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Archive for July, 2016

monstrous-regiment-of-women

Title page from John Knox’s famous, shocking and politically incorrect essay, The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women.

In 1558, John Knox wrote was is still to this day perhaps the most politically incorrect tract in history, The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. The proximate object of Knox’s blast was the reign of Mary Tudor in England, but in targeting Bloody Mary, the Scottish reformer also took aim, “against the very principle of female government itself” (Roger A. Mason, John Knox On Rebellion, xv)

Over the following centuries, the political theory and practice of Protestant nations generally was ikn agreement with Knox. But with the rise of secular feminism in the 19th century and its subsequent influence on the evangelical church, that consensus began to fracture.

Today, not only does Great Britain have its second female prime minister, but Germany in headed by Angela Merkel. France is likely to find itself under the sway of a woman as soon as next year. And here in the United States, the Democrats have nominated Hillary Clinton for president.

Much has been made of Hillary Clinton’s nomination. The mainstream press is fond of describing it as “historic” as indeed it is. The reaction of the New York Times was typical of mainstream reporting on Clinton’s nomination, with the paper featuring the headline “Democrats Make Hillary Clinton a Historic Nominee.”

As the story itself went on to report, “The Democratic convention formally nominated Hillary Clinton for president on Tuesday, making history by choosing a woman to be the first standard-bearer of a major political party, a breakthrough underscored by a deeply personal speech by Bill Clinton calling her ‘the best darn change-maker I have ever known.’ ”

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Crooked Hillary

Hillary Clinton

Fairness. Such an innocent sounding word. So why do I always loath to hear politicians speak of it?

 

Very likely my trepidation has something to do with the way political hacks abuse the English language. Our public discourse has reached what could be called peak dishonesty. Whatever words our public servants use, if you understand the opposite you’re probably pretty close to catching their drift. And so it is with fairness. If some wanna-be office holder starts using that word, think “mega-ripoff” and you won’t go far wrong.

Hillary Clinton, to no one’s surprise, is the latest politician to use the oft-exploited term “fairness” as cover for more theft by government. One need only look at her proposed “fairness” tax to see this principle in operation.

According to the factsheet Investing in America by Restoring Basic Fairness to Our Tax Code,

There is essentially a “private tax system” for the wealthiest Americans that lets them lower their tax bill by billions, while working families play by the rules and pay their fair (sic) share. In 2013, the 400 highest-income taxpayers – those making more than $250 million per year on average – paid an effective tax rate of just 23 percent, in part because of tax gaming and sheltering to reduce their tax bills. Some multi-millionaires can pay lower rates than their employees.

Now there is much here that is true. The US tax code is hopelessly complex and provides ample opportunity for those who can afford top-notch CPAs and tax-lawyers to take advantage of legal loopholes to shelter vast wealth from the tax man. Ordinary Americans, on the other hand, are not so positioned. Most of us dupes on Main Street end up forking it over big-time to the IRS.

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epic-failNow that convention season is upon us and the thoughts of many are tuned politics, specifically to the party conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia, it seemed good to discuss the relationship between Evangelical Christians and the political process.

For some time now, really since the end of WWII and the rise of the neo-evangelicalism, American Evangelicals have worked assiduously to influence the culture, oftentimes through the political process.

Growing up, I recall the rise of the Christian right during the 1970’s. Led by such figures as the Moral Majority’s Jerry Falwell and Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum, the Christian right promised to push back on the radical cultural changes that had rocked the nation during the 1960’s.

And now after several decades of Evangelical politicking by these and other groups, it’s fair to ask, Just what have they accomplished? Is our nation more moral, or better still, is America more Christian than it was forty years ago? Is there greater respect in 2016 for the rule of law, for private property, for public morality than before the rise of the Christian right?

The answer to these questions is, I believe, obviously no. In fact, it seems to me, that not only has the religious right failed to reverse the tide of national decline – and make no mistake about it, the US and the entirety of Western Civilization is in the midst of what appears to be terminal decline – but that things actually are far worse now than they were before the term “religious right” entered the mainstream of public discourse.

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The Religious Wars of the 21st Century by John W. Robbins – http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=53101448594

Conservatism, An Autopsy by John W. Robbins – http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=115

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Freedom_CapitalismFreedom and Capitalism: Essays on Christian Politics and Economics by John W. Robbins (The Trinity Foundation, Unicoi Tennessee, 650 pages, 2006), $29.95 (E-Book $10.00).

“Brevity, clarity, and profundity are three virtues missing from the modern world,” wrote John Robbins in the introduction to his commentary on Philemon, (Christianity & Slavery, 7). But while these admirable qualities are missing from the works of most contemporary writers, such is not the case with Robbins’ work.

This reviewer has long been of the opinion that one can get more sound theology and philosophy from reading a single short essay by the late Dr John Robbins that he can get from entire shelves full of books by other authors. In Freedom and Capitalism, Robbins once again displays his remarkable talent for presenting profound ideas in a compact and readable package.

Robbins, who is likely well known to followers of this blog as the founder and former president of The Trinity Foundation, held a Ph.D. in Political Philosophy from The Johns Hopkins University and worked on the staff of Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, serving as Paul’s Chief of Staff from 1981-1985.

He was also an active lecturer and writer. Concerning the latter, Robbins commented in his introduction to Capitalism and Freedom that, “Over the past 40 years, as a student (high shcool, college, and graduate) and adult, I have written hundreds of essays, articles, and letters-to-the-editor” (9). This book represents a collection of thirty-one of articles, all but four by Robbins, on the subjects of politics and economics.

The essays presented in Freedom and Capitalism concern a variety of topics within the broad fields of politics and economics and were written over a period of thirty-four years. But for all that, there is a common theme that runs through them, the Scripturalism of Gordon Clark. Robbins nicely summarizes Clark’s Christian system of thought as follows:

Epistemology: The Bible tells me so.

Soteriology: Justification is by belief alone.

Metaphysics: In Him we live and move and have our being.

Ethics: We ought to obey God rather than men.

Politics: Proclaim liberty throughout the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.

Economics: Laissez-faire capitalism: Have I not the right to do what I will with my own? (9)

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