Romans: The Case for Christ to a Hostile World (13)

what-is-sinNone is Righteous (Romans 3:9-20)

The Great Apostle began this discussion about sin in 1:18.  So, at its end in 3:20 he has expended 64 verses (of course there were no “verses” when he wrote) on this topic.  Given that Romans’ systematic theology is a corner stone of Christian thought, we must ask ourselves why sin was the first component of Paul’s explanation of the Gospel, and, why he focused on it at such length and depth.

Perhaps the beginning of an answer can be found in John the Baptist’s proclamation preparing the way for Christ’s ministry (Luke 3:2b,3).

the word of God came to John the son of Zechari′ah in the wilderness; and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Thus, the first statement specifically about Christ’s Gospel was about repentance and the forgiveness of sins.

When Joseph was informed about the virgin pregnancy of his betrothed, Mary, the angel said of Jesus: “For it is he that shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).  Near the end of His worldly life at the Last Supper Jesus said: “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).  And, very near the end, while dying on the cross He said: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

The Apostle Peter speaks of our sin’s place in Christ’s Gospel: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).  And, the Apostle John also:

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10)

It is here that I return to the Progressive Christian belief regarding sin, though now at greater length.

There are some who say that liberal/progressive churches don’t believe in sin.  That we never talk about it—or call people to confess.  I would agree that we seldom talk about it.  When I first came here I soon learned that was the “s” word that was never mentioned.  But I don’t believe for a minute it’s because we feel no guilt or shame or remorse.  In fact I observe that many people here at Southminster, take on guilt way beyond their need.  But I think we are confused about how to describe, define, talk about sin.  We know it is not as narrow as sexual behavior (as some Christians try to make it); we know it is not as simple as breaking 10 commandments, as we probably learned in Sunday School…if we went to Sunday School; because we know it has something to do with context.  We many of us, don’t believe that Jesus had to come and die for our particular sins to atone a vengeful God. We don’t really know what to teach children because we don’t want them bogged down in shame and guilt—yet we also want them to grow into adults are moral and ethical and compassionate.

This is an important and remarkable statement.  It is honest about Progressive Christianity’s rejection of sin to the point of refusal to even use the word.  It admits utter confusion about how to define and therefore think about sin.  It is only confident about what sin isn’t (i.e., not “narrow sexual behavior” or “breaking 10 commandments”).

But, eventually, the truth is blurted out.  That being we: “don’t believe that Jesus had to come and die for our particular sins to atone a vengeful God.”  The bottom line is that acknowledging the concept of sin is verboten because it relates to something terribly wrong with God Himself.  Ultimately, sin speaks to God’s sinfulness, that being His vengefulness.  Therefore these Progressive Christians will not expose their children to this awful concept so that they won’t become “bogged down in shame and guilt.”  For, there are no “particular sins” for which they or their children need God’s atonement.

And yet these Progressives call themselves Christian while openly, defiantly contradicting the teaching of Holy Scripture about sin and its place in Christ’s Gospel.  I wonder when was the last time that anyone in the Christian Church confronted them with this fact?  In all probability for many the answer is never.  For, when candidates for ministry in the PCUSA stood before the Presbytery of Chicago Assembly and denied their belief in sin they were overwhelming accepted and sent forth to “preach the gospel.”

Over ninety years ago in Mainline Denominations (including Presbyterian) the “Modernist” defeated the “Fundamentalist” camp in the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy.  The “Modernists” claimed victory as Christians who were more accurately, more completely teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The membership of these denominations therefore placed their trust in the “Modernists” to lead their churches.

These “Modernists” who now call themselves “Progressives” have been leading for over ninety years.  It is long past time to ask what fruit they have generated.

It has been my misfortune to look deeply into that which the Progressive Christian leadership of the PCUSA is saying, thinking and doing.  I strongly suspect that similar results would be obtained for most other Mainline Protestant denominations.  I will not here rehearse my charges against them (though they can be easily found in this blog’s posts).  What I will say is that it is time for a true reckoning concerning their stewardship.

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Romans: The Case for Christ to a Hostile World (6)

sinThe Guilt of Mankind (1:24-32)

Why, you might well ask, is the Apostle harping on about sin so?  After all, post-modern sophisticates have grown so far beyond the crude concept of sin that it should be considered irrelevant.  And, talking about sin might hurt someone’s feelings, which we all know is the greatest sin, oops, I mean, you know … bad-thought (?).

Here’s a quote from progressivechristianity.org that sums up the situation.

There are some who say that liberal/progressive churches don’t believe in sin.  That we never talk about it—or call people to confess.  I would agree that we seldom talk about it.  When I first came here I soon learned that was the “s” word that was never mentioned.

As a Commissioner to the Presbytery of Chicago I was able to listen to candidates during their ministry ordination examinations.  It was not uncommon for a candidate to proclaim that they didn’t believe in “sin.”  This admission caused not the slightest concern among the assembled Christian saints, and, in due course their candidacy was overwhelmingly approved.

However, the Apostle Paul considered sin to be so central to the Gospel that it had to be the first major point to be examined.  One might logically conclude that there is a direct, essential link between human sin and the Gospel.

So, you now face a choice.  You can press on, trusting that this passage of Scripture in Romans is relevant to our understanding of the Christian Gospel, or, you can pretend that it is an ancient, crude curiosity that we have evolved far beyond.  If you decide the former, welcome.  If you decide the latter, then I pray that you will someday return.



24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.

This opening statement is shockingly contemporary.  What can be more obviously concluded about too much of Western Christianity than that it has chosen to serve “the creature rather than the Creator.”  Churches market themselves as places that will be comfortable and comforting.  Jesus Christ is that wonderful, faithful life coach who is always there to encourage you to “be true to yourself.”  The church programs will all affirm your good intentions and justify your personal choices.  Icky ideas like “sin” and “judgement” and “wrath” will be systematically attenuated.

And yet, the primitive Christian Church grew from tiny to massive under the threat and terrible reality of Roman persecution by preaching a Gospel that bears no resemblance to the above description.  And, in a position of freedom and safety unheard of in human history, the Western Christian Church has dwindled in both numbers and relevance while supposedly preaching the above “improved” gospel.  Perhaps the Creator knows more about what the creatures need than do they themselves.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

Here the Apostle steps on what would almost two-thousand years later become the “third-rail” of social and theological conflict.  The Christian Church has much to answer for by its singling out of this sin for greater condemnation than others.  It also has much to answer for by its theological failure to place sin in it proper place and apply it consistently without regard to person or position.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. 29 They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 

We should all shudder before this list of terrible wickedness.  If you imagine yourself to be righteous concerning murder, please read Matthew 5:21-26.  For all of these vices the only thing standing between yourself and perdition is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness  through an utterly undeserved act of grace by a merciful God.  If only we Christians (myself definitely included) would consistently think and act accordingly.

32 Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.

If we all stand convicted of sin, then how is a Christian different from anyone else?  This verse provides an answer at the point of extremity.  For, while The Holy Spirit’s sanctifying power makes Christians ever more aware of and sorrowful about their sin, the wicked glory in it.  They seek to become better at lying, boasting, slandering and all other forms of evil.  They hold themselves up to others as the standard of freedom and effectiveness to be emulated.  They glory in their wicked skills.  Who can look upon the current crop of political operatives and not recognize this vile behavior?  Who has not found this wickedness increasing in whatever domain of human activity in which they participate?

So, if you find a power not of yourself but yet operating within your life that increasingly illuminates your sin, calls you to repentance in Christ and pushes you to reform, then you can be confident that you are found to be in Christ.

However, if you are always finding new justification for sin, working to become better at it or glory in tempting others to fall into its grip, then may God yet have mercy on your soul.

But even this isn’t the worst.  For, to claim ministry of Christ’s Gospel while denying the concept of sin is a terrible deception.  By so doing you are pledging to deny the repentance and new life in Christ to those who look to you as a Christian guide.  You are working as an enemy of the Gospel while pretending to be called to proclaim it. You are certainly not beyond Christ’s power to save, though you have run almost as far from Him as is humanly possible.

Making Sense of It All (8)

Quotation-Thomas-Jefferson-Experience-hath-shewn-that-even-under-the-best-forms-of-14-56-60
What is at Stake?

Our nation is engulfed in an angry, sometimes violent debate about something.  But what is it?

People who think that this all started with Donald Trump are seriously mistaken.  Recall that many in the Democratic party “resisted” the election of George W. Bush in 2000 and then proceeded to destroy his person and administration.  President Bush did nothing to help himself by attempting to “split the difference” between conservatism and progressivism, and, by leading us into a war with Iraq that came to be seen as justified by faulty intelligence and naive expectations.

The nation then traded the “compassionate conservative” philosophy for “fundamental change” progressivism by electing Barack Obama to the presidency.  However, there was no “racial healing” to be found in this historic development but rather increasing racial division.  There was no achieved consensus on health care reform, but rather a solution supported by 51% of the Congress shoved down the throats of the 49% (and the citizens whom they represent).

Many people believe that we have withdrawn into two political camps that share no common ground.  In that scenario there is only the question of who will finally defeat whom.  But, for that to happen a stable “51+%” of the population would have to emerge that lasted for a generation.

Given the disinterest of, say, 60% of our population in politics and policy (a position that I better understand after the past 20 years), one reasonable expectation is that the ideological “20%” on the left and right will compete in an unstable environment.  In this scenario, we would experience huge policy swings as unreconcilable ideologies sequentially gain temporary political power.  This is exactly what we see now, with Donald Trump reversing Barack Obama’s policies.  Were a Democrat to win in 2020 or 2024 we would see the same dynamic.

But although the above scenario seems bad (because it is), I contend that it is the optimistic scenario.  That is, it assumes that, over time, the irreconcilable differences between left and right will be resolved by the working of a stable democratic republic.  Yes, there will be many terrible consequences from the instability.  But the instability will occur because the citizens of the republic can’t make up their minds.  And, even within this instability there will still exist a stable constitutional system that protects fundamental liberty.

The more pessimistic scenario is that we are leaving a constitutional democratic republic behind and heading towards tyranny.  Anyone who has been keeping up with this blog knows that I am not a supporter of Donald Trump.  Nor was I a supporter of Barack Obama.  However, the election of Mr. Trump has, if nothing else, allowed light to penetrate into the dark crevices of our gargantuan permanent ruling class.  And what has been revealed is truly alarming.

image-2018-02-02

The Nunes Memo

As I pointed out in a previous post, the Obama Administration used its temporary public trust to weaponize powerful law enforcement, intelligence, regulatory and revenue departments of the federal government in order to attack citizens and groups with opposing views.  Since that post was written new information (see here, here, here, here, etc.) has become available that shows the scope and depth of this corruption to be far beyond what I could have imagined.

It has become clear to me that a significant motivation for the violent emotional progressive frenzy over Trump’s election is because what they thought would be forever hidden would now come to light.  It’s not just that they lost a Presidential election.  No, it’s that the people against whom the federal government was being weaponized forced these corrupt practices into the light.  And note well — this reaction does not depend on the personality or policies of Donald Trump.

Under President Obama the Democratic Party was devastated at the federal Congressional, state and local level.  The last bastion of power was their hold on the Presidency.  They thought that hold was unbreakable.  They found out to their horror that the people who had voted against their candidates at all other levels of government would do the same at the Presidential level.

Trump InaugurationTheir response was to “resist” the Trump Administration in all ways imaginable, from violent street riots, to shameless leaking of classified information to publishing unattributed innuendo as fact to ginning up a “Russian collusion” narrative that more than a year later is still without a shred of credible evidence in support.

Does the Democratic Party presume that, while they own the Presidency, they are free to use the overwhelming power of the state to subvert, intimidate and criminalize opposition?  Is the Democratic Party claiming a “veto power” over Presidential elections?  If the U.S. citizenry doesn’t vote the “politically correct” way does anything go to overturn their decision?  I hope the answer to these questions is a resounding No!

Because if the answer is anything less then we are contending between a constitutional democratic republic and naked tyranny.

quote-to-those-who-cite-the-first-amendment-as-reason-for-excluding-god-from-more-and-more-ronald-reagan-55-97-14

 

Making Sense of It All (7)

2016-09-16-37525587_largeThe Interests of the “Basket of Deplorables”

In 2016 Hillary Clinton, while running for President, insulted approximately one-quarter of the United States’ citizens.

cnn_hillary“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”

By this statement Mrs. Clinton gave voice to the quasi-caste hatred that animates far more of the Progressive program than many would like to admit.

I am not here to claim that any segment of our population is morally superior.  Those citizens who chose to vote Mr. Trump into the Presidency are all fallen, frail flesh and blood, just exactly as are those who voted for someone else or didn’t vote at all.  I am here to point out that this quarter of the nation’s population has legitimate interests that both the Democratic and Republican parties had ignored for decades.

We must first identify to whom Mrs. Clinton was referring.  We can begin by agreeing that this “deplorable” quasi-caste can be found within that segment of the population who are willing to vote for Republican candidates.  That is, if you are a reliable Democratic voter then in spite of any personal faults or bad behaviors, you are certainly not a “deplorable.”

However, not all people who are or vote Republican are “deplorables.”  If you are in this group but submit in silence to, or better yet, actively support core Progressive policies (e.g., open borders immigration) then you can avoid (as long as you don’t stand between Progressives and the acquisition of political power) falling into this category.  Make no mistake though, you are both stupid and likely evil, but not to the point of being an actual “deplorable.”

The above discussion helps, but doesn’t sufficiently describe the boundaries of the “deplorable” quasi-caste. To accomplish that we must revisit some of the other statements made by the leaders of the tip-top Progressive quasi-caste.  The most useful of these was made by candidate Barack Obama in 2008.

obama-below1You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.
And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Mr. Obama was right about the economic frustrations experienced by a large segment of our population.  However, note also the condescension and contempt with which he responds to these very real issues.  For, in his mind, these sorry communities are so full of incompetent people that neither Democratic or Republican administrations are able to pull them out of failure.  The reason is that they are bitter, small minded folk who stupidly “cling” to dangerous or irrelevant totems of the past.  Sounds a lot like “irredeemable” to me.

Another boundary setting statement fell from the lips of no other than Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader of the House of Representatives in 2017.  Joe Scarborough set up the discussion by asking:

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?

Her answer to this soft-ball question shows the depths of contempt that lives in the Progressive mind towards those who don’t share in their ideology (emphasis added).

Speaker Pelosi Holds Weekly News Conference“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.”

With this material I believe we can identify the boundary between the lowest “deplorable” quasi-cast and all that sit above.  They tend to:

  • live in small towns, suburbs or rural areas;
  • be (but are not all) middle to upper-middle class;
  • have suffered significant, sustained economic frustration and/or decline over the past 30 years;
  • be Bible-believing Christians;
  • own guns or support gun ownership;
  • oppose Obamacare;
  • oppose open-borders immagration;
  • have become suspicious of “world-trade” agreements;
  • not embrace gay-marriage or the other aspects of “queer ideology“;
  • not embrace radical environmentalism in general, or “climate change” in particular;
  • believe that the United States in particular and Western Civilization in general have great value and should be preserved;
  • love their country, believe that it has mortal enemies and honor those who defend it.

As far as I can tell, these are the people who made the difference in electing Mr. Trump to the Presidency.  This is a group who found themselves actively hated by the Democrats or treated like an embarrassment by the Republicans for decades.  The idea that these citizens would forever ignore the fact that neither major political party cared about, let alone addressed, their interests was ludicrous.

Such a situation couldn’t last in a functioning democratic republic, and it hasn’t.  The question that now faces us is will the United States continue to be a democratic republic or is it on the way to becoming something else?

2016nationwidecountymapshadedbyvoteshare

The 2016 Presidential results by county. A Progressive archipelago in a sea of deplorables.

Making Sense of It All (6)

trump-inaugrationWhere We Are Now (1)

If nothing else, the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency has clarified what was before a murky situation.  For, prior to this event it appears that the Republican elite’s top priority was to conserve the idea that beneath all of our policy differences there existed a common creed spanning the Progressive-Conservative divide.  Yes, we may disagree vehemently on means, but, so they believed, we were all pursuing common ends, and valued our common heritage.

Thus, for the past thirty years Republican elites have stressed their willingness to “cross the aisle” to work with their Democratic opponents.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this idea.  However, so determined were they to preserve the idea of national cohesion that they actively refused to notice that “compromise” usually meant conservatives compromising their core values to move towards progressives.  As I have previously noted, even the most ardent Republican “bi-partisaners” suffered vile political and personal attack if they were contending with an accredited progressive in an election.

mitt-romney-newsweekThe patience of non-progressives towards “bi-partisanship” likely ran out with the 2012 Republican nomination of Mitt Romney for President.  For, here was a man of manifest good intentions and manners who had successfully governed a “blue” state (Massachusetts) as a Republican.  Yet, this man was systematically slandered in the Presidential campaign to such effect that he ended up reviled by a plurality of the population.

Why then shouldn’t citizens who opposed the progressive project conclude that it was a losing proposition to nominate nice, bi-partisan guys for the Presidency.  For, as I have previously pointed out:

No, after eight years of abuse the electorate that opposes Progressive policies decided that only a bare-knuckled street fighter was capable of winning back the Presidency.  They nominated Mr. Trump, supported him through thick-and-thin and turned out to vote him into office.

So, if you are wondering how we ended up with a man of Donald Trump’s character in the White House, my above answer holds.

cruz-trump-attackLooking back on the 2016 Republican primaries, it’s clear to me now that Mr. Trump won by sequentially exposing each opposing Republican candidate as a wimp.  Thus, what I and many others saw as cruel, uncouth behavior actually had a rational purpose.  Most of the other Republican candidates said that they were tho one who could effectively oppose the progressive movement.  By showing that they would wilt under cruel attack Mr. Trump demonstrated that they, like Mitt Romney, would collapse under the far more powerful attacks of the Democratic media-political machine.

trump_mirror_largeIf progressives and Republican elitists are appalled by Mr. Trump’s victory then they need only look to themselves for the reason.  For, they had built a culture in which progressives were free to engage in the most savage and dishonest attacks on their opponents while elite Republicans cowered in fear before them.

This is the description of an unofficial quasi-caste system (based on family, education and outlook), where the progressive left sits at the absolute top and elite Republicans get to occupy (as long as they behave properly towards their betters) the next lower rung.  Far, far below them sit the unwashed masses of citizens — ignorant, stupid and immoral.  How dare this low caste rise up and elect someone who intends to represent their interests!

What are the interests of those who elected Donald Trump to the presidency will be discussed next.

Making Sense of It All (5)

obama-change_100113_A

Architect of the Fundamental Transformation Debacle

How We Got to Here (4)

The Progressive Left

The progressive left is absolutely certain about and united on what they want.  That being the “fundamental transformation” of a nation founded on evil and made powerful by plunder.  There is precious little from our founding and history that merits preservation.  No, the whole nation is so corrupt that the only reasonable and moral choice is to burn it down to the bare earth and start afresh.

But it is this very certitude that has led to madness.  So certain is the progressive left of its moral perfection that it has justified and used corrupt means to achieve its chosen ends.

Lois-Lerner_IRS

Lois Lerner: IRS Agent of Fundamental Transformation

And so, our institutions have been weaponized against anyone who dares to dissent.  Thus, the IRS is turned into a tormentor of “right-wing” groups seeking to organize and speak.  The DOJ and FBI conspire to protect their ideological friends and destroy their enemies.  The “Intelligence Community” leaks anything, regardless of damage to the nation, that undermines their perceived political opponents.

peter-strzok-2

Peter Strzok: FBI Agent of Fundamental Transformation

Individuals and businesses are randomly destroyed by braying mobs in order to induce terror in all the rest of us.  Professors in “institutions of higher learning” teach irrational, failed ideas as vanguards of an achievable utopia.  The “mainstream media” descends into ideological conformity and political partisanship that would make Pravda proud.  Sexual predators are protected because they support the “correct” political positions. This just scratches the surface, but I trust that my point is made.

obama-messiah-BA5fuj6CQAAvSE9So certain were they of the permanence of their political power that all pretense of respect for our nation or its “unwoke” citizenry was dropped.  Their Alinsky law-giver, Barack Obama, had led them out of slavery to our founding ideas and institutions.  All their political opponents had been decimated when the Marxist Red Sea came crashing down upon them.  hillary-clinton-bad-copAnd then, power would certainly be handed to Hillary Clinton, who would lead the progressive left across the Jordan River.  Once across they would finally obliterate their political enemies and build their utopian “promised land” where everyone would be equal, but some would be permanently more equal than others.
But something else happened on the way to progressive utopia.  It turns out that when many citizens saw the progressive left’s true beliefs, behaviors and intentions they recoiled in horror.  Many of them had assumed that the progressive left was a force for reform and renewal.  What they actually began to see was something completely, and disturbingly, different.  And so, they began searching for someone, anyone, who could stand against this rising tide of political correctness and corruption.

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We couldn’t have lost because the voters didn’t see our moral and intellectual superiority!  It must have been stolen by the Russians!

Thus, when Hillary Clinton inexplicably lost the Presidential election all of their fantasies  came crashing down upon them.  How could they have possibly lost a fair election?  How could the citizens of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio have failed to vote in the correct manner?  It couldn’t possibly be because history wasn’t on their side, or because they had governed in a corrupt manner, or that the populace failed to see their moral superiority.  NO!  It could only be because Donald Trump conspired with Russia to steal the election!

Yes, rather than do any soul searching about their own beliefs and behavior, the progressive left apparently descended into a state of madness (or madness like a fox).  But hey, if you can’t fundamentally transform this vile nation by winning elections then other means must be found.  After all, comrades, the ends justify the means.




Debacle Bonus Material: Pure Tragicomic Gold Edition

The Tragedy

The Progressive Left’s enthusiastic embrace of deceit.

The entire menu of race, class, and gender identity politics, lead-from-behind foreign policy, political correctness, and radical environmentalism so far have not won over most Americans.

Proof of that fact are the serial reliance of their supporters on deception, and the erosion of language on campus and in politics and the media. The progressive movement requires both deceit and euphemism to mask its apparently unpopular agenda.

The Comedy

We can get away with it! Those stupid, bitter gun and religion clinging, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it, citizens will never remember how we coddled the Russians for our eight years in office!  Trump-Russian collusion full speed ahead!

The Gold

Clinton-Russian-Reset

What! A Democratic Secretary of State making nice with the evil Russians!  Look away, look away, nothing to see here!

Obama-Medvedev

What! A Democratic President of the United States colluding with the evil Russians! Look away, look away, nothing to see here!

clinton-uranium-0ne-scandal1

What! A Democratic administration selling 20% of U.S. uranium to a Russian company controlled by the Russian state!  What!  The Clinton Foundation received tens of millions of dollars from evil Russian sources while the Uranium One deal was in progress!  Look away, look away, nothing to see here!

Romney-Obama-2012-Debate-Russia

What! President Obama mocks Mitt Romney for saying that the Russians are a geopolitical foe!  Look away, look away, nothing to see here!

I’ll stop here, but there’s so much more…wait, what!

maddow2017-1489678100-540x511

LOOK! AN EVIL RUSSIAN SQUIRREL STOLE THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION FROM HILLARY!




 

Making Sense of It All (4)

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The Architects of a Conservative Political Debacle

How We Got Here (2)

The Conservative Right

The primary source of confusion within the conservative movement has been just what to conserve.  The inability of conservative politicians to answer this question within the bounds of successful politics created deep antipathy between themselves and those whom they presume to represent.  The consequent disgust and distrust has risen over the years to the point that conservative politicians sometimes appear to have disowned their voters, and the voters have disassociated themselves from the politicians.  That this was allowed to happen is one of the greatest feats of political madness in my living memory.

Where to start?  Were this a less contemporary meditation I’d go way back to 1990 when President George H. W. Bush broke his solemn promise of “read my lips: no new taxes!”  Rather I’ll begin with his son, President George W. Bush.  Mr. Bush ran for President in 2000 on the slogan of “compassionate conservatism.”  It was only after his election that we found out that “compassionate” meant:

  • Signing into law the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Bill that substantially diminished the freedom most necessary for a healthy republic, that being political speech
  • Prosecuted a war in Iraq that a majority of citizens came to believe was an utter failure
  • Continued the increase in governmental spending that was in indifferentiable from that of a progressive leftist
  • Enthusiastic support for a “comprehensive immigration bill” that was supported by the business community and the Republican donor class but that was anathema to a majority of citizens
  • Refused to defend himself, his administration or his philosophy from vile assaults by the political opposition
  • Standing idly by, or even encouraging (i.e., easy loans to bolster home ownership) government policies that caused the 2008 financial crisis.

When Mr. Bush left office in 2009 he had managed to utterly discredit the conservative political philosophy, thus paving the way for a disasterous experiment in progressive leftist rule.

jillgreenbergatlanticcovIn 2008 a demoralized Republican Party managed to nominate for President the man least able to challenge the ideology and policies of the Democratic nominee, Senator Barack Obama.  That man was Senator John McCain.  Here we had a man who had sought to gain favor with the Mainstream Media as a “maverick” by gleefully and sometimes savagely attacking more conservative members of his own party.  He was a champion of  “bi-partsianship,” which in practice meant caving to the progressive left on core issues such as freedom of speech and illegal immigration.  Finally, he was one of the most “hawkish” national politicians at a time of extreme war-wariness in the nation.  None of this created much enthusiasm in the Republican base or in the general population.

And, just as with George W. Bush before him, his bi-partsianship counted for less than nothing when confronting the Democratic machine.  All of his former “friends” in the Mainstream Media turned on him once the candidates were in place.  He could not draw credible, clear distinctions with the ideology or policies of the most leftist Presidential candidate in American history because he didn’t appear to have a philosophy other than pragmatism.  He wasn’t trusted in judgement, temperament or philosophy by a large portion of the Republican base.

Perhaps no-one could have beaten Senator Obama.  However a political party picking the candidate least likely to, when his deficiencies were clearly apparent, can only be judged as terrible political malpractice.  And so, after the 2008 election Barack Obama was President and the Democrats held large majorities in both the House and Senate.

The Republican Party had utterly failed to earn the respect of its opponents and the trust of those whom it presumed to represent.  The only term that approaches the truth is “utter political debacle.”




Debacle Bonus Material: Trifecta Edition

  1. Win: The Bush family utterly confuses and discredits political Conservatism over three teams in the Presidency.
  2. Place: In 2008 the Republican Party nominates for President the man, John McCain, who is least able to oppose the Progressive Leftism of Barack Obama on principle, and, who is disliked and distrusted by a large segment of the GOP base.
  3. Show:
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The Republican Party completes an unheard of “political debacle trifecta” by, in 2012, nominating the man least able to effectively criticize ObamaCare for President – Mitt Romney.

Occasional Confirmations (2)

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Political Islam Replacing Gays at the Progressive Pyramid’s Topcurrent-top2

In a February 21, 2017 post on The Progressive Pyramid of “Moral Authority,” I stated that:

There can be legitimate debate on when Political Islam was raised to the Progressive pyramid’s top position.  However, in 2016 the reality of this elevation became crystal clear.

After having given the issue great thought and carefully considered the evidence, this conclusion did appear to be “crystal clear” to me.  However, I had some apprehension as to if my readers would agree that the evidentiary bar had indeed been exceeded. After all, as I admitted:

In fact, even the holders of the 2000+ pyramid’s peak were gobsmacked when events revealed that this demotion/promotion had certainly occurred.

Thus, if actual members in top standing of the Progressive Pyramid had not seen this event coming, then there was enough ambiguity to make an objective observer wonder.

2010-11-22-iran_gayexecutionI no longer have these doubts.  For, a bisexual man (and thus a man who identifies as gay), has come into direct conflict with Political Islam’s murderous treatment of homosexuals, and was put in his place by a Progressive “Pyramid positioning officer“.

A bisexual male student at the University of Texas–San Antonio said during an informal conversation outside class that he was uncomfortable with Islam because people still receive the death penalty for being gay in 10 Muslim-majority countries.

For expressing this thought, the student—Alfred MacDonald, who no longer attends the school—was instructed to meet with the chair of the philosophy department, Eve Browning. Prof. Browning told MacDonald in no uncertain terms that he had committed the crime of “offending” someone, and she warned him that his habit of saying what he thinks could bring down the entire program. She threatened to call the Behavior Intervention Team and refer MacDonald to counseling. She did everything but send him to Room 101.

Unfortunately for Browning, MacDonald secretly recorded their conversation. The transcript, first publicized by Gay Star News, is incredible.

Note that it is not some conservative organization that has reported on this incident, but rather the Gay Star News.  I also pointed out this appalling situation early in the series of posts leading up to my conclusion regarding Political Islam’s top pyramid position.

Professor Browning, as a Progressive elite in good standing, made it absolutely clear to this bisexual student that he had no right to state a fact that might offend adherents of the Muslim faith.  Although there is a complicating factor concerning the context for the student’s statement, there is no doubt about the outcome.  Here’s a key point in the transcript:

ALFRED MACDONALD: Nothing. I wasn’t talking about the engagement to the Muslim. I was talking about Islam in that particular moment.

EVE BROWNING: Well, let me just say that kind of thing is not going to be tolerated in our department. We’re not going to tolerate graduate students trying to make other graduate students feel terrible for our emotional attachments.

The issue isn’t the truth of falsehood that Political Islam commits practicing homosexuals to death in at least ten countries, but rather the impact of stating that fact on the feelings of a Muslim person.  In fact, as the conversation continues, it becomes clear that the student will submit to this Progressive idol without question or need to understand (emphasis added).

EVE BROWNING: Those are things that would get you fired if you were working in my office. The Islam comment would get you fired.

ALFRED MACDONALD: …Would it really get me fired to say that I could be killed somewhere?

EVE BROWNING: In that situation as you’ve described it, absolutely yes.

ALFRED MACDONALD: How?

EVE BROWNING: Don’t even ask. It’s clear you’re not taking my word for it. I don’t care to convince you. If I can’t persuade you that it’s in your interest to behave in ways that other people don’t find offensive and objectionable, then at least I’ve done my job.

ALFRED MACDONALD: Well I know that it’s in my interest. I’m just trying to understand the reasoning.

EVE BROWNING: You don’t have to.

ALFRED MACDONALD: Well, this is a truth-seeking discipline!

greenNote that this transcript also confirms (that’s two!) my belief that Progressives’ primary strategy for getting their way is by intimidation as opposed to persuasion.  Thus, this incident is now a “dual-confirmation” event.

greenNo, Mr. MacDonald, you are terribly mistaken to believe that Professor Browning is part of a “truth-seeking discipline.”  She is a member in good standing of the Progressive hyena pack, a heartless enforcer (wow, that’s three confirmations!) of whatever is currently the Progressive party-line.  However, I salute your foresight in recording this discussion and your courage by daring to share it in spite of the certain Progressive mob blowback.  Perhaps you will eventually draw conclusions as to who actually supports humane policies and who only pretends to in order to achieve their true ends.

And finally, I’d like to acknowledge Professor Browning’s incredible achievement of confirming not one, not two, but three of my conclusions regarding Progressive ideology and practice in a single amazing incident.  It’s hard to imagine someone ever managing four such significant confirmations.  Your achievement casts an impressively dark shadow over human decency and wisdom.

Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics (9)

moral-hazard-ethicsThe Moral Hazard of Intentions Based Policy

Some readers may have been wondering how a series of posts titled “Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics” could have focused almost exclusively on general Progressives for so long.  The answer is that Mainline Christian politics (from the leadership and organizational perspective) is often virtually indistinguishable from secular Progressive politics.  The only difference is that a sentence here or there in Mainline political statements might mention Jesus or the Bible or something else vaguely religious in origin.

For the last four posts I have been indirectly describing the “moral hazard” associated with the intentions based policy philosophy used (though certainly not exclusively) by Progressives (Christian or otherwise).  A useful definition for this term is:

Moral hazard is a situation where somebody has the opportunity to take advantage of somebody else by taking risks that the other will pay for. The idea is that people might ignore the moral implications of their choices: instead of doing what is right, they do what benefits them the most.

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Intention: Demonstrate superior virtue.  Result: Assume unbearable moral hazard.

It’s now time to directly call out the key dimensions of moral hazard into which Progressivism has fallen headfirst.

Votes and Political Power

In the recent presidential election candidate Donald Trump asked black voters: “What do you have to lose by trying something new?”  Candidate  Hillary Clinton wasted no time in answering that question: “What do black people stand to lose under Trump? Everything!”  Her response adds additional evidence to the conclusion that Progressives literally believe that Republican’s “bad intentions” will inexorably lead to “bad results.”

However, this incident also illuminates a massive moral hazard for Democrats.  For, given that they depend on 90%+ of black votes for continuance of their political power, isn’t it far more certain that the Democrat Party would lose “everything” were the black community to lessen their level of support?

So, given that current welfare, education and crime policies (among others) have created this massive block voting by the black community, the downside to any reforms that might lead to improvements in their lot could be political death.  Given the stakes, is it really credible that Democratic politicians, bureaucrats and supporters are so morally superior that they are immune to such a temptation?  I say absolutely not.

Codependent Relationships

If your self-image is that of a Progressive “hero” who delivers the best possible results to the designated “beneficiaries” because of your “good” intentions, then it could become acceptable for those beneficiaries to remain in need.  If you have been a “beneficiary” and become dependent, then you also could come to desire that the Progressive “heroes” remain in power.  This codependence can tempt both sides into supporting a failing status quo.

Hate-Based Self Esteem

If your self-image is that of a morally superior “hero,” then besides the need for “beneficiaries” there is the need for “villains.”  However, beyond providing “proof” of your own moral superiority, “villains” also can become objects of hate.  That’s because the “heroes” can begin to believe that “villains” exist not because they make honest errors or hold mistaken beliefs, but because they harbor “bad intentions.”  So, the Progressive moral model demands that the world be split into “heroes,” “villains” and “beneficiaries.”  Thus, our shared humanity can be denied, creating a world with greater strife and violence.  And so, Progressives obtain their fraudulent fantasies of moral superiority at the expense of other human beings and create a debased culture in the process.

Works-Based Salvation

If you are a Christian who erroneously seeks a works-based mark of salvation, you might well be drawn to the easy moral superiority promised by adherence to Progressive politics.  “Evidence” for a works-based salvation can be most easily found by comparing oneself to others.  Is there currently a more potent, visible ideology that allows the manufacture of accredited “heroes” and “villains” than Progressivism?  And, if you are a Mainline Progressive Christian leader, might the temptation to encourage such false belief in order to advance your preferred political policies be strong?

There is another dimension to this theological error, that being the narrowing of Christian virtue and vocation to only those acts directly associated with Progressive sources.  Thus, for example, were a person in their private-sector job to enable creation of many well-paying jobs (through honest, hard work) throughout the world, it may not count as “good works” in the Progressive Christian worldview.  That’s because, by their blinkered definition, these works were not motivated by approved “good intentions.”

Therefore, those of us who define our Christian vocation as encompassing all of our lives are yet regularly harangued by believers who only allow their pet Progressive Christian projects to be included in “good works.”  They literally don’t appear to care that we are generating good results outside of their narrowly defined domain.

Of course, I am not here thinking of good works as having anything to do with our salvation in Christ.  Rather they are thank-offerings for that undeserved grace by which we have been saved through Christ Jesus.

Finally, trusting souls are told that slavish adherence to secular Progressive positions makes them into “super Christians.”  That is, because of their superior Progressive-derived “good intentions” they hold a special place of authority in the church.  From that fraudulent perch they decide what works are actually Christian.  They also sometimes imagine that they are free to misinterpret the Bible as necessary to bring its teachings into line with the positions determined by the secular Progressive elite.



This analysis may explain why Progressives have such a powerful compulsion to claim moral superiority.  For, by virtue of the scope and aggressiveness of their ideology they unavoidably place themselves in positions of great moral hazard.  Only by presuming that they have moral purity and perfection far beyond that of normal humanity can they convince themselves that their power will not result in bad, even evil results.  Of course, this presumption is built from pure fantasy, as they are made of the same fallen moral material as is everyone else.  However, the fact that they so convince themselves of falsehood makes them far more dangerous when in power, and far more fragile and unstable when they are on the outs.



 

Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics (8)

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Amy Wax and Larry Alexander

Intentions vs. Results 2017 Case Study: Professors Amy Wax and Larry Alexander

The Sin

In August of this year two tenured professors, each holding an endowed chair, published an article titled “Paying the price for the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture” in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  They are Amy Wax from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Larry Alexander from the University of San Diego Law School.

These two authors described the social norms and personal behaviors that were generally supported prior to the 1960s and that continue to enable productive, fulfilled lives to this day, those being:

Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

While they might have gotten away with praise of these once obvious virtues, they committed unpardonable sin against the Progressive idol by recommending that these virtues be uplifted once again in today’s culture.  They didn’t mince words.

… restore the hegemony of the bourgeois culture. …  will require the arbiters of culture — the academics, media, and Hollywood — to relinquish multicultural grievance polemics and the preening pretense of defending the downtrodden. Instead of bashing the bourgeois culture, they should return to the 1950s posture of celebrating it.

The Progressive Response

The Progressive response was eerily more like the Cultural Revolution in 1966 China than the operating of academic freedom in a liberal democratic republic, with these brave authors being denounced as racist (and worse!).  Here’s a quote from a statement by 54 Penn graduate students and alums.  By the way, if you still have any doubts about the intention-based model’s assumed simple-mindedness in this earlier post, I now rest may case.

We call for the University of Pennsylvania administration — Penn President Gutmann and the deans of each school — as well as faculty to directly confront Wax and Alexander’s op-ed as racist and white supremacist discourse and to push for an investigation into Wax’s advocacy for white supremacy. We believe that such statements should point directly to the historical and sociopolitical antecedents of Wax’s hate speech, and to disallow hate speech whether shrouded in respectability or not.

Refusal to Bend the Knee

For their part, neither author backed down.  Amy Wax’s response was both lucid and unflinching.

What the objections boil down to is that the bourgeois virtues are somehow racist, or somehow cause racism—contentions that I and my co-author expressly contest, of course … But if, indeed, bourgeois values are so racist, the progressive critics should be out there in the street demonstrating against them, stripping them from their own lives, and forbidding their children to practice them. They should be chanting, ‘No more work, more crime, more out of wedlock babies, forget thrift, let’s get high!’ … Of course, there’s little chance we’re going to see anything like that, which shows the hollowness, indeed the silliness, of the critiques.”

Larry Alexander’s response was no less powerful and persuasive.

The charges of racism, white supremacy, etc. are, sadly, the predictable responses of those who can’t refute the claims we made … And those charges are laughable, given that I was a civil rights marcher and have a multi-racial family. But, of course, when you don’t have the facts on your side, you resort to calling names. Pathetic!

Perhaps this wisdom backed by courage and conviction will be a turning point where the vicious Progressive campus mob is finally repulsed and discredited.  I certainly hope so, but regardless there are significant lessons here for our discussion of intentions vs. results.

The Implications

Professors Alexander and Wax have transgressed against Progressive theology by daring to point out that intentions the Progressives have defined to be “bad” can lead to good results.  That is, their position violates “facts” 4, 5 and 9 that underpin the intentions based philosophy.

For, to assign higher value to norms that are derived from pre-1960s America is seen by Progressives as an act of racist judgmentalism.  It also violates the “good intentions” associated with multiculturalism, “kindness” and “open-mindedness.”

So, were their argument allowed to stand, the simple-minded Progressive model of only “good intentions” creating “good results” would be disastrously undermined.  Clearly, norms that honor marriage, fidelity, family, work and honesty would be enforced by discouraging the opposites of these virtues.  But, this would be “bad” by Progressive ideology, so to the barricades comrades!

Professor Wax’s response, in which she throws the hypocrisy of the upper middle class Progressives back in their faces is particularly powerful.  For, as is demonstrated by a recent article in the Federalist titled “The Research Proves The No. 1 Social Justice Imperative Is Marriage,” the primary differentiating factor between well off and less well off social groups is an intact, committed family structure.  Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 6.19.28 AMThe key figure from this source is shown here.  Note that for the Poor a baby arrived prior to marriage at almost five-times the percentage of the Middle / Upper Class.  Also,  the Middle / Upper Class is currently married at more than twice the percentage of the Poor.  Thus, it is very likely that the Middle / Upper Class critics of Professors Wax and Alexander are living their own lives in accordance with bourgeois culture while recommending that the Working Class and Poor not do the same.

Were we to start playing by the Progressive Left’s rules, and, assume the worst about their motives (as opposed to commenting on their public actions and statements) we might say: “That’s certainly a way to limit the pool of competitors for Middle / Upper Class jobs!”  I doubt they would like this treatment even though it’s far gentler than what they are saying.  What they fail to realize is that by virtue of their policy preferences and behavior, they have assumed a level of moral hazard that makes them highly vulnerable to legitimate, powerful criticism.  I’ll have quite a bit more to say about this in the next post.



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