Thursday, October 25, 2018

Valentinian Christology

Valentinian Christology
Thomas Allen

    As shown below, the similarities between the Gnostic Christology and Trinity of the Valentinians and the orthodox Trinitarians are striking. The Valentinians were teaching a Christology very similar to the Christology of the Trinity Doctrine expressed in the Athanasian Creed about 350 years before the proclamation of the Athanasian Creed.
    Valentinus (c.100-c.160) was a teacher in Rome, who almost became Pope. Before coming to Rome in about 140, he had studied in Egypt. About 160, he died in Cyprus. He claimed to have received his ideas from Theodas, a disciple of Paul. Valentinianism survived into the fifth century.
    Valentinus’ teachings merged Christianity with Greek and Oriental speculation. He developed a metaphysical system that incorporated Christianity with paganism and Greek philosophy, primarily Platonism. His theology fluctuated between Gnosticism, esotericism, and orthodox Christianity of his time.
    Valentinus believed that Christ’s flesh was spiritual. Although Jesus ate and drank, he did not defecate. Because Jesus’ body received heavenly substance, it only appeared to need food. (This idea of Jesus conflicts with the New Treatment: Jesus was “like his brethren in all things” [Heb. 2:17]. Like the Valentinians, the Trinitarians also have a Jesus who is incompatible with the New Testament Jesus.)
    Fundamental to the Valentinian Christology is Christ’s deity and preexistence. Furthermore, Christ is a special emanation of God and embodies all the powers of God. They believe that the fullness of the Godhead consists of three persons: Wisdom (Sophia), Truth (Aletheia), and Word (Logos). Jesus was the manifestation of these divine powers. Thus, Christ is the fullness of the Godhead. Pressense described Valentinus’ concept of the Father and the Son as follows:
The principle of all things — the Immortal, the Ineffable, He who deserves the name of Father in the absolute sense — is an unfathomable abyss. He is linked neither to space nor time; He is above all thought, and, as it were, shut up within Himself. Around Him is eternal silence. The Father is not willing to remain in solitude, for He is all love, and love can only exist where it has an object. Thus He produced by emanation the Intellect and the Truth. The Intellect is the consciousness which the Father has of Himself; it is the only Son, His living image, who alone makes known the Father, The Intellect is at the same time the Truth, because of this identity. The Intellect and the Truth produce the Word and the Life. This is the great quaternion of the absolute. The Intellect finds its perfect expression in the Word; that expression is not a mere symbol, since it is also the Life. The Word and the Life produce Man and the Church. . . . The transcendently divine blends with the essentially human. . . . The Intellect and the Truth give birth to the Christ and the Holy Spirit (Pressense, pp. 26-27, 29)
(For further description of Valentinus’ ontological metaphysical speculation, see Pressense, pages 27-33 and Hase, pages 78-80.)
    Further, Valentinus taught that the God of the Old Testament, i.e., Yahweh, was not the Supreme God.
    Valentinians divided into two schools: the Western (or Italian or later) and the Eastern (or Oriental or earlier). According to the Western School, Jesus came down from heaven with a special incorrupted human body. The virgin Mary birthed this human Jesus. Later, either at the birth or baptism of this human Jesus, the divine Christ joined the human Jesus. Thus, Jesus possessed two persons or natures: One is fully human and the other is fully divine. According to the Eastern School, Christ, who has a purely spiritual body, is born through the virgin Mary. The divine person of Jesus absorbs the human person, and, by that, makes Jesus one person. Thus, the Eastern School was partly Docetic.
    The Valentinians were ahead of the Trinitarians in recognizing Christ, the Son of God, as consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father, which is an essential element of the Trinity Doctrine. Moreover, Valentinus may have been the first to teach the doctrine of three hypostases and three persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This notion, he got from Hermes and Plato. (Hermes was a recorder of Egyptian mythology and paganism.) Unlike the Platonists, whose “hypostases” was impersonal, Valentinus’ “hypostases” was personal.
    As the Valentinus’ notion of three persons in the Godhead was between that of the Arians and the Sabellians, Trinitarians adopted his idea (indirectly via his techniques) to avoid and to condemn the Arians and Sabellians. (The Arians believed that the Son was a created being and subordinate to God. Sabellians believed that the Son, as well as the Father and Holy Spirit, was an aspect or manifestation of God.) Like the Valentinians, the Trinitarians adopted a trinity doctrine of a triune God of three distinct persons (or Gods) in one person (or God). (One motivation for adopting the Trinity Doctrine was to distinguish and separate Christianity from the absurdity of Jewish Monotheism, as Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335 – c. 395), one of the greatest Trinitarian theologians of the fourth century, stated it.)
    However, the Trinity of the Trinitarians differs significantly from the Trinity of the Valentinians in one important aspect. For the Trinitarians, God the Father and God the Son are coequal. For the Valentinians, the Son is subordinate to the Father. Another important difference between the two is that according to the Trinitarians the three persons of God are male. According to the Valentinians, the Father and Son are male, and the Holy Spirit is female.
    Another essential component of the Trinity Doctrine is the eternal Son. Valentinians taught the eternal generation of the Son, i.e., the eternal Son. God the Father is the eternal Father of the eternal Son. However, they seem to mean that the Son is eternally begotten out of the Father instead of eternally being with or in the Father.
    Similar to the Christology of the Valentinians is the Christology of the Trinitarians. Trinitarians have the preexisting God the Son coming down from heaven to earth and uniting with a human body. However, according to the Trinity Doctrine, Jesus consists of two persons: a human and God. He is 100 percent God and 100 percent human. Yet, he is one person. That is, the Trinitarian Jesus is one person with two wills and two minds. Thus, the Trinitarian Jesus is not a personal man; he is human nature without personal substance. He becomes an abstraction void of personality united with God.
    According to the Valentinians, Christ, who emanates from the Intellect, the consciousness of the Father, the Supreme God, has of Himself, is the highest anointed. Jesus, who is born of Mary is the “ensouled body” that the Savior puts on. The Savior is a lesser anointed, who is also called Jesus, Christ, Word, Son, and All. Jesus was earthly with a human body into which the heavenly Savior descended, yet the Savior’s body was apparently not material. The spiritual Christ departs just before the crucifixion — thus, Deity does not die — and the human body, Jesus, suffers and dies.
    Both the Trinitarian Christ and the Valentinian Christ are similar to the Docetic Jesus. According to Docetism, Christ is not a man; God took the form of a man to Himself. According to the Trinitarians, when God the Son became man at the incarnation, he gave up none of his divine attributes by taking manhood to himself. Like the Trinitarians, the Valentinians hold that Christ is not a true or real man because God subjected all his properties to His divine personality while He preserved a complete and functional human nature. Thus, both the Trinitarians and Valentinians agree that Jesus Christ is not “a true man”; he is God united with human qualities.
    Nearly all Trinitarians maintain that only the human bodyof Christ died on the cross. God the Son, Christ’s divine nature, left the body of Christ at the crucifixion, for God cannot die. (If he died, he would no longer be immortal or eternal.) Valentinians hold the same doctrine of the crucifixion. Christ, i.e., the divine nature, left Jesus, i.e., the human nature, before Jesse died. The primary difference between the two is that for Trinitarians, the human nature left the God nature at death whereas for Valentinians, the God nature left the human nature before the human nature died.
    According to the New Testament, the Son of God died on the cross. Propitiation is by the death of the person of Jesus. However, for Valentinians and Trinitarians, the divine person did not die; only a human image or body died. Both have the divine person experiencing death without having to die.
    Nevertheless, Valentinians and Trinitarians do differ on their view of Jesus Christ. For the Valentinians, Christ is deity and Jesus is human; that is, Christ and Jesus are two distinct persons. Therefore, Jesus dies, but Christ escapes death. (This notion that Christ did not die conflicts with Paul’s teachings: Romans 14:9.)
    For the Trinitarians, Jesus and Christ are one person, although he is two distinct persons, divine and human. According to the Trinity Doctrine, Jesus has both a divine person, the Logos, and a rational human soul. Therefore, Jesus’ human nature retains a human mind and will, and he also has a divine mind and will. Nevertheless, Jesus has only one person in himself. Thus, Trinitarians have more difficulty in explaining Christ’s death without the Son of God dying than do Valentinians.
    Like the Trinitarian Jesus, the Valentinian Jesus consists of the deity and a rational human. Both have Jesus with two souls, but with only one ego, the divine person, dominating. Both believe that the divine must dominate Jesus, or else he would sin. Basically, the difference between the Valentinian and the Trinitarian doctrine of two natures of Jesus is that the Valentinians present theirs in a clear and undeniable fashion, while the Trinitarians present theirs in a hazy and incoherent way.
    Although the Valentinian Jesus had both a human mind and will and a divine mind and will, the divine controlled. Most Trinitarians maintain the same position: Jesus’ divine mind and will controlled his human mind and will. Both have the divine suppressing, at least to some degree, the humanity of Jesus. Thus, Jesus never sinned and could never sin. One significant difference between the Valentinian Jesus and the Trinitarian Jesus is that the Valentinian Jesus is two different persons: one divine, and one human. The Trinitarian Jesus is one person in spite of having two minds and two wills.
    According to the Valentinians, the human body of Jesus descended from heaven and passed through Mary. Thus, Jesus’ human body preexisted in heaven. This Valentinian doctrine, the Trinitarians reject.
    A great problem that Trinitarians have encountered over the centuries is explaining the two natures of Jesus and the crucifixion of Jesus without God dying on the cross while avoiding Gnosticism. Even today, some Trinitarians, e.g., Congdon, accuse many evangelicals of preaching a Docetic and Valentinian Christology.
    So that ordinary people can understand the Christology of the Trinitarians as expressed in the Athanasian Creed, Lord Bacon, a Trinitarian, translates it:
He believes a Virgin to be a Mother of a Son; and that very Son of hers to be her Maker. He believes him to have been shut up in a narrow room, whom heaven and earth could not contain. He believes him to have been born in time, who was and is from everlasting. He believes him to have been a weak child carried in arms, who is the Almighty; and him once to have died, who only hath life and immortality in himself (Norton 82-83).
In other words, God is contained in a womb and stable but is omnipresent. He is eternal yet born in time. He is a vulnerable infant yet omnipotent. He died but is an eternal, immortal God who cannot die. This is the Christology that a good Christian believes whether he realizes it or not. Except Mary being the mother of her Maker, i.e., God, Bacon’s description of Christ fits the Christology of the Valentinians.
    The similarities between Valentinian Christology and the Trinitarian Christology are remarkable. Both hold that Christ was deity and a hypostasis [a person] of the Supreme God. Further, both have him descending from heaven and having two complete natures. While the divine nature performs the miraculous and  salvific works of the Supreme God, the human nature experiences the life of a human body capable of hunger, pain, and death.
    In developing their Christology, the Trinitarians did not copy the Valentinians. Their Christologies are similar because both used the same technique in interpreting the Holy Scriptures. Both read the Scriptures through the thick lens of Platonism. As for the differences, they primarily result from the Valentinians incorporating more paganism and Gnosticism than the Trinitarians. The notion of a God-man and even a Triad (Triune) God comes from paganism. These notions certainly did not come from the staunchly monotheistic Old Testament or the staunchly monotheistic writers of the New Testament.
    Although the teachings of the Valentinians were extremely similar to that of the Trinitarians, they are condemned as a major enemy of orthodoxy. Perhaps the similarity is a cause of the Valentinians being condemned as heretics.
    When theologians develop a doctrine and especially a dogma, they seem not only to discard Occam’s razor, but, to the contrary, they seem to adopt its inverse. (According to Occam’s razor, when two theories are competing, the simpler explanation is to be preferred as it is usually the better of the two.) Do they do so to keep the masses ignorant and depended on them and, thereby, increase their status and importance? They seem to strive to create the most complex, incomprehensible doctrines and dogmas that they can.
    Further, most theologians seem to believe that when a few passages appear to disagree or conflict with many passages in the Bible, the many should be interpreted in light of the few. The few should not be understood in light of the many. Thus, the best doctrines allow or even demand the few to govern the many. For example, 53 scriptures support the doctrine that Jesus is God, while 386 scriptures show that he is not God (Holt, p. 311).
    One of my bosses said, partially joking, that the best way to get data points to fall on the curve is to draw the curve first and then plot the data. Some doctrines of the Church seem to have been developed this way. First, the doctrine is declared, and then verses are found to support the doctrine or are forced via interpretation to support the doctrine. Better yet, is to write the doctrine so that it can void any scripture that contradicts it. An example is the doctrine of the dual nature of Jesus (Jesus is 100 percent human and 100 percent God, yet he is only one person); the doctrine itself makes everything that Jesus says that proves that he is not God irrelevant.

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

Brons, David. “The Gnostic Society Library: Valentinian Theology.” Accessed December 27, 2017.
Cash, Billy “Origen’s Trinitarian Theology.” April 21, 2010.

Chandler, Kegan A. The God of Jesus in Light of Christian Dogma: The Recovery of New Testament Theology. McDonough, Georgia: Restoration Fellowship, 2016.

Congdon, David W. The Fire and the Rose. “American Evangelicalism Christology: The Heresies of American Evangelicalism, Part III: Christology: Part III: A Docetic Christ.” July 28, 2006. evangelicalism_28.html. Accessed December 27, 2017.

“A Correct Christology.” Accessed Dec 27, 2017

Craig, Ryann Elizabeth. “Anastasis in the Treatise on the Resurrection How Jesus’ Example Informs Valentinian Resurrection Doctrine and Christology.”

Fahy, Paul. “Early Christological Heresies.”  Understanding Ministries: 2012.

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

Healy, Patrick J. “Valentinus and Valentinians” Accessed  Dec 27, 2017.

Holt, Brian. Jesus God or the Son of God: A Comparison of the Arguments. Mt. Juliet, Tennessee: Tell Way Publishing, 2002.

Neidhart, Ludwig. Biblical Trinity Doctrine and Christology. Augsburg: 2017.

Norton, Andrews. Statement of Reasons for Not Believing the Doctrines of Trinitarians, Concerning the Nature of God, and the Person Of Christ. Cambridge: Brown, Shattuck, and Company, 1833.

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

Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Coley Allen

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Centralism Versus Decentralism

Centralism Versus Decentralism
Thomas Allen

    Wilhelm Ropke in The Social Framework of the Free Market (1958, translated by Elizabeth Henderson, 1960) compares centralism and decentralism and describes the differences between the two. (Page numbers in parentheses are references to his book.)
    In the American political economy terminology, centralists (whom Ropke calls centrists) promote the Hamiltonian-Lincolnian political economy, which is what the United States have today, and the decentralists (whom Ropke calls decentrists) promote the Jeffersonian-Calhounian political economy. To the centralists, America is an idea, an abstraction. To the decentralists, America is a place, concrete.
    Centralism and decentralism apply to all social, political, and economic aspects of life. In general, they express a great contrast in ideals and views of society. Centralists emphasize the larger community: the state, a puissant central government, the collective, big businesses, central banks, and even the utopian world state. Decentralists emphasize the smaller community: the individual, the family, voluntary associations, small businesses, and local and State or provincial governments. Hierarchical churches like the Catholic Church where religious power is concentrated falls under centralism. Churches like the Baptists where religious power is dispersed falls under decentralism. Thus, centralists favor the consolidation and the concentration of political and economic power. Decentralists favor the dispersion and deconcentration of political and economic power.
    The following list compares centralism and decentralism:
    Centralists believe, favor, and prefer:
        –    a strong central government with the globalists preferring a puissant global government.
        –    people dependent on the government; thus, welfare programs and national health care.

    Decentralists believe, favor, and prefer:
        –    federalism and local government.
        –    people not dependent on the government.

    Centralists believe, favor, and prefer:
        –    macroeconomics.
        –    large-scale industry; technical and organizational rationality.
        –    centralized planning enforced by the government.
        –    large-scale governmental intervention in the economy, collectivist economy, socialism, and monopoly.
        –    dependent wage earners; workers in a subordinated and dependent relation to centers of decision.
        –    the vertical, close, and personal relation of subordination and authority of big business and socialized industry, i.e., vertical, organizational dependence.
        –    a market that depends on the boss.
        –    people occupying positions that are above and below each other; subordination of people.
        –    trade unions, which subordinate workers to union bosses, instead of independent workers.

    Decentralists believe, favor, and prefer:
        –    microeconomics.
        –    the peasantry, crafts, middle class, and small firms.
        –    a wide distribution of private property.
        –    a free market, free enterprise economy.
        –    an economy planned by the markets, competition, and free prices.
        –    decentralization of economic decisions among millions of separate producers and consumers as the indispensable condition of freedom, justice, and well-being.
        –    independence of workers.
        –    independent market parties where the buyers and sellers are horizontal and loose if not impersonal, i.e., horizontal market dependence.
        –    dependence upon the client or the supplier through a market that is wide enough to do away with rigid personal relationships.
        –    people occupying positions side by side with each other.

    Centralists believe, favor, and prefer:
        –    huge associations, giant cities, and urbanized areas.
        –    social rationalism, i.e., the individual is small and eventually dwindles to a statistical figure, a building brick, a mathematical magnitude encased in equations, something that can be "refashioned."
        –    optimism about the success of his constructions and refashioning.
        –    equality and uniformity.
        –    mobility.
        –    socialization of education.
        –    the welfare state, especially one that extends well beyond the truly needed.

    Decentralists believe, favor and prefer:
        –    the lovers of nature and of the human scale.
        –    rural areas and small towns.
        –    thinking and acting in terms of human beings and knowing and respecting history.
        –    skepticism or pessimism thus basing his arguments realistically and unsentimentally on human nature.
        –    inequality, diversity, multiformity, and social articulation.
        –    stability.
        –    stratification of society with respect for natural developments, a modicum of variety and of horizontal and vertical social articulation, family traditions, personal inclinations, and inherited wealth.
        –    men having the happy feeling of being in the place where they belong.
        –    variety and independence in every sphere, but not particularism or parochialism.
        –    personal responsibility and private charities to aid the needy.

    Centralists believe, favor, and prefer:
        –    doctrinaires, dogma, doctrines, and ideologies.
        –    man centered.
        –    man can perfect man.

    Decentralists believe, favor and prefer:
        –    established principles: a hierarchy of norms and values established by reason and sober reflection instead of by passions and feelings.
        –    ultimate and absolute convictions that require no proof because it is absurd not to believe in them.
        –    God centered.
        –    only God can perfect man.

    Ropke does not specifically discuss the armed forces under centralism and decentralism. Centralists favor a large standing army and a navy and air force large enough to project power regionally and, if resources allow, even globally. However, centralists prefer a disarmed citizenry (a heavily armed citizenry can thwart the centralists’ plans and their lust for power). Conversely, decentralists prefer a heavily armed citizenry and a small armed force. The armed force should be sufficient to defend the country from invasions, but not large enough for offensive wars or foreign adventures.
    Decentralism is not particularism or parochialism with “a narrow-mindedness which can’t see the forest for the trees” (p. 233). According to Ropke, a decentralist is a convinced universalist who “keep[s] his eye on a larger community which is all the more genuine for being structured and articulated” (p. 233). However, God is his center, “and this is why he refuses to accept human centers” (p. 233). The decentralists “should cultivate a universal approach to all intellectual, political, and economic matters and reject narrow views and actions and, above all, intellectual, political, and economic regionalism and nationalism; on the other hand, we should prize variety and independence at all levels and in all spheres, on the basis of the common patrimony of mankind, which is beyond all levels and spheres” (p. 234).
    The centralist is a moralist. Ropke describes the moralism of the central as follows:
[The centralist is] a moralist of the cheap rhetorical kind, who misuses big words, such as freedom, justice, rights of man, or others, to the point of empty phraseology, who poses as a paragon of virtues and stoops to use his moralism as a political weapon and to represent his more reserved adversary as morally inferior. Since, again, he looks at things from on high, well above the reality of individual people, his moralism is of an abstract, intellectual kind. It enables him to feel morally superior to others for the simple reason that he stakes his moral claims so high and makes demands on human nature without considering either the concrete conditions or the possible consequences of the fulfillment of those demands. He does not seem capable of imagining that others may not be lesser men because they make things less easy for themselves and do take account of the complications and difficulties of a practical and concrete code of ethics within which it is not unusual to will the good and work the bad. The “left” moralist all too often reaches the point where his big words of love and freedom and justice serve as a cover for the exact opposite. The moralist, with his lofty admonitions, becomes an intolerant hater and envier, the theoretical pacifist an imperialist when it comes to the practical test, and the advocate of abstract social justice an ambitious place-hunter. These moralists are a world apart from the decentrists’ attitude . . . that man does not primarily exist for the sake of human society but for his own sake, “and if each one of us exists in the best possible manner for his own sake, he does so for society as well.” . . . The centrist’s moral ideal frequently enough amounts to a desire to make the world into a place where . . . everyone is nursing his neighbor, which presupposes a centralized compulsory organization (p. 230).
(His description of the morals of the centralist is essentially the description of the morals of the Yankee and the Puritan.)
    Ropke strongly opposes the concept of equality and believes that trying to achieve it and even the chimera of “equality of opportunity” results in disaster. About trying to achieve equality of opportunity via socialization of education, he writes:
[I]f equality of opportunity is to be achieved by socializing education, envy and resentment will only be acerbated. If everybody has the same chances of advancement, those left behind will lose the face-saving and acceptable excuse of social injustice and lowly birth. The weakness of mind or character of the overwhelming majority of average or below-average people will be harshly revealed as the reason for failure, and it would be a poor observer of the human soul who thought that this revelation would not prove poisonous. No more murderous attack on the sum total of human happiness can be imagined than this kind of equality of opportunity, for, given the aristocratic distribution of the higher gifts of mind and character among a few only, such equality will benefit a small minority and make the majority all the unhappier (p. 223).
(Perhaps, this explains the problem that the country is having with Blacks, especially those involved in Black Lives Matters, Antifa, Social Justice, and other similar groups. Not only have Blacks been given “equal opportunity,” laws have been written and are enforced that give Blacks more than equal opportunity. Blacks are given a legal and social advantage over Whites. Yet they still fall behind, not because of any discrimination, but because of their innate, genetic, inabilities.)
    Unfortunately for mankind, centralization is much easier than decentralization. Moreover, expanding the powers of the government is much easier than contracting them. The centralist’s “path is bound to lead to regions where the air of freedom and humanity becomes thinner and thinner, until we end up on the icy peaks of totalitarianism, from which nations can hardly hope to escape without a fall. The trouble is that once one takes this road, it becomes increasingly difficult to turn back” (p. 234).
    A major danger of centralism is that it encounters no checks on itself. Its obsessions become uninhibited. Moreover, it comes to know no limits. Centralism leads to loss of freedom, humanity, and the health of society. (Examples are Germany under the rule of the national socialists and Russia, China, North Korea, and other countries under the rule of the communists.)
    Ropke quotes John Stuart Mill’s description of centralism:
If the roads, the railways, the banks, the insurance offices, the great joint-stock companies, the universities, and the public charities, were all of them branches of the government; if, in addition, the municipal corporations and local boards, with all that now devolves on them, became departments of the central administration; if the employes of all these different enterprises were appointed and paid by the government, and looked to the government for every rise in life; not all the freedom of the press and popular constitution of the legislature would make this or any other country free otherwise than in name. And the evil would be greater, the more efficiently and scientifically the administrative machinery was constructed (p. 235).
    One of the dangers of centralism is that many centralists do not want to be centralist and many do not know that they are centralists. They are the classical liberals (as opposed to neo-liberals and progressives) or conservatives who reject federalism, the anti-collectivists who flirt with monopolies or government intervention in the economy, and humanist and others who support the economic integration of countries. (To Ropke’s list, can be added free-market economists like the Friedmanites who support centralized banking and a managed monetary system in lieu of the classical gold standard and decentralized banking. Also, classical liberals, conservatives, and libertarians who are racial nihilists can be included in the list.)
    Ropke comments on the work environment under centralization:
People used to occupy positions side by side with each other, but now they are above and below each other, and the relation is charged with the constant tension of close personal contact within a limited, fixed group. With the diminution of individual independence, this is becoming the fate of the masses, and we all know the strain it puts on human relations. Intrigues, place-hunting, informing, ill will, bootlicking, envy, jealousy, and all the other poisons of close contact spread like the plague in all large organizations and companies, as experience has shown again and again. Neurotics are in a position to make life hell for hundreds and thousands of people, and . . . there is a more than even chance that it will be precisely neurotics who get to the top and into a dominating position, because of their assertiveness and officiousness (p. 236-237).
(As power becomes more concentrated in the central government, ever more neurotics are drawn to the central government, especially in management positions.)
    About centralized planning and collectivism, Ropke writes:
[I]t is one of the most damning things to be held against collectivism in any shape or form that, with the exception only of the few who hold the power to plan and direct, it presses men inescapably into vertical and personal relations of subordination and so robs them of freedom. If the socialists, incorrigible centrists as they are, demand such an economic order in the name of freedom, they afford a most depressing proof of the aberrations of which man is capable when he is blinded by political passion (pp. 237-238).
    Ropke makes three recommendations to reverse the centralization of the economy:
First, we should do everything we can to brake or even reverse the process of dwindling independence whenever and wherever this is possible without real damage to economic rationality. Secondly, we should do everything we can to mitigate the rigidity of vertical subordination as much as the structure of productive organization and the nature of the market economy permit. Thirdly, we should do everything we can to strengthen the counterweights in fields other than labor dependence, the most important of these counterweights being private property (p. 241).
Moreover, decentralists should not look to government to enforce these recommendations. Instead, they must support “all the forces, whatever they be, which counteract concentration” (p. 241). To carry out these recommendations requires “[p]ainstaking research . . . to discover how, ultimately, the government itself, by means of its laws, its tax system, and its economic and social policies, continuously and injudiciously weights the scales in favor of industrial concentration and makes things difficult for small and medium firms and all others who aspire to independence” (p. 241).
    Although centralists preach the virtue of diversity, they are the destroyers of true diversity. They seek to reduce all to a uniform mongrelized oneness — one hybrid race, one culture, one religion, one government, one economy, etc. On the other hand, decentralists seek to preserve true diversity. They want to preserve the various races, cultures, and nations (people) and countries (territories) with many free and independent governments and economies (but not autarky or protectionism as that requires centralization), etc.
    Today centralism appears as:
    –    globalization with a one-world government (the United Nations and its various organizations) and one-world religion (ecumenism).
    –    the European Union and climate change treaties as steps toward world government.
    –    war on Confederate monuments to destroy history and diversity.
    –    homogenization of the male and female sexes into meaninglessness by promoting feminism to make women men, effemination of men to make them women, homosexuality, transgenderism, etc. to destroy the family.
    –    political correctness to destroy freedom of speech and thought.
    –    multiculturalism and multiracialism with large-scale, uncontrolled immigration into Europe, Canada, and the United States to destroy their race and culture as the White race and Western Civilization are the greatest impediments to global consolidation — hence, racial and cultural amalgamation.
    However, decentralization is beginning to return as evidenced by:
    –    secession movements, such as the breakup of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia and numerous secession movements in Europe and the United States.
    –    nullification, such as California declaring itself a sanctuary State and thus defying federal law.
    –    the collapse of imperialism, at least in its more overt form.
    –    the growing populist-nationalist movements in the Western world, that is, defensive nationalism, which seeks to preserve race, culture, nation (the people), and country (the territory), and not aggressive nationalism, which is imperialism.
    For more than 150 years the Hamiltonian-Lincolnian political economy has dominated the United States, and the U.S. government has exploded in size and has become ever more powerful. With the election of Donald Trump as President, centralists are being forced on the defense. Many supporters of Trump are decentralists of the populist-nationalist movement. Even heretofore centralists are becoming decentralists as they defy the U.S. government with nullification and join decentralists with talk of secession.

Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Coley Allen.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Mencken on Government

Mencken on Government
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 government, pages 126-128 and 130-131. Below is an overview of his discussion on government; my comments are in brackets.
    Mencken notes, “All government, whatever its form, is carried on chiefly by men whose first concern is for their offices, not for their obligations.” Government is essentially “a conspiracy of a small group against the masses of men, and especially against the masses of diligent and useful men. Its primary aim is to keep this group in jobs that are measurably more comfortable and exhilarating than the jobs its members could get in free competition.” To accomplish this goal, political leaders are “always willing to make certain sacrifices of integrity and self-respect in order to hold these jobs, and the fact is just as plain under a despot as it is under the mob.” [Mencken gives a good argument for term limitation and for limiting the number of years anyone can be employed by the government in the civil service, armed forces, and appointed positions.]
    As the “mob has its flatterers and bosh-mongers; the king has his courtiers.” However, the two have an important difference. “The courtier, at his worst, at least performs his genuflections before one who is theoretically his superior, and is surely not less than his equal. He does not have to abase himself before swine, with whom, ordinarily, he would disdain to have any traffic. He is not compelled to pretend that he is a worse man than he really is. He needn’t hold his nose in order to approach his benefactor. Thus he may go into office without having dealt his honour a fatal wound, and once he is in, he is under no pressure to sacrifice it further, and may nurse it back to health and vigour.” Moreover, "[h]is sovereign, at worst, has a certain respect for it, and hesitates to strain it unduly.” Furthermore, “[t]he courtier’s sovereign . . . is apt to be a man of honour himself.”
    On the other hand, “the mob has no sensitiveness [for honor] . . . and, indeed, no knowledge that it exists. . . . To the democrats of the world this attitude was puzzling, and on reflection it began to seem contemptible and offensive.” (“Once Frederick the Great was asked why he gave commissions in his army only to Junker. Because, he answered, they will not lie and they cannot be bought. That answer explains sufficiently the general democratic theory that the Junker are not only scoundrels but also half-wits.”)
    Mencken summaries the difference between feudalism and democracy. “[T]he  the essential objection to democracy is that, with few exceptions, it imposes degrading acts and attitudes upon the men responsible for the welfare and dignity of the state. The former was compelled to do homage to his suzerain, who was very apt to be a brute and an ignoramus. The latter are compelled to do homage to their constituents, who in overwhelming majority are certain to be both.”
    [Throughout his book, Mencken blames most of America’s problems on demagogues and the mob that they manipulate. Although he occasionally looks behind the demagogues, he seldom goes further than a glance. If he were to remove a few layers, he would find what he seems to consider the betters and superiors manipulating from behind the scene their puppets like Roosevelt, Wilson, Harding, and Coolidge — all of whom Mencken considers to be men of the mob. These betters or superiors are the plutocrats and intellectuals, people of high intelligence, most of whom would have been aristocrats, Catholic clergymen, and international merchants of the olden days. {Later in his book, he does go to the heart and identifies the real power behind the government.}]

Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Coley Allen.

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Monday, October 1, 2018

Explanations of the Trinity

Explanations of the Trinity
Thomas Allen

    Explanations of Trinitarians of the Trinity as expressed by the Athanasian Creed (“So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.”) fall into one of four categories: subordinationist, modal, distinctionist, and real. These four are described below.
    Before describing them, two other groups of Trinitarians should be mentioned: acceptors and clueless. Acceptors accept, or profess to accept, the Trinity Doctrine with all its paradoxes and absurdities without any attempt to modify, explain, or understand it. The clueless have no real clue about what the Trinity Doctrine is. For the most part, they believe that by believing in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, they are believing in the Trinity Doctrine — not realizing that the Trinity Doctrine is much more. (Most Unitarians and Monotheistic Christians believe in a trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but they reject the Trinity Doctrine.) Acceptors and the clueless account for most Trinitarians.
    1. Subordinationist Trinitarians. Some Trinitarians consider that the Father alone is underived and that the Son and the Holy Spirit derive their existence from him. Thus, they are subordinate to the Father. Still, they possess all the same divine attributes that the Father possesses. In nature and every essential perfection, the Father and the Son are equal. However, because the Son came from the Father, the Father is greater than the Son. This explanation attempts to preserve the divine unity while simultaneously presenting the Son as a real person who is distinct from the Father and is equally God with all divine perfections. The only difference is that the perfections of the Son are derived from the Father, whose perfections are underived. Likewise, the same is true of the Holy Spirit. Subordinationist Trinitarians who maintain the supremacy of the Father and subordination of the Son and the Holy Spirits fall into at least two difficulties. If they really affirm the distinction, they maintain an untenable form of Unitarianism. On the other hand, by claiming the subordination of the Son and the Holy Spirit, while declaring them properly God, they encounter new difficulties if they seek to retain the common doctrine of the Trinity. The subordinationists’ concept of the Trinity is similar to that of the pre-Nicene Fathers and essentially that held by the Nicene Fathers. Although this concept was once orthodox, it is now heterodox.
    2. Modal Trinitarians. One group of Trinitarians understands the word “person” in the sense of its Latin translation persona, which translates into English as, “character” or “roll.” (The Greek translation of “person” in the Trinity Doctrine is hypostasis, which means “independent existence.”) According to the modal explanation, the three persons of the Godhead are three different characters. In relation to man, these three persons denote three relationships: Creator (the Father), the Redeemer (the Son), and the Sacrificer (the Holy Spirit). These three persons may also be conceived as three attributes of God: his goodness, wisdom, and power. Basically, the modal Trinitarian explanation of the Trinity is Unitarian. This explanation is similar to that of the Sabellians, who were denounced as heretics. Needless to say, this explanation of the Trinity is unorthodox and heretical. However, it is similar to the Augustinian Trinitarianism, which is Modal Trinitarianism in disguise and upon which the Athanasian Creed is based.
    3. Distinctionist Trinitarians. Another group of Trinitarians asserts that the word “person” should not be understood in the normal sense. It should be understood to mean three real distinctions in the Godhead. However, when explaining the Trinity, these Trinitarians resort back to using “person” in its proper sense. The three of the Trinity are ascribed personal attributes. Each has personal relations distinctly to himself and performs personal actions distinct from the others. For example, the Father sends the Son into the world. The Son makes the atonement for the sins of man while the Father receives the atonement. Moreover, the Son was the Logos who was with God; the Father was not. Likewise, the Son, not the Father, is the firstborn of every creation and the image of God. Furthermore, the Holy Spirt is the “Comforter” sent to the Apostles, and not the Father or the Son. Thus, in spite of their claims to the contrary, distinctionist Trinitarians, in essence, maintain that there are three divine persons, in the proper sense of the word, who are distinguished from each other. By denying that the Godhead consists of three persons, they, in effect, maintain there is one person. This one person consists of three distinctions in the divine nature, i.e., the nature of one person. Thus, distinctionist Trinitarians have one person who is God with three attributes or properties called distinctions. Therefore, distinctionist Trinitarians are modal Trinitarians in their statement of doctrine, but are real Trinitarians in their belief. In summary, they maintain three distinctions and deny three persons. Then, they reason and write as though the three persons are not three distinctions, but are really three distinct persons in the proper sense of the word. This explanation of the Trinity attempts to rescue the Trinity Doctrine from absurdities if the language used to express it is understood in their commonly accepted use. In their attempt to avoid the untenable doctrine of the Trinity, distinctionist Trinitarians create new difficulties.
    4. Real Trinitarians. Real Trinitarians readily admit the existence of three equal divine minds and consequently three Gods. All the unity of God is that the three Deities are in-separately conjoined with a mutual consciousness. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are really distinct persons as are Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Thus, the three divine persons of the Godhead are really distinct beings. Real Trinitarians are the most orthodox Trinitarians and, therefore, the most orthodox Christians. However, they must avoid becoming too orthodox, for then they become tritheists.
    When real Trinitarians attempt to explain the new math of three equals one of the Trinity Doctrine, they are at high risk of crashing into the Scylla of Sabellianism or of being swept away in the Charybdis of tritheism. To keep from crashing into the rock of Sabellianism or being swept away in the whirlpool of tritheism, most obfuscate by using vague, paradoxical, incomprehensible, irrational language — just as in the Trinity Doctrine. (If the Trinity Doctrine were clear, rational, and understandable, it would need little explanation.) To avoid heresy, many Trinitarians take the coward’s way out by refusing to explain the Trinity Doctrine and claim that it is a mystery beyond comprehension, which is a strange response to a manmade doctrine. They just assert that three equals one just as the Athanasian Creed does. In essence, real Trinitarians maintain the unity of God only by declaring that the three Gods of the Godhead are inseparable and most intimately united.
    As Bishop Beverage, a Trinitarian, explains the Trinity Doctrine; it is extremely sensitive to words and phrases and their order. What a normal person considers a different way of saying the same thing converts orthodoxy to heresy. He writes:
We are to consider the order of those persons in the Trinity described in the words before us, Matt, xxviii. 19. First, the Father, and then the Son, and then the Holy Ghost; every one of which is really and truly Gcd. A mystery which we are all bound to believe, but yet must have a great care how we speak of it, it being both easy and dangerous to mistake, in expressing so great a truth as this is. If we think of it, how hard it is to imagine one numerically divine nature in more than one and the same divine person? Or, three divine persons in no more than one and the same divine nature? If we speak of it, how hard it is to find out words to express it? If I say, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost be three, and every one distinctly God, it is true; but if I say, they be three, every one a distinct God, it is false. I may say, God the Father is one God, and the Son is one God, and the Holy Ghost is one God, but I cannot say, that the Father is one God, and the Son is another God, and the Holy Ghost a third God. I may say, the Father begat another who is God; yet I cannot say that he begat another God. And from the Father and the Son proceedeth another who is God; yet I cannot say, from the Father and the Son proceedeth another God. For all this while, though their nature be the same their persons are distinct; and though their persons be distinct, yet still their nature is the same. So that, though the Father, be the first person in the Godhead, the Son the second, the Holy Ghost the third, yet the Father is not the first, the Son a second, and the Holy Ghost a third God. So hard a thing is it to word so great a mystery aright; or to fit so high a truth with expression! suitable and proper to it, without going one way or another from it (Bishop Beverage’s Private Thought, Part II, p. 48-49).
Explaining a manmade doctrine can be amazingly difficult. Knowing the stupidity of mankind, God would not have authored such a convoluted doctrine; He keeps His doctrines simple so that common people without doctoral degrees in theology can understand them and that are common sense.
    The following illustrates the problem with the Trinity Doctrine. Ask the typical Christian if there is only one God, he will answer “yes.” If he is asked if Jesus Christ is God, he will answer “yes.” If he is asked if the Heavenly Father is God, he will answer “yes.” Then if he is asked if Jesus Christ is the Heavenly Father, he will answer “no.” Thus, he has identified two Gods: Jesus Christ and the Heavenly Father. Yet, he claims that there is only one God. Consequently, while believing in one God, the typical Christian also believes in two Gods. Such are the confusion, conflict, illogic, absurdity, and incomprehensibleness of the Trinity Doctrine.
    Another illustration of the absurdity and illogic of the Trinity Doctrine is the favor Trinity proof verse: John 1:1. John 1:1 reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Most Christians identify “the Word” with God the Son and “God” with God the Father. If “Son” is substituted for “Word” and “Father” for “God,” John 1:1 reads, “In the beginning was the Son, and the Son was with the Father, and the Son was the Father.” Thus, the Son is the Father. Only the Trinity Doctrine can make a son be his own father.  (Even Unitarians who believe in a preexisting Son and identify the Son with the Word come to the same conclusion.)
    (Here are a few comments on the Holy Spirit, who is usually treated like the proverbial redheaded stepchild. How often should one pray to the Holy Spirit? [I have never heard anyone pray to him.] After all, he is one of the coequal Gods of the Godhead, the third Person of the Trinity, and, therefore, should be worthy of as much attention as God the Father and God the Son. Why does not the Holy Spirit have a throne in heaven? Moreover, why is he not even mentioned in the book that has the most words describing heaven: namely, Revelations? Poor old Holy Spirit, even the Bible neglects him and treats him like an afterthought.)

Copyright © 2018 by Thomas Coley Allen.

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