The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This and That No. 14

My stated intentions had been to complete the series of essays on theological topics that I started at the beginning of Lent by Trinity Sunday. Trinity Sunday was two Sundays ago and there are three essays in the series left. There is an essay on the Christian virtues, an essay on "social justice" and a complementary essay to "The Suicide Cult" arguing for the same position from a theological perspective. I hope to have these essays completed and posted within the next couple of weeks. I interrupted the series to post a Father's Day essay, a review of Ilana Mercer's excellent new book Into the Cannibal's Pot, and am currently completing my Dominion Day essay for this Friday.

Once I have posted the last essay in the theological series I will begin my next series of essays on the topic of arts and culture. This series will begin with a review of T. S. Eliot's Notes Towards a Definition of Culture.

I have slightly altered the layout of this blog to include permanent links to certain essays on the right above the blogroll and list of recommended websites.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Reality at the End of the Rainbow

Into The Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South Africa by Ilana Mercer, Seattle, Stairway Press, 2011, 319 pages, $24.95

In Jean Raspail’s prophetic novel The Camp of the Saints an armada of decrepit ships containing a million invaders armed only with their own wretchedness slowly makes its way on a long trek from Calcutta around Africa to the coast of France. The eyes of the world are upon France, to see how she will respond. Will she muster up the spirit to defend herself against an invasion of the weak or will she succumb to liberal guilt and offer no resistance? As the armada approaches the Cape of Good Hope the thought arises that perhaps the ships would land in South Africa instead. South Africa is depicted as it was in 1973 when Raspail’s novel was first published – a pariah state, condemned by the world for its racism and apartheid. Her president calls a press conference in which he announces that “not a single refugee from the Ganges will set foot alive on South African soil”. Then a few days later, as the fleet rounds the Cape it is intercepted by the South African navy, which loads the ships up with food, water and medical supplies. All of these are promptly thrown overboard into the ocean and the leftist media is left to debate the Afrikaners motives and to praise the refugees for not compromising their principles and accepting help from the evil racists.

In the course of this episode, Raspail places a very interesting sentence in the mouth of the President of South Africa. In his address to the hostile reporters he says “Just let me make one thing clear: the Republic of South Africa is a white nation with eighty percent blacks, and not—as the world would like to think of us, in the name of some mythical equality—a black nation with twenty percent whites”. The President took it for granted that those hearing his words would never understand them. It is unlikely that many people would. Most people today have never viewed South Africa other than through the tinted lenses of left-wing propaganda which demonized the Republic prior to 1994 and has flattered and praised it ever since.

1994 was the year in which Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa in the first democratic election open to all South Africans of all races. The election was held on the 27th of April, less than a month after my eighteenth birthday and I remember well the huge fuss everybody made over it. I also remember the indignant, self-righteous tones in which South Africa was spoken of by teachers, clergymen, and journalists in the years leading up to that election. This was particularly the case with those who describe themselves as liberals. The term “liberal” is supposed to mean generous and broad-minded but is curiously applied to those who least display these characteristics. William F. Buckley Jr. once said that “liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” This is certainly the case with regards to South Africa and apartheid.

Although liberals may not like it, there is another side to the story of South Africa and apartheid. Occasionally, in the years before the triumph of Nelson Mandela, a courageous conservative writer would present that side in his columns. Charley Reese of the Orlando Sentinel and Patrick Buchanan and Sam Francis of the Washington Times were examples in the United States. The much-maligned Doug Collins of the North Shore News was a Canadian example. The best treatment of the subject from that era that I have encountered was the article “The Race for South Africa” by British historian Paul Johnson which was published in the September 1985 issue of Commentary. Johnson, argued against the economic pressure being placed on South Africa by the United States on the grounds that South Africa was being singled out for condemnation over things which were in fact (and still are) typical of all African nations when she should be praised for those things which at the time set her apart – its wealth, modern economy, rising real incomes for blacks, and its relative freedom compared to other countries on the African continent.

It has been much harder to find voices questioning the left-wing orthodoxy on South Africa since 1994. A myth has developed about how justice, freedom, and equality have triumphed in the “Rainbow Nation” under the wise leadership of Nelson Mandela. This myth was recently translated into film by director Clint Eastwood in Invictus. It is very seldom challenged.

This is most unfortunate because it is now, more than ever, that the progressive orthodoxy on South Africa needs to be challenged. In the 1994 general election, South Africa transitioned from being a classical republic, with working institutions and the rule of law, to a mass democracy, perpetually governed by a corrupt socialist party, that has brought about cultural decline, economic disaster, and the collapse of the rule of law. Worse, South Africa has changed from being a country in which people were excluded from social equality and full participation in the political process on the basis of their race to being a country where people are targeted for extermination on the basis of their skin color.

One of the very few writers to faithfully report on this transformation for the worse has been Ilana Mercer. Mrs. Mercer’s concern over the state of affairs in South Africa is understandable. It is the country of her birth and the country to which she returned after being raised in Israel. She and her family left South Africa in 1995, moving first to British Columbia here in Canada and then to the United States. It was during her years in Canada that I first encountered her writings in the pages of the Report Newsmagazine. She is now a columnist with WorldNewsDaily and has over the years told the story the rest of the media is not telling in her Friday column there.

Now, after a long struggle to find a publisher, her book Into the Cannibal’s Pot has finally been released. She describes her book, in the final sentence of the introduction, as “a labor of love to my homelands, old and new”, and throughout this fascinating volume she takes her reader back and forth from South Africa to the United States, drawing parallels and contrasts, and uttering warnings which, for the Americans sake, one hopes will not fall like Cassandra’s on deaf ears. The warnings are timely for non-American Westerners as well, for most of the trends she describes can be found – and indeed, have often progressed further – in other Western countries as well.

Into the Cannibal’s Pot is largely the story of a people, the Afrikaners. After describing the epidemic of violent crime that has swept South Africa since 1994 in her first chapter, in her second chapter Mrs. Mercer tells us about the genocide that is being perpetrated against the Afrikaners. It is in this context that she gives us the background and history of this fascinating, widely reviled, and universally misunderstood people.

The Afrikaners are a people, of European stock (primarily Dutch, with some French and German mixed in) who evolved an ethnic identity of their own over centuries in Africa. A hard-working farming people, with a strict Calvinist Protestant faith, they speak a language of their own, Afrikaans.

It is vital that we understand this, because the biggest mistake the rest of the world made concerning South Africa in the 20th Century, was to try and force the South African situation into a pre-made framework of white vs. black. It was never that simple.

The Afrikaners were conquered by the British Empire in the Boer Wars of the 19th Century. Under British Imperial rule, a program of Anglicization was attempted, to try and make the Afrikaners give up their language and culture. This program failed, and it sparked a nationalist fervor among the Afrikaners that gave birth to the National Party which was elected into office in 1948, withdrew South Africa from the British Commonwealth and declared her a Republic in 1961, and which governed until 1994. Although some of the elements of the system had been put into place under British rule it was the National Party that introduced full-blown apartheid to South Africa.

The rest of the world saw apartheid in terms of racial oppression and injustice. All we could see was a country in which a white minority had all the power from which the black majority was excluded. We saw this as being unfair and demanded that the country change to suit our (very recently formed) notions of racial justice. When they refused we put economic pressure upon them and forced them to change.

What we did not see was that for the Afrikaners, who had survived an attempt to erase their ethnicity, and were in the process of securing their independence, the one-person, one-vote, majoritarian democracy the rest of the world demanded that South Africa adapt, would mean their subjugation and eventual eradication.

Unfortunately for the Afrikaners the moment in which they chose to assert their national independence occurred at the same time the anti-colonialist cause was triumphing. Great Britain, France, and the other great colonial powers of Europe, were withdrawing abandoning their colonies, giving up their empires, withdrawing their nationals, and handing power over to governments elected in democratic votes in the newly formed countries that were their former colonies. This did not work out well for these new “countries”. In her fourth chapter Ilana Mercer discusses how the rest of Africa has fared in the post-colonial era and in her fifth chapter, masterfully explodes what she calls “the colonialism canard”, i.e., the myth promoted by celebrity do-gooders and other progressive twits, that all of the suffering and poverty and tribal warfare in present day Africa is the fault of European colonialism.

The world, however, was convinced of the righteousness of anti-colonialism and the South African situation smacked of colonialism to the progressives, even though the Afrikaners were not colonial nationals of any European power, and had no home country in Europe to return to. South Africa was their home country. They had, in fact, been there longer than many of the black tribes. This meant nothing to anti-colonialist, progressives, who smugly and self-righteously condemned the Afrikaners and demanded that South Africa kowtow to world opinion and reorganize itself according to the majority-rule ideal.

William F. Buckley Jr. once said “Some day, when you have nothing else to do, come up with a solution for South Africa, won’t you? But remember the rules of the game. All the marbles have to end up each in a cavity—you can’t just throw a few of them away, to make the game simpler.”

No such solution appeared to be possible. Majority rule in South Africa would have been an injustice to the Afrikaners. Apartheid was an injustice to South African blacks. It was not intended to be such. The word “apartheid” refers to the condition of being separate. The National Party used this term in the sense of “separate development”. The Republic, would be a representative government elected by the Afrikaner nation and other white South Africans. The blacks would be assigned to tribal homelands where they could develop their own forms of self-government. That way the Afrikaners would not be subjected to the injustice of being permanently dominated by the black majority, and the blacks would be able to develop on their own in their own homelands.

While that might sound reasonable on paper there was no way of justly putting it into practice. It required a strict and petty system of racial classification backed up by racial hygiene laws, and, since the white South Africans did not wish to ban blacks from working on their farms and in their factories, curfews and pass-laws that were strictly, and sometimes brutally, enforced by the police.

This is what the world saw in apartheid.

This is what countless people, including Ilana Mercer’s father Rabbi Ben Isaacson protested against.

That is was unjust is undeniable. This reviewer does not deny that and Mrs. Mercer states it frequently throughout her book.

It is a question of which is the greater injustice – apartheid, or the injustice that has resulted from the rise of the ANC to power as a result of the introduction of majoritarian democracy to South Africa. Most people avoid this question. Mrs. Mercer tackles it head on and does not hesitate to give the honest answer.

Which is the greater injustice, being barred from voting in an election or being denied the rule of law and subjected to an onslaught of violent crime?

The ANC has proven unable – or unwilling – to maintain law and order in South Africa and a massive outbreak of violent crime has been the result. In her first chapter, Mrs. Mercer provides illustrations of the brutality of this crime, then provides us with an analysis of crime statistics from South Africa that show how it has become one of the most violent countries in the world and how the South African government and the South Africa Police Service try to disguise this fact. She shows how, even using the ANCs doctored statistics, the rate of victimization for blacks and whites alike is at least three times higher under democracy than under the old regime. She talks about how the ANC has passed and is passing laws that make it harder for people to legally defend themselves against home invasions and other violent crimes that are on the rise. She also takes a look at the racial statistics of crime in both South Africa and the United States which show that the perpetration of violent crime is not close to being equally divided between the races and that while there certainly is a lot of racially motivated crime, it is not, for the most part, committed by whites against blacks, a fact one would never know from the news media.

In her second chapter Mrs. Mercer shows how violence against the Afrikaners, especially the Boer farmers, since 1994 can only be described as a genocide. Over 3000 white farmers have been killed in South Africa since the ANC came to power. The number of Afrikaners murdered each year in South Africa exceeds the total number of blacks killed by the police in the entire history of apartheid. Mrs. Mercer quotes from genocide experts like Dr. Gregory Stanton of “Genocide Watch” who say that the rates and manner in which the farmers are being killed points to systematic extermination. She also shows the genocidal intentions of the ANC from their chants and slogans, and from the words of their leaders.

After the revelations of the second chapter, the third chapter might seem rather moderate. It is about the BEE program. BEE stands for “Black Economic Empowerment” and is an affirmative action program taken to the nth degree. Mrs. Mercer describes it as a “phased process” that “requires that all enterprises, public and private, make their workforce demographically representative of the country’s racial profile” (p. 94) If this sounds reasonable to you, Mrs. Mercer shows how this corrupt policy, under which whites have been forced to sell large parts of their companies to blacks (and lend the blacks the money to buy them) fits in to the ANC’s overall policy towards private property. Private property and the rule of law are two essential components of the kind of productive, civilized economy the Republic of South Africa had prior to 1994. The country can now no longer feed itself, the average standard of living for black South Africans as well as whites, has declined under ANC rule, and a large class of unemployed, poor, whites has developed.

If all of this sounds like South Africa is heading rapidly in the direction in which the former Rhodesia went after Western governments (including, ironically, that of apartheid South Africa) forced Ian Smith’s government to hand over power to a democratically elected government that was soon thereafter be taken over by Robert Mugabe, then turn to chapter four. As bad as Mugabe is, Mr. Mercer argues, the problems his country faces are deeper than just himself and so will survive him. They are problems that can be found all across Africa – including the South Africa of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki who remain saints in the eyes of the Western media long after “Comrade Bob” fell into disgrace.

The person of Nelson Mandela is not a major focus of the book overall but it does come up briefly in this chapter. Here we see the real Nelson Mandela – the head of the MK, the incompetent terrorist wing of the African National Congress, the anthem of which calls for genocide against whites. No prisoner of conscience, he was arrested for attempted sabotage and sentenced to prison for conspiracy against the government. He later turned down that government’s offer to let him out if he would give up violence. Unsuccessful in their attempts to unseat the Nationalist government – it took economic pressure from the rest of the world to do that – his organization was much more successful in terrorizing other blacks who they brutalized with methods like the notorious “necklacing”, involving gas-soaked tires being thrown around people and then set on fire.

Why on earth did Western countries insist that a man like this be released from prison and applaud when he was elected into power?

In her seventh chapter, Mrs. Mercer discusses the betrayal of South Africa by the major English-speaking countries. Although she describes herself as a “classical liberal”, her arguments in this chapter are the arguments of a classical conservative. Liberty requires order, democracy is not the same thing as freedom, can be tyrannical if the proper cultural institutions are not in place to make it compatible with liberty, and is best practiced on a small-scale in say, a city. She draws parallels between the crusade to force majoritarianism on South Africa with the more recent American military campaign to bring democracy to Iraq. Both democratization campaigns worked out badly for the countries involved.

At the same time that the United States has embarked upon a crusade to bring democracy to the world she has opened her doors to mass immigration from the Third World. Mrs. Mercer explains the follies of the American immigration system which is unnecessarily leading to the kind of ethnic strife in America that is killing the land of her birth. What she says of America’s immigration system is also true of Canada’s, and virtually every other Western countries. There are lessons we all can learn from this book.

My only criticism of this book is that in the chapter where she discussed Israel, Israel’s friendship with the Old South Africa and betrayal by the New South Africa, and related subjects, she seemed to send a contradictory message, by pointing to the obvious parallels between the two countries on the one hand, and displaying indignation over the Left’s pro-Palestinian references to “Israeli apartheid” on the other. Unless she wishes to argue absurdly that everything Israel does is intrinsically just, a far better response to the leftists on this point, is to turn their own argument against them. At their insistence, Western countries boycotted South Africa and forced her to change her policies. Those policies were not the most just policies in the world, but the changes we forced upon South Africa have led to chaos, violence, and the death of a civilized country. That is exactly the same thing that will happen in Israel if we force her to give in to the Left’s demands. The parallels between Israel and pre-1994 South Africa make for a strong pro-Israeli, rather than anti-Israeli, argument if used properly.

In addition to recommending this book for personal reading, I would recommend that you talk to your local bookstores and encourage them to stock it on their shelves. Its message needs to be spread more widely than is possible when it is only available for special order.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Authority of Fathers

Authority has been in decline in Western civilization for centuries. The liberal dogma of individualism is widely accepted as received truth, despite the many ways in which it conflicts with observable reality. The authority of kings as God’s ministers of justice, the Apostolic authority of the Church, and the authority of all other traditional, social institutions, has been badly eroded. This is true even in the case of the most basic social institution of them all, the family. Parental authority in the family has come under severe attack, an attack which has intensified over the last century. This is especially true of patriarchal authority – the authority of fathers.

God said “Honour thy father and thy mother”. We have dedicated one day of the year each to our parents with which to honour them with our lips. We honour our mothers in May. Now, on the third Sunday of June, it is our fathers turn to have a day of their own. Having “honoured” our parents, we consider our duty to be done, and promptly ignore them for the rest of the year. For some reason I think this is not what God had in mind when He issued the first commandment with a promise.

Much of the blame for the recent decline in respect for fathers and their authority must be laid at the feet of television. The invention of television was a tremendous step in the development of propaganda techniques. It made it possible for moving pictures and accompanying sound to be broadcast throughout a region and viewed by people in their own homes. Television's potential as an instrument of social change was immediately apparent to social engineers and political radicals.

How are fathers usually depicted on television? Does television support the traditional role of the father as an authority figure in the family?

No. If a television program is about a traditional, middle-class, nuclear family, the father figure is typically portrayed as a boorish buffoon, the least intelligent person in the family, who only asserts his fatherly authority when he is obviously in the wrong. If, by chance, television portrays a father differently, that father is usually a sensitive “new male” and a political liberal or the family as a whole is an “alternative family” of some sort.

Can there be any doubt that this is done on purpose to undermine patriarchal authority?

This raises the question of why anyone would want to undermine the authority of fathers, creating instability in the family, leading to social chaos. The fact that someone does is indisputable. The question is why.

The answer to that question ultimately lies in the reason why the authority of the father in the family is important to society. Before we look at that, however, we should note that there is a prominent left-wing movement in society which has historically defined itself in opposition to father-authority. This same movement attacks motherhood as being an inferior choice for women to the pursuit of ambition and self-fulfillment in a professional career outside the home.

This movement is called feminism.

Feminism and Patriarchy

The technical term for the authority of fathers within the traditional family is patriarchy. This word comes from combining the Greek word for father with the Greek word for “rule”. Patriarchy, is the nominal enemy of the feminist movement.

I threw the qualifier “nominal” in for two reasons. The first reason is that what feminists mean when they use the word “patriarchy” is not what the word actually means. We will return to that momentarily. The second reason is that a good argument can be made that the real enemy of feminism is not patriarchy at all but rather femininity.

If that statement sounds outrageous to you then please bear me out as I attempt to explain what I mean by it. While the feminist movement cloaks its goals in the language of “rights”, “equality”, “dignity” and other such vapid totem expressions (1) its true goal, if we can judge from the positions it takes, the actions it calls for, and the policies it supports, is to eliminate femininity and masculinize women. Feminists accuse their opponents of believing that men are superior to women. This, however, is a classic case of what Dr. Freud called projection. The belief that men are superior to women is in fact the core belief of feminism.

Look, for example, at the absurdly titled “Women’s Liberation Movement” of the 1960’s. This movement demanded a number of things, such as universal government-provided daycare and the full legalization of abortion.

What did feminism hope to gain from such things?

It is the nature of things, that the consequences of sexual intercourse are not divided equally between men and women. A man can walk away from it with no lasting consequences other than moral and spiritual ones. This is not true of a woman. Pregnancy occurs within the female body and if a woman becomes pregnant that means nine months of bearing the growing child within her womb, and then, because the child is born dependent, a much longer period of nursing and raising the child.

The traditional way in which society addressed this situation was through moral and civil regulations that demanded that men shoulder their fair share of the burden of raising the next generation. Society demanded that men marry the women who bore their children and that they provide for their wives and children.

Feminism, however, took the radically opposite position that the situation should be alleviated by having government daycare freely available to all mothers and by allowing women to terminate their pregnancies at whim. Thus, a woman would be able to walk away from sexual intercourse with no lasting consequences other than moral and spiritual ones, just like a man.

What clearly lies behind the feminist position here is the idea that it is far better to be a man – to be able to walk away from sex with no baggage – than to be a woman. Therefore in the name of equality, the government must artificially make it possible for a woman to be like a man.

Feminism, which purports to be a serious movement seeking the redress of injustices against women, is in reality little more than a feminine equivalent of the mindset of a poorly raised, hormone-driven, adolescent boy.

There was, of course, another motivation that lay behind feminism’s demand for tax-funded daycare and abortion. If women were allowed to terminate unwanted pregnancies whenever they so desired and to have government institutions raise their children for them, then women could pursue careers outside the home and not be hindered, in competition with men in the workplace, by the burden of raising children.

This, however, just further illustrates my point. Feminism’s idea that finding self-fulfillment in careers outside of the home would be better for women than staying home and being wives and mothers is a manifestation of the idea that men are superior to women. For what was feminism saying here if not that the work men did outside the home in order to support their families, was more meaningful and important, than what women did in bearing and raising children?

In all of this feminism displayed an immature mindset that is only explicable as a counterpart to the irresponsible attitudes that were becoming popular among the male population at the time, brought upon in part by the naïve progressive notion that advances in the development of technology had rendered the maturity and responsibility society demanded of both sexes in the past to be obsolete.

Wisdom is something that people gradually gain as they mature and get older. This is as true of societies as it is of individual persons, and for this reason it is the uttermost foolishness to disregard the accumulated wisdom of the past. Society’s traditional response to the difference between the sexes in natural consequences to sexual intercourse was not based upon the idea that men had gotten the better end of the deal than women. For that idea would itself have to include the idea that it is more desirable to live entirely for yourself and to sleep around with no commitments to anyone than to settle down and raise a family. That is an idea which reflects immaturity and selfishness rather than wisdom. Traditional societies were wisely, more concerned with making men behave maturely, responsibly, and wisely, than making it easier for women to behave immaturely, irresponsibly, and foolishly.

Traditional societies also displayed wisdom in assigning roles to men and women. These roles differed from society to society and at different stages in the development of a particular society in accordance with economic, political, and social circumstances. Whatever the circumstances, however, the difference between the role assigned to men and that assigned to women was centred around the basic fact that women get pregnant and bear children which they give birth to and nourish, and men do not. Societies guided by ancient tradition are too wise to treat this difference as trivial. Whatever else women might do can never be more important to a society than the bearing and raising of the next generation. Therefore, whatever role a society assigns to women, it will be one that does not hinder or interfere with motherhood.

Thus, in a society which survives by hunting and gathering, the role of gathering is assigned to women because it allows them to stay near the camp with the children and the role of hunting is assigned to men. When agriculture becomes the dominant means of survival the roles change to accommodate the new economy as they do again when mercantile trading and industrial manufacturing are developed. These changes affect the kind of labour required of both men and women. What does not change is that the labour required of women is that which least conflicts with motherhood.

Feminists refuse to see the wisdom in this. Instead, they see traditional gender roles, including the roles of father and mother, as a system of societal organization designed to benefit all males by oppressing all women. This is what feminists mean when they use the word “patriarchy”. (2)

Patriarchal authority is essential to Western Civilization

The term patriarchy, however, more accurately refers to the authority of fathers than to a supposed millennia-long conspiracy on the part of all men to oppress all women. The authority of fathers has come under attack, not only from feminists, but from revolutionaries of all stripes. Painter, novelist, and social critic Wyndham Lewis, wrote in the 1930s that the father is the enemy of all revolutionary movements because he “has been cast to represent authority”. (3)

A father’s authority exists and is exercised within the family. The family is the basic building block from which all societies are built. It is the smallest, most organic, form of social organization that exists. Other offices of authority within Western societies tend to be patterned after a father’s authority. Sir Robert Filmer, in his Patriarchia, argued from the authority of fathers to the natural authority of kings.

Wyndham Lewis was therefore correct. The father, as the traditional authority figure in the traditional family, is the embodiment of all traditional authority in Western society and therefore the primary target of those who see traditional Western civilization as standing in the way of progress.

The attack upon patriarchal authority has never been stronger than at the present moment. The current campaign to glorify the single mother is a blatant attempt to declare fathers to be superfluous and unwanted. After traditional motherhood was bashed for decades, as being an inferior, boring option to the glamour of an ambitious career now motherhood is presented to women as an empowering choice – especially if it is out of wedlock and by artificial insemination.

Fathers are not redundant and unnecessary however. Studies have shown what common sense has always told us – that children are happier and far more likely to develop into responsible, law-abiding, socially-integrated adults, if they grow up in a home with both a father and a mother. Sometimes circumstances are such that this cannot be the case but it is madness to encourage women to deliberately have children without a father and to consider a father “optional”. That the deception of the non-importance of fatherhood has been able to spread at all is due to the modern state’s having turned itself into a surrogate husband/father.

Unfortunately there is no strong movement of resistance to these attacks nor any indication that one is about to arise. The “conservative” response to feminism today consists largely of complaints that its original “good” intentions have been de-railed by anti-male radicals or worse, attempts to use feminist ideas to bolster support for military action against the Islamic world. The “men’s movement” is a masculine equivalent of feminism. It is devoted to the idol of equality and speaks only the language of “rights”. Some Christian men’s groups have shown an interest in promoting traditional fatherhood. Many however, seem to be little more than support groups.

It is here that we see the single largest reason for the decline of fatherhood and patriarchal authority in the family and in society. Other than individual voices, both male and female, the traditionalist side has largely given up.

Why has this happened?

Authority and Responsibility

Authority and responsibility always go together. The word “father” describes a position that comes with both authority and responsibility. Traditionally, fathers would raise their sons to follow after them, in both shouldering the burden and responsibility of fatherhood, and exercising its authority wisely.

Responsibility is less appealing than authority, however, and at some point the liberating effect of technological advancement combined with the accumulation of a couple of centuries worth of liberal individualism to undermine the willingness of a great many men to take up the duties and responsibilities and burdens of fatherhood. Many of these still wished to exercise the authority – but found that in abandoning their duties they had given up their authority as well.

John Lukacs wrote:

In the 1960s American women found the predominance of the male fettering not because it was real but because it was unreal. They could not stomach those prerogatives of the male—including not only professional or intellectual prerogatives but also the protection habitually offered by the latter—that dated back to earlier centuries, when men were indeed strong. Now they saw—or, rather felt—that the men were weak. Just as the “revolt” of youth in the 1960s was, in reality, often a reaction not against “authoritarian” but against permissive fathers whom they could no longer respect, women, too, despite all of the silly slogans of “male chauvinism,” reacted against the assumption of strength and power on the part of their male counterparts, who were often weak. To be queen of a house in the times of a constitutional (that is, bourgeois) monarchy was one thing; but who would want to keep up the formal duties and the manifold responsibilities of a queen when the man of the household was but a chairman of a committee? (4)

Fatherhood still represents both authority and responsibility, and it is for that reason that so many men who dislike feminism, do not wish to stand against it from the position of defending traditional fatherhood.

Any other position, however, has already capitulated completely to the enemy.

(1) By “vapid totem expressions” I mean essentially meaningless terms that we are expected to mindlessly genuflect before whenever they are invoked by the enforced, secular, orthodoxy of the day.

(2) The feminists are not the only ones to use the word “patriarchy” to refer to a general system of male dominance. Dr. Steven Goldberg, who was the Professor of Sociology at City College of New York, in his The Inevitability of Patriarchy: Why the Biological Difference Between Men and Women Always Produces Male Dominance (William Morrow: New York, 1973) later expanded into Why Men Rule: A Theory of Male Dominance (Open Court: Chicago, 1993) uses the term patriarchy in a specialized, and therefore carefully defined, sense. He used it to refer to when all or the majority of the upper hierarchical positions in a society are occupied by males – which he argues occurs in every society. He documented the latter point from the studies of anthropologists and provided a theory as to why this was the case. He argued that societies will vary in what roles and positions are awarded the highest status, but that whatever those roles and positions are, men will have a greater interest in obtaining them then women, because men are biologically more aggressive than women. Since women are attracted to men with status, power, and wealth the incentives to compete for the highest positions will always be greater for men than for women.

(3) The quotation comes from The Doom of Youth, published by Robert M. McBride & Company of New York in 1932. This is a polemical collection of essays directed against the cult of youth. It was reissued in 1982 by Haskell House Publishers of New York.

(4) John Lukacs, A New Republic: A History of the United States in the Twentieth Century (Yale University Press: New Haven and London, 2004), p. 196.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Christian Church

Each of the Synoptic Gospels tell how at one point in Jesus ministry, He asked His disciples “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” The disciples throw out various answers, including John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, and other prophets. Jesus then made the question personal: “But whom say ye that I am?”

Simon Peter answers and says “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”.

St. John does not mention this event in his Gospel, but the Confession of Peter, or rather of the Apostles for St. Peter was speaking for all of them, is omnipresent throughout it. For when we turn to last verses of the second last chapter of that Gospel we read:

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name. (John 20:30-31)

Here the Evangelist states that the reason he wrote his Gospel, is that his readers might believe the Petrine Confession. Throughout the Gospel of John, everlasting life is promised over one hundred times to those who simply “believe in Jesus”. To believe in Jesus, in the Gospel of John, means to believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God.

In the other Gospels, the Petrine Confession marks a turning point in Jesus’ ministry. It is at this point that Jesus begins to show His disciples:

that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. (Matt. 16:21)

The Apostles, through St. Peter, had confessed their faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. By telling them about His upcoming Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection, He was explaining what His being “the Christ” meant. In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ being “The Christ” means that He is the One, sent by the Father, in order that those that believe in Him would have everlasting life (John 11:21-27, cf. 6:38-40). It was by dying for mankind’s sins and rising again, that Jesus accomplished this, which is why Christ’s death and resurrection comprise the Gospel – the Good News which the Apostles preached (1 Corinthians 15:1-8) and are the chief events in each of the Gospels.

In St. Matthew’s account of the Confession of Peter, there is more told than is mentioned in the other Gospels. St. Matthew records Jesus’ immediate response to the Confession:

Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matt. 16:17-19)

What is this “Church” Christ promised to build? What is it’s nature? How is it related to the many organizations in Christendom that call themselves “Churches” today? Is one of them the Church Christ built? Are all of them the Church Christ built? Is Christ’s Church something completely different altogether?

The Church in Scripture: God’s Assembly

The New Testament was originally written in Greek. The word in Greek which is translated “Church” in English Bibles is the Greek word ekklesia. The English word “ecclesiastical” meaning “of the Church, pertaining to the Church” is derived from this word. Ekklesia is the cognate noun of a word formed by combining the preposition “ek” which means “out of, from” with the verb “kaleo” which means “to call”. The thought that is expressed by that combination is “to call out”. The noun “ekklesia” then, would refer to a group that has been “called out” of something, for some purpose. Prior to Christian usage, the term was primarily political. An assembly of the citizens of a Greek city-state was called an “ekklesia”. A 4th Century BC comedy, by Aristophanes, for example is entitled the Ekklesiazousai, which is usually either Latinized as Ecclesiazusae or translated into English as “The Assemblywomen”. It is about a group of women, who sneak into the Athenian assembly disguised as their husbands, and vote that all power be turned over to themselves, and then create a comically dystopic socialist state, eliminating private property, arranging for the government to feed everybody from a common trough, and instituting a form of free love, where the men can have any women they like, provided they are fair about it, and sleep with the ugly ones first. (1) The “ekklesia” in this satire is the political assembly of democratic Athens.

When the New Testament uses this word it borrows the concept of “a group of people called together to form an assembly or congregation” without the rest of the political connotations. The New Testament “ekklesia” is not a democratic assembly by any means. Christ is the head of the Church, and rules as an absolute monarch. Other authorities in the Church derive their authority from Christ – not from the “consent of the governed”.

The New Testament Church: Organism and Organization

The New Testament uses a number of word pictures to explain the nature of the Church. Three of them in particular are emphasized, which correspond to the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. The Church is:

A) The Family of God (the Father)
B) The Body of Christ
C) The Temple of the Holy Spirit

There has been much discussion in recent centuries over whether the Church is an “organism” or an “organization”. The distinction is somewhat artificial. “Organism” and “organization” are obviously derived from the same root and share the characteristic of being made up of a number of smaller units which have distinct tasks and which must cooperate together for the organism/organization to function. The primary distinction between the two is that an “organism” is considered alive and natural, whereas an organization is regarded as a non-living, artificial structure, that exists to serve the purposes of the people who created it.

It is significant that this discussion, like the somewhat similar sociological discussion about the difference between a “Gemeinschaft” and a “Gesellschaft”, (2) began after the ideology of liberalism, which refuses to see any social body more complex than the individual person as being a living organism, gained influence in the Western world..
If that were all that was involved in this distinction, the Scriptural references to the Church as the “body of Christ” would seem to settle the matter in favour of the Church being an “organism”.

There is more to it than that, however. Those who emphasis that the Church is an organism wish to stress that the Church is a living body and that the people who make up the Church are connected to each other by spiritual ties of relationship, centered around a common faith in Jesus Christ. This is in accordance with New Testament teaching. There is Scriptural support, however, for the idea of the Church as an organization or institution as well. The stress here, would be upon the Church as being orderly and structured, with an established chain of authority. This is also found in the New Testament.

It would be most accurate to say, therefore, that the Church is both an organism and an organization.

The New Testament Church: Both Local and Catholic

In the New Testament the Church is both local and catholic (universal). St. Paul’s epistles were written to local Churches in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi and Thessalonica (he also wrote epistles to individuals such as Timothy, Titus, and Philemon). The second and third chapters of the Revelation of St. John contain letters to seven local Churches in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), the Churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. The Book of Acts records the ministry of the Apostles, and how they, especially St. Paul, preached the Gospel and planted Churches in various cities throughout the Greek-speaking world of the time.

The New Testament also uses the expression “the Church” in a broader sense to encompass all Christians in all local Churches. In 1 Corinthians 12, for example, where St. Paul describes the Church as Christ’s body, he is clearly speaking of more than just the local Church in Corinth. Consider for example, verse 28:

And God hath set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

The New Testament Church: Visible and Invisible

That local Churches are visible Churches is non-controversial. You can go to a local community, identify such-and-such a Church, point out that it meets at the corner of This Street and That Street, that the Rev. What’s-His-Name is it’s pastor and that John Churchman and Susie Parishioner are members. In the Reformation, however, a debate arose over the nature of the catholic or universal Church. Is it visible or invisible?

The Reformers took the position, formulated most fully by John Calvin in the Institutes of the Christian Religion, that the catholic Church is invisible. What the Reformers meant by saying that the catholic Church was invisible, was that it consists of true believers and only true believers. A person joins the Church the moment they believe the Gospel and everyone who believes the Gospel is a member of the Church even if they are marooned on a desert island and do not have the opportunity of being baptized, worshipping and fellowshipping at a local Church, and taking Communion. Meanwhile, those who are baptized, communicating members of local Churches, if they do not truly believe the Gospel, are not actually part of the catholic Church. Thus the catholic Church is “invisible” in that only God absolutely and accurately knows everybody who is in it, and everybody who is not.

Needless to say, the Roman Catholic Church, disagreed. It insisted that the catholic Church is as visible as the local Church. The Church began as a single local Church in Jerusalem, led by the Apostles themselves, then as the Gospel spread, Christian Churches were founded in other communities. These too were under the authority of the Apostles, who ordained bishops to lead the new local Churches in their absence. A bishop is an “administrator” or “overseer”, which is the literal meaning of the Greek word for bishop, episkopos. To ordain is to consecrate a person for a particular task and delegate to them the authority to do that task, by the laying on of hands.

Thus, the visible local Churches of the Apostolic era, were organized into a visible catholic Church, led by the Apostles with the bishops as their representatives in local communities. When the Apostles passed away, the college of bishops succeeded them as the leaders of the catholic Church.

So who was right, the Reformers or the Roman Catholic Church?

It would seem that both were right because they were talking about two different aspects of the catholic Church. The catholic Church of the New Testament is both a visible organized body under the leadership of the Apostles, and an invisible spiritual body whose membership consists of all believers. It could be argued, furthermore, that the errors of both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are largely the result of confusing these two aspects of the Church, a confusion that is inevitable when you deny one of the two aspects.

One Church?

There is a problem that arises, however, when we assert that catholic Church is both invisible/spiritual and visible. The identity of the invisible universal Church is fairly straightforward – it consists of all true Christians. Where do we find the visible universal Church?

It is fairly obvious, when we look around us, that Christian Churches are not all organized into one fellowship. We have Roman Catholic, Ukranian Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyerian, Reformed, Methodist, Mennonite, Pentecostal, United, Churches, etc.

Yet unity is the first mark of the Christian Church. The Nicene Creed states “I believe one, holy, catholic and Apostolic Church”. The Creed’s language, here as everywhere, is Scriptural. When the Creed was drawn up during the Ecumenical Councils of Nicaea (325 AD) and Constantinople (381 AD) the Church was united in both its visible and invisible aspects. It was less than a hundred years after the Council of Constantinople that the first major division in the visible Church took place.

What happened then? Was the Creed no longer true? Where is the unity of Christ’s Church to be found?

It is here that we see that the Roman Catholic position during the Reformation is untenable because it is overly simplistic. The Roman Catholic insisted that because the Church is “one” that it, and no other, must be the “one, holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church”, and for evidence of its claims pointed to its institutional continuity with the Apostolic Church. It’s bishops were the duly ordained successors to the Apostles in an unbroken chain of succession, its Creeds were the Creeds of the undivided Church, and it faithfully practiced the sacraments ordained by Christ.

One major problem with the conclusion the Roman Catholics drew from this is that these things are not uniquely true of the Roman Catholic Church. They are not uniquely true of the Roman Catholic Church today and they were not uniquely true of the Roman Catholic Church 500 years ago either. Each of these things could also have been said of the Oriental Churches (Syrian, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopian, etc) and of the Eastern Orthodox Churches (Greek, Russian, Serbian Orthodox, etc.) at the dawn of the Reformation. Since the Reformation, it can also be said of the Church of England and by extension the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Methodist Episcopalian Churches, and a number of Scandanavian national Churches that adopted Lutheranism in the 16th Century, such as the Church of Sweden.

None of these Churches were started by people going off and starting up their own sect from scratch. The Oriental Churches became separate from the rest of the Church when they rejected the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, which the rest of the Church accepted. They accused the rest of the Church of Nestorianism, the rest of the Church accused them of monophysitism, and both sides went their separate ways. Each group subscribed to the Nicene Creed, practiced the sacraments, and was led by bishops in direct Apostolic succession.

Then in 1054 AD, the Latin-speaking Churches of the West and the Greek-speaking Churches of the East, quarreled over the text of the Nicene Creed. The Latin Church had a word in their version (filoque – “and the Son”) which wasn’t in the Greek version. There was also an argument over degree of authority of the bishops. The bishop of Rome was already beginning to claim that as the successor to St. Peter he had authority over all the other bishops, and the Eastern Church wasn’t buying it. So in 1054 the Greek and Latin Churches declared each other to be anathema and went their separate ways. Again, they both subscribed to the same Creeds (with the exception of the one word), practiced the same sacraments, and were led by the same bishops that had led them prior to the Schism.

In both of these instances, the Churches were the exact same Churches on either side of the divide were the exact same Churches they were before except that now they weren’t in fellowship with each other.

In the 16th Century, King Gustav I of Sweden separated the national Church of Sweden from the Roman Catholic Church in 1526. In England, Parliament separated the national Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church at the behest of King Henry VIII in the Act of Supremacy of 1534, and again in 1558 at the behest of Queen Elizabeth I (the first Act having been repealed during the reign of Mary I. (3) In both cases, the Churches were removed from fellowship with Rome intact, led by the same bishops as before, subscribing to the Ecumenical Creeds, and practicing the sacraments. This all remained true of both of those Churches when they adopted Protestant doctrine later in that century (the Church of Sweden accepted the Augsburg Confession and became Lutheran, the Church of England adopted the Protestant 39 Articles) for basic Protestant doctrine is not in conflict with the Ecumenical Creeds.

So even at the dawn of the Reformation, the things which the Roman Catholic Church pointed to in order to back up its claim to be the one true Church were not uniquely true of the Roman Catholic Church. They were also true of the Eastern and Oriental Churches, both of whose orders and sacraments the Roman Church recognizes as valid. After the Reformation, they remained true of certain Protestant Churches as well. This the Roman Catholic Church has denied, but it has no legitimate basis to do so.

So what does all this tell us about the unity of the catholic Church?

It would seem that the unity of the Church, that quality of the Church whereby we can say that it is “one”, must lie in its invisible, spiritual aspect, rather than its visible aspect. The Roman Catholic denial that the Church is invisible then, is most foolish indeed, for it comes close to being a denial of the one of the four marks of the Church in the Nicene Creed. If the Church is not invisible, united by a spiritual unity that exists in Christ, then it is no longer “one” and cannot be said to have been “one” since 451 AD. Unless, of course, we say that the Church in its visible aspect, is one in the way a tree with many branches is one. That is how the 19th Century Anglican theologian, Sir William Palmer, brilliantly explained the unity of the visible catholic Church. (4). He spoke of the catholic Church as a tree with three branches – Orthodox, Roman, and Anglican. I would be more generous (5) and include the other orthodox (6) Protestant Churches as well, but apart from that I have no quarrel with Palmer’s view.

High or Low?

The above refutation of the Roman Catholic position will not satisfy some evangelical Protestants. Such evangelicals would say that by acknowledging the Ecumenical Creeds as the basic litmus test of orthodoxy, the importance of the practice of the sacraments, and the episcopacy as the legitimate successors to the Apostles, all of which I did in the course of writing that refutation, I have conceded too much to the Roman Catholics. The kind of evangelicals I have in mind tend to see “low Church” ecclesiology as going hand-in-glove with the Reformer’s insistence upon the supreme and final authority of Scripture and therefore being an essential part of Protestant evangelicalism.

Dr. Martin Luther would have disagreed. So would John Wesley. The former was a Roman Catholic monk who attacked corruption in the Church, but who wished to reform it from the inside. The latter was a High Church Anglican priest, who preached the Gospel leading to spiritual revival on both sides of the Atlantic. Dr. Luther shook the dust off of the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith. Wesley, after his famous conversion experience at the Moravian meeting at Aldersgate, stressed the importance of personal conversion to justifying faith in Jesus Christ. These two things – the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith alone and the emphasis on personal conversion – more than anything else define what we call evangelicalism today, and the two evangelical leaders most associated with these concepts had a high view of the Church.

At this point it is necessary to define some terminology. The terms “High Church” and “Low Church” referred originally to two different camps within the Church of England. The popular conception of the difference between the two is that “High Churchmen” wanted the Church of England to be more Catholic, whereas “Low Churchmen” wanted it to be more Protestant. This is not entirely accurate, as the original High Churchmen tended to be Calvinist supporters of the Elizabethan Settlement, the evangelical Wesleys were Arminian High Churchmen, and there were differences, as well as overlap, between the High Church position and that of the Oxford Movement, which started the Anglo-Catholic revival of the 19th Century. However, inaccurate as it may be, the popular conception of the High and Low Church within Anglicanism led to the broader application of these terms in which the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches are said to be “High Church” and non-episcopal, evangelical, free Church Protestants are said to be “Low Church”.

For the purposes of our discussion here, a low view of the Church will be defined as a theology which understands Christianity to be first and foremost a personal faith, a matter between the individual person and God, and which understands the function of the organized Church to be primarily, if not solely, the support of the individual believer in his personal relationship with God. In a low Church ecclesiology, Apostolic authority survives in the writings of the New Testament alone, and in no way in the corporate body which is the Church.

The high view of the Church will be gradually explained as we look at why the low view is wrong.

Errors tend to arise by taking truths to extremes. That is the case with the low view of the Church. In recovering the Pauline doctrine of justification, Dr. Luther correctly taught that each of us are invited to personally put our faith directly in Jesus Christ and His finished work of salvation and to find full assurance of our acceptance with God in Him. The New Testament does not teach, however, that believers are to practice their faith in isolation from other people. Rather, the Christian faith is to be practiced in communion with other believers, as part of the community of faith that is the Church.

The low view of the Church arose in part, because many Protestants drew unnecessary and invalid connections, between the doctrine of personal justification through faith, and the individualism that had arisen in Renaissance humanism and which was already developing into what would become classical liberalism. Liberalism would teach that the individual is all-important and that corporate institutions of society, from the family to the state itself, exist only as voluntary contractual arrangements among sovereign individuals. Low Church ecclesiology could be said to be the theological expression of this false view of the relationship between individual persons and corporate social institutions.

The low view of the Church also has roots in a misunderstanding of another of Dr. Luther’s doctrines.

Here are Dr. Luther’s famous words at the Diet of Worms in 1521, when asked if he would recant his writings:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves-I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.

The Latin phrase that is used to identify the position that Dr. Luther took here is sola Scriptura, which means “Scripture alone”. Note, however, where the word “alone” appears in this speech. It does not occur after “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures” but after “I can believe neither pope nor councils”.

What Dr. Luther was emphasizing here, was the absolute authority of the Word of God, over the Church of God. He was not rejecting the importance of tradition, or suggesting that the Church has no authority over believers, or that Church authorities have no legitimate authority. Rather he was saying that all of these authorities are subordinate to the authority of Scripture, because Scripture is the Word of God.

A better phrase to express Dr. Luther’s position, would have been “Scriptura suprema”. The reason the phrase “sola Scriptura” was to express a truth that corresponds to justification by faith. If each of us can find peace with God by personally and directly trusting Jesus Christ as our Savior it follows that all truth necessary for our salvation is contained within the words of the Scriptures. This is what “sola Scriptura” originally meant.

The Church of England stated it like this in the sixth of its Thirty-nine Articles:

Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.

This is a very different concept from the idea that the corporate body of Christ, the Church, has no authority over individual believers.

It is important that we distinguish at this point between institutional authority and authoritative divine revelation. It is Christian doctrine, that God has provided a full revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ and a full written testimony to that revelation in the New Testament. When we speak of the authority of Scripture we speak primarily of its authority as revelation of Jesus Christ and the will of God – how He wants us to live and how we can find forgiveness for our sins through Jesus Christ.

The authority of the Church is different in nature. It is institutional authority. It too, however, comes from God and we know this upon the authority of the New Testament.

The fifteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles begins by telling us that certain men had come to the Church in Antioch from Judaea telling the Gentile converts that they needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. Sts. Paul and Barnabus then went to Jerusalem to ask the Apostles for a ruling on the matter. A council was called, of the Apostles and the elders, and after much argument, and hearing the testimony of St. Peter then of Sts. Paul and Barnabus, St. James convinced the Council to write letters to the Gentile believers, and send emissaries telling them that they would not burden them with the Law of Moses, but just that they avoid meats offered to idols, blood, things strangled, and fornication.

A number of things are clear from this. First, the Apostolic Council relied upon revelation from the Holy Spirit to make their decision. Divine revelation, therefore, is a higher authority than the Church. Second, the Apostolic Council clearly believed they had the authority and right to make this decision. Finally, the New Testament endorses that belief.

Did that authority die with the Apostles and the completion of the New Testament canon?

The New Testament itself gives no indication that that would be the case. What does the history of the early Church tell us?

In the early centuries, the doctrine of Christ was challenged by a number of false teachers, just as Christ warned the Apostles, and just as the Apostles warned the Churches in the New Testament epistles.

What was the Church’s response?

A number of specific bishops contended against particular heresies (St. Athanasias against Arianism for example), but ultimately the Church had to call ecumenical councils, pattered after the Apostolic Council of Acts 15, in order to authoritatively settle these matters. It was in these Councils that Arianism, Docetism, Pelagianism and all sorts of other isms were declared heretical, and the orthodox doctrines of the Trinity and the Person of Christ were defined. The ultimate statement of Christian orthodoxy, the Nicene Creed, was the product of these Councils.

This would seem to be rather clear evidence that the Apostolic authority of the Church, survived the death of the Apostles.

Why is all of this important?

It is important, because as the low view of the Church spread throughout Protestantism, those ancient heresies have been reborn. Arianism and modalism have been revived by sects who use arguments invented by low Church Protestants in order to attack doctrines like the Trinity and the deity of Christ that orthodox evangelicals would understand as being essential to Christianity. Outright Pelagianism was revived by Charles G. Finney in the 19th Century, yet he is regarded as a hero rather than a heretic throughout evangelical circles. If the Church did not succeed to the authority of the Apostles, why should we accept the declarations of its Councils that Arianism, modalism, and Pelagianism are heresies and not sound doctrine? Because they are unscriptural? Who are you to say so? Why is your interpretation of the Bible more trustworthy than Charles Taze Russell’s?

Thus, attacking the authority of the Church in the name of “the sole authority of Scripture”, ends up undermining faith in the authority of Scripture. For if everybody’s interpretation of the Bible is valid, which must be the inevitable conclusion if the interpretation of the Bible is a personal matter between the individual believer and the Holy Spirit, then nobody’s interpretation of the Bible is valid. Here we find one of the most important reasons for the decay of faith in Biblical authority in recent centuries.

So far, in defending the high view of the Church I have expressed that view in terms of the Apostolic institutional authority of the Church as a corporate body. The authority of the Church and authority within the Church are different matters, although they are obviously connected to each other. Upholding the authority of the family would be a rather meaningless gesture if one did not also uphold parental authority within the family.

Today, the nonsensical false notion expressed by an eighteenth century liberal that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed” has become widespread. This is not, however, where authority comes from, as attested to by both common sense observations and Scripture. Within the family, parents are not voted into their positions of authority by their children. Their authority within the family must come from another source.

The Scriptures also clearly teach that the authority of civil government comes from God. St. Paul’s words in Romans 13 cannot be legitimately read any other way. The doctrine of the divine right of kings is the plain teaching of the New Testament. Liberal, democratic, propaganda would have us believe that this doctrine leads to tyranny. It does not. Legitimate authority can be abused, but the idea that a ruler holds his authority by divine ordination does not logically translate into a licence for that ruler to oppress his people. If a ruler gets his authority from God, he is also accountable to God for how he uses it, something else which is clearly taught in the Scriptures.

It is actually the “bottom up” theory of authority which leads to tyranny. A ruler ordained by God is held accountable to a higher authority. A democratic government derives its authority from “the will of the people”. “The will of the people” is just a fancy way of saying “the force of numbers”. Democracy is a form of “might makes right” and it is no coincidence that as democracy has become the dominant principle of government over the last few centuries, governments have become far more intrusive into the private lives of their people than they ever were before. Democratic governments, do not flinch at sending their bureaucratic henchmen to invade the homes and businesses of ordinary people, and boss them around in every area of their lives. No king, governing by divine right, would ever have dreamed he had the authority and right to do such a thing.

If true civil authority is “top down” from God, one would certainly expect the same to be true of ecclesiastical authority, and that is precisely what the New Testament teaches. Christ, commissioned His twelve Apostles and gave them authority over His Church. As the Church grew, the Apostles ordained others to assist them in the leadership of the Church. Ordination in the New Testament consisted of the Apostles laying their hands on people to signify that they were conferring authority on these people, either for specific tasks (as is the case with the establishment of the deacons in Acts 6) or to lead specific Churches in the Apostles absence. In his pastoral epistles, St. Paul taught those he had ordained in this way, like Timothy, to do the same to leaders they would in turn train up to assist them. Ecclesiastical authority, was to be passed on from those who possessed it by direct commission from Christ, the Apostles, to others, through the laying on of hands.

It is possible to overemphasize this. Some teach that if a Church does not have bishops in a clear, unbroken line of succession, going back to the Apostles, that it is not really a Church. That is going too far. The Gospels record that at one point St. John told Jesus “Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us” and was told “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” In one sense, all that is necessary for the Church to be present is for two or more believers to gather in the name of Jesus, for Christ promises His presence wherever that happens.

Among Protestants today, however, even among those who consider themselves to be conservative evangelicals, we are far more likely to encounter a low view of the Church and of the ecclesiastical authority passed on by ordination than the opposite error.

(1) Auberon Waugh wrote in the October 3rd, 1975 issue of The New Statesman: “It is a waste of time to make jokes about the women’s movement, partly because there is no way for the most febrile jester to improve on his raw material, partly because Aristophanes made all the best jokes on this subject 2,366 years ago in Ecclesiazusae.”

(2) This discussion began with Ferdinand Tönnies’ 1887 treatise on the subject, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft. The terms are often translated “community” and “society”, although this is an oversimplification.

(3) It is a bit different in the case of the Methodist Church. The first Methodist bishop was Thomas Coke. Coke was ordained by John Wesley, who was a priest within the Church of England. Wesley had been ordained a bishop by Erasmus of Arcadia, a Greek Orthodox Bishop, in order to validate the orders, because the bishops of his own Church were refusing to ordain clergy for the New World at that time.

(4) Sir William Palmer A Treatise on the Church of Christ: Designed Chiefly for the Use of Students in Theology (London: J.G.F. & J. Rivington, 1838).

(5) This word is chosen to avoid the use of the word “liberal” and not to imply sympathy with the hybrid of postmodernism and Christianity taught by Brian Mclaren.

(6) By “orthodox” I mean adhering to the doctrines of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. That means actually adhering to the doctrines. Reciting them with mental reservations like “well, His body is still in the grave, but I suppose we could say He rose again, because He is living in His disciples hearts” at the part that says “and the third day He rose again from the dead, according to the Scriptures”, does not count.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

This and That No. 13 - Freedom and Human Rights

In his column for the Mail On Sunday for May 28, Peter Hitchens opened by saying "Human rights are a threat to free speech." This is absolutely correct, as we know all too well here in Canada where the ideology of human rights, enshrined in law in the Canadian Human Rights Act, has been used to stifle and chill freedom of speech.

It is bad enough that Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act allowed for political dissidents to be silenced because the expression of their views was interpreted as being "hate speech" and therefore a violation of other people's "human rights". Our defamation laws, which are in serious need of revision so as to prevent their abuse, are also being used to discourage criticism of Section 13 and those who have used Section 13 to silence people whose views they don't like.

Mark and Connie Fournier, the founders and administrators of the conservative message board Free Dominion, have been fighting litigation for a number of years now, primarily from Richard Warman. Richard Warman's website describes him as a "Canadian human rights lawyer". A former employee of the Canadian Human Rights Commission he has in recent years come under heavy, and in my opinion deserved, criticism for filing Section 13 complaints as a form of political activism.

During the case of Warman V. Lemire evidence was introduced by the defence that the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Warman engaged in ethically dubious online behavior, that I, and I think most people, would consider to be a form of entrapment. One particular accusation, that the defence made against the CHRC and Warman, would suggest an even worse form of prosecutorial misconduct than entrapment - it would suggest the planting of evidence. This accusation was reported by Jonathan Kay in the National Post. The National Post article was then quoted and reproduced throughout the internet, including at Free Dominion. Warman denied the accusation, then proceeded to sue the National Post, Free Dominion, and a host of other people including conservative writers Ezra Levant and Kathy Shaidle for defamation.

This however, is only part of the legal difficulties Warman has given the Fourniers.

Warman had already filed another lawsuit against the Fourniers and Free Dominion, which named eight "John Does" as co-defendants. These are eight people who post under screen names, i.e., internet aliases that are not their real names, at Free Dominion. This quickly became a lawsuit over the issue of internet anonymity. Warman demanded that the Fourniers turn over the IP and e-mail addresses of the "John Does" to him. The Fourniers refused to do so, and have been fighting ever since. Initially, the case was decided in Warman's favour and the Fourniers were ordered to turn over the IP and e-mail addresses of the "John Does" to Warman. They appealed this decision, and in May of last year won their appeal. The Appellate Court in overturning Warman's original victory, established standards that complainants would have to meet if they want a judge to order the personal information of anonymous internet posters turned over to them.

Warman then filed another motion against the Fourniers in an attempt to secure a ruling in his favour under the new rules. This Tuesday, on May 31st, he received that ruling. The most recent judge's decision is disgusting and disturbing. Apparently calling people bad names now constitutes actionable defamation - even if the judge doesn't understand what the bad name means. As Connie Fournier writes:

If the new Divisional Court test can be thwarted by a judge essentially saying, "I'm not sure what this means but it SOUNDS bad, so the privacy must be stripped from these individuals", then the whole test becomes meaningless. (

We are constantly told that we need "human rights laws" to protect the "weak and vulnerable". Unfortunately, however, laws that are designed to protect "the weak and vulnerable" are easily abused. It is not right that someone should be liable to huge fines and life-time gag orders for mere words posted on the internet. It is not right that laws against defamation, which exist to protect people from those who would ruin their reputations and livelihoods by deliberately spreading falsehoods about them, can be used to silence criticism of those who use "hate speech" laws to silence dissent.

Please pray for Mark and Connie Fournier as their legal battle against their persecutors continues. If you are able, also please consider making a donation to Free Dominion to help pay their enormous legal costs.

Also pray for all others who face lawsuits from Richard Warman, that they might prevail.

Also pray for Richard Warman. Jesus told us to "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" and Himself set the example by praying, for those who nailed Him to the Cross (which includes all of us for it is our sins that He died) "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do". Pray that God will humble Richard Warman's heart, that he might be converted like Saul of Tarsus, and bring forth fruit meet for repentence, like Zaccheus making reparations to those he has wronged.

Finally, pray for Canada, that we will get the reforms to our laws and courts which are so badly needed.