Monday, November 30, 2020

The Lion and the Lamb

This post is prompted by Paul VanderKlay’s short video response to the conversation between Rod Dreher and Jonathan Pageau.


Revelation 5: 4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

We know Jesus is the slain lamb.  What of this Lion of the tribe of Judah?

Genesis 49: 8 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee.

9 Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?

10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Both Matthew and Luke trace Jesus’s genealogy through Judah.  In one being, we have both the lion and the lamb.  How can this be?  GK Chesterton describes one of the many paradoxes of Christianity in his book Orthodoxy, where Christianity is blamed both for not fighting (the lamb) and for fighting (the lion):

It was the fault of poor old Christianity (somehow or other) both that Edward the Confessor did not fight and that Richard Coeur de Leon did.

He then makes reference to the lion and the lamb:

It is constantly assured, especially in our Tolstoyan tendencies, that when the lion lies down with the lamb the lion becomes lamb-like.

To be clear, while we commonly picture the lion and the lamb lying together, I don’t believe the Biblical sources put it exactly this way. 

Isaiah 11: 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

So, the lion and the lamb are at least in the same scene.  Continuing with Chesterton, and this image of the lion becoming lamb-like:

But that is brutal annexation and imperialism on the part of the lamb. That is simply the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb.

Is this the point – for the lamb to now consume the lion?  Chesterton thinks not:

The real problem is—Can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity? THAT is the problem the Church attempted; THAT is the miracle she achieved.

Jesus achieved that miracle.

We are coming to a time where Christianity is being moved to the fringe of the society.  The center is being filled by something else.  Christianity has been at the center in the West, losing ground with the Enlightenment, and finally giving way in the First World War.  It has been living on fumes since then. 

While Christianity was at the center, there was at least the objective of love, which left room at the margins.  Everything of love and respect to all in society can be found in Christianity and only in Christianity.  Sure, never perfect, never progressing fast enough, but undeniably so.

Something other than Christian love is moving to the center.  It is hate; there is no doubt about this.

I am troubled by this direction, as many are; the monologue by VanderKlay troubled me more.  For example, VanderKlay offers:

Don’t despair about being moved to the margin.  Christ didn’t belong there either, yet Christ always wins.

I know Christ always wins.  Christ knew this also.  Yet it didn’t prevent Him from despair:

Friday, November 27, 2020

Dreher and Pageau

A very good conversation, discussing Rod Dreher’s new book, Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents.  The book examines our current situation in the West, in all of its insanity, and then offers lessons from Christians who suffered through the persecutions in Eastern Europe during communism.

I will not go point by point.  If the topic is of interest, spend fifty-five minutes on the video.  I will, however, draw out a couple of points; here, while discussing the closing of and / or limits on churches, etc.:

Dreher: I really do believe God has allowed covid as a severe mercy for us, to prepare us for what’s coming in the future.  If we as Christians can’t handle this sort of minimal depravation without falling apart, then you’re not going to make it through what’s coming.

He makes this comment in the context of what he understood from Christians who survived communism in Eastern Europe: you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  If you can’t handle what’s happening today, you will never survive tomorrow.

Just to be clear that I am not fully aligned with the entire discussion: the one comment that I will take meaningful exception to, and it comes shortly after the above comments.  Dreher seems to buy into the full pandemic narrative – it is real, albeit it is being used to accelerate this coming system of control.

In fact, he compares it to the Reichstag fire, using it as the opportunity for Hitler to increase his control.  Of course, many believe it was a fire set in motion by Hitler, just for this purpose.  False flags… Dreher apparently misses this possibility regarding the fire, so it would not be a surprise that Dreher misses this possibility on covid.

However, Dreher ends on a strong note, beginning here.  Very Christian, so I will summarize: we have read the Book.  We know how the story ends.  It may get unpleasant in the meantime.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

No Truth

We certainly live in a post-truth age.  This term, post-truth, apparently came to the fore during Brexit and Trump, presumably describing how these two episodes succeeded, via “post” truth.  We can basically see that the West – and most significantly, the US – is divided in two camps that clearly believe the other is living in a world of post-truth.  Call these lies.

Russia gate, Ukraine, impeachment, Biden laptop computers, Covid, Clinton Foundation, voting machines, 4 AM vanloads of ballots.  This is just the last four years.  We each have a truth about each one of these; we cannot all be right.

Certain episodes are investigated, others are not.  Why?

Paul VanderKlay recently did a video on community building.  He opened with a slide, asking:

Was the US election clean?

Is the US and UK getting their COVID response right?

How should we regard climate change?

How can we know?

I responded:

Simple: Cui Bono.  Who benefits?  Centralized power and authority or decentralized power and authority?  Those in power want more power; those in control want more control.  This is one way to know the truth on each of these subjects. 

Those who want more power and control aren’t after more power and control for my benefit or the benefit of anyone listening to these videos or commenting here.

Political leaders and business leaders prefer centralized power.  Truth is irrelevant in this pursuit.  If lies are necessary in this pursuit, they will lie.  We see the marriage of these two in this cause.

But lies are always necessary in this pursuit of centralizing power.  Insufficient numbers will allow increased authoritarianism without being fed lies.

Neither the media nor the Department of Justice are acting in their appropriate role – pursuing truth in pursuit of justice.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, it did so relatively peacefully.  Perhaps most people in the Soviet Union knew that they were being fed lies, hence, no conflict.

I don’t think the West will be as fortunate.  Each side is convinced the other is lying.  Neither is able to let go of this. 

No truth, no justice, no peace. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Problem of Teaching Ethics

Ryan Reeves offers a series on Lewis and Tolkien, taken from his classroom lectures at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.  In this video, entitled C.S. Lewis, Theology and the Space Trilogy, he raises an interesting discussion point. 

At a faculty retreat that was taken with a group of pastors, one of the professors from the seminary asked: what can we teach our theology students that we aren’t teaching?  In other words, when the students graduate and you get them, on what subjects are they falling short?

The answer: you could teach six courses on ethics, and it still wouldn’t be enough.  Not only would it not be enough, but the ethical issues we are facing are changing so fast that we can’t keep up.

Admittedly, ethical issues are changing very fast today.  But ethical issues have always been changing, and, at other times, quite fast.  We faced such issues in the 1960s regarding the sexual revolution and civil rights; in the 1920s regarding the family in post-war Europe especially; in the 1860s regarding slavery in the United States; in the 1790s regarding the use of the guillotine.  I could continue traveling through time in reverse.

In other words, we have faced such change before, both in speed and magnitude.  Unfortunately for us, each of those episodes preceded or followed a dramatic episode of violence.  My first point is that we have gone through many periods where we can’t keep up.  and this has come at a tremendous cost.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime

My main point: in teaching ethics, teaching the issues of the moment is insufficient – one is always teaching on how to deal with that which already happened.  Each new question in ethics requires a new course to deal with that which has already overtaken society. 

By the time a theological seminary or a university develops a new course, sends enough students through it, and those students then are in a position to make an impact in their community, the horse is out of the barn – followed by four additional horses for which new courses have yet to be developed or new students have yet to be taught.

Such a course of action – giving men fish – will never offer the possibility of keeping up with change.  To keep up with change, one must teach men to fish.

Which brings me to the concept of natural law.  My thought when I heard Reeves recite this interchange: teach six courses on natural law, and you will greatly reduce the angst about keeping up with the new ethical changes coming at us at lightning speed.

There is such pushback on this concept, coming at us – I believe – from two main sources: first, from those who want to control society, and second, from those who find some reason to “fault” the concept.

Murray Rothbard exposed the first, writing, “the natural law provides the only sure ground for a continuing critique of governmental laws and decrees.”  It is through these governmental laws and – ever-increasingly – decrees that society is controlled.  What of unpacking the second?

Those who fault the concept of natural law have many arrows in their quivers: Aristotle’s physics and science have proven faulty (as if this has to do with his thoughts on metaphysics); Aquinas was Catholic (as was the entirety of the West for 1500 years); disagreement is found with the theology of other of Thomas’s teachings (as if these have to do with natural law); it is not Scripturally based (to which I have demonstrated the opposite).

Finally, which natural law (which comes to the ever-changing ethical environment that is inherent in man’s existence)?  But this is the point: natural law provides a foundation, a philosophical and theological framework by which one can address ever-changing ethical issues.  It doesn’t give answers to ethical questions that have not yet been asked; it offers a foundation and method by which to answer those questions yet to be asked.

There is no such things as “which natural law?”  there is only natural law, from which answers to ever-changing ethic questions can be derived.

The following issues are all addressed via natural law ethics:

Friday, November 13, 2020

The Irregular Equilibrium

Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton (ebook)

The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite. Life is not an illogicality; yet it is a trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait.

A simple example: a man is two men, with the right side a duplicate of the left.  Everything, in all appearances, confirms this as reality.  Until one gets to the heart.  Had he guessed as to the heart’s location, or that there would only be one heart, the scientist would be something more than a pure logician or mathematician.

Now, this is exactly the claim which I have since come to propound for Christianity. Not merely that it deduces logical truths, but that when it suddenly becomes illogical, it has found, so to speak, an illogical truth. It not only goes right about things, but it goes wrong (if one may say so) exactly where the things go wrong.

It is this point that Chesterton will consider: when something is found to be odd in Christian theology, it is only because something is odd in the truth.  The complications of our modern world prove this out better than any problem of faith.  Just as a scientist is proud of the complications in his science, so might one be proud of the complications of his faith.

But science can be proven, faith cannot.  What Chesterton found is that the more rational the proof, the less believable the science:

Our grandmothers were quite right when they said that Tom Paine and the free-thinkers unsettled the mind. They do. They unsettled mine horribly. The rationalist made me question whether reason was of any use whatever….

I find this in the black hole offered by the most scientific rationalist: we don’t have free will in any sense, as we are nothing more than the result of random atoms smashing together randomly.  These “rationalists” use reason to prove that there is no point in humans having reason.  All we have is an illusion of free will.  Talk about unsettling the mind – if this is where sola reason must lead, you can have it.

Chesterton would read much about Christianity – from the point of view of non-Christians and anti-Christians.  The more he read, the more he came across the extraordinary: Christianity was blamed for vices of all sorts, attacked from all sides.  And this was the issue: it was attacked from all sides – attacked for numerous contradictory reasons.

For example, Christianity is attacked for instilling morbid fear and terror that prevents men from seeking joy and liberty; as well, it is attacked for comforting men in providence.  Next, it is attacked for making men too timid, not willing to fight at all; as well, it is attacked for making men warriors.  It is attacked for claiming to be the one true religion by men who claim that mankind was “one church from Plato to Emerson.”

Chesterton was not yet moved:

…I did not conclude that the attack on Christianity was all wrong. I only concluded that if Christianity was wrong, it was very wrong indeed. …The only explanation which immediately occurred to my mind was that Christianity did not come from heaven, but from hell. Really, if Jesus of Nazareth was not Christ, He must have been Antichrist.

As we know, Chesterton’s story didn’t end there.  To his mind came another explanation.  Regarding an unknown man, some describe him as too short, others too tall.  Instead of concluding something in error about the unknown man, what if instead this discrepancy says something of those describing him?

Perhaps (in short) this extraordinary thing is really the ordinary thing; at least the normal thing, the centre. Perhaps, after all, it is Christianity that is sane and all its critics that are mad—in various ways.

Was there something morbid, not in Christianity but in the accusers, that would explain these discrepancies?  And it was by asking himself this question that Chesterton found the key to unlock the door.  The restraint of Christians saddens the hedonist; the faith of Christians angers the pessimists.

But this was still not quite enough.  There was both meekness in Christians and fierceness in the crusaders.  Christianity did not offer some mean between the two – it offered both, at the top of their game.  Christianity offered Christ – not as a centaur, but as very God and very man (and I know that the dispute on the meaning here caused perhaps the earliest rupture in the official Church).

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Look in the Mirror, My Friend

Hello, Mirror - so glad to see you my friend, it's been a while

Searching, Fearless - where do I begin to heal this wound of self-denial

-          This Dying Soul, Dream Theater

At least for the moment, Trump has lost the election.  Sure, we can point to dozens of anomalies, inconsistencies, manipulations, etc.  If these ever come to light and if action is taken by the appropriate authorities and if the result swings enough votes, then maybe Trump wins.  But that’s a lot of “ifs” that have to happen for one “maybe.”  I am not betting on it.

For a start, don’t count on anything coming from the DOJ or Barr.  First of all, absolutely nothing was done regarding the lies of the last four years, so why would they do anything now with less than two months to go? 

These are career bureaucrats, not about to jeopardize their standing with the new president – hell, they want Trump out anyway.  Even if Trump fires any of them now (or they resign, as a few have), Biden will hire them again on day two.

If any official action is taken, it will come only from the state level – state legislatures, state courts, etc.  I don’t even think the Supreme Court will get in the way of this.  When has Roberts had a spine on anything?

But my point isn’t really any of this.  My point is to put the blame where it belongs, and the blame belongs squarely on the shoulders of the large majority of republican voters over the last decades.  In other words, the blame falls on you.

You've been blinded, living lie a one-way cold existence all the while

Now it's time to stare the problem right between the eyes you long lost child

“Oh, they are lying to us about the ballots; they are manipulating the results; it is an overthrow of a legitimately elected president.”  Sure, exactly like what the US intelligence agencies and military have been doing for decades overseas.  Toppling governments, color revolutions, destroying dozens of countries.  You cheer it on then, and now that it is obvious that they are doing this to you (like it wasn’t obvious years ago) you complain?  On what basis?

You have accepted all the lies, all of the evil, all of the torture – not merely accepted it, but bathed in it and glorified it.  You cheered them on every Sunday morning in church.  When the one honest man, Ron Paul, told you otherwise, you booed him off of the stage.

Julian Assange published documents and videos exposing these crimes, and you call for a beheading.  Edward Snowden gave details on domestic spying, and you want life in prison. 

Every action taken by the same actors that now have handed you this election defeat, you have cheered.  Oh, but now you don’t like it.


Your fearless admissions

Will help expel your destructive obsessions

With my help I know you can

Be at one with God and man


This is something you have to own.  Admit it, beg God for forgiveness, and move forward in truth. 

This is on your shoulders.  Only you can fix it.


It's time you made your amends

Look in the mirror my friend

-          The Mirror, Dream Theater