Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Wait! What Did I Do?

The Saker: First, I think the first step is to ignore what insects (bionic or not) have to say about the Scripture and turn, where else, to the Fathers (especially those insects who refer to the holy, glorious, all-laudable Apostle Paul simply as “Paul” as if talking about a buddy of theirs).

I regularly read The Saker, primarily for one reason.  I find his views and analysis regarding Russia – its military, its approach to geo-politics, its relationship to the West and the Anglo-Zionist Empire – as a valuable contribution to my understanding.  It also happens to be a topic on which I am unqualified to challenge him.

A second topic on which I am unqualified to challenge him is on the Orthodox Christian faith.  But I don’t really read him much for this.

A good friend of mine sent me the link to this piece from the Saker.  I offered above an excerpt from an interview: Orthodox Faith: Yvonne Lorenzo interviews the Saker.  I probably would not have read the piece had my friend not made me aware of my newfound celebrity.

What prompted such a personal attack by the Saker?  It was a question by Lorenzo regarding Romans 13:

A commentator and writer named The Bionic Mosquito wrote in “Christians and Government” that if we interpret these authorities as government, “then I am sure that what Paul meant by this was that Mary and Joseph should have turned the newborn Jesus into Herod’s grasp.”

Now, I read this several times, thinking to myself, “I would never have written anything so stupid.”  Finally, I decided to look at the linked source: it was to my piece entitled Christians and Government, republished at LRC.  And what do I find at the link?

We all know Romans 13: let every person be subject to the governing authorities.  I am sure that what Paul meant by this was that Mary and Joseph should have turned the newborn Jesus into Herod’s grasp.  Not.

Please notice carefully the missing word, the last word in the cited portion – also italicized in my original.  It would seem to make clear a very different meaning than the one suggested by Lorenzo.

Now, it all goes downhill from here.  Lorenzo offers a more extended cite from my piece, after which the Saker offers his views on her question.  Truly, I am having a hard time finding an inch of difference between my position and the Saker’s – certainly nothing deserving of the ridicule in his opening.  I offer sections from what Lorenzo has cited from my piece (ignoring what else I had written in my piece, which carry some relevance) and sections of the Saker’s comments:

The insect: One has to view Romans 13 in isolation if one wants to make of it Biblical support for any and all earthly government authorities.

There is nothing in Romans chapter 12 or 13 to suggest that the beginning of Romans 13 be interpreted as unconditional support for earthly government. There is little, if anything, in all of Scripture that supports such an interpretation.

For the Saker’s reply, some setup is required:

The Saker: When the Bolsheviks took power the Russian Orthodox Church split into roughly 4 groups:

He then identifies the four groups, the first three of which remained true to their Christian faith in various ways (in opposition to the government), the fourth of which – who “[accepted] the submission of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Bolshevik’s state” – are “often referred to by the name of their leader, Metropolitan Sergius: the ‘Sergianists.’”

The stances taken by the three first groups are all equally pious options. The proof of that statement is that the first three groups all remained in communion with each other and rejected the communion with the Sergianist even when threatened with torture and death! The stance of the forth group is, however, diametrically opposed to original, Patristic, theology. (Emphasis in original.)

So, accepting the authority of the state is not unconditional – just as I have written.

Further, the Saker reminds that Romans demanded that the early Christians perform a sacrifice to the Roman Gods, to which he offers: “Some Christians lapsed and agreed to perform the sacrifice.”  Which suggests that other Christians did not “lapse,” meaning that they did not unconditionally obey the government.  Just as I have written

Keep in mind that the pagan Romans usually did NOT ask Christians to give up their faith. They “only” asked that the Christians “respect” the pagan gods. Yet that is clearly an apostasy, at least in the teachings and ethos of the Fathers.

Which suggests that some Christians did not commit “an apostasy,” instead choosing to not obey the government.  Just as I have written.

Now, after reading my comments and reading the comments of the Saker, I will ask you to guess: which one of us also wrote the following?

For [a] Christian, there cannot be any obedience outside the obedience to God.

Can you tell?  Neither can I.  The only hint will be what was written in place of the “[a]” in the quote.  Here it is in its entirety:

For an Orthodox Christian, there cannot be any obedience outside the obedience to God.

Yes, those are the Saker’s words.  Does this strike you as any different from mine, when I write the following?

There is nothing in Romans chapter 12 or 13 to suggest that the beginning of Romans 13 be interpreted as unconditional support for earthly government. There is little, if anything, in all of Scripture that supports such an interpretation.

A different angle, I grant you.  But the same meaning: Christians do not offer unconditional support to the government.  Just as the Saker and I have both written.

I don’t know if the Saker’s comments about the insect would have been different if Lorenzo had included the quote with the entire context.  The missing word, “not,” certainly makes quite a difference.  But maybe it was how I referred to Paul that got under his skin.  Since he didn’t spend any further time on this portion of the quote, I don’t think that it was this.

To my knowledge, the Saker knows nothing of my writing, so I can’t imagine there is some history for which he chose ridicule as the means to introduce his reply.  Perhaps he chose this due to the import of the missing word, perhaps it just reflects something of his character that I have previously not noticed.


Lorenzo offered the following in her introduction to her interview with the Saker:

In what has frequently been described, and rightly so I believe, as “post-Christian” America, Christians are under attack. In this extremely hostile environment, one would think despite differences in interpretation of scripture and ritual, Christians would try to learn more about one another and become mutually supportive, no matter their background.

It is a wonderful sentiment, one that acts in accord with C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity.  Lorenzo clearly didn’t act accordingly, by offering my words without the full context.  Her choice does not demonstrate a “mutually supportive” spirit.

Lorenzo, by her omission, took what is clearly an opportunity for mutual support between Christians and turned it into an opportunity for ridicule.  I find such actions dishonest.


  1. Insect; (:

    You shouldn't be too concerned about anything this person says about you or God either. You have already recognized her by her fruits.
    As far as The Saker goes, I know almost nothing about him and have read very little of his. I may be wrong but I get a feeling of arrogance resonating from some of the things he writes.
    One thing I would ask her is: "Who are these so-called Christians who are under attack in post-Christian America?"
    She also says: " would think despite differences in interpretation of scripture...".
    The focal point of the whole argument here is St. Paul, and in his writings He clearly says that scripture is not subject to interpretation by anyone. His information regarding who can understand Holy Scripture and who cannot is found in IICor. where he clearly states that only he whom God has given His Spirit to can understand Christ's words. As Christ said: "My words are Spirit...".
    I won't go into any long discussion here about the subject unless you think you might be interested in doing so. There is so very much about this greatest of Evangelists that could be said. Much of it about how mis-understood he is now and has been for centuries.

    For Christ

    1. Roger, thank you very much for this.

      I often think of Peter in Acts 2:

      32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

      He preached the Resurrection, only the Resurrection.

      41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

      3000 were added. There was no litmus test; they were added merely by believing on the Resurrection.

      Of course we are called to grow in the Lord and in our knowledge of Him. But if 3000 could be added without adhering to anything more than the Resurrection, maybe some among us should not be so arrogant about Biblical interpretation.

    2. Roger, I will add: my concern, such as it is, comes from only one place: I think that there is a real bridge to be built between someone like the Saker and some of the issues and people that are meaningful to me. I will have more to say about this in one or two additional posts in the coming days.

      But the entire tone of Lorenzo's comments seem intent on destroying the bridge. Meanwhile, there seems to be no reason for disagreement - certainly not for anything I have addressed regarding Romans 13 (other than my lack of using "Apostle" or "St.", which is a topic for another time).

    3. Very good point. And I believe any denomination who views the Resurrection as only metaphorical has lost the path.

    4. I wouldn't worry about it man. I read the interview, and it would appear that 'the Saker' is quite weak on the issue of earthly governance as it relates to the faith.

      1. "we know that Christ’s Kingdom is not of this world."

      Yes! (Not yet anyway. But the details of His return is beyond any of our pay grades.)

      2. "we can clearly note is that, using the terminology of modern-day libertarians, Christ and the original Church were most definitely “statists” meaning that they believed not only that having a state is acceptable, they believed that is was fundamentally needed."

      From what source is it 'clear to note' that Christ was a statist? This is a bald assertion, which by definition, he did not support with a shred of evidence.

      3. "The Fathers believed that the state, as such, is a God-ordained element of a healthy human society. In fact, they saw that the state can even play the role of the “restrainer” or “the one who restrains” meaning that the state is what stands between chaos and order or even that the state can create the conditions in which the Church can safely and freely exist or even be protected."

      There are other institutions besides a state that can act as a restrainer or protector of the Church and its flock.

      4. "Of course, each case is different and the Church, which is a living organism, assesses the posture on a case by case basis."

      Organism? That sounds exactly like the language of a statist in regards to the state. But setting aside the poor metaphor, apparently he believes that human governing institutions can be taken on a case by case basis. I wonder by what standard the Church should judge them? Maybe the Decalogue would be a good start.

      5. "The Church does not promote one political order over another."

      True, but you've just said that Christ Himself is in favor of the State. Or is the State the only governing institution you've ever heard of?

      6."However, in many (most?) cases the state which is supposed to be totally separated from the Church ends up actively promoting anti-Christian ideas and values. Even in this case, the Christian cannot defy the state or breaks its laws (at least not without a very strong and compelling argument)."

      How about the fact that every State by its very nature stands in continuous violation of the Decalogue? That compelling enough?

      6. "And then there is the state of “enemies of God,” militant atheists which persecute the Church and all true Christians. This kind of state is not a state which the Orthodox Christian “may” obey. This is the kind of state which the Orthodox Christian is obligated to oppose, even at the risk of his/her life because doing anything else would be an act of apostasy, especially if the lapsed Christian begins actively supporting that t[h]eomachic state."

      Finally, a state he doesn't support. Although his bar cannot be said to be very high since the Bolshevik empire was probably the worst state we've ever seen as a species.

      7. "For an Orthodox Christian, there cannot be any obedience outside the obedience to God"

      Like you pointed out Bionic, this is exactly our position. So where's the rub? Logically, the statement above, in the absence of God on earth in person, would make Christ's political prescription the libertarian one. We are all monarchists, but the only true king is Christ, so in His absence we must figure out something else in the meantime, preferably something that does not blatantly and routinely violate his other teachings.

      8. "So when something happens, we don’t need to think long and hard about [it?] or, worse, consider what modern theologian X has to say about it. All we need to do is see what Christ, the Apostles and the Fathers have always been saying about that."

      Clearly the Saker has not thought long and hard about it. And what did Christ and His Apostles say about the State again? Still waiting for clear evidence that Christ was a statist.

    5. I also found many of his statements on this topic confusing and / or contradictory. Further, we need a common definition of the word "state." Finally, let's be honest about how often a "state" has lived up to even something approaching a Christian ideal.

      In any case, we know how God felt about Israel wanting a king "like all other nations." And the example I used which Lorenzo abused: Joseph and Mary most certainly didn't obey the "state" or king or whatever.

  2. Here is my heretical 2¢:

    As far as the "holy, glorious, all-laudable Apostle Paul" is concerned, First: I think that Paul would be the first one to disagree with applying most of these titles to himself except Apostle, a position to which he was properly called and ordained. Second: I think the elevation of and attributing to any human being, the position of some sort of unobtainable and unreachable spiritual pinnacle, is counterproductive. It discourages the common man from making an effort to attain the attributes of godliness as exemplified by Jesus. It would also make it difficult to tell if new apostles or prophets had been called, since they would be common men and would not fit the perfect image that we have created in our minds.

    I believe that our common enemy uses many different ploys to minimize the influence of good people. If they're alive, such people are called hypocrites, goody-two shoes and fanatics. If they're dead, they're called saints and icons and are presented as some sort of super being, a position unreachable by mere mortals. How could a person become an icon? Why would someone want to be a goody-two shoes?

    Did not Jesus teach us to address God as our Father? Does that not make us all brothers and sisters? When was the last time you called your brother or sister "laudable" or "holy"? The man's name is Paul and he is your brother - for heaven's sake, call him Paul!

    1. Woody, obviously given how I write I tend to agree with you. However, I do respect other traditions in this. For example, when I am writing something from a book that uses such titles, I will normally also use the titles in my post.

      Someday my view on this might change, or maybe not.

    2. I just object to the mysticism that surrounds such traditions - mysticism that leads away from the main idea of living righteously and towards some sort of strange pretentiousness - and, ever present in such thinking is the idea of I > U.

      Jesus taught:
      "... Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
      But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
      And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
      Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many ..."
      Mathew 20: 25-28

      Greatness is found in service to others, not in how high and mighty you [think] you are.

    3. I understand. But after the Virgin Mary - which even CS Lewis chose to avoid in his book Mere Christianity, as otherwise he knew he would never get anyone to page two - this might be the next most difficult topic.

      I think the issues facing us as Christians and as a society are much bigger than this issue.

      So, I know all of the objections. But I am aiming at a different objective.

    4. I think the tradition of the saints is valuable. We have to have something to aspire to, and I'd much rather teach my kids to revere St. Max Kolbe than the plagiarist communist MLK or the murderous sociopath Abe Lincoln.

  3. Is it possible that Ms. Lorenzo didn't see the "Not"? If she intentionally chose to ignore it, then I would agree that she's being dishonest, but I'm inclined to give anyone the benefit of the doubt. The bottom of her articles on Lew Rockwell's site, allow for correspondence. Did you bother to inquire, or point out her mistake?

    1. Hardly.

      No. I choose not to deal with people who work to burn bridges. I also choose not to deal with people who miss (inadvertently or not) the very next word in my quote.