Saturday, July 31, 2010

Encouragement From Luther

The following comments from Martin Luther may be of encouragement to those who are struggling with or at work. Commenting on the 55th Psalm, Luther said

“Follow this advice. Let not your burden rest upon yourselves; for you cannot bear it, and must finally perish beneath its weight. But, confident and full of joy, cast it from you and throw it on God, and say: Heavenly Father, Thou art my Lord and God, who didst create me when I was nothing; moreover hast redeemed me through Thy Son. Now, Thou hast committed to me and laid upon me, this office or work, and things do not go as well as I would like. There is so much to oppress and worry, that I can find neither counsel nor help. Therefore I commend everything to Thee. Do Thou supply counsel and help, and be Thou, Thyself, everything in these things.”

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Craft of Research

I've just finished reading about half of The Craft of Research (unfortunately the library won't let me renew it anymore), an extremely valuable book for those just embarking on postgraduate work, especially those who have had no formal training in academic research. The book gives useful advice on everything from selecting a thesis topic to the nuts and bolts of the actual research process. and makes a good compliment to Patrick Dunleavy's book Authoring a PhD Thesis. Here's are some random tips from the book put into my own words:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

European Police Prepare to Spy on Britons

European police would have "free rein" to spy on Britons and demand their DNA under plans being considered by the Home Office this week, campaigners have said.

The power would allow prosecutors from any European Union country to place people under surveillance, bug telephone conversations, and monitor bank accounts.

Keep Reading

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Review of Quivering Daughters

This post has moved to HERE.

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EU Plan to Let Foreign Police Spy on Britons

Brussels [the seat of the European Union's government] want to allow European police officers to spy on Britons under sinister plans drawn up by the EU. Officers from any EU country would be able to demand information on anyone they suspect of an offence, no matter how minor or whether it is even criminal in the UK.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Recovering Christendom

Following is something I wrote for the About page on the Alfred the Great Society website.

What is Christendom? Christendom is not simply a collection Christians living together in society, but refers to the institutions, literature, manners, works of arts, values – in short, the entire fabric of culture – which emanates out of a Christian civilization. A moment of time is all it takes for a person to turn from unbelief to faith in Christ, but it takes hundreds of years to build Christendom out of a previously pagan society. Conversely, Christendom can continue to exist for many years even after the majority of that culture has become apostate, as a lizard’s tail will twitch for a time after being severed from its body.

The Glorious Church

Over the years I have had occasion to blog about the glorious church, defending its existence as both a human and divine institution. Following are some key posts on this subject:

Faith in Church

Nevin and Revivalism

Recovering Christendom

8 Gnostic Myths You May Have Imbibed

Mother State or Mother Church?

The Importance of Church

So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore?

Institutional Religion

Marcelo Souza's Class on Church

Church Calendar 

Matter/Spirit Dualism and the Sacramental State

The Trinity and Church Unity

Are members of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches Christians?

Thoughts on Home Church

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Nevin and Revivalism

Right now I'm reading an extremely interesting biography of the 19th century theologian John Williamson Nevin. On page 97 D.G. Hart describes Nevin's response to the theology of revivalism:
By conceiving of Christianity in organic or corporate, as opposed to individualistic, categories, Nevin had an easy time explaining the churchly system of religion symbolized by the catechism. If men and women were to be saved, such restoration would have to occur from outside themselves. Here the ministry of the church came to the rescue. Salvation came to sinners through the "institutions and agencies" of the church "which God has appointed, and clothed with power expressly for this end." So, as Nevin's logic proceeded, "where the system of the Catechism prevails great account is made of the Church" because it comprehended the means of grace that God ordained for the accomplishment of salvation. "In this view the Church," he concluded, "is truly the mother of all her children. They do not impart life to her, but she imparts life to them." In other words, the church did not follow the dictates of individualistic Christianity but precisely the reverse was the case: "Christ lives in the Church, and through the Church in its particular members."

Faith in the Church

"Faith in the church, [Nevin] explained, was not simply a persuasion and confidence that 'certain arrangements' in polity or liturgy were of divine appointment. The question of sacramental grace went deeper. Was the church a 'living supernatural fact, back of all such arrangements, having its ground and force in the mystery of the Incarnation, according to the order of the ancient creed, and communicating to the marks and signs by which it is made visible through every particle of virtue that is in them for any such end'? Nevin believed the answer had to be yes. 'We must believe in a divine church,' Nevin insisted, 'in order to believe in divine sacraments, or in a divine ministry under any form.' Indeed, without a conviction and understanding of its divine constitution, the institutional church became nothing more than the American Tract Society or 'any other outward league of evangelical sects!'"

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Wesley Quotes

"It is a fundamental principle with us that to renounce reason is to renounce religion, that religion and reason go hand in hand, and that all irrational religion is false religion."

"I dislike something that has the appearance of enthusiasm, overvaluing feelings and inward impressions: mistaking the mere work of imagination for the voice of the Spirit: expecting the end without the means, and undervaluing reason knowledge and wisdom in general." 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

William the Conquerer and the Enslavement of England

In my article, Review of Robin Hood Movie, I mentioned that when the Normans invaded England in 1066 it was the first time England had a king who believed that he actually owned all the land he ruled. This was a completely novel concept in the annals of British history and went against the tradition of liberty that had been passed down from such great kings as Alfred the Great.

Thinking that all of England was his own private backyard, William the Conqueror began to systematically dispossess English landowners of their property in contravention of Proverbs 22:28. He handed over these stolen lands as gifts to his French supporters. Following suit, these nobles then enslaved the populations in their territories. Commoners could no longer even marry without the permission of their overlord. Essentially, England was turned into a slave state of Northern France.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Charles Colson on Kierkegaard

Though Christian, Kierkegaard is considered to be the father of existentialism, the school of philosophy that puts the individual and his emotions, thoughts, responsibilities and actions at the center of its considerations. As Ken tells us, Kierkegaard’s influence extends to both secular philosophers like Martin Heidegger and John Paul Sartre, who were so popular in radicalizing the 1960s, and theologians like Karl Barth and Emil Brunner.
In other words, Kierkegaard played a crucial role in shaping the way people thought throughout the 20th century.

To understand him, it’s important to understand how he understood God, which Ken helps us to do. For Kierkegaard, God was utterly transcendent, and “an infinite qualitative difference” separated God from humanity.

While Kierkegaard believed that God became incarnate, he felt the incarnation didn’t do much to bridge the gap. Instead, it provides Kierkegaard with the basis for putting what he calls “absurdity” at heart of his definition of faith.

For Kierkegaard, faith isn’t a way of knowing or an act of trust in God’s goodness and love for us. Instead, it’s a belief and trust in the “strength of the absurd.” By “absurd,” he means that which contradicts reason.

Read entire article

Also see From Romanticism to Existentialism
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Monday, July 12, 2010

Jonathan Edwards and Conversion Experiences

I just came across a quote from Jonathan Edwards which confirms a point I made in my earlier post Conversion Experiences

Conversion" wrote Edwards, "is a great and glorious work of God's power, at once changing the heart, and infusing life into the dead soul...But as to fixing the precise time when they put forth the very first act of grace, there is a great deal of difference in different persons; in some it seems to be very discernible when the very time was; but others are more at a loss." From 'A narrative of surprising conversions', in Select Works, Vol. 1, p. 40.

See also:

Conversion Experiences

Are Roman Catholics Christians?

Friday, July 09, 2010

Government by Emergency

Classical Greece and Rome had a tradition of appointing a dictator during times of national emergency. After the crisis finished, the dictator would step down so that government could return to normal, usually to some form republic or oligarchy. Following this tradition, modern leaders frequently appeal to times of real or alleged 'crisis' to persuade the populace to entrust them with powers that would normally be distributed.
However, there is a crucial difference. During times of national crisis the ancients would be ruled by a person, whereas we are ruled by laws rather than people. The consequence of this is that the augmented power required by a crisis has to first be legitimized by legislation. And here's the rub: the legislation does not step down after the crisis is over like the classical dictator did. In this way, an entire slough of totalitarian legislation can be built up over the years, like barnacles clinging to a ship, gradually changing the face of society from one of freedom to one of enslavement. Just consider the following list of executive orders that Presidents have issued to cope with “emergency” situations:

Executive Order #10995: Seizure of all communications media in the United States.

Executive Order #10997: Seizure of all electric power fuels and minerals, public and private.

• Executive Order #10999: Seizure of all means of transportation, including personal cars, trucks or vehicles of any kind and total control of highways, seaports and waterways.

 • Executive Order #11000: Seizure of all American people for work forces under federal supervision including the splitting of families if the government finds it necessary.

 • Executive Order #11001: Seizure of all health, education and welfare facilities, public and private.

 • Executive Order #11002: Empowered the postmaster general to register all men, women and children in the U.S.

Executive Order #11003: Seizure of all airports and aircraft.

Executive Order #11004: Seizure of all housing and finance authorities to establish Forced Relocation Designated areas to be abandoned as "unsafe."

Executive Order #11005: Seizure of all railroads, inland waterways and storage facilities, public and private.

Executive Order #12919: Signs June 3, 1994, by President Clinton. Encompasses all the above executive orders.

Totalitarian creep should concern us all, but first we must stop thinking of totalitarianism solely in terms of things like steel fences and ID checkpoints. That is where totalitarianism end but it is not where it starts. Totalitarianism, at least in the modern west, has traditionally begun with leaders who are human enough to empathize with our needs and shrewd enough to fulfill those needs as soon as sufficient power is entrusted to them.

When totalitarianism does arrive, it arrives as the concomitant of a population that has been oriented to view the state as benefactor and protector, even as the great mother. (See my article Maternal Statecraft). When Mussolini first coined the term “totalitarianism” it was not a pejorative slur, nor was it something connoting tyranny. Rather, he used the word to refer to a humane society in which everyone was taken care of and looked after by a state which encompassed all of life within its grasp.

Even before he was elected President, Obama identified himself with a type of “caring totalitarianism” of Mussolini. That is why the Obama administration has made clear that they never want a good crisis to go to waste. Times of crisis are opportunities for the government with totalitarian aspirations if the populace can be convinced that the needs of the crisis can only be addressed by the augmentation of power. If the people have already been oriented to view their leader as caring, they will gladly yield up their liberty for the security he promises to bring. That is why, when I defended my decision not to vote for Obama, my reasons were based, not in his policy, but in his compassion. Obama is just caring enough to overcome any obstacle, even the constitution itself, if he believes he is truly helping the American people. And that, my friends, is precisely why he is so dangerous.
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Sunday, July 04, 2010

Pelagian Creep

I had to have a bad tooth extracted last week so I  spent more than normal time resting and reading. One of the books I read was a fascinating study by D.W. Bebbington titled Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s.

One of the many interesting features he brings to light is the way the role of the will replaced the role of the Holy Spirit in the process of conversion in 19th century revivalism. "In the nineteenth century," he writes, "some of the more enthusiastic Evangelicals, eager to maximize conversions, began to teach that the crucial factor is a person's will to be saved. Carefully planned methods, such as meetings designed for anxious enquirers, could encourage the desire to believe In Lectures on Revivals of Religion (1835), Charles Finney, the leading American exponent of this line of thinking, present revivalism as a science, a powerful technique for securing mass conversions. It was an immensely popular work, selling 80,000 copies by 1850 and making a great impact in Britain... Finney came close to denying the need for the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Some did draw that inference. J. H. Hinton, later a leading Baptist minister, wrote in 1830 that "a sinner has power to repent without the Spirit". He subsequently declared that he had been misunderstood, explaining that he did believe that the Spirit acts in conversion overall. But others did not retract. Nine students at Glasgow Congregational Theological Academy were expelled in 1844 for 'self-conversionism.' They went on to form part of the new Evangelical Union, a largely Scottish denomination committed to revivalism."

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Historic Breakthrough in American Politics

For many years, American political activists have focused on trying to reform Washington. This is not surprising, given that every year thousands of unconstitutional laws are passed which glorify perversion, bring America closer to becoming a totalitarian police state, sink the nation further into unpayable debt and progressively strip historic liberties from the states.
Despite the efforts of thousands of activists and a few godly lawmakers to change the direction the American national government is heading, it has become apparent that the system is, humanly speaking, beyond all hope. The leviathan of federal government has simply become so corrupt that all efforts to bring sanity inevitably run aground.
Such is the bleak picture of contemporary American politics. Yet it is out of this very bleakness that a breakthrough is happening of historic importance.
Instead of trying to reform Washington, many states have simply decided to ignore the laws the federal government is vomiting forth. They have realized that the corrupt federal government is rather like the devil who can only work if he has out consent.
But can a state like Idaho, Virginia, Tennessee, Arizona, etc., really decide to just disobey unconstitutional laws coming out of the nation’s capital? You bet they can. 

Keep Reading (at Alfred the Great Academy)

Thursday, July 01, 2010


In the Family and Youth Concern's Autumn Bulletin they had a section detailing UNESCO's (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's) new International Guidelines on Sexuality Education.
The Guidelines, detailing extremely explicit sexual education for children as young as 5, are objectionable for reasons made clear by FYC here. But what perked my interest was UNESCO's remarks about desensitisation. The guidelines admit that "only some of these learning objectives are specifically designed to reduce risky sexual behaviour" and that there is a much more wide-reaching agenda in operation. ‘Most’ of the sexuality education learning objectives are intended "to change social norms, facilitate communication of sexual issues, remove social and attitudinal barriers and increase knowledge".

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