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Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me, Amen.”

    – Martin Luther

Here I Stand, A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton (New York, New York: Meridian, 1995, 302 pages with bibliography, references, source of illustrations and index).

Luther_HIS

Many years ago, when first I began to read about the Reformation, I came across Roland Bainton’s biography of Martin Luther and couldn’t put it down. I thought then, and think to this day, that it is a classic on the subject of Martin Luther and the Reformation.

Born in England in 1894, Bainton lived most of his life in the United States, graduating from Yale University with a Ph.D., where he later served as the Titus Street Professor of Ecclesiastical History. With a background like that, readers it may be tempted to suppose that Bainton’s writing, while scholarly, would have little appeal to the non-specialist. He would be half right. While it is true that Bainton was a gifted scholar, Here I Stand is anything but a dull read.

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“The greatest threat facing middle and working class Americans is our depreciating paper currency.”

    – Ron Paul

Gold, Peace, And Prosperity, The Birth Of A New Currency
by Congressman Ron Paul (Auburn, Alabama: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 2011, 91 pages with index).

There is, perhaps, no more critical subject facing our nation at the moment than the activities of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States of America. But while the Fed’s actions over the past 100 years have had a profoundly negative effect on the lives of nearly all Americans, very few people are aware of the ways in which they are robbed by Fed policy. Even more frustrating from the standpoint of those who believe in sound money is that that there appears to be little desire on the part of Americans to cure their ignorance by studying the machinations of these masters of the universe who run the Fed.

Gold_Peace_Prosperity

One of the principle reasons people remain in the chains of ignorance concerning the Fed is the reporting of mainstream financial journalists. The stories one sees in the mainstream press about financial matters – whether in print or on television, it matters not – seem designed more to steer people away from the truth about the workings of the Fed rather than lead them to understanding.

In stark contrast to the long-winded flim-flam one hears on most news outlets about the Fed, Ron Paul’s Gold, Peace, An Prosperity, The Birth Of A New Currency (hereafter Gold, Peace And Prosperity) is a breath of fresh air. In his typical fashion, Paul manages to be both profound and concise in his comments. This book, a short 91 pages including introductions by Henry Hazlitt and Murray Rothbard plus an index, equips the reader with more sound teaching about the problems with our current Federal Reserve system as well as how to fix it than entire shelves full of books by most authors.

Did I mention that this is a short book? Just to give you a sense of what I mean, it can be read in one sitting. When I re-read it for this review, it took me a little over two hours reading at a leisurely pace and taking notes. As John Robbins noted in his exposition of Philemon, many scholars make the assumption that nothing short can be profound. But this is a mistake. Gold, Peace, An Prosperity stands as proof of this.

Worth noting is that this book was first published in 1981. That is significant for the reason that Ron Paul was part of the Gold Commission convened by President Reagan at the time to study the possibility of returning the United States to the gold standard, an option that ultimately was voted down by the Commission. The next year, the Minority Report of the Gold Commission was published under the title The Case for Gold (see here for free pdf and epub downloads), which is considered something of a modern day classic by advocates of sound money. I would by all means recommend reading The Case for Gold, but I think Gold, Peace, An Prosperity is an even better place to start. While The Case for Gold provides more detail than Gold, Peace, And Prosperity, the latter is less technical in its language and much shorter, making it an ideal read for those just starting to learn about sound money, or, for that matter, those who would like a refresher course from one of the few statesmen of recent times who actually understands the monetary problems we face as a nation as well as what is needed to fix them.

In the first chapter of the book titled “Impending Social Strife?,” Paul writes, “We probably will see widespread civil disorder in the 1980s.” Looking back 38 years, some may be tempted to discount Paul’s argument for sound money by accusing him of being an alarmist. “You see,” they will say, “we didn’t have widespread civil unrest in the 1980s, so all this talk about economic collapse in 2019 is just so much conspiracy theory nonsense.”

What shall we say to this? Does the fact that widespread civil unrest did not occur in America in the 1980s refute Paul’s argument against the Fed and for sound money? No, it does not. While it may seem odd to many today that there was serious consideration of a return to the gold standard in the early 1980s, one has to remember the context. America had just gone through the terrible stagflation – stagflation was a term coined in the 1970s to describe a situation where there was simultaneous inflation and little or no economic growth, a state of affairs that the standard Keynesian economics of that time could not account for – of the 1970s that followed hard on the heels of President Nixon’s decision to take America off the Bretton Woods gold exchange standard in 1971. Just to give you a sense of the inflation of the 1970s, gold went from $35 dollars and ounce in 1971 to around $800 an ounce at its peak in 1980, a surge of roughly 2000%.

Second, all the problems that Paul identified in 1981 with the Fed are still with us today and are far larger than what they were when he first wrote. On October 22, 1981, 38 years ago almost to the day, the federal debt first topped $1 trillion. Today in 2019, it stands at over $22 trillion. According to this CCN article, the 2019 federal deficit – the deficit is the yearly amount by which federal spending outstrips tax revenue; the debt the total of all previous budgetary shortfalls – was $984 billion. Stop and think about that for a moment. It took the federal government over 200 years to accumulate $1 trillion debt, an amount it’s now adding on a yearly basis.

What Ron Paul did not foresee in 1981 was the cunning ruthlessness of the central bankers and the politicians to not only maintain the corrupt system, but also to expand it. In 1981, there was no Plunge Protection Team. No one had ever heard of Quantitative Easing and if anyone had spoken of negative interest rates, he would have been laughed to scorn. Yet the bankers, politicians and news media have managed not only to sell the public on all this financial flim-flam, but they make it seem downright normal. This was possible largely because the American people did not take to heart Paul’s warnings from 1981.

Ron Paul was right on target when he wrote, “The greatest threat facing middle and working class Americans is our depreciating paper currency.” This was true in 1981, and it’s true today in 2019.

I highly recommend Gold, Peace, An Prosperity. Not only is it a great primer on the dangers of the central banking, paper money and the importance of sound money, reading it makes me want to shout the title of a more recent book by Paul, End the Fed!

Chapters include: Foreword by Henry Hazlitt; Preface by Murray Rothbard; Impending Social Strife?; The People are Demanding an End to Inflation; Depreciation is Nothing New; “Not Worth a Continental”; The Best Medium of Exchange; Cross of Paper; How Our Money was Ruined; The Stage is Set; Is Business to Blame?; Are Banks to Blame?; Are Unions to Blame?; Inflation and the Business Cycle; The Guilt of the Economists; The Alternative to Inflation; Money and the Constitution; Morality and Transfer Payments; Citizen Control of Money; Day of Reckoning; Free Market Money?; Legal Tender Laws; An Historical Precedent; The End – or the Beginning; Index.

 

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More Than These_2

“It is my firm conviction that the pro-life movement has been a convenient, effective tool in the hands of the Roman Catholic Church leadership in their drive to desensitize the average Christian to Rome’s heresy, idolatry, and blasphemy.”

    – Pastor Ralph Ovadal

Last week’s post, devoted to a discussion of the movie Unplanned, was intended as a warning to Christians. Far from being the Christian film many have touted it to be, Unplanned would be better described as an effective recruitment tool for the Roman Church-State.

Although the movie was financed, at least in part, by Evangelical money, and presented to Evangelicals as a Christian movie, the screen play and the directing were done by two Roman Catholics. But more concerning is the central figure in the movie, Abby Johnson, who, having been raised Baptist, converted to Roman Catholicism after she was asked to leave her Episcopal Church upon leaving Planned Parenthood and becoming pro-life.

In that post on Unplananed, this reviewer quoted at some length from a book titled More Than These by Pastor Ralph Ovadal. When I cited the book, I was under the assumption that I had reviewed it some time ago. But to my surprise, after checking to confirm whether this was so, I found out that no such review had been posted on this blog. What is worse, a search of the internet revealed that, apparently, no review of the remarkable book has been written by anyone else either.

This post is intended as a partial remedy to this sorry state of affairs.

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Ruth_and_Naomi_Leave_Moab

Ruth and Naomi Leave Moab, 1860, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872).

Although the mainstream media (MSM) is firmly committed to the proposition that that the entire world has the right to immigrate to the US at taxpayer expense, conservatives have increasingly raised their voices in opposition to this practice.

 

This installment of Immigration, Citizenship, and the Bible (ICB) is an attempt to examine various conservative arguments for immigration reform in light Gordon Clark’s Scripturalism, the system of thought that asserts the Bible and the Bible alone is the Word of God and is the textbook to prepare the man of God for every good work, including the good work of immigration reform.

My critique of conservatives is presented here in the form of a review of Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster by Peter Brimelow.

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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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Atonement_ClarkThe Atonement by Gordon H. Clark (Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 1987, 163 pages), $8.95.

Chapters Include: Introduction on Method; The Doctrine in its Simplicity; The Covenant of Redemption; The Covenant of Grace; The Incarnation; The Virgin Birth; The Human Nature of Christ; The Purpose of the Incarnation; Active Obedience; The Covenant of Works; The Vicarious Sacrifice; Expiation; Propitiation; Satisfaction; Federal Headship; Absolute Necessity; Traducianism; The Sovereignty of God; The Extent of the Atonement.

A few years back, American Express ran a television advertisement that featured the story of a man who visited Norway thinking he was going to see the land of his ancestors only to find upon arrival that he actually was of Swedish descent. Or perhaps it was the other way around. At any rate, he wasn’t who he thought he was.

I had a similar experience when I first began to study theology. As I worked through a book on systematic theology with a very generous and learned reformed Baptist pastor, I found, much to my surprise, I was an Arminian. This was particularly shocking to me, as I had never so much as heard the word before, let alone realized I was one. In truth, my experience wasn’t so unusual. Such is the dominance of Arminian theology in American Evangelical churches that Arminians generally are unaware of their Arminianism. It’s taken for granted that Christ died for all men, and little or no serious thought is given to an alternative. When the doctrines of grace, what we would call Calvinism, are discussed, many folks raised in the broad evangelical church are shocked and offended that someone actually could believe that God does not love all men, that some are in fact reprobate and fitted for destruction, and that this is the historic teaching of the Reformation.

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Creature from JekyllThe Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve, 5th Edition by G. Edward Griffin (Westlake Village, California, 608 pages, 2010), $19.44.

“The most boring question in the world,” announced the accounting professor to my B-School class, “is whether the government should have bailed out the financial system in 2008.” In his eyes, the answer was an obvious yes. End of story. But that struck me as a rather odd stance. For the question, to bailout, or not to bailout? seemed to me to be among the most fascinating topics imaginable in the field of finance and accounting. And in truth, any answer one could give would have to go well beyond finance and accounting, touching upon the basic philosophical disciplines of politics, ethics, and ultimately epistemology. Further, any answer given would go a long way to telling you something about the man himself. So no, it was not a boring question at all. That is, unless you’re interest is in perpetuating the status quo, in which case you would prefer that it not be asked at all.

I have elected to introduce my review of G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island [hereafter, the Creature] by way of this personal account, because it illustrates perfectly the sort of close-minded contempt that emanates from the financial mainstream toward anyone who dares question its reigning orthodoxies. Examples of these nostrums are: Central bank issued fiat currency is good, but the gold standard is a barbarous relic, the money supply cannot be left to the free market, it must be a function of a government appointed central bank; banks are not like other businesses, they must be chartered, regulated, and, if needed, bailed out by the government using taxpayer funds. None of these orthodoxies is true, for none can be supported from Scripture. Yet they are accepted by politicians, academics and ordinary folks alike almost without question.

G. Edward Griffin, on the other hand, is a man who does question these orthodoxies, concluding at the very beginning of his book that the Federal Reserve must be abolished. He provides seven reasons for this, namely:

  • It is incapable of accomplishing its stated objectives.
  • It is a cartel operating against the public interest.
  • It is the supreme instrument of usury.
  • It generates our most unfair tax.
  • It encourages war.
  • It destabilizes the economy.
  • It is an instrument of totalitarianism.

The remainder of the book is used to flesh out why these things are so. In Griffin’s words, the book is a who-dunit, which, in the words of USA Daily, “documents an organized and successful attempt to seize control over the U.S. monetary system by powerful American and European families.”

Eccles Building

The Eccles Building, the Washington D.C. headquarters of the Federal Reserve.

 

At this point one may by asking himself, why is it that Christians should care about the obscure workings of the Federal Reserve System [hereafter, the Fed]? Why not just leave banking to the bankers and get on with more important matters? After all, talking about money doesn’t seem very spiritual. And doesn’t the Bible say that money is the root of all evil? Wouldn’t it be best simply to leave the whole matter alone and focus on the Great Commission instead?

Taking these objections in reverse order, let us consider what Christ commanded in the Great Commission. What did Jesus say to his followers? Go into all the world and teach the five fundamentals? No. Christ called his disciples to go into all the nations and to teach, “them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” The Great Commission includes all of Christ’s teachings. And since there is no field of endeavor not covered by Christ’s teachings,, all statements of all men in all areas of study, including banking, finance, and accounting, must be brought back to Scripture and judged by it. Therefore banking is a proper field of Christian study.

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