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“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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Financial Crisis

A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.

    Proverbs 22:3

It was back in August that we began our look at the ongoing 2008 financial crisis. The immediate occasion for my writing on this topic was the sudden plunge in the US stock indices following the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates in late July. The market sold off hard, but managed to stabilize, or more accurately, was stabilized by the powers that be after a phone call by President Trump with three major bank CEO’s.

This was a similar situation to what happened around the end of the year in 2018. On December 23, the day before the Dow and S&P indices had their largest ever declines on Christmas Eve, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin placed individual calls to America’s six largest banks – Brian Moynihan, Bank of America; Michael Corbat, Citi; David Solomon, Goldman Sachs; Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase; James Gorman, Morgan Stanley; Tim Sloan, Wells Fargo. When the market re-opened after the Christmas break on December 26, the Dow closed up 1,086.25 points, the largest single day gain in the history of the index. This huge day was after a terrible December and in the absence of any news that would have caused a market surge.

Was there a relationship between Mnuchin’s call on December 23 and the blast off in the stock market three days later? While this can’t be formally proven, in the opinion of this author it is the most likely explanation. In short, I think that Mnuchin told these CEO’s to buy the market and that they obliged.

If my understanding is correct, this means that at least twice in the period of eight months orders came down from on high to rescue the stock markets. What, I would ask you, does this say about the state of our financial system? What are we to think of a system that requires this level of manipulation to keep from crashing?

Of course, calls from Trump and Mnuchin are not the only sort of manipulation in the financial system. In the short time that I’ve been writing this series, we’ve seen additional extraordinary measures taken by the Fed to prop up the system.

First there was the bailout of the overnight Repo market. Originally, this was to be for a few days in September. Next, they extended it to a couple weeks. Then it got pushed out to the second week of November, then it was January 2020. Just last week, Fed President James Bullard expressed his preference for a “standing repo facility.” By this he seems to mean that he wants the current repo market intervention by the Fed to become a permanent policy tool of the central bank.

And that’s not all. Last week on Wednesday, the Fed started QE4. With this latest iteration of what in 2008 was termed an “emergency policy,” the Fed will by purchasing $60 billion a month in T-Bill (T-Bills are short-term US Treasury debt instruments). Where, you ask, does the Fed get the $60 billion per month to conduct QE4? They get it by a process that, were you or I to try it, we’d be arrested. In short, they counterfeit it out of thin air.

Here’s another question you may want to ask yourself. If the economy is doing so great as we’re constantly being told by the mainstream financial press, why is the Fed running simultaneous bailouts of both the overnight repo market and the bond market, both of which are designed to prop up the stock market? The obvious answer is that, far from being the greatest economy ever, the US, and indeed the world’s, financial markets are a mess and getting messier by the day. All the hype you hear about how great the economy is doing is propaganda designed to keep you locked into the system for the benefit of those who run it.

In light of the enormous lies that are being told to the American people by government officials, by bankers, and by the press, in the opinion of this author it is imperative that God’s people hear the truth about the financial state of the country and some sound advice about how to take measures to protect themselves financially. That is the purpose of this week’s installment.

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El Paso

A couple console each other near an El Paso Walmart where a mass shooting occurred Saturday.  Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

Mass shootings. What are Christians to make of them? But before we answer this question, perhaps we should sharpen the question a bit, asking instead, What are American Christians to make of them?

The obvious motive for my writing on this subject is the report from El Paso, TX, where another mass shooting has left many dead and injured, not to mention many other traumatized by the sinful violence of the event.

If that weren’t enough, I woke up this morning to hear of another mass shooting, this time in nearby Dayton, OH which reportedly has left 9 dead.

Oddly enough, both these shootings in far apart places – Dayton and El Paso are over 1,500 miles apart – both have a personal connection to me. El Paso is the home of several friends of mine from ThornCrown Ministries, while I personally know a man who currently serves as an officer on the Dayton police force. My friends are all safe, but clearly there are many people in both places who have suffered great loss.

The response from the news media and other Second Amendment foes is predictable: Guns are the problem and must be more strictly regulated. The ultimate goal of these people seems to be the complete disarmament of the American people.

As Christians, what are we to say to this? Certainly, in the wake of such tragedies it is tempting to go along with the anti-gun rhetoric. But we must ask, What does the Bible say about the right of private citizens to bear arms? Does Scripture prohibit private citizens from owning weapons, or does it support their doing so?

Another question related to this is what does the Bible say about criminal justice? Does the Bible call for crime punishment or crime prevention? How we answer these questions will serve to guide us as we evaluate the statements we see in the news concerning the El Paso and Dayton shootings.

The short answer to the first question is, yes, the Bible allows for private citizens to own weapons. To the second question, we answer that the Bible calls, not for crime prevention, but for crime punishment.

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Dems show of hands illegal health care benes

All ten Democratic presidential candidates raise their hands to indicate their agreement when asked if their government healthcare plan would cover for undocumented (i.e. illegal) immigrants.  The Democrats have become the party of immigration treason.  (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)  

Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

    – Deut. 10:19

If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.

    – 2 Thess. 3:10

Raise your hand if your government plan would provide coverage for undocumented immigrants,” asked moderator Savannah Guthrie to the ten assembled Democratic presidential candidates. All ten raised their hands in support.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) regularly lectures Americans on their supposed obligation to provide for foreigners via their tax dollars. One recent example from this organization can be found in a June 26, 2019 press release, where the bishop’s tell us, “Congress has a duty to provide additional funding to address the needs of children in federal custody.”

Another example of the Roman Catholic Church-State’s (RCCS) belief that immigrants, migrants and refugees are entitled to the support of American taxpayers is a letter from Catholic Charities opposing the Trump administration’s proposed rule change that would bar legal immigrants from getting green cards – a green card allows an immigrants to live and work permanently in the US – if they have received certain types of public assistance.

The notion that immigrants – legal and illegal – are entitled to taxpayer support is not limited to Roman Catholics and secular liberal Democrats. Organizations that claim to represent Evangelicals say much the same thing. For example, lest one thing that the USCCB and the liberal Democrats are alone in demanding American citizens be taxed for the benefit of foreigners, the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) voiced its objections. In their objection, the writers at EIT call for an immigration policy that prioritizes “the unity of the immediate family.” Since, in the eyes of EIT, the public charge law could lead to separation of families, it must be opposed.

In the four examples cited above, there is an assumption, sometimes implicit, at other times explicit, that there is a Christian, or at least a moral, obligation on the part of Americans to be taxed by their government to provide entitlement benefits to foreigners. One will often hear supporters of this view quote the Bible in support. For example, the liberal “Evangelical” organization Sojourners has a page on its website 22 Bible Verses on Welcoming Immigrants. Given Sojourners’ socialist politics, the implication is that, of course, immigrants (legal and illegal), migrants and refugees are entitled to welfare benefits.

But is Christian charity the same thing as government welfare? No, it is not. And if not, then the demands of the USCCB, Catholic Charities, the Democratic presidential candidates, EIT and Sojourners, that American taxpayers pick up the welfare tab for foreign citizens, some of whom are in the country illegally, hold no water.

 

Christian Charity is Not Government Welfare

The conspicuous lack of a welfare state in ancient Israel is a major problem for those, who – as do the Democrats, the RCS and various confused Protestants – demand that American citizens underwrite the cost of so-called entitlements for foreigners.

Israel had no Department of Housing and Urban Development, no EBT cards, and no Medicaid. In short, there was no public dole for anyone – either Israelite or sojourner – to go on.

Now someone may ask, “What about all the verses in the Bible about welcoming the stranger and remembering the orphan and the widow?” Yes, there are quite a few verses to this effect. Here are a few more passages that Sojourners did mention:

  • When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyards, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger; I am the LORD your God (Lev. 19:9-10).
  • When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the strangers: I am the LORD your God (Lev. 23:22).
  • When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get bit; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for teh stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this thing (Deut. 24:19-22).

So don’t these verses, all which command the Israelites to leave something of their harvest for the poor and the stranger, justify the welfare state and obligate Americans to support foreigners – whether in the country legally or illegally – with their tax dollars. No, they do not.

One important point to keep in mind is that, while these are commandments of the Lord and violating them was a sin, there were no civil penalties attached to any of these injunctions. The Bible makes a distinction between sins and crimes. The way you can tell the difference is whether civil penalties apply. Stealing was both a sin – it was prohibited in the eighth commandment – and a crime – it was punishable in the law of Moses.

There was no bureaucracy in Israel set up to go around and inspect whether farmers were adhering to the “anti-gleaning laws” found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. There were no fines imposed upon the vineyard owner who gleaned. For him to do so was a sin, but it was not a crime.

Contrast this with the modern welfare state advocated by Democrats, the RCS and confused Protestants. Do American taxpayers have the ability to opt out of paying for these programs. No they do not? Try it sometime and sooner or later you’ll find yourself on the business end of a government gun.

What about hospitals and schools? Hospitals are already required to provide services to all, regardless of immigration status. If they don’t, they will find themselves on the business end of the government gun.

The same goes with schools. The federal government mandates that local school districts provide education to all children, regardless whether they are the children of illegal immigrants. If they don’t, they will find themselves on the business end of a government gun.

Unlike the charity called for in the law of Moses, the modern welfare state is a socialist institution that takes by force the property of one man and gives it to another. This is the nature of government welfare. It is not Christian charity, which is voluntary, but theft.

Another nail in the coffin of the socialists is Paul’s command to the Thessalonians. He wrote, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” There is no command in the Bible for Christians to support those who will not work to support themselves.

With this one command, Paul upends the entire modern welfare state’s notion of entitlement. No man is entitled to the property of another except as punishment for a crime. There is no support in Scripture for entitlement programs – whether for citizens or illegal aliens – that allow one man to live at the expense of another.

Altruism, the idea that need – whether it be the need of a citizen or the need of a legal or illegal immigrant – gives one an entitlement to the property of another, is a concept foreign to the Scriptures.

Christian Charity is Private Charity

Christian charity is always private charity. We can see this is the parable of the Good Samaritan. Here was a man who voluntarily gave of his own time and money to help a stranger in need. The Good Samaritan put himself in danger just by attempting the rescue. After all, the brigands who committed the original crime could still be in the area. He inconvenienced himself by diverting from his business trip to take the wounded victim to a town, and then he bore the cost of lodging and care of the man.

This was a private act of charity. No one forced the Good Samaritan to do what he did. And whatever giving was done was given from his own resources, not from government coffers.

As Christians, we are commanded to do our giving voluntarily in the name of Christ. But there is nothing voluntary or in the name of Christ when it comes to the welfare state. Socialism is all brute force. It’s all about the government gun. “Give us your money our we’ll come take it from you,” is the language of the bureaucrat, not the language of Christ.

Conflating Government Welfare with Christian Charity

The dishonesty of the Democrats, the RCS and the confused Protestants at EIT and Sojourners is that they attempt to conflate the notions of government welfare and Christian charity, speaking of them as if there were the same thing.

Christian charity is voluntary, given from one’s own resources and done in the name of Christ. Government welfare in involuntary, takes from the resources of others, and is done in the name of some socialist theorist, Karl Marx for example.

Shifting the Focus

The various socialists mentioned in this post are masters at shifting the focus. They draw your attention to what they want you to see, and leave out those things they don’t want you to think about.

For example, the USCCB and EIT both like to beat their breasts, rend their garments and decry the conditions in migrant detention centers, especially as it affects children. They then follow their cries of outrage with a demand that more taxpayer funds be given to improve conditions in these centers. What they don’t want you to consider, however, is the distinct possibility that making the detention centers nicer than they are just may further incentivize people to do what they shouldn’t be doing in the first place: illegally entering the United States and then falsely applying for asylum as persecuted individuals.

Further, the USCCB, Catholic Charities, EIT and Sojourners don’t want to you start asking whether the massive, unchristian and unconstitutional American welfare state may lie at the root of the migrant crisis in the first place. Ask yourself this, if there were no free goodies for asylum seekers, would there be more of them, or fewer of them? Quite obviously, there would be fewer.

If you’re curious about what sort of benefits are available to asylees and refugees, to the federal government’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) website, asylee’s may be eligible to receive, “cash and medical assistance, employment preparation and job placement, and English language training.

But it doesn’t stop with this. What happens if an asylee has a child while in America? That child is automatically considered and American citizen opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the asylee to claim welfare benefits on behalf of the child.

The USCCB, Catholic Charities, the Democrats, EIT and Sojourners don’t want you to think about any this. No. They want to sell you a sob story and then lecture you about your supposed obligation to fork over your hard earned money. After all, it’s what Jesus would do, right?

Nonsense.

The welfare state is immoral and unconstitutional when its limited to Americans. How much more is this the case when foolish presidential candidates and corrupt nominal Christians seek to make the American people foot the welfare bill for all the world?

Closing Thoughts

It is this author’s contention that the conflation of the welfare state with Christian is among the most pernicious lies of the proponents of the mass, nation-breaking migration seen both in Europe and in America.

When immigration patriots say “enough is enough” when it comes to welfare for foreigners, some wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing is always standing at the ready, prepared to lecture them about how the Bible enjoins Christians to “welcome the stranger.” As has been shown above, this is nonsense. There is no command from Christ to put migrants on the public dole. And to say that there is is simply an attempt to guilt Christians into allowing their nations to be overrun by welfare seeking migrant hordes.

Were this to happen, not only would it be disastrous for the citizens of the United States and other capitalist (or at least semi-capitalist) nations, but it would not even good for the migrants in the long run. For if the altruists among the liberals and pseudo Christians get their way, the capitalist nations of the world soon will sink beneath the weight of unlimited welfare demands and end up in the same dire straits as the nations the migrants fled in the first place.

The Bible tells us that the only jobs of the civil magistrate are to punish evil doers and to praise the good. There is no Biblical command for governors to provide housing, education, medical care, food stamps or any of the other accoutrements that the socialists tell us people are entitled to.

The very term “government entitlement” is a lie.

The welfare state is not only unbiblical, it’s also, at least in America, unconstitutional. As such, it is incumbent up the government, not only to not increase benefits for migrants, asylees, refugees and immigrants, but actually to cut them.

It is bad enough that American taxpayers are robbed to provide welfare benefits for their fellow Americans. It is far worse still when Americans are robbed to provide welfare to foreigners, some of whom are in violation of American immigration law.

It is way past time for Americans, in particular American Christians, to demand an end to the great immigration welfare scam.


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Betsy Ross

Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.

    – Leviticus 25:10

Independence Day. July the Fourth. I don’t recall a time when it was anything other than one of my favorite dates on the calendar.

What’s not to like about it? As a kid, it was always a great time. Warm summer days. Family, friends and fireworks. Great stuff.

Oh, and then there was that whole liberty thing. And really, what’s not to love about liberty?

Fast forward forty or so years, and all those things I loved about the Fourth? I still love ’em. But with the passing of time, and growth in knowledge and wisdom, Independence Day has taken on a deeper meaning for me.

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