iBooks Publish Announcement: A Denomination’s Debacle

I have published my fourth eBook on iBooks.  If you have an iOS device then you can use this link to access.  If you do not use an iOS device, a PDF version can be found on my blog using this link.

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A Denomination’s Debacle

This book is an indictment of the leadership elite who have driven the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), or PCUSA, into an utter debacle.

The most visible aspect of this debacle is the unprecedented loss of membership and churches that occurred between 2011 and 2017. Over that time span the PCUSA experienced a net loss of 601,000 members and 1146 churches, which is almost 30% of its membership and almost 12% of its churches. But these numbers don’t capture the human cost in broken trust, lost faith and shattered relationships that has occurred behind the scenes.

What remains is a denomination dominated by a post-Christian elite who use their power to advance a social gospel that is virtually indistinguishable from the secular Progressive political project. To some readers this charge against the PCUSA leadership will seem to be not just extraordinary, but also unbelievable. This book contains the extraordinary evidence that justifies the charge.

Preface Excerpt

The reader may well ask why I feel compelled to tell this story. I do so for three reasons.

First, the elite denominational leadership has obtained this end under the cloak of purposeful deception. This deception is not found in their policy and theological positions. No, they have aggressively advanced their cause with general honesty. The deception is that they claim to have been doing so as a legitimate expression of orthodox Reformed Christianity. By so doing they have preyed with premeditation and malice upon the trust of the denomination’s parishioners. We will never recover from this spell unless the truth is exposed.

Second, there are still many faithful members and churches in the PCUSA. However, unless they fully understand the forces arrayed against them they will likely eventually succumb. Only if they understand that their presence in the denomination is as a light shining in the darkness can they be protected from the apostasy and heresy that surrounds them. That understanding is what sustained the Apostles and early Christians as they proclaimed the Gospel as isolated individuals and churches in the pagan Roman Empire. The challenge we face is far less extreme. Yet, if we prioritize the comfort and peace of our lives over our responsibilities as followers of Christ even the small courage required will elude us.

Finally, the forces that have corrupted the PCUSA act upon our general culture and thus are not unique to this denomination. Therefore, we can expect that other churches and denominations are struggling under the same theological onslaught as has laid the PCUSA low. Thus this book attempts to explain these forces and how a corrupt leadership can by deception and seduction smuggle false theology into an otherwise orthodox Christian fellowship.

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The Passing Progressive Parade (2)

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Time to Put Up on Illegal Immigration

Background

I think that it’s time for our Progressive betters to put up or shut up about illegal immigration.  You’d have to be living in a cave to not notice the hectoring, highhanded, contemptuous onslaught of moral preening by Progressives on this issue.  There can no longer be any doubt that this elite and wealthy cohort supports a policy of “open borders.”

A majority of the Democrat Party base believes in open borders.

But Democrats’ response on the hot-button issue of immigrants being allowed to remain in the United States if they make it to the border was stunning. The pollster asked, “Do you think that people who make it across our border illegally should be allowed to stay in the country or sent home?”

… A staggering 53 percent of Democrats polled, however, believe that any immigrant that makes it to America’s borders should be allowed to stay.

The Democrat presidential candidates have also endorsed open borders.

There’s one clear policy takeaway from the second Democratic debate in Miami on Thursday night — the Democratic candidates are pushing for de facto open borders.

In a stunning moment, every single candidate on stage, including the leaders of the pack — former Vice President Joe Biden and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders — raised their hands to signal their support for government-run health care that covers illegal immigrants.  …

Later in the debate, all but one of the candidates again raised their hands, this time to signal they would decriminalize border crossings.

What these developments mean are:

  1. The Democrat Party wants anyone of the 6+ billion people living outside of the United States to be able to enter without limit and without anyone knowing who they are;
  2. The U.S. taxpaying citizens will be obligated to provide free health care and other social services to this unlimited population of immigrants.
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Top 25 wealthiest U.S. counties and how they voted in the 2016 Presidential election (Blue = D, Red = R).

Where exactly do these wealthy Progressives expect this uncontrolled mass of humanity to live?  Certainly not in their upscale, gated and protected communities!  No, these immigrants of unknown origins and intentions will be living in communities without the wealth and political muscle to keep newcomers out.  Thus it will be the less prosperous areas that suffer the school crowding, increased crime, health care system overload and culture shock of mass, uncontrolled immigration.

But there’s a problem.  These Progressive moral betters haven’t yet been able to convince a majority of the general public to support this policy.  This in spite of a decades long campaign to do so.  Clearly a new persuasion strategy is sorely needed.

The Wealthy Progressive’s Put Up Strategy

Let’s start with what is known for sure about the Progressive elite:

  • They are far wealthier than the typical U.S. citizen;
  • They are far more altruistic and generally moral (because they do endlessly say so themselves) than their fellow citizens;
  • Unlike their typical fellow citizens, they are not controlled by ignorant fear, but rather are the fearless vanguard of a utopian world order (because they do endlessly say so themselves).
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Nancy Pelosi’s Napa Valley compound could accommodate hundreds of open borders immigrants.

Therefore, the Progressive elites can convince the deplorable masses through leadership by example, that being:

  • Since these wealthy individuals live in large homes with guest bedrooms and cottages, they commit to putting up signs that invite anyone who wishes to take up residence in their homes.
  • Commit to meeting all of the human needs (after all, these are human rights!) of every person who takes up residence in their home.
  • Commit to expanding community institutions and services to meet the needs of these welcomed guests (without limit and without cost to the immigrants).
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Look at all the unused space in the wealthiest county in the U.S., Loudoun County VA (near Washington D.C., of course).  Just think how many open borders immigrants could live there in utter harmony with its morally superior Progressive community!

By showing the unwilling how they have nothing to fear, how they have nothing to lose, how beautifully this all works out, our Progressive betters will shame us deplorables into accepting their open borders policy!  After all, don’t the elite Progressives endlessly say that the wealthy aren’t doing their “fair share?”  Here’s your opportunity to turn that propaganda statement into lived reality!

Don’t let us down you mighty moral betters!

Taking Stock at the 500th Post

500posts

General Comments

So here I am writing the 500th post on this blog!  The first post is dated November 25, 2014 and titled “Opening Thoughts.”  My first paragraph is:

This blog will focus on my sense of sojourning through a foreign land as an orthodox, Reformed Christian.  This sense has been a longstanding one with regard to the popular culture here in the United States. I am by no means isolated from this country’s entertainment, political and business cultures.  In fact, I am an active participant in them all.  Though many aspects of these cultures are troubling, I am accustomed to dealing with the challenges and benefits that they provide.

Looking back 499 posts later I’m reasonably comfortable with my adherence to this framework.  That being the responses of an orthodox Reformed Christian to a wide variety of issues within the United States.

I am shocked by the speed that this “foreign land” has expanded over these mere four and a half years.  At the start my sense of alienation was clear but not central. Now I find myself fundamentally alienated from my Christian denomination, the culture and the political environment.  Therefore this blog has transformed from one  centered on exploration to one focused on identifying and exposing the myriad of insane ideas that are driving our civilization towards destruction.

Thus what began as an exploration focused on the PCUSA has expanded into areas such as environmentalism, philosophy, economic systems, politics, heresy, literature, abortion and anti-Semitism, among many others.  I have published three eBooks, all focused on topical issues addressed through Biblical exposition and meditation.  Most recently I have added satire as a means of communicating my concerns.

I have identified the prime driver of civilizational destruction to be Progressive ideology as practiced by both secular and religious institutions.  Therefore I have focused strongly on a critique of this ideology’s foundations, strategies and results.  Some of the major themes of this critique are:

I’ve also attempted to understand and then explain the philosophical underpinnings of the Progressive project (e.g., postmodernism, nihilism, Marxism, multiculturalism, intersectionality, pacifism, Gnosticism, identity, etc.).  My goal is to enhance our ability to counter their positions and to unmask the shocking evil that hides beneath that wafer-thin veneer of moral and intellectual posturing (many people who parrot the Progressive ideology have no idea what they are actually supporting).

Although I have expanded my scope far beyond the PCUSA, I still maintain a regular focus on this my denomination. The only way that I can maintain my Christian conscience is by a posture of opposition and rejection.  Yes, there remain many faithful pastors, elders, deacons and members in the denomination.  However, the theology and behavior of the dominant Progressive leadership has been so outrageously apostate and dishonorable that to remain silent is tantamount to support.  My voice is small, yet I will not choose silence.  So, as long as I’m in this denomination I will speak out as necessary.

I’m currently working on a new eBook provisionally titled A Denomination’s Debacle.  The book pulls together much of the PCUSA information and associated commentary from this blog with the addition of new material to fill-out the story.  It’s currently over 300 pages long, which is almost twice the length of my previous longest eBook.  It troubles me that through exclusive use of publicly available information such a substantial case for the PCUSA elite’s apostasy and corruption can be made.

the-truth-about-truth-a-nietzsche-feature-darwin-festival-version-3-638The “God is Dead” Christian Elite

Throughout this blog’s existence I have occasionally paused to discuss why our elite Christian leadership believes and behaves as it does.  Along these lines I have explored postmodern Christianity, the Social Gospel, Gnosticism and raw power politics, among others.  However, identification of a single unifying principle for this phenomena has to this point eluded me.

Perhaps the foundational principle is that these “Christian” elites agree with Nietzsche that belief in “God” as a reality upon which Western Civilization can base its religious/moral world view, “is dead.”  Let’s think through the consequences of this hypothesis.

Let’s say that you are a pastor or elder who has personally lost faith in the Christian God (or any god for that matter). And, you find that there are many others in the church who hold similar views.  So, you all find yourselves in an organization (i.e., the church) whose fundamental reason for existing has, in your opinion, vanished.  Yet the church has many remaining members and wields moral power in the civilization.  What then to do?

Well, you could work to dissolve the church by openly arguing that it has become obsolete and useless.  However, given that tens of millions still (foolishly in your opinion) believe in God’s existence you would likely fail and be expelled.  Therefore you would have to create a new organization to advance your philosophy.  That’s a very heavy lift with a small likelihood of success.  Far better to remain in the church but work for its transformation into an institution that does “social good.”

Of course, if “God is dead” and the Bible is thus null and void, how to find the social good to pursue?  The answer was found in the most aggressive, organized and presumptive human ideology supposedly pursuing the “social good,” that being what we now call Progressivism (which has its roots in Marxism, as contemporary Progressives are finally admitting).  Thus the elite Christian leadership of Mainline Denominations turned their churches from the Gospel of Jesus Christ to “the gospel of social change and justice” as defined by the secular Progressive political project.

chasmFor decades this stealth-coup was hidden behind multiple complex theological smoke screens that orthodox Christians had great difficulty penetrating.  However, with the advent of gay ordination and marriage the chasm between orthodoxy and heterodoxy became so vast that no amount of smoke could obscure it.  Thus we have seen the parting of ways where so many orthodox members and churches have exited.

Yet some orthodox members and churches have so far decided to remain.  If they do so with the clear understanding that they are missionaries to a now pagan, post-Christian denomination then perhaps they can successfully maintain their orthodox Christian identity.

However, if they pretend that they remain part of a “Christian” denomination then they will almost certainly be eventually converted and then absorbed.  This will occur because they grant legitimacy to the denomination’s dominant post-Christian ideology and thus will increasingly fall prey to its influence.  If that be their end then they have no excuse, for they have been warned and their consciences will testify against them at the time of accounting.

Environmentalism Becomes a Death Cult (8)

culture+shock+deathwishClosing Thoughts

How did we go from a movement that sought to create a cleaner, safer environment for human beings to one that fantasizes about their extinction?  A starting point for understanding is the observation that the trajectory of environmentalism fits a pattern.  That is, many of the the people (perhaps a plurality) who inhabit Western Civilization have been convinced in general that their civilization’s sins are so heinous that it deserves to die.  And, that they, as beneficiaries of that civilization bear those sins in their persons as unearned, even stolen privilege.  Therefore their very lives and those of their fellows are not worth valuing or defending.

Look, for example, at the Open Borders movement.  What these people are literally saying is that the seven-billion people who live outside of the United States and European Union have the innate, absolute right to not only immigrate here, but also to be socially and financially supported by those already here.  This position is nothing other than a civilizational death wish made practical by immigration policies.

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The Progressive Left’s attitude about the lives of their fellow citizens on display.

Of course this idea doesn’t envision our actual deaths, but rather our nation’s and culture’s death.  However, there is plenty of the murderous that will occur as our nation collapses into chaos.  This certainty causes not the slightest concern in our moral betters who demand this path be taken, as they imagine that they will sit atop this new world, thus living as well or better than they do now.  For those who suffer the consequences, well, they’re just finally getting what they richly deserve.

The underlying psychological cause of this guilt in the general population was brilliantly summarized in an essay titled “The Strange Persistence of Guilt,” by Dr. Wilfred M. McClay in The Hedgehog Review.

art-sd_guiltWhat makes the situation dangerous for us, as Fredriksen observes, is not only the fact that we have lost the ability to make conscious use of the concept of sin but that we have also lost any semblance of a “coherent idea of redemption,” the idea that has always been required to accompany the concept of sin in the past and tame its harsh and punitive potential. The presence of vast amounts of unacknowledged sin in a culture, a culture full to the brim with its own hubristic sense of world-conquering power and agency but lacking any effectual means of achieving redemption for all the unacknowledged sin that accompanies such power: This is surely a moral crisis in the making—a kind of moral-transactional analogue to the debt crisis that threatens the world’s fiscal and monetary health. The rituals of scapegoating, of public humiliation and shaming, of multiplying morally impermissible utterances and sentiments and punishing them with disproportionate severity, are visibly on the increase in our public life. They are not merely signs of intolerance or incivility, but of a deeper moral disorder, an Unbehagen that cannot be willed away by the psychoanalytic trick of pretending that it does not exist.

This is the description of a culture in which the affected members feel guilt-ridden about every possible ill that exists in this fallen world because they have been convinced that it all can somehow be traced back to them as the prime cause.  Therefore, they have no right to defend their right to exist.

But we can’t leave uncommented upon the misanthropy of the elite Progressive class that uses these ideologies of self-destruction to obtain and hold power.  Victor Davis Hanson, in an article titled “A License to Hate,” provided a dozen specific examples of elite hatred of and invective against a plurality of their fellow citizens.  He concluded with these thoughts.

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Rick Wilson characterized Donald Trump’s supporters as his “credulous rube ten-toothed base” on CNN

What does all this hate speech signify?

One, there is terrible frustration among both the progressive Left (and the Never Trump Right whose luminaries have mused about replacing a supposed spent white working class with purportedly more energetic immigrants). So far Trump has not been stopped. His foreign and domestic agendas often find success and resonate with about 40-45 percent of the American people. Much of the uncouthness, then, reflects their own frustrations and sense of alienation that millions of Americans have tuned them out.

Second, most of the slurs are voiced by elites, especially politicos, journalists, and celebrities. Perhaps their angst is driven by class—as in how can their own superior logic and reasoning fail to resonate with 63 million voters? Answer: Trump voters are hopelessly obtuse to the point that they cannot even take care of their own personal hygiene or are now descending into simian status.

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Jim Carey tweeted a picture of Trump supporters as apes who have devolved from MAGA hat wearing humans

Third, cowardice plays a role. Those who slander the deplorables and irredeemables assume that they can say almost anything and expect no pushback, given the white working classes lack the romance of the poor and the supposed panache of the elite. A race to the bottom develops in which the more the hatred, the more the clicks and the media exposure. Minority critics expect their own identity politics affiliations to shield them from criticism. Wealthy white elites virtue-signal their disgust for those without privilege as a way of ensuring that those like themselves, who most certainly enjoy privilege, are rewarded with ideological exemptions for it.

Finally, we are learning that the entire idea of political correctness was never much about universal ideas of tolerance of the other, or insistence that language and protocols must not stigmatize individuals by lumping them into stereotyped and dehumanized collective groups.  What we are witnessing, instead, is that it is fine to demonize millions, from their appearance to their purported hygiene and smell to affinities with feces and apes—if it serves political or cultural agendas.

In sum, cultural progressivism is about raw power, not principle.

How large of a step is it between visceral, dehumanizing hatred of fellow Americans and concluding that the world would be a much better place without their evil influence?  Let’s hope that we are not on our way to finding out.

Decoding Progressivism (10)

Toxic Masculinity Edition

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Nancy Pelosi Defends the Honor of Violent MS-13 Gang Members

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi responded to President Trump calling violent MS-13 gang members “animals,” at her weekly press briefing Thursday morning. Pelosi says Trump’s comments as reported are a new low, and make her wonder if the president believes “we are all God’s children” or not.

“When the president of the United States says about undocumented immigrants, ‘these are not people, these are animals,’ you have to wonder, does he not believe in the spark of divinity? In the dignity and worth of every person? ‘These are not people, these are animals,’ from the president of the United States.”

“Every day you think you’ve seen it all, along comes another manifestation of why their policies are so inhumane,” she said.

“Calling people animals is not a good thing,” she said, before ending the news conference and walking out.

Nancy Pelosi Can’t Find a “Spark of Divinity” in Middle Americans who Don’t Vote Democratic

Emphasis added.  Wow.  Surely suburban men are now even worse!  By the way, Progressives now also hate white suburban women.

Scarborough asks her:

But how do Democrats who have the right policies economically. in their minds, how do they reconnect with a middle America who feels like sometimes they are looked down upon because of their faith or their values?

PELOSI: Well, thank you for asking that question because the cultural issue, and especially when it comes to rural America, the isolation that some people feel there, plus they don’t think that Democrats are people of faith, when the fact is that we are. And I say, this will be a little not in keeping with the spirit of the day of unity, but I say they pray in church on Sunday and prey on people the rest of the week, and while we’re doing the Lord’s work by ministering to the needs of God’s creation they are ignoring those needs which is to dishonor the God who made them.

Can there be any doubt why President Trump encouraged the Democrats to re-elect Nancy Pelosi to Speaker of the House?  Please Speaker Pelosi, keep sharing your Progressive Wisdom with us!

So you see, by Nancy Pelosi’s logic it’s not MS-13 gang members who prey on others, but rather church-going middle Americans.  Thanks for so conclusively confirming Peggy Noonan’s statement that “we are patronized by our inferiors.”

President Obama Denies the Source of Islamic Terror

Emphasis added.

This week came news that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant burned alive a Jordanian pilot in a metal cage. … — beheadings, mass murders, rape, human slavery, state sponsorship of terrorism, and military conquest — jihadists are perpetrating in Muhammad’s name. …

Obama has reinforced the left’s proclivity to condemn critics of radical Islam instead of the jihadists who fight in its name.

Only last week, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest and Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz staunchly denied to an incredulous press corps that the Taliban is a terrorist organization. … The purpose of the White House’s ludicrous denial is to hide that the basis of the Taliban’s enmity, strategy, and objectives is a doctrine of Islamic supremacy.

Such suppression is nothing new for the administration. As early as early 2009, it renamed campaigns in the struggle against Islamic extremism “overseas contingency operations.”

Progressive Chris Murphy Explains Away Islamic Terror

Shortly after three men with knives and a van spent eight minutes murdering and maiming people at random on London Bridge, one of the Democratic Party’s leading voices on national security responded on Twitter. Chris Murphy began by criticizing Donald Trump for sounding the alarms. “My god,” he wrote. “@POTUS has no idea that the goal of terrorists is to instill a level of fear in the public disproportionate to the actual threat.” The Connecticut senator tried to put the threat in proper proportion. “Terrorism is a real threat,” he acknowledged, “but remember that since 9/11, you have a greater chance of being killed by a falling object than by terrorists.” Murphy then issued a five-point rebuttal to Trump’s approach to terrorism. He did not issue a five-point plan for defeating falling objects.

Maybe Murphy didn’t do this because falling objects are not equivalent to three men ramming and hacking people to death on London Bridge.

And yet we continue to kowtow to this movement’s presumption of intellectual and moral superiority.  They grow strong through our cowardice.

The PCUSA Elite Today (5)

GA+2018The 223rd General Assembly (2018)

The General Assembly (GA) is being held on June 15-19 in St. Louis, MO.  Thus, another view into what dominates our elite leader’s thinking can be found in the associated Schedule of Events.  A review of this information results in the following primary topics of interest:

While a couple of these areas of interest have a church organizational connection, the majority (both in terms of number and intensity) are indistinguishable from what would be found at radically progressive Colleges and Universities.  This result is of a piece with the almost perfect overlap of secular progressive politics and Mainline denominational “social justice” work.

It’s also apparent that “Jesus Christ” is a peripheral person at best.  Searching through the Schedule of Events I found that by far the most prominent occurrence of our Savior’s name occurred as part of proper nouns for churches.  Other than a few claims that some  political position was because of “Christ’s” this or that, He is essentially absent from the discussion.

One might have thought that the continuing membership collapse of the denomination might have warranted major focus.  However, even were it a focus the absolute determination of our ruling elite to continue down their destructive path would render the process moot.  Here are comments by the General Assembly Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson, II. on the situation.

But while the turmoil of the previous five years seemed to abate in 2017, the PC(USA) is still showing an annual drop in membership, a reality that distresses General Assembly Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson, II. “It is clear that Presbyterians are doing poorly at evangelism,” he says. “Churches leaving was a temporary roadblock. Our inability to share the faith, to demonstrate the power and justice of Jesus Christ and his church to change a world where inequality, injustice, violence and war seem to gain strength daily is a critical factor in our failure to grow.

“The church is not dying, it is reforming,” Nelson insists, “and that reformation must be built on a vision of God’s kindom that is compelling to people who find us lacking. We have that vision – it is part and parcel of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We simply must find new ways to proclaim it and, more importantly, live it out in our congregations.”

There are two groups relevant to membership that find the PCUSA “lacking,”  The first is Bible-trusting members and their churches who have left the denomination or are considering doing so.  Our Stated Clerk couldn’t care less about these Christian’s opinion.

The second is secular progressives.  It’s clear the this is the group upon which our leadership hopes to build the new PCUSA.  Therefore they will continue to slavishly serve that group.  But secular progressives aren’t interested in becoming part of a Christian organization.  No, they are totally focused on the acquisition of worldly power at any and all cost.  If the PCUSA elites can be useful by making up reasons that any and all of their policies and actions are actually “Christian,” then fine.  However, that support is viewed as a temporary necessity on their way to a glorious earthly utopian future.

I will present a sampling of the 2017 membership data in the next post.

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (14)

King Saul and David (1 Samuel 18)

In the previous post I introduced the concept of narcissism.  Perhaps a working definition is needed prior to  proceeding:

extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.

John_W._Waterhouse_-_Echo_and_Narcissus(1903)

Echo and Narcissus* – John W. Waterhouse (1903)

The Narcissism of our Present Age

The core conceit of current narcissism is this:

The evidence-less presumption that I and my like-minded comrades stand at the absolute pinnacle of human virtue.  Therefore, anyone who deviates from my worldview, regardless of if they are my contemporaries or lived centuries earlier, can be motivated only by a combination of inexcusable stupidity and evil.

man-selfieAlthough the above description is useful in a general sense, there remains a significant gap between it and a compelling explanation of its application to our particular time and place.  I finally ran across a passage, from a piece discussing the current situation in France (by Christopher Caldwell) that excellently fills this need (emphasis added):

Upwardly mobile urbanites, observes Guilluy, call Paris “the land of possibilities,” the “ideapolis.” One is reminded of Richard Florida and other extollers of the “Creative Class.” The good fortune of Creative Class members appears (to them) to have nothing to do with any kind of capitalist struggle. Never have conditions been more favorable for deluding a class of fortunate people into thinking that they owe their privilege to being nicer, or smarter, or more honest, than everyone else. Why would they think otherwise? They never meet anyone who disagrees with them. The immigrants with whom the creatives share the city are dazzlingly different, exotic, even frightening, but on the central question of our time—whether the global economic system is working or failing—they see eye to eye. “Our Immigrants, Our Strength,” was the title of a New York Times op-ed signed by London mayor Sadiq Khan, New York mayor Bill de Blasio, and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo after September’s terrorist bomb blasts in New York. This estrangement is why electoral results around the world last year—from Brexit to the election of Donald Trump—proved so difficult to anticipate. Those outside the city gates in la France périphérique are invisible, their wishes incomprehensible. It’s as if they don’t exist. But they do.

Yes, there is no doubt in my mind that these “fortunate people” are deluded to a degree that is nothing short of scandalous.  That they occupy the pinnacle of power in our nations can only be explained by a monumental failure of the temporal Christian church, parenthood, government, education and media, among others.  This is what civilizational failure looks like.  In the following post I will address the central delusion that has resulted in this sorry situation.



*Echo and Narcissus is a myth from Ovid‘s Metamorphoses, a Latin mythological epic from the Augustan Age.

What does the Bible Teach on Immigration and Refugee Policy? (4)

bible-bordersClosing Thoughts

While this assessment cannot be claimed to have been comprehensive I believe it has been sufficient.  That is, the following aspects of the current consensus on immigration and refugee policy have been carefully scrutinized

  1. a high profile statement by an officer of the PC(USA) on their policy positions
  2. review of one of the most commonly used Bible passages in support of the current consensus.

In both areas I have found the results to be seriously deficient.

There is, however, a general consideration that may be of use to explore as we exit this particular topic.  Although it has been indirectly referred to, it has not yet been specifically addressed.  That being Progressive Christianity’s all too common presumption of a moral, intellectual and theological superiority that excuses them from engaging as peers with those holding opposing perspectives.  I certainly am not claiming that this problem is uniformly the case as I personally know numerous members of this group who engage on the merits.

However, I believe the argument can be credibly made that, due to their undeniable success in occupying most key positions of social and organizational power, the Progressive movement has become far too dependent on intimidation at the expense of persuasion.

intimidation-doesnt-last-very-long-quote-1This strategy is pursued by never acknowledging opposition as being legitimate and by insisting that opposing points of view are motivated by moral defects.  Thus they are not seeking to persuade peers to see their point of view, but rather using social and/or organizational force to obtain submission.  Those who have been following this blog will have no trouble recalling cases where senior leaders in the PC(USA) have aggressively utilized these tactics.

John Calvin himself rebukes this leadership strategy in his commentary on Psalm 45:2.

You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.

… How manifestly does this rebuke the mean-spiritedness of kings in our day, by whom it is regarded as derogatory to their dignity to converse with their subjects, and to employ remonstrance in order to secure their submission; nay, who display a spirit of barbarous tyranny in seeking rather to compel than to persuade them …

The really bad news for Progressives is that, although victory by intimidation has always been a morally destructive strategy, it no longer is likely to be effective for a large segment of the population.  And, doubling, then tripling down, to the point of rioting and physical violence, on the same strategy is likely to diminish your credibility and influence even more.

bible-verses-about-welcoming-othersI suppose that this blog could be viewed as one long attempt to persuade Progressives to rejoin the rest of us flawed, confused humans who are attempting to find our way through the challenges of the 21st century.  Sometimes persuasion has the prerequisite of confrontation, such as when an entrenched group abuses their position and privilege to the detriment of substantive debate.

I believe that most of us would welcome you with open arms.  I certainly would. For, we need more ideas being more freely debated in good faith to meet the difficult choices and challenges that face us all.

 

 

What does the Bible Teach on Immigration and Refugee Policy? (3)

bible-bordersKey Scripture Passage

The passage to be assessed will be Leviticus 19:33-34 (ESV) as it may well be one of the most frequently cited.

Leviticus 1When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

I have already confirmed both the relevance and authority of this passage as a guide for Christian understanding of immigration and refugee issues.  And yet, I intend to show that the application is not as perfectly tailored to support of the Progressive Leftist political current day positions as is assumed by far too many.

A first issue is use of unwarranted selectivity.  Sometimes pastors and laity are more than happy to cite Leviticus 19:33-34 to those with a differing perspective.  However, I can’t help but notice how verse 15 from the same chapter is not so commonly used.

Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

I’m well aware of the Bible’s overall teaching about the poor.  However, I wonder how some of our fellow Christians would react were someone to pluck verse 15 out of Leviticus and quote it every time the poor are considered?

The second issue that must be examined is what is meant by the word “sojourner.”  The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible explains this word as follows.

A person living in mutually responsible association with a community, or in a place, not inherently his own. …  In the basic meaning of the term, a sojourner is a person who occupies a position between that of the native-born and the foreigner.  He has come among a people distinct from him and thus lacks the protection and benefits ordinarily provided by kin and birthplace.  His status and privileges derive from the bond of hospitality, in which the guest is inviolable.  … Placing himself under the protection of a particular clan or chieftain, or a person, the sojourner in turn assumes responsibilities.

Based on this information I conclude that a “sojourner” is something very different from the formulation of the Rev. Parsons, that being someone “who find themselves within our borders.”   That is, a sojourner is someone who has entered into an explicit and bi-directional relationship with a community “not inherently his own.”  Thus, someone who illegally sneaked into a community and attempted to reside without any mutual agreement on the nature of their relationship would not be considered to be a “sojourner,” but rather an interloper.

So too, the leader of a clan or community would have to agree to the creation and continuation of this relationship.  Were a sojourner to violate the terms of agreement, the community would no longer be bound by them either.  And, that community/clan leader would be expected to use their best judgment prior to entering into such an arrangement with foreigners.  For example, if a dozen military aged Philistines showed up on the border claiming to be “sojourners,” who but the most biblically/historically illiterate would imagine that an ancient Israeli leader would be predisposed to enter into such a relationship?

Finally let’s consider the issues associated with historic and social context.  The NIV Study Bible (© 1985) estimates that the Book of Leviticus was written by Moses between c. 1446 and c. 1406 B.C.  Taking the midpoint of this period, that is 3,443 years ago from 2017.  I point this out not to attenuate the Book’s authority as Holy Scripture, but rather to suggest that it may be quite a stretch to simply conclude that any verse can be directly and thoughtlessly applied to problems facing us today.  Yes, it most definitely does speak to us and our problems today, but a responsible interpreter will carefully identify differences between c. 1426 B.C. and 2017 A.D. that could result in misapplication of God’s Word.

Nathaniel Micklem in The Interpreter’s Bible makes this point with great wisdom in his exposition on Leviticus 19:9,10 (NIV).

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.

Are we to say in the light of vss. 9-10 that the storekeeper must always throw in a little extra when he is serving a poor customer, that the market gardener must be quite unconcerned if a poor man helps himself to a little pickings from his fields?  It is obviously impossible to apply the rules of a simple agricultural society to the complicated conditions of modern economic society.

Such rules as these must be translated into another idiom.  But the principle remains, I am the Lord your God.  Therefore, you shall not be grasping, you shall not make every cent you can for yourself and your family; you shall share with the needy that measure of prosperity which God in his mercy may have granted you.

We must therefore ask just what are the primary societal parameters that have changed since c. 1426 B.C.?  Is it that human beings are no longer capable of ill will and/or deceit?  Is it that leaders no longer have responsibility to provide protection to their communities?  Is it that human beings no longer bleed and die?  No, no and no.

The primary thing that has changed is that the immigration/refugee issue is today debated in the United States within context of a nation of 320 million people spread over almost four-million square miles.  Thus, whereas a community/clan member in ancient Israel would have to look into the eyes (living or dead) of the victims of their poor decisions, citizens of the United States who demand no vetting of immigrants/refugees and open borders can do so safe in the knowledge that the likelihood of this outcome is vanishingly small.

Many, many people who follow the Progressive Leftist line on immigration and refugee policy do so without having carefully thought through all of the issues and implications.  However, there are the most serious of moral issues at play.  Were some of these well intentioned people to stop and really focus on these issues they might modify their words and actions.

What does the Bible Teach on Immigration and Refugee Policy (2)

bible-bordersThe Reverend Gradye Parsons’ Letter

I’ll begin the careful scrutiny of this issue by discussing the PC(USA) “Stated Clerk issues letter to Trump on refugees, immigrants” (dated October 2, 2015) that was introduced in my previous post.  The value is that a high officer is here explaining the denomination’s policy positions in an official capacity.  Thus, what is said, implied and unsaid is of great significance.  The Biblical interpretative, philosophical and communication strategies utilized are also important aspects of the analysis.  All text from the letter is included in order as quotes, with my commentary inserted as regular text.

Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.
725 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10022

Mr. Trump,

I am the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the denomination of the congregation in Queens, New York, where you were baptized. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) develops its policies through councils of teaching elders and ruling elders. At the national level it does that through the General Assembly. I would like to share with you the Presbyterian policies on refugees and immigrants.

There was a time in my living memory when such a preamble would have elicited an expectation of Christian profundity.  I detect a sense of chastisement here, as Rev. Parsons deigns to educate Mr. Trump on the refugee and immigration positions of his own denomination.  I must say that on this point we are in agreement.  However, whereas the issue at hand elicited this response, for me it began when Mr. Trump said “I’m Presbyterian.  Boy, that’s down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness.”

Presbyterians profess a faith in Christ, whose parents were forced to flee with him to Egypt when he was an infant to save him from King Herod. Knowing our Lord was once a refugee, faithful Presbyterians have been writing church policy urging the welcome of refugees and demanding higher annual admissions into the United States since the refugee crisis of World War II.

Here we find the one and only Biblical reference, summarizing Matthew 2:13-20.  What startles is the unexplained logical leap from our Lord’s specific experience to an apparently general application.  Does the fact that Jesus Christ was once a refugee mean that any and all who claim that status have been automatically bestowed with His sinlessness?  Is it possible in Rev. Parsons’ ideology for someone who claims refugee status to yet harbor evil intent?  And, if this is a realistic possibility, would a sovereign nation be obliged to welcome that person into their population?  Note that these real and pressing issues don’t even warrant acknowledgment let alone serious consideration in this authoritative statement of the PC(USA)’s positions.

Presbyterians have a mission presence in many refugee-sending countries, including Syria and Lebanon, where we have been present since 1823. Our relationship with people of faith and communities in these countries gives us knowledge of the root causes of the flight of refugees and further cements a commitment to welcome.

1983-beirut-bombing-by-hezbollah-iran-e1404967583363

1983 Hezbollah Bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut Lebanon

These two sentences manage to encompass the decadence and irresponsibility that defines our national denominational leadership.  Here we have mentioned two countries, one having experienced and the other currently embroiled in bloody, brutal civil war, held up as places from which blameless refugees are guaranteed to originate.  Who, I wonder, has been doing all of the killing in Syria resulting in almost 500,000 dead?  Weren’t upwards of 150,000 killed in the Lebanese Civil War (1975-90) by someone?  Isn’t Syria the home of ISIS and Lebanon of Hezbollah, both vicious, genocidal Islamic terrorist groups who target the United States?  Is it not possible that someone complicit in or directly responsible for this mass murder might seek to enter the United States as a refugee?

isis-san-bernardino-terrorists

2015 San Bernardino ISIS Terrorist Murderers

And yet, in the face of this absolutely obvious set of circumstances, the Rev. Parsons bestows blanket innocence upon all refugees from these troubled countries because of the PC(USA)’s supposed “knowledge.”  What can possibly account for the existence of this level of moral blindness?  The Rev. Parsons, speaking for the PC(USA) General Assembly, is more than happy to signal their supposed superior virtue while ignoring the real and present danger to their fellow citizens from uncontrolled entry of refugees.  That is, they will happily claim all of the virtue points for their “compassionate” stance on refugees but deny any culpability for associated crime and terrorism because “their intentions were good.”  This is not virtue, it is its opposite, and, it’s long past time that we ceased allowing our national leaders to have it both ways.

Presbyterians through decades of policy have demanded humane treatment of people of all nationalities and faiths who find themselves within our borders.

This sentence is a masterpiece of obfuscation.  On the surface it appears to be undeniable.  Yes, absolutely, we in the United States should treat all within our borders humanely.  And yet, what if someone finds “themselves within our borders” because they have entered illegally?  Is it inhumane to deny them social services, welfare, work?  Is it inhumane to deport them?  If they commit a felonious crime, is it still inhumane to deport them?  All of this is left unaddressed.  One has to dig a little to uncover the true position of the PC(USA).

We have challenged our government when it neglects to acknowledge the refugee status of those fleeing persecution.

Has the PC(USA) ever supported laws or policies that ensure careful vetting of refugees?  Unless information to the contrary can be presented, their position on vetting refugees from lawless, violent nations appears to be that it shouldn’t be done at all.

We have pushed for due process at the border and we continue to petition for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented persons.

I believe that “due process” likely means that a non-citizen of the United States should be given all of the Constitutional rights as has a citizen even when outside of the country.  Were this position to be accepted then the ability of the United States to control entry of non-citizens would be at the very least severely damaged.

As a Presbyterian I acknowledge my immigrant ancestors and my new immigrant sisters and brothers. I also respect that we came uninvited to a land already occupied by people. This creates a sense of humility about my citizenship that shapes my views on those who seek a place here.

This is an excellent example of the Jonathan Gruber school of political discourse: “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.”  For, obscured behind all of the virtue signaling is effectively the demand for “open borders.”  Yes, the Rev. Parsons doesn’t explicitly say this.  However, since he admits guilt for his ancestors coming “uninvited to a land already occupied by people,” the most reasonable conclusion is that anyone who seeks “a place here” should be allowed in.  Of course to say so outright would create yet another reason for members to exit the denomination.  So, the position is only tacitly communicated.  However, I have little doubt that “open borders” is both what is meant and what is being pursued by the PC(USA) leadership.

I hope you will find this helpful. I especially hope it will inform you on your policies going forward.

In Christ,

The Reverend Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

It certainly was helpful, but not necessarily in the way intended.  This letter helps by exposing the unsupported logical leaps, lack of theological seriousness, irresponsible virtue signaling, disdain for the safety of our citizens, obfuscation and purposeful ambiguity of the PC(USA)’s national leadership.  Only a leadership clique hermetically sealed inside an alternative-reality ideology could be capable of generating, approving and releasing such a defective statement.