On Ransacking the Penumbrae

When confronted with the prospect of a devolution into tyranny, most Christians are clear on the nature of such tyranny, and the fact that it is bad, but are unclear on their liberty to oppose and disregard it. No, I should say more — on their duty to oppose and disregard it.

The evangelical baker and the Roman Catholic flower arranger who are hauled off into sensitivity training for refusing to strike an insufficiently celebratory pose over same sex mirage are being abused, no question. But . . . what about Romans 13, and the lions, and the coliseum? Shouldn’t we just take it?

Well, yes and no. If we were in the position of the early Christians, building a new civilization from scratch, we should do exactly what they did. When we are not starting from scratch, we should live up to what we have attained. And one of the things we have attained — because the Spirit has been at work in the world on this particular project for two thousand years now — is the rule of law.

Our current system of administrative rules, regulations, laws, and penalty kicks, is not just a bad system of governance, although it is that. It is — all of it — profoundly unlawful. Most of it has gone well past the point of being unconstitutional, and is now overtly anti-constitutional.

The system of governance we are operating under today is the very kind of governance that our constitutional system was designed to preclude and prevent. Administrative law, hidden for a time under the executive, is the assertion of the old absolutist prerogative. What Obama has been doing is taking the dictatorial impulse that has been running riot in the agencies for some time now, and exercising it out in the broad light of day, along with an invitation to “sue me.”

Dog and Madog. Apropos of nothing. Do not try to relate this to the content of the post.

Dog and Madog. Apropos of nothing. Do not try to relate this to the content of the post.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and the outlaws are those who are violating it. The outlaws are not those who want to live by it. Should I go over this again?

But — and here is where a knowledge of the American War for Independence is necessary — what if the authorities designated by the Constitution to determine whether such things are constitutional say that everything is a-okay? What then?

Numerous Piles of Blue Ruination

Boehner has announced that he disagrees with the growing calls for the impeachment of Obama. This is tactically shrewd, but nobody should mistake what I mean by tactically shrewd. When Jesus said that a king should take care to determine whether his ten thousand could take the king with twenty thousand, He was not saying anything about the actual merits of the case (Luke 14:31).

There is no question in my mind but that Obama deserves to be impeached. But he has gotten to this particular imperial point, disregarding the law with all the disdain of a sun king, for the same reason that any attempt at an orderly process of impeachment would devolve into a Washington circus maximus ten times worse than what happened with Clinton. He has gotten away with being corrupt because all of Washington is corrupt.

On being informed that the Justice Department was going to conduct an investigation to see if there had been any malfeasance.

On being informed that the Justice Department was going to conduct an investigation to see if there had been any malfeasance.

The impeachment process forced Richard Nixon out because the media was in full-throated cry against him, and then as a result his political base of support collapsed. Everybody thought that 18 minutes of conversation that went missing on the White House tapes was beyond fishy. We are now dealing with years of missing emails from Lois Lerner, and while there is outrage on the right, the whole thing can still be called contained. Call this fishiness inflation. If there is water to be carried, the media will carry it.

But that is a read on what it is like inside the Beltway. It is a read on how the cultural centers of Manhattan and LA would process any law-abiding attempts to remove Obama by rule. When we get to this point in the game, the rules are a hindrance to those who follow them, and a help to those who are willing cheerfully to bend and break them.

Mystery and Contradiction

The other day I said this about logic: “if it is a wooly-mindedness that is embraced on purpose, it is heresy. This is because denying the law of non-contradiction is the royal gateway to every heresy imaginable.” Given the incoherent nature of the days we live in, I thought it was neccessary to unpack this a bit.

The law of non-contradiction says — and you would think says uncontroversially — that A cannot be not A in the same way, and in the same respect. It is not violated when Smith is a boy and then later is not a boy. That is not a contradiction because he is first a boy and then not a boy at different times. It is no contradiction.

The Trinity is a mystery, but not a contradictions. The doctrine of the Trinity is that God is one God and three Persons. There would be no contradiction unless someone were maintaining that there were three Gods and one God, and the word God was being used with the same definition. Trinitarian theology does not invite us to say that one and three are the same. In fact, it requires that we not say this.

The Incarnation is a mystery — Jesus is fully God and fully man, and He is one person. But this would spiral into chaos and contradiction if we were to say that He is two persons and one person at the same time and in the same way. One is not two, or at least so it seems to me. We don’t have to be able to do all the math ourselves, but we must affirm that there is math to be done, and that it stays put while God is doing it. In this huge cosmos created by an infinite God, we have plenty of head room for mysteries to overwhelm us. We have no room at all for round squares.

C.S. Lewis says it this way in The Problem of Pain — “meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words, ‘God can.’ It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.”

Love and Truth Link Arms

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #157

Charity “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6).

This verse comes right to the point. There is one verb, used twice. Charity does not rejoice in one thing, and does rejoice in another. Though it is the same root verb, there is a distinction. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness (adikia), but does rejoice in the truth (aletheia). The rejoicing in the first instance is chairo and in the second synchairo. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness or iniquity, but love rejoices together with the truth. Love and truth are partners in joy.

The common dichotomy that pits love and truth against one another as though they were adversaries is either a verbal slander or an enacted slander. In the verbal slander, someone dismisses someone who is standing for the truth as necessarily unloving, or dismisses someone who is full of love as some kind of a doctrinal compromiser.

The enacted slander happens when the dichotomy is assumed, and the person chooses which one he wants to adopt. He stands for truth, and blows all errorists away with his machine gun of thruppa thruppa theology. Or he picks love, which in his mind is an amorphous gas that fills the room with sweet and sticky acceptance. Whichever way it goes, this kind of behavior makes the task of the verbal slanderer much easier, because all he has to do is say see?

So what does love do? Love refuses to have any joy in iniquity. Love refuses to celebrate an ungodly or perverse wedding, for example. Love refuses to lift a glass of joy. Love will be accused of many things for this, and the central charge will be that this posture is unloving. This is because people are defining love out of the wrong dictionary. In the famous love chapter, love refuses to rejoice in unrighteousness. Not only so, but love links arms with the truth, and they rejoice together.

He’ll Never Think of Looking Here

“Scripture teaches us, and history shows us, that the very best hiding places [from the grace of God], at least for a brief time, are found in the things of God — the church, the Bible, the sacraments, the catechism, the ministry, the Internet theology debates, the church splits over a bunch of nothing, the mercy ministries, and of course, the venerable tradition of the fathers. Those fathers, incidentally, can be found both in the Jerusalem chamber at Westminster and in the Syrian desert. So here is the good news. So hear the good news — ugly dies, and loveliness rises” (Against the Church, p. 146).

Outside the Pearlies

Back at the second infamous Auburn Avenue conference, when representatives of “both sides” were trying to work something out, one particular clash came over the definition of heresy. The representatives of the TRs were taking any doctrine that was out of accord with the Westminster Confession as heresy. There are enormous problems with this, as I pointed out at the time.

If a minister subscribes to the Westminster Confession, but his views are better represented by Augsburg, or the London Baptist, this is not heresy. It might be dishonest, or cowardly, or subversive. It is “out of conformity” to the Confession. But it is not heresy.

Well, it is not heresy, depending on which part of the Westminster he is denying. If he is a liberal who denies the chapter on Scripture, he is a heretic. If he is a Socinian who denies the chapter on the Trinity, he is a heretic.

The early creeds of the church (I am thinking here of the Apostles, the Nicene, and the Definition of Chalcedon) sought to establish the line between Christian and non-Christian. This over here was orthodox, and that over there was not. As time went on, and Christians continued to set down their faith in statements or confessions, the time eventually arrived when these statements set the difference between this kind of Christian and that kind of Christian. The catholic era was gradually transformed into the denominational era.