Thursday, January 29, 2009

Is History Random or Conspiratorial?

There are Only Two Views of History

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I just read a piece by Gary North titled, "WAS CALVIN A THEONOMIST?". Since I call myself a theonomist, (though not as defined by most Reformed leadership these days), I found this title intriguing as I have always wanted Calvin's help on this. After all, I have been repeatedly 'corrected' by well meaning non-theonomists (antinomians), for a number of years now, and they like to try and correct me by quoting Calvin. Considering the prolific volume of Calvin's works, I've never had the energy or the sense that I had enough time, to research Calvin in any depth to make my own conclusions about Calvin and the theonomist position, (pronomians).

So a special thanks to the Castlemans, both 'He' and 'She' Castleman, my lovely daughter and her tenacious husband, for coming across this article and sharing it with me. It is kind of like a breath of fresh air or drink of cool water in this desert of lawlessness that the "church" has forced us all to endure for far too long now.

Anyway, upon reading this article, although it does not necessarily talk about "conspiracy", it sure made me think about it and the ridiculous idea that any history at all could be possible without it. So, some of what I will comment on here is a direct result of Calvin's theonomic expression, which you could read for yourself. I went back into time and posted it myself right here. The rest of this writing is my own analysis of men conspirators in conjunction with the greatest conspirator; God Himself.

This term conspiracy has gotten a very absurd and bad rap, as it is just a word, and a good one too. It's sole use is simply to define what people are doing when they agree to perform together, and usually means performing something illegal, wrongful, or subversive, and is therefore secretive. After all, how will they perform what they want if they are stopped by those who know what they're up to? What they are doing, is "conspiring". What is so 'kooky' about that? People have done this ever since the fall. God's word makes it clear that conspiracies exist "in" history, but does it make it clear that conspiracies "make" history? I am not going to attempt to take this word apart in detail here, but if you're interested, there is a very good article for that here, by Richard Wall.

So usually, conspiracy denotes something evil, but I think this word is appropriately used when people agree to perform something good as well. In that sense, the Church has historically been a group of people who have been conspiring for centuries to perform the will of God as defined in the word of God. The big difference, and the 'key' difference, between good conspirators and evil conspirators, is that the evil conspiracists, in order to achieve their goals, must keep their plans secret, at least until they have accomplished the majority of what they've set out to do. John 3:19 I say "the majority", because, if their goal was to obtain unlawful power, and they had achieved most of their goal without anyone knowing, by the time their goals were almost completed they probably would have enough of that power by then to be strong enough to resist any attempts to stop them. They are then no longer quite so concerned about any light shining in their dark hiding places, or under their rock.

So as a side note, this should point out the urgency of exposing evil conspiracies as soon as possible. Like a cancer, if they are not stopped quickly, the larger they get and the more difficult and destructive they become. Let this also be of relevance to those of you who seek to love your neighbor. Exposing evil conspiracies is no different than a good radiologist exposing a patient's disease in time to save that patient's life. The unprofessional doctor would note all the symptoms of his patient's disease, and yet take no steps to expose the cause. Likewise, the unloving neighbor will watch the demoralization and destruction of his society and culture, which is full of neighbors, and will not care enough to expose what is at the root of it all. The unloving "Christian" neighbor simply shrugs his shoulders and says, "We KNOW what the root is. It's sin! My neighbors need Jesus!" That's like the bad doctor shrugging his shoulders while watching his dying patient, and then says, "I KNOW what's wrong with you. You're sick! You need a doctor!" Both somehow think they've made some sort of "helpful" diagnosis and have solved the patient's problem. They are self-deceived, because in reality, they have done nothing at all to love their neighbor, or, help their patient. They have delusionally relieved themselves of any responsibility to anyone else in their respective situations.

All right, what in the world does any of this have to do with Calvin and theonomy? Well the main point of that article was to prove that Calvin was indeed, at least in terms of Social Ethics, a theonomist. My attempt here is to say that I've noticed Calvin's arguments also make a very good case for history as conspiracy. Although Calvin makes a case for 3 views of history, I am sticking to what I can understand, and I think we can condense that down to only 2 views. History is either random events, happenstance in occurrence with no rhyme, reason, or order, at least as our finite minds could comprehend, or, it is the unfolding of very carefully conceived plans designed to have eternal consequences, or at least, consequences which extend to the end of time. (However, you Christians know that consequences in time extend beyond the grave, and are therefore, eternal.) Thus, you either believe history to be random, or conspiratorial. Some may try to hold both positions simultaneously, but I hope to show here that these positions effectively cancel each other out and makes that idea untenable. Calvin makes a distinction for a third view; that of Deism, but I have, perhaps erroneously, combined Deism with the conspiratorial view. Deists might not agree that this is their position, so that is where Calvin may have put them in a category all their own.

My first observation, even without the help of Calvin, is to note the contradiction of history being random, with the providence of God. If you are a Christian, and especially if you are a Reformed Christian, it should be obvious to you that a "random" universe and its history, is in direct opposition to God's providence, and thus, His sovereignty.
To say that history is random, should, to the Christian, be a statement based on "superstition", and thus, idolatrousness. "What has caused this? Nothing. Just dumb luck." A random history is either an unlucky history or a lucky history. Nothing is more unregenerate than that. Even if you were a Deist, and wanted to claim that God in His providence simply wound up the universe like a mechanical top and let it go to the whims and mercy of "nature", you could not call the resulting history from that, as being "random", or "luck". Every move of that top is determined by the laws of that nature and thus the infallible mind of that nature's God. Even then we see no room for randomness or luckiness.

I will always remember a loving rebuke from one of my other lovely daughters, Susan, when a few months ago as she was getting ready to drive somewhere, I said, "Don't get in any accidents!" She smiled real big and quickly responded, "There ARE no accidents!" Wow! From the mouth of babes. I said, "Oh yeah! Of course! Thank you! Drive carefully please."

So, if there are no accidents, then what are there? There are conspiracies damn it! Excuse my O.Fr. (Old French). What else could they be? Every effect has a cause from either the mind of man, or from the mind of God. This also points out the fact that there are conspiracies within conspiracies that are within conspiracies ad infinitum. All of the conspiracies of men are within the workings of a larger and more purposeful conspiracy of God; Genesis 50:20. They are also within the conspiratorial workings of other men who are at a better vantage point then are they. These positions that people exist in that give them differing vantage points could better be described as "compartmentalism". God's position and vantage point is the ultimate position for observing how things really are, and so God is the only "person" in existence who has the without-a-question-true, view of history, and therefore, is the only one who is NOT compartmentalized. Everyone else; compartmentalized.

A fair analogy of compartmentalism would be the way an average business would operate. The field man, or "worker" on the job somewhere, has his training and plan, (conspiracy), about how to do his job. He has a limited understanding about how he fits in to the plans and goals, (conspiracies), of his immediate supervisor(s). His understanding is limited by his direct relationship to his supervisor, but not so much so about his supervisor's relationship to upper management or the owner or CEO above that. All are involved in the same conspiracy, but all have a different understanding of it, and all have a limited understanding of it to one degree or another due to their compartmentalization. This is proven over and over again when CEOs conspire to get cheaper labor, and convince the hired labor to train their replacements! How ironic is that? The compartmentalized laborer thinks that if he "does a good job" by training who he is instructed to train the best to his ability, he will be rewarded for his effort. But his lack of understanding has only caused him to participate in a conspiracy to eliminate his own job! And of course, the upper-level compartments kept this little piece of the puzzle "SECRET" from their victim so that he would not confound their conspiracy in any way. So, this worker could probably paraphrase Joseph in Genesis 50:20 and say, "You conspired evil against me, but I was conspiring for good in order to bring about a different result than this, damn it!" Sorry, there goes my O. Fr. again, but I'm sure that guy must be p.o.'d.

This kind of history resulting from conspiracy is not only probable or theoretical, but it is the proven very nature of history. It is the only viable Christian position for anything that has ever happened in the history of the world, is going on now, or will continue to go on until the end of the age.

All men conspire to change the course of history to one degree or another, and are involved in many conspiracies throughout their lives, some knowingly, and some unknowingly. And why wouldn't we? Even unregenerate men bear the image of God. They too will bear His image with respect to shaping history, but they do it without any consideration of what God has in mind for His own conspiracy. And what about the Church, or regenerate men? Are we not supposed to conform to God's image, and everything He is conspiring to accomplish? Aren't we in some sense, coconspirators with God?

And, to make things even more conspiratorial, what about other entities and principalities that influence and conspire the earth's history? There are more "compartments" that contain a position of view and play a part in this grand conspiracy other than just man and God. Yes, the angels, Psalm 91:11, Matthew 4:11, and demons, 1 Peter 5:8, Revelation 12:7, are also compartmentalized participators in shaping history. Depending on the translation, angels are referred to from 294 to 305 times in the Bible. Not sure how many times Satan and demons are referred to, but we know it's a lot. But the important thing to note here is, that these beings are always involved in one conspiracy or another. In Job's case, Satan conspired with God in a wager. Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness during a Satanic conspiracy to thwart the plans of God in something no less than God's own conspiracy of redemption! If Satan would try that with the very Son of God, what else on earth do you think he's been up to over the millennia? 1 John 5:19. He's got a lot of help too.

We see all these Biblical celestial battles of conspiracy taking place all around us all through history, so why would we be surprised to find out that human beings have been participating in the same battles? And, with the help of the angelic coconspirators with God, for those that love God and are called according to His purpose, and likewise, evil men receive their 'help' from demons conspiring with Satan. This is a no-brainer if you ask me. Conspiracy "theory" is no longer an accepted term in my glossary of terms that are unrelated to anything that smells like an oxymoron. No matter what angle you look at it, conspiracy is the force of history…it IS history.

The problem with political or governmental conspiracies, or any conspiracy with an evil agenda, is that they cannot be proven unless somebody involved breaks rank and offers themselves as a witness to the conspiracy. Otherwise, any "proof" will be strictly circumstantial. Often times, especially in our day, this circumstantial evidence can be overwhelming and irrefutable. For instance, Constitutional law allows for circumstantial evidence to be proof, if in fact, it is known that the only way something could possibly have taken place, (effect), is if there could have been only one possible cause. If there is more than one possible cause that could make this effect during those circumstances, then the circumstantial evidence would have doubt cast upon it. A law dictionary I just looked at specifically says, "Effects are known by their causes, but only when the effects can arise sole from the causes to which they are attributed. When several causes may have produced one and the same effect, it is, therefore, unreasonable to attribute it to any particular one of such causes."

This is how the domonization of "Conspiracy Theories" has taken root. First, a misconception of the nature of history itself, and second, a total disregard for the validity of circumstantial evidence. The first should be obvious to at least an honest Christian, and the second only needs a basic understanding of acceptable circumstantial evidence.

If I've convinced you in any way whatsoever, look out! Because now, you're going to see a "demon under every bush" so to speak. Don't worry though, because you will then be immune to propaganda most of the time. After all, isn't that what our Lord wants from us? To seek the truth and to reject lies? Well, that's what we should be doing any way. We are salt and light. We have the truth and we expose the darkness. It's getting much darker these days my friend. What does that tell you about those who are called to illuminate the darkness?

The Greatest Depression in History

Running time: 13:39   Lew Rockwell interviews Gerald Celente
Download MP3

Don't forget about the Alternative News Feeds over in the right column. We really can't believe a word we hear from the mainstream news media.

2 Cor 10:4-6
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.


Bryan Castleman said...

"I have been repeatedly 'corrected' by well meaning non-theonomists (antinomians), for a number of years now, and they like to try and correct me by quoting Calvin."-Sermonwriter

Can you really say all non-theonomists are antinomians ?

Since John Calvin's work is so large and he has been so influential many people try to draft him onto their team.

I once quoted a page from John Calvin's Institutes to someone who was supposedly a die-hard Calvinist and he rebuked it as some type of heretical early church writing.

Is it proper to say that anyone who is not a Pharisee is therefore an antinomian ?

The problem I have with certain "theonomists" is they can become extreme in their understanding of God's law, much like the Pharisees.

So if someone disagrees with their position they can call them lawless or antinomian (against law).

I used to be confronted by a legalistic cult (LA Church of Christ) on my college campus quite frequently who thought since they were being persecuted they were somehow valid.

It is obvious, If someone is persecuted it does not therefore make someone elect, nor give them validity.

Likewise, someone is not an antinomian if they are not a theonomist. That sounds kind of prideful to me. I guess in the most generic definition "God's Law" it could be true.

But certain theonomists can be borderline wackos and extreme legalists.

I would not call myself an antinomian.

I suppose one can have legalistic and antinomian errors constantly throughout their lives where God has not corrected them by His grace.

I guess the next step after Calvin would be to take the Apostle Paul and call him a theonomist.

... and people are trying to distort the teaching of Paul as everyone knows.

Eric probably found Gary North on that Lew Rockwell website.

I guess Eric will become post-mil soon if he isn't post-mil already.

Don't you think that some of this is getting a little out of control. I mean Eric spends a lot of time talking about taxes but doesn't even have to pay the IRS one cent this year. In fact he can probably claim a refund.

The main reason I say that is because, this topic is really kind of a big topic.

There are more simple things to worry about on a day to day basis which are really important and are being neglected.

Let's take God's law apply it to ourselves, and then take care of our family, our church life, and then try to bring the government underneath God's law, if that is what you believe.

Sermonwriter said...

Hi Bryan! Glad to hear you are attentive about this. I am purposefully going to make this brief, because in recent responses to you I have felt like you did not "hear" anything I've said. Perhaps I'm wrong, but that is how I felt nevertheless. Therefore, I am leary about spending a lot of time addressing your post.

However, just to clarify, when I say "well meaning non-theonomists (antinomians)", I am only refering to the literal word definition. Ie: "Theonomy", is God's law. "Antinomian", is against God's law.

So in light of this very real definition of terms, yes, I can really say that all non-theonomists are antinomian. Can't you?

I will await your response to check the validity of your post, and then, I would love to participate in further discussion on the rest of what you have stated. Good stuff. I can't wait to get into it, (if that is 'really', what you want to do). I hope it is, because I too, believe that "there are more simple things to worry about on a day to day basis which are really important and are being neglected"

The difference is probably in what those "simple things" actually are.

Sermonwriter said...

Hi Bryan. It's a new day and I had some fresh thoughts for your comment.

First though, when I said that I felt like you did not "hear" anything I've said, what I mean is, you tend to be very vague about what you are really trying to say, and also, avoid what I am trying to say. For instance, this particular post of mine was on "conspiracy as history", and yet you chose to avoid the topic. That's fine, but it gets kind of confusing. It would be as if you came up to me and started telling me about this great sermon you heard on the 10 commandments, and were giving me all the details, and then I responded by telling you about my car troubles. Kind of like that anyway, not exactly.

I just want to encourage you to be less cryptic in what you are trying to say. Your last comment was pretty straight forward about theonomy, and I do appreciate that. But even there, you haven't really come right out and stated what you think about theonomy. You said that you would not call yourself an antinomian...well, wouldn't that make you a theonomist? If not, then our so-called disagreement is simple; we are thinking of the definition differently. If you want to talk about theonomy instead of conspiracy, then you should probably help me understand your position better, because I can't figure it out from what you've said. You "infer" a lot of negativity about it, such as "I guess the next step after Calvin would be to take the Apostle Paul and call him a theonomist." But this does nothing to state your point. It leaves everyone guessing, and that is not a straight forward approach. We can't really have a fair exchange of ideas if all your idea cards are not on the table or up your sleeve somewhere can we?

And then your comment about Eric and post-mil. I've said nothing at all about post-mil. I don't think I even infered it. I also am not sure that Eric knows exactly what this position is. I'm not even sure exactly what it is in its entirety...nor amil or premil for that matter.

I've always concluded publically and in my own mind that this "theonomy" thing is a Christian's responsibility to God and neighbor, regardless of anyone's eschatology. I understand that most self-proffessed theonomists are also post-mil, but I currently am not. I believe the theonomy issue to be of a much greater importance. In my mind, the eschatological positioning can wait forever. It does not bear any weight in a Christian's responsibility to God's law. I can understand the attraction post-mil has to a theonomist, but I refuse to make God's law subserviant to a never-ending eschatological debate. It just prevents Christians from taking on their own responsibility to understand God's intentions for His law.

In light of what I just said, and in light of your concerns for priorities, "There are more simple things to worry about on a day to day basis which are really important and are being neglected." I need to say that I believe God's law is what is being neglected, and it should be the very foundation of day to day simple things. And I don't mean in any legalistic sense either. I mean in a world-view sense. I mean in exactly how we establish those priorites. Do we use our culture or human philosophy as our establishing principle? Or do we use God's law? Are the things and values that are important to us the same as the world's?

I find that in my own mind, if I do not check it against principles established in the law of God, it is constantly "thinking" like the world. That is repulsive to me. I need a Christian standard to help me overcome the nonsensical thinking of this age.

Castleman said...

Well this is where I feel the understanding of Calvin is blurred in the modern reformed church.

Let me ask you this........

Would consider a guy that was a pastor, and took the liberty of the death penalty under his control a theonomist?

Calvin cut peoples hands off, heads off, and burned them at the stake. Not to mention that he made it the law of Geneva to be jailed if you are caught dancing, wearing your hair in a foolish way, or singing pointless songs. Can you still say that Calvin was not a theonomist?

Bahnsen has really blown my mind lately. After I discovered that he made Sproul look like a fraud to the faith in their debates, and was considered the most scary man by Atheists, I started to listen to his theonomic views.

What I came to find out quickly, is that I have been a theonomist this whole time.

All theonomy is, is the application of the Law of God in society, not morality, so get that right first. Then understand that if you do not agree with the old Laws of the OT, then you also must believe that having sex with animals is not sin anymore, or that the death penalty should exist at all. From what I have come to understand, the Modern Reformed explanation has never answered why we take certain laws from the OT, but not all judicial laws....DO NOT get the ceremonial laws confused with the judicial laws. The ceremonial laws have been fulfilled....but God does not change, so how can our view on homosexuality change when Christ fulfills the Law?

Castleman said...

also, why is it that you believe the only reason I am against the income tax fight is because I do not want to pay income tax? It should only prove to people more that my fight against the income tax laws are legit, when I don't even have to pay any this year.

I am also against the war in Iraq, but I am not getting shot at either. The point is this. Like Calvin says in his commentaries of the Psalms. "Christian have a duty to speak out against sin in society, it is are call to Christ" So how is it that we are to only speak of things that deal with out personal lives?

I am against the income tax because it is robbery of my neighbor, not only me.

Let me say once more that I do believe in-direct and direct taxes are very good for society, and our obligation to pay those taxes, but not an income tax, which isn't even a tax I remind you, it is slavery!

Sermonwriter said...

This is to Bryan again -

Hey there Bryan. I keep coming back here hoping you've got some responses, but in the meantime, I want to share some thoughts on your following comment:

"Don't you think that some of this is getting a little out of control. I mean Eric spends a lot of time talking about taxes but doesn't even have to pay the IRS one cent this year. In fact he can probably claim a refund.

The main reason I say that is because, this topic is really kind of a big topic.

There are more simple things to worry about on a day to day basis which are really important and are being neglected.

Let's take God's law apply it to ourselves, and then take care of our family, our church life, and then try to bring the government underneath God's law, if that is what you believe."

Well Bryan, I myself am extremely excited for Eric because of what he seems to be learning. I've been through the exact same paradigm shift that he's going through myself, and it is a very "liberating" experience, believe me. This makes me happy for him. You seem not to share this delight for your brother, and I know you know him better than I, but I think your absence of joy for what is going on with Eric is simply a misunderstanding of the "truths" he has been learning.

I believe the heart of your misunderstanding is in the significance of this "big topic" as you put it. To say it another way, this is not a game. And, if we don't know that we are in a war, then of course, it would seem like we're just playing games. We are not discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin and looking to praise anyone who can formulate the most astute and aeriodite answer. This is life and death...literally and eternally.

What "simple things" might there be, that are important enough to change the resolve and the pursuit of a soldier who is in the heat of a battle that his commanding officer, Jesus Christ, has placed him in?

If you are refering to "family and Church life", then just remember that the "soldier" I am refering to, does not consider these simple things as "separate" from the battle he is engaged in. In fact, they are the very core institutions ordained by God that this soldier is fighting for, not even second to the Kingdom of God because they are an integral part of the Kingdom of God.

I'm sure any one of us can blame ourselves for not paying enough attention to simple things with periodic and fluctuating degrees during our life times, but the very battle we are engaged in is the only way to ultimately do right by God, and thus, to our families and Church.

To put it plainly, I don't believe that Eric, (or myself for that matter); I don't believe that we are playing a game, wasting time, ignoring our responsibilites, following vain pursuits, seeking worldly pleasures, or anything of the like, ...while we navigate the battle field, and then seek to be the most effective and obedient soldiers that we can. If we were not attentive to this very real battle, we would then be of all Christian men, the most neglectful of all. There are other things that indeed distract us from our more mundane and "simple" duties. But let's not place any blame whatsoever, on the battle we've been called and ordained to fight.

Castleman said...

I have to agree with that.

My main problem that I am seeing is that allot of people believe we are worrying, or not understanding our responsibilities. But, from what I am starting to realize is that we have been avoiding our duties to God this whole time.

If you don't believe that the law of God must be the law of civil government, then you believe that a Christian can still be a Christian by submitting to mans laws. There is no way you can submit to God and man at the same time.

Like Bahnsen said "A government that does not submit to God's law is still submitting to the law of God, but when they take God out of the law, it becomes the law of men."

So how can we submit to the law of God as a Christian? And turn around and submit to the law of men?

If the state punishes a man for murder and doesn't say its a crime against God, then it is only a crime against the state. So in turn, we in America are avoiding the judgment of the state, not God, when both the church and the state are to be under God.

Bryan said...

On the internet your philosophy sees no disaster. Behind the curtain is where the truth is known.

If you are a preacher live honestly amongst your congregation of 25,000 youtubers.

You have found some Reformed support for your positions and I hope you don't embarrass yourselves too much before you may find out you are wrong.

Remember you are a member of a real church with people who may see what you write.

I have taken the topic of theon--y up with someone qualified to give me some good information on it.

I do believe I understand the errors of that belief system now.

While I see how some people may be able to hold to those positions without causing themselves too much trouble. In your case I think the outcome of your personal government philosophies and worldviews create a lot of problems at home, and are beginning to rub off on my family members.

That actually bugs me. However, this is what you are trying to accomplish for God. You are trying to convert people to your positions through the internet and by composing what are called sermons.

It bothers me more that Eric is being influenced by your thoughts more than the 25,000 other people who listen /watch your Youtube compilations/sermons.

I don't want to sit here on the internet and create more traffic by dropping names and keywords.

I am just going to drop out of this conversation and all future internet conversations on this forum.

Sermonwriter said...

"It is typical for those with no argument to dismiss themselves with a hint of sarcasim and unrelated criticism to their opponent."

Bryan, is what I am saying so 'heretical' that you don't even want to chance anybody else hearing my 'heresy' on the internet by creating more traffic with your dropping of names and keywords? C'mon!

I don't believe that for one second.

Castleman said...

But I thought you were going to prepare to take down the theonomic view by getting information from pastors.

I actually really would like to know what they think. If you can get an answer, then please send it my way. I have no interest in being wrong. I believe that we are to understand every single written word of God and submit to it. So honestly, if you can find an argument that destroys my take on Christian and government, then I would love to hear them.

Honestly, if you really think we are wrong, bring us the defense of the non-theonomic views. I do not want to be wrong. I want to honor God.

But this is why I support Bahnsen's stance on theonomy. He is probably the best theologian I have heard since Calvin.