The Dongola Times

(Anachronistic) Dispatches from the Kingdom of Makuria.
24th of November, 2014

Summa Contra Papism

Another one, against a Roman Catholic. There are actually two interlocutors, and I have mangled the order up a bit, but since I am only posting my side of the debate, and I quote the interlocutors, it should be fine.

You say "RCC and Reformed alike believe that God communicates through human vessels (and jackasses and other means when it pleases him) ... and that that gift extends to defining dogma."

So how does RCC disqualify non-conciliar authority, as indeed it does? How do they disqualify dogma as defined by jackasses like myself, as indeed they do? I know that they do; but by what "metric"?

"1 Tim 3, I'm not sure I follow the complaint, other than you're irked that Catholics oft cite this verse as in conformity with RCC ecclesiology."

I'm irked that they are inconsistent, since they cite it to establish the RCC's authority over the Scriptures, while in fact it is this self-same Scripture that they rely on for this claim of authority over the Scripture. I would not mind if they were of fideist confession, like the Reformed; but they are not. Aquinas would be screaming right now. Remember that [interlocutor] here is trying to say that Scripture is not self-attesting, so he is already firmly committed to the glaring fallacy (it is in his blog header, and this post of his denies self-attesting Scripture), as indeed is the whole RCC.

I wonder, in fact, how it is that his blog posts, and your comments, are self-attesting, based on the by-line, but that the "Thus Saith the Lord" of the Almighty needs a bunch of Italians to sign off.

"I'm not calling you a jackass, silly.;)"

I know; I am claiming the title. Rightfully. :o)

"The RCC position is that God speaks through scripture as well as through the councils."

The RCC denies that God speaks to individuals through Scripture. It is that "private interpretation" argument they throw around. It is how they justify locking the Bible away, and distributing encyclicals in its stead.

Unfortunately, the RCC also says that God cannot speak through the Scriptures unless first He has spoken through the councils. This is, in fact, the argument [interlocutor] is pushing in the post.

"I think Catholics cite that verse to Protestants because it's from an authority we both accept."

True. But the Roman Catholic application of it is necessarily inconsistent.

"I simply don't see that the canon has been established in any way but through a deliberative Church process (and some tweaking by Protestants on doctrinal grounds some 1500 years into the game)."

The councils and synods that ever deliberated on Scripture all recognised it as pre-existing; they never claimed to have birthed it, but to merely have recognised it. The deliberative process of which you speak was always aware that it had precedents in recognising Scripture, and indeed was always careful not to be novel in any way. Canon was emphatically not established by deliberative Church process.

As for the tweaking of which you speak, that the Protestants allegedly did, in fact the Roman Catholics were the very first to reject the Apocrypha. St Jerome was the very first to reject the Apocrypha; Luther and the others merely followed him. In his case, too, he was confessedly not doing anything novel, but following a righteous precedent from the Jews. However, he, like Luther after him, included the Apocrypha; just not on the same level with the 66.

"The Protestant position (or Reformed, more precisely) seems to have shot an arrow and drawn a bullseye around it."

That is always the sensible evaluation of every faith-based progression. However, it doesn't prove wrongness.

"It seems unbelievable to me that the Spirit self attests on the canon but bugs out when it was time to help parse out soteriology and an understanding of social mission, liturgy, Eucharist, and that there'd be compelling unity on these matters."

There is no unity on canon, either. Some are reprobate; some have to be. Besides, just because you are not wrong on canon does not mean you should be right on everything (see Second-Temple Judaism versus 1st-Century Christianity). Having the canon, you compound the sin by refusing the repentance to which that very canon calls you. Having the New Testament, and the example of Christ, you compound the offense and prove the wrongness by not acting in agreement with the Christ of the New Testament, who, being found as a man, argued from the Scriptures by the Spirit. And also accepting that the Scriptures are good for the edification and regulation of the Church (as Paul told this Timothy whose letter you quote often), you still insist on taking instruction from the cogitations of mere men instead.

See how [interlocutor] argues in paragraph 2: "As Catholics, we'd argue that they can't. An often overlooked point is that the Bible was written to the Church." And yet the Church never needed permission from someone to call the letters Scripture before they were (rightly) considered as such.

"Namely, how can individuals come to know what is and isn't Scripture without the assistance of the Christian community?"

By the witness of the Spirit.

"If each of us knows the canon of Scripture because of a supernatural gift from the Holy Spirit (given to each of us personally), why do we need Scripture anyways?"

Because we were not there at the time of the testaments, and the testaments are extant. If they were not extant, we would still be led by the Spirit, but without the Scriptures to recognise. We are bound to recognise them because they exist as the word of God. God having committed His word to writing, His Spirit in us recognises it of necessity.

"It seems to me that one of the reasons for Scripture is that we're not all equipped with these sorts of prophetic gifts."

Even the prophets would not recognise the scriptures if they were not there. But if they were there, they would; that is, they did.

"If the Holy Spirit is revealing the 66 Book canon, why did nobody prior to the Reformation know this?"

They did.

"first, nobody had the 66 Book canon."

They did. Your own Jerome will testify against you, since he had it.

"even those who argued that we should have the 66 Book canon did so on the basis of Jewish praxis, not because they thought the Holy Spirit gave them the secret answer."

Is this to affirm that the Holy Spirit's "secret" answer cannot be "just take the Jewish canon"?

"If the Holy Spirit is revealing the 66 Book canon, why didn't Luther or Calvin hold to this canon?"

Luther and Calvin are not normative in any denomination (or even to themselves). Do you think I use "Luther" and "Holy Spirit" interchangeably? Plus, I never mention those men approvingly. I despise clay jars in general.

"For that matter, why did it take the Holy Spirit so long to reveal something so fundamental to Christianity?"

I think He was very quick with it; just some centuries. God is not slow as you and others like you think of slow.

"How could every single believer for 80% of Christian history not know that the Holy Spirit was leading us all to endorse the 66 Book canon?"

You seem obsessed with your time on Earth, as though it is the focal point of Christianity's history. God is as just with you as He is with those who lived in the fourth century, and you have no privilege. You have no more right to knowledge of the canon than they do. Many who come last will come first, and many who come first will come last. (On this, in particular, you RCs are very misled, equivocating between antiquity and orthodoxy, and citing all manner of ancient Christians, and insisting that what is ancient is right.)
And why do you charge God with unfairness in this, even when you cannot confess that the position is wrong? Does He not have the right to give everyone as much truth as He wills, in the epochs He wills? God Himself speaks of the outpouring of the Spirit in the last days; and what is that to you?

"How do you get around obviously-inspired texts like Wisdom 2?"

Inspired and canonical are not the same. I would get around Wisdom 2 the same way I get around the Letter of Aristeas, which is inspired.

I know you mean the "Son of God" quote in Wisdom 2, which I can also write in a blog post; and what then? Have you checked the original language artifacts of Wisdom? What answer do you have to those who would say that it is a Christian interpolation? Do you think your patristics were blind to skip over it entirely, rather than use it as a slam-dunk proof?

"For that matter, how can you close your own Biblical canon?"

By the Belgic Confession, which is part of my canon. Parse that. Hint:
The Bible is definite and closed: 66 books, to which all sound doctrine must conform. Scripture, on the other hand, is never closed; for you, it includes everything your pope writes, which is why I wrote last month that "for you Roman Catholics, every other encyclical and bull is legitimately regarded as scripture ... you follow sola scriptura without knowing it", and for me it is the documents that regulate faith (i.e.; the Bible, the Old Creeds, and the Three Forms).

"Are you claiming for yourself the status of a prophet?"

You were the first to use that on this page, and I was taken aback. What a ghastly way to ask: "do you have the gift of prophecy?" Yes.

"And even when he argues for the 66-Book canon, it's on the basis of Jewish consensus, not him claiming to be a prophet or personally guided by the Holy Spirit."

I am claiming it for him. That is, that his insistence on Jewish precendent was not because he was a clever textual critic, but because he was led. He never prevailed on Judith's inclusion, that the truth might be preserved for us. If all this seems as arbitrary to you as it does to my other Roman Catholic interlocutors, consider that Jewish consensus on the OT is even scriptural (Romans 9) such that, of necessity, God preserved for them--in spite of them--the books by which we shall witness to them unto life when the time is right. To "grab them by their canon," as it were. Personally, I have argued (and continue to) for the LXX. I do not agree with him on the Masoretic Text, but on the identity of the books (which the Confession affirms). And this is not because of simple textual-critical considerations, even though those hold, too.

"Can you show me a single self-proclaimed Christian from before the Reformation was saying that he or she is led by the Holy Spirit to affirm exactly these 66 Books?"

Jerome. But, what, are you entirely ignorant of the Hebrew-speaking/Jewish Christians (at least for the time they were there)? You speak of Jewish precedent in Jerome, and then ask where the Protestant precedent is, as though Jewish necessarily excludes Christian.

"You seem to be saying that the Holy Spirit is leading you personally, but that He let the entire Church fall into error on the question of the canon for 80% of its history."

Do you want me to flood you with quotes of the Spirit guiding individuals? They are more than those of the Spirit guiding the Church. But they are not mutually-exclusive. What you call 80% of Church history is nothing of the sort (because the Church's history is not done being reckoned, [interlocutor]); and even if it were, I thought I already explained that it simply would not matter. I even cited for you the parable of the workers in the vineyard, and you still bring this up.

" If the Gates of Hell overcame the entire Church for a single moment (much less, for 1600 years), this would run contrary to the clear promise of Jesus Christ."

They didn't. The Reformation is proof.

"The Belgic Confession isn't canonical ..."

Your own patristics used the word "canon" differently from modern English polemic. Canon included the creeds! Canon is simply the rule of faith. Do you consider it word games when Jesus speaks of Scripture, yet does not include the NT? Do you want us to use another word for that? Do not just oppose precision of words, just beacuse you are used to the ambiguities.

The Belgic Confession does not claim to be equal to the Bible, but rather expressly sets the Bible apart as the Bible (the way we understand it). This sound doctrine is of the Spirit, and recognised thereby. If it had claimed otherwise (as Exsurge Domine did), it would be bad toilet paper. We recognise this document as a sound rule of faith because of its orthodox faith, regarding the Bible (among other things). Nobody is at risk of heresy by subscribing to it, and it rightly orders life according to sound doctrine. The Synod of Dordt recognised this, and the spiritual man recognises these, by the Spirit, to be sacred Writings. Hence this set, the Three Forms' is a sound rule of faith--the original and only sensible meaning of "canon".

"And if, by all this, you're hinting that "Scripture" just means "Writings," then you're misunderstanding the specific use that Scripture has in a Biblical context"

No, I mean sacred writings; that is why I include the Three Forms, but not Exsurge Domine. My receipts are not Scripture. The Heidelberg Catechism is. The Bible is. The Heidelberg Catechism is not of the 66; neither is Tobit. Tobit is not scripture. Neither is Verbum Dei. Get it now?

"The issue seems to me is how historically reasonable is the self attestation model."

On the contrary, the issue is that nobody has an alternative. After all, do you not claim gnosis of the councils (or what the true Church is)? And if this charge can be laid on us, who believe in God's self-revelation, why not on you who believe in man's self-proclamation? Yet I would rather be charged with believing in God unduly, than with believing in man (at all). Even if I were to accept a council, as I do, I only do so by the testimony of the Spirit. The only consistent view of this is opposed by (and opposed to) the Roman Catholic position.

"Obviously, the Church had other wellsprings from which to draw, but not knowing if, say the Maccabbees belong in the canon or to what that canon must conform has profound doctrinal ramifications."

Why do you make a distinction between the Maccabees books (which I love, by the way), and the Qur'an? How do you decide on one so differently from the other? Most-certainly you do not have a conciliar opinion on either. (No; the Roman Catholics never actually accepted Maccabees in the way, say, the Eastern Orthodox do.)

"... and we RCs believe that it is a charism of the Church ..."

As in, you RCs claim gnosis that it is a charism of the Church. Fine. We claim gnosis that it is a charism of the Spirit-filled Christian.

"... unless you go "true Scotsman" and say well, you know, only those supporting my view of the canon are believers."

I go "true Scotsman" on the Muslims and Mormons, on this matter, and rightly-so. Roman Catholics are not somehow exempt. Of course, my Scriptures are what teach me that canon is not what defines orthodoxy, but faith in the Christ (Romans 14, for instance); if I were Roman Catholic, I would have no option by to takfiri those who disagree. However, I am arguing here for how we recognise canon, regardless of what we end up recognising. There is only one sound option. (At risk of confusing you, I prefer the readings of the LXX over the Masoretic Text readings. I use the LXX in my personal study. But only those 66 books.)

"... we do hold that you don't get to decide that, say, the "born again" passage isn't a reference to the Sacrsment of Baptism ..."

It is not you who do. There aren't many opposed meanings of Scripture. What they mean is clearly understood in various places. That X cannot be interpreted as not-X is not something you get to decide. It is something the Scriptures themselves insist on. Do you think I am free to read your comment any way I like, just because it is not hedged with anathemata?

"Lectio Divina, the Benedictine spiritual discipline, is a wonderful example of this sort of prayerful, devotional reading."

I agree; much of what is in RCC is good religion, but devoid of the gospel. I hate that the cancer of rebellious unrepentance and clinging to honourable errors is destroying the many good things about the RCC that Prots could do well to learn, copy, study, and perpetuate fiercely. Nevetheless, they seem to be left with no choice but to throw the accursed baby out with the bath-water. It is very regrettable for me personally that you guys are taking with you these good things, as you are getting cut out of the olive branch. No wonder your pope had a Muslim imam declare war on the grounds of the Vatican this year, and you are too blind to see what is coming! Revelation 2 mentions you! The Muslims are closing in on you in your lands, and your own traditions tell you that this is the form of punishment, and you still do not see.

"It's a bit like me saying "you've placed sermons over the bible.""

If I locked the Bible away from the hearers, then yes, it would have been the same.

"... a solid source of teaching. One of these, Dei Verbum, actually delves into this issue of revelation, scripture reading. Highly recommended."

Until they are recanting the heretical Exsurge Domine, I do not recommend them. Dei Verbum is no better than any other of the hundreds of similar deliberations on, many of which are better-researched, better-educated, and more-scriptural. Perhaps the biggest problem with the encyclicals is that they take themselves as seriously as the Roman Catholics take them. They could benefit more from realising they are just the ruminations of some aged Christian man, which may be right or wrong, and should be entirely subjected to the Bible.

20th of November, 2014

Moderate (Non-Practicing) Muslim Meets Practicing (Non-Moderate) Roman Catholic

A quote:

He was so kind, so kind. To become like that, they must have drugged him. He was a Catholic; he did his catechism!
That is the bit that stands out to me from the sad story of the French jihadist, after his grandmother recognised him in a video, beheading enemies. By the way, the Muslims beheading children in Syria are all perfectly sober; as sober as a human can be. Their religion forbids all manner of mood-alteration. And you thought the worst that could happen to your child is that he light up a joint? Haha.

Before you deal with any further characterisation of the jihadist, consider how his family is presented:

Practicing catholics, they live with their two young sons since Michael, the eldest, left the family home to go to Syria a year ago.
Note that: practicing catholics, not “extremist.” Now that their son has become a practicing Muslim, they don’t say “practicing”, but rather “extremist”. The World can keep its head buried as long as it wants, but language in general, as it tends to, has borne faithful witness to its cowardice and madness.

This jidahi was named as Romanist as only the Portuguese can name: Michael of the Saints. He grew up in a practicing (non-moderate) Roman Catholic home. He did his catechism! And then? Everybody would like to say “suddenly”, but in fact his ex-girlfriend makes a very instructive mistake in tracking the loss of this particular soul:

Between February and May 2009, he started working with a friend who was a moderate Muslim. Suddenly he started talking about the Qur’an, the surahs. More and more and more.
Moderate Muslim friend? Where did this “moderate” modifier come from? Does “moderate heretic” make sense? At the very least, the seeming necessity of this modifier, “moderate” should indicate that there is a problem with being “Muslim” in general; why haven’t we felt the need to recognise “moderate socialists”?

Their prophet Muhammad was not a moderate or an extremist; he was just a Muslim. He was also a beheader of children (see Khaybar, for instance), besides being a molester of girls (see Aisha, for instance), and he enjoined it as duty on every Muslim. If you would like to distinguish between moderate and not, say “practicing Muslim” for the beheader. To be a Muslim is the problem, since to be a heretic is the problem.

Why do we feel the need to recognise those Muslims who are not beheading people, as “moderate”, rather than just reconciling ourselves to our failure to take the thing as it comes? There is a Muslim, and then there is a non-Muslim. We do not have moderate militant, or moderate environmentalist, or moderate Republican, or moderate monarchist; we insist on “moderate” because we cannot take the whole thing as it comes. Capitalist is capitalist. We take that (or reject it) as it comes. Heretic is heretic.

But more-importantly, there is nothing sudden about his conversion. Bad company ruins good character. If you hang with heretics, you soon become one. I am prepared to live with Christians of all sorts, of all stupidities. (I think I can even stand Seventh-Day Adventists, who are actually heretics, but probably not unto death.) However, anybody who denies the Father and the Son is entirely beyond the pale.
So that is the first take-away: hang with heretics (whether your society claims they are moderate or not; that is, whether they are practicing or not) and you will become a heretic.

No sane parent should go to sleep without thinking about these things. What remains is that if you treasure above all else this faith “once for all delivered to the saints”, then you will have a policy that, above all else, excludes high heretics. We can debate the rest, even tolerate it. Because, you see, if a child of mine converted from the sound doctrine of the Reformed Christians, for instance, into something half-blind, like Eastern Orthodox, I would worry that/because he was slipping into heresy, but I would not mourn him as dead. If he became SDA, I would worry about him as terminally-ill. If he became Roman Catholic, I would cry about him as a mother cries for a son in coma (or, shall I say, purgatory).

This calls for an awareness of what we can and cannot tolerate. We are going to have to tolerate, but not everything. Some people among us will be different, but we cannot tolerate all difference. Islam happens to be beyond tolerating.

19th of November, 2014

The Next Language for the Next Muse-ic

Some months ago, I wrote me a small music streaming application, complete with a sweet web front end. I called it Muse-ic; as in “in the manner of a muse.” I was satisfied with it, but now I want to extend its capacity in a fierce way, and such things I never do in Ruby. It was a work of Ruby for the streaming component, with Rails in particular doing the web front-end. This is what happens when I start out trying to make a small, simple toy, and then it becomes too cool to keep at that level.

The old version was developed on GitHub, as is the case with other toys. The new version may be, at least at first, developed away from the public, as is fitting for serious work. I am going to try to avoid the Second System Syndrome, but the main new feature I want to incorporate is a very fine-grained randomisation/mixing. At present, the mixing is simple, and such simple things can be done in Ruby. The stuff I want to do next is complex enough to require an alternative language; but I seem to have settled on just two languages, as I slide deeper into old age: Ruby and Haskell.

I do not have time for scripting languages that are not fun; because if I am scripting, I want to have fun. If I am scripting, I am doing a toy of some sort. Ruby is the best way to have fun without firing up a Smalltalk image. But if I am not toying about, then Haskell is all I use. This is actually where it gets interesting, because I have just re-discovered Yesod, some Haskell web framework that seems able to replace even Rails in my normal work.
It has turned out, then, that the two components of Muse-ic can be (re-)implemented in Haskell, and that is what I am going to be doing with the next Muse-ic.

It is perhaps a good thing that I hate all the music players I end up having to use, primarily because I cannot mix deterministic playing of a playlist with finely-controlled randomisation. If it is an idiosyncracy, then fine; good thing I can code my itch away. I find that I often want to delicately mix audiobooks (or the like), which should not be absolutely random, with general music, which should be randomised very had; I find that I want, for instance, three back-to-back chapters to be separated by one or more randomly-selected songs. This kind of functionality is already there, but not in the way I want to do it. It is clearly a complex list traversal, which I would like to specify with some mathematical rigour; hence Haskell.

The plan is to get to where Muse-ic 1 (the Ruby one) has arrived so far—which is pretty far—and then start there with the new feature. The problem is that I am going to be learning a lot of new stuff, in Haskell (besides just the web framework), so it may drag on a bit. But I hope that my desire to power through some books may inspire more work on my part. I think, as part of the work, I will reconcile myself to only ever getting through my pending reading list (and maybe learning the language I am working on) by use of this system. After all, if there is such a well-implemented mixing, then all such things are not just possible, but outright easy. —On a web interface!

So, Muse-ic 1 was Ruby, with Rails doing the web part. The next will be Haskell, with Yesod doing the web part.

18th of November, 2014

Truth with the Uganda Native

When the Uganda native was not listening, see how blunt the England native could get:

With regard to the Export Tax on Uganda cotton for next year I suggest that in order to encourage the Uganda native to plant his cotton now—he plants in this month, June and July—His Majesty's Government should reduce or abolish the Export Tax on cotton for 1923. If this Tax is reduced, or abolished, you will encourage the native to plant his crop, and you may get a crop next year of 50,000 or 70,000 bales. The Revenue of Uganda would benefit, the native would get more money, he would buy more goods, and your railway would also benefit by the carriage of the increased crop and the carriage of increased imports of manufactured goods. The more money a native has the more English goods he buys.

What is happening to-day, and what happened last year, owing to the poverty of the native? The native who used to dress himself and his wives in coloured cotton goods made in England, was unable to purchase those goods and was forced to buy far cheaper stuff made in America and India. The first people to feel the effect of the poverty of the native were the people of Lancashire, and the last people to feel its effect were the people in America and India who produced a cheaper class of goods. The poorer native could not even buy the American or the Indian goods, and he reverted to the primitive state. Instead of wearing cotton he wore skins. I do not think you would lose if you adopted my suggestion. You would encourage trade in Uganda, encourage business in East Africa, certainly make trade better in Lancashire and in India; and, as trade improvement in one country benefits another, if you improve the trade of America you would also reap the benefit.

Here, there is no pretence about the point of maintaining the colonisation. That the African native may produce raw materials, be compelled to deal them in British currency, ship them at a loss, and buy them back to the profit of the colonists.

It is the same today. But what is particularly interesting is how, in the times when it was not shameful to refer to the "Colonial Office", rather than (say) "Department of State", the point of colonisation and imperialism was never hidden, at least not from the Britain native (that is, his lords). This was an immensely more-just system, because at least it did not lie. Nobody there pretended that the railway was to deliver democracy or good governance to the African, or whatever other lie is used to justify modern imperialism. Back then, it was about extracting value in terms of money, labour, and raw materials, and nobody lied. Today, even when it is clearly about oil, we compound the sin of thievery with the insult of false goodwill. How shall we escape?

18th of November, 2014

Now They Get Guns

Gun control not only does not work, it is outright wicked. There is a reason nobody ever attempts machete control: it is wicked. Shall we live without machetes just because 800,000 Rwandese were literally done to death with them in the space of three months? If ever there was an argument for machete control, there it is.

Nobody should be banned from being armed in self-defence; but, more-importantly, nobody should submit to such suicidalist pseudo-pacifist nonsense and obey directives to not be armed. It is simply a basic human right, not a privilege, to be able to fight with fatal force. We are not at liberty to forbid or judge against what God and reason enjoin with fervent insistence. We do not limit the capacity to offend with fatal force just because it is preferable to only use it in self-defence. After all, the ones we defend against are not going to be obeying this basic decency in the first place.

Consider this.

Four people have been killed and at least 8 wounded when two assailants attacked worshipers with knives, axes and a pistol in a synagogue in North Jerusalem in the morning.
Do you realise that not only did gun control fail there, but also that axe-control and knife-control would need to have worked? Guns did not kill people; knives did not kill people; axes did not kill people; Falastin Muslims killed people.

The wicked people who run our states keep us disarmed, until their fellow-wicked force the issue. May both be accursed before the face of God. May they be forever accursed! They do not see a problem with mass-arming when they want to invade a neighbour, or to repel an invasion; and they certainly do not worry that everybody will shoot everybody when they mass-conscript—on the contrary, they hope indeed that everybody on their side will shoot everybody on the other side. They only oppose mass-arming because they want to prevail, not because they even vaguely believe their own rhetoric about how bad it is for people to be armed.

Israel’s Public Security Minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, has said that gun controls for self-defense will be eased in wake of the attack.
“In the coming hours, I will ease controls on carrying weapons,” he said in comments broadcast on public radio.
And the foolish minister here continues to fail to see reason, adding that:
He added that the new rules will apply to anyone who owns a gun license, such as private security guards and off duty army officers.
Fuck that. Nobody should give you rules on guns, unless they also give rules on blunt objects and ropes, which after all are used more-often in murder.

In our state, guns and all manner of fierce arms are the duty of every homestead.

14th of November, 2014

After the Prophets: Jihadis and Inter-Abrahamic Dynamics

Earlier this year, VICE News made an excellent and characteristic documentary on the Islamic State. It is worth watching, in particular because these men are living exactly by the creed of Islam, and now they have a state where they have the authority to continue exactly as their religion tells them to. I envy them everything, save for their being heretics.

One of the more-interesting characters in there was an aged jihadi who had travelled very far to come and live under shariah, and to wage jihad under the bannaer of his caliph.
The honour and glory that is reserved for the jihadi in Islam, both in the here-and-now and in the afterlife, is only paralleled by that given to the prophets. The old man summarises it all in a weighty line, delivered to the backing of hollered takbirs: “After the prophets come the mujahideen!” This is basic to the Islamic mythos.

The other line that has been preserved from generation to generation is “Nobody understands Qur’an like the jihadi.”
And while these are all affirmations of the same Islam I would like to see purged out of my country, I happen to agree completely. The most-basic thing about living out Islam is war against the non-Muslims; it is the one “sacrament” which confers a straight pass to heaven, in their faith.

Indeed, the prophet of Islam commited a genocide against the tribe of Banu Qurayza, which is the earliest recorded (and undenied) genocide of the Jews, wherein a whole tribe was murdered because it was Jewish. The Christians followed after that, by the hand of that brilliant general, Khalid ibn al-Walid.

(In what may be a sign of my fideistic accomodation, I actually believe that Muhammad was accidentally correct when he labeled his general, the prime jihadi, “Saif-u-llah [al maslul]”, which is “the [drawn] sword of the Lord”. I truly believe that Islam, no less that the Great Plague, was an act of God, and that Khalid’s sword in particular was anointed of God no less than that of Cyrus the Great, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Pontius Pilate, and the Babylonians in Habakkuk’s prophecy. All such authority, all such power, all such Sword, comes from God. No wonder nobody withstood them on the battlefield, and they died in their beds, “as an old camel dies” in the dignity of undefeat, because of Who goes before them; and Psalm 33 is true that “a king is not saved by his hordes, nor the warrior by his great strength; the war materiel is false hope, and by its huge calibre it cannot deliver.”)

Now, because the jihadi is the reference for living out Islam—necessarily, since the whole religion is a heretical war cult, no different from the Germanic cult of Odin, or the Baganda’s cult of Ddungu—it is seems worthwhile to see what the mujahideen are saying with regard to the rest of us, Christians and Jews, since this would be the refined Islamic view of us:

To the families of the soldiers in particular, and to the Muslims of Egypt in general:

I see you wondering/asking: Why do we kill your sons conscripted into the Egyptian army?
This is our response to your wondering/asking:

We have killed them because they are in the rank of the one who sympathizes with the Jews and Christians. The Almighty has said: "Whosoever takes charge of them from among you, he is one of them. God does not guide the people of oppression"- Qur'an 5:51. For they were the first helper for the Jews in besieging our people in Gaza, putting the stranglehold on them, protecting the Jews, and preventing the mujahideen from fighting them.

The interesting thing is that the Christians of the World (I cannot say “Christendom” yet—or, rather, any longer) think that the Jews are in any way distinct from them in the eyes of the devil who leads these Muslims astray. When the Jews are done, it will be Christians next. Make no mistake. “To the Jew first, then to the Gentile.” In fact, the Jews will survive this one, but clearly the Christians have not been surviving it. Look at everything between the Armenian Genocide and the attack on Ma’loula.

The Christians are blind to the threats that are directed towards the Jews, because they do not realise what the Scriptures expressly teach. The midrashim that Paul uses to establish a point from the Prophets (as Scripture) is the same that we would use to establish this point from his epistle to the Romans (as Scripture): that what befalls the Jew today, befalls the Christian tomorrow. This is a valid application of Paul’s “to the Jew first, then to the Gentile.”

Regarding their blindness to our shared election, it is by design. If we, who are not blind to the shared election, do not extend the brotherhood (even conscious that it is treated with the highest suspicion, and even rejected), who will? If the sighted do not lead the way, shall it be the blind to do so?

They are only different in that they have been blinded thus far and thrown outside apart from their “works or desires”, just as we have been brought inside apart from works or desires. Therefore it is not to him who wills or him who runs, but to Him who calls. It is in this regard that we are tied together. Not even because we want, or because we work alike, but because we have been called, both Jew and Gentile. The difference lies in their blindness, not in the ultimate called-ness of either party, to be a nation set apart to the Holy God, which calling we share (whether we like it or not; whether it is comfortable or not).

Now, how can the tree be threatened, and the branches—graftings, at that—feel safe? We do not owe the Jews brothely concern because they reciprocate it; on the contrary, we owe it to them more because we believe in what the Scriptures say about our genesis (“ethnogenesis”) as a “nation of kings and priests.” We, like them, have been called out of the World. They, from Ur of the Chaldeans, by the faith of their forefather; we, from the World, from every tongue, tribe, and nation, by the faith we have in Christ. Either way, we are all elect, and thencefrom springs the nation.

The devil is not fooled. He happens to know that these two nations are ultimately one nation, and that the distinctions are not really important. Therefore he instructs attacks against “Christians and Jews”. But when the Christians looked out to the ghettos, or to the Middle East, they saw Jews—as a nation—surrounded, and they didn’t care. Then it came to them next, because it was always meant to.

13th of November, 2014

The Filioque is Orthodox

I am aware that the Eastern Orthodox do not have the filioque, and I even readily admit that it is not present in the earliest versions of the the Nicene Creed.

Nevertheless, anybody who understands the rest of the Nicene Creed (leave alone other orthodox rules of faith, such as 1 Peter 1:11-12) cannot contest that the Spirit proceeds from the Father only by the mediation of the Son.

The filioque is orthodox primarily because the opposing view—that the Spirit proceeds independently of the Son—is heterodox. The more-primitive version of the Nicene Creed could have left room for another creed, to correct a future heresy that affirms that those who are not in Christ may have the Spirit (completely contrary to, say, what is affirmed repeatedly in the Johannine and Pauline epistles). Alternatively, one could just incorporate the filioque and be done with it.

If anyone says that the filioque is not orthodox, may he be anathema.

11th of November, 2014

A Well-Done Segregation: Case Studies of Pakistan, Israel, Nigeria, and Uganda

I have some links for you, and I hope you consider them in turn, and in order. We are going to discuss segregation in Pakistan, Israel, Nigeria, and Uganda, in that order.

Here is the first link: Sunni Death Cult. The thing is particularly interesting to read because the guy who wrote it is in fact a Muslim who is genuinely horrified by what others are doing in the name of Islam, but apparently not by what Islam itself does in the name of God.

The sections in which the Raj sought to regulate Islamic conduct and inauthentic religious expression were maintained, and have periodically been used to sanction violence against those who deviate from an established line of increasingly Wahhabi orthodoxy.

Christians have been targeted with particular animosity, and the blasphemy cases themselves have become an outlet for popular rage, owing to their harsh penalties and light burden of proof. Despite carrying the maximum punishment of death, there are no fixed standards for evidence or procedure. Trials have taken place where intent is never proven on the part of the accused, and witnesses have been allowed to refrain from describing the actual crime so as not to “repeat the blasphemy.” As a result, entire proceedings can reach completion without the accused ever being told their alleged crime. Many cases also involve local disputes between Muslims and Christians that simply evolved into the latter being accused of blasphemy, with the former taking advantage of their ability to use the state to harass and violate Christians (and non-Sunnis in general) at Sunni Muslim leisure.
What is particularly interesting is just how little the bleeding-heart Muslims know about Islam. There is nothing aberrant about Islamic mass-murder; it was the founder’s explicit command, wrapped in divine sanction. So this writer concludes:
Instead, Pakistani Islamism has become increasingly fused with empty ideas of violence and sectarianism. The religion is being deprived of its ethical righteousness, and willingness to consult other sources in an effort to enhance personal understanding and fulfillment. That is the tragedy confronting us as “winners” of this vicious internal war against the Christians. We are seeking to preserve ourselves by killing and maiming those who we believe to be existential threats against Pakistan. We believe that we are righteously defending our personal values, and that we are doing Allah’s work. They are all lies.
He is wrong. Pakistani Islamism is true Islam, lacking in ethical righteousness. Those who murder Christians on behalf of Islam are indeed doing Allah’s will. That writer likely has no idea, having grown up in generally-Christian Canada, that barbarism is high culture in Islam, and genocidal beheadings the example of their prophet. He sits in Canada and presumes to judge the Pakistani application of Islam because he happens to share nationality with them, even though he is defining Islam opposite to how Muhammad defined it. Here are some real Muslims, who even cite the Qur’an:
Over the early hours of this morning there emerged an audio clip attributed to the Sinai-Gaza jihadi group Jamaat Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (JABM: the Group of the Helpers/Partisans of the Holy House [Jerusalem], which emerged post-Mubarak), declaring allegiance to the 'caliph of the Muslims' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, thereby making JABM a part of the Islamic State [IS]. The recording's content is fairly standard and predictable. Reflecting the group's affinity for global jihad, the speaker cites the following hadith from Prophet Muhammad in the opening:
I have been ordered to fight the people until they testify that there is no deity but God, and Muhammad is His Messenger, and they undertake prayer and give zakat. If they do that, their blood and wealth are guaranteed by me with respect to Islam, and their reckoning is with God Almighty" [narrated by Sahih Bukhari and Muslim].
Then follows a description of JABM's history, noting in particular its record in fighting the 'strongest/most vehement enemies of the Ummah: the Jews' (cf. Qur'an 5:82). The speaker also justifies its fight with reference to the Qur'anic verse: 'Fight them until there is no more fitna and religion is solely of God's.'
I hope I do’t actually have to prove that I can establish terrorism and murder as a core part of the Islamic doctrine of jihad, and I know that nobody can pretend to alienate jihad from Islam of Muhammad, the accursed heretic.
In a recording released in response to the launch of the international anti-ISIS coalition campaign, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-'Adnani, addressed Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis members, offering moral support: "Before we conclude, we cannot forget to praise our brothers the jihad fighters in proud Sinai. Hope has spread in the land of Egypt; the prophecy was revealed in Egypt in their blessed actions against the guardians of the Jews, the soldiers of Al-Sisi, the new Pharaoh. This is the true path; continue on it. May Allah bless you; disperse them wherever you find them. Lay traps for them on the roads, attack the headquarters, attack them in their homes, cut off their heads. Do not let them live safely. Hunt them wherever they are. Turn their world into fear and hell. Remove their children and blow up their homes. Do not say that this is fitna, because fitna is their tribesmen's defense of them and failure to distance themselves from them."
Et cetera, et cetera.

The Muslim attacks that inspired the article I first linked-to are reported here: Christian couple lynching incited by mullah of local mosque: police.

Local media reported the couple was accused of burning a copy of the Holy Quran and throwing it in a rubbish bin in the province of Punjab on Tuesday. Police said their bodies were set on fire in a brick kiln.
What that Pakistani newspaper does not tell you is why these Pakistanis were working at a brick kiln. In Pakistan, Christians are segregated against by the society (not by the law), and a huge, huge number of them only survive as slaves working in brick kilns. This is hard, thankless work for which they are not even paid. Here are some samples from one guy who writes about such things:

Muslims in Pakistan took an entire Christian family and enforced them into slavery, laboring in a brick kiln. They took the son in order to send him into another brick kiln, and when his parents resisted the captors, they brutally beat the mother in front of the husband, and then horrifically tortured the husband.

Muslims in Pakistan have taken 20,000 Christian families, and have forced all of them into a major, and quite underground, life of Islamic slavery. The Muslims have put them to work making bricks in brick kiln, under horrid conditions completely void of the comforts of modern convenience.

A Christian family in Pakistan was kept as slaves for twenty five years straight in a brick kiln. They lived without any basic comforts, such as toilets. As one report states …

I have just found that he also covered this same story, with some extra details:
A Christian couple in Pakistan were burnt alive by a Muslim mob and their kiln owner. They were slaves in a brick kiln, and were murdered by their slaver owner. The wife was seven months pregnant, and even when they were begging for mercy, the Muslims lit them on fire and burnt them to death. … According to the police they were unable to recover the bodies of the persecuted couple except their ashes. There are more than 20,000 Christian families in Kiln business, and most of them are bounded slaves.

These guys are better than the news, when it comes to such issues. They mention a Pakistani contact, and I know that they are telling the truth about the conditions of the Pakistani Christians, having had a chance to meet this on-the-ground contact of theirs in the past and discuss these issues.

Now, we can see that Pakistan is socially quite justified in attacking and enslaving and murdering Christians, because it has to be true to its Islamism. Nobody should blame Pakistan any more than they blame Islamic State. I know that a secularist founded the state, but since it is an Islamic state, it has to overcome the incoherent and inconsistent attempts of the founder, Muhammad Ali Jannah, and choose between being true to Islam on the one hand, thereby harrassing and killing Christians, and not being true to Islam, and implementing the original ideal of a Pakistan where Christians are free to live and worship. It is sad, but expected, that Jannah’s short-sighted idealism should lose out to Zia-ul-Haq’s transcendent reality of divinely-sanctioned intolerance. One direct lesson we can take from here is that, if you want to establish a workable, humane state, don’t let it be Islamic, but rather Christian; and if you want to have humans who grow good, rather than bad, have them Christian, not heretical, like Islamic.
(It is a very strange irony that the first Christian to ever suggest a modern Christian nation-state will be hated for it, while the modern World has presided over the formation of Islamic states, and supported them wherever they existed. The problem seems to be the Christianity, not the will to define the nation and state by religion. In a World dominated by the post-Christian West, the reigning secularism is really directed against Christianity in particular.)

The modern World is a bit confused about segregation. Every human being segregates against some people, because we all instinctively understand the utility of segregation. The problem is never the segregation, but rather how it is done.
In America, for instance, segregating against people because of their race is not proper, even though it happens; but to segregate against them based on their preference for polygamy is proper to them, and it happens.
(To me, it is not proper to segregate against polygamy, as I see no wrong with polygamy; I would much sooner segregate against infidelity than against polygamy. Similarly, segregation based on preferred perversion—what they call “sexual orientation”—is not proper to them, but it is proper to me. I even segregate against my own feverish perversions, since I use law, not preference, to choose the subjects of segregation.)

So: segregation is okay. Everybody should know what he segregates against, and do so truthfully and consistently. If you do not want Arabs or Blacks in your town, make that clear and consistent. There is nothing wrong with segregation. What could be wrong about segregation, for instance the kind they had against Blacks in America, is that it was not truthful, even if it had been consistent. Their law said that Blacks are not segregated against, but that was not the case in practice. If their Constitution had said that Blacks were to be segregated against, it would have been fine. But as things stood, they were inconsistent with their own national mythos, and that is the problem: they broke the law.

The madness that sets the moderns against segregation, especially the Western World, springs from a sad prior commitment to insane ideals of brotherhood that is neither simply human (where all humans are brothers), or clearly segregative (because apparently arbitrary segregation is not okay).
Now let us turn to Israel.

A little-discussed reality of the Middle East is that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where every single Arab citizen has the same rights as everybody else, including the head of state.
Pause and think about this: the only country uniformly hated by Arabs in the Middle East is Israel.
You can see how Israel has pandered enough to the insane Western standard, and accepted as brothers those who have sworn their very souls to hatred against Jews. This madness has afflicted the Jews mostly because they are desperate for acceptance by Western nations (which acceptance will never come, even after such suicidal conformism), not because it makes sense to anybody. And as though evidence were lacking, that segregation is the responsible thing to do, here is a news link:

The fatal stabbing of an Israeli woman and a young soldier Monday by Palestinian assailants heightened tensions as a wave unrest appeared to be gaining strength ahead of Tuesday’s 10th anniversary of the death of iconic leader Yasser Arafat.

A Palestinian later stabbed three people at a bus stop next to the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut, killing Dalia Lemkus, 25, and wounding two other people. A private security guard shot and wounded the attacker. The stabbing occurred at the same bus stop where three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped in June. The teens were killed by Hamas militants, and the abductions sparked a massive Israeli crackdown on the group.

Five days ago, a Palestinian rammed his car into pedestrians in central Jerusalem, the second such incident of its kind in as many weeks, killing two Israelis. Police shot the driver dead.

Angry protesters took to the streets across the country on Sunday, and police raised alert levels nationwide over the fatal shooting of a young Arab-Israeli.

Earlier in the week, shops, schools and businesses were shuttered in Arab towns and villages where a general strike was observed over Saturday's killing of a 22-year-old in Kfar Kana, near the northern city of Nazareth.

In the town on Sunday mounted police dispersed masked protesters who hurled stones and fireworks, blocked streets with burning tyres and waved Palestinian flags.

In particular, what makes these kinds of attacks hard to police is that they are lone-wolf activities. It is not people who identify with any particular militant outfit; it is also not disgruntled citizens, since their rights are not infringed upon, but rather affirmed in a way that is unique in the Middle East. On the contrary, these people attack the Jews because they consider themselves enemies. This failure to identify with Israel is sufficient grounds for segregation.

A sad subtext here may be that Israel has made self-righteous capital from the crimes of the Holocaust, and feels that it would be inching closer to the same crimes if it practiced such warranted segregation. Nevertheless, genocide and segregation are not the same thing. Jews should not have any trouble with Germans segregating against non-Germans, if the Germans so wish; they should just have a problem with being in exile, and pray that it ends, so that their nation can also have a place for a legitimate segregation that protects Jews, rather than harm them. Segregation is not Nazi; it is the Holocaust that is Nazi. Segregation is not bad; genocide is bad. Now thank God that they get their home back; however, bewail that they are tricked into not knowing to practice the segregation which alone can justify their wanting to be back home in the first place.

I could add that Israel should not make self-righteous capital out of the Shoah, since it was something Jews are well-capable of (or, at least should be). Indeed, if the accusations against the Jews had been true, the Holocaust would have been justifiable. Similar accusations, against other groups, should they prove true, must lead to a fight unto death between any two nations. Yet we know that they were mass-murdered on forged pretexts meant to obscure blind racism, and this is a sin that the Jewish nation is also capable of doing. No nation has a monopoly on what we call “Total Depravity,” and no nation is immune. It is about Adam, and we are all Adamic. Even worse, the Jews call those who merely did what they were supposed to do “Righteous Among the Nations.” Why is it worth celebrating as a remarkable righteousness that someone did not take part in genocide? Isn’t that supposed to be the simple normal thing? The righteous among the nations are those who have put their faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who the Jews in fact rejected and brought upon themselves the judgement that cast them into the exile of death.

The problem is that we have to segregate. In this World, we can accept everybody as a human being, made in the image of God, and act according to that. That is sufficient to argue against slavery, for instance, even if we did it (or genocide, or whatever other such thing). It is sufficient to argue for any moral good we may be oriented to; after all, the foundation of all morality is to love your neighbour as you love yourself. Yet if we are not going to act this way to everybody, then we ought to be clear that we are segregating against a specific set of humans.

If we define a nation, it is always in terms of who we accept and who we reject. The only thing universal is our humanity; but if not all humans are members of our nation, then indeed we are segregating against some. But let us be careful to be clear that we are segregating, and clear about who we are segregating.

Now, of course, it is worth noting that the Arabs who do these attacks against the Jews are uniformly Muslims. This is no accident. Israel could make the job of segregating simpler by identifying itself (as it already does) with Zionism, and then identifying Islam as opposed to the basic ideology, Zionism, and thereby justify segregation against such people as will cause trouble (Muslims, who happen to be Arabs). Ultimately, everybody is going to have to recognise the challenge that accepting Islam poses to human life itself. Israel could have done this long ago, had it not been too desperate for acceptance from Gentiles. Islam is a special case that could be segregated against in Israel, where it can be justifiable to segregate against self-identifying “Palestinians,” or Arabs, if these can be identified as the prevailing challenge to the nation.
Either way, they have to choose what the rule for segregation is, and then follow it consistently and in good conscience. We cannot avoid segregating; it is how we define a nation.

My own belief is that it is generally not right to segregate against Arabs, but that it is incumbent on every responsible state to segregate against Muslims consistently. Nigeria, now: “Suicide Attack Kills 47 Students in Nigeria

About fifty teenagers have been killed in an attack on Monday, carried out by suicide bomber who was disguised as a student in the north-east of Nigeria, in one of the worst massacres attributed to the Islamist grup Boko Haram, which states that it is fighting against Western education, and continues to carry out killings.
The worst part of this is that too many people think they can continue to live in peace with Islam and those who affirm it, the Muslims. I, too, disagree with Western education in nearly all the packagings of it that I have seen; but since I am not a Muslim, I have not yet got warrant to mass-murder children. I, too, disagree with democracy in the most-fundamental way possible—I consider it a variant on the twin heresies of antinomianism and hedonism—but I have not yet sanctioned mass-murder in the fight against them. This is not because I am not Adamic and therefore totally-depraved; rather, I am a Christian, and I do not have any express instructions to go out and commit sin. This is not true for Muslims, who are only good when they disobey their prophet. We cannnot pretend to have dealt with any of the security problems facing a modern state until we have outlawed Islam, segregated against Muslims, and affirmed Christianity as the perpetual cornerstone of the nation’s ideology. I say Christian, because everything else is some variant on Islam (but I only have links and time for Islam, for now).

Uganda, now, from the Articles of Foundation:

The right of sojourn is denied to all who: - express opposition to the perpetual existence of the Free State; - express support for ideologies and religions that endanger the lives of Christians; - have been exiled from the Free State as punishment for a capital offence; - self-identify as Muslim. Roaming on the territory of the Free State is forbidden for those to whom the right of sojourn is denied; it is considered an enemy invasion.
And we are not joking. We single out Muslims as a precedent, that any group which clearly qualifies as anti-Christian should be, by name, segregated against in the entirety of the country. We are not ashamed of pointing out who we do not like, and consistently enforcing segregation against such as we fully understand to be at pending war with the state. As a legitimate wielder of the sword, and bearing not the sword in vain, it would be for purposes like this—enforcing segregation against this murderous heresy—that the state is relevant in the first place.
Of course, in the Christian Free State the sword is borne by the citizens themselves, the Christians of the country, such that the enforcement of the segregation is only as consistent as they are, which is how it should be.

10th of November, 2014

On HIV, AIDS, and Germ Theory

There is a link here, from a mainstream research journal, on questioning the orthodoxy regarding HIV and AIDS. It is particularly interesting that the writer seems to successfully pretend that he still believes in the orthodoxy, because that is the only way to get a true orthodoxy to listen.

Nevertheless, I think that the World naturally got enamoured with the germ theory of disease, and this happens to be one case where it was applied too fast. Even if it were not applied wrongly, as the orthodoxy claims, there is nothing that can contest that it was applied too hurriedly.

04th of November, 2014

Islam and "Assisted Suicide" in the Levant Today

Of late, the entire Web has been abuzz with a certain video of Islamic State fighters sharing out women. So I have a few comments that could help put a face on some comments I made recently.

This is the video, but you do not have to watch it:

The very first sentence is a Muslim citing the Qur'an, and how it gives permission to share out captured slaves. All the news outlets that have dealt with this have skipped mentioning the Qur'an mandate that the exuberant fighter cites with bright clarity. See here, for instance:

“Today is the slave market day. Today is the day where this verse where this verse applies: ... [men may fuck] their wives and their captives ... Today is the day of the distribution, God willing.”
Apparently God was willing. The video goes on for a while, as the fighters discuss swapping the girls around as gifts or hard currency. This is the reality today, just south of Europe (in what used to be the very centre of the Macedonian and Roman empires). And today we are busy finding fault with the Crusaders!

While I could dwell on the evil of Islam and so on, or on vindicating the Crusades, I will instead link this to another story elsewhere:

The 27-year-old managed to call her and revealed that the jihadists “are hurting us, exploiting us, many of us are being sold”. Women can’t do anything to save themselves. What’s more, the militants even “won’t let us kill ourselves.”
Do you see that the Yazidi girls, horrified at the prospect of being ravaged by jihadi after jihadi, would prefer death? They would as soon commit suicide as any American suffering intractable pain. They are in the same situation. Indeed, the girl laments that she is not allowed to kill herself, just as the “assisted suicide” people do.

But assume that some American- or European-originated jihadi, who is perhaps soft-hearted enough to take pity on the Yazidi girl, and she does give her the comeuppance she is hoping for. Would that be “assisted suicide”, or, as is indeed the case, homicide?

04th of November, 2014

So is it Unassisted Homicide Next?

First, the requisite confession of the truthful human: I would kill (even murder) in many cases. One of them is if someone I love is suffering unbearably, and it is within my power to end it all with killing that person. This is true, and I would be lying if I pretended that I would never kill someone I love, if I found that he or she is trapped in intractable and insufferable pain. Nevertheless, I would have murdered that person.

It's crazy how Americans use this silly phrase these days, "Assisted Suicide." Hah. They think they are clever! Original, even! Are you completely stupid, people? Suicide means you kill yourself. If it is "assisted," it is automatically homicide.
And the Americans exported this insanity, which the Roman Catholics (in one of their moments of sanity, as is the case on many such issues) have labeled the "culture of death".

But I hate how it is presented as though only Roman Catholic priests, or some other variant on Christian religious fanatic (like myself), are the ones opposing "assisted suicide" and calling it what it actually is, be it a "culture of death" or, as is most-accurate, "homicide".
I only have to be logical to see this.

Why are doctors considered more-qualified, instead of less-qualified, to commit such homicide? Do you think it really takes specialist knowledge of human anatomy to get someone reliably from sickness to death, even painlessly? Mostly, all you need is a blunt weapon, or a gun, or a poison. The vast majority of successful suicides (painless, even) are done by first-timers, and are successful on the first attempt. Nobody should wrap suicide in the white garb of the healing arts, since that is simply not necessary. Homicide, on the other hand, does need the extra hands (and, yes, even a doctor will do).

You see, if they didn't fudge about and make up incoherent shit like "assisted suicide", they would recognise themselves as one with those regimes that brain-wash their victims into preferring an execution over the next day. That you got to the point where you prefer to be killed doesn't change that you are going to suffer homicide.

I must also note that what allows me to be true to the truth, which is that "assisted suicide" is really just murder in fudge-terms, is that I am submissive to the divine law, even when I do not keep it. I started by confessing that I could (even would) murder someone I love in such a situation. But I also insist that I would have committed homicide. (There is no such thing as "assisted suicide".) You have to be one of us (my kind of religious fanatic, I mean) to do this; to take the side of divine law, even when it condemns you.

We do not pretend, as the others do (Roman Catholic priests included) that either we do not commit sins, which we oppose, or that they are not sins to be opposed, because we commit them. Rather, we know that what we tend towards is sinful, that we indulge in it by nature, but we judge against it anyway, because we have been taught in this faith to always expect such from ourselves, and to respect the pure, unblemished perfection of the holy law of God. Thou shalt not kill. Do we nullify the Law by this faith? Au contraire, we re-affirm it. Let God be true, and every single man a liar. That You may prevail, O Lord, when you are judged.
01st of November, 2014

Summa Contra Popishness

Look at this nonsense:

I believe in papal authority, the value of the papal office, because I think that office has played a demonstrable role in maintaining the faith’s continuity, coherence and fidelity across two thousand years of human history.
The language that I think the historical record supports is more like impressive continuity on the most important questions.

He is lucky he is talking to people who would probably presume that the alternative to the crappy record of the popes is outright Islam (or the like); or that he is talking to people who do not know that the Roman Catholics, due to their popes and their doctrine on the popes, actually do not maintain the teachings of Christ on the most-important questions. So they never denied the Trinity; so what? Neither does the illiterate Protestant down the road. But they deny the fundamental centrality of faith, even as they depend on it, and muddle the work of Jesus with their impious legalism. Papal infallibility is disproved by well-nigh every single encyclical since Exsurge Domine.

How ridiculous for him to say that the pope serves as a way to check doctrine, as though he himself need not be checked! Indeed, this is why Roman Catholics are nearly heretics, where they are still orthodox; because they explicitly (even proudly) check the teachings of mere men against other mere men. Everybody needs an infallible authority, of necessity; every reason needs axioms. For this reason Jesus settled questions with the Scriptures; for this reason we have the Scriptures. These fools, however, have the pope. "Happy heresies!"

Why do you need papal infallibility when you can have life-by-the-Spirit instead; because you are desperate to put your faith in men, and to trust in what is seen, rather than to have the faith to which you are bidden in the Bible? Wait; how would a Roman Catholic even know if the pope is infallible, since he has nothing to measure the man against?

The problem, of course, is that they reject "living by faith, not by sight," and this (among a billion other comical blunders, dangerous heresies, and ridiculous contradictions) is a direct result.
The just shall live by faith.

But here is the real madness:

One of those important questions is the nature of marriage. Unlike a lot of the issues that religious people fight about these days, and unlike many hot-button issues where the Catholic Church takes a controversial stance, the question of marriage and divorce is very specifically addressed in the red-letter portion of the New Testament — in the words of Jesus himself. His language is very strong: Divorce as permitted in the Mosaic law is dismissed as a concession to man’s hardness of heart, which under the new covenant is no longer permissible.
So if you asked me, as a secular or Protestant reader might be inclined to do, “do you believe that marriage is indissoluble because the pope is infallible and he says so?”, I might answer: “Mostly the reverse: I think the papacy might well be guided on the Holy Spirit because it has taught so consistently that marriage is indissoluble, while almost every other Christian body has succumbed to the pressures and political incentives to say otherwise.”

Why does he not stop at citing the Scriptures, as he does, and instead insists that the pope is infallible since he seems to have followed the Scriptures thus far? Why not let the unchanging word of God not rely on the say-so of a mere man, who moreover is being checked against said word of God?
Like I said, madness.
24th of October, 2014

Holy Scripture and The Non-Fideist Fallacy

Consider this:
Mere human writings can never be our ultimate and final standard, even those with ecclesiatical authority due to the fact that they were decided in the councils of the church:

Neither may we consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, since the truth is above all. (Belgic Confession, Art. 7)

It is an integral part of our confession to define the nature of biblical authority and distinguish scripture from confessional statements. Our creeds, confessions, and catechism are to be understood as subordinate standards. And yet they have real authority in the church because they are based upon and embody biblical truth.
Emphasis in the original.

The problem there, of course, is that these people seem to think that the confessions are subordinate standards because they were edited by a council. It is a serious fallacy, not least because the same Belgic Confession actually explains why scripture is different:

We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and confirmation of our faith; believing without any doubt, all things contained in them, not so much because the Church receives and approves them as such, but more especially because the Holy Spirit witnesses in our hearts, that they are from God, whereof they carry the evidence in themselves. For the very blind are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are fulfilling.

Now, two things to note. First of all, this implies that nobody can consider the Bible as we do, unless he be led to it by God Himself. The same applies to whatever document (or thought, or mechanism, or authority, or council) that may teach or propagate this view of the Bible. The Bible is either revealed, somehow, to the individual, or he never accesses it as the Bible. Secondly, this also applies to our confessions: the orthodoxy of them is either accepted or rejected by faith. If they are accepted, then their affirmations regarding the Bible are binding.

The other thing to note about that quote is that it says the confessions are binding in the church, because they are Biblical. Now this shows that, for starters, even though the Bible is rightly considered above the confessions, if the confessions are binding, then so is the supremacy of the Bible, because the confessions teach that.

You see, therefore, that right faith is what is recognised, in both the canon and the confessions, with the Spirit, testifying to us of it. If we didn't have the Spirit (if, for instance, we were Muslims), we would neither recognise the confessions (and the Bible they teach us to recognise) nor the Bible. In both cases, none of these things is chosen because of any particular reason on our part, but is rather recognised as being of the orthodox faith, with the Spirit testifying in us of their orthodoxy. Now, in Reformed circles orthodoxy is quite simply explained as being Biblical. So the confessions are orthodox because they are Biblical. To the Reformed, orthodox means Biblical. This is good, perfect, right.

But if it is orthodox to the Reformed (that is, if it is Biblical), it is rightly considered binding to everyone, because we are not at liberty to stray from the Biblical. The creeds and confessions and catechisms have the advantage of boiling down an entire theological issue into a set of articles. These can be studied as holy scripture, because they are no less than paraphrases, translations, and explanations thereof.

For this reason, two things are absolutely necessary:
First, we have to respect a difference between the Bible (which is canonised in the confession), and the scriptures which may be a subset of the canon (say, just the Psalms, the New Testament, or the Pauline epistles, which are certainly scripture, even though they are not the Bible) or which may even be the whole Bible plus other documents (creeds, confessions, catechisms, even liturgies) which are Biblical.

In both these cases, we do not recognise the Bible because a list somewhere said we should. The confession itself is clear that this is not why it accepts the Bible. Rather, we accept the Bible because the Holy Spirit says it is orthodox. For the same reason, we accept the confession itself; because the Holy Spirit says it is orthodox. There is no error in either of these documents, because one is the Bible (which the confession rightly recognises as being beyond reproach), and the other is an orthodox confession; nobody risks heresy by applying either the Bible or the orthodox confessions as holy scripture, because they are holy scripture.
23rd of October, 2014

(Others) Recognising, Not Declaring, the Canon

But these regional councils did not just “pick” books they happened to like, but affirmed the books they believed had functioned as foundational documents for the Christian faith.  In other words, these councils were declaring the way things had been, not the way they wanted them to be.
Thus, these councils did not create, authorize, or determine the canon. They simply were part of the process of recognizing a canon that was already there.
Emphasis in the original.
22nd of October, 2014

Summæ Contra Heresies

I may have discovered my literary genre! By tendency I am on the warpath against wrong-mindedness. As xkcd once said, “I can’t! —Someone is wrong on the Internet!” :o)

19th of October, 2014

Recognising—Not Declaring—Canon

Interesting research which touches on the reception and transmission of scripture:

Gathercole identifies a group of seven extra-canonical Gospels with which he will engage: the Gospels of Peter, Truth, Thomas, Philip, Mary, the Egyptians, and Judas. This is the major group with which he compares the four canonical Gospels. His argument then proceeds in five steps.

First, he identifies the apostolic gospel message as a ‘rule of faith’ (regula fidei).

He finds these four points in ‘the gospel’ of 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, which it is widely agreed represents an early, traditional formulation of the gospel message.

In sum, it is not that the canonical Gospels are the only ones which have any of these four ‘rule of faith’ elements—but it is the case that the four canonical Gospels are the only ones which each contain all of the four ‘rule of faith’ elements typified in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.
The regula fidei that the researcher uses is essentially a much-stripped-down Apostles’ Creed, with one or two Nicene concerns thrown in. Now, you know that we also said that Apostles’ and Nicene creeds are bound together with our Bible, because they are legitimate rules of the most-holy faith.

The reason the Reformed view is able to deal with such a historical fact as the recognition of canon, by a rule of faith (I could be irritating and say fideistically), is because the Reformed view already by default defines the canon by faith, not by antiquity, multitude, or council. (The Reformation was a restoration of primitive truth, which they, in their blindness, thought was innovation.)

So, even when they appeal to antiquity, a main rule that guided Christian antiquity (“the churches of the apostles!”) was that Christ’s death fulfilled the Scriptures.
The orthodox canon—the Scriptures—had to be known to those who recorgnised and collected the orthodox canon. They referred to the scriptures, which were fulfilled by the Christ, when they were forming the basic rule of faith; they referred to them in that rule of faith.

See, the Roman Catholic apologists (for instance) have this mythical moment, during or after some council, when the canon as we have it was now recognised, and it was now legitimate to.
On the contrary, the Confession of Faith says:

We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and confirmation of our faith; believing without any doubt, all things contained in them, not so much because the Church receives and approves them as such, but more especially because the Holy Spirit witnesses in our hearts, that they are from God, whereof they carry the evidence in themselves. For the very blind are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are fulfilling.

Neither do we consider of equal value any writing of men, however holy these men may have been, with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, for the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself.
That is the attitude that receives and transmits scripture. So the Belgic Confession is an authoritative canon list, because it is written by people with an orthodox scripturology. They follow the rule of faith in the Confession, accept the two creeds, and also have this sound scripturology (and also the orthodox soteriology). They recognise by faith, as do we.

In accepting its creed, we append this Confession to our Bible, which follows its canon. Because it declares canon, it receives scripture.
Since it is an orthodox document, and it is bound together with the Bible, it contributes to scripture. They received scripture, as do we, and transmitted it—the Bible we receive, which is 66 books. We add this Confession, and transmit these Scriptures now, not as the work of mere men, but as inspired by the Holy Spirit. We recognise canon by faith—even when canon now means “the Bible, the Two Creeds, and the Confession of Faith.”

Whoever is to accept this canon is going to do so not because someone declared it so—not because I wrote this, for instance—but because they recognise the canon to follow the rule of faith. By faith, people. The just one shall live by faith, not by sight.
18th of October, 2014

BlogFight: In (Fideistic) Defence of the Self-Attesting Scripture

I think his point is that God can—and, by all accounts, did—reveal what the books of the Bible are, and he did so by faith. In other words, I would know what they are, even if no Roman Catholics had lived. After all, the first of those who knew of the canon did so without the benefit of a pre-existing canon or pre-existing councils. Aren’t you just trying to shift the question to “are Councils self-attesting?”

Why do you want to solve this question of the canon as though it is a question of Euclidean geometry? May all who teach others to do these things be accursed.

[interlocutor], you say: "You wouldn't know what the canon was [if there was no preceding canon or council]."

Do you see the slippery slope you are headed to? Do you see that, if you are correct that I would not know the canon without the benefit of the councils and what-not, then we have no canon even now? That is nonsense, of course, since I know my canon. Find another line of reasoning.

You say: "... and even if you "did", your neighbor would have a different canon than you."

Yes, but was this about my neighbour, or me? After all, even given the councils, the Protestants and Catholics disagree about the canon. Having an authority to decide the canon does not remove the possibility of divergence, since we will then just diverge on who the correct authority is. This is what happens when you try to solve matters of faith as though they are matters of Aristotelian logic; may all who teach this to others be accursed,.

You say "Or perhaps in that scenario he wouldn't have the true faith? So either we tend toward Gnosticism or relativism."

He would have true faith, if he believes that he is justified before God by putting his faith in Christ apart from works of the Law. Unlike Catholics, I do not believe that uniformity is a necessity for one to be a believer in the Gospel. Which, after all, is why the letters to the Churches were so different in Revelation. It wasn't one church. Roman Catholicism, with roots in heady European politics, is as obsessed with uniformity in thought as a European king would be. I should note that Roman Catholics recognise Muslims as people who worship the same God as them; however, they disagree on the canon in a most-fundamental way. Yet Protestants seem to be the over-riding obsession.

You say "2) The first of those who knew of the canon also disagreed on what the canon was."

Do you proof-read your comments? How can they know the canon, if they also disagree on what it is?

You say "So, we again arrive at either Gnosticism or relativism without the Church."

You failed to get my point. My point is that we disagree on what the "Church" is. How are you going to solve that? By breaking out your theorem provers once again? How will you correct the Muslims on their canon? By threatening them with Gnosticism or relativism? How will you resolve disagreement about who the authority on canon is? More Aristotelian logic? May all who teach others to treat matters of faith as though they are matters of philosophy be accursed.

Hello, [interlocutor]; You say: “It is interesting that you keep worrying about Aristoelian logic when you ignore all the other Eastern Catholics who don't rely on that like the Roman Catholics do.”

I do not ignore them any more or less than I do Roman Catholics. —Or, for that matter, non Catholics who act like reason is the language of Heaven.

You say: “It was to point out that nobody actually "knew" the canon in such a solid way as you seem to claim.”

But I know the canon in the solid way I seem to claim! Or are you disputing this? —As in, disputing that I know my canon very well?

You say: “All you seem to be advocating is the typical "me and my Bible sitting under a tree, being my own pope." It simply does not work.”

You say it as though it is a bad thing. It works, and Catholics are actually required to do it regarding the councils. No council tells Catholics which councils to adhere to. Or which encyclicals to adhere to, or how to interpret them. No encyclical is interpreted by any other encyclical—and these are all more-complex than Romans. It works, and all believers are in the state of “me and my God sitting on this Earth, being my own believer”. For all these things, it is each Catholic being an authority unto himself. Is this a bad thing? Is the Catholic Church wrong on this? You seem to fail to grasp that it is an inescapable end. Why is the Pope the only Christian allowed to formulate thoughts on canons? This is an old and relentless assault against the beauty and glory of child-like faith, where it is now dishonourable to believe for yourself. May all who teach others these things be accursed.

You say: “The reasons that Protestants disagree about the canon is that they rejected the councils. That is awfully convenient.”

“Au contraire”, the Protestants will insist, “it is the Catholics who agreed with the wrong councils and rejected sound teaching.“ How to resolve that? Another council, another promulgation? Do you see where you are headed yet?

[Interlocutor], you say: “One of the most glaring problems within Protestantism is on the authority of the Bible: how do we know which Books are sacred Scripture? How can a Christian possibly know which Books belong in the Christian Holy Book without learning this from the Christian Church?”

You are merely shifting the problem to deciding which the correct Authority is. Even if I agreed that we can only know the Bible by relying on an Authority, then I would still contend with you and insist that you are wrong (as, in fact, I do), because we do not agree on who the Authority is. Why do you want to solve questions of faith using Aristotelian logic? May all who teach others to subject God to logic be accursed.

Christopher, you say: “I understood that to reject the Church's authority was simply to accept my own authority - which made no sense.”

Did you rely on the authority of Church to point out that you should accept the authority of the Church? Why do you treat a question of God as though it is a question of geometry? All those who teach others to privilege the mind of man and the working of logics over the voice of God and the working of faith, may they be accursed.

“And where has the appeal to "the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit" produced a single, unified canon of Scripture? The Mormons claim to use this method, and their canon obviously differs from both of our own.”

Why do you even know about the Mormon canon, let alone refer to it to support your position in a Christian debate? You assume that the internal testimony of the Spirit didn’t produce a unified canon; is this because you say (perhaps as a Roman Catholic) that Mormons, like Protestants, are both equally guided by the Holy Spirit, both Prot and Mormon, and yet end up on two different canons?

You expect a “single unified canon”, while in fact scripture was a reality—as the self-attesting word of God—even in the time of only the Old Testament. People recognised that canon, of that time, such that even Jesus simply referred to the scriptures as primary sources on God and doctrine. The reason they did is the same reason the Protestants today do—and the same reason the Synod of Hippo, among others, did—which is the same way anybody can believe the self-attesting “Thus says the Lord” that is everywhere in the scriptures.

By faith, from first to last, just as it is written: the just one shall live by faith.

“When you say that Catholics and Evangelicals have no disagreement on what is in the NT canon, that's true only because Evangelicals accept the Catholic Church's determination (Luther, in contrast, did not, and rejected the canonicity of four of the New Testament Books).”

You don’t even know the history you want to teach. Luther’s Bible includes even the Deuterocanonical books. He had his opinions on them, but he is also not considered among Lutherans like you consider the popes among you.

The RCC never decided the canon. If it had concluded otherwise, it would be wrong. Since the New Testament itself already refers to the scriptures, they were already know when the RCC was not yet here. We accept the RCC because they accept the right canon (among a few other things); we do not accept the words of God because a bunch of men, however pious (or, as is the case, however perverse) have said we should. God doesn’t need your approval.

“After all, it wasn't like the Church separately defined the OT and NT canon.”

The Church never defined the canon. They didn’t have any other choice. Either they agreed with the canon we have, or they would have been heretics. We accept the canon because of the testimony of God; we accept as orthodox those who accept the orthodox canon; we do not accept the canon because of the people we accept. The canon was known before, and the Synod of Hippo was only careful not to veer from what had been known before as canon, not to set anything new. Anyway, for you Roman Catholics, every other encyclical and bull is legitimately regarded as scripture. (As a result, in fact, you follow sola scriptura without knowing it.)

“The internal appeal of the Holy Spirit is a sub-point of a sub-point for our argument about the self-attestation of Scripture. You treat it like it is the main crux of our argument. So like I said, check out the book, you'll enjoy it!”

That book cannot possibly be the final word for Reformed scripturology, since it apparently differs from (or extends) the position of the Three Forms of Unity. In Reformed scripturology, as you can see from the Belgic Confession, the sole way in which we know canon is by the testimony of the Spirit. If the testimony of the Spirit is just one of many ways to know canon, that is not quite the Reformed position in its bare expression (which, as it goes, is sufficient).

Unlike the Roman Catholics, we do not rely on men who apparently have more of the Spirit (or whose persons God respects more or whatever) to give us permission to treat the word of God as such. That position is heretical, especially since they admit that the scriptures predate them, but that the acceptance of them should not; it is heresy to teach that the Word of God requires men to line up behind it before it is legitimately treated as such. (Clearly, it is recognised as scripture from the very day it is sent forth. “Thus saith the Lord.”)

“God speaks through his word about his word. For example 2 Tim 3:16-17 What are some of these things?”

In appealing to the Scriptures to prove your point about the Scriptures, you prove that it has to be by faith—having pre-accepted the scriptures, apart from any of these proofs—that anybody will ever accept these points in the first place. Your Roman Catholic interlocutors are the kind who subject the testimony of the New Testament to whatever bull or encyclical may come out on the topic, so it is expected that they will disregard this 2 Timothy thing as “private interpretation”, and they are quite justified in it from their position.

This shows what we Reformed know, that there is no way to turn the reprobate. (And if God doesn’t set some pots up for wrongness, how shall His glory on us, who are correct, be seen? God has chosen the weak things—like simple, child-like faith—to shame the strong; that none may boast.) If you prove from the Bible, they can always prove from their non-Bible. This is not a problem; eternal life is not about logic, but about election by grace. They will remain comfortable with the mythos they’ve constructed about the scriptures (“we decided on what the word of God is! we are the greatest in the kingdom!”), proud of their confidence in flesh, and suspicious of faith, unless God gives them his quickening Spirit, and consequently the radically-new scripturology that faith by the Spirit gives.

“Plus it is no more circular than a secularist appealing to self sufficient reason using reason, or a Catholic using the Church's authority to establish God's authority.”

Now you get it. Everything about God is going to be by faith. Everybody else is lying. This is how everything—even justification—has to go.

I must say, also, that I have always found it funny that Roman Catholics use and use and use (as in the blog banner here) 1 Tim 3: “… the church is the pillar and foundation of truth …” And yet they never see that Scripture is what they base on, so they should say “Scripture is the foundation of the pillar and foundation of truth.” Or, at least, they act like it.

By faith, people. By faith.

12th of October, 2014

Liberty, Law, and the Traditions of Men

It is evident that no grounds can be found against traditions simply because they are traditions. If they occur through their normal means—arising from a community—they have to be Scriptural before they can be accepted, and they have to be counter-Scriptural before they are supposed to be discarded.

Nevertheless, the mechanism by which traditions are implemented is by law. The thing that premits Christianity to survive undue shackling to traditions is the packaging liberty from law as part of the Scriptures. By making the New Testament part of the Bible, the Pauline epistles part of the NT, and the Belgic Confession part of the creeds (together with the Apostles’ and Nicene), Christianity permits of tradition that has enough liberty to reform tradition.

12th of October, 2014

Tradition Passes, But the Scriptures are Forever

I like to think of myself as an orthodox Reformed (“Protestant”) having moved past the Reformation. Some few years ago, we noted 500 years since Luther ostensibly nailed the 95 Theses to the church door. We cannot still be debating the matters of the Reformation today. We already know what is true; we already know whath the truth is. We now identify those who are orthodox with regard to it, the set of traditions that we call “Protestants”, and we also recognise those who are much-mistaken (such as the Roman Catholics).

Prior to the Reformation, many Christian communions placed their traditions above Scripture. Whatever merit traditions may have, however, they are not forever. The Nicene Creed, for instance, appeals to the Scriptures in the articles about the Son, while it says nothing about the traditions. When Jesus rose from the dead, He instructed His disciples about Himself. “Starting with Moses and all the Prophets …” and the Psalms.

Since the resurrected Christ leans on the Scriptures from the very first teaching, it is evident that the Scriptures—and the recognition of them—is fundamental and axiomatic. Those who will believe in Christ also believe in the Scriptures, because it is they that bear witness of Him, even by His own teaching from the very beginning of the Church. If He reposes His teaching on their witness, it is because they are entirely true. If the creeds refer us to them, it is because the Scriptures are both pre-creedal and entirely orthodox; the creeds expect faith in them to imply (or be preceded by) faith in the Scriptures.

For this reason, you can expect that one who doesn’t recognise the Scriptures doesn’t have a hope of recognising Jesus as the Christ, because the testimony of God regarding His Christ is in the Scriptures. Yet the position we take regarding the Scriptures can only be taken by faith, since we cannot judge the Scriptures by any other standard, and indeed we are to judge and prove all things by them—even the claims of the Risen Christ Himself. The same Spirit who witnesses to us regarding the Scriptures is the same one who witnesses to us regarding the Christ. For this reason the validity of the Scriptures is never going pass away.

But traditions are not like that. Traditions are local implementations of the broad requirements of the faith. Traditions are good—even inevitable—such that even the anti-tradition strain/stance associated with the Protestants is itself a (useful) tradition. However, traditions are the result of men implementing the faith in their local situation (language, taboos, strengths, weaknesses, history, et cetera), and as such they are passing—even if simply due to the passing of time, or of the heavens and the earth.

For this reason Jesus distinguishes between the Scriptures whose precepts may not ever be set aside, versus teachings which He says are to be regarded with contempt if they don’t uphold what is written. Jesus teaches careful checking of what is taught, but absolute respect for, deferrence to, reliance on, the integrity of, and trust in the Scriptures (as He was aware of them).

Now our confessions teach that we recognise the Scriptures not because of the witness of men, but because of the witness of God the Holy Spirit. Even if some were to maintain that this council or that council (say “the Synod of Hippo”) is the one that defined the canon, by what token would anybody accept that council itself, and its results? If we accept the results of any council, we do so by faith—by the testimony of the Spirit, Who says that the council is orthodox. Either way, we cannot get rid of the personal responsibility to believe; yet if we say that we accept the canon because of the council, now we are putting our faith in men. If we say that we accept the council because of our like faith, then why is the council privileged in the identification of orthodoxy, when ultimately we ourselves subject the councils to tests whereby we may identify their orthodoxy? Are we now putting our faith in man, rather than in the Holy Spirit?

The tradition that has the wrong scriptures is wrong, while a tradition cannot be scriptural and also be wrong. Scripture is recognised as a rule for orthodoxy, both by orthodox individuals and orthodox traditions.
For this reason it is impossible that Scripture be the result of human traditions; the Scriptures provide testimony that the traditions are built on top of. Even the Nicene Creed—even the Risen Christ!—defers to the Scriptures. It is a righteous and sacred tradition that upholds and defers to the Scriptures.

The Scriptures show themselves to be of very axiomatic nature here. We can prove things by them—as the Risen Christ does—but only after we presume correctly that those who are destined for life can recognise Scripture as Scripture. Those who are meant to be rejected, of course, cannot believe in the Scriptures, lest they believe the threats and promises of God, and be saved from the coming wrath by this faith, and God have no vessels by which to prove His justice as He proves His over-supplied grace by us who believe in the Scriptures that bear witness to this good news we believe. The Scriptures are the words of God, which man in his fallen nature despises and considers stupid. Faith in the Scriptures never happens by fleshly effort—neither by reason, nor by effort, nor by desire—but by the working of the Holy Spirit.

More-importantly, the same way that Scripture is recognised is the same way that sacred tradition is recognised: by the witness of the Spirit, that it upholds and defers to the Scriptures. This sacred tradition may be as simple as one setting out a récipe for the altar bread and wine (prehaps to accentuate parts of doctrine[1]), or as fundamental as one declaring the canon—essentially giving a list of what we have always recognised when we said “Scripture”—which are things we accept not because the council or tradition said, but because we accept the council on the testimony of the Spirit and the Scriptures.

Therefore if the results of a council are to be deemed orthodox, they are included together with the rest of the Scriptures, because they would not be orthodox if they were in opposition to the Scriptures or not subject to them. Nevertheless, we do not confound the Bible—which is the 66 books of the New and Old Testaments—with the Scriptures in general, which in the times before Christ were only the Old Testament, and which are now issued here as the Bible together with the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Three Forms of Unity. In this way, tradition does contribute to Scripture, but we do not accept these traditions on Scripture simply because they exist, but because they are orthodox—as is witnessed by the Spirit.

Further elements of sacred tradition—and included with the Scriptures we publish—are canonical hours and lectionaries; and these we publish together with the Bible because its study is their subject. When some important attributes of the daily routine change, then the lectionary would have to change, too. In no wise does anything in the Bible ever change. But the tempo and order of the reading—even the liturgy, and all that—can change from place to place, and from time to time. The traditions will all have the Scripture as their common denominator, and the testimony of the Spirit as the witness in favour of them.

[1] Unleavened bread could be used to emphasise the fulfilment of the Law of Moses1 in Christ’s body; or leavened bread to emphasise the liberty we have from the Mosaic yoke under the fulfilled covenant of the New Testament. What is being emphasised (and therefore the acceptable recipe) may vary by communion, or even by season within the same communion, or based on the prevailing topic of the canonical lectionary, or whatever other reason, as long as the reason is deferrent to Scripture.
04th of October, 2014

The Great Disconnect

I have unsubscribed from many e-mail services I had, and after testing it for about a week, I think I am satisfied with the nearly-zero traffic now.

I am also changing where, when, and how I consume news. —Again. I am going back closer to the Rolf Dobelli thing of concentrating only on the headlines, and only rarely.

I am about to launch into some work which will require that I be good at working without expecting lots of such stimulation as comes from the news and the Internet in general. John M Greer calls it “LESS: Less Energy, Suff, and Stimulation.”

Now I open my mail client, and about nothing happens. Good! I am finding it harder to go back to surfing without images and JavaScript, because these days websites almost require these things. Or I am just growing older.