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Posts Tagged ‘Scripturalism’

Soleimani_Car Remains

Credit…Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office, via Associated Press

“[B]ecause of our foreign policy of interventionism developed in the twentieth century, and because of our more recent policy of pre-emptive war, the United States has become the primary target of militant Muslims worldwide.”

 

U.S. Strike in Iraq Kills Qassim Suleimani, Commander of Iranian Forces,” ran the New York Times headline.  Why did the US take this drastic action?  The article’s subheadline explaines, “Suleimani was planning attacks on Americans across the region, leading to an airstrike in Baghdad, the Pentagon statement said.”

This explanation is not something made up by the New York Times.  Rather, it is the same explanation given by official Washington for the deadly January 3 drone strike in Baghdad.

In his remarks from Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump, after asserting that his highest and most solemn duty was the defense of our nation, claimed that, “Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him…We took action last night to stop a war.  We did not take action to start a war.”

PBS reports Secretary of State Mike Pompeo giving similar justification in an interview he did with CNN.  According to PBS, Pompeo said that Gen. Qassem Soleimani “was actively plotting in the region to take actions, the big action as he described it, that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk.  We know it was imminent.   This was an intelligence-based assessment that drove our decision-making process.”

Reuters reported Pompeo’s remarks from January 3 thus, “last night was the time that we needed to strike to make sure that this imminent attack  that he was working actively was disrupted.”

Finally, the National Review quoted Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran, saying, “The President’s first responsibility is the safety of the American people.  Qasem Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks in the region against Americans in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon that could have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people.”

One common thread that links all four quotes above is the word “imminent.”  We are told by all three gentlemen that General Soleimani was not merely plotting to harm Americans, but that his attack or attacks were “imminent.” Therefore, they argue, the President’s decision to drone Soleimani – in his January 3 statement quoted above, President Trump said “Last night, at my direction, the United States military successfully executed a flawless precision strike” thus taking responsibility for the decision – ought not be viewed as an act of aggression, but rather as one of self-defense.

The term “imminent” is key to understanding the reasoning behind the killing of Soleimani as well as determining whether the President’s decision was a moral one.  The reason “imminent” is such a key term relative to Soleimani’s death is that it’s the tip-off, the big tell, that this attack was carried out using the doctrine of preemptive war as the theoretical framework to justify the decision by the President to kill the Iranian general.

So what is the doctrine of preemptive war?  Let’s take a look.

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2020

Once again, I find myself looking back at the year past and peering forward at the one to come.   As is no doubt the case with many, this is for me a bittersweet annual experience.  By God’s grace, I can say that I have been partially successful in redeeming the time.  But a little honest reflection convicts me that I could have, and should have, done better.

Sin, it would seem, is ever present with me, tainting even my best works.

But thanks be to God, for it is not my own works that justify me.  Rather, I am acceptable to God “only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to [me], and received by faith [belief] alone.”

Truly, the grace of God is amazing toward sinners! It’s as if God were to say to us wretched rebels, “All your guilt, all your hopelessness, all your fear of death and of righteous judgment and of eternal punishment, these things I have taken away in my Son.  Only believe in him and be saved from the wrath to come.”

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Fake News

“You are of your father the devil…When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

  • John 8:44

“I can confidently say,” wrote columnist Paul Craig Roberts in a recent article, “that unless it is an announcement of a traffic accident (terrorist unrelated) or the death of some notable person, everything you read and hear from NPR and the print and TV media is false.  Roberts continued, “The ‘news’ is propaganda designed to control explanations to serve the agendas of the ruling elites.  The ‘news’ is nothing else.  The ‘news’ is extremely hostile to truth and to those who speak it.”

As someone who’s had a life-long interest in the news, politics and economics, I find it hard to argue with Robert’s assessment of the state of the news media.  All of us in the West, it matters not whether you live in the US or any other Western nation, are under constant assault by thought shaping organs of propaganda known collectively as the mainstream media.

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Financial Crisis

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.”

    – Luke 21:20-21

Last week we looked at the third of three case studies in prepping from the Old Testament, Joseph, Prime Minister of Egypt. The other two case studies were the accounts of Noah and the end of the world as he knew it and Lot’s narrow escape from Sodom. This week, I’d like to turn our attention to the New Testament and in particular to the teaching of Jesus himself that relate to the subject of prepping.

But before turning to Jesus’ teachings on prepping, it’s worth taking a little time to review the events in the financial markets last week. The general title for this series The Ongoing Financial Crisis of 2008, because it is the contention of this author that the crisis which manifested itself that year, sometimes referred to as the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), has never gone away. Rather, the symptoms only were treated by massive money printing by the world’s leading central banks and other financial fakery, a great deal of which probably is still kept under wraps by the powers that shouldn’t be.

The first event from last week I’d like to look at was the New York Fed’s (The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the most prominent of the Fed’s regional banks) bailing out the overnight Repo market to the tune of $53 billion late Tuesday night, early Wednesday morning, September 17th and 18th. Now you may be asking, “So just what is the overnight Repo and why should I even care?” Good questions.

Investopedia defines a Repurchase Agreement (Repo) as, “a form of short-term borrowing for dealers in government securities. In the case of a repo, a dealer sells government securities to investors, usually on an overnight basis, and buys them back the following day…Repos are typically used to raise short-term capital…Classified as a money-market instrument, a repurchase agreement functions in effect as a short-term, collateral-backed, interest-bearing loan. The buyer acts as a short-term lender, while the seller acts as a short-term borrower. The securities being sold are the collateral.”

For most of us, the repo market is a fairly obscure corner of the financial system, something that runs in the background. But what happened overnight while most of us slept was a sudden spike in the repo interest rate, which the week before had been 2.29%, but shot up to 10% before the Fed stepped in. As CNN reported, this was the first time the fed had to bail out the overnight repo market since late 2008, which just happened to be the height of the financial crisis.

The Fed conducted further bailouts on Wednesday night and Thursday night.

Finally, on Friday the Fed announced that it would conduct daily repurchasing operations through October 10.

One big takeaway from operation repo is that market forces want to take interest rates higher, which is exactly the opposite of what the Fed wants to have happen.

Which brings me to the second event of note in the financial markets last week, the Fed’s announcement that it was lowing interest rates by 0.25%. This is the second such announcement in the past two months, the previous one coming at the end of July.

Many mainstream commentators are confused by the Fed’s decision to lower interest rates. The reason is that lowing interest rates is something central banks do when the economy is struggling, but the official line is that the American economy is doing great and has never been better. Why is this?

Think of interest rates as the price of money. If the economy is doing well, this means businesses are borrowing to expand their facilities to keep up with demand, consumers and taking out car and home loans. And what happens when demand for a thing increases? All other things equal, the price goes up. With respect to demand for loans, this means that interest rates go up.

The opposite is the case when the economy is doing poorly. There is little demand from businesses to expand, so there is little demand for business loans. Consumers don’t have the income to support car an home loans, so they too are unable to take on debt to fund these purchases. When demand for money decreases, its price, that is to say the interest rate, tends to drop.

This is where the confusion comes in. Donald Trump is out there telling the whole world that the American economy is doing great, while at the same time forcefully arguing for lower interest rates. The Fed’s decision to lower rates strongly suggests that the economy is not doing as well as the Trump administration would like you to believe. Taken together with the Fed’s needing to bail out the repo market, lower interest rates are another data point suggesting an oncoming recession.

A third item of note from last week was the return of talk about a not too far off return to Quantitative Easing (QE) from none other than Fed Chairman Jay Powell. In plain English, QE is simply massive money printing (aka counterfeiting) by central banks to buy assets no one else wants to keep interest rates under control. First employed during as an emergency during the 2008 crisis, QE is now being seriously discussed in public. Question: If the economy really is as great as the powers that shouldn’t be want us to believe, why is the Fed talking about bringing back QE?

In the opinion of this writer, the three items mentioned above – the Fed’s bailout of the repo market, it’s decision to lower interest rates, and talk about QE – strongly suggest the Fed is worried about major problems in the financial system, perhaps even a financial crisis, just around the corner and strongly suggest what the Fed will do to combat those problems: print money.

So, what are Christians to make of all this? The most logical conclusion is that we are, in fact, facing a major financial storm and we need to rig for heavy weather. That is to say, we need to get prepared and to stay prepared. All which brings us back to where we started, the teachings of Christ on the subject of prepping.

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Financial Crisis

There were at least a three noteworthy events in the financial markets this past week. In the first place there was outgoing European Central Bank (ECB) head Mario Draghi’s announcement of what some are calling QE Infinity (Infinite Quantitative Easing). According to Draghi, the ECB will begin asset purchases at the rate of €20 billon per month for as long as it deems necessary, “to reinforce th accommodative impact of its polity rates.”

Translating all this central bank talk into plain English, Draghi has committed the ECB to counterfeit an absurd about of money on a monthly basis just to make sure the European economy doesn’t collapse. Further, there is no definite stopping point to this program. Draghi’s policy is both sinful and incompetent. It is sinful, because it violates the Bible’s clear teaching that differing weights and measures are an abomination to the Lord It is incompetent, because it fails not only to address the real reasons for the economic problems in the nations that use the Euro currency, but actually makes them worse.


Second was Donald Trump’s calling for the Federal Reserve to lower “interest rates down to ZERO , or less.” This is a remarkable statement by the President, and has left many asking why he made it. The short story is this, the American economy is not as good as what Trump and others have tried to convey and the President is concerned that, if the Fed doesn’t cut interest rates, the stock market will tank and the economy will fall into recession. Neither of these things would be good for his reelection chances.

Of course, neither a Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) nor a Negative Interest Rate Policy (NIRP) would be good for the country, especially for those who rely on interest income from their savings, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the President.

A third noteworthy item of financial news from last week was the sudden spike in the 10-year US Treasury interest rate. The 10-year US Treasury is considered the benchmark interest rate for the entire bond market. More than that, the 10-year Treasury is the benchmark which goes a long way to determining the price of stocks as well.

When interest rates move sharply upward, this means that the price paid for bonds has gone sharply down. Bond interest rates and bond prices move in opposite directions, much as the ends of a teeter-totter do. If yields are going up, this means that there is a selloff in the bond market.

So bonds are selling off, what does this mean? Peter Schiff and Gregory Mannarino have warned that this could portend a larger bond selloff as holders of US Treasuries become nervous about the financial condition of the US. Mannarino is of the opinion that China may be the major actor here.

Another interpretation is that the Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF) – the ESF is part of the US Treasury Department – is manipulating the 10-year interest rate to make sure that the yield on the 10-year Treasury stays well above the yield on the 2-year Treasury, thus preventing an inverted yield curve, which is a strong recession indicator.

These moves in the bond market are important, yet most people don’t follow the bond market nearly as much as the stock market. But it’s the bond market that controls what goes on in the stock market, not the other way around. If we ever do get an uncontrolled selloff in the bond market – this would mean sharply higher interest rates, remember when bond prices go down, interest rates go up – you would see a simultaneous crash in all markets that derive their value from debt: stocks, and housing in particular.

Put another way, if the bond market tanks, the whole economy tanks.

One thing all three bits of news above have in common is that they are all related to what I’ve called the Ongoing Financial Crisis of 2008. My contention is that, due to the interventions of governments and central banks, the debt problem that triggered the 2008 global financial crisis not only was not solved, but actually made worse. Calls for QE Infinity, ZIRP, and NIRP together shaky bond markets are all symptoms of this.

In light of the fact that the serious problems with the West’s financial system have never been addresses, and given the foolishness of Western leaders, never will be voluntarily addressed, it seems wise to this author for Christians to take steps to protect themselves from a breakdown in the financial system now.

It is this need to get prepared and stay prepared, together with a conviction that very little has been written for Christians by Christians on this subject, that have prompted me to write this series in the first place.

As part of this series on the financial crisis and on getting prepared for it, I have been examining what the Bible has to say about prepping. As a Scripturalist – a Scripturalist is defined as one who believes that all knowledge is either expressly set forth, or can be derived by good and necessary inference, from the 66 books of the Bible – it is critical to ground all prepping the Word of God.

One question to ask is this, Does the Bible support prepping? The clear answer is, yes it does. This can been seen in the numerous, clear examples in the Scriptures of those took steps to prevent suffering and death, both their own and that of others, by taking preventive measures in the face of oncoming catastrophe. “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,” says Proverbs, “but the simple pass on and are punished.”

A second question to ask is, What should Christians do to get prepared? I contend that Christians must answer this question in the same as the first, by looking to the Scriptures. As part of this series, we’ve already looked at two examples, that of Noah and that of Lot. Today, I’d like to turn the reader’s attention to another obvious example from Genesis, the case of Joseph, Prime Minister of Egypt.

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John Robbins“Many people in relatively orthodox churches are confused about sanctification,” wrote John Robbins in the forward to Gordon Clark’s book Sanctification.

And not only is there a great deal of confusion about sanctification, but the errors people make on this doctrine place them in two broad categories: mystics and workers.

Mystics, as Robbins points out, are those who say of sanctification, “Let go and let God.” They tend to be Charismatics. On the other hand, the workers think that justification is by grace but sanctification is by works. Such persons tend to be Reformed.

Neither of these approaches to sanctification is Biblical.

Before talking about what sanctification is, Robbins notes that salvation, “from start to finish, from election to glorification, from eternity to eternity, is all of grace.”

Robbins notes that justification – God’s declaring us legally righteous and pardoning all our sins – is by grace alone, through faith alone apart from any works. Further, justification is wholly outside us. It is a work that God has done for us by imputing – to impute means to ascribe or to reckon – Christ’s perfect righteousness to us. Justification is not a work done in us.

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