The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Sensible and Sane, Albeit a Century Old, Words from the Left on Immigration

I am, as you may be aware, neither a fan nor a friend of either liberalism or the left. If forced to choose between the two, I would pick the classical, nineteenth century, form of liberalism – individual rights, economic freedom, limits on government – over the left any day, but my instincts have always been conservative, that is to say, inclined towards order, tradition, and institutions that have been tested, proven, and honoured by time. A Tory is a specific kind of conservative, for whom the most cherished of time-honoured institutions are royal monarchy in the political sphere and the Apostolic Church in the religious sphere. Politically, I have been a Tory all my life, and as my theology has developed in a high church direction over the years, I have become so religiously as well. Unlike liberalism and leftism, neither conservatism nor Toryism, properly understood, is an ideology – a formula that purports to provide the political solution to all our problems. Indeed, the conservative and Tory are fundamentally anti-ideological, respecting the lesson of the past, that institutions, tested and proved by time, are to be trusted, over the formulations of intellectuals, however well-intentioned, for these never deliver the Paradise on earth they promise and more often than not do a great deal of harm in the name of doing good.

The non-ideological bent of the conservative and Tory allows him both to reject the foolishness and nonsense of liberalism and the left and to acknowledge the rare occasion when an idea coming from those quarters has merit. While, as indicated above, in my eyes nineteenth century liberalism produced more such ideas than any form of leftism then or since, I believe in giving credit where credit is due. While I disagreed with the late editor of Counterpunch, Alexander Cockburn on the vast majority of matters, I thought he was dead on right when it came to his opposition to American military interventionism in the Balkans and the Middle East. The late Gore Vidal had a lot of sensible things to say on such matters as well. Although I don’t agree with much that Noam Chomsky has to say when it comes to politics, his analysis of how the mass media shapes and limits thought in democratic societies is essential reading and I have always respected the consistency of his stand for free speech. Whereas most liberals and leftists switch from free speech mode, when they are defending subversives and terrorists, to become censorious witch hunters when anyone touches their sacred cow, the Holocaust, Chomsky, a consistent advocate of free speech, defended French professor Robert Faurisson, braving the wrath of loud mouthed fools on both the left and right to do so.

Admittedly, I find it easier to give credit to leftists for good ideas when those ideas are left over from a Tory upbringing. The Honourable Eugene A. Forsey, although raised a MacDonald-Meighan Conservative, was for the most part of his life a man of the left, a social democrat who, before accepting a seat in the Senate as a Liberal, had worked for both the labour movement and the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation. Despite this, and through all of this, he remained a man of deep Christian principles, and a patriotic defender of our country’s constitution, parliamentary monarchy, Common Law legal system, and traditional heritage and symbols, for which I admire and respect him. Other prominent Canadian social democrats who to one degree or another shared Forsey’s residual conservatism included Tommy Douglas, Stanley Knowles, and even, at least on the point of the monarchy, the late Jack Layton.

I say all of this by way of introduction to the following essay, which looks at an early twentieth-century leader of the Canadian left, who expressed sensible views that are completely verboten among the left of the present day, on the subject of immigration. Consider this quotation:

When it has become necessary in the United States to form an Immigration Restriction League, it is surely high time that we examined closely the character of our immigration, and shut out those whose presence will not make for the welfare of our national life.

These words are the opening paragraph to chapter twenty-one, entitled “Restriction of Immigration”, in Strangers Within Our Gates: Or Coming Canadians, originally published in 1909, the author of which was the Rev. James Shaver Woodsworth, a Methodist minister who at the time was superintendent of All People’s Mission in Winnipeg, an outreach ministry that worked with the poor and especially new immigrants. Woodsworth would later be elected to Parliament as the representative of Winnipeg North. He ran as a socialist, initially for the Independent Labour Party, later for the CCF of which he was the first leader. The CCF was a party that combined prairie populism with social democracy, and which was undergirded by the theology of the Social Gospel. While that theology is not sound from the perspective of historical, traditional, and Scriptural orthodoxy, the CCF outlook was much to be preferred over the hard-left, secular Marxist, ultra-politically correct perspective of its successor, today’s NDP.

Woodsworth went on in the next paragraph to quote approvingly two American Presidents, including Roosevelt (Theodore) who said “We cannot have too much immigration of the right kind, and we should have none at all of the wrong kind. The need is to devise some system by which undesirable immigrants shall be kept out entirely while desirable immigrants are properly distributed throughout the country.”

Can you imagine Jagmeet Singh or anyone in the party he leads quoting anything that sensible approvingly today?

Woodsworth contrasted the way Canada “eager to secure immigrants, has adopted the system of giving bonuses” with the way the United States “levies a head tax that more than defrays the cost of inspection.” In other words, we were paying for our immigration, the United States was making it pay for itself. He then quoted extensively from the Immigration Act of 1906, specifically clauses 26 through 33. Clauses 26 through 29 prohibited the immigration of anyone who “is feeble-minded, an idiot, or an epileptic, or who is insane, or who has had an attack of insanity within five years…is deaf and dumb, blind or infirm, unless he belongs to a family accompanying him or already in Canada”, “who is afflicted with a loathsome disease, or with a disease which is contagious or infectious, and which may become dangerous to the public health or widely disseminated”, “who is a pauper, or destitute, a professional beggar, or vagrant, or who is likely to become a public charge”, “ who has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, or who is a prostitute, or who procures, or brings or attempts to bring into Canada prostitutes or women for purposes of prostitution.” Clause 30 authorized the Governor-in-Council to further prohibit “any special class of immigrants” when deemed necessary, and clauses 31 to 33 specify the procedures whereby all of this is to be enforced. After quoting all of this material Woodsworth commented:

No one will quarrel with the provisions of this Act, but it should go further, and provision should be made for more strict enforcement.

Among his suggestions for improving the Act, are the prohibition of other classes that were then barred from immigrating to the United States – “polygamists; anarchists, or persons who believe in, or advocate, the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States, or of all forms of law, or the assassination of public officials” etc., - and “the prohibition or careful selection of assisted immigrants.” Take note of the latter, which he says “is of the greatest importance.” Rather than prohibit or carefully select assisted immigrants, the new immigration regulations of 1967 do the exact opposite of this and make the sponsorship of immigrants into a backdoor by which the requirements of the points system that these regulations introduced can be bypassed altogether.

As far as provision “for more strict enforcement” goes, Woodsworth says the following:

The trouble is that we are working at the wrong end. The examination in every case should be not at the ports of entry, but at the ports from which the immigrants sail – or better still at the homes from which they come. Such a course would be at once kinder to the immigrants and much safer for our country…Again, the examination where the people are known is the only effective method. Diseased, paupers, criminals, prostitutes and undesirables generally are known in their home neighborhood…The Canadian Government should insist on the immigrant presenting a satisfactory certificate from the Government officials of his own country. If the foreign governments would not co-operate, if they are too despotic or corrupt to make such an arrangement practicable, then we should appoint our own agents in Europe who would make most thorough investigation.

As with the careful selection of assisted immigrants, a major problem with the post-1967 immigration system is that we have gone in the exact opposite direction of what Woodworth proposed. Until then, a prospective immigrant had to go to a Canadian visa officer in one of our embassies, consulates, or High commissions abroad, and apply from outside of Canada. In October of 1967, a regulation was passed waiving this requirement and allowing legal visitors to Canada to apply from within the country. Charles M. Campbell, who served on the Immigration Appeal Board for ten years, eight as vice-chairman, explained that this, together with the establishment of the Immigration Appeal Board and the right to appeal a negative decision, led to the situation in the early 1970s where the system was completely swamped. Since this change had been made by regulation and was not part of an actual Immigration Act it was easily repealed in 1973, about the time that the Liberal government passed a general amnesty to deal with the backlog. It was only on paper, however, that we went back to the old rules. Today, the right to apply from within Canada is supposedly limited to select groups, like spouses of Canadians, but in reality, this is nullified both by the absurdity that “outland applications” can be made from within Canada and by the policy of making broad exceptions for “humanitarian and compassionate” reasons.

Woodsworth’s ideas would make him persona non grata today in the successor to the party he once led, as well as in the Green, Liberal, and, sadly, Conservative Parties. They are, however, basic plain sense. Governments are established for the common good of the countries they govern, not for the common good of all people, everywhere. Until quite recently, only American liberals with their naïve notion of their republic as the “first universal nation” were foolish enough to think otherwise. Governments, therefore, owe it to the countries they govern, and the people who already live in those countries, to be selective as to who they let in. It is their duty, not just their right, to allow desirable immigrants in and keep undesirables out. Those who disagree with this will try to argue that “desirable” and “undesirable” are entirely subjective and based upon irrational prejudice, but it is pretty obvious that the classes Woodsworth speaks of as undesirable – those who are subversive of government, law and order, criminals, or who because of poverty or mental or physical conditions are more likely to be public expenses than contributors – are objectively undesirable from the standpoint of a government looking out for its nation’s interests.

Today, the first, and usually only, response of the liberal-left to those who call for selective, restrictive, immigration that lets the desirables in but keeps the undesirables out is “racist.” This is their response even if the immigration restrictionist has gone out of his way to avoid bringing race, ethnicity, and culture into his arguments. Rev. Woodsworth had the following to say about this aspect of the immigration question, speaking specifically to immigration from Asia:

The advocates for admission argue that we ought not to legislate against a particular class or nation, and that the Orientals are needed to develop the resources of the country. Their opponents believe that white laborers cannot compete with Orientals, that the standard of living will be lowered, and white men driven out, and they claim that a nation has the right to protect itself… Perhaps, for some time, the presence of a limited number of Orientals may be advantageous. But it does seem that the exclusionists are right in their contention that laborers working and living as the Orientals do, will displace European laborers. It is generally agreed that the two races are not likely to ‘mix.’ Ultimately, then, the question resolves itself into the desirability of a white caste and a yellow, or black caste, existing side by side, or above and below, in the same country. We confess that the idea of a homogenous people seems in accord with our democratic institutions and conducive to the general welfare. This need not exclude small communities of black or red or yellow peoples. It is well to remember that we are not the only people on earth. The idealist may still dream of a final state of development, when white and black and red and yellow shall have ceased to exist, or have become merged into some neutral gray. We may love all men, and yet prefer to maintain our family life.

These words, written a hundred and ten years ago by the man who went on to lead the Canadian left for the first half of the twentieth century, would immediately bring down the charge of racism upon their author’s head today. Thirty years ago, the ideas contained in those words were enough to get people kicked out of the Reform Party of Canada, and indeed, as far back as 1972, when the University of Toronto Press put out the reprint edition that I have been quoting, they saw a need to stick an introduction by Marilyn Barber, explaining away Woodsworth as a product of his times.

While there are those who would say that this is a positive development, showing that we have come a long way as a society, and are so much more enlightened now than we were a century ago, the reality is that accusations of racism have, since the late 1960s, been primarily a means for stifling discussion, discouraging rational thought, and silencing dissent to ideas that could not bear up under scrutiny for a second.

Is it racist to take questions of race, culture, nationality, religion, and ethnicity into consideration in selecting immigrants?

Before giving the knee-jerk answer of “yes”, note that there is more than one way in which these questions can be taken into consideration. A government could make it its policy to preserve its country’s ethnic status quo and so refuse to admit immigrants that would alter that status quo. A government could make it its policy to ignore these matters altogether in selecting immigrants. A third possibility is that a government could make it its policy to deliberately and radically alter its country’s ethnic status quo by discriminating in favour of immigrants who differ from the majority of its population and bringing as many of them in as fast as it possibly can. Let us call these Options 1, 2, and 3.

Option 2 is the only policy that is racially and ethnically neutral. It is, therefore, the least susceptible to the charge of being racist. Option 1 is the policy that is most frequently condemned as racist. Of the two non-racially neutral policies, however, it is the only one that can be defended morally. The known negative effects of altering a country’s ethnic status quo include a weakening of social cohesion and communal feeling, a decrease in confidence in one’s neighbours, fellow citizens, government, and society, and, perhaps ironically, an increase in racial and ethnic negative feeling, hostility and strife. When, just over ten years ago, Harvard political scientist, Robert D. Putnam, published a paper, originally a lecture, that interpreted data that he had gathered in a study on the relationship between diversity and social capital as saying that “In the short run…immigration and ethnic diversity tend to reduce social solidarity and social capital” and that in diverse neighbourhoods “residents of all races tend to ‘hunker down’” and that “Trust, (even of one’s own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer,” he was not telling us anything that had not already been known and recognized from time immemorial. If you introduce one or two newcomers into a homogenous community who differ from the majority ethnically, they may indeed have the much lauded effect of improving the community in the way that is often expressed in the cooking metaphor of adding flavor or spice. This effect decreases, however, in inverse proportion, as the diversity increases. There is a relatively low saturation point – decades ago, Daniel Cappon of York University’s Department of Environmental Studies told the Globe and Mail that the “critical mass” was ten percent – beyond which, the negative effects of ethnic diversification take over. The larger the change and the faster it is accomplished the greater will be these negative effects. The wish to avoid these negative effects is sufficient reason and justification for Option 1, the policy of preserving the status quo. It requires neither irrational racial prejudice nor some ideological notion of racial purity – just plain, old-fashioned, sense.

Over the course of her history, the government of the Dominion of Canada has gone through three basic phases with regards to these policy options. From 1867 to 1962, Option 1 was reflected in federal immigration policy. This was true regardless of which party was in power, Conservative or Liberals, and, as we have seen, it had a supporter in the first leader of the CCF as well. In 1962, Ellen Fairclough the Minister of Immigration in the Cabinet of the Conservative government of John Diefenbaker, introduced what was basically a combination of Options 1 and 2. Racial, cultural, and ethnic preferences were eliminated for individuals applying to immigrate to Canada, but the rules which prohibited people from countries other than traditional source countries from sponsoring their extended families were retained. This reflected the thinking of the Prime Minister at the time, who wanted to be fair and non-discriminatory to individuals, Option 2, without radically changing the country’s demographics, Option 1. This, arguably the best of the phases, was also the most short-lived. It lasted until 1966-1967. In 1966 the Liberal government put out a White Paper recommending a new Immigration Act that would radically overhaul the immigration system. In October of the following year that overhaul took place, albeit through a change of regulations by Order-in-Council, as Diefenbaker’s changes had been, rather than through the new Immigration Act, which came nine years later. Thus began the phase of practicing Option 3 while pretending that it is Option 2 that has continued to this day. If Diefenbaker’s policy combined the first two options in the best possible way, this was and is the worst possible combination.

Here is how this was accomplished. The new regulations in October 1967, first, established the points system by which individuals now apply to immigrate to Canada, and second, eliminated the remaining racial and cultural restrictions so that everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, and culture could sponsor the same number and range of relatives. On paper, this looks like pure Option 2. The points-system, on its own merits, is quite fair. The prospective immigrant is awarded points towards entry for his ability to speak English and/or French, his level of education, his skilled experience in a trade for which there is a need of labourers, his age (maximum points for 21-49), his having an offer of employment in Canada, and miscellaneous similar factors. The problem is that two large back doors were put in place by which the points system can be bypassed. This is how Option 3 was snuck in and disguised as Option 2.

One of those backdoors is the sponsorship of relatives. Assisted or sponsored relatives, do not have to meet the strict requirements of the points system like individuals who apply on their own merits. In traditional source countries, the trend for the last couple of centuries has been towards the small, nuclear, model of the family. Couples have fewer children than before, and their ties to extended family – relatives beyond the nuclear model – are much weaker than they were before the Second World War, let alone prior to the Industrial Revolution. By contrast, in non-traditional source countries, the tendency is still towards large families, with many children, and strong, binding, ties to the extended family. This is not said by way of criticism of those cultures. Indeed, as I have argued in the past, in the modern transition to the nuclear model we can see the early stages of the social unravelling of the West and the “war on the family.” The point is that people from non-traditional source countries will be far more likely to want to bring a huge number of relatives over with them than people from traditional source countries, and both the Diefenbaker Conservatives and the Pearson-Trudeau Liberals, knew this. This is why the former, not wanting the country to be radically and rapidly transformed, retained racial and cultural restrictions on sponsoring relatives when they removed the other racial and cultural preferences. This is why the later, removed those restrictions. It is not that they wanted to be fully racially and ethnically neutral in their policy. They wanted to make Canada as diverse as they could, as fast as they could – Option 3 – while pretending to be neutral – Option 2. When they passed their new Immigration Act in 1976, the emphasis was on “family reunification”, by which wording Canadians were sold a bill of goods. A streamlined immigration application process for the purpose of family reunification makes sense when we are talking about bringing in the spouses and children of Canadians who have married abroad. What the Trudeau Liberals meant by it was making it easier and quicker for people from the Third World to bring their entire extended families into the country so as to change the country’s demographics – or, as the Liberals themselves put it, “change the face of Canada” – as fast as possible. This is not a racially neutral policy, nor is it a policy that has Canada’s interests at heart.

Remember that Rev. Woodworth said that “the prohibition or careful selection of assisted immigrants is of the greatest importance.”

The other backdoor is the refugee system. We had foolishly signed the United Nations’ Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, giving that body, established by an evil and insane American President as a monument to his own ego, the General Assembly of which exists only to provide a soapbox for the voices of every tin-pot dictatorship, military junta, kleptocracy, and failed state on the planet, the Security Council of which exists merely to rubber stamp the decisions of the American government, the right to dictate our refugee policy. Unlike the other signers, however, we have used the Convention as an excuse to make ourselves the laughing stock of the world, by pretending that illegal aliens are asylum seekers who have a “right” to cross our borders without going through the proper channels, and accepting a high percentage of “self-selected” refugees, of whom only a very small percentage are actually fleeing for their lives. Chapter seven, “How Canada Fails Refugees”, of Toronto writer, Daniel Stoffman’s, Who Gets In, is a must read on this matter. Stoffman shows how our corrupt refugee system, which primarily serves to line the pockets of immigration and refugee lawyers, actually makes it harder for real refugees to get in, by showing preference for the fakes and frauds. Reforms were made after this book was published but these all went out the window when Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister in 2015 and the system is now worse than it ever was before. Trudeau, a supporter of the previous American administration’s policy of intervention in Syria that produced a Civil War that has killed half a million people and displaced millions of others, insists that we have a responsibility to bring those who have been displaced over here. Sensible people would question the sanity of bringing thousands of people, whom you have helped murder and displace with your irresponsible interventionism, and who would have cause to hold a grudge against you even if they were not predominantly of a religion in which holy war is one of the core tenets, over to live in your own country. Especially, when you promise to bring them over in such large numbers and such a short period of time that you cannot possibly vet them properly. The folly of all of this has been matched only by its corruption – the Trudeau government did not go to actual refugee camps to find the “asylum seekers” it brought over, but rather found the majority of them in apartment buildings in cities in Turkey, Jordan, Oman, and Lebanon where they had been living for years and bribed them to come over and get their picture taken with Trudeau before being put into refugee camps here!

Through these two large back doors, Option 3 became Canada’s official immigration policy, under the guise of practicing Option 2. While it was the Pearson-Trudeau Liberals who started this, it has remained the policy of our government ever since, even in the periods in which the Mulroney and Harper Conservatives were in power. That Option 3 was intentional on the part of the Grits is evident from the results. At the start of Pierre Trudeau’s premiership, English Canadians, French Canadians, and white ethnics, taken together, compromised over 95% of Canada’s population. If trends continue, they will be a minority in Canada in 2050. A change that large does not happen that fast unintentionally. Perhaps those who introduced this phase of Canadian immigration policy did not foresee the scale of the change but demographic transformation was their intention.

This policy has never been popular. Polls conducted, from the beginning of this phase until the present day, have shown that the majority of Canadians do not and have never wanted immigration that radically changes the ethnic makeup of the country. Now, let me be clear, the modern democratic dogma that “the majority is always right” is false – it would be more accurate to say the majority is usually wrong – and government has a duty to do what is right, even when this is not what the majority wants. In this case, however, majority opinion corresponds with what we know to be true about large scale, rapid, demographic transformation being bad for established communities and countries, and the reason for this correspondence is clear – the majority are those who have to live, every day, with the results of immigration policy, whereas the politicians who make that policy, and their academic and media supporters, have largely isolated themselves from the consequences of their ideas, living in controlled, largely homogenous, communities, just as they have isolated themselves from all criticism of their ideas, by shrieking “racist” whenever anyone questions – or even dares to take notice of – the transformation that is quickly taking place before their very eyes.

Today, the Canadian left is all on board the “let’s make Canada as diverse as we can, as fast as we can” train, even though the brunt of the negative consequences must be borne by working class Canadians, the poor, and basically all those for whom the left until fairly recently professed to speak. The Canadian left of the twenty-first century would have no room for the likes of the Reverend J. S. Woodsworth. Indeed, if he were still ministering in the Winnipeg of the current year, expressing the same views as he did in 1909, in all likelihood Mayor Duckie would wring his hands in despair and order a police investigation, Helmut-Harry Loewen would seize the opportunity to get his name in the newspapers on a regular basis by warning of the imminent threat he posed, David Matas would consider initiating legal proceedings against the “Hitler of the North End” on behalf of Binai B’rith, and the ironically-if-unawarely-named Fascist Free Treaty One would seek to prevent his views from being heard through crude intimidation tactics, whereas I, on the other hand, would find myself in the odd and unusual position, of having to cheer the old socialist on.

Works Referenced

Charles M. Campbell, Betrayal & Deceit: The Politics of Canadian Immigration, West Vancouver, Jasmine Books, 2000.

Daniel Stoffman, Who Gets In: What’s Wrong with Canada’s Immigration Program – and how to fix it, Toronto, Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 2002.

J. S. Woodsworth, Strangers Within Our Gate: Or Coming Canadians, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1972 (original edition 1909)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Russia, The Royal Martyrs, and Revolutionary Modernity

Russia has been much in the news lately as left-wing wackos have been trying to paint US President Donald Trump’s attempts to get along with Russian President Vladimir Putin and allow the two countries to peacefully co-exist as some sort of treason. In my childhood, Russia was still in the grips of the murderous, totalitarian, ideological, regime bent on global conquest that had seized power in the fall of 1917. How well I remember that at that time, the same people who are crying “the Russians are coming” today, labelled anyone who warned about the Communist Kremlin’s evil designs a “McCarthyite.” The term alluded to Joseph McCarthy, the American Senator from Wisconsin in the 1950s who warned about Communist infiltration of the State Department. “McCarthyite”, as the left used the term, was more or less synonymous with “witch hunter”, although McCarthy has been mostly vindicated by the facts of history. (1) For the left, Russia could do no wrong as long as the Bolsheviks were in power, but once the Soviet regime collapsed, she can do no right. What an absurd and insane way of looking at things.

We have just reached the hundredth anniversary of one of the first in the very long list of monstrous crimes that can be charged to the Bolshevik account. On July 17, 1918, Tsar Nicholas II, along with his wife Empress Alexandra, and their children the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and the Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, as well as their household servants and the court physician, were shot, stabbed, and clubbed to death in Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, where they had been moved shortly before the murders. They had been prisoners for over a year, at first a mild house arrest under Keresnky’s Provisional Government, then a much harsher imprisonment following the October Revolution and the Bolsheviks’ rise to power.

The murder of the Romanovs had been foreshadowed by the beheadings of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette on January 21st and October 16th respectively in 1793, and before that by the beheading of Charles I on January 30th, 1649. There are a number of parallels between these murders. The victims, in each case, included the legitimate Royal Sovereign of the country in which the revolution was being perpetrated. He was also, in each case, the Royal Protector of a Church which claimed descent from the early, undivided, Apostolic Church and which was under attack by the revolutionaries. Charles I was the Protector of the Church of England which was under attack by the Puritan Calvinists. Louis XVI was Protector of the Roman Catholic Church in France which was a target of the Revolutionaries who were disciples of the rationalist Rousseau. Nicholas II was Protector of the Russian Orthodox Church against the atheistic, Marxist, Bolsheviks. In England and France, the revolutionaries tried to give a façade of legality to the murders by holding show trials in which the kings were condemned by kangaroo courts. In Russia, the Bolsheviks didn’t bother with this, they simply declared the Tsar to be guilty of crimes against the Russian people and had him shot. In each case the royal murders failed to satisfy the bloodlust of the revolutionaries, but rather merely whetted their appetite for the mass murders that were to come. (2)

There is a sense in which all three crimes were committed by the same perpetrators. While the term “left” did not develop its political connotations until the French Revolution, when it was applied to the enemies of the Crown, aristocracy, and Church because of where they stood in relation to the speaker in the French assembly, the Puritans were definitely historical antecedents of the French Revolutionaries, just as the Bolsheviks were their ideological descendants. The Puritans, like the Anabaptists of continental Europe, were the “left-wing” of the Reformation, those who thought the Magisterial Reformers had not gone far enough. They were also the first classical liberals, or, as liberals were called at the time, Whigs. In their thinking, and especially the secularized version of it offered in the writings of John Locke, the foundation was laid for the much more radical thought of Rousseau, which inspired the French Revolutionaries, and in turn laid the foundation for Marx, the father of Communism. In this lineage can be seen one explanation for the fact that “left-wing extremism” is a far less commonly heard expression than “right-wing extremism.” The latter expression is, of course, never used in good faith. It is employed by the left, to smear those who hold views that the left has decided are to be considered to be outside the pale of acceptable discourse, by association with the regime that governed Germany from 1933 to 1945, of which regime “right wing extremism” has connotations despite the fact that it was a revolutionary rather than a reactionary regime, that despised the old order of “throne and altar” that “right wing” was historically and traditionally associated with, and even called itself “socialist.” The reason “left-wing extremism” has not caught on is that it is redundant. The essence of the left, its very nature, is the relentless desire for the complete overthrow of all time-honoured institutions, traditions, and order. From royalty, nobility and the Church in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, to the middle classes and private property and enterprise in the nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, to marriage, the family, the nation and even the biological realities of race and sex in the twentieth and twenty-first, the left has moved on from one target to another, seeking only to destroy in its hatred and rage, with its ultimate targets being the Good, the True, and the Beautiful and indeed, God Himself, for, as Dr. Johnson observed centuries ago, the first Whig was the devil. The left is extremism, and extremism is the left.

In the Restoration, the Anglican Church at the 1660 Convocations of the provinces of York and Canterbury, canonized Charles I as a saint and martyr. Similarly, eighteen years ago the Russian Orthodox Church canonized its royal martyrs, all of the murdered Romanovs, as passion bearers. In both cases the honour was far more worthily bestowed than is the “cheap martyrdom” that contemporary evangelicals award to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, let alone the spurious pseudo-sainthood conveyed by the same upon Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi. While their faith was not the sole reason that Charles I and Nicholas II and his family were put to death, it was part of the reason, and in murdering them, their revolutionary enemies sought to kill that which they symbolically represented – the old order of Christendom, with its alliance of throne and altar, church and state. Bonhoeffer, while a clergyman – albeit one who should have been defrocked for his heretical theology which bordered upon atheism at the very end of his life – was executed for taking part in a political conspiracy. The Roman Catholic Church has never canonized Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, perhaps because its canonization process is more elaborate and requires more than mere martyrdom. It is not likely ever to do so as long as the usurper Jorge Bergoglio has his claws all over St. Peter’s vacant throne.

I wouldn’t hold my breathe waiting for Rome to develop enough sense to kick Jorge to the curb, bring back Benedict, and canonize Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Whatever Rome does or does not do, however, we can and ought to honour and remember them, alongside our Anglican Royal Martyr Charles, and the Imperial Family of Russia, and the sacred witness they bear to the truth of the old order, against the bloody, violent, and revolutionary hatred of the progressive left.

(1) For a thorough substantiation of this claim see M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies, (New York: Random House, 2007). See also Arthur Herman, Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America's Most Hated Senator, (New York: Free Press, 1999). McCarthy’s famous crusade against Communism began four years into the Cold War, which followed immediately after a lengthy period, which began with the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, in which the American government was incredibly pro-Communist. One of FDR’s first acts as President was to recognize the Bolshevik regime in Russia, to which he sent an ambassador, William C. Bullitt Jr., whom he recalled when Bullitt refused to whitewash the Stalin regime which, just prior to his arrival, had committed the Holodomor (the man-made famine that starved over ten million Ukrainians). In Bullitt’s place he sent Joseph E. Davies, who painted the Stalin regime with roses, even as it was conducting the infamous show trials known as the “Great Purge” under his nose. In 1943 FDR ordered Davies’ odious, pro-Soviet memoir, Mission to Moscow, made into a pro-Stalin propaganda film. While some might argue that FDR was forced into this relationship with Stalin by the necessities of WWII – an argument that would be true in the case of Sir Winston Churchill who knew Bolshevism for what it was and had been speaking against it for decades – FDR was, in fact, a naïve, egotist with a messiah complex, who saw himself and Stalin as brothers in progress, the leaders of two nations founded on modern ideological principles. The records of the Tehran Conference demonstrate how much closer in spirit to Stalin than to Churchill, FDR really was, making it less surprising that the outcome of FDR’s wartime negotiations with Stalin included the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe up to the eastern half of Germany, including Poland, for whose sake Britain and France had gone to war with Hitler in the first place after Hitler and Stalin had made a pact to invade and divide her between themselves. Needless to say, Roosevelt’s administration was overrun with Soviet agents and Communist sympathizers, such as Harry Dexter White. When the Cold War began, shortly after WWII ended, a number of highly placed Soviet spies, such as Alger Hiss, were exposed through the defections of Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley, and attempts were made in most branches of the American government to remove Soviet agents and other security risks, but the State Department resisted these attempts. Enter Joseph McCarthy, who in early 1950 gave a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia in which he declared the State Department to be “infested with Communists” and waved a paper which he claimed contained the names of a large number of individuals within the Department known to the Secretary to be members of the Communist Party. The US Senate appointed a subcommittee, headed by the hostile Millard Tydings, to investigate McCarthy’s charges. When the Republicans gained control of the Senate after the 1952 Congressional election, McCarthy himself was named chair of the Senate Permanent Investigations Committee. In 1954, William F. Buckley Jr and L. Brent Bozell went person by person, through the list of those McCarthy had either named before the Tydings Committee or investigated with his own, demonstrating that whether or not they could be shown to be “card-carrying members of the Communist Party” they represented real security risks. McCarthy and His Enemies: The Record and Its Meaning, (Chicago: Henry Regnery). Indeed, the majority of those about whom McCarthy raised concerns were later investigated, found to indeed be security risks, and removed from sensitive positions in the State Department. After the collapse of the Soviet regime in 1991, information from two newly available sources, the Soviet archives, and the declassified-as-of-1995 Venona Project (a counterespionage project that intercepted coded messages between the Soviets and their spies in the West) firmly established the guilt of many individuals such as Hiss, whose innocence the liberal left had loudly maintained for decades, and showed that indeed, the Communist Party USA had been acting as subversive arm of the Soviet Union, and that Soviet penetration of the American government in this era was far more extensive than McCarthy had suggested. See John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1999).

(2) As revolutionary modernity developed from the fanatical Calvinism of the Puritans to the rationalistic democratic egalitarianism of the Jacobins to the dialectic materialism of the Marxist-Leninist Bolsheviks the scale of the atrocities committed by its regimes increased, exponentially so in the final stage with Communism murdering over one hundred million people in the twentieth century. Those who, unlike David in 1 Samuel 24 and 26, are willing to lay their hands on the Lord’s anointed and commit the crime of regicide, will have no greater regard for the lives of those of lesser rank.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Hoist with His Own Petard

On July 28, 1794, the guillotine claimed the life of Maximilien de Robespierre. As a leader of the Jacobin Club, he had helped orchestrate the French Revolution, been one of the most vocal supporters of the murders of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, and, as a member of the Committee of Public Safety, had been the chief architect of the Reign of Terror. The poetic justice with which he fell victim to the same gruesome fate he had decreed for others is best captured in the words that William Shakespeare famously put in the mouth of his Danish prince Hamlet in reference to his plan to turn the order for his execution which Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were bearing from Claudius into their own death warrant, which words I have made the title of this piece. (1)

The same phrase can also be fittingly applied to what Justin “Peoplekind” Trudeau is now undergoing. Justin Trudeau, ever since he used his last name and looks to easily defeat the four women, each far more qualified for the job than himself, who ran against him in the 2013 leadership race for the Liberal Party of Canada, has marketed himself as a male feminist. He has certainly shown himself to have the feminist aptitude for totalitarian thought control. A year before the 2015 Dominion election that put the Liberals back in power he whipped his party, good and hard, declaring that the debate on abortion was over and that from now on the Liberals would accept no new candidates with pro-life views, and that sitting Liberal pro-lifers would be made to vote against their consciences. In power, he has declared pro-life views to be against Canadian values and has cut off access to government funding of summer jobs for students to employers unwilling to attest their agreement with the pro-abortion position. An endless display of feminist posturing has characterized the second Trudeau premiership from the day he announced his gender-balanced Cabinet. Needless to say, when the #Me Too Movement sprung up like a poisonous toadstool from the putrid manure that was all that was left of the reputation of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, Trudeau was in seventh heaven over the opportunities it afforded him to signal to his crowd of adoring, empty-headed, left-wing sycophants his feminist virtues. He took every chance he could get to remind us of his government’s zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual misconduct and to lecture Canadians, and indeed, the entire world, on how we should be following his holy example. Sexual harassment is a serious matter, he insisted, and allegations need to be investigated no matter how long after the fact they happen to be made. “When women speak up”, he said, “it is our duty to listen to them and believe them.”

Then an eighteen year old editorial from a B.C. newspaper called the Creston Valley Advance resurfaced It appears that while Trudeau was in British Columbia in 2000, raising funds for his winter sports safety campaign in honour of the younger brother he had lost in an avalanche two years previously, he attended a beer and music festival got wasted, and groped a female reporter to whom, the next day when he had presumably sobered up, he offered the interesting apology of “I’m sorry, if I had known you were reporting for a national newspaper I never would have been so forward.”

As the flock of groupies in the progressive press that only a short time ago would swoon at the very mention of his name transformed overnight into a pack of wolves howling for his blood with fangs bared, it has been highly entertaining, to say the least, watching Trudeau try to squirm his way out of the hole he has dug himself into. Everything he has said, from his non-acknowledgement of any “negative interaction” to his bizarrely worded recollection of giving the “apology in the moment” has only made things worse for him, especially as it becomes obvious that he will not be holding himself to the same merciless standard that he has held other members of his party, despite his repeated assurances that he would do so if allegations were ever made against him.

Most recently, the Prime Minister in a desperate attempt to shift the focus off of himself, has tried to turn the scandal into a teaching moment for the rest of us about some supposed “awakening that we’re having as a society.” As it so happens, I agree that there is a lesson for us in all of this, but it is not the lesson that Trudeau wants to teach.

Decades ago, before the revived feminist movement of the post-World War II era poisoned all interaction between the sexes, men would occasionally make unwelcome passes at women. At the time it was called “getting fresh” and women were quite capable of dealing with it without hiring a lawyer, running to the courts, and making a federal case out of it. Depending upon the woman the method might involve a slap or a drink to the face, a bonk on the head with a handbag, umbrella or whatever accessory happened to be convenient, or one of many other variations on this theme. This worked because, at the time, society operated on the principle of acknowledging and respecting the differences between the sexes rather than that of the unattainable ideal of sexual equality. The rules, therefore, which forbade men to ever hit women, allowed women this particular show of force which was quite effective at deterring and correcting inappropriate behaviour and also at sifting out those who could be so deterred and corrected from the much smaller number of genuinely criminal sexual predators who could not.

Feminism, which insisted that society reorganize itself in accordance with the ideal of sexual equality, demanded that all spaces from which the fairer sex had traditionally been excluded, from private clubs to men’s locker rooms, but especially workplaces, be thrown open to women. Beginning with the United States in 1964, foolish Western governments began to pass draconian laws which placed the onus of proof upon employers, landlords, and businesses accused of the crimethink of discrimination. It was the father of the alleged Kokanee Groper, a man who never met a Communist tyrant that he did not admire and adulate, who introduced ours in 1977. Faced with the threat of crippling lawsuits in which all the cards are stacked against them, most employers opted for a gender-balanced workplace.

Now that every workplace was going co-ed, the feminists decided that with this exponential increase in the opportunities for men to “get fresh” with the ladies, a new set of rules for the workplace was in order. Judging from the rules themselves, it seems as if a committee consisting of hatchet-faced harpies jealous of women who actually get hit on, stuck up knockouts who get offended at even the most politely worded attention from men who are not in their league, man-hating lesbians who consider all heterosexual relations to be rape, and various and sundry other stripes of sex-hating, neo-Puritan, control freaks was patched together to draw them up. What the rules basically amounted to was “no getting fresh”, except that “getting fresh” was replaced with the colder, more sterile, technical phrase “sexual harassment.” The new phrase, while for the most part used to mean the same thing as the old, is much broader in scope. Any acknowledgement of having noticed a woman’s sex that is not welcomed by the woman herself could potentially fall under the umbrella of “sexual harassment.” (2) Indeed, even if the woman does welcome the acknowledgement of her sex it could potentially be considered “sexual harassment” since the rules allow for third-party accusations. With the new terminology came an upgrade in the seriousness of the offence. No longer was the old slap in the face sufficient – the offender had to be charged, dragged before a human rights court, re-educated with sensitivity training – a far more cruel and inhumane punishment than a blow to the face – and perhaps face the complete and utter loss of career, reputation, and family. Feminism’s new rules quickly spread from the workplace to the campus and throughout all of society.

As if this were not already bad enough, more recently feminists, including, as we have seen, Trudeau himself, have been insisting that women who make accusations of inappropriate sexual behaviour have a right to be believed. Such a right cannot be squared with the legal right of those accused of offences to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The latter right is fundamental to our system of justice. The supposed right of women to be believed is not. It is also nonsense. Nobody has a right to be believed, people establish their credibility by proving themselves to be honest, reliable and trustworthy. That a sizable percentage of rape accusations prove, upon investigation, to be false is a well-established fact (3) and it is highly unlikely that this percentage decreases when all allegations of sexual misconduct are taken into consideration. Here, as with a woman’s supposed right to have an abortion, “women’s rights” does not mean the guaranteeing to women of the same basic civil rights as men, but the granting to them of special, exclusive rights, that take away from more basic, established rights that have long been the property of all – the right to life, the right of presumption of innocence. Far from being the social “justice” its advocates claim it to be, feminism is a form of injustice that is irreconcilably hostile to the most basic rights and freedoms of our country, that is to say, the Common Law rights and freedoms that were part of the Canadian heritage long before the Charter of which the Trudeau Liberals are so undeservingly proud was ever inked.

The lesson, to be learned from all of this, is that women were quite capable of dealing with fresh men long before feminism made sexual harassment into a political issue, that the old way of dealing with it was far superior to the Stalinist-lite method preferred by feminists, that we as a society ought to have run as fast as we could in the opposite direction when a movement with “the personal is the political” as its slogan arose, and that we should repudiate the legacy of the sixties and go back to allowing women to be women, and men to be men.

It is highly unlikely, of course, that Justin Trudeau will ever learn that lesson. If, however, the young lady reporter eighteen years ago, had thrown a beer in his face, slapped him silly, or whacked him with her tape recorder, rather than written him up in an editorial, he would not be in the mess he is in today. Heck, he would probably be a better person today for it.

(1) In contemporary English it could be alliteratively and more or less literally rendered as “blown up by his own bomb.” This just doesn’t have the same ring as the Bard’s original wording, however.

(2) Technically, the rules are supposed to apply to both sexes, but in practice they have been enforced primarily against men.

(3) See KC Johnston and Stuart Taylor Jr., The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities, (New York: Encounter Books, 2017).

Sunday, July 1, 2018

State of the Dominion – 2018

Today, on the 151st anniversary of the founding of the Dominion of Canada, let us take a look at the state of the Dominion. We will start on a positive note – contrary to what liberals would like us to believe Canada still is the Dominion of Canada. This is because the Fathers of Confederation gave our country the title of Dominion – as a substitute for their original choice of Kingdom – and the name Canada. This happened decades before the word Dominion became a more general description of self-governing bodies within the Empire as it evolved into the Commonwealth. When the Liberals repatriated the British North America Act in 1982 and renamed it the Constitution Act they did not excise the section and article that titles our country Dominion (II.1) and so we remain the Dominion of Canada. The late, great, Canadian constitutional expert, the Honourable Eugene A. Forsey, was fond of pointing this out as one of the inadvertently positive results of the repatriation process of which he was overall, and quite rightly, critical. Another observation of Forsey’s is worth mentioning at this point – that the BNAA, albeit under a new name and with some bells and whistles added –remains our constitution. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not itself our constitution but a set of amendments to it. The common liberal notion that Pierre Trudeau gave us a “new constitution” in 1982 is a myth. Last, but not least, among the positives, Queen Elizabeth II does indeed still reign over our country as Head of State. It speaks very poorly of the intelligence of Justin Trudeau’s supporters that one of them chose to deride me for saying this in a recent essay even though it is an easily demonstrated statement of fact. Perhaps this liberal does not understand the difference between “reign” and “rule.”

Now we must turn to the negative side of the leger. Sadly, there is much more to be found here than on the positive side. There has been a growing tendency among true Canadian conservatives, i.e., those who wish to conserve the legacy of Confederation and the Loyalist tradition behind it, since the end of the Second World War to focus on the negative. This tendency stands in marked contrast to the more optimistic tone in the writings of the leading such Canadian conservative man of letters from the era that ended with the War, economist, political scientist, and humourist, Stephen Leacock. This is because the post-War conservatives have had much that is negative to focus on due to the success of a series of “revolutions within the form” that have been perpetrated by the Liberal Party. The first such revolution took place in the 1920s during the premiership of William Lyon Mackenzie King. John Farthing, in his posthumously published (1957) Freedom Wears a Crown, noted how this revolution seriously undermined Parliament’s ability to hold the government accountable leaving the Prime Minister and Cabinet with the near-dictatorial powers with which they have plagued Canada ever since. The book for which George Grant will forever be remembered, his Lament for a Nation, was published in 1965, two-years in to the second “revolution within the form” (1) that took place during the premierships of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. Lament was a jeremiad based upon the author’s conviction that the fall of the Diefenbaker premiership two years previously, due to its insistence on not allowing Canadian policy to be dictated by Washington D.C., spelled the failure of the Confederation Project of building a conservative country that could withstand the continental gravity pulling it towards the orbit of American liberalism. Diefenbaker himself sounded the alarm about the radical changes being introduced in the early years of the Pierre Trudeau premiership in his Those Things We Treasure: A Selection of Speeches on Freedom and Defence of Our Parliamentary Heritage published in 1972. The same year, historian Donald Creighton’s collection of essays – in many cases originally lectures – Towards the Discovery of Canada, was, if anything, more pessimistic in tone than Lament. Creighton, although the son of a Methodist minister, did not allow Christianity’s optimistic view of history as ultimately culminating in the Kingdom of God to moderate his nationalist pessimism in the way Grant did. Towards the end of the Trudeau premiership and the completion of the second revolution, Winnett Boyd, Kenneth McDonald, and Orville Gaines published a series of books under their BMG label demonstrating how Trudeau’s policies were further subverting Canada’s parliamentary form of government and Common Law rights and freedoms, moving us closer to Soviet Communism, and, in the final book in the series, Doug Collins’ Immigration: The Destruction of English Canada, deliberately engineering radical changes to the demographic makeup of English Canada and in the process unnecessarily importing racial strife that would make it impossible to maintain order without a more authoritarian, if not totalitarian, style of governing.

The fact that all of the above books, with the exception of Grant’s, have been allowed to go out of print and that the leadership of the present Conservative Party shows little to no interest in their contents is itself a good reason for negativity and pessimism among traditional Canadian conservatives.

Today, we are in the midst of the third “revolution within the form”, being carried out under the leadership of the son of the architect of the second, a man operating without the benefit of either brains or a brain trust, even as we continue to be hit with the repercussions of the second revolution. As an example of the latter, consider the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent ruling in the Trinity Western University case. Trinity Western University is a conservative, evangelical, Christian university in British Columbia. It requires, as schools of this nature generally do, that its students agree to a Christian lifestyle covenant for the duration of their study. For some time now TWU has been working towards establishing a law school. While the law societies of most provinces have agreed to accredit the school and admit its graduates to the bar, the law societies of Ontario and BC have refused to do so. They consider TWU’s covenant to be discriminatory towards the alphabet soup gang, apparently holding the position that members of that group are incapable, unlike heterosexual singles who are also required to practice chastity by the same covenant, of refraining from acting upon their desires for the number of years it takes to get a law degree. The law societies’ decision has nothing to do with the quality of the legal education that would be available at the proposed school. What the law societies are doing is, ironically, exactly what they are complaining that TWU is doing – making their religious ethical convictions, in this case “thou shalt not discriminate”, into a standard that excludes others from membership in their community. There is a huge difference, however, in that the law societies are not the same kind of organization as TWU. TWU is a self-confessed, faith-based institution and the right of such institutions to require their members to adhere to the standards of their faith is well-established and time-honoured. The law societies are not institutions of that kind and have no such well-established and time-honoured right. The Supreme Court ought to have ruled in favour of TWU and prior to 1982 would have done so. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, however, transformed the Court into an agent of moral, social, and cultural revolution, which agrees with the law societies' efforts to force TWU to abandon either its Christian principles or its efforts to establish a nationally-accredited law school, because it ultimately shares their Cultural Marxist agenda of replacing the Christian principles of the old Canada with the modern, secular, pluralistic ideals of the new.

To many liberals today it would come as news that Canada ever had Christian principles to begin with. Former Liberal Party strategist Warren Kinsella and Mike Harris – the journalist not the 22nd premier of Ontario – are among the liberals that I have seen claim that Canada is a secular country that believes in separation of church and state. This absurd claim confuses the Canadian political tradition with its American counterpart but Kinsella and Harris are hardly the first liberals to be so confused. The Liberal Interpretation of Canadian History – what Donald Creighton mockingly called “the Authorized Version” – has always been based upon the false notion that Canada’s story is a repeat of America’s story – a former colony struggling to gain independence from the British Empire – rather than the truth that the those who built our country deliberately chose not to go down that path but to build our country within the evolving Commonwealth on a foundation of loyalty and continuity. This truth does not sit well with liberals – but then no truth ever has.

It is not just the Supreme Court. Justin Trudeau, who duped the Canadian electorate into voting his party a majority government in 2015, has been another aggressive promoter of the Cultural Marxist agenda. Not that he possesses the intelligence to actually understand the theories of Antonio Gramsci, Georg Lukács, Theodore Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Jacques Derrida or Michel Foucault. Cultural Marxism seems to be instinctual with him. He has made it a policy, starting this year, that employers receiving grants to hire student workers under the government’s Summer Jobs program must attest to their agreement with Liberal Party ideals including his crackpot notion that women have a right to murder their unborn babies. In other words “orthodox Christians need not apply.” The best that can be said about this is that it is merely an attempt to use the taxpayers’ money to bribe the faithful into giving up their convictions rather than dragging them before Human Rights tribunals and fining them or forcing them to attend the re-education camps euphemistically known as “sensitivity training classes” if they refuse to do so. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this means that Trudeau is less of a soft-totalitarian than his father. It just means that these other methods of cramming far-left views down Canadians throats are being reserved for new battles, like his war against “transphobia” and “Islamophobia”, rather than ones seen by the Liberals as having been won long ago.

It is, of course, only orthodox believers in the religion of the old Canada that the Liberals intend to press to give up their traditional beliefs. Neo-conservatives have recently called attention to the fact that the Islamic Humanitarian Service of Kitchener, Ontario, whose Sheikh Shafiq Huda was recorded calling for violent action against Israel at a recent al-Quds day march in Toronto, has been approved for a grant under the Summer Jobs program despite its leader’s conduct being as out of sync with the ideals employers are expected to sign on to as the pro-life views of Christians. When the neo-conservatives accuse the Liberal government of hypocrisy, however, they miss the point altogether. The Liberal Party’s Cultural Marxist agenda is one of replacing the old Canada with the new. Christianity, the faith of the old Canada, has to be forced to bow the knee to the idols of the new. Practitioners of other religions do not have to because they are part of the “diversity” that is one of the chief of those idols. In the 2015 election campaign, Trudeau campaigned against the previous neo-conservative government’s use of the expression “barbaric cultural practices.” The practices in question – forced marriages, female genital mutilation, and the like – are in fundamental conflict with the feminism that Trudeau espouses but to call anything that people from other cultures do “barbaric” is to sin against diversity. While Trudeau wastes millions of our tax-dollars on schemes for promoting “gender equality” around the world, at home the only throats he will shove it down are those of orthodox Protestants and Catholics and traditional English and French Canadians. The neo-conservatives, since they share most of the same ideals as the liberals – their objection to “barbaric cultural practices” was based upon the inconsistency of those practices with egalitarian liberalism – are reduced to pointing out the inconsistencies in Liberal practice, having no resources with which to resist and combat the Liberals’ increasingly radical left-wing agenda.

A large part of Canada’s trade has always been with the United States. For decades, however, the old Canada resisted the Liberal Party’s call for free trade with the United States. There were several reasons for that. Confederation took place only a few years after the Republican Party had come to power in the United States and put into place Alexander Hamilton’s “American system” of growing a strong manufacturing base through tariff protectionism and internal infrastructure improvements. Sir John A. MacDonald’s Conservatives knew better than to waste their time trying to negotiate reciprocity with a country that was not interested in it and furthermore recognized that due to the larger population and economy of the United States a free trade arrangement would lead to the subjugation of Canada – economically, culturally, and perhaps eventually politically. Goldwin Smith, the nineteenth century Manchester School free-trader and Liberal intellectual, made no effort to hide the fact that this was exactly what he desired for Canada in his Canada and the Canadian Question (1891). Confederation, Smith maintained, was a mistake - the formation of an unnatural country against the natural north-south trade flow of the continent, an argument which was amply refuted by Harold Innis in The Fur Trade in Canada: An Introduction to Canadian Economic History (1930) and Donald Creighton in The Commercial Empire of the St. Lawrence 1760-1850 (1937). Canada, Smith argued, should apply for entry into the United States. To allow this to happen would go against the very purpose of Confederation – uniting the provinces of British North America into a single country that could resist the expansionism of a United States that was preaching its “Manifest Destiny” to rule all of North America and which had threatened Canada with annexation more than once. The Tories introduced, therefore, their National Policy, which was a similar sort of protectionist nation-building to what the Republicans were engaged in south of the border at the time. In 1891 and again in 1911 Sir Wilfred Laurier sought election with promises of free trade – and both times he was soundly defeated. Sir John A. MacDonald, denouncing the "veiled treason" of reciprocity, defeated him in 1891 despite the collapse of his health that led to his death shortly after the election. In 1911 the poet Rudyard Kipling, in a front page editorial against reciprocity for the Montreal Daily Star that was reprinted across the Dominion wrote: "It is her own soul that Canada risks today. Once that soul is pawned for any consideration, Canada must inevitably conform to the commercial, legal, financial, social, and ethical standards which will be imposed on her by the sheer admitted weight of the United States" and the Canadian voting public evidently agreed. By 1988, however, Canada had already undergone the first two “revolutions within the form” and the objections to free trade were largely forgotten or regarded as having no abiding relevance in the late twentieth century. When the Free Trade Agreement was negotiated between Canada and the United States it was Brian Mulroney, the leader of what had been Sir John A. MacDonald’s party, that did the negotiating and signed the treaty into law. The Liberals were forced into temporarily disavowing their historic pro-free trade position in 1988, but they quickly resumed it when they returned to power led by Jean Chretien in time to oversee the evolution of the Free Trade Agreement into NAFTA. In the decades that followed, as free-trade opponents predicted, Canadian businesses were bought up by American ones and Canadians increasingly came to resemble Americans in the places they worked, shopped, and ate at. Many Canadians, however, seemed to think this was a small price to pay for cheap consumer goods and economic growth - a further indication of the Americanization of our culture feared by the Fathers of Confederation. Twenty-five years after the initial Free Trade Agreement, American-born Diane Francis of the Financial Post revived Goldwin Smith’s arguments with her Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country, demonstrating that the kind of annexionist thinking that had led the old Canada to fear free trade was not quite dead after all. For the history of the resistance against just such an outcome see David Orchard, The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism. (1993, 1998)

We have just been reminded of another reason why free trade was considered unwise - that we would be that much worse off if free trade were entered into and then rescinded than if we never agreed to it and became dependent upon it to begin with. In 2016, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States on a populist platform that included, among other things, a revival of the Republican Party’s old economic nationalism. Trump vowed to put the interests of his own country ahead of international and global concerns, promising that if he could not renegotiate NAFTA to his liking he would "scrap it." The attitude Trudeau and his Trade Minister took, in entering into the renegotiation talks, was clearly not that of leaders who cared a fig about the interests and well-being of their country. They insisted on bringing into the talks all sorts of trendy, left-wing, nonsense that had no relevance to trade whatsoever but appealed to Trudeau's international liberal fan base. Trump, evidently sick of having to put up with this, has begun slapping tariffs on Canada. Things were made much worse when, after the G7 Summit in which the leaders, including Trump, had agreed to a united communication, Trudeau seized the opportunity to gloat, provoking a barrage of insults from the American President and a hardening of his trade policies. In response, the Liberal government has declared that it will impose retaliatory tariffs against the United States, but this is not the same thing as protective tariffs incorporated into a larger National Policy as MacDonald had put in place. It amounts to a trade war being fought against a country with a much larger economy than ours by people who are fundamentally emotionally and intellectually incapable of placing what is best or even good for their own country ahead of their global, international, popularity. That is a recipe for disaster.

The Laurentian political class behind Trudeau has, behind its mask of indignation, been rejoicing over Trump's verbal assaults on Trudeau because they have been bolstering up his support which had been declining drastically due to his own incompetence and egotism. The greatest fear of said political class, however, is of a populist revolt similar to the one that put Trump in power. That such is possible in Canada was demonstrated at the provincial level in Ontario with the election of Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives and the decimation of Wynne's Grits. The political class has every reason to fear because the arrogance and contempt they have displayed to ordinary Canadians has long exceeded even that with which Hillary Clinton dismissed ordinary Americans as a "basketful of deplorables." In Canada, as in the United States, the most important issue over which the political class and the average citizen are at odds is immigration. In the 1960s the political classes of every nation within Western civilization adopted liberal views of immigration - that border laws should be lightly enforced, if at all, that immigrants should be accepted in larger numbers than ever before, and that restrictions based on race, religion, and ethnicity were not acceptable. Dissent from these views was condescendingly taken as evidence of irrational racial and cultural prejudices that would have to be eliminated through education. In Canada, the Diefenbaker Conservatives had removed racial and cultural restrictions on admission in the early 1960s, but the Liberals in the late 1960s gave the immigration system a complete overhaul. They introduced the points system of evaluating individual immigrant applications, a fair and ethnically neutral system, that nevertheless contained a large backdoor in the "family reunification" policy that allowed them to operate an ethnically biased policy under the guise of an ethnically neutral one. This policy, which Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau seemed to believe to be the solution to the existing tension between English and French Canada, was to make the country as diverse as possible as fast as possible. This was never a popular policy, as polling has always shown, and they took a particularly heavy-handed approach to dealing with dissent. (2) Laws which severely limited what could be said publicly in criticism of this were added to both the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act. Twice, to my knowledge, government agents actually helped found and lead neo-Nazi groups (the Canadian Nazi Party of the 1970s and the Heritage Front of the 1980s and 1990s) for the purpose of creating a public fear of resurgent Nazism that could be used to tar all criticism of unpopular liberal immigration with the Nazi brush. Under Brian Mulroney's leadership the Conservatives refused to criticize any of this and indeed embraced it all. The result was that by the end of the 1980s anyone who expressed the same restrictionist views of immigration that Conservative Stephen Leacock had expressed in his final book While There is Time (1945), that Liberal leader William Lyon McKenzie King, who led the Dominion in World War II, had held, and that the Rev. J. S. Woodsworth, first leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation had defended in the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters of his Strangers Within Our Gates (1909) was suspected of Hitlerist sympathies. Even Preston Manning's neo-conservative/right-populist Reform Party refused to challenge the Laurentian class's manufactured and imposed consensus.

Skip ahead to the present day. In the United States, Donald Trump, fighting against the political establishments of both American parties, has been trying to stop the flood of illegal immigrants into the United States across the Rio Grande. Justin Trudeau, however, last year tweeted an open invitation to all those rejected by the United States. Surely it does not require more than a modicum of intelligence to see that those rejected by another country are not the ideal pool from which to draw your own country's immigrants? That thought appears never to have crossed Trudeau's mind, however, obsessed as he is with his image as the "compassionate" anti-Trump. This is an image he has been cultivating since the election that brought him to power which happened to coincide with the year in which the plot of Jean Raspail's 1973 novel The Camp of the Saints came true and Europe was swamped with an invasion of those whose most effective weapon was Europe's own liberal humanitarianism. Trudeau promised to bring thousands of these over here, which he did upon winning the election, after which he had his picture taken with them, and then promptly forgot about them as they were now the problem of ordinary tax-paying Canadians. After Trudeau's ill-conceived open invitation tweet Canada suddenly found herself with her own brand new border crisis just like the American one. Trudeau and his Laurentian backers are deceiving themselves if they think the average Canadian is any more pleased with this than the average American.

Our political, academic, and media elite classes, fearing that they have built up a massive reservoir of resentment against their arrogantly imposed consensus which a populist reformer could easily tap into if he were willing to defy all their rules, have been going bananas with a Trump Derangement Syndrome that exceeds that of the American Left. Luckily for them no such reformer has yet appeared on the federal horizon. Unluckily for Canada, even if one were to appear, the best we could hope for would be that he would stop the third revolution dead in its tracks. What we really need is for the previous two revolutions to be rolled back and our country put back on the course set for it by the Fathers of Confederation.

Much as I would like it to, I am not going to be holding my breath waiting for that to happen. So, to avoid ending on a negative note, I will quote the thought with which George Grant ended his Lament fifty three years ago:

Beyond courage, it is also possible to live in the ancient faith, which asserts that changes in the world, even if they be recognized more as a loss than a gain, take place within an eternal order that is not affected by their taking place. Whatever the difficulty of philosophy, the religious man has been told that process is not all. “Tendabantque manus ripae ulterioris amore.” (3)

Happy Dominion Day,
God Save the Queen

(1) I have borrowed this expression from Garet Garrett’s essay “The Revolution Was.” Garrett used it to describe the American New Deal in the 1930s.

(2) Not coincidentally, the men who dreamed up this draconian scheme of silencing their opponents were admirers of the totalitarian police state of the Soviet Union. According to Elizabeth Bentley’s testimony to an American Congressional Subcommittee about the Soviet spy ring she had operated in the United States during the Second World War, Lester Pearson, who was attached to the Canadian embassy in Washington at the time, was one of her informers. This part of his ignoble career is often overlooked because of his toadyish attitude towards the Soviets’ rivals, the Americans, as when he engineered Diefenbaker’s downfall to please Kennedy, but when the man won his Nobel Peace Prize in the 1950s for selling out Britain, whose side Canada had traditionally always taken as a family matter, along with France and Israel, it was to both the United States and the Soviet Union that he had prostituted himself. Pierre Trudeau’s sympathies with Communism were well known. He led the Canadian delegation to a Communist conference in Moscow back during Stalin’s dictatorship, prior to his disastrous entry into Canadian federal politics as editor of the far left Cité Libre he engineered the Marxist revolt against the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec known as the Quiet Revolution for which, for some reason, he was never excommunicated, and while in power federally made no attempt to hide his admiration for Mao and Castro. Since Pearson and Trudeau’s leadership of the Liberal Party took place smack in the middle of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union both men were able to fend off criticism over all of this by writing off anti-Communism as a kind of “American paranoia” as if the old Canada had not been solidly anti-Bolshevik long before the Cold War, and indeed, before the period just prior to the Cold War, when the American President whose policies ensured that the Second World War would end with the Soviet conquest of Eastern Europe, was kissing Stalin’s backside.

(3) The Latin quotation is from the sixth book of Virgil’s Aeneid. The English translation given by Grant in a footnote is “They were holding their arms outstretched in love toward the further shore.”

Monday, June 25, 2018

True Evangelicalism: High Sacramental or Enthusiastic?

The term evangelical is derived from the Greek word for the Gospel. The prefix εὔ means good, and the verb ἀγγέλλω means to announce, or to bring tidings (the related noun, ἄγγελος from which our angel is derived means messenger). Similarly the English word Gospel comes from adding good, which at one time was spelled with a single long o rather than a double o, to the obsolete word “spel” which meant “news” or “tidings.” Thus εὐαγγέλιον and its English counterpart both have the meaning “good news.” While any message that brings gladness to the hearts of its recipients could be described this way, when we speak of “the” Gospel, we mean the Christian Gospel, the message which Christ commanded His Church to take to the world.

The Gospel is about Jesus Christ. It is about Who He is – the eternal Son of God, Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Who came down from Heaven and through the miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit took human nature unto Himself and was born of the Virgin Mary, thus eternally uniting in His One Person, full deity and true humanity. It is about what He has done – how He, being without sin, allowed Himself to be unjustly condemned and executed, so that He could take the sins of the whole world upon Himself and satisfy the demands of divine justice with His death on the cross, was buried, and then rose again from the dead on the third day. It is about why He did this and what it means to us – that He has obtained for us, what we, because of our sins, could never obtain for ourselves, God’s favour and acceptance, including the forgiveness of our sins, everlasting life, and entrance into His eternal kingdom, freely given to all who believe in Him.

The Christian Church never fully lost the Gospel. The ancient Creeds which date back to the earliest centuries of the Church – Apostles’, Nicene-Constantinopolitan, and Athanasian - all clearly state the Gospel truths about Who Jesus is and what He has done, and the regular worship of the Church includes the recital of one or another of these Creeds. The significance of the Gospel, however, was seriously compromised by late Medieval theology. In that theology, what Christ accomplished for us on the Cross was not so much a complete and finished salvation, but a second chance, a wipe of the slate, after which we enter a probation period of the rest of our lives in which we are to earn our final salvation by works, in which we are assisted by the grace of God, conceived not so much as God’s freely given and unmerited favour, but a kind of empowering energy dispensed to us, a little bit at a time, through the Sacraments. This kind of theology left people in a state of perpetual doubt and uncertainty as to where they stood with God, running on the treadmill of their own efforts towards the tantalizingly unattainable end of peace with God. By mixing the Gospel with the Law, it robbed the Gospel of the very reason that it is called Good News. This theology, together with an incredible amount of corruption in the ecclesiastical establishment, cried out to heaven for reform. When that reform came in the sixteenth century, those like Dr. Luther, who rediscovered from the Pauline epistles and the Gospel according to St. John that we are justified before God, not by a righteousness we produce with our own works, but by Christ’s righteousness given to us freely through faith on the basis of grace, dubbed themselves “evangelical”.

The events of the Reformation followed a different order in England than they did in continental Europe. On the continent, first the Reformers embraced the evangelical truths, then they were excommunicated by the papacy, after which, the established Churches became Protestant in areas where the Reformation had the support of the civil government. In England, first the established Church was removed from under the papacy by the civil government for political reasons in the reign of Henry VIII, then underwent reforms in the reigns of Edward VI and Elizabeth I that included the adoption of an evangelical confession of faith, the Thirty-Nine Articles. In both continental Europe and England, however, trouble arose from extremists who thought the Reformation had not gone far enough. While there were many differences between the continental Anabaptists and the English Puritans both groups held to a low view of the Sacraments. Low Sacramentalism is the view of the Sacraments that had been taught by the Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli , i.e., the idea that the Gospel Sacraments – baptism and Holy Communion – are mere signs and symbols, representing the grace of God, but in no way actually conferring it. The more conservative Protestants, the Anglicans in England and the Lutherans on the continent, regarded low Sacramentalism as both heretical in se, and as leading inevitably in the direction of the heresy of enthusiasm, a tendency towards which was shared by the Puritans and Anabaptists. Note that while today the word enthusiasm is generally used in a positive sense, to mean an intense interest in something as opposed to indifference or lukewarmness, it was originally a term that denoted the possession of an individual or group by a pagan divinity. (1) In Christianity, it came to be used to refer to individuals and sects who looked inward to what they believed to be their own personal experience of the Holy Spirit for authoritative divine revelation, placing that experience over both the teaching ministry of the Church and ultimately the Scriptures themselves. The movement within Protestantism that goes by the name evangelical today, overwhelmingly consists of those who hold a Zwinglian low Sacramentalism. It is also characterized by an emphasis on personal, spiritual, experience over Creedal orthodoxy, liturgical tradition, ecclesiastical authority, and often even Scriptural authority. (2)

The earliest Reformers, in both the English and the continental Reformations, were high Sacramentalists, i.e., they held that the Sacraments are not merely symbols but are actual conduits through which the grace of God, purchased for us by Christ, is conveyed to us. Accordingly, the high Sacramental view is enshrined in both the Anglican (3) and Lutheran (4) confessions of faith. As we have noted, these Reformers were also the first to call themselves evangelical, on the grounds of their having recovered a clear understanding of what makes the Gospel Good News, that the favour of God, obtained for us by Christ through His suffering, death and resurrection, is freely promised to all who believe in Him apart from their works. This too is enshrined in the confessions (5)

Many contemporary evangelicals and virtually all of those who continue to identify as fundamentalists, would say that there is a contradiction here. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, they would say, are works, and to say that God’s grace is conveyed to us through them is to mix grace with works. The high Sacramentalism of the Lutheran and Anglican Reformers, they would say, was a carry-over from medieval Romanism that ought to be discarded. In their understanding, which is Zwinglianism taken to the nth degree, baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances rather than Sacraments – rituals, of a purely symbolic meaning, that are performed by believers because Christ commanded them. If this understanding is correct then, of course, baptism and the Lord’s Supper would fall under the category of good works and it would be wrong to assign them a role in conveying grace. Thus, for example, Campbellism (6), which says that one must be baptized by immersion after one believes the Gospel in order to complete one's salvation, teaches a form of baptismal regeneration that adds works to the Gospel. Ultimately, the question of whether baptism and the Lord’s Supper are works or grace-conveying Sacraments will have to be settled by Scripture, into which we shall shortly inquire. First, let us note that in the Anglican and Lutheran Confessions high Sacramentalism and justification by faith are harmonized. The Sacraments convey grace because through them God produces, confirms and strengthens the faith that receives grace. This is stated explicitly in the Twenty-Fifth of the Anglican Articles of Religion. The Lutheran Confessions explain this in more depth by saying that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are, like the ministry of the spoken Word, forms of proclaiming the Gospel. (7) The following quotation from St. Augustine is helpful in understanding this point:

“Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” Why does He not say, You are clean through the baptism wherewith you have been washed, but “through the word which I have spoken unto you,” save only that in the water also it is the word that cleanses? Take away the word, and the water is neither more nor less than water. The word is added to the element, and there results the Sacrament, as if itself also a kind of visible word. (8)

To be clear then, the evangelical high Sacramentalist view of the early Reformers was not that salvation is by grace plus the Sacraments, (9) or that salvation is to be found in Christ plus the Sacraments, or that salvation is to be received by faith plus the Sacraments, but that the saving grace by which alone we are saved, is brought to us from our only Saviour Christ, to form the faith by which alone we receive it, by the Holy Spirit through means of the Gospel proclaimed in Word plus the “visible word” of Sacrament.

Zwinglianism, (9) which is by far the majority view among today’s evangelicals, attempts to add another sola to the Reformation five, by insisting that the preaching of the Word is the only means by which the grace of the Gospel is communicated. Romans 10:14-17 is cited in support of this position and some Puritans insisted on the basis of this passage’s use of the word “preach” that only a sermon counted, excluding even the reading of the Scriptures themselves. (10) Evangelical high Sacramentalism, properly understood, does not state that the Word by itself is insufficient for the creation of faith and transmission of grace. (11) The Zwinglian, however, sees it as potentially confusing the Gospel.

Yet how clear is the Gospel that is preached by the contemporary, overwhelmingly Zwinglian, evangelical movement?

The Gospel, preached clearly, in telling about Who Jesus is and what He has done, tells the penitent sinner, i.e., the sinner in whom the Holy Spirit has awakened an awareness of his sin, (12) God’s judgement, his lost condition, and need of forgiveness, that in Christ God has graciously and freely given Him full and complete salvation. Since the promises of the Gospel are addressed to “whosoever believeth” the Gospel assures all who are persuaded of its truth that they have been forgiven of their sins and given everlasting life. When the Gospel is preached properly and clearly, no one can be persuaded by it and left wondering what he needs to do to obtain God’s grace for himself. Someone who is persuaded of the truth of the Gospel in all its clarity – and only the Holy Spirit can so persuade him, the Scriptures are quite clear – knows both a) there is nothing he can do, b) there is nothing he needs to do, and c) he has been saved by God through Jesus Christ and His finished work. To be persuaded of the truth of the Gospel is to believe it and thus to be one to whom its promises apply. The Gospel assures the believing sinner of his salvation by creating in him a faith that looks outward, away from himself, and rests in Jesus Christ and His finished work alone.

Most contemporary evangelicals are Arminians. The way they preach the Gospel it requires an act of the sinner’s will for him to be converted. He can hear the Gospel, be persuaded by it, and yet remain unconverted because he needs to “make a decision for Christ.” Leaving aside the semi-Pelagian implications of this form of theology, consider what it does to the promises of the Gospel. The Gospel says “whosoever believes”, but to believe is to be persuaded, convinced, and Arminian theology says that is not enough. They may say that the act of the will they require is faith, but this is not faith in the ordinary sense of the word – belief, trust, confidence – and the decision is usually described in terms other than believing, like “invite Jesus into your heart.” This makes faith itself into a work. (13)

Other evangelicals are Calvinists. These are strong predestinarians who reject the semi-Pelagianism of Arminian decision theology, but they too present the Gospel as if “whosoever believes” does not mean what it says. This is done differently, by maintaining that Gospel faith is a special kind of faith, not merely in terms of its content (the Gospel) and Object (Christ) but in terms of its psychological composition. Only the elect are given this special kind of faith, although the non-elect can believe the Gospel with ordinary faith in a non-saving way, thus the believer must look to the fruit of faith in his own works for evidence that it is the true, saving kind, rather than the ordinary kind. (14)

The result of both forms of contemporary evangelicalism is to direct one’s gaze inward, at one’s own life, experience, faith and works, rather than outward to the completed work of Christ, as proclaimed to us in the Gospel, through Word and Sacrament. Far from being a clearer picture of the Gospel than sixteenth century evangelical high Sacramentalism, this is the heresy of enthusiasm that the early Reformers fought against. The question that needs answering is whether or not there is, as Luther asserted, an essential connection between this inward-looking enthusiasm and the Zwinglian view of the Sacraments?

To answer this, we need to find which view of the Sacraments is most in line with the Scriptures. If the high Sacramentalist point of view is Scriptural, then by reducing the means of grace to oral preaching the low Sacramentalist has impoverished the believer of the divinely appointed means of confirming and strengthening his faith, which has the natural result of throwing him back on his own resources, i.e., enthusiasm. If the low Sacramentalist point of view is Scriptural, then we will need to search for an explanation for why the contemporary movement dominated by this point of view presents a much fuzzier view of the Gospel than Luther did. We will look at baptism first, then the Lord’s Supper.

The noun τό βάπτισμα occurs twenty-one times in the New Testament. Of the four times in the Gospel of Matthew, two refer to John’s baptism which, as Acts 18-19 demonstrates, was not the same thing as Christian baptism but a precursor to it, and two refer figuratively to Christ’s suffering on the cross. This is also true of the four times the Gospel of Mark uses the noun. The Gospel of Luke also uses the noun four times, three in reference to John’s baptism, one in reference to Christ’s suffering. The noun is absent from the Gospel of John. All of the uses of the noun in Acts refer to John’s baptism, mostly as historical markers (in Acts 19 where the baptism of John is contrasted with Christian baptism, only the verb is used for the latter). There are only three occurrences of the noun in the epistles. One of these, Ephesians 4:5 speaks of the unity of Christian baptism as a sign of the unity of the Christian faith. The other two passages, however, are key passages in the controversy.

St. Peter, in the third chapter of his first epistle, after speaking of Christ’s saving work on the Cross in the eighteenth verse, speaks of the harrowing of Hell in the nineteenth and twentieth, in the context of which he brings up the Deluge saying of Noah’s ark “wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” which he then applies as follows:

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. (vv. 21-22)

This direct assertion that baptism saves makes this a rather problematic text for the low Sacramentalist. The use of Noah’s flood and water as typical imagery makes it extremely unlikely that the baptism referred to in this passage is not referring to water baptism. The context in which it occurs – everything from the beginning of the discussion of the harrowing of Hell to “a good conscience toward God” is a parenthesis in a basic summary of the Gospel that begins in verse eighteen and continues into verse twenty-two – makes it extremely unlikely that “save” is being used in a sense other than Gospel salvation. The same context would make it unacceptable to understand the baptism in this verse as being a human work that is necessary for salvation even if we did not have St. Paul’s epistles to tell us that human works contribute nothing to salvation. By process of elimination, the high Sacramental interpretation best fits the passage. The words “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh” make it clear that it is not the water in baptism that saves. Therefore it must be the faith-generating Word added to the water in baptism. This keeps with what was said earlier in the same epistle in the first chapter where, after telling his readers that they were redeemed by the blood of the foreordained and now manifested Christ in verses eighteen to twenty, he speaks of their faith and their love for the brethren in verses twenty-one to twenty-two, before saying “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (v. 23)

The final passage is Romans 6 which uses both the noun and the verb βαπτίζω to speak of the means by which the believer is united with Christ in His death and resurrection. Similarly, St. Paul connects the verb with the believer’s being united with Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:13 and Galatians 3:7. In Colossians 2:12 he says we are “buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead”, using a very similar noun. (15) This close association between the baptism of the believer and the union of the believer with Christ sheds much light on baptism as it is presented in the Gospels and vice-versa.

At the beginning of the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus we find the ministry of John the Baptist. As we have seen, John’s baptism was clearly distinguished from Christian baptism in Acts 18-19 in which some, who had been baptized with John’s baptism but had not heard of Jesus, were baptized again in Jesus’ name. John’s baptism is repeatedly spoken of in Acts as a baptism of repentance and in the brief accounts of his ministry in the Gospels it is evident that his role, as the “voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord” (Matt. 3:3) was to call the covenant nation of Israel to repentance. Jesus, however, Who had no sin of His own to repent of, came to John to be baptized. John himself was confused by this, saying to Him “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” but Jesus answered Him by saying “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” (Matt. 3:14-15)

This does not mean that Jesus needed to be baptized in order to be fully righteous Himself. He already was fully righteous. It therefore must mean that His baptism was necessary for Him to fulfil God’s righteous requirements on our behalf. In His Incarnation, Jesus took our nature upon Himself and identified Himself with us as a human. By undergoing the baptism of John – a baptism of repentance – He identified Himself with us as sinners as a necessary, preparatory, step to bearing our sins in our place in dying on the Cross. At His baptism, the Holy Trinity was manifested publicly with the Father speaking from Heaven and the Holy Spirit visibly descending upon Christ. Christ’s own baptism marked the beginning of the transition from John’s baptism to Christian baptism, for Jesus had His own disciples performing baptisms from the beginning of His earthly ministry, (John 4:2), although the Sacrament as such was not formally instituted until the Great Commission prior to His Ascension when, He pointed back to the manifestation of the Trinity in His own baptism and commanded His disciples to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19), promising that “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). The latter verse (16) connects baptism with saving faith in a general but not an absolute way, (17) while the former points back to Christ’s own baptism in the institution of the Christian Sacrament. As Christ united Himself with sinners by participating in John’s baptism of repentance, so we are invited to be united to and identify ourselves with Him in our baptism.

Our union with Christ is also very closely tied to the other Gospel Sacrament in the writings of St. Paul. In the tenth chapter of his first epistle to the Church in Corinth he wrote:

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. (vv. 16-17)

The identification of the bread of the Lord’s Supper with the body of Christ goes back to the teachings of Jesus Christ Himself. It is found in the words of institution pronounced at the Last Supper as recorded in each of the Synoptic Gospels (Matt. 26: 26-28, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:17-20) and also by St. Paul in the next chapter (vv. 23-25). Later in 1 Corinthians, St. Paul placed a great deal of emphasis on the Church itself being the body of Christ (12:12-27), stressing the unity of the body, a major theme in this epistle due to a problem with schismatic personality cults that the Corinthians were facing (1:10-13). In this passage in chapter ten, the Church’s identification with the body of Christ and its unity are both said to derive from their participation in the bread of Communion. If baptism, which occurs once, is the Sacrament in which the unity of the believer with Christ – and with other believers - is established, Communion, which was originally celebrated daily is the Sacrament in which this unity is sustained.

As the early Church developed its understanding of the Sacraments this connection to the unity of believers with Christ and each other was a key interpretive concept. An obvious parallel can be seen between the individual and collective indwelling of believers by the Holy Spirit in the Church as the body of Christ and the Incarnation, in which “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) and the Church Fathers drew the equally obvious parallel with the rites that St. Paul connected with the union of believers and Christ. “And without controversy”, St. Paul wrote, “great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). In Ephesians he said of the union of husband and wife which he was using as a metaphor for the union of Christ and His Church that “this is a great mystery” (Eph. 5:32). It is no coincidence that μυστήριον, the word used in these verses was the word chosen by the Greek Fathers to refer to the rites of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, through which the union of believers with Him in Whom full deity and true humanity are forever united, is effected. (18) It is very appropriate, therefore, that in the words from St. Augustine that we have already quoted, he explains the Sacraments in the language of incarnation “The word is added to the element, and there results the Sacrament, as if itself also a kind of visible word.”

The efficacy of the Word as the means by which the Holy Spirit produces the faith that receives grace is stated repeatedly in the New Testament. It is illustrated in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, Luke 8:4-15) and is the plain meaning of Romans 10:17. Regeneration, the miracle in which a sinner, spiritually dead in his trespasses and sins is brought alive with the eternal life of Jesus Christ, is described as a Sovereign work of God, wrought through the means of the seed of the Word (1 Peter 1:23, James 1:18). (19) If a Sacrament is a “kind of visible word” as St. Augustine said, then its efficacy is to be found in the Word rather than the physical element, which was, in fact, the point St. Augustine was making. Thus the error of a mechanical Sacramentalism, in which the physical elements convey grace in themselves apart from the Word, must be avoided, warned against, and rebuked wherever it rears its head. It is not, however, be a coincidence that the heresy of Nestorianism can so often be found among Zwinglians. When the Son took our nature unto Himself and became Man in His One Person the two natures were forever united and while they can be distinguished they cannot be separated. This is Chalcedonian orthodoxy, Nestorianism is the heresy that separates the divine and human natures so as to divide the One Person of Jesus Christ, as when Nestorius denied that Mary should be called the Mother of God, i.e., of the divine Person Jesus Christ, because she was the source of His human but not His divine nature. The efficacy of the Sacraments comes from the Word within them, but it is Christ who united the Word with the elements in the institution of baptism and His Supper, and what Christ has united we ought not to separate.

That the Sacraments convey grace by producing and strengthening the faith that receives it is the simplest way of understanding the two chapters in the Gospel according to St. John in which the subjects of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are interwoven with extended discussions of the Gospel promise of everlasting life to believers. This Gospel, it has frequently been observed, stands out in the New Testament canon as explicitly stating the conversion of unbelievers as its purpose (20:31). Most of the other New Testament writings are addressed to those who are already believers, even St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans which lays out the plan of salvation in a logical, orderly, fashion. From beginning to end the fourth Gospel is full of Jesus’ promises that whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life.

A famous example occurs in the third chapter of John. This chapter features two conversations. In the first, the Pharisee Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night and is told that in order to see and enter the Kingdom of God he would need to be born again. In the second, the disciples of John the Baptist come to John to tell him that now more people were going to Jesus and His disciples to be baptized than were coming to him. In the first interview, Jesus explains to Nicodemus that He was talking about a spiritual birth and uses the physical wind as an illustration of the working of the Holy Spirit – both are invisible although their effects can be seen. (20) Nicodemus does not understand, and Jesus asks him how, if he does not believe Jesus about earthly things, he can believe Him when He speaks of heavenly things. The point of the question is that apart from the enlightening ministry of the Holy Spirit this is utterly impossible – hence the need for the new birth. (21) Jesus then goes on to tell of the heavenly things of which He spoke in the most well-loved statement of the Gospel of all time:

And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (vv. 14-18)

John the Baptist, in his discussion with his disciples, makes many of the same points that Jesus made to Nicodemus (see verses 31-32), and concludes with the same Gospel promise:

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (v. 36)

It is evident that these conversations are recorded together, back-to-back, because of the similarity in content. It follows, therefore, that since there is no other mention of water in the account of the first conversation, the first place that we ought to look in order to understand Jesus’ statement in John 3:5, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”, is in the account of the second conversation. The account of the second conversation begins by saying that Jesus and His disciples went to Judea and were baptizing, and John was baptizing in Aenon near Salim “because there was much water there.” Due to this a false perception developed among some of John’s disciples of a rivalry between John and Jesus and this became the springboard that launched the second conversation. It is not surprising, therefore, that the oldest interpretation of John 3:5, one which became the consensus view of the orthodox Church Fathers, (22) and which met with little in the way of serious opposition prior to Calvin, being upheld by Dr. Luther, (23) was that the water of baptism is in reference in this verse. There is no conflict between this interpretation and the clear teaching of Scripture that we are saved by grace through faith and not by our works. The spiritual birth described in this verse is clearly a work of God not of man.

In the third chapter of John the Gospel promises pertain to receiving and entering into everlasting life. In the sixth chapter of John we find a set of Gospel promises that pertain to the believer’s preservation in everlasting life. Preservation, like initial regeneration, is presented as being God’s work rather than ours. This is a very important truth because if our initial salvation were by grace but the responsibility for keeping us saved fell upon us our faith could hardly rest on Christ and His finished work. The context is the immediate aftermath of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand (vv. 1-13). After the miracle Jesus had gone up into a mountain to escape the multitude (v. 15) and in the evening, while His disciples were crossing the sea of Galilee to Capernaum in a boat, walked on the water to join them (vv. 16-21). The next day, the people who had witnessed the miracle and had been left on the other side of the sea, crossed over to Capernaum looking for Him. Jesus told them that it was because they had eaten of the loaves and been filled that they sought Him, but that they should “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.” (v. 27) They ask what they must do that they might work the works of God and are told “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (v. 29) They then ask Him for a sign that they might believe, strongly hinting for a repeat of the previous day’s miracle by mentioning the manna with which the Israelites had been fed in the wilderness. Jesus responded by contrasting the manna of old with the true bread from heaven which His Father gives, and when they ask for that bread, He says “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (v. 35). He then rebuked them for their unbelief and said the following:

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (vv. 37-40) (24)

His unbelieving audience then began to murmur over His having said that He was the bread from heaven and Jesus reiterated that apart from the Father’s drawing no one can come to Him, (vv. 44-46), promised everlasting life to all that believe in Him (v. 47), and then said:

I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (vv. 48-51)

When this too was met with an unbelieving response Jesus added:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. (vv. 53-58)

Not only the unbelievers in the audience but Jesus’ own disciples had difficulty with these words, calling them “a hard saying.” (v. 60) Later, of course, at the Last Supper, when Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Communion by breaking the Passover matzot and saying “Take eat, this is my body” and then blessed the cup saying “Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” the meaning of these words became clear, much as His prediction that He would raise up “this Temple” after three days became clear after His Resurrection. (2:18-22) The reference to the Lord’s Supper in these verses is now as obvious as the reference to the Resurrection in His Temple raising prediction so that it is only willful blindness that stubbornly refuses to see it there. (25) Earlier in the chapter, when Jesus first identified Himself as the “true bread from heaven” and the “bread of life” in contrast with the manna of the Old Testament, He was speaking figuratively, and to eat that bread was to believe in Him. When He adds that the bread that He “will give” is His flesh and speaks of eating His flesh and drinking His blood He has segued into a discussion of the yet-to-be-instituted Sacrament of Communion. The Gospel promises attached to this Sacrament (6:54) are the same promises of preservation stated earlier in the chapter (v. 40). Note how the statement that the one who partakes of His flesh and blood “dwelleth in me, and I in him” parallels the thought of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:17.

The attachment of the Gospel promises of spiritual rebirth and preservation to the Sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper in these chapters can be misconstrued. It would be wrong to read these verses in such a way as to set the necessity of the Sacraments – “Except a man be born of water and the Spirit”, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood” – against the promises in the same chapters to “whosoever believeth” so as to nullify the latter promises for someone who believes the Gospel but for some reason has not taken part in the Sacraments. This would be the error of “faith plus the Sacraments.” It would also be wrong to read these verses as saying that baptism and the Lord’s Supper convey everlasting life mechanically to all who formally partake of them independently of their faith in the Gospel. It is just as wrong, however, to explain away what they are saying. The key to understanding how the teaching of these passages is consistent with the Gospel promises of free salvation to all who believe in Jesus is found in the First Epistle of St. John.

In the fifth chapter of the epistle we read “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.” For many people the verb “came” is the stumbling block to understanding this verse. They assume that this is a reference to His having come into the world, His Incarnation. If that is what St. John was talking about then what on earth do “by water and blood” and “not by water only, but by water and blood” mean? His baptism and crucifixion, the beginning and end of His earthly ministry? These happened thirty years plus after His entry into the world and were hardly the means by which it took place. Indeed, if the coming of Jesus referred to in this verse is His miraculous conception and Virgin Birth, it is difficult to think of any meaning of “water and blood” that would make the verse make sense. The difficulty vanishes when we realize that what the Apostle is talking about here is not Jesus’ coming in the sense of His coming into the world in His Incarnation but His coming to the believer. The previous two verses were talking about how the person who is born of God overcomes the world by believing in Jesus Christ. If it is Jesus’ coming to the believer that St. John is talking about then “by water and blood” make perfect sense. Water is the water of baptism and blood is the “blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” as offered in the cup of Holy Communion. Here and in verse eight, these are linked to the testimony of the Holy Spirit. The witness of the Holy Spirit comes to us through the Word – it is the ministry by which He speaks to our hearts, whenever we hear the Word of the Gospel, telling us that this Word is truth.

In the eighth verse of the chapter the Apostle writes “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” The Spirit speaking through the Word, the water of baptism, and the “blood of the new testament”, i.e., Holy Communion, are three witnesses with a common testimony. The next two verses explain that their testimony is the witness of God concerning His Son, which witness is greater than the witness of man, a witness that becomes internal when we believe in the Son, and not to believe which makes God out to be a liar. The Apostle then goes on to state the content of the testimony born by the Spirit, water, and blood:

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (vv. 11-12)

This is the Gospel which brings a salvation of which we can be certain to all who believe it, which certainty St. John explains was the whole point of his having brought the matter up (v. 13). (26) The Sacraments are part of the Gospel, not as additional objects of faith (Christ plus the Sacraments) nor as requirements added on to faith (faith plus the Sacraments) but as additional witnesses to the truth of the Gospel spoken by the Spirit through the Word. Word plus Sacraments is the right formula, based upon the very Scriptural principle that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” (Deut. 17:6; 19:15; Matt. 18:16; 2 Cor. 13:1) As His witnesses, these are the means which God has appointed to bring us to faith in the Gospel to which they all testify. (27)

To reduce those witnesses to one, as did Zwingli, Calvin, and those who followed after them, including the majority of today’s evangelicals, violates the Scriptural principle that nothing is to be established by a single witness. To reject two of the three appointed means of grace is to assert that you can and will come to faith on your own terms – the dangerous and blasphemous assertion of the heresy of enthusiasm. The two that are rejected are those that are closely associated in Scripture with the union of believers with Christ in His body the Church. Here again we find the enthusiastic idea that the individual can and should meet God on his own outside of the community of faith. Is it any wonder that contemporary evangelicalism speaks the language of enthusiasm in which spirituality is good, and religion is bad, in which God is spoken of in familiar rather than reverent terms, in which an experience-based “personal relationship with Jesus” replaces faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, rather than the language of orthodoxy? What passes for evangelical today is not more consistent with the Scriptural Gospel than the Sacramentalism of the Lutheran Confessions and the Anglican Articles of Religion but rather far less so. Fallen man, because of his sin, is incapable of earning God’s favour, and so it had to be given to him freely in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The same sinful rebellion that makes man incapable of earning God’s favour, also prevents him from coming to Christ to receive the freely given grace. Christ and His grace must therefore be brought to sinful man from the Cross, through the instrumental means of the Gospel proclaimed in Word and Sacrament whereby God Himself creates the faith necessary to receive His grace. To reach sinners with the Gospel of God’s grace, we need to rely much less on anthropocentric, man-made, “seeker sensitive” gimmickry, and more on God’s appointed means of proclaiming His Gospel – the Word and Sacraments.

(1) Eurpides’ best-known play, The Bacchae, illustrates this. The Maenads in the play, female adherents of the cult of Dionysius, possessed by the god of wine, terrorize the countryside with their supernaturally enhanced chaotic and lawless behaviour, at one point tearing to pieces a herd of cattle with their own hands.

(2) This will seem strange to those who use the term “evangelical” to mean “theologically conservative Protestant”, i.e., someone who believes the doctrines of Protestant orthodoxy and accepts the Scriptures as authoritative, inspired, revelation over a liberal, i.e., someone who does not. However, when theologically conservative Protestants in the 1950s abandoned the term “fundamentalist” for “evangelical”, claiming for themselves the heritage of the Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century, and the evangelical revivals of the eighteenth and nineteenth, while disavowing, to a certain degree, that of the men who fought against the inroads rationalistic modernism had been making into the Churches in the early twentieth century, this led inevitably, despite the protestations of E. J. Carnell, Ronald H. Nash, Carl F. H. Henry, Harold John Ockenga, and the other apologists of the “new evangelicalism” that it would not, to a weakening of the new movement’s view of Scriptural authority. See Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976) and The Bible in the Balance, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), or, if you are more interested in the history than the theological polemics, George M. Marsden, Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1987, 1995).

(3) “Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God’s good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him.” (italics added) from Article XXV. Of the Sacraments. Similarly, Articles XXVII and XXVIII on Baptism and the Lord’s Supper respectively, begin by asserting that the sacrament in question “is not only a sign.” John Jewel, the sixteenth century Bishop of Salisbury, in his Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae, written in Latin to defend the English Church against the Romanist charge that the English Reformers had set up a new Church and published in 1562, wrote “For we affirm, that Christ doth truly and presently give His own self in His Sacraments; in Baptism, that we may put Him on; and in His Supper, that we may eat Him by faith and spirit, and may have everlasting life by His cross and blood. And we say not, this is done slightly and coldly, but effectually and truly.” (from the 1564 English translation by Lady Ann Bacon)

(4) Augsburg Confession, Articles IX, X, XIII. Smacald Articles, Part III, Articles V and VI. See also the second part, Free Will, in the Epitome and Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, as well as Luther’s treatment of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper in the Small and Large Catechisms.

(5) “We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings: Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.” Article XI. Of the Justification of Man. Also Augsburg Confession Article IV, Smacald Articles Part III, Article XIII, Part III of the Epitome and Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord.

(6) Named after Thomas and Alexander Campbell, leaders of the Restoration Movement, a nineteenth century revival movement in the United States that started with the preaching of Barton W. Stone, and eventually produced the various Churches of Christ and Disciples of Christ denominations.

(7) See the Smacald Articles, Part III, Article IV. This also identifies Absolution as a form of the Gospel.

(8) St. Augustine, In Evangelium Joannis Tractatus CXXIV, 80:3 as translated by Rev. John Gibb D.D. and Rev. John Innes.

(9) Zwinglianism is the proper term here because, although most who consider themselves to be Calvinists today would hold to the Zwinglian view of the Sacraments, most who hold that view of the Sacraments are not Calvinists but Arminians. John Calvin himself, who like Zwingli became a leader in the Swiss Reformation, tried to find a middle ground between Luther and Zwingli.

(10) Richard Hooker addressed and answered this extreme Puritan view in Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, Book V, chapters 21-22. I pointed out in an earlier essay, “The Sermon is Not the Point of Going to Church”, that the verb translated preach in this passage does not mean getting behind a pulpit and giving a sermon but rather to “proclaim” to do the work of a herald.

(11) The answer to the first question about the Sacraments in the Anglican catechism is “Christ has ordained two Sacraments, as generally necessary to salvation; that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord, which is the Holy Communion.” Generally necessary, as opposed to absolutely necessary, means that it is the norm that the Holy Spirit works through both Word and Sacrament to create, confirm, and strengthen faith in the believer, not that this can never be done through the Word alone. Dr. Luther, in the Smacald Articles, Part III, Article IV, said that the many ways in which the Gospel “gives us council and aid against sin” – the Word, Sacrament, and Absolution – demonstrate how God is “superabundantly rich and liberal in His grace and goodness.”

(12) The verb “repent” is most often used in English with the sense of “to feel sorry for one’s actions.” The verb most often translated “repent” in the New Testament, μετανοέω, means “to change one’s mind” or more literally “to have an afterthought.” The word that most closely matches the English meaning is the less common μεταμέλομαι which means “to regret” or “to be sorry.” The noun forms of these two verbs are associated with each but not equated in 2 Corinthians 7:10 where the latter is said to lead to the former. Repentance is sometimes defined and explained as a turning around, which is the literal meaning of the word conversion. In Roman Catholic theology penitence is a Sacrament consisting of several elements including contrition, confession, penance, and absolution. In the theology of the early Reformers repentance can be both a synonym for conversion and also for contrition. Contrition is the breaking of the proud, haughty, self-righteous spirit of man by the realization of his sinfulness and lost estate. The Gospel promises are only for the penitent sinner – the sinner in whom contrition has taken place – the Reformers maintained, because faith can only be formed in a contrite heart. It is a psychological pre-condition not, as in later Reformed theology, an extra condition that must be performed to make faith valid. Indeed, in early Reformation theology – see Dr. Martin Luther’s Babylonian Captivity of the Church – it is faith that makes contrition into saving repentance not the other way around. The decision to stop doing what is wrong and start doing what is right is a result that can be reasonably expected to occur in a heart that has experienced contrition and faith but it is not itself a part of either contrition or faith. That would be a form of salvation by works. That such a result can be reasonably expected from contrition is due to the fact that contrition breaks down the pride that says “I may not be perfect but I am good enough.” This pride stands in the way of both believing the Gospel (someone who is “good enough” cannot see the need for the Gospel) and changing one’s ways (someone who is “good enough” does not need to change).

(13) Making faith itself into a work is, perhaps, the most subtle perversion of the Gospel out there. Justification by faith does not mean substituting the self-righteousness of “God accepts me because I believe A, B, and C” for the self-righteousness of “God accepts me because I do A, B, and C.” It means believing God’s promise that although I am totally unworthy, He accepts me as righteous, not because of anything I have done, but because of what Jesus has done. Faith receives and rests in God’s favour, freely given in Christ, it does not earn it or contribute to it or in any other way form part of the basis or grounds for it.

(14) The way they do this is by dividing faith into three elements – notitia (knowledge and understanding), assensus (acceptance), and fiducia (personal trust). Ordinary believing, they say, is “head faith” and consists of the former two, but saving faith, or “heart faith” includes all three. This is absolute nonsense. John M. Drickamer put it well “What is faith? Faith is belief and faith is trust. Faith is believing the facts of the Gospel: God the Son, died for my sin and rose again from the dead; for His sake God has forgiven all my sins, so that I will not be damned to hell but welcomed into heaven forever. Faith is trusting God that this forgiveness is real because of Christ. There is no difference between faith as belief and faith as trust. Trusting a person to drive safely is the same as believing that he is a safe driver.” What is the Gospel? It is Finished. (published by the author, 1991) p. 2. While the three-fold division of saving faith is taught in all the standard Calvinist Systematic Theologies it was a Calvinist – a very strict Calvinist at that – the philosopher Gordon H. Clark, who wrote the most devastating critique of this perspective. His Faith and Saving Faith, (Jefferson, Md: Trinity Foundation, 1983), tears to shreds the head-heart distinction, which is completely unbiblical (believing in your heart is contrasted with confessing with your mouth – not with believing in your head), and based upon a modern elevation of feeling over thinking, that is the exact opposite of what the wisest minds of the past thought, and points out that the tripartite division is tautological, making faith – fiducia or trust – into one of its own components. John W. Robbins in his introduction wrote: “Statements such as these about the head and the heart and trusting a person, not believing a creed, are not only false, they have created the conditions for the emergence of all sorts of religious subjectivism, from modernism to the charismatic movement and beyond. No one will miss heaven by twelve inches, for there is no distance between the head and the heart: ‘As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.’ The head/heart contrast is a figment of modern secular psychology, not a doctrine of divine revelation. St. Sigmund, not St. John, controls the pulpit in all too many churches.” This book came out towards the very end of Clark’s life and career, which had been spent defending above all other things, the propositional nature of truth and the truth of the propositions of Christianity. A much better treatment of the makeup of faith than the standard Calvinist position can be found in the Christian Dogmatics of Lutheran theologians Francis Pieper and John Theodore Mueller (both were published by Concordia Publishing House of St. Louis, Missouri, Pieper’s three volumes in the original German from 1917-1924, Mueller’s one-volume in 1934, then a full English translation of Pieper from 1950 to 1953). Notitia and assensus are not enough to form saving faith, they argue, if their content is merely the historical elements of the Gospel – that Jesus died and rose again – and not the promise of the Gospel. This, following Luther, they dub “historical faith.” If, however, the Gospel is understood not just as a description of events that took place long ago and far away but as the promise of full and complete salvation to the believer, then notitia and assensus together comprise fiducia. The Lutheran terminology of “historical faith” better describes an insufficient faith than the Calvinist terminology of “intellectual assent,” for the former identifies the insufficiency in the content of what is believed – historical events that can be believed in a detached way as opposed to a personal promise which cannot – rather than in the psychology of belief. The greatest of Anglican divines, Richard Hooker, concurred with the position of the Lutherans and the dissenting Calvinists Clark and Robbins, writing “In belief there being but these two operations, apprehension and assent”, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, Book V, chapter 22, section 8. He brings this up in the context of his argument, referred to earlier in these notes, against the Puritan position that sermons are necessary and Scripture readings insufficient for the production of faith.

(15) It is virtually identical except that it is Second Declension Masculine in form, the main noun being Third Declension Neuter. It occurs four other times in in Mark 7:4, 8 and Hebrews 6:2 and 9:10 in most of which it is translated “washing.”

(16) The favourite translation of the enthusiasts, the New International Version, inserts a note after Mark 16:8 that says “The most reliable early manuscripts omit Mark 16:9-20.” This is nonsense. Codex א and Codex B, while certainly early (both are fourth century), are not the most reliable manuscripts. Both come from fourth century Egypt and the handful of other manuscripts that display the same text type come from the same area – hence it’s being called the Alexandrian Text Type. The autographs of the New Testament books were not addressed to locations in Egypt but to locations in Greece, Italy and Asia Minor. The vast majority of manuscripts contain a text type that is called Byzantine because these manuscripts came from areas in the Byzantine Empire, which contained most of the places to which the original autographs were sent. While most of these manuscripts are later than the Alexandrian manuscripts, the theory that the latter represent an early regional variation while the large number of later Byzantine manuscripts point to a large number of no-longer-extant ancestors going back to the original autographs makes more sense than the theory that the Alexandrian manuscripts are closest to the autographs due to age and the agreement of the majority of later manuscripts points to some sort of official redaction that took place after the fourth century. See Dean John William Burgon’s The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to S. Mark: Vindicated Against Recent Critical Objections and Established, (Oxford and London: James Parker and Company, 1871) and The Revision Revised, (London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1883). Mercifully, fundamentalist Baptists, whatever one may think of the use to which they put them, have kept these classic texts from the nineteenth century High Anglican Dean of Chichester Cathedral in print. The case he made against the theories of modern textual critics who assume the superiority of the Alexandrian manuscripts because of their age has been ignored, dismissed, mocked, and written off but not so much answered and refuted. For a good look at just how lousy a translation the NIV actually is see Earl D. Radmacher and Zane C. Hodges, The NIV Reconsidered: A Fresh Look at a Proper Translation, (Dallas: Redencion Viva, 1994)

(17) v.s. note 11.

(18) The parallels between the Incarnation and the Sacraments are also an important part of the Sacramental theology of St. Thomas Aquinas in the fourth part of his Summa Contra Gentiles. Richard Hooker, who quotes heavily from the Church Fathers, makes the union of the believer with Christ central to his understanding of the Sacraments in the fifth book of his Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie. After introducing the subject in the fiftieth chapter, he builds his case starting with the Trinity and the orthodox doctrine of the incarnation in chapter fifty-one, defending the orthodox doctrine against both the Nestorian and Eutychian heretical deviations in chapters fifty-two to fifty-four, leading into the omnipresence of Christ in chapter fifty-five, the mutual participation between Christ and his Church in this world in chapter fifty-six, to which participation the Sacraments are necessary, his argument in chapter fifty-seven. After this follows multi-chapter discussions of both Sacraments.

(19) A chicken-and-egg argument often occurs between Reformed theologians and other evangelicals over which comes first faith or the new birth. Arminians take the position that the Gospel offers us the new birth, we respond with faith, and in consequence are born again – faith first, new birth second. Calvinists take the position that because our fallen condition is one of being “dead in our trespasses and sins” we are incapable of faith until God has first put spiritual life in us through the new birth. Both are wrong because both are partially right. The Gospel promises everlasting life to all who believe in Jesus Christ. Since faith is the means of receiving everlasting life it must logically precede the possession of everlasting life. To logically precede is not the same as to temporally precede – faith and the reception of everlasting spiritual life occur simultaneously – but to make faith the result of the reception of everlasting life when it is clearly stated to be the means through which everlasting life is received is wrong. However, it is right to say that our fallen condition is such that we cannot believe apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. It is true of any belief that it is the result of persuasion on the part of the believed rather than the will of the believer but in the case of the Gospel it is stated quite clearly that this is heavenly, spiritual truth, which requires a special act of the Holy Spirit above and beyond ordinary persuasion. The whole Scriptural picture of regeneration is that it is a single act, in which God is the sole actor (monergism), using the means of the Gospel – whether in the form of the Word, (1 Peter 1:23-25, James 1:18) or in the form of the water of baptism to which the life-giving Word has been added (John 3:5, Eph. 5:26, Titus 3:5) – to form faith, through which everlasting life is received. Faith and everlasting life are both, therefore, results of the act of God that is the new birth – the Calvinists are right about this – but of these results, faith is logically prior to everlasting life – the Calvinists are wrong about this.

(20) There is a double play on words in this passage. The word ἄνωθεν translated “again” in “born again” means both “again, a second time” and “from above”, indicating the spiritual, heavenly nature of the second birth. The word πνεῦμα means both “spirit” and “wind” and is used for both in the passage.

(21) Cf. 1 Corinthians 2:4-14.

(22) Justin Martyr, First Apology, 61, St. Irenaeus, Fragment, 34, Tertullian, Baptism, 12:1, Recognitions of Clement, 6:9, St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letters, 71:1, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 3:4, St. Athanasius of Alexandria, Four Discourses Against the Arians, 3:26, St. Basil the Great of Caesarea, The Holy Spirit, 15:35, St. Ambrose of Milan, The Mysteries, 4:20, St. Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, 2:8, St. John Chrysostom, The Priesthood, 3:5-6, St. Gregory Nazianzus, Oration on Holy Baptism, 7-8. St. Augustine of Hippo, Letters, 98:2.

(23) See Dr. Luther’s sermon on this text for Trinity Sunday, 1526.

(24) In this passage the preservation of the believer is associated with the believer’s having been given to Jesus by the Father. In the Gospel of John Jesus speaks both of His having been given by the Father (3:16) and of those whom the Father has given Him. When Jesus is the One spoken of as having been given by the Father the recipient is identified as “the world”, i.e., everybody. This is the doctrine of universal grace. When Jesus is spoken of as the recipient of others that the Father has given these others are limited to those who believe in Him. This is the doctrine of election, which is also associated with the doctrine of preservation in John 10 and Romans 8. The two belong together as parts of the doctrine of sola gratia – that salvation, from its beginning in God’s eternal design to its end in future glory is entirely the work of God’s grace alone. Universal grace and sola gratia are both affirmed by the Scriptures but universalism, the idea that everyone will eventually be saved, is not. This has led to many theological disputes, beginning with the controversy over Pelagianism in the early Church. Pelagius, by denying Original Sin and teaching that the potential for perfection remained in human free will after the Fall, denied sola gratia. St. Augustine defended sola gratia against Pelagius and the orthodox, Apostolic, Church formally agreed with St. Augustine by upholding, in the third ecumenical Council held in Ephesus in 431 AD, the condemnation of Pelagianism as heresy by the regional Synod of Carthage thirteen years earlier. The Reformers believed that the late medieval works-righteousness they were fighting was due to semi-Pelagianism creeping back into the Church despite the official condemnation and took a strong Augustinian position. For this reason, the Protestant Confessions of the Anglican, Lutheran, and Reformed Churches all affirm election/predestination. In the Reformed Churches that followed Calvin, however, this is joined with a doctrine of reprobation (predestination to damnation) that is not found in the Anglican Articles (Article XVII deals with election/predestination) and which is firmly rejected by the Lutheran Confessions. Double predestination (election and reprobation) was taught by Calvin himself but his followers went much further in their rejection of the doctrine of universal grace. Theodore Beza developed the doctrine of supralapsarianism in which the decree of reprobation is made to be prior to the decree to permit the Fall. Any attempt to inquire into God’s eternal decrees is both foolish and forbidden but supralapsarianism is even worse than just that because in this doctrine reprobation is not God choosing to reject sinners qua sinners, as in ordinary Calvinism, but God rejecting X number of people first and then allowing the Fall into sin in order to have grounds to condemn them. This is blasphemous in the extreme and it was this doctrine that prompted Jacob Arminius to go in the opposite direction of an almost semi-Pelagian synergism. In response to Arminius, or more specifically to the five-point Remonstrance that his followers drew up after his death, the Reformed Churches held the Synod of Dort, the five canons of which, each a response to a corresponding point in the Remonstrance, became known as the Five Points of Calvinism. While the Canons of Dort do not affirm supralapsarianism, one of the Five Points is “Limited Atonement”, the idea that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the elect and only of the elect not for the sins of the whole world. This goes way further than Calvin was willing to go and completes Calvinism’s rejection of universal grace. The Lutherans also saw synergism arise in their circles, including for a time in Luther’s right-hand Philip Melanchthon, but it was a smaller problem than Arminianism perhaps because Lutheranism had never taught reprobation and had always affirmed universal grace alongside sola gratia. In the Formula of Concord they rejected both synergism as violating sola gratia and reprobation as violating universal grace, taking the position that God alone is responsible for salvation without any human cooperation and that man bears the full responsibility for his own damnation. Whereas Calvinism says that what ultimately divides the saved from the lost is God’s eternal decree and Arminianism says that what ultimately divides them is man’s free will, orthodox Lutherans say that there is no answer to the question of cur alii, alii non (why some, not others). Francis Pieper, the leading theologian of the Missouri Synod, argued this point quite vehemently in his Christian Dogmatics, although he also points to the means of grace – Word and Sacrament – as the explanation of why grace that is universal in scope and which saves without the cooperation of men does not automatically result in the salvation of all (when God wills to do something through means His will is resistible). Pieper’s extensive discussion of the means of grace can be found in Volume III, pages 104-219, his discussion of election on pages 473-503 of the same volume. The Anglican Articles affirm only election, making no mention of reprobation. Archbishop Whitgift attempted to move the Church to a more explicitly Calvinist position with his 1595 Lambeth Articles, the first of which affirms reprobation, but this move was disapproved by Queen Elizabeth I. The Articles of Religion had been part of the Settlement aimed at ending religious strife in her realm and she recognized in radical Calvinism a potential threat to the established order and peace. This threat would be actualized in the reigns of her successors. The increasingly extreme Calvinists of the Jacobean and Caroline eras accused men like Bishop Lancelot Andrewes and Archbishop William Laud of “Arminianism” but there is no evidence of any deviation from the Thirty-Nine Articles in the direction of the doctrines of the Remonstrants, merely opposition to the extreme views of the Lambeth Articles. Benjamin Guyer dismisses the accusations of Arminianism, noting that the works of Arminius, the Remonstrant Confession, and the leading Remonstrant theologians, far from being promoted during the reign of Charles I, were not published in English until after the English Civil War. The Beauty of Holiness: The Caroline Divines and Their Writings, (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2012), pp. 22-23. After the Restoration there was an exodus of many Calvinists from the Church of England into the dissenting sects, with the Calvinists who remained within the Church referring to themselves as “Evangelicals” in contradistinction to the “Orthodox” who followed in the footsteps of Andrewes and Laud. These labels were somewhat misleading, as both groups affirmed the Thirty-Nine Articles which included both the orthodoxy of the early Church (Articles I-VIII), and the evangelical doctrine of justification (Article XI). At this time, before Latitudinarianism went to seed in the Church, the Articles were taken seriously. While the Evangelicals or “Low Churchmen” frequently accused the Orthodox or “High Churchmen” of holding the Articles lightly it is arguable that there was a greater tendency to deviate from the high Sacramentalism of the Articles in the direction of Zwinglianism among the Calvinists than there was a tendency to deviate in the other direction among the Orthodox, at least until the Oxford Movement introduced a new, more Romeward oriented, High Churchmanship in the nineteenth century. See Peter B. Nockles, The Oxford Movement in Context: Anglican High Churchmanship 1760–1857, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

(25) John Calvin would be an example of that willful blindness. He wrote in regards to verse 53: “for this discourse does not relate to the Lord's Supper, but to the uninterrupted communication of the flesh of Christ, which we obtain apart from the use of the Lord's Supper.” In commenting on the verse that follows he says “From these words, it plainly appears that the whole of this passage is improperly explained, as applied to the Lord’s Supper. For if it were true that all who present themselves at the holy table of the Lord are made partakers of his flesh and blood, all will, in like manner, obtain life; but we know that there are many who partake of it to their condemnation” after which he makes one of the most obtuse statements in his entire corpus of writing “And indeed it would have been foolish and unreasonable to discourse about the Lord's Supper, before he had instituted it” by which reasoning Jesus’ prediction that He would raise up “this temple” in three days would have been “foolish and unreasonable” as, for that matter, would be the entire predictive aspect of prophetic writings in the Scriptures. As for his argument against this passage applying to the Lord’s Supper he has taken an argument against the ex opera operato view of the Sacrament, in which it conveys grace in itself apart from its role in producing/confirming/strengthening the faith that receives that grace, and used it to dismiss the reference in the passage to the Sacrament altogether. Those who partake of the Sacrament to their condemnation (1 Cor. 11:29) do so by “not discerning the Lord’s body”, i.e., by not receiving it in faith. This does not qualify as eating His flesh and drinking His blood in the sense of John 6:54 but it does not follow that the Sacrament is not in view here. Calvin, as a leading figure in the Swiss Reformation, was essentially Zwinglian in his views, although he frequently tried to find a middle ground between Zwingli and Luther when they disagreed. Accordingly, on this too he tries to both have his cake and eat it, writing shortly after the previously quoted words “And yet, at the same time, I acknowledge that there is nothing said here that is not figuratively represented, and actually bestowed on believers, in the Lord's Supper; and Christ even intended that the holy Supper should be, as it were, a seal and confirmation of this sermon.” I have been quoting from Calvin’s Commentary on John as translated by the Rev. William Pringle (1847).

(26) “These things have I written unto you” in 1 John 5:13 refers to the immediately previous passage about God’s testimony, through Spirit, water, and blood, to His having given everlasting life in His Son to all who believe, and not to the epistle in its entirety as the popular, but erroneous, “tests of life” interpretation of this epistle says. The same expression “these things have I written unto you” or one equivalent to it occurs elsewhere in the epistle, each time with a different purpose, each time referring to the immediate context. 1 John 2:1 uses the expression with regards to what he has just written at the end of the previous chapter about walking in light and darkness and confessing ones sins, whereas 2:26 uses it to refer to the discussion of the antichrists which begins at verse eighteen in the same chapter. While these are the most directly parallel verses compare also 2:12, 13, and 14. The purpose of the epistle as a whole is found in the first four verses of the first chapter.

(27) Kurt E. Marquart included an excellent discussion of this under the heading “The Gospel and the Space-Time Gap” in his essay “Law, Gospel, and Means of Grace”, the fifth chapter in The Saving Truth: Doctrine for Laypeople, (Luther Academy, 2016), the first volume in the Truth, Salvatory and Churchly: Works of Kurt E. Marquart series edited by Ken Schurb and Robert Paul. Most of the chapters in this particular volume were written by Marquart for a book on basic doctrines for laypeople that he had been working on but had not completed by his death in 2006. “Salvation has happened to the human race in Christ. In Him is all of God, and all of His grace. Whoever does not find God in Christ will never find Him anywhere else – even if he were to go over heaven, under hell, or into space, as Luther was fond of repeating” Marquart writes. However “The problem arises when we go on to ask: How does all this come to us now? It happened two thousand years ago and, for North Americans, several thousand miles away. How is this space-time gap to be bridged? How does the salvation in Jesus there and then get to us here and now?” Marquart contrasts the “usual answer in popular Protestantism (of the conservative kind)” which is “that we must pray, or wrestle, or make a decision or commitment, or in some other way ‘come to Calvary’”, an answer in which we are the ones who must bridge the gap by our faith, with his and Luther’s answer that “The space-time barrier between the cross and us cannot be pierced from our side. God Himself penetrates it with His holy means of grace.” He illustrates this with a diagram containing two funnels, one indicating God’s grace coming down from heaven at the cross, the second extending sidewise from “then and there” to “here and now” which represents “Gospel: Word and Sacraments” and points to 1 John 5:6-8 as the passage where “the two poles or ‘funnels” come together beautifully.” The quotations and diagram are from pages 82-84. In the context of the larger chapter, Marquart notes what a radical difference these two answers make to our understanding of faith. “It is not an exercise in spiritual ingenuity or religious heroics. Faith is from beginning to end a gracious gift of God. It has no existence apart from the Word of God which creates it and which it embraces (Rom. 10:17). It is not as though God had done His part in providing salvation in Christ and now it were up to us to do our part in response. Even the response – that is, the reception of God’s gift-is itself a gift (Phil. 1:29) from the Father Who through His Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3) draws people to His Son (John 6:44).” (pp. 85-86)