. We see the Hegelian dialectic at work in which the culturally conservative U.S. Government was funding radical left-wing schools in France whose only merit was they were not politically active Communists. We see conservative reactions in the Formalist school, yet even this school merely asserted cultural conservatism--it never defined it at its roots.

Cantor discusses the various approaches to medieval historiography: functionalism, fantasy, the proto-Nazi approach, the French Jewish annales school, and the American school (with a few others).

This review will simply highlight his take on CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, arguably the two most popular writers in the English language in the twentieth century. Secondary attention is given to the American School.

The Oxford Fantasists

This is probably the most famous part of the book. Cantor discusses the two most beloved writers of the English language in the twentieth century: Clive Staples Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Their project is simple: draw upon the glories of medieval culture to rebuilt the shattered England from the ashes of WWII. While they accomplished no such goal, few can deny the staggering impact they have had on readers across the world.

It is at this point in the narrative that scholarly conservatives (and evangelicals in particular) will cry "shenanigans!" Cantor suggests Lewis was sexually repressed and was unable to consummate his marriage for several months, only to have his wife forcibly seduce him (211). The first problem with this statement is the obvious one: evidence? None. The suspected culprit is nearby, however. One suspects Cantor is relying upon the speculations of Ian Wilson, who bore no love for Lewis. Yet, does not Cantor also admit that Wilson failed in the basics of scholarly research and the demonstration of evidence (Cantor, 430)? Why should we take Wilson seriously?

The American School

The American school is the ideological brainchild of Woodrow Wilson. Its particular historical methods are not that important. On the other hand, Woodrow Wilson's worldview has dominated American politics (and by extension, literally the rest of the world) for 90 years. Not surprisingly, we see the American medieval history school as a justification for post-Christian Western politics.

The actual historical arguments by representatives Strayer and others are not that interesting, except for this: it is a specific justification of the Norman invasion of England, and the replacing of Saxon culture with a specifically Norman and Papal culture (269).  And I say this as a personal descendant of William the Conqueror. Such a task also involves a rewriting of the "other" culture's history. Interestingly, Strayer was also a CIA asset (262). One cannot help but speculate on the connections between Wilsonian progressivism, Norman and Frankish historiography, and the CIA: all of which contribute to the relativising of traditional communities around the world (at least today).


The book is outrageous because of its daring. Part of it is brilliant historiography, the rest of it is scandalous tabloid. Let's be honest: few can deny the book's entertaining value. Fewer still can deny its scholarly arguments. Indeed, we followed his arguments because he tied them in with the moral peccadilloes of most of his comrades. Granted, I think he overdid it, nor do I ascribe the same normative and omnipotent value to psychoanalysis, especially the sexual aspects.

On the other hand, this book is a must read in terms of historiography. It should be mandated in all freshman history and liberal arts classes. It is interdisciplinary in character and demonstrates the best ways to integrate various fields.

The King's Two Bodies

Ernst Kantorowicz analyzes the development in later medieval political thought by isolating one aspect of it:  the King’s Two Bodies.   By this phrase he means the conjunction of the king’s own natural body with that of the “body politic” (9).   It is not entirely clear exactly what “body politic” denotes, and Kantorowicz’s ambiguity is deliberate:  the phrase shifted in meaning throughout the Middle Ages.   It is Kantorowicz’s further claim that this shift in meaning had theological roots.
Kantorowicz argues, somewhat counter-intuitively, that “The King’s Two Bodies” is a monophysite construction—while purporting to be an analogy between the King and the divine, it actually takes the form of a heretical Christology (14-15; see also p.18).   The charge of monophysitism is somewhat difficult to follow, but Kantorowicz claims it resulted from the indifference (and inability) to properly distinguish the body of the mortal king from the body of his realm (p. 18).    As is evident, the medieval jurists were seeking to imitate their constructions of kingship from Christological truths.   That is nothing new, nor is there anything wrong with it.  The Eastern Romans already were doing that for hundreds of years.   The problem arose when other theological currents changed the way the Church in the West did Christology, and thus changed the way it did politics.

In the early middle ages Western Europe was similar to the Eastern Romans in terms of using Christology to shape kingship.  Both civilizations shared a common faith and used that common faith to understand politics.   They saw the King as imitator of Christ (47).  It should be noted, however, that the Eastern Romans did not use the phrase “King’s Two Bodies” as extensively (at all?) as the West did.  While the phrase wasn’t heretical, per se, it was always attended by many possible dangers.  In either case, both sides saw the King as the representative, not of God the Father, but of Christ.  This reflects the ancient reading of the Old Testament as a revelation of God the Son.   A moment’s meditation on this point will make it obvious:  political theologies are almost always based on the Old Testament simply because it deals with politics more than does the New Testament.  Therefore, one’s reading of the Old Testament will shape the way one does political theology.
The West’s grammar changed, though.   Previously, kingship was done in the context of liturgy.  The King represented Christ’s rule in a mystical way.  He was anointed with oil for the sake of the realm.   He was, in short, an ikon of popular piety.

The watershed mark demonstrating the transition best is the reign of Otto II, and the best way to illustrate this difference is in the ikonography surrounding Otto.  Otto is important for he represents the intersection between the Byzantine East and Frankish West, including the best and worst elements of both.   Kantorowicz contrasts two ikonographic paintings which portray rulers:  the Aachen miniature over against the Reichenau painting of Otto.   The former portrays the Charlemagnic king as the representative of God the Father whereas the Reichenau painting places Otto in the foreground of a Byzantine halo, suggesting he represents Christ (77).

The above is an important point and I suspect the larger part of it is lost upon Kantorowicz.  This ikonography reflects a shift in theology, which probably reflects a shift in the way sacred texts are read.  It was mentioned earlier that the Old Testament was now read, no longer as a revelation of God the Son, but of God the Father.   One could probably take it a step further—it was seen as a revelation of God-in-general.

The Corpus Mysticum
In many ways it is the concept of a “Mystical Body” that contributed to the secularization of Western political thought.   One must avoid, however, overly simplistic reductions regarding the phrase.  The phrase “Mystical Body” originally connoted the interplay between the Eucharist, the body born of the Virgin Mary, and the Church itself.   While the phrase is not Pauline, if left at this stage there is no problem.   As Kantorowicz, drawing upon the work of Henri Cardinal de Lubac, notes, the distinctions between the two bodies hardened into oppositions.   Therefore, the body of Christ per the Church was separated from the body of Christ the Son of God.  While small at first, this opened the door for a secularization of concepts.

The King as Corporation
One suspects that the idea of the “corporation” arrived in the West coterminous with the sharpening of the “King’s Two Bodies.”  Indeed, even if not chronologically accurate, it is logically consistent.  Jurists were puzzled over the problem of whether the king’s other body—his realm—died when he died.  The short answer to this problem was that the king’s other body did not die.  The people were in-corporated into this body and outlived the king.  The canon lawyers coined a phrase for this:  dignitas non moritur—the dignity does not die.
One cannot avoid noticing throughout this work, and if the argument holds then throughout Western history, a progression of concepts regarding political theology.    Like its Byzantine cousin, Western political theology began with liturgical roots (59).  After the Ottonian period, these liturgical roots were translated into secular terms (115).  Therefore, when the King is called a “corpus mysticum,” this cannot be interpreted in early liturgical Christian categories.  Rather, it can only reflect the ongoing secularization.   Because of the hardening of “the King’s two bodies,” jurists had to account for the fact that the second body, the realm, did not die[i], and they could only do this by introducing the idea of the corporation.  Therefore, one can trace the movement of Western political theology along the following line:

Liturgical Kingship degenerated into a Law-based Kingship which degenerated into Corporate Kingship which degenerated into  and finally  The State


This book is a genealogy of political theology.  It traces the rhythm of Western politics through the lens of a highly disputed phrase.   Further, it traces the nuances later attributed to that phrase, and the earth-shattering consequences.  Our only regret is that this was the only book of its kind that Kantorowicz had written.

There are some difficulties with the book, though.   Kantorowicz does not always identify his main point in each chapter, or he might wait until some random moment in the middle of the chapter before he informs the reader of his argument.   Further, there are some portions of the book which do not seem relevant at all (e.g., his extended discussion on medieval English fiscal rights).   On top of all of this is the rather dense style in which he wrote, coupled with the numerous (usually un-translated) sentences and paragraphs in Latin.  One suspects that many of these phrases are indeed central to his main argument, but if one’s grasp of Latin is not on a post-graduate level, the argument will be lost on the reader.


Thirdly, one suspects that a key point in Kantorowicz’s central thesis is likely lost on the average reader, for Kantorowicz mentions it in passing.  He notes that the phrase “The King’s Two Bodies” has Monophysite tendencies (e.g., the heresy that Christ has only one nature, which is akin to a divino-human hybrid).   For those schooled in church history, this appears counter-intuitive.   “Two Bodies” seems to suggest “two persons,” which is Nestorianism (which is indeed the route many thinkers to the phrase when they referred to the ‘twin-personed’ king).   Further, Western Christologies often have Nestorian tendencies; therefore, it seems odd that a culture operating on a Nestorian Christological structure would employ a Monophysite structure in its political theology.    On the other hand, this might not be too odd.   One should recall St John of Damascus’ dictum that all heresies deconstruct on the same point:  they confuse person and nature.

Regardless, Kantorowicz rightly notes the connection between theological heresy and political theory.   One is reminded, again, of another Patristic father on this matter, St Gregory of Nazianzus.  In his Third Theological Oration St Gregory notes the three opinions about God: monarchy, polyarchy, and anarchy.  St Gregory notes the latter two opinions deconstruct to the same end—chaos.   This leaves monarchy as the only viable option.   English-speaking students are going to miss an important point.    The suffix arche denotes a principle of order for both social and theological ethics.   Therefore, one’s position regarding the Trinity will affect one’s position on politics.

[i] One cannot help by notice the Nestorianism here:  there are two bodies that are separated from each other.  Interestingly, we see that the Monophysite structure of “The King’s Two Bodies” has deconstructed into the dialectically opposite heresy—Nestorianism.

A Filioque Thought Experiment

I hold to something like the Filioque, though I agree most construals of it are painfully bad.  Let's take the term "procession."  The Spirit proceeds from Father-Son.  In the Bible procession has royalist connotations.  Could the Filioque also take on royalist overtones?

We can be certain in history it did not.   Such theocentric Royalism would have detracted from the Papacy's claims to supremacy over Europe.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Pauline Studies as a Formal Theology

One prediction I made about a decade ago was that the hyper TRs in the Reformed world, after having dealt with theonomy and Federal Vision by means of biblical theology arguments, would themselves turn on Biblical Theology and deal with it accordingly.

To say it another way: it's hard to see any rapprochement between biblical and systematic theology in the modern TR conversation.  Note:  I do not criticize Reformed people.  I am in the Reformed tradition.   In any have reason to boast of being a Calvinist, I have more:

Catechized on the 8th day, of the people of Scotland, of the tribe of Cameron, a Scot of Scots, a blogger in the church, as to righteousness under the Law, condemned.

No, I do not think the Church Universal (yeah, I said it) would be as well off today if not for the Reformed faith.  However, it's hard to be optimistic about the future.

Some thinkers have attempted to show the limits of Wrightean acceptance and I like their summaries. I think Mr Wedgeworth did a good job summarizing the issues.  This post isn't to condemn or vindicate Wright, though I am sympathetic to his general project. 

Rather, I think Pauline studies can be used as a guideline for how the church interacts with culture, controversy, and the world (or "civitas" to keep the alliteration going).  Pauline theology is never abstract.  Yet, it maintains its universality. 

For example, the problem of church unity has long bothered me.  While I feel comfortable with my responses to Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy on this point, it's hard to shake the initial challenge.  They seem unified (except to each other!) while Protestantism is fragmented.  What do we say to that?  We say what Paul said, "In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek."  Wait a minute, you respond, that's not answering the question. No, but it's Paul's answer.  If you speak of church unity apart from the blessed reality that Jewish believers and Gentile believers have table fellowship, then you aren't Pauline.  We need to rethink our entire categories. 

Someone will say, "Aren't you New Perspective?"  How do you really respond to that?  I don't think I am.  My formal answer to that question is "no."  But here's the deal:  I am more interested in doing biblical studies and biblical theology than in answering Reformed Shibboleths.  If N.T. Wright helps me solve a problem that's bugged me for over a decade, good for him.  Why must I join sides? 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Liturgy and Apocalypse

Preliminary points (because hard core Reformed people will not grasp this).

  1. Bowing down to man made pesels and pretending that they mediate a higher degree of worship is idolatry and will bring a multi-generational curse from God.
  2. Christ's work is finished and effected in the lives of believers.  Re-enacting it "bloodlessly" is pointless at best and dangerous at worst.
  3. It is true we should not introduce man-made religion into God's worship.
  4. However, even Reformed people are not always consistent.  The Psalms say we should sing a new song to the Lord, but hard-line RPWers say we should sing only psalms, which themselves say we should sing a new song to the Lord.  To say that injunctions to sing new songs with instruments apply only to the ceremonial order seems ad hoc at best.
  5. The Exclusive Psalmody position has the further difficulty of being based mostly (I understand the appeal to Ephesians) on Old Covenant orders.
  6. The EPer gets around this by saying elements of the Psalms are no longer binding today (any reference to singing new psalms and using instruments).
  7. As it stands, (6) seems ad hoc and special pleading, so I do not find the strict RPW case persuasive on a surface level reading.
  8. The distinction between circumstance and element, essential to the RPW, is good but ultimately subjective.  It is a difference in degree, not kind.
With that out of the way.  I agree with the RPW that some ceremonial elements of the Old Covenant typify the work of Christ.    I just don't believe every liturgical "thing" in the Old Testament typifies the work of Christ.  Incense, for example, is not tied to the work of Christ but to the prayers of Christ's people (Revelation 5:8).

The objection often comes:  liturgy deadens worship and detracts from the preaching of the Word.  Yes, there is much dead worship in all mainline churches.  No argument here, but what is "liturgy?"  Usually it means something like "any kind of formal structure that I am not comfortable with."  The problem with that is the NT carries forward a number of OT practices:

  1. Liturgical worship in general (Acts 13.2)
  2. Incense (Revelation 5:8)
  3. The Trisagion (Isaiah 6:3 --> Revelation 4:8)
Someone could respond, "But we aren't supposed to imitate the liturgical structure of Revelation," but this is ridiculous.  Consider:
  1. Revelation specifically says blessed are they who hear and do what is written therein (and this immediately fells all "spiritual" interpretations of Revelation because if everything is "spiritualized," then there is nothing specific "to do").
  2. Liturgy is done in Revelation.
  3. Therefore, we should do liturgy (premises 1, 2). 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review of Boa's Cults and Occult

This is a handy reference for anyone who needs a quick response to the myriad of cultic and occultic movements today.  It is persuasively argued, well-written, and very concise.

Eastern Religions

Boa gives a basic summary of the major Eastern religions, including historical overviews and their internal contradictions.   It's rather short but that's probably the purpose. The reader will be aware of the basic tenets but should supplement his reading with more substantial works.   Of interest, however, and Boa only hints this in passing, is that Eastern religion really can't make sense of the dialectic between monism and dualism.

Pseudo-Christian Groups

The meat of the book, seen in substantially longer chapters, deals with pseudo-Christian groups (Mormons, JWs, Seventh Dayers, etc).  The reason is obvious:  you are more likely to run across a Mormon than a Shinto or Jainist.  And these chapters are outstanding.  One problem in Boa's approach, though:  he claims that one cannot divide the moral law from the ceremonial law (121), but says Christians are under the law of Christ (which includes 9 out of 10 commandments).  I understand why he is saying this in response to SDA, but it is a dangerous, if not faulty approach.

It is interesting to note that many of these bizarre groups got off the ground in the mid 19th century to early 20th century.  Uniting them seems to be a bastardized, primitive version of Hegelianism mixed with revival fervor.   Think of Absolute Idealism as imagined by a high school sophomore.


The most brilliant part of the book was its dealing with the occult.  It was far more substantial in terms of argumentation than the other sections.  My problem is that Boa did not connect the dots between the various occultic systems.  They are not accidentally related.  The larger connection or network is hermeticism.  Boa alludes to hermeticism quite frequently, but he seems to see it as a generic synonym for any one teaching.

Hermeticism, by contrast, is very consistent and specific where it matters (granted, much New Agey occultism practiced by Hollywood is generic nonsense, but that's another story).  Hermeticism has roots in ancient Egypt and Babylon.  It is built on specific numerologies, which often manifest themselves in the aforementioned systems.

In fact, we can take the argument a step further. The godly emperor Justinian the Great smashed hermeticism in the mouth when he shut down several neo-platonic and Pythagorean Academies.  It is no great supposition to believe that these hermetic movements went underground.  We can see their manifesting in the Knights Templars, given that the Templars arose--however externally in Palestine--fully formed and their own hermetic doctrines did not have to evolve.   After they were eradicated we can see (or suppose) hermeticism to have gone underground again only to arise with either the Freemasons or the Illuminati (I speak of the Bavarian Illuminati established by Adam Weisshaupt and not the Sex Cult of Hollywood Rappers Today).

I am not ready to say who was the primary influence--Freemasons or Illuminati.  I suppose it really doesn't matter for practical purposes.  What we can say of these two movements (and I leave aside guys like the MI-6 agent Alastair Crowley for the moment) is that they gave Hermeticism a quasi-institutional vehicle in which to move forward.

Of course, I really didn't expect Boa to go into all of that when each chapter is only a few pages long. 

Other criticisms

The section on Madame Blavatsky probably should have been placed in the Occult section instead of the Pseudo-Christian cults.  Blavatsky claimed to have received messages from "Serapis," (no doubt she did, though Serapis is likely a demon).  Further, Boa just gave surface-level responses when Blavatsky's Gnosticism is easy prey to a full-orbed Patristic attack.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Review of Gillquist's Becoming Orthodox

More than just an apologia for becoming Eastern Orthodox, Peter Gillquist’s book is an important chapter in the history of American Evangelicalism. Gillquist details his theological journey from the early days of Campus Crusade and its structured chaos to the Evangelical Orthodox Church till his “homecoming” in the Antiochian Orthodox Church. If one wants a thorough, rigorous defense of key Orthodox practices, this book will disappoint you. If one wants an engaging (and sometimes moving) account of a man’s life, this is the book for you. 

Gillquist’s book can be evaluated on three levels: Agreement, Maybe...but, and Disagreement. It isn’t fair to attack him for not going over an issue in depth, but one may raise counter-questions and analyses of issues he did address--which is what I’ll do. 

His first few chapters detail his Campus Crusade background, his growing disillusionment with the lowest of low-church Evangelicalism, and his structured study of early church history. It’s a fairly interesting section and I have no real beef with it, save a few corrections. He states that it was Athanasius’s defense and usage of homousios at Nicea that won the day. However, one can question whether Athanasius was even at the council (it would have been odd if he were, given his youth; even if he were, he wasn’t a bishop at that time so he wouldn’t have mattered) and he didn’t begin using homousion until much later.

Gillquist then examines the usage of bishops. He doesn’t deal with all the texts that equate episkopos and presbuteros, nor can one seriously entertain his claim that Ignatios of Antioch was a monarchical bishop well before the end of the 1st Century. , there are much better defenses of episcopacy than what Gillquist offers. 

Tradition: This is the most contentious section of the book. He gives the most argument for his beliefs in this section. He begins by correctly noting two different usages of tradition in the NT (62). Few Protestants would disagree so far. Gillquist, however, is aware of the real problem: how do you know this practice/dogma is part of the “real tradition” (64)? His answer “Holy Tradition.” (This is circular reasoning) He backs up this particular claim with two more claims: one being Jesus’s promise to the church and the other a sort of transcendental argument based on the canon. Per the first claim: Jesus said he would preserve his church (65). He wants to assert--without argument--that his traditions today are what have always been the case. However, Nobody believes that Jesus promised perpetual infallibility to the church on this point (even Rome doesn’t even say that). How does it follow, then, that the myriad of small practices that aren’t in the NT are part of apostolic tradition? Appealing to apostolic tradition simply begs the question. 

Elsewhere, Gillquist rightly claims that proper tradition is what the apostles taught (72). This raises a question: if a practice is demonstrated to have arisen later in history, can it seriously claim to be apostolic tradition? 

Gillquist’s second argument is if tradition is wrong, then how can we trust the canon? (He hints--correctly---that the table of contents page in the Bible is also tradition). The best approach to this challenge is to simply say, “Yeah, so?” If the Protestant holds that the canon is a magical depository from heaven apart from human reception, then it’s pretty hard to argue with Gillquist. If we say that it is a fallible collection of infallible texts (per Bruce Metzger and R. C. Sproul), then Gillquist’s challenge evaporates.

His section on liturgy was mostly good, though he does jump to a lot of conclusions. He occasionally equivocates on the term "liturgy." He correctly notes that liturgy is structured worship and he has a fairly good review of all the texts in OT and NT that use structured liturgy. It is a far cry, however, to note that this liturgy is the same as the small intricacies that one finds in a modern, post-NIKON Orthodox service. The rest of this section is a defense of peculiar Orthodox practices. With the exception of Marian-veneration, these practices aren’t themselves arguments pro or con the Orthodox position, I will leave it at that.

The final part is an explanation of how his Evangelical Orthodox Church (imagine a jurisdictionless group of Evangelicals pretending to be Orthodox) became Orthodox. It’s actually a fairly engaging read. His trip to Instabul has elements of a spy novel in it. (I was saddened at the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s rejection of the EOC coming into Orthodoxy en toto. Not that I really care what happens to them, but it does show why the Ecumenical Patriarchate his hemorraging members worldwide: the desire for Hellenism and Greek-ness seems to trump more basic issues like Galatians 3:28). By contrast, the Antiochians seemed like swell people.

Gillquist, who seemed like a noble gentleman and one who certainly had the gift of evangelism, is an excellent example of why the loosey-goosey, low church model is so disastrous. It cannot feed the soul and is divorced from the entirety of Christendom. While the Evangelical Church has done a better job today recovering biblical preaching, it must also reach back to the earlier liturgies of the Reformation (which, with a few exceptions, were based on earlier Western liturgies).

Friday, November 21, 2014

Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare

Michael Hoffman analyses both how shadow governments use psychological warfare and why it works on late American man. Along the way we get a brilliant analysis of occult symbolism. Hoffman suggests that moden American man suffers from three things: amnesia, abulia, and apathy (Hoffman 9). This is important for his next thesis: the shadow government (or Cryptocracy or Regime or New World Order, call it what you will) can “pull these stunts” largely because a) the people are apathetic and so b) won’t resist.

Hermeticism and Alchemy

Alchemy is not simply transmuting lead into gold. It is transmuting society as well. It is turn to lead (traditional Christian man) into gold (Enlightenment project). Fabled alchemy had at least three goals to accomplish before the total decay of matter, the total breakdown we are witnessing all around us today, was fulfilled--at least for American culture-- and these are:

1.The Creation and Destruction of Primordial Matter (the atom was split at Trinity Site, NM, which runs along the 33rd degree north latitude)

2. The Killing of the Divine King. (JFK was killed at the 33rd degree of north parallel latitude between the Trinity River and the Triple Underpass at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Dealey Plaza was the site of the first masonic temple in Dallas. This was also a televised slaughter in a sense). And for the record, the above analysis stands no matter one’s views on the Official Government Story of Spanky the Magic Bullet. For the record, I believe in the Magic Bullet. The above argument hinges on topography and synchronicity, not on who the shooter was.

3.The Bringing of Prima Materia to Prima Terra (91).

a.The "Phoenix" lunar landing module, after its return to the orbiting mother ship piloted by Michael Collins, was jettisoned directly into the sun in fulfillment of one of the most persistent themes of alchemical lore and Rosicrucian poetry: the "sexual marriage" of the sun and the moon (98).

These alchemical goals have been accomplished. The question remains: what is the affect/effect upon modern society? Hoffman notes,

“We are mocked, disoriented and demoralized. Occult prestige and potency is heightened. This is what simplistic researchers miss: the function of macabre arrogance thumbing its nose at us while we do nothing except spread the tale of their immunity and invincibility further. That is the game plan operant here” (89).

The message is subtler than that. By common law and moral law those who are aware of crimes are also guilty. The Regime’s after-the-fact revelations is designed to further our guilt, knowing we won’t do anything about it. It is social engineering at its finest. Hoffman continues,

“As I've pointed out, secrets like this were rarely revealed in the past because traditional people had not yet completed the alchemical processing. To make such perverse, modern revelations to an unprocessed, healthy and vigorous population possessed of will, memory, adherence to their deepest inner intuition and intense interest in their own salvation, would not have been a good thing for the cryptocracy. It would have proved fatal to them.

But to reveal these after-the-act secrets in our modern time, to a people who have no memory, no will-power and no interest in their own fate except in so far as it may serve as momentary
titillation and entertainment actually strengthens the enslavement of such a people (89)”.


The book’s weakness is its brevity. Too many explosive issues were only barely touched upon. One wishes that he would have better documented some Freemasonic references. I understand his interest in the Son of Sam murders, but it appears he overdeveloped that point. Aside from these criticisms, the book is pure gold.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Some early thoughts on monarchism

Maybe it is a fairy tale.   To quote Chesterton, I’ve often found fairy tales to be closer to reality.  In this case, monarchy and Faerie are quite similar.  Both act as a goad upon what is currently perceived as “reality.”  Faerie reminds us that the current fallen world is not the ultimate reality and we quietly attest to this fact when we reflect upon the intense joy and melancholy we feel when we hear Fairy Tales.

Likewise, Monarchy reminds us that the current power games politicians play is not RULE at its finest.  Monarchy reminds us that these cheap, jaded politicians do not reflect the Reign of the Resurrected Christ.  Even if a Monarch never was a liturgical icon of heaven, the idea (Plato, thou dost haunt us to this day!) of that reminds us modern republicanism certainly is not.  To quote N. T. Wright, “Monarchy acts as an angled mirror that allows us to see around the corners of this fallen world into a more beautiful one.”

We often think that the monarchy of Romans 13 (and St Paul originally thought of him as a monarch, not as a democratically-elected President) as God’s minister means we can’t rebel and, aww shucks, we have to obey him.  That goes without saying, I suppose, but why do people automatically assume the worst-case scenario?  Why not see the monarch as God’s minister as an icon of heaven.   Fallen, yes.   But why not see him, like we see the icon, as pointing to heaven?

So is monarchy really just a fairy tale?  Sure.  Why not?  In fact, does not framing it that way sort of point to the truth of it?  I’m not offering slam dunk arguments that prove monarchy at this point.  There are many limitations.  I don’t deny it.  But maybe I can get some people to think, “Hey, why does voting seem so futile?  Why does it seem that for whomever I vote I get the same socialist package?  Why is politics such a dirty concept?”  Liturgical Monarchy can point us beyond these categories.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Upcoming projects

I haven't posted much lately.   I have a few projects in the works.  I plan on two book reviews:  Michael Hoffman's superb Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare and Kenneth Boa's book on the Occult.  I want to give a Christian analysis of the occult and hint at ways we can respond to it.

Most of the conservative and traditional responses to the Occult and "The Regime" are pretty bad.  I hope to point towards possible venues.  The men of Issachar in the Old Testament were said to know the signs of the times and what Israel was to do.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reviewing Gillquist's Becoming Orthodox (1)

This will be an irenic review.  Or the first of several posts.  Gillquist is legendary in the American Church community for moving from parachurch to The Church.  I want to examine why he did this and what it entails for the American Church.

Chapters 1-3

Gillquist is the best example of what I will call "The Zondervan Revolution."  The American Evangelical world found themselves--say around the 1970s onward--gifted in communication and administration in an environment waiting for growth.  One of the casualties was the Church.   Evangelicals were hard-pressed to answer "Why?" when the "Church" was asked.

For all of his success as an evangelist and church-planter, and there is no doubt that Gillquist had the Gift of Evangelism*, Gillquist realized that the parachurch model is not what Christ had in mind. So he and his buddies got together to "find the New Testament Church."  They delegated different topics for study: history, theology, liturgy, government.  Now for the heart of the review:

On Liturgy

PG is correct to see that the church has always been "liturgical." Since I, too, believe in liturgy, I won't develop the point here.  He also rightly points out that even the most spontaneous services are the same every week, as are the Jesus Weejus prayers ("Dear Jesus, we just...")


Here is where it gets tricky and he could slow down on the argument.  He knows that the NT sometimes uses "episkopos" and "presbuteros" interchangeably.  He asserts that James was the Bishop of Jerusalem (Gillquist 37) and if true, this would clinch the argument.  I just don't find the evidence that James was said bishop as compelling as he does.

He then brings up Ignatius and says Ignatius was bishop beginning in 67 A.D.  But the reality is far more complicated.  It's by no means clear that Ignatius was a "bishop" as early as 67.  And what do we mean by "bishop?" Ignatius himself seemed to think that the bishop was the president of the Eucharist.

Ironically for this review, I actually think there are much, much stronger defenses of episcopal government (cf Sutton, "Captains and Courts"). Honestly, this was rather weak (and I am not just saying this as a presbyterian).

The section on early Christology was okay, if basic.  One factual error.  He said per the Nicene Council that "The Orthodoxy of Athanasius prevailed at the council" (41).  We don't have evidence that Athanasius was even at the Nicene Council, and it would be odd if he were given his youth.  Further, Athanasius's key arguments against Arius were far later in his career.

*Raises an interesting topic:  The Holy Spirit exercising gifts--gifts which are always for the building up of the church--outside specific church (TM) boundaries.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Classical Christian Beginning List

These are books that I have read and have found helpful (or not helpful).  There are other fine works that I have not yet read that should be good.  Anything by Thomas Oden and Christopher Hall should be read if it is already not on this list.  

Why should we pursue a Classical Christian Conversation?

In short, for all of the problems and inadequacies in the Fathers, the fact remains that if you want to learn early liturgics and the Trinity, you have to sit at their feet.  Further, whatever galling problems we may see in the Fathers, the same symptom is in us:  are we self-critical?  Can we stand outside our own understanding of the world?  It’s not so easy, isn’t it?  Reading the Fathers allows us to stand outside our own position and ask, “Why would someone believe this so firmly?”

Ancient Christian Commentary Series.  There are some limitations to this series (inevitable arbitrariness in selection; insane prices--though I understand why), but it succeeds in what it sets out to do:  it gives you substantial commentary on the Scriptures and it offers superior translations than the common Schaff volumes.

Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures.  Not all of these will be equally persuasive, but it is a nice summary of Ante-Nicene and Nicene thought.  The lectures on antichrist and the end times are really fun.  Yarnold has released a new edition of Cyril and though incomplete, it should provide a welcome introduction and better translation than what is found in the Schaff series.

Hall, Christopher.  Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers.  There are two others in this series (Worship and Theology) that are probably excellent, but I haven’t read them.  Also see the lectionary cycle put out under Hall’s aegis.  

Oden, Thomas.  After Modernity...What? A mid-point update of Oden’s pilgrimage out of liberalism and into a patristic theology.  

Webber, Robert.  Who Gets to Narrate the World?  This was really good.  Imagine a short and up-to-date statement of City of God.  He even points out the dangers of Wahabbist Islam, though he doesn’t point to the American financial backers.

Read, but Beware

The following works are thoughtful and suggestive, but deeply problematic in many important areas.  Pastors should be familiar with them since many parishioners, especially history majors on a college campus, will be reading and asking questions.

Webber, Robert.  Ancient-Future Faith.  Much of it is good and a breath of fresh air compared to the 40 Days of Sexual Silliness too often found in the Evangelical world.  Unfortunately, while Webber is rightly critical of modernity, postmodernity seems to get a free pass.  Further, he is appreciative of Rome in ways that he does not realize Rome’s claim to totality.  

--------------.  Ancient-Future Worship.   This is actually outstanding.   Worship is the public re-enactment of God’s narrative.  Brilliant. Unfortunately, he allows for some silliness at the end.

-------------.  Ancient-Future Time.  I didn’t care for it, but that’s not the problem.  Anyone who wants to say we are under a certain “calendar” based on seasons needs to own up to Paul’s warning that we are no longer under the Stoichea.  

----------.  Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail.  Larger arguments of what is permitted in the worship service aside, this book is both interesting and incomplete.  He does rightly capture why Evangelicals are wanting more than “3 songs and a lecture,” and even probes that we need to give good outlets for this, but this book was written before the ECUSA declared open war on God, his people, and his word.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Torrancian Direction: Achievements and Limits

I've been interacting with Thomas F. Torrance's works for about four years now.  Most Reformed only know him because of his Barthian leanings on Reformation history.  Admittedly, Richard Muller has completely discredited his historiography, but that's not my interest.  When it comes to science and Patrology, he has an encyclopedic mind.  In fact, his studies on Athanasius could be possible advances in theology.

Currently listening to his Belfast Lectures. If someone can find his Ground and Grammar lectures in mp3, let me know.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Intro post

My old blog Bayou Huguenot served its purpose, yet I was not pleased at its direction.  My tone became angry and I realized whatever good I planned to do with my book on Orthodoxy would be negated by my tone and direction.

I began asking myself several questions:
  1. What can I present that Reformed Protestants today are generally lacking in?
  2. Per number (1), is there an aspect in which I have read a lot and could contribute something on the popular level?
These answers are:
  1. The Eastern Fathers.
  2. Gregory Nazianzus

Other Reformed guys are good at the minutiae of Reformed distinctives.  God bless them for it.  I can hold my own in such a discussion, but I never see it advancing anywhere.  I hope my understanding of the Eastern Fathers, particularly Gregory Nazianzus, can help inquirers into Orthodoxy from a Reformed perspective.  My goal is no longer to "keep people from Orthodoxy at all costs."  It's rather: to show where the two sides meet, where they diverge, and if any discussion possible. 

Many of those who do leave for Orthodoxy haven't explored all the options.  That is not necessarily their fault.  One essay I planned to write was "The Zondervan Revolution."  Evangelicalism became so successful that it failed to "nail down" key areas--areas which were then not under attack.

Then there are the problems of over reaction to Rome.  This over-reaction meant, for example, "all icons are out," even if the icons weren't being worshiped.  The problem was the same argument must also be applied to pictures of Calvin.

I could multiply examples, but it comes down to this:  There is an avenue of thought that allows for the richness that Evangelicals are seeking without succumbing to what I believe are weaknesses in the Orthodox (and by extension, Roman) approach.

This blog will explore those areas.