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Posts Tagged ‘John Robbins’

 

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All Seeing Eye

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed.

  • Psalm 2:2

 

In last week’s post, we considered the many passages in Scripture which speak of conspiracies.  It seemed good to approach the subject of conspiracies in this way for at least two reasons.  If the fist place, this is a Scripturalist blog.  As such, it is the goal of this author to approach every subject with the understanding that that the Bible has a systematic monopoly on truth.  If one can establish that the infallible, inerrant Bible clearly teaches that conspiracies have occurred in the past, this poses a significant problem for those who claim, as some do, that it is impossible for conspiracies to occur today and to dismiss those who have doubts about the official explanations as “conspiracy theorists.”

A second reason for placing a post on biblical examples of conspiracies first in this series is one of interest.  It’s likely that many Christians have not considered the extensive evidence supporting the existence of conspiracies furnished by well-known Bible passages.  Coming to see these passages as examples of conspiracies not only adds to our understanding of Scripture, but gives Christians added intellectual ammunition to analyze events of the present day.

In today’s post, I would like to explore the term “conspiracy theory” itself.  As it turns out, one can make the case that the term “conspiracy theory” is, oddly enough, something of a conspiracy.

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All Seeing Eye

The masonic “All Seeing Eye of Providence” as seen on the back of the U.S. one dollar bill. This same symbol is found on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States.  Many of the founding fathers of America, George Washington included, were masons.  

And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.

  • Mark 3:6

Conspiracy theorist.  Few words in the English language are freighted with more negative baggage than these.  To be so labeled is to be verbally ostracized from polite society and to cease to be taken seriously as a thinker or writer.

In recent times, so-called conspiracy theorists have been accused of spreading fake news, denounced as Russian bots, and removed from major social media platforms as punishment for daring to disagree with official narratives.

And this isn’t something that has taken place in Soviet Russia or Communist China either.  The silencing of dissenting opinion has taken place right here in the good old US of A, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The most recent push for censorship of dissenting voices can be dated to the fall of 2016.  On October 16th, less than four weeks from the presidential election that saw Donald Trump shock the nation’s pundits by defeating favorite Hillary Clinton to win the White House, then President Barak Obama gave a speech in Pittsburgh in which he, “decried America’s ‘wild, wild west’ media environment for allowing conspiracy theorists a broad platform and destroying a common basis for debate.”   Obama went on to say, “We are going to have to rebuild within this wild-wild-west-of-information flow some sort of curating function that people agree to…There has to be, I think, some sort of way in which we can sort through information that passes some basic truthiness tests and those that we have to discard, because they just don’t have any basis in anything that’s actually happening in the world.”

What’s that again?  Did the President of the United States just call for a Ministry of Truth?  It certainly appears that he did.

On November 24, 2016, the Washington Post ran what has become a very well-known article among independent journalists titled “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say.”   In that article was a link to a report by a shadowy group known as PropOrNot.  The report titled Black Friday Report:  On Russian Propaganda network Mapping, was supposedly, “a list of over 200 distinct website, YouTube channels and Facebook groups which qualify as Russian propaganda outlets according to our criteria and target audiences in the United States.”

So who’s behind the organization PropOrNot?  To this day, no one seems to know for sure.  Some think it’s the CIA, which seems a likely suspect to this author for at least four reasons.  First, the Washington Post is considered by some credible individuals to be a CIA asset.  For example, former Undersecretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts, a man who once held a top secret security clearance, wrote in 2018 that when he was working as a Congressional staffer he was told in a briefing that the Washington Post was a CIA asset.  Second, the Washington Post article and the PropOrNot report essentially made the case that Donald Trump won the election because the American people were duped into voting for him by websites under Russian influence.  Third, Donald Trump was barely sworn into office when the Russia, Russia, Russian drumbeat started, resulting in the Mueller Investigation, which ultimately turned out to be an embarrassment to Mueller and his supporters, but not before it consumed two years of Trump’s first term in office. Fourth, the by now well-established fact that US intelligence was actively working against the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.  Much more can be written about the various intelligence agencies and their plots against Trump.  Indeed, there is likely a great deal of information that has not yet been made public.  But, in the estimation of this author, there is enough evidence of a conspiracy from the highest levels – both to deny Donald Trump the presidency in 2016 and, once that failed, to silence his supporters on the internet and to discredit Trump himself as a Russian agent – that the matter is settled beyond a reasonable doubt.

There was a time when this author would have hesitated to accept that so-called conspiracy theories could be true.  Only crazy people believe those things, right?  But after watching the 2016 election and its aftermath, in my opinion it is foolish to discount the possibility that events are not necessarily what they seem at first glance. As John Robbins noted, events do not explain themselves but must themselves be explained.  And if those who control the explanations – and here I’m referring to those in government, the media and academia – have hidden agendas, then it is hardly surprising that they would make use of what Plato called “the noble lie” to support those agendas.

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Tweet_Rand Paul

We ought to obey God rather than men.

  • Acts 5:29

Rand Paul and Thomas Massie rip Kentucky governor for tracking license plates of Easter church attendees,” ran the headline in the Washington Examiner.  The story went on to detail the reactions of KY Senator Rand Paul and KY Representative Thomas Massie to KY Governor Andy Beshear’s Friday statement outlining the actions the state plans to take against Kentucky Christians who gather for in-person worship on Easter Sunday.  “Taking license plates at church?  Quarantining someone for being Christian on Easter Sunday?  Someone needs to take a step back here,” tweeted Senator Paul.

Although the statement from the Governor’s office makes the point that the “order is for all mass gatherings and not just worship services,”  given the timing of the announcement (Good Friday), the preface that references people of “multiple faiths”, the statement’s specific warning that, “anyone planning to attend an in-person mass gathering this weekend [Easter] will face quarantine orders, and the statement’s reference to six churches in the commonwealth that are still planning to hold in-person services,” it is fair to see this statement from the Governor’s office as directed at Christians in particular.

Governor Beshear’s stance is not unique.  Last week, Louisville mayor Greg Fischer barred drive-through church services in the city, saying that he can’t allow “hundreds of thousands” of people to drive around town this weekend in observance of Easter festivities when they need to be home riding out the COVID-19 pandemic.  Just yesterday (April 11) a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order filed by a Louisville church against Mayor Fischer.  In his ruling, which applied only to the church that brought the suit, Judge Justin Walker blasted the mayor’s decision to prohibit drive-in church services as ‘beyond all reason’ and akin to what one might find only in a dystopian novel.

Earlier this month, a Tampa, Florida pastor was arrested for holding church services in defiance of a county order.  He was charged with violating quarantine orders during a public health emergency and later posted a $500 bond and was released.

Some Reformed brethren may argue that the churches in Louisville and Tampa are not Reformed and, therefore, these cases do not concern us.  But it’s worth asking this question, would it matter if the pastors of these churches were rock ribbed, 5-point Calvinist Presbyterians?  It’s highly doubtful.  They would have been arrested just the same.

These and other examples raise the important question, what is the relationship between church and state?  Does the civil government have the right to tell churches they may not hold in-person worship services, or have the magistrates overstepped the proper limits of their authority when they arrest or threaten pastors and church members for attending Sunday worship? It’s doubtful most American Christians have even considered this question before.  It’s simply never come up.  But now that it has, how do we as Christians answer it?

Citing Romans 13:1-7, some Christians have concluded that they must obey all coronavirus related government orders prohibiting mass gatherings.  Romans 13:1-7 reads,

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

For them, the command, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities,” and the conclusion, “Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves,” apply in the case of orders from the civil magistrate prohibiting in-person Sunday church gatherings.

Other Christians disagree, citing, for example, Jesus command to “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12.17).

It is this author’s studied conviction that the former group is in error and the latter group has the correct understanding to the relationship between church and state as set forth in the Scriptures.  What is more, this author believes the US Constitution is on the side of the latter group as well.

It is my goal in this post to defend the proposition that the government has no authority in matters related to church meetings and that by prohibiting in-person worship, these civil authorities have exceeded their rightful jurisdiction and have thereby sinned.  Further, it my conviction that this point can be proven from the Scriptures.

Before proceeding, it is worth noting what this argument is not as well as what it is.  This argument is not that churches are wrong to cancel in-person services and to seek alternate worship service arrangements due to concerns over coronavirus.  Citing 1 Cor. 11:13,  the Westminster Confession of Faith says, “Nevertheless, we acknowledge…that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.” If a church Session believes that, in light of that church’s circumstances that it is best to suspend regular worship and institute some alternate form or worship such as internet video, then the Session is within its right to do so.  This author has no argument with such a decision.

My argument is simply this, that there is no support in Scripture for civil government to prohibit church meetings, whether it be on the Lord’s Day or any other day, and that those civil magistrates who do prohibit such gatherings of the Lord’s people have overstepped their God-given authority and are sinning thereby.

Let us turn now to the Scriptural proofs.

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John Robbins

John W. Robbins

I’ve studied the work of John Robbins for twenty years now, but I still find myself amazed at his ability to articulate profound ideas in simple direct language.

I recently re-listened to his lecture Money, Freedom and the Bible and found the following gems from Robbins in his responses to audience questions after his talk was over.

Crime Punishment versus Crime Prevention

22:41 But again it would seem that there were no regulatory police in ancient Israel. The buyers and sellers were responsible for making sure that they were not being cheated.  And if detected in fraud, a person was subject to stiff penalties. Biblical law follows the principle of punishing wrong doers rather than trying to regulate everyone in the hope of preventing wrongdoing.

The Law of Jubilee

34:37 So the law of Jubilee is gone.  That ended at the resurrection of Christ.  Incidentally, there’s no record of ancient Israel ever observing the law of Jubilee throughout the Old Testament.  The law was on the books but it was not observed.

Sins and Crimes / Rendering What is Due to Caesar and to God

35:25 The Bible condemns many things as sins, that it does not give the authority to civil government to punish.  The things that it gives the authority to civil government to punish are specifically listed when there are civil penalties involved. If there is no civil penalty, we can only conclude that, although this particular action or thought is immoral, government has no right to punish it.  I think it’s important that Paul said that the purpose of the ruler is to punish wrongdoers, not wrong thinkers. He says wrongdoers.  I think every word is important. And there you have the beginning of the idea of freedom of opinion, freedom of conscience. Just as when Christ said render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars and to God the thing that are Gods, you have for the first time a challenge to the totalitarian state of Greece and Rome. Up to then everything was Caesars.  Everything was rendered to Caesar. Or everything was rendered to the polis.  The polis could kill Socrates for corrupting the youth of Athens. But Christ first made the distinction, he said some things were Caesars and some things were not Caesars. And we’re to render to each what is his due.

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