The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Gospel Truths of Christ’s Early Life and the Beginning of His Earthly Ministry

Of the Christian festivals, Christmas and Easter tend to overshadow all the rest. This is understandable as these feasts commemorate the foundational truths of the Incarnation of the Son of God and His Resurrection from the dead. The fundamental importance of these truths, however, is no reason to overlook the other events in Christ’s life that the Church has traditionally seen fit to honour for these events have significance in the economy of salvation and the unveiling of God’s revelation of Himself to the world that is well worth our consideration.

The period following immediately after Christmas and preceding the Lenten preparation for Easter includes several feast days which honour events in Christ’s early life as well as the event which marked the beginning of His earthly public ministry. The Epiphany on January 6th is the most important of these and every Sunday until the beginning of Lent (1) is identified simply as the first, second, etc. Sunday after Epiphany. Epiphany is very closely tied to Christmas – in the Eastern Church, they are one and the same feast, and even in the West, where Epiphany is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, the event which it points back to, the visit of the Magi to the infant Christ is inseparable from the rest of the Christmas narrative. The visit of these Gentile wise men from the East who had been watching for the star of “he that is born King of the Jews” points to the truth that the Lord Jesus, while He was indeed the Messiah, the deliver promised to national Israel through the prophets, was the Redeemer also of all the nations of the world.

Prior to the Epiphany there is another event from Christ’s early life that is honoured on January 1st. In the secular calendar this is New Year’s Day but in the Western liturgical calendar it is the Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord falling, as it does, on the octave day of Christmas, i.e., the number of days after Christmas on which a Jewish boy would be circumcised after his birth in accordance with the commandment given to Abraham (Gen. 17:12). The telling of this event occupies the space of a single verse in the entire Scriptures, the twenty-first verse of the second chapter of the Gospel According to St. Luke which reads:

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the Angel before he was conceived in the womb.

For the significance of this event in the economy of salvation, however, we must turn to the book of Galatians. Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, beautifully explained this in a sermon preached before King James I at Whitehall on Christmas Day 1609 (2) on the text Galatians 4:4, 5:

When the fullness of time was come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law. That He might redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Commenting on the phrase “made under the Law” Andrewes said:

And when did He this? When was He “made under the Law?” Even then when He was circumcised. For this doth St. Paul testify in the third of the next chapter, “Behold, I Paul testify unto you whosoever is circumcised,” factus est debitor universae Legis, “he becomes a debtor to the whole Law.” At His Circumcision then He entered bon anew with us; and in sign that so He did He shed then a few drops of His blood, whereby He signed the bond as it were, and gave those few drops then, tanquam arrham universi sanguinis effundendi, ‘as a pledge or earnest,’ that “when the fullness of time came,” ‘He would be ready to shed all the rest;’ as He did….Well, this He did undertake for us at His circumcision, and therefore then and not till then He had His Name given Him, the name of Jesus, a Saviour. For then took He on Him the obligation to save us. And look, what then at His Circumcision He undertook, at His Passion He paid even to the full: and having paid it, delevit chirographum, “cancelled the sentence of the Law” that till then was of record and stood in full force against us.

It was an event brief in the telling but packed with significance.

Immediately after his mention of the circumcision, St. Luke’s Gospel jumps ahead thirty-three days to the day when, in accordance with the instructions in the twelfth chapter of Leviticus, His mother’s post-natal purification period being ended, He was brought to the Temple in Jerusalem, presented as the first-born son, and an offering made on His behalf. As with the circumcision, in this event Christ fulfilled a requirement of the Law albeit as a passive participant. The account tells of two encounters that took place during this visit to the Temple in which elderly servants of the Lord, Simeon and Anna the Prophetess recognized the infant Jesus as the promised Messiah. This event has been celebrated since ancient times on the fortieth day after Christmas, February 2nd in a Feast that has many names. In the East it is called Hypapante, a Greek word which means “meeting” and clearly emphasizes the encounters with Simeon and Anna. In the West it is known as the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, the Purification of St. Mary the Virgin, or more commonly, Candlemas, from the ancient custom of bringing candles to church to be blessed on this day. The candles signify light, the relevance of which to this particular Feast is to be found in the canticle Nunc Dimmitis which Simeon proclaimed upon taking the infant Messiah in his arms. He declared the Child to be “a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” Note how the significance we observed in the visit of the Magi reappears here in the words of Simeon. Christ said of Himself that He is the “light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5), and He called His disciples to be the same (Matt. 5:14). This is a theme of all of these Feasts which receives a particular emphasis in that of the Presentation.

Christ’s birth, circumcision, the visitation of the Magi, and His presentation in the Temple, commemorated in the West on Christmas, New Year’s, Epiphany and Candlemas respectively, are all we are told in Scripture about the infancy of Christ and, except for the account of His visit to the Temple when twelve, all that the Scriptures tell us about His earthly life prior to the beginning of His public ministry. The event which marked the beginning of His earthly ministry is also commemorated in this time period. It too is traditionally associated with Epiphany. The name Epiphany comes from the Greek word for “manifestation” a word that is very appropriate for the way it has been applied by the Church to both the Visit of the Magi and the Baptism of the Lord – and, in the East, to His birth. The Baptism of the Lord was appointed to be celebrated along with the Visit of the Magi on Epiphany itself by the early Church and this continues to be the Eastern custom. In the West it may be celebrated on the Epiphany or in the following octave, usually on the next Sunday or Monday. It commemorates an event which is told in all four Gospels and which has great revelatory and soteriological significance.

The revelatory significance of the Baptism is, of course, Trinitarian. For while there are references to the Word/Son of God and the Spirit of God throughout the Old Testament, beginning with the Creation account, it is at the Baptism that all Three Persons appear manifest together in their distinctiveness, relationships, and essential unity. The Father speaks from Heaven, identifying His Son and declaring Himself to be well pleased with Him, as the Holy Spirit visually descends from the Father upon the Son.

The Gospel According to St. Matthew records that when Jesus went to John the Baptist to be baptized, John initially refused, objecting that “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” To understand his objection, we must understand the nature of his message and ministry. John the Baptist had been preaching in the wilderness, proclaiming that the long awaited Kingdom of Heaven was at hand and calling upon Israel to repent of their sins. The baptism that he administered in the Jordan River was a symbol of that repentance. Those who received his baptism confessed their sins as they did so and John himself said of his baptism “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance.” Jesus had no sin of which He needed to repent. Hence John’s objection – the impeccable Jesus ought to be the One administering baptism rather than taking the place of a penitent sinner and receiving it. Jesus’ answer was “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” What did He mean by this?

Jesus’ earthly ministry ended with His being betrayed, arrested, and then crucified. He had committed no sin, much less a crime worthy of capital punishment. He had told His disciples that this would happen, however, and after His Resurrection He explained to them why it happened, which they in turn passed on to us. St. Peter wrote:

Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (I Peter 2:21-24)

Or, in the more concise words of St. Paul, “he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (II Corinthians 5:21)

This was the mission on which He had been sent into the world – to take the place of sinners as the spotless sacrifice that would satisfy the offended justice of God and restore fallen man to God’s favour bringing forgives and pardon, reconciliation and peace. Just as His ministry ended, so it began, with Him taking the place of sinners in undergoing John’s baptism. This is what He meant when He said “thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” Everything which God’s Law required, Jesus fulfilled perfectly on behalf of the rest of mankind whose sins prevented us from meeting the requirements. This included the ceremonial requirements fulfilled by His circumcision and presentation in the Temple, the moral requirements fulfilled by His life of perfect obedience, and finally, the full payment of the penalty that had been incurred by those who had not been able to meet these other requirements, i.e., everybody else. Under the Law, repentance was the condition for forgiveness of sin. The prophet Ezekiel spelled it out this way:

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? (Ezekiel 18:20-23).

Fallen human nature being what it is, however, we are as incapable of repenting so perfectly as to never sin again as were incapable of producing perfect obedience to the Law in the first place. When Christ took the place of the repentant sinner and underwent the baptism of John He signified that He undertook to make good for human failure with regards to this requirement of the Law as well. This, of course, no more excuses us from the responsibility to sincerely confess our sins and strive to repent of them any more than Christ’s perfect obedience gives us a license to disobey God but it places repentance like obedience on a completely different basis under the Gospel than it was under the Law. Under the Gospel God freely gives to man in Christ everything which He required of man under the Law. The message of the Law is “do and live”, the message of the Gospel is “it is done, believe and live” and our doing, under the Gospel, flows out of the life that we receive by believing. Under the Law God required that a sinner completely turn around and change his ways in order to be forgiven. Under the Gospel God gives to the sinner who believes in Jesus Christ a full pardon of all his sins and along with the pardon He gives the Holy Spirit Whose ministries of regeneration and sanctification gradually produce over the course of our lives the transformation of mind and behaviour that God required of the sinner under the Law. We are to repent of our sins and obey God to the best of our ability, but under the Gospel we are to place no confidence whatsoever in our own repentance or obedience but to confess our best efforts at either to fall far short of what God requires and to place all of our faith in Christ and His perfect and sufficient merits.

That Christ came under the Law and met all of its requirements perfectly so as to place us in a new standing with God under the Gospel, a standing of grace, is a theme which, like that of Christ as “light of the world” runs through all of these events of His early life and ministry. These are very important themes indeed and it is well that the Church honours these events annually giving us opportunity to contemplate them.

(1) Or, in the older liturgical calendar prior the revisions of the last century, until Shrovetide, the two and a half weeks prior to Ash Wednesday.
(2) This is the fourth in the first volume of Lancelot Andrewes, Ninety-Six Sermons, compiled and edited by Bishops William Laud and John Buckeridge at the command of King Charles I following Andrewes death and first published in 1629.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

In Honour of Laud

A Relation of the Conference Between William Laud, Late Lord Archbishop of Canterbury and Mr. Fisher the Jesuit, By the Command of King James, by William Laud, Forgotten Books, 2012, a reproduction of the Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1839, edition.

At the very core of the progressive activism which since the French Revolution has been known as the left is the idea of the sovereignty of man. Liberalism stresses the sovereignty of the individual, modern democracy the sovereignty of the people, but both assert the sovereignty of man against the sovereignty of God and the authority which He has delegated on earth to kings and His Church. It is Satanic in nature, a continuation on earth of the rebellion which Satan began in heaven in the primordial past. As Dr. Johnson so astutely put it, “the first Whig was the devil.”

At three notable moments in its sordid modern history, the English Civil War, the French Revolution, and the Bolshevik Revolution, the left lifted its violent hands to shed the blood of a royal monarch. In each case they then proceeded to unleash bloodshed on a scale that demonstrates that those willing to shed the blood of the highest person in the commonwealth will not hesitate to kill anyone and everyone of lower stature who stands in their way. In each case the king – or Tsar – was declared an “enemy of the people” by the left, despite the fact that he was loved by his people and had been actively working to improve their conditions through reforms. In each case the king took seriously his role as protector of the Church in his country – the Church of England, in the case of Charles I, the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches in the cases of Louis XVI and Nicholas II respectively. In each case this contributed significantly to the intense hatred his enemies felt towards him.

The first of these royal martyrdoms, that of Charles I of England and Scotland, was proceeded by another martyrdom, that of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury. He was beheaded on January 10th, 1645, four years and twenty days before his king met the same fate. (1) His enemies were the same as those of the king, and the accusations they made against him were similar. These enemies were the Puritans – hyper-Protestants, for whom the reforms made by Thomas Cranmer et al. in the Edwardian era, and reinstated as the established status quo for the Church of England in the Elizabethan Settlement, did not go far enough and who insisted that the Church’s theology, organization, and worship be restructured after the model established by John Calvin in Geneva. While the content of their belief system is obviously worlds apart from that of their secular descendants, the same spirit of seditious rebellion against lawfully established authority that turns to tyrannical oppression once it has succeeded in usurping power that showed itself in the Jacobins and Bolsheviks was also clearly manifest in the Puritans. Their animosity towards Laud went back as far as his student days. While pursuing his doctorate at St. John’s College of Oxford University in the last year of the reign of Elizabeth I, he incurred the ire of the University’s Vice Chancellor, a leading Puritan named George Abbot, who would later become Laud’s immediate predecessor in the See of Canterbury and the primacy of the English Church. Laud, in a sponsored lecture at his College, defended the position that Christ’s Church had continued to be both present and visible in the world from Apostolic time onward, being represented prior to the Reformation by the Latin, Greek, and Oriental Churches. This convinced Abbot, who thought otherwise, that Laud harboured longings to bring the English Church back under the rule of the pope. The Puritans would make this same accusation against him, with increasing intensity, throughout his career. The pettiness of the grounds of these accusations increased with their intensity. When he was made Dean of Gloucester Cathedral in 1616, for example, he instructed that the communion table be moved back from the nave to its pre-Elizabethan position at the east end of the chancel and a communion rail placed around it. For the Puritans this was irrefutable evidence of “popery.” Most of the Puritan “evidence” of Laud’s supposed hearkening after Rome was of this nature and pertained only to matters concerning the external aesthetics of worship.

The ultimate answer to the Puritans’ false charge that Laud sought to undo the work of the English Reformers and place the English Church back under the papal system is the book with which we are concerned here. A brief telling of the events that led to its publication is in order. George Villiers was a favourite courtier of King James I. He was made a Duke in 1623 and is the same Duke of Buckingham, a highly fictionalized version of whose alleged romance with French Queen, Anne of Austria, and assassination at the hands of the disgruntled Puritan soldier, John Felton, features in Alexandre Dumas père’s The Three Musketeers. In 1622, while still at the rank of marquis, his household was shaken with religious controversy. His mother, Mary Beaumont, Countess of Buckingham, announced that she intended to join the Church of Rome and his wife who had converted to the Anglican Church at their marriage had returned to the Roman Church, hoping to persuade her husband to join her. King James intervened and arranged for a three day conference to take place in the royal presence between the Jesuit who had been instrumental in the Countess’ conversion, John Percy, SJ, who went under the alias Fisher and representatives of the Anglican Church. Obviously, the Buckingham family was present also. The royal chaplain, Francis White, argued the Protestant cause on the first day of the conference, King James took up the Anglican cudgels himself on the second, and on the third and final day William Laud was the representative of the Church of England. This intervention, while temporarily successful, ultimately failed to prevent the Countess’ conversion to Rome and Percy published his account of the affair in which he comes across as having had the upper hand in the debate. White and Laud both disputed this account, of course, and a pamphlet war between Percy and White began. Laud’s own narrative in response to Percy’s account was first published pseudonymously in 1624. Two years later someone, presumably Percy, published a reply under the name “A. C.” In 1639, the final version of Laud’s Relation, expanded, at the request of King Charles I, to include his rejoinder to “A. C.”, was published under Laud’s own name.

That anyone could have knowledge of this book and still take seriously the Puritans’ accusations of crypto-Romanism against Laud is difficult to believe. For while Laud clearly comes across as being Catholic in the primitive sense of the word, that is to say the sense in which it was used in the early centuries of the Church before any lasting schism, it is just as clear that he was thoroughly Protestant. It is a much more skillful response to the Roman Church’s claims against the English than Jewel’s Apology, and it is no wonder, therefore, that when, just prior to his martyrdom, King Charles I summoned his daughter Elizabeth to him and told her that he was about to go to his death “for the laws of the land and for maintaining the true Protestant religion” he presented her with a copy of this book, along with Richard Hooker’s Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie and Lancelot Andrewes’ Sermons.

In his answers to the Jesuit he made full use of the St. John’s education, built “upon the noble foundation of the Fathers, the Councils, and the Ecclesiastical Historians” of which the bishop who had ordained him, Dr. John Young of Rochester, had spoken so highly. The central theme is the Roman Church’s claim to infallibility which appears to have been what attracted the Countess to it. Laud systematically, rationally, and with ample use of his encyclopedic knowledge of the Fathers, argued against papal infallibility and the infallibility of general councils. The primacy of the See of Rome that was acknowledged early in the history of the Church, was not regarded as conveying supreme authority over other bishops, much less the other patriarchs, by anyone other than the bishop of Rome himself for a millennium, and was originally based, not on who had founded the patriarchy – St Peter had also been the first bishop of Antioch and that prior to his period in Rome – but upon Rome’s being the first city of the Empire. The Roman Church is a true Church, he argued, albeit one riddled with error, but not the true Church, i.e., the Catholic or whole Church. No particular Church, is the Catholic Church, he argued in an early, and more inclusive, version of William Palmer’s “branch theory”, but rather each particular Church – the Roman, Eastern, and Oriental, as well as the English and other Protestant Churches, at least those of the Magisterial Reformation are themselves daughters of the mother or Catholic Church. Rome may be one the elder daughters, but she is not the oldest – it was from Jerusalem, that the faith spread out to all nations, the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch, and, Laud noted “Nor is it an opinion destitute either of authority or probability, that the faith of Christ was preached and the sacraments administered here in England, before any settlement of a church in Rome”, citing Gildas the Wise as saying that Christianity had come to Brittany before the end of the reign of Tiberius. The English Reformers, in rejecting the pope’s usurped authority over the English Church, had simply restored the more ancient custom, in which the Church is part of the commonwealth and subject to the civil prince. The guilt of schism in the Protestant Reformation, he argued, belongs to the Church of Rome because she, in her stubborn clinging to error and refusing to undergo necessary reforms, had forced the Protestants out.

Laud’s arguments against the Roman doctrines of papal and conciliar infallibility are also a masterful defence of the first of the cardinal doctrines of the Reformation – sola Scriptura. Not the perverted form of this doctrine that the Puritans inclined to, in which everything between the close of the canon and the Reformation was to be thrown out, but as the first Reformers originally intended it, that the Holy Scriptures, as the written Word of God, are the only infallible authority and are therefore supreme over the Church, and all of its teachings, practices, and traditions. That the Scriptures as the written Word of God are infallible – what today, would be called the “fundamentalist” view of the Scriptures by those who for rationalistic reasons reject this view – was taken by Laud as a point on which the two sides were in agreement, while he carefully dissected the Roman claim that the Church is the source of the Bible’s authority, rather than the other way around. He demonstrated that neither did the Fathers hold the Roman position, nor were contemporary Roman theologians consistent with regards to it. His response to what Roman apologists often regard as the clinching argument in their case, i.e., that there is no list of the canonical books within the Scriptures themselves and so we must know what they are by means of another authority, the Church, is superb. It is quite possibly the best Protestant response to this argument ever written, certainly the best that I have ever read. Our knowledge of what books constitute the infallible Scriptures, he argued, rests upon multiple grounds, and while the tradition and teaching of the Church may very well be that which bring us to our initial faith that these books are God’s authoritative revelation, it is by means of the character of the books themselves, their inner light, that the Holy Spirit confirms and strengthens that faith as we recognize in them the quality which the Church claims for them. Laud illustrated this point with the account of the Samaritan woman at the well in the fourth chapter of the Holy Gospel According to St. John. She initially told her townspeople about Jesus and after they had encountered Him themselves they said “Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”

Since Laud’s focus, like that of the original conference, was upon this question of which is supreme, an infallible Church over the Scriptures or the infallible Scriptures over the Church, less space is devoted to other matters of difference between Rome and the Reformers, but they do come up, especially in the supporting arguments to Laud’s extended answer to Fisher’s position that since Laud, and other Protestants, conceded the possibility of salvation within the Roman Church, while the Roman Church denied it to those outside of their own fellowship, it was safer to join the Roman Church since both sides agreed salvation was possible within her. Laud’s expert answer demonstrates that this form of reasoning, if consistently applied, would support the Donatist position against the Catholic position in the fourth century – both sides agreed that baptism administered by the Donatists was valid, while the Donatists did not acknowledge Catholic baptisms as valid. He also argued that this reasoning could be used support the Arian position against the Orthodox, since both sides agreed about the humanity of Jesus while the one side denied His full deity. He showed this very form of reasoning to be fundamentally flawed and in the course of arguing his case made clear his Protestant positions on a number of matters, including that salvation is based upon the merits of Christ alone rather than those of the believer. He quoted the Roman apologist Bellarmine as saying “that in regard of the uncertainty of our own righteousness, and of the danger of vainglory, tutissimum est, it is safest to repose our whole trust in the mercy and goodness of God”, to which he immediately answered:

And surely, if there be one safer way than another, as he confesses there is, he is no wise man, that in a matter of so great moment will not betake himself to the safest way. And therefore even you yourselves in the point of condignity of merit, though you write it and preach it boisterously to the people, yet you are content to die, renouncing the condignity of all your own merits, and trust to Christ’s. Now surely, if you will not venture to die as you live, live and believe in time as you mean to die.

These are unmistakably the words of a man who stood with Luther and Cranmer on the four remaining solas of the Protestant Reformation. He explained that his concession of the possibility of salvation in the Roman Church is based upon that Church’s having an orthodox foundation in the Creeds, but that the structure of error that Rome has erected upon that foundation is great hindrance to it.

Laud, as was first evident in his restoration of the dilapidated Gloucester Cathedral when he was made Dean and much more evident in his reforms upon attaining the primacy of the English Church, was a man who held to a strong aesthetic of worship, believing that the outward form of the Church and its worship should reflect as much as possible the inward “beauty of holiness” of which the Psalmist wrote. The Puritans saw in this defection from their impoverished aesthetic of simplicity a tendency towards Rome but when it came down to the substance of the disagreement between the Roman Church and the Reformers on this issue, Laud clearly stood with the Reformers. After arguing that Rome had defected from the practice of the early Catholic Church, which commemorated the martyrs but did not invoke them, and taking the position that the Church should look for its prayers to be answered on the basis of the merits of Christ rather than the intercession of the saints, Laud wrote with regards to the adoration of images:

And for adoration of images, the ancient church knew it not. And the modern church of Rome is too like to paganism in the practice of it, and driven to scarce intelligible subtilties in her servants’ writings that defend it; and this without any care had of millions of souls, unable to understand her subtilties or shun her practice.

After offering several evidences in support of this contention, culminating in a quotation from a Roman apologist to the effect that images of Christ, the Virgin, and the Saints are not worshipped for any inherent deity, but merely as representations, of which he made the comment “And what, I pray, did or could any pagan priest say more than this?” Laud wrote:

And now I pray A. C. do you be judge, whether this proposition do not teach idolatry, and whether the modern church of Rome be not grown too like paganism in this point. For my own part I heartily wish it were not, and that men of learning would not strain their wits to spoil the truth and rent the peace of the church of Christ, by such dangerous and superstitious vanities; for better they are not, but hey may be worse: nay, these and their like have given so great a scandal among us, to some ignorant, though, I presume, well meaning men, that they are afraid to testify their duty to God even in his own house, by any outward gesture at all. Insomuch that those very ceremonies, which by the judgement of godly and learned men have now long continued in the practice of this church, suffer hard measure for the Romish superstition’s sake.

It appears quite evident that Laud was capable of distinguishing between “Romish superstition” on the one hand and ancient ceremonies and traditions on the other and that he rejected the former while contending for the latter against those ignorant men, whom he charitably presumed to be “well meaning”, i.e., the Puritans, who incapable of making this distinction wished to throw all ancient ceremonial out.

Laud believed and taught the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. To the Puritans this was tantamount to embracing the entire doctrine of the Roman Church regarding the Mass. Laud, however, had made it quite clear what he thought of the doctrine of Transubstantiation, which is the Roman Church’s claim that when the priest pronounces the words of institution the substance of the bread and wine is replaced with the body and blood of Christ and only the appearance of the former remains. This, he maintained in the context of his argument against conciliar infallibility, “was never heard of in the primitive church, nor till the council of Lateran; nor can it be proved out of scripture; and taken properly cannot stand with the grounds of the Christian religion.” He was even more scathing with regards to the Roman practice of withholding the wine from the laity, which he quite rightly said violates both the practice of the ancient Church and the direct commandment of Christ. When he articulated his own understanding of the Real Presence, moreover, he was willing to affirm no more than what the English Church affirms (see Article XXVIII) which in his words is “that in the most blessed sacrament the worthy receiver is by his faith made spiritually partaker of the true and real body and blood of Christ, truly and really, and of all the benefits of his passion.” Transubstantiation, he went on to say, was how the Roman Church explained the “manner of this his presence” just as Consubstantiation was how the Lutherans explained the same, but the English Church was willing to leave the matter unexplained and so was he. This was most embarrassing to his Puritan opponents for these regarded themselves as strict followers of John Calvin and his view was closer to John Calvin’s own than theirs. Indeed, he pointed this out himself in his answer to Bellarmine’s claim that Protestants deny the Real Presence:

And for the Calvinists, if they might be rightly understood, they also maintain a most true and real presence, though they cannot permit their judgment to be transubstantiated; and they are protestants too…For the Calvinists, at least they which follow Calvin himself, do not only believe that the true and real body of Christ is received in the eucharist, but that it is there, and that we partake of it vere et realiter, which are Calvin’s own words…Nor can that place by any art be shifted, or by any violence wrested from Calvin’s true meaning of the presence of Christ in and at the blessed sacrament of the eucharist, to any supper in heaven whatsoever.

It is quite apparent from a serious reading of this book that the charges of repudiating the theology of the Reformation which the Puritans first leveled against Laud in the early seventeenth century and which their admirers like J. C. Ryle, first Bishop of Liverpool, unthinkingly regurgitated in the nineteenth, were complete malarkey. Laud was a Catholic, to be sure, when this word is taken in its primitive sense of referring to the teachings, practices, and discipline of the Church of the earliest centuries, especially those of the Fathers, but he was also a Protestant who held the Bible to be the infallible authority to which all Church authority and tradition must bow the knee, who rejected the doctrines of Transubstantiation and Purgatory, the practices of invocation of the saints, adoration of images and administration of the Sacrament in one kind, and the claims of the papacy to supremacy over all the Church of Christ, and who held that the safe way of salvation was to trust entirely in Christ’s merits rather than our own. The only way to give the Puritan charge against Laud the remotest resemblance of substance is to reduce the theology of the Reformation to Zwingli’s view of the Eucharist, the doctrine of Predestination, and simplicity in the externalities of worship. To make Zwingli’s view of the Eucharist the definitive position of Reformation theology is to exclude the entire Lutheran tradition and the early Calvinists, including John Calvin himself. While both Luther and Calvin affirmed the doctrine of Predestination, and it featured into the famous debate between Luther and Erasmus, it was by no means central to the dispute between the Reformers and Rome. Lutheranism and Calvinism took the doctrine in very different directions and while the Anglican Church affirms Predestination in Article XVII it is worded in such a way as to allow for either the Lutheran or Calvinist interpretation – there is no mention of reprobation and, indeed, the second paragraph would seem to suggest the Lutheran rather than the Calvinist understanding. The Calvinist understanding of the doctrine, therefore, much less the narrower, more extreme, version of the same found in the Lambeth Articles of 1595 and the Canons of the Synod of Dort of 1618-1618, which the Puritans insisted upon, cannot be rightly regarded as an essential element of the theology of the Reformation and Laud cannot be rightly accused of abandoning the Reformation for insisting upon the universal love of God, His sincere universal desire to save, and the universal availability of grace, all of which Dr. Luther and his followers had always affirmed simultaneously with Predestination.

In reality, what lay beneath the Puritan accusation that Laud was trying to undo the work of the English Reformers was their recognition that he, who like Richard Hooker and Lancelot Andrewes before him was a true heir of the conservative English Reformers who sought to restore the Church of England to primitive Catholicism rather than throw the baby of the entirety of the richness of the Catholic tradition out with the bathwater of latter Roman corruptions, stood in the way of their plans to totally makeover the English Church after the Genevan model. For this, for his loyalty to the King against whom these regicidal enthusiasts were stirring up ungodly sedition, rebellion, and strife, and for the social reforms that he was promoting in the face of the objections of the avaricious and rapacious class of mercantile nouveau riche who backed the Puritan movement, (2) he was slandered and abused, arrested and incarcerated, and ultimately sent to his death, a martyr’s death.

It is fitting that we remember him on this the anniversary of that death, which the Anglican Communion has appropriately dedicated to his memory.

(1) Although this is more of a book review than a biography I consulted Charles Webb Le Bas, The Life of Archbishop Laud, London, J. G. & F. Livington, 1836 and Charles Hare Simpkinson, The Life and Times of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, London, Murray, 1894 for the biographical details.

(2) See chapter four of Anthony M. Ludovici, A Defence of Aristocracy: A Textbook for Tories, London, Constable, 1915, 1933 for more information on this point. On page 110 Ludovici wrote "But, as might have been expected, all three — Charles and his two lieutenants — lost their lives in this quixotic struggle against a mob of unscrupulous shopkeepers, and in the end, as we shall see, only the loyal nobles and the poor clustered round their King to defend him." Laud is one of the two lieutenants in question, Wentworth was the other, and the author goes on to substantiate this with details.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Hic Sto

It is January 1st, the octave day of Christmas, and the Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord. It is my tradition at this time of the year, one that I borrowed from the late Charley Reese of the Orlando Sentinel, to write a full disclosure to my readership of my positions and prejudices at this time. Being a man of very conservative views and instincts, these have not changed much since I began writing and so, needless to say, there is always overlap between pieces of this kind, although I try to make my wording fresh each year. This year I have reused the title of the first of these essays but in Latin rather than English.

Allow me to begin with the title of this website - Throne, Altar, Liberty. This title is an affirmation of my belief in and loyalty to the institutions of classical Toryism - royal monarchy and the small-c catholic church. It also affirms my belief in personal freedom which is widely thought of as a classical liberal value. There is significance in the order of these words. "Throne and Altar", which are to Toryism what "blood and soil" are to nationalism, are placed before "Liberty" because I am a Tory first and a small-l-libertarian second. This ranking also reflects my conviction, contrary to the theories of liberalism, that a stable and peaceful social and civil order in which the aforementioned institutions are secure and firmly established is the foundation upon which personal liberty must be built and the environment in which it can flourish. I reject in its entirety, as obviously contrary-to-fact, mindless nonsense and drivel, the liberal theory that man's "natural" state is an individual existence outside of such an order and that his freedom stems from this state. I even more vehemently reject the liberal notion that democracy is the safeguard of liberty, and hold instead to the sane and sober judgement of the ancient philosophers, compared with whom the moderns are mediocre thinkers at best and more often than not contemptible fools, that democracy is the wellspring of tyranny. I respect our parliamentary form of government, not because it is democratic, but because it is an ancient, time-honoured, institution with prescriptive authority. I regard republicanism, in the Roman-American-modern sense of "kingless government" with utter abhorrence, although I accept the ancient Greek ideal that the Latin res publica originally denoted, that good government is that which serves the good of the public interest of the commonwealth. I have been thoroughly royalist by instinct all my life, and like my hero, Dr. Johnson, I combine the Jacobite view of royal authority with loyalty to the present reigning House.

I came to faith in Jesus Christ when I was fifteen, was baptized by immersion while I was a teenager, and confirmed by an Anglican bishop as an adult. I had five years of formal education in theology at what is now Providence University College In Otterburne, Manitoba and have continued to study theology informally ever since. As my theology has matured I have embraced primitive small-c catholicism and small-o orthodoxy, i.e., the teachings of the early Apostolic church, before the schism between the Greek and Latin churches. This is the faith which St. Vincent of Lerins said was held "everywhere, always, and by all" in the undivided catholic (whole) church, and of which Bishop Lancelot Andrewes said the boundary of was determined by "One canon reduced to writing by God himself, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of Fathers in that period – the centuries that is, before Constantine, and two after." In the schism, the Greek and Latin churches each maintained that she was the holy, catholic church confessed in the Creeds, from which the other had broken away in schism. Schism, however, is something that occurs within a particular church or between particular churches within the catholic church. Both sides, by identifying themselves as the whole of what they prior to the schism were clearly only a part, became guilty of schism. The true catholic church contains both and is fully present in all particular churches wherever there is organic, organizational continuity with the Apostolic church, the ecumenical Creeds are faithfully confessed, the Word, both Law and Gospel is proclaimed, and the Gospel Sacraments (Baptism and the Eucharist) are dutifully administered. The small-c catholic, small-o orthodox faith, as confessed in the Apostles', Nicene-Constantinopolitan and Athanasian Creeds is entirely consistent with the great evangelical truths of the Protestant Reformation - that the Holy Scriptures as the infallible written Word of God are the final authority by which all church teachings and practices are to be judged, and that since human beings, due to the Fall of Man into Original Sin are incapable of producing the righteousness that our Holy and Just Creator requires of us as revealed in His Law, our only salvation is that which has been freely given us by God in His Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ and which we receive by faith. Indeed, these latter truths are implicit in the Creeds, a true understanding of which requires them.

I grew up on a farm in southwestern Manitoba, to which I attribute my lifelong bias towards rural simplicity against urban cosmopolitanism, a bias I have maintained despite having lived in the province's capital city of Winnipeg for two decades. Manitoba is a province of the Dominion of Canada. I love my country, and its true history, heritage, traditions, and institutions. At the time of the American Revolution, when the thirteen colonies that became the United States of America rebelled against the British Crown, Parliament and Empire, and built their republic on the foundation of classical liberalism, other British colonies such as those in the Maritimes and the newly acquired French-speaking, Catholic colony called Canada, chose to remain loyal. Loyalists from the thirteen colonies, facing persecution in the new republic, fled to these northern provinces. In the century that followed the American republic frequently threatened invasion and conquest, and actually attempted to make good on those threats in the War of 1812, in which the English and French subjects again remained loyal, and fought alongside the Imperial army to successfully repel the Yankee invaders. Shortly after the Yankees waged a bloody war of annihilation against their more civilized Southern brethren, the provinces of British North America began the process of Confederation into a single country, which would be built upon the foundation of its Loyalist history, retain rather than severe its ties to Britain and the rest of the Empire, to be governed by its own Parliament, modelled after that in Westminster, under the common Crown. This was the beginning, not only of the country, the Dominion of Canada, but of the evolution of the British Empire into the Commonwealth of Nations. We had a strong sense of who we were as a country in our national identity based upon our Loyalist history and heritage which served us well in two World Wars. Sadly, much of this has been forgotten by Canadians today. This national amnesia has been actively and aggressively encouraged by the Liberal Party of Canada. For a century the Grits have proclaimed themselves to be the party of Canadian nationalism, while doing everything in their power to make Canadians forget the history and heritage that make us who we are as a country, such as stripping our national symbols of all that would remind us of that history and heritage. This was done because the Liberals see our Loyalist history and heritage as roadblocks standing in the way of their perpetual hold on power. The only consistent value the Liberal Party has ever had is its own power. It is the embodiment of everything I loathe and detest.

I am very much a man of the right if we speak of the right with the meaning that was attached to it when it was first used in a political sense in the eighteenth century - essentially, as the continental European equivalent of seventeenth century British Toryism. As a man of this right, I recognize a large gulf between myself and much of what is considered right-wing today. I do not mean right-wing as liberals dishonestly use the term, i.e., with connotations of fascism and national socialism, twentieth century movements that were modern to the core, had little to nothing in common with the historical right, and which were identical in almost every way to their overtly left-wing counterpart, that international conspiracy by atheistic, materialistic, totalitarian thugs against order, freedom, religion, decency and civilization in general that was known as Communism. I mean the soi-disant right of the day. David Warren once wisely reflected that "Toryism is the political expression of a religious view of life" and that "Conservatism is an attempt to maintain Toryism after you have lost your faith." Mainstream North American conservatism today is little more than a form of classical liberalism. When joined to the prefix "neo-" it denotes a particularly obnoxious form of classical liberalism that seeks to remake the entire world, by military force if necessary, into the image of American, technocratic capitalism and democracy. The North American "religious right" bears far too close a resemblance to Puritanism, the fanatical blend of Pharisaism and Philistinism that was the original enemy of the British Tories and got the ball of modern liberalism rolling in the first place, for my liking. The more radical self-identified right, the "alternative" right, is a blend of populism and nationalism, civic nationalism in the "lite" version, overt racial nationalism in the "hard." While I have the traditional Tory distaste for populism and nationalism, both of which are based on the modern notion of popular sovereignty, a Satanic notion dreamed up by liberals to challenge the sovereignty of the king in the commonwealth, the episcopate in the church, and God in the universe, I have a great deal of sympathy with the "alternative" right when it speaks truths about race, sex, and immigration that mainstream "conservatism" has been afraid to speak for decades.

My disappointment in the shortcomings of mainstream contemporary conservatism and other modern "rights", however, pales in comparison to my loathing of the forces of progress and modernity and my disgust at the state of folly and depravity into which they have plunged what used to be Christian civilization. Any explanation of what I stand for would be incomplete without an explanation of what I stand against and why.

Liberalism, the self-appointed ideological champion of personal freedom, rejected the ancient understanding of the good that is freedom which was best expressed by King Charles I just prior to his martyrdom as consisting "in having of Government; those Laws, by which their Life and their goods may be most their own" and redefined it in terms of the absence of restraints and limitations on the fulfilment of the desires and wishes of the individual will. Yet the more liberalism succeeds in removing traditional limitations from individual wish-fulfilment, the more its redefined liberty comes to resemble tyranny, freedom's perpetual foe and opposite. When liberalism speaks in terms of the rights and freedoms of women, the aged, and the infirm, it is to promote legal abortion on demand and euthanasia, thus displaying a callous devaluation of human life that is remarkably similar to that of the Nazis and Communists. George Grant hit the nail on the head thirty years ago when he described the judges who struck down abortion laws as having "used the language of North American liberalism to say yes to the very core of fascist thought—the triumph of the will."

Then there are liberalism's offspring, progressivism and the left, which together with their parent make up the unholy counterfeit trinity of the Modern Age. Progressivism is modern man's humanistic confidence in our species' unlimited ability, guided by liberalism's ideals of freedom and equality, to employ reason and science to better the human condition. The left is progressivism translated into political activism, the movement that seeks through political means to put progressivism's faith in human self-improvement into practice. While no sane person would ever oppose improvement that actually is improvement the spiritual blindness that is at the heart of the refusal of liberalism, progressivism, and the left to acknowledge either the limitations that God has placed upon us in nature, both ours and that of the world around us, or the limitations we have placed upon ourselves through our sinfulness is sufficient explanation for why progressive "improvements" are so often counterfeit or chimerical, why they not infrequently make things worse rather than better, and why when they actually do involve genuine improvements they usually come with a cost that has not been taken into consideration and may very well be too high. Liberalism, progressivism, and the left, viewed as they actually are rather than as they present themselves, are simply the efforts of Fallen man, refusing to acknowledge his exile from Paradise or to return by the appointed means of Grace, to reclaim what he has lost through force. Their substitution of equality for justice, human rights for natural law in which duties are antecedent to all rights, and democracy for royal authority exercised for the public good of the commonwealth, is simply idolatry, the ancient error of replacing God with mundane goods, higher goods with lower goods, and, in this case, genuine goods with counterfeit ones. Their dismissal of the wisdom of the ancients is what C. S. Lewis and Owen Barfield dubbed "chronological snobbery" and their self-congratulatory exaltation of modern achievements is what the ancients called hubris.

Liberalism, progressivism, and the left are as morally bankrupt as they are spiritually blind. This is not a commentary on the actions or lifestyles of individual progressives but rather on their ethical thinking. They hated the old rules because of the limitations these placed on the fulfilment of individual desires and so they replaced them with new ones. Yet the old rules were, for the most part, few, simple, and clear and straightforward. These are the marks of good rules. The new rules are numerous, and far too frequently vague and hazy. These are the marks of bad rules. Worse, the new rules seem to be designed to function as weapons in the hands of anyone who wishes to take offence at the words and acts of others. This is most obvious when it comes to the new rules drawn up by liberalism's granddaughter feminism to replace the Christian sexual ethic. The latter was clear and easy to understand - either marry a spouse and be faithful or be celibate, all other alternatives are prohibited. Human difficulty in following this in practice never arose out of any problem in understanding it. The same can not be said of the rules of this new era of ex post facto withdrawal of consent.

Although the new morality is touted as being more "rational" than the old, the idea that the mind should govern the body and reason control the passions was essential to the old morality. Vices such as Avarice, Gluttony, and Lust were what occurred when natural human appetites were allowed to rule our behaviour and consequently run to excess. Virtues such as Temperance and Chastity were the habits, cultivated over a lifetime, of curbing these same appetites and allowing them to be governed by our reason. The new morality, however, has clearly elevated emotion over reason, and mind over body. The new cardinal virtues are feelings such as compassion, sympathy, and empathy. Profess to act based on one of these and your deeds will be lauded, no matter how much harm they objectively do. Make your decision based on cold, hard, facts and logic and you will be condemned, no matter how much good you objectively do. How else except by the elevation of the feeling of "compassion" over all rational considerations can we explain the progressives' determination to disregard the well-being of their own countries and civilization in order to throw out the welcome mat to the Third-world invasion thinly disguised as a refugee crisis that has in recent years materialized out of the pages of Jean Raspail's Camp of the Saints? How other than by a perverse setting of the body over the mind can the neo-Puritan demonization of tobacco, which can only hurt the body, at the same time and by the same people, who exalt and glorify marijuana which destroys the mind, be explained?

Yes, moral bankruptcy is the only way to describe this new morality that proclaims itself rational even as it places reason under the heel of feeling, and which pats itself on the back for emancipating man while binding him with rules that are petty and tyrannical in nature.

The liberal, progressive, left is at its worst when it thinks it is at its best. It congratulates itself on its opposition to "racism" and zealously hunts down all expressions of racial self-interest on the part of white people, however peaceful and benign, but it turns a blind eye to overt racial hatred and violence when these are directed towards white people. It strains out the gnat of Avarice within capitalism while swallowing the camel of Envy that is socialism and pretending that it tastes like charity. (1) It cynically uses the cause of preserving the environment, a worthy cause in itself albeit one that is often very ill-informed by pseudoscience, to justify destroying an industry upon which countless livelihoods depend and artificially raising the cost of living with a tax that hurts those least able to afford it the most, so that it can turn around and offer a rebate conveniently timed to arrive just before the next Dominion election.

This year I resolve to be firmer in my opposition to the left than ever before.

Happy New Year,
God Save the Queen

(1) The Seven Deadly Sins were never considered to be equal. Avarice (Greed), Gluttony, Lust and Sloth were the lesser of the Seven. They are purely human failings being natural human appetites indulged in to excess. Anger occupies the middle area, and Pride and Envy were the worst of the Seven. These are the Satanic sins which led to the devil's fall. In commiting them man imitates the devil. Envy is the hatred of others and desire to tear them down because they possess something you do not. Envy toward the haves rather than charity towards the have nots is the essence of true socialism, which of course is more than just the government relief programs that are often loosely labelled as such. It is the worst of sins hypocritically pretending to be the highest of virtues. The lesser sin of Avarice, by contrast, is in no way essential to the ownership of property, laws securing the same, and the general common sense truth that in ordinary circumstances the individual, head of the household, business manager and civil government are the ones best suited to look out for the interests of the individual, family, business, and country respectively, all of which have been fundamental elements of civilization from time immemorial. It is more reasonable to see a hint of Avarice in the doctrine of laissez-faire but this, after all, was a doctrine dreamed up by the liberals of the eighteenth century.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Coming(s) of Christ and Some Misconceptions Thereof

We are rapidly approaching Christmas which, as has often been observed, is now two distinct holidays occupying the same space on the civil calendar. One the one hand there is the secular Christmas – or X-mas, as it is known to people who are either politically correct, lazy spellers, or both. This holiday, sacred to the pervasive cult of Mammon, has long been a celebration of two of the Seven Deadly Sins, Avarice and Gluttony, and in more recent years has increasingly added Lust as well. It is preceded by an anticipatory period the length of which is decided by the engines of commerce and which begins when the first decorations and advertisements appear in the stores. While many have opined that it seems to get longer and longer each year, in reality All Saints’ Day is the earliest it can begin. Any earlier and the advertising campaign would clash with that of the secular version of All Hallows’ Eve.

On the other hand there is the Christian Christmas – the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It too is introduced by a preparatory period, which in Western Christendom we call Advent, but this is much shorter than the season leading up to the secular holiday. It always begins on the Sunday closest to St. Andrew’s Day (November 30th), which is always the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas, and so is never longer than a lunar month. Like Lent, the season leading up to Easter, the liturgical season of Advent is supposed to be a period of sober reflection and repentance. This too is a sharp contrast with the hurly-burly of running around and shopping interspersed with party after party that characterizes the season’s secular counterpart.

While the contempt that such fictional curmudgeons as Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Grinch displayed towards the commercial holiday before their changes of heart is, perhaps, understandable, it is much harder to comprehend the problem that many soi disant Bible-believing Christians seem to have with the religious holiday. Oliver Cromwell, the Puritan dictator of the 1650s, was the spiritual ancestor of these types, as he was of political liberalism and all the various hues and shades of Mrs. Grundyism. You have probably encountered their arguments. The most familiar of them are that December 25th was originally a pagan holiday, that Jesus was not born on December 25th, and that we ought to be keeping the holy days God established in the Bible rather than man made ones. I have dealt with this matter in depth previously and so will provide only a short answer to each of these here.

First of all, yes the date on which the Church chose to celebrate Christmas coincides with a pagan festival. It also coincides with a Jewish festival and while that Jewish festival is also “man made” in that it is not instituted by God anywhere in the Bible, even in the Books of Maccabees that relate the events it commemorates, it was kept by Jesus in the tenth chapter of the Gospel according to St. John. The fourteenth verse of the first chapter of Genesis gives, as God’s stated reason for creating the sun, moon, and stars in addition to dividing day from night and lighting the earth that they might be “for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” so it should come as no surprise that different religions would have important festivals at approximately the same time, in this case around the winter solstice.

Secondly, since the Scriptures do not tell us the day on which Jesus was born, they neither tell us that He was born on December 25th nor that He was not born on December 25th. The absence of a positive assertion does not constitute a denial. The same principle applies to the argument that because the Book of Hebrews does not identify its author, St. Paul did not write it, an argument that a Judaizing acquaintance recently made in a bizarre attempt to bolster his argument that we ought to keep the Old Testament feasts rather than man-made ones like Christmas. (1) At any rate, the question of the actual date on which Jesus was born is moot. Christmas is not necessarily Christ’s “birthday” but a liturgical feast day commemorating His birth. It occurs at the beginning of the liturgical year because that year is organized to take us through the most important events of Christ’s life chronologically. (2)

Finally, the position that Christians ought to be keeping the Old Testament holy days rather than Christmas, Easter, and other feasts appointed by the Church can only be maintained by disregarding the authority of Christ’s Apostles and the New Testament Scriptures. For the New Testament is absolutely clear on this matter. Christians are neither required to keep the feasts, rituals, and ceremonies of the Old Covenant nor forbidden from doing so. The first Christians were Jews who believed in Jesus. When God sent St. Peter to preach the Gospel to a Gentile, Cornelius the centurion, He gave Him a vision in which the dietary laws of the Old Covenant were abrogated. When Gentiles came to be converted in large numbers, a controversy arose as to whether or not they should be circumcised and made to follow all the rituals of the Old Covenant. The Apostles convened a church council in Jerusalem to settle the controversy which ruled against placing these obligations on the Gentile converts. The Book of Acts records that while the original Jewish Christians continued to participate in worship at the Temple and in the synagogues until they were driven out, the Church was already developing its own worship, meeting, for example, on the first day of the week. St. Paul in his epistles encourages these trends and reserves his harshest words for those who would impose the Old Testament rituals on the Church. (3)

This attitude of looking down one’s nose at ordinary Christians for keeping Christmas rather than the Old Testament feasts bears a resemblance in some ways to both of two opposite errors regarding the Second Coming of Christ that have plagued the Church from time to time and which have undergone significant revivals in the last century. For traditional Christian believers the Second Coming is as much in view at this time of year as His first coming. Indeed, while the emphasis of Christmas itself is on the events of His First Coming at Bethlehem a little over two thousand years ago, the emphasis in Advent is on the Second Coming. Whereas the focus of penitent reflection in Lent begins with contemplation of our own mortality on Ash Wednesday and ends with the vicarious suffering and death of Christ on Good Friday, in Advent the focus could be summed up in the words of St. Peter “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (I Pet. 4:7) and of his Master and ours “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matt. 24:42) For this reason, lectionaries traditionally assign readings that pertain to the Second Coming to this period and the two comings are joined in the Collect for Advent Sunday (4) which is repeated with the other Collects for the duration of Advent.

In their disregard towards the ruling of the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem, the clear teachings of St. Paul, and Apostolic authority in general, the legalistic Judaizers who would deny to Christians the freedom to celebrate, as they have traditionally done, the Person and events of the New Covenant of eternal redemption and bind them back in chains to Mt. Sinai, resemble the date-setters, who have a very similar approach to such statements of Christ as “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” and “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” and “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Matt. 24: 36, 42, 44). Despite these clear warnings, every time a society collapses, a significant period of time such as a millennium passes, or some other such momentous event occurs, out trot the date-setters with their arguments for why Jesus will return on such-and-such a date. Those among them who are wise guys, despite lacking wisdom, rely on an ultra-literal interpretation of the above verses (only the “day” and “hour” are not mentioned, not the “year” or “decade”) to justify their obvious evasion of the spirit of the text. Needless to say our own era in which Western civilization as a whole has been giving every sign of being on the verge of imminent collapse for a century (5) and the second millennium AD came to an end has had more than its fair share of date-setters.

In their arrogant attitude of superiority towards other Christians, however, the Judaizers more closely resemble the preterists, the hubris of whom make the ancient Gnostics look humble in comparison. Preterism derives its name from the Latin proposition praeter. Praeter means “besides, except for”, “contrary to” and “beyond” but it can also mean “before” in both its spatial and temporal senses. It is in the temporal sense of the meaning “before”, i.e., “in the past”, that the preterists use this word to identify their views. For their doctrine is that all Biblical prophecies – including the prophecies of the Second Coming and the last three of the Quattuor Novissima (6) have all been fulfilled in the past. It is an ancient heresy, having been first taught by Hymenaeus and Philetus in Ephesus towards the end of the sixth decade of the first century AD, and rebuked by St. Paul in his Second Epistle to Timothy:

But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (II Tim 2:16-18)

Contemporary preterists attempt to elude the obvious application of these verses to their own doctrine by arguing that at the time St. Paul wrote those words – early in the seventh decade – the resurrection was not yet past but that it happened shortly thereafter, at the very end of that decade, a couple of years after St. Paul’s martyrdom. For contemporary preterists teach that the Second Coming, the Final Resurrection, and the Last Judgment all took place in the year AD 70.

This was the year in which Titus, the son of the newly elevated Roman emperor Vespasian, after a seven month siege of Jerusalem, lay waste to the rebellious city, destroying the Second Temple and apart from the handful of leftover zealots who would be wiped out at Masada three years later, essentially crushed the revolt. The truth in preterism – for heresy is not pure error but begins with a truth being twisted out of shape – is that these events were frequently predicted in the New Testament, sometimes in passages that also discuss the Second Coming. The Olivet Discourse contained in the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth chapters of the Gospel According to St. Matthew is the obvious example. The discourse begins when Jesus tells His disciples that the Temple will be destroyed and they ask Him “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Orthodox Christianity has always taken the position that the disciples had mistakenly associated the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem with the Second Coming of Christ and the end of time and thus asked Jesus two questions, thinking they were asking one. Jesus answered both questions without directly correcting their mistake, knowing that just as the disciples would not be able to grasp that there would be a Second Coming separate and distinct from the First until after His Resurrection and Ascension so the unfolding of events would eventually make obvious the distinction between the destruction of the Temple and His Second Coming. Accordingly the three ancient Creeds which express the consensus of the early, undivided, Apostolic Church as to fundamentals of the orthodox, Scriptural, kerygma all include an affirmation that Christ will “come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead.” (7)

Orthodox Christians have disagreed on other aspects of eschatology, both in the early centuries and down through the years. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Tertullian all taught a form of what is now called pre-millennialism, while the Alexandrian Fathers and St. Augustine taught the a-millennialism that became the dominant view down until modern times. Regardless of where they stood on these matters, however, orthodox Christians joined in the Creedal affirmation of the Second Coming as a literal, future, event that will involve the judgement of the entire world, including both the living and the dead. The preterist teaching that the sack of Jerusalem fulfilled completely the prophecies of the Second Coming and the Final Resurrection and Judgement obviously requires an interpretation of these prophecies that exceeds in its non-literalism what was allowed for by even the most allegorical of the orthodox Fathers. It also requires that the events prophesied be reduced from a global scale and made to pertain only to national Israel. Ironically, since the recent spread of preterism can be partially attributed to a reaction against dispensationalism, preterism shares dispensationalism’s obsession with national Israel, giving it, of course, the opposite negative spin. (8) To both alike, all Bible prophecy is about God wrapping up His dealings with national Israel. To the dispensationalists, this is a future wrapping up that will involve the total restoration of the nation. To the preterists, it is a past wrapping up that involved the total rejection of the nation in judgement for its unbelief. The dispensationalists, at least, affirm the passages in which Christ comes back for His faithful believers, albeit by making it a prelude to the main event. (9) Consistent preterists must insist that passages which speak of the believer’s hope in the coming of the Lord were all fulfilled by the judgement of national Israel. This fact alone ought, in itself, to be sufficient to refute this obviously false doctrine.

The late Lutheran theologian John M. Drickamer once remarked that responding to preterism is like taking out the trash – it is an unpleasant, smelly, task but one that needs to be done from time to time. What better time to do it than Advent, the time in which we traditionally look forward in penitent reflection to Christ’s Second Coming, was we prepare to celebrate His First Coming?

Merry Christmas, every one, and Maranatha (the Lord is coming)!

(1) Actually this case may not be an exact parallel. While the Book of Hebrews does not identify its author, St. Peter may very well have identified St. Paul as its author in II Peter 3:15. In this verse he reminds his original readers, who are the same as those of his first epistle (3:1), that St Paul had written to them something to the effect of “the longsuffering of the Lord is salvation.” All of the “signed” Pauline epistles are addressed to particular churches which were predominantly Gentile. St. Peter’s epistles, on the other hand, are “catholic” or “general” epistles (I Peter 1:1), and his original readers seems to have largely consisted of believers of Jewish ancestry (2:12). Since St. Peter goes on to identify St. Paul’s words as Scripture, Hebrews is the only epistle that seems to qualify as the one to which he is referring. It is part of the New Testament canon, written to the same addressees, with content that matches the allusion by St. Peter (see the ninth and tenth chapters of Hebrews).

(2) See, however, William J. Tighe’s arguments in Touchstone Magazine, that the early Church calculated December 25th and January 6th (Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, celebrated in Western Christendom as the Feast of the Magi, in the East as the eve of Christmas itself) as the dates of Christ’s birth by adding nine months to March 25th and April 6th respectively. According to Tighe there was a widespread belief at the time that Israel’s prophets died on the same date as their conception, and so March 25th and April 6th were identified as the dates of conception through attempts to calculate the calendar date of Christ’s death. Tighe also maintains that the Church had done these calculations and started celebrating Christmas on December 25th prior to AD 274 when Emperor Marcus Aureleus declared the same date to be the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun.”

(3) He develops a theological argument for this doctrine of Christian liberty throughout his corpus, but especially in the epistles of Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Hebrews. The Old Testament Law in its ceremonial aspect pointed to and foreshadowed Christ, now that Christ has appeared and instituted the New Covenant with His blood we, having the substance, ought not to cling to the shadow. Under the Old Covenant, Israel was to be a holy nation. She was supposed to remain untainted with the paganism and idolatry of the tribes and nations surrounding her, and the ceremonial aspects of the Law, including the dietary and clothing restrictions, contributed to her distinct and separate identity. Under the New Covenant, however, believers of all nations are united spiritually in the Church, and this unity is symbolized by the Church’s standing under grace rather than Law.

(4) “ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.” Collect for First Sunday in Advent, Book of Common Prayer.

(5) It is one hundred years since the first volume of Oswald Spengler’s Der Untergang des Abendlandes – The Decline – more accurately “Downfall” of the West – was published.

(6) Four Last Things – Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell.

(7) This is the wording of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed as translated in the BCP. The Apostles’ Creed and the Quicumque Vult both introduce the Second Coming by saying that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father after which the Apostles’ Creed adds “from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead” and the Athanasian Creed adds “from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies: and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting: and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.”

(8) Interestingly there are other parallels. Both doctrines in their contemporary forms can be traced back to sixteenth century Jesuits (Luis de Alcasar in the case of preterism, Francisco Ribera in the case of dispensationalism) through nineteenth century Protestant popularizers (James Stuart Russell’s The Parousia: a Critical Inquiry into the New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord's Second Coming in the case of preterism, John Nelson Darby and C. I. Scofield in the case of dispensationalism).

(9) The main problem with dispensationalism, from the standpoint of orthodox theology, is not their elaborate eschatological scheme but the significance attached to certain of the events. The rapture (from the Latin equivalent of the Greek ἁρπάζω used by St. Paul to mean “caught up” in I Thess. 4:17) is said by dispensationalists to the be the end of the Church Age which began at Pentecost, and the entire Church Age is described by dispensationalists as a parenthesis in the Age of the Law. This is the opposite of inspired Apostolic doctrine in which the Law is the parenthesis in the unfolding of God’s promises of grace (Gal. 3:6-29, NB especially vv. 17, 19, 23-25).

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Totalitarian Left Declares Total War on Opponents of Baby Murder

On the evening of Saturday, October 20th I attended a lecture at New Life Sanctuary Church here in Winnipeg. The lecture, given by the Church’s pastor, Christian apologist John Feakes, was on the subject of “Abortion: Is it a Woman’s Right.” Feakes, of course, took the position that it is not, a position with which I fully agree. What was somewhat unusual about the lecture was the number of private security guards present in the church. Evidently trouble was anticipated. Indeed, there was good cause for expecting troublemakers to show up. The lecture was not originally supposed to be a lecture but a debate, co-sponsored by Feakes’ church and by Life’s Vision Manitoba in which Mark Fenny would take the opposing position. It had been scheduled, at first, to take place at Jubilee Place on the campus of the Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute. MBCI, however, rescinded its agreement to allow the debate to take place on its site and, at the last minute, Fenny backed out. “Concerns regarding event security” were cited as the reason the event would not take place at the location or in the format originally advertised. Anyone familiar with the way in which antiracist groups (1) operate will immediately recognize one of their favourite tactics for shutting down an event they disapprove of - pressuring the venue hosting the event into withdrawing by raising security concerns.

Five days after the lecture, Jakob Sanderson, president of the University of Manitoba Students’ Union, tabled a motion for the Union to endorse a “woman’s right to freedom of reproductive choice; and a woman’s right to be free from coercion or attempted coercion with respect to making reproductive choices.” This motion passed on Monday, November 5th and effectively established a no-tolerance policy for any activity on the part of pro-life people that the leadership of the Student’ Union regarded as “coercive.” The targets of this motion were a pro-life students group, the University of Manitoba Students for a Culture of Life, and the Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical Reform, both of which had come under attack by the leadership of the Students’ Union in the weeks leading up to and culminating in this motion. The Students’ Union objected to the pro-life groups handing out post-cards containing images of aborted foetuses. Like the anti-racist groups that attempt to shut down any public talks about racial differences or the case against open immigration, the Students’ Union leaders denied that they were engaged in censorship and claimed that they objected, not to the pro-life groups’ beliefs, but to their actions which they said were “coercive” and “discriminatory.” They apparently do not understand the difference in meaning between “coercive” and “persuasive”, thus calling into question their qualifications to attend an institution of higher learning, let alone serve in a student leadership capacity.

It was only a couple of weeks after this that Nahanni Fontaine, who sits as the NDP Member of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly for St. Johns, introduced a private member’s bill that, if passed, would create buffer zones around abortion clinics within which pro-life protestors would not be able to come. Fontaine’s stated reasons for introducing this bill, entitled the “Safe Access to Abortion Act”, are similar to those of the UMSU. “Manitoba women have the right to access the essential reproductive health care they need safely and without harassment” she says, using “essential reproductive health care” as a euphemism for “the deliberate termination of unborn human life.” Do not be deceived by Fontaine’s rhetoric about protecting abortion doctors and their clients from threats, assaults and violence. The existing laws against assault and uttering threats are sufficient to do that. To see the true intent behind this bill all we need to do is look at how this kind of legislation is being used one province to our east.

On October 24th an eighty-three year old Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Tony Van Hee, was arrested in Ottawa for violating Kathleen Wynne’s “Safe Access to Abortion Act”. Not only is the name of this act identical to the one Fontaine has introduced here, it does the exact same thing and establishes a bubble zone around hospitals and abortion clinics within which negative views of abortion cannot be expressed. Apparently this is being interpreted as including negative views of the law itself. The “crime” for which Van Hee was arrested was merely sitting across the street from the Morgentaler clinic wearing a sandwich board which read “The Primacy of Free Speech: Cornerstone of Western Civilization” on the front and “Without Free Speech the State is a Corpse” on the back. A simple and effective defence, in this case, would have been to point out that the messages on these signs said nothing about abortion one way or the other. His lawyer, however, has gone the more difficult route of launching a constitutional challenge against this draconian law. Let us hope and pray that it succeeds.

It is evident from the above mentioned incidents that the pro-infanticide movement – away with this euphemism of “pro-choice” that is so utterly inappropriate for these tyrannical mind-control freaks - has adopted the arrogant attitude and aggressive methods of antiracist groups such as the antifa. Indeed, on the day of the lecture mentioned in the first paragraph the friend of mine who had invited me to the lecture, an aboriginal student at the University of Manitoba who had participated in the pro-life activism referred to in the second paragraph, told me that he had been accused of “white supremacism” for doing so by someone in student leadership a day or two previously.

This association between the pro-abortion and anti-racist causes is not entirely new. You might remember Anti-Racist Action, a street gang with Marxist and anarchist backing, similar to the skinheads but with the opposite agenda that was a precursor to what is now called antifa. Most active in the 1990s and early 2000s, it used threats, intimidation, and violence in its confrontations with neo-Nazi groups and conservative groups that it falsely accused of racism. Its manifesto, in addition to what one would expect to find there, also contained a declaration of its full support for abortion. The Anti-Defamation League, which was founded one hundred and five years ago, may be the oldest antiracist group in existence. It too has been very supportive of abortion. Eighteen years ago in Stenberg v. Carhart the US Supreme Court struck down Nebraska’s law against partial-birth abortion – the kind of abortion that has the least support. The ADL applauded the Court’s decision and indeed had intervened in the case on the side of the abortionists. Earlier, in 1998 it had labelled Human Life International an extremist group. Before that, when the HLI had scheduled a conference in Montreal in 1995, the vice-president of the Canadian branch of the ADL’s parent organization, the Binai B’rith, had accused HLI and its founder, Fr. Paul Marx, of “being infected with this virus of anti-Semitism.” The grounds for this spurious accusation were remarks Fr. Marx had made in articles he had written in 1977 and 1993, and in a chapter of his Confessions of a Pro-Life Missionary, about how odd it was that there is so much Jewish support for abortion. However, as Rabbi Daniel Lapin, a frequent speaker at HLI conferences, wrote in defence of Fr. Marx in his 1999 book, America’s Real War, “the prominence of Jews in the pro-abortion movement” is “a factually correct detail about the Jewish community” and not an invention of anti-Semites. Normal people understand the word “defamation” to refer to the deliberate spreading of falsehoods in order to injure someone’s reputation. Anti-racists like the ADL, however, believe that even the truth can be defamatory. This attitude towards truth they have in common with the pro-infanticide movement.

The standard response on the part of pro-lifers to this strange convergence of movements that seemingly have little to do with each other except that they mutually receive support from the liberal-left is to observe that a century ago the alliances were quite different and abortion was being promoted – along with birth control, sterilization and euthanasia – by the advocates of eugenics and racial genetic superiority. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood is the obvious, but hardly the only, example of this. Pro-life advocates might also point out that the number of abortions per 1000 women is considerably higher among racial and ethnic minority groups. In the United States, the highest rate of abortion is among black women and if abortion were counted, as it ought to be, as a cause of death by the organizations that keep track of such statistics, it would be listed as the leading cause of black deaths each year, being more than double that of heart disease which is usually listed as the official leading cause. Such arguments will never convince either pro-abortion people or anti-racists, however, seeing as both movements have thoroughly inoculated their members against such things as facts and reason.

In Canada the knowledge that they have the full support of the majority government in Parliament has undoubtedly contributed to the heightened arrogance being displayed by pro-abortion groups. Prior to the last Dominion election, Justin Trudeau let it be known that he would not approve as a Liberal candidate anyone who did not whole-heartedly support a woman’s “right” to have an abortion. Around this time last year he announced that this year, all employers applying for grants under the federal Student Jobs program would be required to attest to their commitment to a set of values that included the same so-called right. Trudeau can be accused of many things, but subtlety in making his wish that the pro-life movement would give up and disappear is not one of them. It does not help matters that the Conservatives, even when they had a majority government, were afraid to do anything about abortion and the other major party, the NDP, takes the position that the Liberals are too soft, wishy-washy, and compromising in their support for abortion.

The Liberals and NDP and their toadies in the media want us to believe, whether we agree with it or not, that a woman’s “right” to an abortion is a settled matter in Canada. This, however, is a gross distortion of reality that can only be arrived at by ignoring the history of how we arrived at the present status quo and why it has not changed in the last three decades Thirty years ago the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in R v Morgantaler that Section 251 of the Criminal Code was unconstitutional. The vote was five to two in favour of striking down the section, but it was not as simple as that. There were four separate opinions, three of which concluded via three separate lines of reasoning that the section was unconstitutional, one of which dissented. None of these opinions had more than two supporters. Such a ruling would not in ordinary circumstances be considered the last word on the subject, and where the justices did agree was in the fact that it ought not to be so in this case. They acknowledged precisely what the Liberals and NDP deny – that the state has a responsibility to protect the foetus. Each of the authors of the three opinions supporting the repeal of Section 251 – Chief Justice Brian Dickson, Justice Jean Beetz, and Justice Bertha Wilson, states that protection of the foetus is a valid objective of legislation (See R v Morgentaler, pp. 75, 112-113, 181, 185) None of the justices took the position of the Trudeau Liberals and New Democrats that a woman has an absolute right to an abortion with which the state has no right to interfere and that abortion ought to be freely and universally accessible and unregulated. They expected Parliament to pass new legislation and the fact that abortion has remained entirely unregulated since is due to Parliament's failure to follow through. This was not a matter of Parliament bending to the will of the public. In the immediate aftermath of Morgentaler, the Mulroney Conservatives tried to introduce new legislation which was narrowly defeated. They have not tried since and the post-Morgentaler status quo has never been put to a vote at election time. The Grits and Socialists have largely relied upon keeping the public uninformed to maintain this status quo. There may not be enough public demand to restore the pre-1969 status quo ante of all abortions being illegal, but there would certainly be more support for this than for the present status quo if were widely understood that for the last three decades abortions have been available, right up to the very moment of birth.

The necessity of widespread ignorance to maintain the progressive status quo goes a long way towards explaining why this has now become a free speech issue. The less the public knows about how small a percentage of abortions have anything to do with rape or life-threatening pregnancy complications, the less likely they are to demand new legislation on abortion. The modern day cult of Moloch does not want women to be confronted with the truth about abortion because it knows that far fewer of them would choose to undergo that procedure if they fully grasped that more is at stake than their own health and convenience. Hence their objection to graphic depictions of the aborted foetus. Thus their demand for bubble-zones around abortion clinics in which the truth cannot be legally spoken.

(1) Antiracist individuals and organizations have the self-proclaimed mission of combatting racial prejudice, hatred, and violence by keeping tabs on, informing the public about, and protesting the activities of individuals and groups that promote racialist ideologies such as national socialism. In reality, however, they for the most part ignore the activities of non-white racialist groups, no matter how violent, classify any pro-white group as extremist no matter how peaceful, and attack anyone who disagrees with whatever liberal orthodoxy happens to be at the present moment on matters concerning race and immigration. Their tactics include private espionage, lawfare, spreading disinformation, intimidation, and generating security concerns that they then exploit to shut down speeches and other events of which they disapprove.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Peace, Order and Good Government

The ninety-first section of the British North America Act (1) begins with the words:

It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate and House of Commons, to make Laws for the Peace, Order, and good Government of Canada, in relation to all Matters not coming within the Classes of Subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the Provinces;

The phrase “Peace, Order, and good Government”, identified here as the end to which the law-making authority of the Queen-in-Parliament is established, has been similarly used in the constitutional documents of other Commonwealth countries and, in Canada, has often been considered to be our equivalent of the United States’ “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Both expressions identify a triad of goods and make that triad out to be the purpose for which government is constituted. The differences, however, not only in content but also in context and use, may outweigh these similarities. Contextually, the American expression does not appear in the document that legally established their republic, the Constitution of the United States of America, but rather in the document by which the Thirteen Colonies rationalized and justified their decision to secede from the British Empire. For the obvious reason that Canada’s Fathers did not secede from the Empire but deliberately choose to maintain the connection to Britain and the Commonwealth and to build the Dominion on a foundation of loyalty and continuity, Canada has no parallel document. With regards to usage, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” served a revolutionary purpose, “Peace, Order, and good Government” a constructive one.

When we turn to the content of the triads the contrast that is most striking is that the goods in the American triad pertain primarily to the individual, whereas the goods in the Canadian/Commonwealth triad belong to the country as a whole. The different sources from which the two are drawn can be seen in this. In the case of the American triad, its origin in classical liberalism, and specifically the social contract theory of John Locke, is quite obvious. The triad is borrowed, with a slight adjustment by Thomas Jefferson, directly from Locke. In the second of his Two Treatises on Government, (2) Locke argues that life, liberty, and property are the basic natural rights that belong to the individual in a pre-societal state of nature, and that the state was created by individuals voluntarily forming a compact to live under laws that would make these rights more secure. The preamble to the Declaration of Independence is a restatement of this theory.

The liberals who formulated this theory sincerely believed that they were devising a rational and effective safeguard against tyranny – the ancient term for usurped and oppressive power. Their Puritan forerunners believed that by removing Charles I from his throne, beheading him, and making Oliver Cromwell into the Lord Protector they were striking a blow for liberty. Cromwell, however, went down in history as the dictator who established a grim and gloomy, Calvinist, theocracy in which Christmas, the theatre, and harmless amusements were all banned and today it has become quite evident how the idea that government exists to protect the rights of individual can be the basis of tyranny as much as a protection against it. (3) Until very recently, the suggestion that the government might pass laws requiring us to use a plethora of newly-coined pronouns to refer to individuals who have chosen a gender identity for themselves other than male and female would have been confined to the literary genres of totalitarian dystopic fiction and conspiracy theory. Yet today many liberals are promoting such legislation, trying to suppress the views of anyone who would be opposed to such legislation, and doing all of this in the sincere belief that it is necessary to protect individual rights.

Liberals were not the first to assert that the law must protect people’s lives and property. Indeed, this assertion is contained within the ancient definition of justice as each person getting what he deserves. Nor were liberals the first to connect this protection with liberty. It was King Charles I who declared that the “liberty and freedom” of his people “consists in having of Government; those Laws, by which their Life and their goods may be most their own.” In the older tradition, however, the security of life and property, and the freedom that comes from that security, were the products of a stable and orderly civil society and such a society could only exist under a government that legislates and administers justice for the good of the society as a whole. Life outside of such a society was not regarded as man’s natural state. Such an existence, in pre-modern thought, more closely resembled Thomas Hobbes’ idea of a state of nature than that of John Locke, and in this absence of civilization, no rights could exist.

When liberalism rejected the pre-modern tradition in which each person derives his rights and freedom from belonging to a society that is an integrated whole, liberals believed that they were emancipating mankind but, as we see in our present day, triumphant liberalism forges its own chains and fetters with which to bind man. Liberalism is the offspring of rationalism, the epistemological error of reducing the knowable to the technical, i.e., utilitarian knowledge capable of formulation (4) and was born out of the fragmentation of the older tradition. (5) By obsessively fixating on the individual, at the expense of the whole society, liberalism pushed Western civilization so far away from the pre-modern ideal of balance and harmony between the individual and the whole of society in one direction, that in time it produced a pendulum swing in the opposite direction and so in the twentieth century, totalitarianism, which saw only the collective and crushed the individual, came into existence. Liberalism clashed with totalitarianism and triumphed over it, but only by taking on some of its own characteristics. (6)

“Peace, Order, and good Government” was not a conscious attempt to produce a summary of the goods which the pre-liberal tradition regarded as the purpose of the state but it nevertheless serves fairly well as such a summary. “Good Government”, which means the competent and just administration of public affairs, is a fairly adequate equivalent of πολιτεία, as the term was used by Plato and Aristotle to describe their ideal of government. (7) It is certainly more accurate than “republic” which, through its Roman, Italian, and American usage, has ceased to convey the sense of the Latin res publica, “public affairs”, and has taken on the meaning of “kingless government.” The ancients believed that any government, whether it be one ruler, a small elite group, or a majority of enfranchised, corporate, citizens, could be good or bad. A good government was one that exercised its authority in the interests of the whole of the society, a bad government was one that used its power only to serve its own private interests. (8) Actual real-world governments, of course, exist on a spectrum between the absolutely good and the absolutely bad. A common idea among the ancient Athenians, which as adopted by Aristotle, spread through the ancient world by Polybius, and later incorporated into medieval Christendom’s ideal of the Christian commonwealth, (9) was that the best way to ensure a stable government, that would be more good than bad, was to combine monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy (10) into a single government.

America’s Founding Fathers were at their best, not when they were writing rabble-rousing, revolutionary, agitprop like the Declaration of Independence, but when they were putting together the Constitution of their new republic. Despite the fact that a president is a poor substitute for a king or queen, the American Constitution is widely esteemed for its system of checks and balances, a concept America’s Fathers borrowed, indirectly through Montesquieu, from the ancient-medieval ideal of mixed government. That Montesquieu himself had pointed to the British system of King/Queen-in-Parliament as the very embodiment of that ideal, America’s founders for obvious reasons opted to ignore. Canada’s Fathers of Confederation, the heirs of the Loyalist tradition rather than that of the Revolution, had no need either to ignore this fact, or to re-invent the wheel, and directly adapted the British system for the new Dominion. This system began its evolution centuries before the dawn of the Modern Age and it is very fitting and appropriate, therefore, that the Canadian Fathers chose to identify it with the public goods of “Peace, Order, and good Government.”

Today, after a century of assault upon our Loyalist heritage and traditions, our monarchical and parliamentary institutions, and our Common Law rights and freedoms by the Liberal Party of Canada, aided and abetted by her allies in the mainstream Canadian media, it is more important than ever that we remember the principles upon which our country was founded. For it is only by so remembering that we can hope to recover what we have lost and find our way back from the abyss into which the Liberals have been leading us.

(1) This Act, which was passed by the British Parliament in 1867 and which came into effect on July 1st of that year, established the confederation of several of the North American provinces of the British Empire into a new country, which it designated a “Dominion” and gave the name “Canada” which had previously belonged to two of those provinces. Many Canadians, especially supporters of the Liberal Party, are under the impression that the BNAA was replaced as our constitution by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. This is a gross distortion of the truth. What happened that year is that the legislative authority to amend the BNAA, which remains our constitution, was transferred from the British Parliament to the Canadian Parliament, the BNAA was renamed “The Constitution Act, 1867”, and the Charter was added to it as an amendment (or set of amendments). The Charter did not replace our constitution, although, as I have argued many times in the past, it subverted to a great degree, both our constitution of Queen-in-Parliament and the Common Law. Indeed, most of the substantial changes made by the Liberal Party between 1926 and 1982 have had this effect, which is one reason why I, in protest, continue to use the old name of the Act.

(2) The first of the treatises argued against Sir Robert Filmer’s Patriarchia. It has been liberal orthodoxy since the nineteenth century that Locke successfully rebutted Filmer, although in the eighteenth century a few honest liberals could be found willing to admit that of the two, Filmer had the better arguments. The second treatise is an attempt at an alternate explanation of the origin and legitimacy of the state.

(3) This has been explored at length by James Kalb in The Tyranny of Liberalism: Understanding and Overcoming Administered Freedom, Inquisitorial Tolerance, and Equality by Command, Wilmington, Delaware, ISI Books, 2008. See also Patrick J. Deneen Why Liberalism Failed, New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University Press, 2018.

(4) Michael Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, London, Metheun & Co. Ltd., 1962, pp. 1-36.

(5) See Richard M. Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1948, pp. 52-69.

(6) “In this sense national socialism survived Hitler. Every state in the world has become a welfare state. Whether they call themselves socialist or not does not matter much. Of course the proportions of the compound of nationalism and socialism vary from country to country; but the compound is there…We are all national socialists now.” – John Lukacs, “American History: The Terminological Problem,” The American Scholar, Vol 61., No. 1, (Winter 1992), p. 23. “Some European authors observed that communism died in the East because it had already been implemented in the West.” Tomislav Sunic, Homo Americanus: Child of the Postmodern Age, Book Surge Publishing, 2007, p. 34.

(7) In ordinary Greek usage, πολιτεία could refer either to the rights of citizenship in a city-state or the constitution of the city-state. In other words it had the same range of meaning as the Latin civitas. Plato and Aristotle used it in its ordinary sense, but also made it the designation of the best possible government. It is the title of the Platonic dialogue that addresses this concept. Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero, entitled his own work written which was inspired by Plato’s, De Re Publica, and it is from this that the misleading custom of rendering this word as “Republic” in English arises. The common alternative “Commonwealth” is much more accurate.

(8) Note how liberalism, by replacing the good of the commonwealth with the protection of individual rights as the purpose of government, reverses this judgement.

(9) See the Respondeo in St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, First Part of the Second Part, Q. 105.

(10) Today, the terms democracy and ochlocracy (the rule of the mob) are used for the good and bad versions of “the rule of the many” respectively. Plato and Aristotle, however, used democracy for the bad version.