Thursday, June 14, 2018

Development of the Nicene Creed – Part 2

Justin Martyr
Thomas Allen

[Reference Note: As this article relies primarily on First Three Centuries by Alvan Lamson, page numbers enclosed in parentheses are to Lamson’s book. References to other works are enclosed in parentheses with the work’s title or the author’s name listed in “References” at the end of this article.]

Justin Martyr
    Justin Martyr (100–165) was an itinerant preacher, a Christian apologist, and a philosopher. Before his conversion to Christianity, he had studied at various schools of Greek philosophy. Among his writings are the Dialogue with Trypho and the Apology.
    Justin was the Church Father primarily responsible for developing the metaphysical notion of the Logos-doctrine of the Son, which became the foundation of the Trinity Doctrine. As discussed below, the Logos-doctrine did not come from the Old or New Testaments. It grew out of the Greek philosophy of Plato.
    Justin and his Platonism along with the Alexandrian School that followed him led the way to introducing “darkness and error into the theology of the period, error which was transmitted to subsequent times, and from the overshadowing effects of which the Christian world has not yet fully recovered” (p. 28).
    Justin developed the Logos-doctrine of Christ and applied it to his fanciful interpretation of the Old Testament. (For examples of these interpretations, see Lamson, pp. 52-53, 55-58.) He was a leader in combining Christianity with Platonic philosophy.
    Moreover, he often used “the allegorical mode of interpretation adopted by Philo and his school. He is perpetually beating about for hidden meanings, and far-fetched and mystical constructions, and typical representations and fanciful resemblances” (p. 56).
    (Philo [25 B.C. – 50 A.D.] was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher. He has been called the Jewish Plato.)
    Justin appeared to have had a greater understanding of Greek poets and philosophers than he had of the Old Testament. He was neither exact nor profound in his writings.
    He promoted the Logos-doctrine or the doctrine of the divine nature of Christ. His doctrine of the Logos is similar to that of Philo and the Alexandrian Platonists. (Lamson wrote that “the original and distinctive features of the doctrine of the Logos, as held by the learned Fathers of the second and third centuries, we must look, not to the Jewish Scriptures, nor to the teachings of Jesus and his Apostles, but to Philo and the Alexandrian Platonists. . . . the doctrine of the Trinity was of gradual and comparatively late formation; that it had its origin in a source entirely foreign from that of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures; that it grew up, and was ingrafted on Christianity, through the hands of the Platonizing Fathers; that in the time of Justin, and long after, the distinct nature and inferiority of the Son were universally taught; and that only the first shadowy outline of the Trinity had then become visible” [p. 62].)
    Justin developed the Logos-doctrine in part to rebut Jewish and Heathen accusations about “the humble origin and ignominious death of Jesus as a reproach on Christianity” (p. 63). To overcome the reproach of the cross, Christians had, by Justin’s time, begun emphasizing Jesus’ miraculous virgin birth from which came the notion of the pre-existing Logos.
    Justin describes the Son as “as ‘the Logos, that, before created things, was with God, and begotten, when, through him, he [God] in the beginning created and adorned all things’” (p. 63). Thus, he excluded the “doctrine of the ‘eternal generations’” (p. 64). Also, he considered “the Son as the ‘beginning’ of God’s ‘ways to his works’” (p. 64). Thus, the Son was not eternal. Further, “Christ is ‘the first-born of God’” (p. 65).
    According to Justin, “Socrates knew Christ in part; for he is ‘that reason (logos) which is in all’ and whatever was well said or done by philosophers and legislators is to be attributed to the Logos in part shared by them. . . . This Logos was Christ, who afterwards became flesh” (p. 66). This Logos guided the patriarchs and the prophets and was implanted in every mind.
    “Justin believed this divine principle of reason was converted into a real being. . . . Jesus Christ . . . was the Logos, the first progeny of God, born without commixtion’” (p. 67). The Son is “‘the Logos of God, born of Him in a peculiar manner, and out of the course of ordinary births’” (p. 68).
    Justin used “Logos” in different senses. When he used it with reference to God, he usually meant “reason,” which was “considered as an attribute of the Father; and that, by the generation of the Son, he understood the conversion of this attribute into a real person. The Logos, which afterwards became flesh, originally existed in God as his reason, or perhaps his wisdom or energy. Having so existed from eternity, it was, a little before the creation of the world, voluntarily begotten, thrown out, or emitted, by the Father, or proceeded from him; for these terms are used indiscriminately to express the generation of the Son, or the process by which what before was a quality acquired a distinct personal subsistence” (p. 68). Thus, “the logos, or reason, which once constituted an attribute of the Father, was at length converted into a real being, and that this was done by a voluntary act of the Father” (p. 68). This process by which this conversion occurred was called “generation,” “emission,” and “creation.”
    Justin and other Fathers used “Logos” to express the divine nature of the Son. This notion came from Greek philosophy and not from the Hebrew Scriptures. “Logos” is used in the Septuagint as the translation of the Hebrew word that is translated “word” in English Bibles. Moreover, it does not bear the meaning that Justin and Philo attached to it. Furthermore, the Bible does not hint at “the generation of the Son by the conversion of an attribute of the Father into a real person” (p. 70). Contrariwise, the Old Testament generally describes God anthropomorphically and concretely; it seldom describes Him spiritually (for examples of such descriptions, see Lamson, pp. 71-72).
    In the Old Testament “word” or “Logos” is used in the sense of “speaking”; it is not used in the sense of “reason” as Justin and Philo used it. As such, in the Old Testament “word” or “Logos” is an anthropomorphic act of speaking; it is not used in a metaphysical sense as Justin and Philo used it.
    In the Old Testament, God “wills, and the event corresponds to his will. Here is no allusion to any intermediate agent, to a Son, who receives and executes his commands; a rational power, emanating from his own substance, and forming a link between him and his creatures” (p. 72). This notion of the Son as an intermediate agent came much later.
    The introduction of the Gospel of John comes the closest to supporting the metaphysical notions of Justin concerning the nature of the Son. However, nothing else in John or the other Gospels or Epistles gives any support to his notion. Although Paul’s writings suggest a pre-existing Son, he lacks the metaphysics of John. Mark has Jesus becoming the Son of God by adoption at his baptism. Luke and Matthew have him becoming the Son of God at his conception.
    In developing his Logos-doctrine, Justin drew on sources other than the Scriptures or even the Apostolic Fathers. His notion of Logos corresponded in its essential features with that of the Alexandrian Platonists. (For Trinitarian acknowledgment of the works of the Platonists in developing the Trinity Doctrine, see Lamson, pp. 77-78.)
    According to Philo in his interpretation of the Old Testament, “there is one Supreme God, but [Philo] supposes that there is a second God, inferior to him, and begotten of him, called his reason, Logos. . . .To this Logos, or intelligent nature, emanating from God, as he considers it, he attributes all the properties of a real being, and calls him God’s ‘first born Logos, the most ancient angel’” (pp. 79-80). (Plato used Logos to designate his second principle.) This omnipotent Father granted this archangel “‘the preeminent gift, to stand on the confines of both [the Deity and created], and separate the created from the Creator: he is continually a suppliant to the immortal God on behalf of the mortal race, which is exposed to affliction and misery; . . . being neither unbegotten as God, nor begotten as man, but occupying a middle place between the extremes, being a hostage to both’” (p. 80). Philo applies the title of “God” to him, but not in the highest sense. According to him, God is “the fountain of the Logos, and the Logos [is] his instrument, or minister, in forming, preserving, and governing the world; his messenger, and interpreter of his will to man” (p. 80). Thus, Philo used Logos “in the sense of reason, having a proper subsistence, and distinct from God, though emanating from the fountain of his divinity” (p. 81). Whereas sacred writers used Logos simply as “a mode of action in the Deity,” (p. 81), Philo used Logos as “a real being, his agent and minister in executing his will” (p. 81).
    The ante-Nicene Fathers thought that the Son was inferior to the Father. Therefore, because of his inferiority, the Son had to be distinct from the Father. Even Justin considered the Son distinct from and subordinate to the Father.
    Justin contended that two Gods and two Lords existed. One was the Lord in heaven, who is the “‘Lord of that Lord who appeared on earth.’” (p. 85). God the Father is the Lord in heaven, who is also the Creator. The Lord who appeared on the earth, the Son, is an inferior God, who is the mediator between God and man. Moreover, the Son was the subordinate God, who had no will of his own; he only did what the Creator willed him to do. (For some Biblical citations that Justin used to support his argument of two Gods with one being subordinate to the other, see Lamson, pp. 85-86.)
    According to Justin, the Son was the God who appeared to the patriarchs and was an agent in creation. All the theophanies, the visible appearance of God, in the Old Testament “belong to the Logos, or Christ, not to the Supreme God, whose visible personal appearance upon earth he [Justin] regarded as impossible and absurd” (p. 86).
    Justin stated that Christ is God “‘because he is the first-born of every creature’” (p. 87). Moreover, he is “the ‘Lord of hosts, by the will of the Father giving him the dominion’”(p. 87). Furthermore, Justin declared, “‘Who, since he is the first-begotten Logos of God, is God’ that is, he is God by virtue of his birth: in other words, he derived a divine nature from God, just as we derive a human nature from human parents” (p. 87).
    Nevertheless, the Son was not to be regarded “as an object of direct address in prayer” (p. 87). He was the one whom Christians were to pray through to the Father, God.
    To Justin, the Son was distinct from God the Father, but not distinct “in the modern sense, as forming one of three hypostases, or persons, three ‘distinctions,’ or three ‘somewhats’ — but distinct in essence and nature; having a real, substantial, individual subsistence, separate from God, from whom he derived all his powers and titles; being constituted under him, and subject in all things to his will” (p. 88). Therefore, “[t]he Father is supreme; the Son is subordinate: the Father is the source of power; the Son the recipient: the Father originates; the Son, as his minister or instrument, executes” (pp. 88-89). Thus, the Father and the Son are two in number, but one in will.
    In summary, Justin viewed “the Logos, or Son, as a rational power begotten of God, and his instrument in forming the world, distinct from him, and subordinate” (p. 89). His concept of the Son and Logos cannot be found in the Old Testament or the New Testament. Moreover, the Apostles, the writers of the New Testament, and their immediate successors never alluded to it. However, Philo and the Alexandrian Platonists expressed the same notion of the Logos as Justin. Therefore, Justin derived his concept of the Son and Logos from the Platonic philosophy instead of from the Scriptures. Through him, this Platonic notion of the Logos and the Son entered Christianity.
    Because Justin declared that the Son is subordinate to the Father and that the Son is not eternal, his doctrine falls short of the Trinity Doctrine. According to the Trinity Doctrine, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal and one numerical essence or substance — the three in One, i.e., the Supreme Being. The ante-Nicene Fathers agreed with Justin that the Son was not equal to the Father, and, unlike the Father, he was not eternal. Moreover, the Son was independent of the Father; they were not the same being.
    (For Justin’s views on the Holy Spirit, see Lamson, pp. 93-95.)
    Strictly speaking, Justin and the other ante-Nicene Fathers were unitarians. They believed that the Son was really distinct from the Father and was inferior to him.
    However, Justin did plant a seed that would eventually mature into the Trinity Doctrine. Thus, his Logos-doctrine eventually changed Christianity from a unitarian, monotheistic, religion to a trinitarian, tritheistic, religion.
    Opinions about the nature of the Son varied. Justin and others believed in Christ’s pre-existence. Others believed in the simple humanity of Jesus. (“The question whether Jesus were the Messiah, the Christ of God, or not, did not involve the question of his nature. . . . [T]he question of Christ’s nature or of his pre-existence had nothing to do with the question of his sufficiency as a Saviour, but all depended on God’s appointment” [p. 100].)

References
Alford, H.W. The Manual of the Scriptural Doctrine of the Trinity, Investigated and Defended. Dover, New Hampshire: The Trustees of the Freewill Baptist Connection, 1842.

Allen, Thomas. “Early Church Theories of Christ.” Franklinton, North Carolina: TC Allen Co., 2009.

“Amonoean” http://looklex.com/e.o/amonoean.htm. Downloaded July 6, 2009.

Arendzen, John, "Docetae," The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. V. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05070c.htm. Downloaded July 12, 2009.

Arendzen, John. “Manichæism.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. IX. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09591a.htm. Downloaded July 4, 2009.

The Creed of Nicaea – Agreed at the Council in 325, http://www.earlychurchtexts.com/public/creed_of_nicaea_325.htm, Downloaded October 29, 2017.

“Docetism.” http://looklex.com/e.o/docetism.htm. Downloaded Jul. 5, 2009.

Fleming, Thomas. “A Plague on Both Their Houses.” Chronicles, Vol. 39, No. 3, March 2015, page 9.

Hase Charles. History of the Christian Church. Translators Charles E. Blumenthal and Conway P. Wing. New York: D. Appleton, 1870.

Lamson, Alvan. First Three Centuries: Or, Notices of the Lives and Opinions of Some of the Early Fathers, With Special Reference to The Doctrine of the Trinity. Reprint. and revised with notes, Ezra Abbot, editor: Boston, Mass.; 1875 reprinted with additional notes, Henry Ierson, editor: London: British and Foreign Unitarian Association,

The Lost Books of the Bible. 1820; reprint. Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing Co., 1929; reprint, 1979, New York, New York: Crown Publishing Co.

Milner, Vincent L. Religious Denominations of the World. Philadelphia: Bradley, Garretson & Co., 1872.

“Montanism.” Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Montanism. Downloaded November 12, 2017.

“Q&A.” Grace in Focus. November/December 2017, page 46.

Pressense, E. De. The Early Years of Christianity: Heresy and Christian Doctrine. Translator Anne Harwood. New York: Nelson & Phillips, n.d.

Walker, Williston. A History of the Christian Church. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1921.

Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Coley Allen.

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Part 1    Part 3

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Development of the Nicene Creed – Part 1

The Apostolic Fathers
Thomas Allen

[Reference Note: As this article relies primarily on First Three Centuries by Alvan Lamson, page numbers enclosed in parentheses are to Lamson’s book. References to other works are enclosed in parentheses with the work’s title or the author’s name listed in “References” at the end of this article.]

Be careful that you don’t let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. – Colossians 2:8
    The Trinity Doctrine developed over centuries. This article traces that development to the Nicene Creed, which was the first important component of the Trinity Doctrine, from the Apostolic Fathers through the Arian controversy.
    In this article, “Trinity Doctrine” means the Trinity Doctrine as expressed in the Athanasian Creed. “Doctrine of the Trinity” means the orthodox concept of or teaching about the Trinity at that time.
    Being simple and apparently ignorant people, the Apostolic Fathers, Christian writers of the first and early second centuries, believed what the Bible said about the Father and the Son. They had no indication that it contained the Trinity Doctrine, especially like the one of today.
    From Justin Martyr and Philo, the philosophy of the Platonists was applied to the Scriptures. Applying Platonic philosophy to the Scriptures was the first major contribution of the Trinity Doctrine. By applying Platonic philosophy to the Scriptures, Justin discovered that “Logos” no longer meant the spoken word. Using metaphysics, he changed Logos to mean reason — God’s reason. This reason, Logos, became a second God, the pre-existing Son. Thus, the Logos-doctrine entered Christianity. However, the Son had not yet become eternal; he had a beginning. Nor had he become the equal of God the Father; he was still subordinate.
    The Fathers between Justin and Clement of Alexander brought into Christianity the thought of a Trinity and advanced the notion of the eternal existence of the Logos, the Son.
    Origen advanced the unity of the Father and the Son, i.e., the Son was in the Father instead of with the Father. Thus, the Father and the Son were becoming one. Also, he advanced the notion that the Son had both a divine and human nature, that is, Christ possessed a rational human soul, which had been denied since Justin developed the Logos-doctrine. Further, some interpret his works as hinting at the Son having existed from eternity. However, he maintained that the Father was superior to the pre-existing Son and that the Father and the Son were two different substances.
    Between Origen and Arius, the unity of the Father and the Son was becoming more pronounced, although the Son remained distinct from and subordinate to the Father.
    When Alexander, the Bishop of Alexandria, began teaching more oneness of the Father and Son, Arius accused him of Sabellianism — thus, began the Arian controversy. Although Arius thought that he was defending the doctrine of the Trinity as it existed then, Alexander and others disagreed. Arius had stripped the Trinity of its Platonic metaphysics. The Arian controversy peaked with the Council of Nicaea, which issued the Nicene Creed. Among other things, the creed declared the Father and the Son to be one substance.
    Some Fathers discussed below were sainted; some were condemned as heretics. By the standard of the Trinity Doctrine, all were heretics with the possible exception of Dionysius of Rome and Alexander of Alexandria. Strictly speaking, nearly all of them were also unitarians.
     Nearly all, if not all, the ante-Nicene Fathers were Early Unitarians. Early Unitarians were strict monotheists. They believed that there is but one God who is infinite, eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient — that is the Father. They believed that the Son is not eternal and, therefore, has a beginning and is subordinate to the Father. However, some considered the Son to be of the same substance or essence as the Father; that is, they believed in a common nature, but not numerical unity. Still, others considered him to be of a different substance or essence. In any event, nearly all believed that the Father and Son are two distinct and independent beings. Moreover, they disagreed whether the son is pre-existing. Also, if he became deified, they disagreed about when he became deified: before creation, at conception, with his baptism, or at his resurrection. Many of these Early Unitarians considered the Logos to be God’s reason that became the Son or incarnated in the Son. Thus, the Son was an attribute of God — His reason. None believed that the Holy Spirit is a person in the modern Trinitarian sense; most thought of it as an attribute of God. (For arguments why anyone who does not accept the Trinity Doctrine is not a Trinitarian, but is a Unitarian, see Alford.) Until the about 200 years ago, most unitarians believed in a Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but it was not the Trinity of the Trinity Doctrine of three co-equal, co-eternal Gods being one God — neither the Son nor the Holy Spirit were Deities. Lacking such belief, they are disqualified from being Trinitarians. Early Unitarians should not be confused with Modern Unitarians or Modern Unitarianism (also known as Universal Unitarianism and Rational Unitarianism) as represented by the Unitarian Universal Association. Modern Unitarianism came into being about 200 years ago. Initially, Modern Unitarians began acting like Montanists — receiving divine revelations that superseded the Scriptures. Soon they no longer needed the Scriptures. Before long they became like Jewish rabbis with God conferring with them. Now they no longer recognize God because they have traded theology for ideology. Modern Unitarians are much closer to the liberal Protestants and modernist Catholics than any of them are to most of the ante-Nicene Fathers. Like many liberal and modernist clergy and members of other denominations, Modern Unitarians are mostly ideologues, scientismists, secular humanists, agnostics, and naturalists. (Modern Unitarians should not be confused with today’s traditional Unitarians, who agree with various brands of orthodoxy on most theological issues except the Trinity Doctrine and the natural immortality of the soul. Traditional Unitarians adhere closely to the Christology of Clement of Rome and Polycarp.)
    A heretic is anyone who disagrees with the doctrine of another that is esteemed so highly that it has become dogma — especially if the other is much more powerful than the dissenter. Today, the greatest heresy in Christendom is Protestantism — at least from the Catholic perspective. Conversely, for many Protestants, the greatest heresy is Catholicism — even to the point of the Catholic Church or the Pope being the anti-Christ of Revelation. Moreover, what is orthodoxy in one era can be heresy in another.  (For example, in the early decades of the church, people who taught that man’s soul is innately immortal were heretics. Today, people who teach that man’s soul is not innately immortal are heretics.)

The Apostolic Fathers
    Clement of Rome (d. 99) was a disciple of Peter and later Bishop of Rome (88-99) and is considered the first Apostolic Father. He was the author of two letters: the First Epistle of Clement and the Second Epistle of Clement, which many consider spurious. One ancient collection of canonical Scriptures included his First Epistle.
    According to Clement, prayer was to be addressed only to God the Father and not to Christ, the Son. “God ‘sends;’ Jesus is ‘sent.’ ‘The Apostles preached to us from our Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ from God. Christ therefore was sent from God, the Apostles from Christ; both being fitly done according to the will of God” (p. 5). Clement declared, “‘God has made our Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits, raising him from the dead’” (p. 5). Thus, the Father made or created the son; therefore, the Son was not eternal as the Trinity Doctrine proclaims. Clement called Christ the “‘sceptre of the majesty of God,’ language which implies instrumentality, not identity or equality of person. The term God is not once applied to him” (p. 6). Clement clearly distinguished Christ from the one and only God (the Father). He writes of the Father as “‘the true and only God’ ‘the great Artificer and Sovereign Ruler of all’ [‘]the All-seeing God and Ruler of Spirits, and Lord of all flesh, who chose our Lord Jesus Christ’” (p. 6). No where in his epistle did Clement teach the supreme divinity of Christ. He taught that Christ was subordinate to the Father and was not his equal as the Trinity Doctrine declares. In summary, Clement declared that God is “the fountain of all power and blessing, and Jesus Christ as his Son, sent by Him to be the Saviour of men. The Father is above all; His glory and majesty are underived; the Son derives from Him his power and dignity, his offices and dominion” (p. 9).
    Hermas (wrote 115 – 140) wrote the Shepherd of Hermas, which was written possibly in the late first century, but more likely in the early to mid second century and which some Apostolic Fathers considered canonical scripture. He is believed to have been the brother Pius, Bishop of Rome. He wrote three books that made up the Shepherd of Hermas: Visions, Commands, and Similitudes.
    According to Hermas, God (the Father) “is the Supreme and Infinite One, the sole independent Creator and Governor of the universe, who alone is Eternal” (p. 13). Thus, the Son was not an eternal being. Moreover, Hermas gave the highest titles and epithets to God and never to the Son. The Son was subject to and received all from the father. Therefore, he was subordinate to God the Father and was not his equal. God created the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Holy Spirit was not eternal, but was created. Some critics identify “Holy Spirit” as Christ in the Shepherd of Hermas. If true, then Christ, the Son, is created and not eternal. However, Hermas did believe in the pre-existence of the Son.
    Polycarp (69 – 155), Bishop of Smyrna, was the author of the Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, which was probably written around 110 – 140. The Fathers believed that Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John.
    In his epistle, Polycarp proclaimed “the supremacy of the Father, and the subordination of the Son” (p. 20). He wrote, “‘Him who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and gave him glory and a throne at His right hand; to whom all things in heaven and on earth are made subject, whom every living creature shall worship’ not, however, as supreme” (p. 20). To Polycarp, Christ is the high priest “but not God himself” (p. 21). He did not conceive of “Jesus Christ as equal with God, or as one with Him, except in will and purpose. . . . The Father is separated from the Son by a broad and distinct line; one as supreme, the other as subordinate; one as giving, the other as receiving; the Father granting to the Son a ‘throne at His right hand’” (p. 21). Polycarp had “no metaphysics, no confusion or obscurity, [and] no hair splitting distinctions” (p. 21).
    Barnabas (d. 131) may have been the Barnabas who was a companion of Paul, but most critics reject this Barnabas as the author of the Epistle of Barnabas. Many Fathers considered this epistle to be canonical. Most likely, this epistle was written about the middle of the second century. However, some believe that it was written in the latter part of the first century or the first quarter of the second century.
    Barnabas believed in the pre-existence of the Son, who was “‘God’s instrument in the creation’” (p. 23). However, contrary to the Trinity Doctrine, Barnabas maintained the supremacy of the Father throughout his epistle. He avoided confounding the Son with the Father and never made the Son the equal of the Father. His epistle is void of the Logos-doctrine.
    None of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, of whom the above four are considered, contained the Logos-doctrine. “The absence of all traces of the [Logos-]doctrine in these writings can be explained only on the supposition that the authors ‘did not,’ in the words of Souverain, ‘find it in the Christian religion, nor in the Jewish; and, not having studied in the school of Plato, they could not import it from that school into the Church of Christ.’”(pp. 24-25). For the Apostolic Fathers, “‘[e]very such application of the idea of the Logos was foreign to their minds’” (p. 25). Thus, the Logos-doctrine grew out of Greek speculation and metaphysics, and not out of the Scriptures. Therefore, the foundation of the Trinity Doctrine is Greek speculation and metaphysics — primarily from Plato.

References
Alford, H.W. The Manual of the Scriptural Doctrine of the Trinity, Investigated and Defended. Dover, New Hampshire: The Trustees of the Freewill Baptist Connection, 1842.

Allen, Thomas. “Early Church Theories of Christ.” Franklinton, North Carolina: TC Allen Co., 2009.

“Amonoean” http://looklex.com/e.o/amonoean.htm. Downloaded July 6, 2009.

Arendzen, John, "Docetae," The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. V. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05070c.htm. Downloaded July 12, 2009.

Arendzen, John. “Manichæism.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. IX. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09591a.htm. Downloaded July 4, 2009.

The Creed of Nicaea – Agreed at the Council in 325, http://www.earlychurchtexts.com/public/creed_of_nicaea_325.htm, Downloaded October 29, 2017.

“Docetism.” http://looklex.com/e.o/docetism.htm. Downloaded Jul. 5, 2009.

Fleming, Thomas. “A Plague on Both Their Houses.” Chronicles, Vol. 39, No. 3, March 2015, page 9.

Hase Charles. History of the Christian Church. Translators Charles E. Blumenthal and Conway P. Wing. New York: D. Appleton, 1870.

Lamson, Alvan. First Three Centuries: Or, Notices of the Lives and Opinions of Some of the Early Fathers, With Special Reference to The Doctrine of the Trinity. Reprint. and revised with notes, Ezra Abbot, editor: Boston, Mass.; 1875 reprinted with additional notes, Henry Ierson, editor: London: British and Foreign Unitarian Association,

The Lost Books of the Bible. 1820; reprint. Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing Co., 1929; reprint, 1979, New York, New York: Crown Publishing Co.

Milner, Vincent L. Religious Denominations of the World. Philadelphia: Bradley, Garretson & Co., 1872.

“Montanism.” Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Montanism. Downloaded November 12, 2017.

Pressense, E. De. The Early Years of Christianity: Heresy and Christian Doctrine. Translator Anne Harwood. New York: Nelson & Phillips, n.d.

“Q&A.” Grace in Focus. November/December 2017, page 46.

Walker, Williston. A History of the Christian Church. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1921.

Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Coley Allen.

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Part 2

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Poor on Sumner

Poor on Sumner
Thomas Allen

    In 1877, Henry Varnum Poor (1812-1905) wrote Money and Its Laws: Embracing a History of Monetary Theories, and a History of the Currency of the United States. He was a financial analyst and founder of a company that evolved into Standard & Poor’s. Poor was a proponent of the real bills doctrine and the classical gold-coin standard and, thus, the quality theory of money. He gave little credence to the quantity theory of money — especially if credit money, such as bank notes, were convertible on demand in species. Also, he contended that the value of money depends on and is derived from the value of the material of which it is made and with paper money, its representation of such value.
    In the latter part of his book, he discusses leading monetary theorists from Aristotle (350 B.C.) to David A. Wells (1875). Most of the economists whom he discussed were proponents of the quantity theory of money. We will look at his discussion on William G. Sumner. My comments are in brackets. Referenced page numbers enclosed in parentheses are to Poor’s book.
    William G. Sumner (1840-1910) was a classical liberal American social scientist. He was a professor of political economics at Yale where he taught social sciences and held the first professorship in sociology in the United States. He supported free trade, free markets, and the gold standard and opposed imperialism. Among his many works are A History of American Currency (1874) and Problems in Political Economy (1883). Poor reviews the part of A History of American Currency that discusses the report of the Bullion Committee. [The British Parliament established the Bullion Committee to study returning to the gold standard after the Napoleonic wars and to make recommendations about how to return Britain to the gold standard.]
    Sumner claims that the report of the Bullion Committee “solved the whole subject of money” (p. 416). He declares that money does not flow from poorer agricultural regions to richer financial cities. To the contrary, it flows from the richer regions to the poorer regions (p. 416). As for the balance of trade, if it means “equilibrium,” then exports equal imports and trade regulates itself. If it means “remainder,” it is a myth (p. 417).
    Summarizing the doctrines of the Bullion Committee, Sumner writes:
        1. The value of an inconvertible currency depends on its amount relatively to the needs of the country for circulating medium (only to a very subordinate degree on the security on which it is based or the credit of the issuer).
        2. If gold is at a premium in paper, the paper is redundant and depreciated. The premium measures the depreciation.
    According to Sumner, for “a system of even nominal convertibility, the motives of speculation and of price fluctuations lie outside of the currency in industrial and commercial circumstances. Speculation . . . controls the amount of the currency” (p. 417). Whereas, “[o]n an inconvertible system, the amount of the currency controls speculation” (p. 417). Thus, if an inconvertible currency “is not redundant, its effect is slight; if it is very excessive, it ‘floats’ every thing, and becomes the controlling consideration” (p. 417). The quantity of inconvertible paper money determines its value and prices. [Uncertainty causes inconvertible legal-tender government notes to depreciate. The excessive issue of these notes, as Sumner and the quantity theory of money claim, is not the cause of their depreciation. However, an excess of issue can influence the value of these notes by affecting uncertainty. Uncertainties that affect the value of inconvertible government notes include (1) the uncertainty of when they will be paid or even if they will be a paid, (2) the ability of the government to pay, (3) the willingness of the government to pay, and (4) the kind of coin that will be used for payment. Inconvertible paper money is what the world has had ever since 1971. However, today, much of this uncertainty has been eliminated. Almost no one now believes that governments will ever pay their notes, i.e., redeem their notes in a commodity that has intrinsic value at that intrinsic value.] However, Sumner comments that the quantity of the U.S. notes is fixed. Therefore, the answer to its value lies in its adverse foreign exchange, i.e., outflows of gold. He asks, “Is it [the gold outflow] due to the balance of payments, or to some deterioration of the currency” (p. 418)? According to the Bullion Committee, with which Sumner agrees, “the balance of imports and exports never can move the exchanges, either above or below par, more than just enough to start a movement of bullion” (p. 418). Thus, “[o]n a specie system, any outflow of bullion would bring down prices, and immediately make a remittance of goods more profitable than one of bullion; and, if the exportation of bullion was artificially continued (as, for instance, to pay the expenses of a foreign war), it would reduce prices until a counter current would set in and restore the former relative distribution all the world over” (p. 418). Continuing, Sumner writes, “If, therefore, there is an outflow of gold, serious and long continued, accompanied by an unfavorable exchange, it is a sign that there is an inferior currency behind the gold, which is displacing it. The surplus of imports of goods above the exports of goods is nothing but the return payment for this export of gold, and is not a cause, but a consequence” (p. 418). To produce an influx of gold, the inferior currency, inconvertible notes, needs to be removed. If foreign exchanges are adverse, gold will be exported; this exportation of gold is an indication that the paper money is excessive. Thus, inconvertible paper money should be issued in such quantity to prevent the exportation of gold (pp. 418-419).
    Poor disagrees with Sumner’s notions on the balance of trade. Particularly, Poor disagrees with Sumner’s notion that if a country exports gold that it necessarily receives an equal value of merchandise. Or, if it imports gold, it exports an equal value of merchandise (p. 419).
    Poor illustrates his disagreement with an analogy:
Suppose an individual possessed of a thousand dollars in coin to expend it in the purchase of the necessaries of life even, his means are reduced in like ratio. If he would reinstate his former condition, he must forego future expenditures to an equal amount. So, if a person run into debt to his shopkeeper to the amount of a thousand dollars, if he would pay it, he must forego a like amount of his future earnings. His indebtedness until paid would very properly be termed a balance of trade against him. So with a nation (p. 419).
[Sumner is closer to the truth than Poor. An exchange is only made when both parties of the exchange believe that he is receiving greater value than he is giving up. Poor has a point if the long-run consequences are considered. However, the long run is considered when an exchange is made. Unfortunately, many people do an extremely poor job of considering long-run consequences, and some give it no weight.]
    Continuing, Poor writes:
If it [a country] import more in value of ordinary merchandise than it exports, its specie will have to go to make up the deficit. Now, no nation not producing gold can part with any considerable amount of it without causing embarrassment to its industries and trade; for the reason that that which it possessed and exported was a part of the machinery by which these were carried on. The tendency of the precious metals the world over is to distribute themselves according to the means and needs of those using them. If there be no movement in any direction, it is assumed that they are in proper equilibrium (p. 419).
    Furthermore, Poor remarks, “The export of a large amount of coin is usually due to a vicious paper currency, and such a currency is always attended with wasteful expenditure” (p. 420). [Perhaps, politicians ought to heed Poor’s wisdom here. Could trade imbalances be caused more by “a vicious paper currency” and “wasteful expenditures” than the shenanigans of foreign countries to give their domestic industries advantages in foreign and even domestic trade at the expense of their own citizens?] When a country exports gold, it becomes weaker, “for she has parted with that which is essential to her welfare, and must be reclaimed by future accumulations” (p. 420). [The development in the use of bills of exchange reduced the need to export gold. Moreover, the elimination of gold from the monetary systems of the world today makes the exportation of gold irrelevant — at least in theory. Now a country only exports the inconvertible paper money of another country or its own inconvertible paper money, which it can replace without having to import it. Furthermore, most countries would prefer never having to import any of their currency that has been exported, except to tax it.]
    Admitting that Sumner may be correct about inferior currency causing the outflow of gold, Poor asks, “may not the loss as well be described as an ‘unfavorable balance of trade’ as by any other term” (p. 420)? Then Poor remarks:
A nation that has parted with its coin, which has to be brought back again, would have been much better off had it never parted with it. That which has been received will never suffice to bring it back; and, if it would, the charges of transportation and interest would involve a large loss; so that, after all, “balance of trade” is a veritable fact, and always exists to a greater or less extent in commerce between nations, and must always exist until human affairs reach the accuracy and certainty of natural laws (p. 420).
    Next, Poor asks, “[W]hat is an ‘inferior currency’” (p. 420)? He answers, “One kind is the inconvertible notes of government, issued not for the purpose of loaning capital, but to supply the lack of it” (p. 420). About inconvertible governments notes, he writes, “The demand for merchandise must increase in ratio to its amount; for it is always superadded to the existing currencies. As such notes are always made legal tender, they not only drive coin out of the country, but keep it out till they are retired. Such a currency admits of no corrective by the laws of trade” (p. 420).
    “Another ‘inferior’ currency,” Poor writes, “is that issued by Banks, without a constituent” (p. 420). Initially, it acts like government notes in driving gold out of the country. However, since these bank notes are convertible to gold coin, banks must supply the gold to meet their redemption. As a result, “[t]hey must pay for the excess of imports over exports from their reserves” (p. 421). Poor writes:
It is impossible, however, for them [bankers] to tell whether all the bills discounted by them have their proper constituent: they can only determine the fact by the result. If they see gold beginning to move, they understand at once that improper bills have been discounted; that the currency has been issued in excess, and must so far be taken in by a reduction of their line of discounts. The movement of gold, therefore, is an indication of the state of the currency, as infallible as is that of the mercury of meteoric conditions (p. 421).
[Poor is describing the operation of the real bills doctrine correcting the overissue of bank notes and checkable deposits resulting from discounted faulty bills.]
    Sumner’s test of an ‘inferior currency’ differs greatly from what Poor has described. Sumner’s test is that of quantity; Poor’s is that of quality. To Sumner, a currency is not “inferior” if “its amount does not exceed that required by a country in its exchanges, even if it be not backed by a single dollar of coin” (p. 421). Thus, according to Sumner, “the value of money depends upon its quantity, not upon the provision made for its convertibility, [and] ‘are not matters of opinion, but of demonstration’” (p. 421). To this, Poor replies, “If so, then it is a matter of demonstration that one and one make four” (p. 421). Poor adds “that the real or estimated value of articles, whether they be merchandise or money, is their exchangeable value. To assume otherwise, would be to say that the exchangeable value of a piece of silver having the weight and insignia of a sovereign equals the value of a sovereign. Humanity is not yet brought to so low a pitch as this” (p. 421). [The sovereign is a gold coin that contains 0.23542 troy ounces, i.e., 113 grains of gold, which was the British pound from 1816 until Great Britain left the gold standard. A century after Poor wrote, humanity, or at least mainstream economists, had reached such a low level that they fell for the pitch that a piece of paper with the government’s seal on it was the same as gold.]
    Poor concludes his review of Sumner:
Even the Economists are by no means the simple race their theories would make them. In spite of the conclusions of the Bullion Committee, which, with Mr. Sumner, are the very acme of financial wisdom, he would be the last man to take a bank or government note without especial reference to the provision made for its discharge. If their creed were their law, a few days would suffice for the Economists to fool away whatever they possessed (pp. 421-422).

Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Coley Allen.


More articles on money.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Confederate Memorials

Confederate Memorials
Thomas C. Allen

[Editor’s note: The following is a letter-to-the-editor on removing a Confederate monument. The editor of the local newspaper stated that if the legislature could change the law to allow a hospital in one county to own a hospital in another county, it could change the law to allow local governments to remove Confederate memorials. (A State law prohibits local government from removing Confederate monuments. Also, a State law prohibits a hospital in one county from owning a hospital in another county. Consequently, a special or local law had to be enacted to allow a hospital outside the county of this newspaper to buy the closed hospital in the county of this newspaper.) This letter follows.]

    There is a vast difference between monuments and hospitals — a difference far greater than between the proverbial apple and orange. After all, apples and oranges are both fruits. Hospitals are businesses; monuments are not. (The reason for prohibiting hospitals in one county from operating in another county is to reduce competition and, by that, drive up prices.)
    Confederate monuments commemorate those, including Blacks, who sacrificed to defend their homeland from an invading horde. (A union officer asked a Confederate prisoner why he was fighting. The Confederate soldier replied, “We are fighting because you are here. If you leave and go home, we will stop fighting.” They were not fighting to defend slavery.) To honor those who defend their homeland is why the Confederate monuments were erected — not slavery, which was much better protected in the Union than outside it, or racism.
    If Confederaphobes want to eliminate a symbol of racism and slavery, they need to remove the US flag. It flew over slavery decades before the Confederate flag did, while the Confederate flag did, and after the Confederate flag did. Moreover, the US flag flew over the genocide of the Plains Indians. Also, it flew over the racist Spanish American War, the racist World War II, and the racist Vietnam War. Is there a symbol more racist than the US flag?

✽✽✽✽✽✽✽

    Some more observations follow.

    Having flown over both slavery and Jim Crow, the Stars and Stripes, the US flag, is obviously a racist flag. Therefore, it needs to be replaced. Ideally, the replacement flag would be a red flag with a black image in the center of Martin Luther King, who has been deified and placed above Jesus Christ. (Proof: One may blaspheme Christ without repercussions and often with accolades. If one says anything less than complimentary about King, the best that he can hope for is permanent ostracism.)

    Only in America can a Communist frontman who left a trail of blood and destruction as he fornicated across the country be deified while men who sacrificed their lives to defend their country from an invading horde are demonized.

    Confederate monuments symbolize liberty, limited government, and localism. Thus, they stand for everything that Confederaphobes abhor. Confederaphobes adore the concentration and consolidation of political, economic, and social power into the hands of a few.

    What would happen if Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and allied groups were convinced that the K in a circle on food packages meant “Klan approved?” Furthermore, what would happen if they were convinced that the reason the item was “Klan approved” was because it was made with Black slave labor?  When the mentality of the members of these groups is considered, convincing them of such nonsense should not be difficult. If these people were convinced that the K in a circle meant “Klan approved,” it would be interesting to see how the Jewish controlled media would react.

    If a statue honoring Commander James Waddell (1824 – 1886) were erected on the courthouse grounds in Pittsboro, North Carolina, and if Confederaphobes attempted to remove it, would the “save the whales” folks rally to save the statue? Or, would they join the Confederaphobes in demanding its destruction? As most “save the whales” folks are typically liberals with an anti-Confederate mentality, they would have to make a difficult choice. Why would they rally to save Waddell’s statue? As captain of the CSS Shenandoah, he destroyed the whaling fleet of the United States — a worthy goal for any “save the whale” person.

Copyright © 2018 by Thomas Coley Allen.

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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mencken on the Politician Under Democracy

Mencken on the Politician Under Democracy
Thomas Allen

    In 1926, H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) wrote Notes on Democracy in which he expressed his views on democracy and related issues. He was a journalist, satirist, and critic and a libertarian and one of the leaders of the Old Right. In his book, he describes the politician under democracy, pages 107-115. Below is an overview of his discussion on the politician under democracy; my comments are in brackets.
    “The politician . . . is the courtier of democracy.” Mencken remarks that “the essence of the courtier’s art and mystery that he flattered his employer in order to victimize him, yielded to him in order to rule him. The politician under democracy does precisely the same thing.” The politician’s business “is never what it pretends to be. Ostensibly he is an altruist devoted whole-heartedly to the service of his fellow-men, and so abjectly public-spirited that his private interest is nothing to him. Actually he is a sturdy rogue whose principal, and often sole, aim in life is to butter his parsnips.” His business is “to get and hold his job at all costs. If he can hold it by lying, he will hold it by lying; if lying peters out he will try to hold it by embracing new truths.” Furthermore, he has “no shadow of principle or honour.” His moral code allows him “to get into office by false pretences . . . [and] to change convictions overnight. . . . Anything is moral that furthers the main concern of his soul, which is to keep a place at the public trough. . . . [P]ower is the commodity that he has for sale.”
    Mencken states that the above characterization of the democratic politician describes him “in his role of statesman — that is, in his best and noblest aspect.” However, the democratic politician flourished “on lower levels, partly subterranean.” At the lower levels, public honor is an inconvenience, so he “contents himself with power.” These lower level politicians lie to the “weaknesses and knaveries of the common people — in their inability to grasp any issues save the simplest and most banal.” Lower level politicians excite the common people’s “petty self-seeking and venality . . . [and] their instinctive envy and hatred of their superiors — in brief, in their congenital incapacity for the elemental duties of citizens in a civilized state.” The lower level politician is the local party boss who owns his constituency. “He is the state as they apprehend it; around him clusters all the romance that used to hang about a king. . . . His barbaric code, framed to fit their gullibility, becomes an example to their young. . . . He exemplifies its reduction of all ideas to a few elemental wants.” Moreover, “he reflects and makes manifest the inferior man’s congenital fear of liberty — his incapacity for even the most trivial sort of independent action.” [Mencken’s description of the high-level and low-level politician fits almost every politician in the United States for the past 200 years.]
    Mencken continues, “Life on the lower levels is life in a series of interlocking despotisms. The inferior man cannot imagine himself save as taking orders — if not from the boss, then from the priest, and if not from the priest, then from some fantastic drill-sergeant of his own creation.”
    Initially, reformers in the United States “concentrated their whole animus upon the boss: it was apparently their notion that he had imposed himself upon his victims from without, and that they could be delivered by destroying him.” When the boss was overthrown, “the prehensile Methodist parson” filled the void.
    The art of politics under democracy has two branches: “There is the art of the demagogue, and there is the art of what may be called, by a shotgun marriage of Latin and Greek, the demaslave. They are complementary, and both of them are degrading to their practitioners.” Mencken notes, “The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots. The demaslave is one who listens to what these idiots have to say and then pretends that he believes it himself.” According to Mencken, “[e]very man who seeks elective office under democracy has to be either the one thing or the other, and most men have to be both. The whole process is one of false pretences and ignoble concealments.”
    Only by a miracle, could an educated man be elected to office in a democratic state. “His frankness would arouse fears, and those fears would run against him.”
    A politician’s job in a democracy is “to arouse fears that will run in favour of him. Worse, he must not only consider the weaknesses of the mob, but also the prejudices of the minorities that prey upon it.” These minority factions “not only know how to arouse the fears of the mob; they also know how to awaken its envy, its dislike of privilege, its hatred of its betters [i.e., the superior man].” Nowhere does a minority faction include “a majority of the voters among its subscribing members, and its leaders are nowhere chosen by democratic methods.” These minorities control the political process in the United States. They have “filled all the law-making bodies of the nation with men who have got into office by submitting cravenly to [their] dictation, and [they have] filled thousands of administrative posts, and not a few judicial posts, with vermin of the same sort.” [In a democracy, the vociferous minorities drive politicians much more than the more civil minorities and even more than the large silent majority. Thus, the vociferous minorities direct the government instead of the majority. Most of the time the agenda of the vociferous minorities is detrimental to the large silent majority. Nevertheless, the large silent majority acquiesce to this minority control by failing to end it, which is in the majority’s power. Moreover, minorities that seek to expand the power of government are far more successful in controlling politicians than minorities that seek to reduce the size of government — perhaps, because the former is more vociferous and the latter is more civil.]
    Consequently, dishonorable men “enjoy vast advantages under democracy. The mob, insensitive to their dishonour, is edified and exhilarated by their success. The competition they offer to men of a more decent habit is too powerful to be met, so they tend, gradually, to monopolize all the public offices.”
    Such a man is the typical American law-maker. The typical American law-maker “is a man who has lied and dissembled, and a man who has crawled. He knows the taste of boot-polish. He has suffered kicks in the tonneau of his pantaloons.” Moreover, “[h]e has taken orders from his superiors in knavery and he has wooed and flattered his inferiors in sense. His public life is an endless series of evasions and false pretences. He is willing to embrace any issue, however idiotic, that will get him votes, and he is willing to sacrifice any principle, however sound, that will lose them for him.” Such is the democratic politician at his normalcy — not at his worst. “[N]o man may make a career in politics . . . without stooping to such ignobility.” [How many good, honorable men have been elected to office only to become slimy, sleazy, dishonorable scalawags, i.e., typical politicians, by the time that they leaves office?]
    Where the ideals of democracy have been reached, “it has become a psychic impossibility for a gentleman to hold office, . . . save by a combination of miracles that must tax the resourcefulness even of God.” [Mencken has a low opinion of the common man and the leaders whom they elect. Unfortunately, so far, they have not proven him wrong.]

Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Coley Allen.

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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Poor on Bowen

Poor on Bowen
Thomas Allen

    In 1877, Henry Varnum Poor (1812-1905) wrote Money and Its Laws: Embracing a History of Monetary Theories, and a History of the Currency of the United States. He was a financial analyst and founder of a company that evolved into Standard & Poor’s. Poor was a proponent of the real bills doctrine and the classical gold-coin standard and, thus, the quality theory of money. He gave little credence to the quantity theory of money — especially if credit money, such as bank notes, were convertible on demand in species. Also, he contended that the value of money depends on and is derived from the value of the material of which it is made and with paper money, its representation of such value.
    In the latter part of his book, he discusses leading monetary theorists from Aristotle (350 B.C.) to David A. Wells (1875). Most of the economists whom he discussed were proponents of the quantity theory of money. We will look at his discussion on Francis Bowen. My comments are in brackets. Referenced page numbers enclosed in parentheses are to Poor’s book.
    Francis Bowen (1811-1890) was an American philosopher, writer, and educationalist and a professor of political economy at Harvard University. Among his works are Lectures on Political Economy (1850), The Principles of Political Economy applied to the Condition, Resources and Institutions of the American People (1856), and American Political Economy (1870), which Poor reviews.
    Poor describes American Political Economy as “a feeble and garrulous restatement of Adam Smith, Stewart, Ricardo, Tooke, McCulloch, and Mill, to whose absurdities and errors an emphasis is given by no means to be found in the originals” (p. 409).
    Bowen writes “that money is merely a contrivance for diminishing the friction of exchange; and, though safe and convenient, it is also a very costly contrivance for this end” (p. 409). Money is part of a country’s wealth, but it is not capital. It does not yield profit or interest. Only the goods transferred by the means of money yield profit. Because money is not consumed, “it is not productive” (p. 409). Therefore, “[t]he specie which a merchant or a banker holds in store, to provide against daily calls or sudden emergencies, is the only unproductive portion of his capital: he is subject to a loss of interest on the whole amount thus retained” (p. 409). “The coin which a man keeps in his pocket does not, like his shoes or his hat, contribute to his comfort: it is a convenience to him only as it supplies immediate means for making small purchases or satisfying small demands” (p. 409).
    Poor replies
[C]oin has a great many functions beside “diminishing the friction of exchange.” It cannot be called unproductive so long as it can be loaned at interest, and is absolutely indispensable in the process of distribution, without which there can be no capital worthy the name. It would be just as proper to say that a wagon or railroad car was unproductive, for the reason that it did not produce the merchandise transported by it (pp. 409-410).
[Expressing the same sentiment, Hutt states, “The essences of all these services [of money] is availability. . . . [M]oney assets are not unemployed or resting when they are in our pockets, or in our tills, or in our banking accounts, but in pseudo-idleness, like a piano when it is not being played, or a fireman or a fire engine when there are no fires.”[1] In essence, Bowen is presenting the sterility-gold-coin argument against the gold standard.]
    About exchanges, Bowen writes, “Every exchange is a barter of a quantity of merchandise for a certain sum of money which is its equivalent” (p. 410). Because money is not consumed when it is exchanged, a community does not need as much money as there is merchandise; therefore, money is immediately ready for another purchase. Bowen declares:
The circulation of money and of merchandise bears some relation to the momentum spoken of in physical science, which is composed of the velocity multiplied by the mass; the momenta are equal, though the velocity should be increased tenfold, provided that the mass is but one tenth part as great. So, also, the momentum of wealth is its value multiplied by the rapidity of its circulation. As money circulates far more rapidly than merchandise, it is evident that (the number of exchanges on both sides being equal) there must necessarily be less value in the money than in the merchandise, and as much less as the circulation of the money is more rapid than that of the merchandise (p. 410).
    Next Bowen presents an algebraic equation to describe his concept: gs=mr, where g = quantity of goods on sale; s = number of times the goods are resold; m = quantity of money in circulation; r = number of purchases effected by each piece of money. [This equation is similar to Irvin Fisher’s equation: MV=PT, where M = the amount of money; V = the velocity of money; P = prices; T = the number of transactions. In The Value of Money, Benjamin Anderson explains in great detail the flaws of Fisher’s equation and the quantity theory of money.]
    With this equation, Bowen shows “that the value of money will be inversely as its quantity” (p. 411). [That is, as the quantity of money increases, its value decreases if everything else remains constant. By value, he seems to mean purchasing power.]
    Poor remarks that Bowen errs because “[m]omentum and effective value are identical terms. All kinds of merchandise, wealth being a generic term, obey the same law. Whatever value can be predicated of one kind, due to the rapidity of its circulation, can be of all other kinds” (p. 411).
    Continuing, if Bowen is correct, then according to Poor, “the great problem for society is to determine the degree of momentum that can be secured for its merchandise, as its wealth will be increased in like ratio” (p. 411). Then, using Bowen’s equation, Poor defines “g” to stand for the “goose” instead of “goods.” Next, he states:
Now, “the value of the goose is inversely as its quantity multiplied by the rapidity of its circulation.” Assuming the formula given to express the ordinary rapidity of circulation, or, what is equivalent, the momentum, and consequently, value of the goose; then, if its momentum, or value, be doubled, the formula has only to be altered; thus: — gs=2mr, or mr=gs/2. The goose has now a value twice greater than it had before (pp. 411-412).
According to Bowen’s equation, the value of the goose is inverse to its quantity. Therefore, using Bowen’s equation, if the quantity of the goose is reduced by half, the quantity of money doubles — assuming that demand remains the same. Thus, Poor notes:
If the crop of geese should be short, and it should be desirable to increase their momentum, or effective value, say tenfold, all that would have to be done would be to increase their rapidity of circulation to be expressed by the following change in Mr. Bowen’s formula; thus: — gs/10=mr, or 10mr=gs. When the last degree of momentum was secured, a wing or a leg of the goose would have a value equal to that of the whole bird. Society will be the gainer in an equal degree, by being able to devote to other purposes the land formerly dedicated to goose-culture.
Continuing, Poor writes:
Admitting the conclusiveness of his demonstration, it must be applicable to all kinds of merchandise; for, as has already been shown, money, after it has been spent, is as functus officio to its late owner as is the goose to its owner after it is eaten. If it be objected that the money is still in existence, and the goose is not, it may be replied: that the goose has indeed been eaten, but productively, to appear in new geese, or, in other kinds of merchandise; so that whoever uses the money the second time is still confronted by a new goose or its equivalent. If the goose or its equivalent do not reappear, then the money does not. Each responds, and with equal alacrity, to the call of the other (pp. 412-413).
    Bowen notes that a large portion of specie currency can be replaced with paper currency or other substitutes. However, “the total amount of the currency will remain just as before; the value of the paper and the precious metals, taken together, will be just what the specie alone would be if paper were not used” (p. 413). Wealth and commodities are estimated in the monetary unit, such as the dollar, “and it is by the aid of such estimates that all exchanges are made” (p. 413). “Thus, the idea of money aids us, when the reality is seldom employed” (p. 413). He asserts, “Money is even now only a hypothetical or abstract medium of exchange in all the larger transactions of commerce” (p. 413). Bowen anticipates “the time, in the progress of invention and the discovery of new expedients and facilities in commerce, when it will become so universally; when, at any rate, so costly and useless a realization of the idea as gold and silver coin will be entirely done away” (p. 413). [If Bowen had lived another 85 years, he would have witnessed his dream as gold and silver were no longer part of the monetary system. Also, he could have witnessed the economic disaster that the abandonment of gold and silver coin has brought.]
    Poor responds that Bowen is greatly mistaken:
Money is still, as many find to their cost, far more than a mere scale of valuation. The holders of property, when they sell it, still persist in demanding something more than “hypothetical or abstract media of exchange.” They may be very uncivilized and selfish to demand a quid pro quo in all transactions, and the laws which uphold them very barbarous; but these laws, nevertheless, have maintained their force since laws existed (pp. 413-414).
[Today, what passes for money is little more than an abstract counter, an abstract medium of exchange. It cannot extinguish debt as it is debt. At least mankind is no longer “uncivilized and selfish” as they no longer demand “quid pro quo.” They exchange goods and services for that which has no value in itself and does not represent value.]
    Bowen explains the difference between convertible bank currency and inconvertible paper money. Convertible currency cannot be overissued. If inconvertible paper money “could be kept precisely equal to what the amount of metallic currency would be in case there were no paper in circulation, then there would be no depreciation of the paper; nay, the paper might even command a premium over the coin, if the aggregate value of it were made less than what the coin would amount to, and if it were also possible to prevent the importation of specie.” (p. 414). [Bowen errs. Uncertainty causes inconvertible legal-tender government notes to depreciate. The excessive issue of these notes, as Bowen and the quantity theory of money claims, is not the cause of their depreciation. However, an excess of issue can influence the value of these notes by affecting uncertainty. Uncertainties that affect the value of inconvertible government notes include (1) the uncertainty of when they will be paid or even if they will be a paid, (2) the ability of the government to pay, (3) the willingness of the government to pay, and (4) the kind of coin that will be used for payment. S. McLean Hardy’s statistical study of the U.S. note between 1862 and 1873 shows that uncertainty, and not the quantity of notes, was the driving force behind the depreciation of U.S. notes.] Bowen adds, “Money acquires the power of exercising its functions, not from any intrinsic quality that it possesses, but solely from convention” (p. 414). [The economists whom Poor reviews needed to study the origins of money. They would have found that money acquired “the power of exercising its functions” not from convention, but solely from its intrinsic quality that it possesses. A good place to start is the works of Karl Menger and William. W. Carlile.] Continuing, Bowen writes, “The value of paper money, not depending at all upon its cost of production, is regulated solely by its quantity” (p. 414). [Thus, the quantity theory of money explains the value of money. However, the quantity theory of money seems to have failed to explain the downward trend in prices during the last three decades of the nineteenth century in the United States. Money supply more than doubled, yet general prices declined.] Then he remarks:
A certain determinable sum of money is needed in every nation to effect its current exchanges, and to maintain prices at an equilibrium with the average prices of commodities throughout the commercial world. Coin being banished, if the issue of paper money is less than this sum, the paper will be at a premium; if greater, it will be at a discount (pp. 414-415).
[For decades, every country has operated with a monetary system of inconvertible paper money completely divorced from gold. If Bowen is correct in that the managers of the inconvertible currency can maintain price stability, then the monetary system of every country is operated by either incompetents who lack the knowledge and ability to manage properly their monetary systems or criminals who are deliberately destroying the currencies of their countries. Fiat monetary reformers would argue that they are both. They are criminals transporting the country’s wealth to the rich and powerful by destroying the currency. They are ignorant incompetents for failing to follow the fiat money reformer’s scheme for issuing the currency. However, the fiat money reformers do not agree on the correct scheme to follow except that the government, which is controlled by the rich and powerful, should issue the currency. The fiat money reformers are probably correct in that the money managers are both incompetent and criminals. For that reason, the issuance and regulation of money should be taken from governments and their central banks and left to the markets. In monetary matters, the only action required by the government is to define the monetary unit as a specific weight of precious metal and to punish violations of contracts and acts of fraud.]
    In his concluding remarks about Bowen, Poor writes:
Were Mr. Bowen the only one to be affected by his opinions, they would be of very little consequence; but they become of the greatest importance when taught to young men about to enter the world of affairs, especially when they relate to a subject which concerns, more deeply almost than any other, the welfare of society. What would be thought of a professorship in a university that should still seek to establish the wonderful properties of the philosopher’s stone? The attempt would not be a whit more absurd than his teachings upon the subject of money. The thing chiefly to be regretted is, that there does not seem to be any way in which to rid the universities and the world of such nonsense. So far as money is concerned, all are Alchemists, all are believers in the philosopher's stone, all are intent upon its realization. The first step in the way of reform should be to abolish the “professorship of Political Economy,” not only in this, but in all institutions in which it is now pretended to be taught; and either abandon instruction in it altogether, or put its duties in commission. In the latter case, whatever was taught would at least have the merit of being as broad as the course of instruction would allow (p. 415).

Endnote

1. William Harold Hutt, Individual Freedom: Selected Works of William H. Hutt, editors Svetozar Pejovich and David Klingaman (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1975), pp.207-209.

Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Coley Allen.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Predestination Theology

God the Great Programer: 
Predestination Theology
Thomas Allen

 
[NOTE: This article has been inspired by a preacher from Asheville, North Carolina, whose teaching describes God as the Great Programmer, although he does not use such terminology, and that people have no choice to do but what God has predestined them to do. However, God holds people accountable for the acts that He has coerced, predestined, them to do — perhaps because they believe that they chose to do such acts although, in reality, they had no choice.]
    According to the predestinationists, God is the Great Programmer of the universe. Free will is an illusion. No one really has any choice in what he does — especially where salvation is concerned. If free will exists, i.e., if people have a real choice, then God is not sovereign. According to predestination theology, man has no more choice in what he does than an ant, ameba, or aster.
    God arbitrarily decides who will be saved and, consequently, who will be condemned. (If one is not saved, he is condemned. No other options exist.) Faith, baptism, repentance, good works, and even Jesus’ death and resurrection have nothing to do with salvation. A person believes in Jesus, repents, is baptized, and does good works because God has programmed him to do so. He does not believe in Jesus because he has heard the evidence about Jesus and is convinced that it is true. He believes because God has programmed him to believe. Furthermore, a person who does not believe in Jesus can also be saved because salvation depends on God’s arbitrary choice and not on faith. Therefore, salvation is by God’s arbitrary choice and not by faith.
    People do good because God programmed them to do good. People who do evil because God programmed them to do evil. Moreover, people sin because God has programmed them to sin. They have no choice whether they will do good works or bad works, for that would require free will. If free will exists in one realm, it must exist in all realms — even in the realm of salvation. As no one has any say in the realm of salvation because that is God’s arbitrary choice, he has no choice in his works. Free will impugns (refutes and denies) God’s sovereignty and, therefore, cannot exist if God is sovereign — such is the implication of the predestinationists and their predestination theology.
    Because God programs people to act in certain ways does not mean that they are not accountable for their acts. However, it does mean that they are not responsible for their acts. For example, a robot programmed to perform evil acts is held accountable for its acts and is destroyed or decommissioned. (Predestinationists effectively consider humans and all other life forms to be essentially robots.) However, it is not responsible for its acts. It is just doing what the programmer programmed it to do. The programmer is responsible for its acts.
    People are held accountable for their acts, but are not responsible for them. God is responsible. Free will is necessary for people to be responsible. If people have free will, then they have a say in their salvation, and God is no longer sovereign. However, predestinationists claim that people have no say in their salvation. Salvation is God’s arbitrary choice.
    In other words, although God holds his created robots accountable for their actions, though they have no choice, He being the Master Programmer is responsible for their actions. For them to have any say requires free will. However, they cannot have free will because that destroys God’s absolute sovereignty.
    If the predestinationists are correct, free will does not exist. Free will is merely an illusion. God chooses whom He will save regardless of faith, baptism, repentance, or good works. (By this choice, He consequently chooses who is to condemn.) To the extent that any of these have anything to do with salvation, they result from God’s programming and not from one’s choice, acts, or efforts. Although a person may be held accountable for his actions, he is not responsible for them. He is merely executing the program that God has inputted into him. Responsibility rests with God because He has programmed the person to act the way that he does. If God is not responsible, then free will exists, and God’s sovereign is impugned.
    According to the predestinationist, man cannot have free will. If he were to have free will, God’s sovereign would be impugned (refuted and denied). Being the absolute sovereign, God’s sovereign cannot be impugned even one iota. If God’s sovereignty is impugned one iota, God would cease being sovereign. Therefore, man cannot have free will.
    Eve and Adam eating the forbidden fruit was not an act of free will. God had programmed them to eat it. They had no choice. If they had a choice, then God lost sovereignty, and He did not lose any sovereignty. Eve and Adam did not sin because they yielded to temptation; they sinned because God programmed them to sin. They had no choice but to sin. However, God held them accountable for their act, although He was responsible for it instead of them.
    Pharaoh of Moses’ time was an extremely obedient servant of God. Few Biblical characters were as obedient as this Pharaoh. He did exactly what God wanted him to do when God wanted him to do it. Yet, the Bible implies that he died unsaved. Thus, obedience to God’s will does not guarantee salvation.
    God programmed (forced) Saul to perform an unauthorized scarify. Then, He punished him for doing it. Thus, God was responsible for Saul’s sin because He made him sin. However, He held Saul accountable for the sin and made David succeed Saul as king. Other examples are found in both the Old and New Testaments of God programming people to sin and holding them accountable for the sin.
    As Paul explains in Romans, people have as much choice, free will, as a clay pot — which is none. The potter, God, is responsible for how the pot, the person, turns out. However, He holds the pot accountable. If He does not like the pot that He made or if He made it to be destroyed, He destroys, condemns, it.
    Some predestinationists who also hold to the identity school (the identity school believes that the lost tribes of Israel are found in Europe and their descendants in the Americas) claim, or at least imply, that all Israelites are saved. Apparently, this is true if they do not believe in Jesus and do sinful work. They are saved because God chose the Israelites and no one else for salvation regardless of their beliefs or acts. They are saved because of their ethnicity; God arbitrary chooses their ethnicity for salvation. Presumably, all the idolatrous kings of Israel and Judah were saved because they were Israelites. In any event, these kings were merely doing what God had programmed them to do. (Not unamazingly, people who hold this belief assume that they are Israelites and are, therefore, among the saved. God must have programmed this belief into them. They will not know for sure that they are among the saved until they die.)
    Since man has no free will, he is neither moral nor immoral. To be moral requires having the choice of acting immorally. Furthermore, to be immoral requires having the choice of acting morally. Having a choice, free will, impugns God’s sovereignty and, therefore, cannot exist. When a person appears to act morally or immorally, he is merely executing the program that God has inputted into him. He is doing exactly what God wants him to do.
    Having no free will, no real choice, no person is responsible for his acts. Whether good or evil or whether a believer or nonbeliever, he is merely a robot executing the program that God inputted into him. Moreover, his acts and beliefs have nothing to do with salvation. God arbitrarily decided whom He saves and whom He condemns before He programs anyone.
    God has programmed some people to believe that they have free will although they do not. Others He has programmed to know that they have no free will.
    As shown above, according to the predestinationists, man cannot have free will if God is sovereign. Each individual does only what God has programmed him to do. Free will is an illusion.
    In summary, man is not responsible for his actions: God is. He merely does what God had programmed him to do. However, God holds man accountable for his acts and beliefs. Moreover, the death and resurrection of Jesus have nothing to do with salvation. Salvation is God’s arbitrary choice — not faith in Jesus. To the extent that belief in Jesus has anything to do with salvation, God has programmed that belief into the person. As man has no choice in what he does and believes — he is merely executing the program that God put in him — free will is an illusion. If man had a choice, free will, God’s sovereignty is impugned (refuted and denied) and, therefore, cannot exist. Such is the essence of predestination theology.
    (With few exceptions, predestinationists seem to believe that they are among the saved. To know whether they are saved, they have to know God’s arbitrary choice. That is, they have to know the mind of God, which no man knows. How do they know whom God has chosen for salvation? They cannot base it on their beliefs or acts. Salvation is by God’s arbitrary choice and not by one’s beliefs or acts.)

Copyright © 2016 by Thomas Coley Allen.

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