The Dongola Times

(Anachronistic) Dispatches from the Kingdom of Makuria.
24th of October, 2014

Holy Scripture and The Non-Fideist Fallacy

Consider this:
Mere human writings can never be our ultimate and final standard, even those with ecclesiatical authority due to the fact that they were decided in the councils of the church:

Neither may we consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, since the truth is above all. (Belgic Confession, Art. 7)

It is an integral part of our confession to define the nature of biblical authority and distinguish scripture from confessional statements. Our creeds, confessions, and catechism are to be understood as subordinate standards. And yet they have real authority in the church because they are based upon and embody biblical truth.
Emphasis in the original.
http://www.rcus.org/subordinate-standards/

The problem there, of course, is that these people seem to think that the confessions are subordinate standards because they were edited by a council. It is a serious fallacy, not least because the same Belgic Confession actually explains why scripture is different:

We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and confirmation of our faith; believing without any doubt, all things contained in them, not so much because the Church receives and approves them as such, but more especially because the Holy Spirit witnesses in our hearts, that they are from God, whereof they carry the evidence in themselves. For the very blind are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are fulfilling.

Now, two things to note. First of all, this implies that nobody can consider the Bible as we do, unless he be led to it by God Himself. The same applies to whatever document (or thought, or mechanism, or authority, or council) that may teach or propagate this view of the Bible. The Bible is either revealed, somehow, to the individual, or he never accesses it as the Bible. Secondly, this also applies to our confessions: the orthodoxy of them is either accepted or rejected by faith. If they are accepted, then their affirmations regarding the Bible are binding.

The other thing to note about that quote is that it says the confessions are binding in the church, because they are Biblical. Now this shows that, for starters, even though the Bible is rightly considered above the confessions, if the confessions are binding, then so is the supremacy of the Bible, because the confessions teach that.

You see, therefore, that right faith is what is recognised, in both the canon and the confessions, with the Spirit, testifying to us of it. If we didn't have the Spirit (if, for instance, we were Muslims), we would neither recognise the confessions (and the Bible they teach us to recognise) nor the Bible. In both cases, none of these things is chosen because of any particular reason on our part, but is rather recognised as being of the orthodox faith, with the Spirit testifying in us of their orthodoxy. Now, in Reformed circles orthodoxy is quite simply explained as being Biblical. So the confessions are orthodox because they are Biblical. To the Reformed, orthodox means Biblical. This is good, perfect, right.

But if it is orthodox to the Reformed (that is, if it is Biblical), it is rightly considered binding to everyone, because we are not at liberty to stray from the Biblical. The creeds and confessions and catechisms have the advantage of boiling down an entire theological issue into a set of articles. These can be studied as holy scripture, because they are no less than paraphrases, translations, and explanations thereof.

For this reason, two things are absolutely necessary:
First, we have to respect a difference between the Bible (which is canonised in the confession), and the scriptures which may be a subset of the canon (say, just the Psalms, the New Testament, or the Pauline epistles, which are certainly scripture, even though they are not the Bible) or which may even be the whole Bible plus other documents (creeds, confessions, catechisms, even liturgies) which are Biblical.

In both these cases, we do not recognise the Bible because a list somewhere said we should. The confession itself is clear that this is not why it accepts the Bible. Rather, we accept the Bible because the Holy Spirit says it is orthodox. For the same reason, we accept the confession itself; because the Holy Spirit says it is orthodox. There is no error in either of these documents, because one is the Bible (which the confession rightly recognises as being beyond reproach), and the other is an orthodox confession; nobody risks heresy by applying either the Bible or the orthodox confessions as holy scripture, because they are holy scripture.
23rd of October, 2014

(Others) Recognising, Not Declaring, the Canon

But these regional councils did not just “pick” books they happened to like, but affirmed the books they believed had functioned as foundational documents for the Christian faith.  In other words, these councils were declaring the way things had been, not the way they wanted them to be.
 
Thus, these councils did not create, authorize, or determine the canon. They simply were part of the process of recognizing a canon that was already there.
Emphasis in the original.
http://michaeljkruger.com/ten-basic-facts-about-the-nt-canon-that-every-christian-should-memorize-8-the-nt-canon-was-not-decided-at-nicea-nor-any-other-church-council/
22nd of October, 2014

Summæ Contra Heresies

I may have discovered my literary genre! By tendency I am on the warpath against wrong-mindedness. As xkcd once said, “I can’t! —Someone is wrong on the Internet!” :o)

19th of October, 2014

Recognising—Not Declaring—Canon

Interesting research which touches on the reception and transmission of scripture:
http://stevewalton.info/simon-gathercole-on-the-canonical-and-non-canonical-gospels/

Gathercole identifies a group of seven extra-canonical Gospels with which he will engage: the Gospels of Peter, Truth, Thomas, Philip, Mary, the Egyptians, and Judas. This is the major group with which he compares the four canonical Gospels. His argument then proceeds in five steps.

First, he identifies the apostolic gospel message as a ‘rule of faith’ (regula fidei).

He finds these four points in ‘the gospel’ of 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, which it is widely agreed represents an early, traditional formulation of the gospel message.

In sum, it is not that the canonical Gospels are the only ones which have any of these four ‘rule of faith’ elements—but it is the case that the four canonical Gospels are the only ones which each contain all of the four ‘rule of faith’ elements typified in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.
The regula fidei that the researcher uses is essentially a much-stripped-down Apostles’ Creed, with one or two Nicene concerns thrown in. Now, you know that we also said that Apostles’ and Nicene creeds are bound together with our Bible, because they are legitimate rules of the most-holy faith.

The reason the Reformed view is able to deal with such a historical fact as the recognition of canon, by a rule of faith (I could be irritating and say fideistically), is because the Reformed view already by default defines the canon by faith, not by antiquity, multitude, or council. (The Reformation was a restoration of primitive truth, which they, in their blindness, thought was innovation.)

So, even when they appeal to antiquity, a main rule that guided Christian antiquity (“the churches of the apostles!”) was that Christ’s death fulfilled the Scriptures.
The orthodox canon—the Scriptures—had to be known to those who recorgnised and collected the orthodox canon. They referred to the scriptures, which were fulfilled by the Christ, when they were forming the basic rule of faith; they referred to them in that rule of faith.

See, the Roman Catholic apologists (for instance) have this mythical moment, during or after some council, when the canon as we have it was now recognised, and it was now legitimate to.
On the contrary, the Confession of Faith says:

We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and confirmation of our faith; believing without any doubt, all things contained in them, not so much because the Church receives and approves them as such, but more especially because the Holy Spirit witnesses in our hearts, that they are from God, whereof they carry the evidence in themselves. For the very blind are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are fulfilling.

Neither do we consider of equal value any writing of men, however holy these men may have been, with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, for the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself.
That is the attitude that receives and transmits scripture. So the Belgic Confession is an authoritative canon list, because it is written by people with an orthodox scripturology. They follow the rule of faith in the Confession, accept the two creeds, and also have this sound scripturology (and also the orthodox soteriology). They recognise by faith, as do we.

In accepting its creed, we append this Confession to our Bible, which follows its canon. Because it declares canon, it receives scripture.
Since it is an orthodox document, and it is bound together with the Bible, it contributes to scripture. They received scripture, as do we, and transmitted it—the Bible we receive, which is 66 books. We add this Confession, and transmit these Scriptures now, not as the work of mere men, but as inspired by the Holy Spirit. We recognise canon by faith—even when canon now means “the Bible, the Two Creeds, and the Confession of Faith.”

Whoever is to accept this canon is going to do so not because someone declared it so—not because I wrote this, for instance—but because they recognise the canon to follow the rule of faith. By faith, people. The just one shall live by faith, not by sight.
18th of October, 2014

BlogFight: In (Fideistic) Defence of the Self-Attesting Scripture

I think his point is that God can—and, by all accounts, did—reveal what the books of the Bible are, and he did so by faith. In other words, I would know what they are, even if no Roman Catholics had lived. After all, the first of those who knew of the canon did so without the benefit of a pre-existing canon or pre-existing councils. Aren’t you just trying to shift the question to “are Councils self-attesting?”

Why do you want to solve this question of the canon as though it is a question of Euclidean geometry? May all who teach others to do these things be accursed.

[interlocutor], you say: "You wouldn't know what the canon was [if there was no preceding canon or council]."

Do you see the slippery slope you are headed to? Do you see that, if you are correct that I would not know the canon without the benefit of the councils and what-not, then we have no canon even now? That is nonsense, of course, since I know my canon. Find another line of reasoning.

You say: "... and even if you "did", your neighbor would have a different canon than you."

Yes, but was this about my neighbour, or me? After all, even given the councils, the Protestants and Catholics disagree about the canon. Having an authority to decide the canon does not remove the possibility of divergence, since we will then just diverge on who the correct authority is. This is what happens when you try to solve matters of faith as though they are matters of Aristotelian logic; may all who teach this to others be accursed,.

You say "Or perhaps in that scenario he wouldn't have the true faith? So either we tend toward Gnosticism or relativism."

He would have true faith, if he believes that he is justified before God by putting his faith in Christ apart from works of the Law. Unlike Catholics, I do not believe that uniformity is a necessity for one to be a believer in the Gospel. Which, after all, is why the letters to the Churches were so different in Revelation. It wasn't one church. Roman Catholicism, with roots in heady European politics, is as obsessed with uniformity in thought as a European king would be. I should note that Roman Catholics recognise Muslims as people who worship the same God as them; however, they disagree on the canon in a most-fundamental way. Yet Protestants seem to be the over-riding obsession.

You say "2) The first of those who knew of the canon also disagreed on what the canon was."

Do you proof-read your comments? How can they know the canon, if they also disagree on what it is?

You say "So, we again arrive at either Gnosticism or relativism without the Church."

You failed to get my point. My point is that we disagree on what the "Church" is. How are you going to solve that? By breaking out your theorem provers once again? How will you correct the Muslims on their canon? By threatening them with Gnosticism or relativism? How will you resolve disagreement about who the authority on canon is? More Aristotelian logic? May all who teach others to treat matters of faith as though they are matters of philosophy be accursed.

Hello, [interlocutor]; You say: “It is interesting that you keep worrying about Aristoelian logic when you ignore all the other Eastern Catholics who don't rely on that like the Roman Catholics do.”

I do not ignore them any more or less than I do Roman Catholics. —Or, for that matter, non Catholics who act like reason is the language of Heaven.

You say: “It was to point out that nobody actually "knew" the canon in such a solid way as you seem to claim.”

But I know the canon in the solid way I seem to claim! Or are you disputing this? —As in, disputing that I know my canon very well?

You say: “All you seem to be advocating is the typical "me and my Bible sitting under a tree, being my own pope." It simply does not work.”

You say it as though it is a bad thing. It works, and Catholics are actually required to do it regarding the councils. No council tells Catholics which councils to adhere to. Or which encyclicals to adhere to, or how to interpret them. No encyclical is interpreted by any other encyclical—and these are all more-complex than Romans. It works, and all believers are in the state of “me and my God sitting on this Earth, being my own believer”. For all these things, it is each Catholic being an authority unto himself. Is this a bad thing? Is the Catholic Church wrong on this? You seem to fail to grasp that it is an inescapable end. Why is the Pope the only Christian allowed to formulate thoughts on canons? This is an old and relentless assault against the beauty and glory of child-like faith, where it is now dishonourable to believe for yourself. May all who teach others these things be accursed.

You say: “The reasons that Protestants disagree about the canon is that they rejected the councils. That is awfully convenient.”

“Au contraire”, the Protestants will insist, “it is the Catholics who agreed with the wrong councils and rejected sound teaching.“ How to resolve that? Another council, another promulgation? Do you see where you are headed yet?

[Interlocutor], you say: “One of the most glaring problems within Protestantism is on the authority of the Bible: how do we know which Books are sacred Scripture? How can a Christian possibly know which Books belong in the Christian Holy Book without learning this from the Christian Church?”

You are merely shifting the problem to deciding which the correct Authority is. Even if I agreed that we can only know the Bible by relying on an Authority, then I would still contend with you and insist that you are wrong (as, in fact, I do), because we do not agree on who the Authority is. Why do you want to solve questions of faith using Aristotelian logic? May all who teach others to subject God to logic be accursed.

Christopher, you say: “I understood that to reject the Church's authority was simply to accept my own authority - which made no sense.”

Did you rely on the authority of Church to point out that you should accept the authority of the Church? Why do you treat a question of God as though it is a question of geometry? All those who teach others to privilege the mind of man and the working of logics over the voice of God and the working of faith, may they be accursed.

“And where has the appeal to "the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit" produced a single, unified canon of Scripture? The Mormons claim to use this method, and their canon obviously differs from both of our own.”

Why do you even know about the Mormon canon, let alone refer to it to support your position in a Christian debate? You assume that the internal testimony of the Spirit didn’t produce a unified canon; is this because you say (perhaps as a Roman Catholic) that Mormons, like Protestants, are both equally guided by the Holy Spirit, both Prot and Mormon, and yet end up on two different canons?

You expect a “single unified canon”, while in fact scripture was a reality—as the self-attesting word of God—even in the time of only the Old Testament. People recognised that canon, of that time, such that even Jesus simply referred to the scriptures as primary sources on God and doctrine. The reason they did is the same reason the Protestants today do—and the same reason the Synod of Hippo, among others, did—which is the same way anybody can believe the self-attesting “Thus says the Lord” that is everywhere in the scriptures.

By faith, from first to last, just as it is written: the just one shall live by faith.

“When you say that Catholics and Evangelicals have no disagreement on what is in the NT canon, that's true only because Evangelicals accept the Catholic Church's determination (Luther, in contrast, did not, and rejected the canonicity of four of the New Testament Books).”

You don’t even know the history you want to teach. Luther’s Bible includes even the Deuterocanonical books. He had his opinions on them, but he is also not considered among Lutherans like you consider the popes among you.

The RCC never decided the canon. If it had concluded otherwise, it would be wrong. Since the New Testament itself already refers to the scriptures, they were already know when the RCC was not yet here. We accept the RCC because they accept the right canon (among a few other things); we do not accept the words of God because a bunch of men, however pious (or, as is the case, however perverse) have said we should. God doesn’t need your approval.

“After all, it wasn't like the Church separately defined the OT and NT canon.”

The Church never defined the canon. They didn’t have any other choice. Either they agreed with the canon we have, or they would have been heretics. We accept the canon because of the testimony of God; we accept as orthodox those who accept the orthodox canon; we do not accept the canon because of the people we accept. The canon was known before, and the Synod of Hippo was only careful not to veer from what had been known before as canon, not to set anything new. Anyway, for you Roman Catholics, every other encyclical and bull is legitimately regarded as scripture. (As a result, in fact, you follow sola scriptura without knowing it.)

“The internal appeal of the Holy Spirit is a sub-point of a sub-point for our argument about the self-attestation of Scripture. You treat it like it is the main crux of our argument. So like I said, check out the book, you'll enjoy it!”

That book cannot possibly be the final word for Reformed scripturology, since it apparently differs from (or extends) the position of the Three Forms of Unity. In Reformed scripturology, as you can see from the Belgic Confession, the sole way in which we know canon is by the testimony of the Spirit. If the testimony of the Spirit is just one of many ways to know canon, that is not quite the Reformed position in its bare expression (which, as it goes, is sufficient).

Unlike the Roman Catholics, we do not rely on men who apparently have more of the Spirit (or whose persons God respects more or whatever) to give us permission to treat the word of God as such. That position is heretical, especially since they admit that the scriptures predate them, but that the acceptance of them should not; it is heresy to teach that the Word of God requires men to line up behind it before it is legitimately treated as such. (Clearly, it is recognised as scripture from the very day it is sent forth. “Thus saith the Lord.”)

“God speaks through his word about his word. For example 2 Tim 3:16-17 What are some of these things?”

In appealing to the Scriptures to prove your point about the Scriptures, you prove that it has to be by faith—having pre-accepted the scriptures, apart from any of these proofs—that anybody will ever accept these points in the first place. Your Roman Catholic interlocutors are the kind who subject the testimony of the New Testament to whatever bull or encyclical may come out on the topic, so it is expected that they will disregard this 2 Timothy thing as “private interpretation”, and they are quite justified in it from their position.

This shows what we Reformed know, that there is no way to turn the reprobate. (And if God doesn’t set some pots up for wrongness, how shall His glory on us, who are correct, be seen? God has chosen the weak things—like simple, child-like faith—to shame the strong; that none may boast.) If you prove from the Bible, they can always prove from their non-Bible. This is not a problem; eternal life is not about logic, but about election by grace. They will remain comfortable with the mythos they’ve constructed about the scriptures (“we decided on what the word of God is! we are the greatest in the kingdom!”), proud of their confidence in flesh, and suspicious of faith, unless God gives them his quickening Spirit, and consequently the radically-new scripturology that faith by the Spirit gives.

“Plus it is no more circular than a secularist appealing to self sufficient reason using reason, or a Catholic using the Church's authority to establish God's authority.”

Now you get it. Everything about God is going to be by faith. Everybody else is lying. This is how everything—even justification—has to go.

I must say, also, that I have always found it funny that Roman Catholics use and use and use (as in the blog banner here) 1 Tim 3: “… the church is the pillar and foundation of truth …” And yet they never see that Scripture is what they base on, so they should say “Scripture is the foundation of the pillar and foundation of truth.” Or, at least, they act like it.

By faith, people. By faith.

12th of October, 2014

Liberty, Law, and the Traditions of Men

It is evident that no grounds can be found against traditions simply because they are traditions. If they occur through their normal means—arising from a community—they have to be Scriptural before they can be accepted, and they have to be counter-Scriptural before they are supposed to be discarded.

Nevertheless, the mechanism by which traditions are implemented is by law. The thing that premits Christianity to survive undue shackling to traditions is the packaging liberty from law as part of the Scriptures. By making the New Testament part of the Bible, the Pauline epistles part of the NT, and the Belgic Confession part of the creeds (together with the Apostles’ and Nicene), Christianity permits of tradition that has enough liberty to reform tradition.

12th of October, 2014

Tradition Passes, But the Scriptures are Forever

I like to think of myself as an orthodox Reformed (“Protestant”) having moved past the Reformation. Some few years ago, we noted 500 years since Luther ostensibly nailed the 95 Theses to the church door. We cannot still be debating the matters of the Reformation today. We already know what is true; we already know whath the truth is. We now identify those who are orthodox with regard to it, the set of traditions that we call “Protestants”, and we also recognise those who are much-mistaken (such as the Roman Catholics).

Prior to the Reformation, many Christian communions placed their traditions above Scripture. Whatever merit traditions may have, however, they are not forever. The Nicene Creed, for instance, appeals to the Scriptures in the articles about the Son, while it says nothing about the traditions. When Jesus rose from the dead, He instructed His disciples about Himself. “Starting with Moses and all the Prophets …” and the Psalms.

Since the resurrected Christ leans on the Scriptures from the very first teaching, it is evident that the Scriptures—and the recognition of them—is fundamental and axiomatic. Those who will believe in Christ also believe in the Scriptures, because it is they that bear witness of Him, even by His own teaching from the very beginning of the Church. If He reposes His teaching on their witness, it is because they are entirely true. If the creeds refer us to them, it is because the Scriptures are both pre-creedal and entirely orthodox; the creeds expect faith in them to imply (or be preceded by) faith in the Scriptures.

For this reason, you can expect that one who doesn’t recognise the Scriptures doesn’t have a hope of recognising Jesus as the Christ, because the testimony of God regarding His Christ is in the Scriptures. Yet the position we take regarding the Scriptures can only be taken by faith, since we cannot judge the Scriptures by any other standard, and indeed we are to judge and prove all things by them—even the claims of the Risen Christ Himself. The same Spirit who witnesses to us regarding the Scriptures is the same one who witnesses to us regarding the Christ. For this reason the validity of the Scriptures is never going pass away.

But traditions are not like that. Traditions are local implementations of the broad requirements of the faith. Traditions are good—even inevitable—such that even the anti-tradition strain/stance associated with the Protestants is itself a (useful) tradition. However, traditions are the result of men implementing the faith in their local situation (language, taboos, strengths, weaknesses, history, et cetera), and as such they are passing—even if simply due to the passing of time, or of the heavens and the earth.

For this reason Jesus distinguishes between the Scriptures whose precepts may not ever be set aside, versus teachings which He says are to be regarded with contempt if they don’t uphold what is written. Jesus teaches careful checking of what is taught, but absolute respect for, deferrence to, reliance on, the integrity of, and trust in the Scriptures (as He was aware of them).

Now our confessions teach that we recognise the Scriptures not because of the witness of men, but because of the witness of God the Holy Spirit. Even if some were to maintain that this council or that council (say “the Synod of Hippo”) is the one that defined the canon, by what token would anybody accept that council itself, and its results? If we accept the results of any council, we do so by faith—by the testimony of the Spirit, Who says that the council is orthodox. Either way, we cannot get rid of the personal responsibility to believe; yet if we say that we accept the canon because of the council, now we are putting our faith in men. If we say that we accept the council because of our like faith, then why is the council privileged in the identification of orthodoxy, when ultimately we ourselves subject the councils to tests whereby we may identify their orthodoxy? Are we now putting our faith in man, rather than in the Holy Spirit?

The tradition that has the wrong scriptures is wrong, while a tradition cannot be scriptural and also be wrong. Scripture is recognised as a rule for orthodoxy, both by orthodox individuals and orthodox traditions.
For this reason it is impossible that Scripture be the result of human traditions; the Scriptures provide testimony that the traditions are built on top of. Even the Nicene Creed—even the Risen Christ!—defers to the Scriptures. It is a righteous and sacred tradition that upholds and defers to the Scriptures.

The Scriptures show themselves to be of very axiomatic nature here. We can prove things by them—as the Risen Christ does—but only after we presume correctly that those who are destined for life can recognise Scripture as Scripture. Those who are meant to be rejected, of course, cannot believe in the Scriptures, lest they believe the threats and promises of God, and be saved from the coming wrath by this faith, and God have no vessels by which to prove His justice as He proves His over-supplied grace by us who believe in the Scriptures that bear witness to this good news we believe. The Scriptures are the words of God, which man in his fallen nature despises and considers stupid. Faith in the Scriptures never happens by fleshly effort—neither by reason, nor by effort, nor by desire—but by the working of the Holy Spirit.

More-importantly, the same way that Scripture is recognised is the same way that sacred tradition is recognised: by the witness of the Spirit, that it upholds and defers to the Scriptures. This sacred tradition may be as simple as one setting out a récipe for the altar bread and wine (prehaps to accentuate parts of doctrine[1]), or as fundamental as one declaring the canon—essentially giving a list of what we have always recognised when we said “Scripture”—which are things we accept not because the council or tradition said, but because we accept the council on the testimony of the Spirit and the Scriptures.

Therefore if the results of a council are to be deemed orthodox, they are included together with the rest of the Scriptures, because they would not be orthodox if they were in opposition to the Scriptures or not subject to them. Nevertheless, we do not confound the Bible—which is the 66 books of the New and Old Testaments—with the Scriptures in general, which in the times before Christ were only the Old Testament, and which are now issued here as the Bible together with the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Three Forms of Unity. In this way, tradition does contribute to Scripture, but we do not accept these traditions on Scripture simply because they exist, but because they are orthodox—as is witnessed by the Spirit.

Further elements of sacred tradition—and included with the Scriptures we publish—are canonical hours and lectionaries; and these we publish together with the Bible because its study is their subject. When some important attributes of the daily routine change, then the lectionary would have to change, too. In no wise does anything in the Bible ever change. But the tempo and order of the reading—even the liturgy, and all that—can change from place to place, and from time to time. The traditions will all have the Scripture as their common denominator, and the testimony of the Spirit as the witness in favour of them.

[1] Unleavened bread could be used to emphasise the fulfilment of the Law of Moses1 in Christ’s body; or leavened bread to emphasise the liberty we have from the Mosaic yoke under the fulfilled covenant of the New Testament. What is being emphasised (and therefore the acceptable recipe) may vary by communion, or even by season within the same communion, or based on the prevailing topic of the canonical lectionary, or whatever other reason, as long as the reason is deferrent to Scripture.
04th of October, 2014

The Great Disconnect

I have unsubscribed from many e-mail services I had, and after testing it for about a week, I think I am satisfied with the nearly-zero traffic now.

I am also changing where, when, and how I consume news. —Again. I am going back closer to the Rolf Dobelli thing of concentrating only on the headlines, and only rarely.

I am about to launch into some work which will require that I be good at working without expecting lots of such stimulation as comes from the news and the Internet in general. John M Greer calls it “LESS: Less Energy, Suff, and Stimulation.”

Now I open my mail client, and about nothing happens. Good! I am finding it harder to go back to surfing without images and JavaScript, because these days websites almost require these things. Or I am just growing older.

23rd of September, 2014

Re: Emma Watson's UN Speech

“The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities” is all very nice, but unrealistic. It would happen as soon as the poor have equal rights and opportunities with the rich, which is also unrealistic. You can prove this for yourself by asking “and who will enforce it; simple benevolence? If so, benevolence on whose part? —And isn’t the benevolent necessarily superior even by [your/their] admission?” If, however, they say that nature enforces it, they are evidently wrong. If they say that God enforces it, they are evidently not Muslims … Haha.

People have to face this uncomfortable fact: women have less rights and opportunities that men under normal circumstances. The thing that got the World used to women having such expectations is emphatically *not* normal. Do you think we are the first generations to be able to clamour for “the political, economic and social equality of the sexes” or the races or the whatever? No; however, nearly all the others never realised it, and we only do because of what is abnormal about us.

That equality is not normal. It is a Christian artifact in the present World. Feminism is unrealistic. It is only legitimised by Christianity. —And, of course, Christianity is itself very abnormal, and even irrational, which is why the modern World is fidgeting to maintain its precepts without maintaining it.

Le 23/09/2014 09:13 AM, [interlocutor] a écrit :

18th of September, 2014

Syncretism, Within Reformed Christianity

The reason I use the Septuagint, even though I am Reformed, is because I am doctrinally (and traditionally, and by baptism) Reformed, but spiritually Eastern Orthodox. I use Koine Greek as my primary “liturgical” language. It is a very hard thing to live with, and even harder to explain. I actually incorporate as much of non-Latin Christianity as I can, as God enables me.

I do not agree with the spartan liturgy of the Protestants. I also believe in the validity of sacred tradition. I don’t believe that the Reformation was a stopping point—leave alone a starting point—but rather, a turning point. Hey, I even believe in icons! (No jokes. And any Prots who want a fight, come!)

I respect the Protestant approach as part of the journey on which Christ has taken Latin-descended communions, for His own purposes, and I will not anathematise them over it, but I have serious problems with the ridiculousness of what has unjustifiably calcified among the Protestants. The main benefit, I think, is the distinction of the confessional Christianity (which I call “Pauline”) from the traditional (“Petrine”). However, the distinction made, maintained, and respected, I see no reason to spurn a Spirit-led syncretism. There is much scriptural justification for it!

… There are problems with Eastern Orthodoxy—we are on Earth, after all—but any Prots who still think in Prot-only terms are deserving of a weighty slap. I am certainly a syncretistic Christian Prot, and I am not apologetic about it.

-- From a blog comment

18th of September, 2014

The Septuagintal Protestant: A BlogFight

I just had this compilation of posts at a blog, where the issue was scripture. Nothing to work up a Reformed Christian like the standard Roman Catholic ridiculousness regarding scripture. They don’t even try to make sense, because they think the pope already made sense for them. —Except he didn’t, and doesn’t. These are the fruits of off-loading faith onto a(nother) man.

So here goes. I will just dump what happened from my side, expecting that the quotes of my interlocutors will provide enough context. The first of them is actually a repeat of what I sent in here earlier, because now I am putting everything, both that and all the other substantial ones that came after. I have collated several responses to several sub-threads, into what should be roughly-chronological. If something I raise doesn’t show up again later, it is because it was not responded to, which often happens to hard questions in such fora.
——————

I am Reformed, and I use the Septuagint. (In particular, I use Brenton for English.)

I only count 66 canonical books in the Bible, because that is what our creeds count. Scripture is not all the books that could be included. There is a criterion, and it is not simply “valid prophecy” or the like.

Just because prophecy can be established in a book doesn’t imply that it is canon; after all, prophecy is the word of God, and not necessarily the stuff found in the canon. Paul, for instance, refers to the prophecies spoken over Timothy. They are not in the canon. There is no co-relation between valid prophecy and what is canon.

Furthermore, I see that this whole blog post is entirely confused about “scripture” on the one hand and “the Bible.” Clear up the misunderstanding, and you can have a discussion that approaches usefulness. Otherwise this is just an attempt at scandalising and provoking undue debate and argument. This is one of the things undoing the body of Christ since 1 Timothy was written.
… here we have a single verse in which it clearly states that it was “the Son of God” who will be tortured and killed.
You clearly haven’t had to countenance with what calls itself “higher criticism.” Some scoffers will say it is a later inclusion, in light of Christianity; and what will you say then? (Have you checked the original-language artifacts in Wisdom?)

You should understand that Wisdom quote correctly, and see that it is not about Christ, since those who killed Christ never called Him “the just one.” The words in that reference could never have occurred from the mouths of those who thought Jesus was transgressing Deuteronomy 13.

You will reap many bitter fruits if you so lightly treat these matters.
What I first found was that Protestants call the “extra” 7 books “apocryphal” meaning “doubtful”, “not genuine”, or even “not inspired”.
No; we call them that because in the Greek it means “hidden”. And they are.
Calvinist theologian R.C. Sproul summarizes the issue in the following manner
Sproul is not the Protestant pope. That is his opinion, not the opinion of Protestants. We don’t have an authoritative figure.

But have you, at the very least, checked to see what the *canonical* confessions say about this? I mean the Three Forms of Unity? Did you honestly, or even fairly, take Sproul’s to be *the* Protestant position?

Did I mention that I use the Septuagint for my Old Testament? LXX for life.
—————

Its not the Prophecy only that I made my points regarding criterion, but Church Authority on the canonization. It doesn't matter what you count or what your creed is.
The Church doesn’t decide on what Scripture is; Scripture decides on what the Church is.
(Cue … Haha.)
These things are of faith, not pronouncements. Read our Belgic Confession; it will do your soul much good.

The creeds are codifications of what is true to believe, and they say 66 books. They are right, because it is right. The creeds don’t “canonise” it; they merely recognise it. Do you have a good reason to disagree, especially since your Wisdom quote is clearly not a reference to Christ?
… St. Athanasius came up with a list of 73 books for the Bible that he believed to be divinely inspired.
And was St. Athanasius being arbitrary? Stop digging!

It is even funny how you have this one-eyed view, entirely ignorant of, say, the process by which the Ethiopian Tewahedo arrived at their canon.

And, again, stop confusing “scripture” and “Bible”, because until you distinguish these two, you are not making much sense. Do you think Prots like me would say that Jesus’ references to “scripture” were wrong because, necessarily, they didn’t include the New Testament?

Most people stop digging when they get to this point.
The Council of Trent, in 1546, in response to the Reformation removing 7 books from the canon (canon is a Greek word meaning “standard”), reaffirmed the original St. Athanasius list of 73 books.

You don’t even know the history! The RCC was the first to have a canon that distinguished the Apocrypha from the 39, because Jerome’s preference was for the Masoretic. Jerome was not a Protestant. (As I said, I am a Septuagintal Reformed Christian myself.)
If you had something to help us clear up, explain it, but to sit here and just give an opinion is meaningless.
The Bible is a specific subset of scripture. It is fixed in time—66 books—but scripture has had to evolve through time. There is even an instance of Jesus debating with the Sadducees out of the scriptures (“… even Moses says it …”), and then He upbraids them for their not knowing the scriptures (because they didn’t have the other parts of the scriptures—the Prophets—which most-clearly taught the doctrine of resurrection). Comment boxes, alas, are not the place for this kind of thing.
I look at things very very simply, the book says and I obey.
Yes, but your book is wrong, and you still obey. You would know it is wrong if you bothered with higher criticism.

Anyway, what book are you talking about; the Bible? Roman Catholics—I take it that you are one—are forbidden from doing that, except for magisterial documents (like bulls and the like).
————

NT writers follow the LXX versions rather than the Hebrew versions.
They use both the Vorlage/Masoretic and the LXX. Neither is lesser.
… here we see deuterocanonicals referenced in the NT.

Except they aren’t.

Edit:
(References are not established merely by similarity of theme. Otherwise, even Greek myths can honestly claim representation. I am putting this here because [interlocutor] has said I didn’t explain enough, and I agree. I hope this small clarification suffices.)

—————
The Catholic Church compiled the Canon and declared it inspired.

Except it didn’t.

Is this the level of debate in these comments?
You even say that the RCC *compiled the canon*?

—————
Comrade, one of your comments said "I beg to differ" and the rest of your comments historically have this "begging to differ" theme.
I can’t be blamed for disagreeing with wrong, can I?
(I have just added a little bit more information for disagreeing, on the other comment to which your refer.)
While no book of the Bible claims itself to be divinely inspired.
Are you serious, [interlocutor]? Even after we recently discussed Psalm 45 (for a single instance)? Do you remember when Jesus told the Pharisees “… and scripture cannot be broken …”; was He speaking of the opinions of men, or the testimony of God Almighty?
… and no book states anything like, "The words of this book were chosen by God" or "This book is divinely inspired." …
So, for instance, you see no such claim in all of Moses, because he doesn’t have that particular sentence?

See, reflexive Papism has this danger, in that it commits one to faith in mere men, even to the point of requiring learnt blindness (which is indispensable if you will have to put your faith in man). No wonder you never saw any other OT quote calling Jesus Christ the Son of God. Hah. Job has whole chapters as direct quotes of God, you know.
Out of the many forgeries – the current 27 book New Testament appeared.
[Interlocutor], my NT never rose out of forgeries. The pure oracles of God were not merely selected out of competing forgeries! Are you serious? The very existence of forgeries implies the *prior* existence of genuines. I detect that you are way out of your depth on this topic.
… and YES the list was compiled by the bishops of the Catholic Church.
By “Catholic” do you mean “Roman Catholic”? I know that the reflexively-Papist learn to confound those two, but they are not the same.

And, no, the Church cannot possibly compile the Scriptures which not only *predict* it, but also on the foundation of which it stands.

If by “Catholic” you mean “Roman Catholic”, and, for instance, you go on to claim “the keys of heaven” as the basis of the RCC, would you say base that on the scriptures, or would the scriptures be valid because you already have the RCC selecting the scriptures in which the keys reference is found?
They checked to see how much the book was being used by other bishops and priests in their Masses
And why would they have been using books in their masses which were not canon? Could they have run gnostic masses, before the tally and score was done? Do you even realise how confused and upside-down this is?

By the way, the Roman Catholic mass actually does not use the Bible; I am sure you know that.
They looked to see if the books were written by an apostle or someone who was reporting the words of an apostle.
Hah; and how would they even know that these apostles wrote scripture, leave alone what it is that the apostles wrote?

(And the outright confusion in this false approach is shown by the multiplicity of pseudepigrapha, both old and new, in certain communions.)
Only those books which “scored” favorably on all three of these criteria made it into their canons.
So could the list being rated have been arbitrary; and if not, why not?

Canon is not about scores and the opinions of men, no matter how pious. We don’t accept the Bible because others do; the word of God doesn’t need anybody’s approval.

You people go astray because you have more faith in man than in God, and you reap very bitter fruits from this.

Canon is not about scores. You are gravely—and dangerously—mistaken.
——————
Luther removed the 7 books he declared uninspired.

At the very least, respect Jerome’s decision, even if you get the history wrong. It was not a mistake on Jerome’s part, and Luther merely followed Jerome.

——————
We Orthodox say that if any writing that contradicts the Liturgy it is to be discarded.

We, Reformed, say otherwise. And how do you choose? Simple tribalism or preference? —So why not do this with your canon?

Besides, now we are supposed to fight over liturgy, as, for instance, the liturgy you base on can be corrupt.

All this is because faith is repulsive?
———————
and say WOW [interlocutor] doesn't believe that the Bible was inspired?
I am saying “Wow, [interlocutor] doesn’t even see the claim, in the Bible, that it contains the very literal words of God!” And you said you don’t, which is embarrassing.
and no book states anything like, "The words of this book were chosen by God" or "This book is divinely inspired."
But that occurs several times!
In other words, we do not have a verse that says "The Bible is divinely inspired: man's word God breathed. Period. End of story. Stop your spinning.
Hey, even “the Bible” is not in the Bible. —Well? And would the absence Peter’s letter—from when we get “God-breathed”—have rendered the Bible prior to that point *not* God-breathed, since, until Peter, that sentence was not there?
And it is me you pile with words like “sophist”, “first-class spin artist”, and the like? Let me tell you that the reason I don’t call everybody here that is because it would be wrong. However, I call some—like you—reflexively-Papist, because they are; they are reflexively taking a position without realising that it can’t compute on their part. (Don’t worry; you could always call me reflexively-Prot, since I actually am.)
1-Which church was it? 2-Where is this Church today?
No church chose the canon. There was one church then, and there is one church now. Tribalism is for desert wanderers.
This assumes that the Bible is self-authenticating.
It is. Any proof contrary? Do you not have the Holy Spirit, or do you merely think that the claims in our Confession of Faith are wrong? (If so, why not say that, so we can have a useful, grown-up discussion—even in a comment box)? I did refer you to it earlier.
By the way, I ask questions expecting answers in responses. I respond to yours, you may have noticed.
how come then Protestant reformers could not authenticate these books w hile Catholics did?
Nobody ever needed to authenticate the books. I don’t know what Romanists say they did, when they don’t even know what the Bible is. They officially don’t establish a number; did you even know that?
The usage “self-authenticating” could be deceptive; anyone can have a different view and claim a book to be self-authenticated.
And why would that have any bearing on the faith that we have in our scriptures? Do you think the existence of the Qur’anic claims, or the Mormon canon, impinges on anybody’s faith in the scriptures?
This instruction is clear by Paul who warns to “Test all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21), and in 1 John 4:1 says, “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”
So you tested the scriptural injunction to test all things (scripture itself presumably included). Hmm … So you say that you accepted that scripture, accepted its directions, and then put it on the pile together with the gnostic gospels from which your canon was chosen.

Heh.
Only four out of scores of gospels were chosen while all the others were rejected.
This is exactly your problem. You assume that there were more than four. Are you a gnostic?
You even have, I believe it is Justin Martyr (or a near-contemporary) relying on 1 Enoch to insist that there could not have been more than 4 gospels (because 1 Enoch uses 4 as a crucial foundational number in some places).
Even respected Protestant scripture scholar F. F Bruce in fact admits …
I have long been aware of such wrong-headed positions. Bruce never chose our canon for us (much less your anonymous “Fathers”—and do not call anyone on Earth “Church Father”, you near-heretics, when we have only one Father!; but that is in scripture, which may not have survived your Fathers).
Also, I must warn you that my position is not too simplistic. It is far harder—impossible, I say—to assault than these things you have encountered.
I notice the resort to canned responses from the fact that nobody has dealt with the weirdness of a Septuagintal Protestant. Do you even assume that I agree with this man, after I made clear that I am Septuagintal? Man … I know it is a comment box, but still.
[The early Fathers] had recourse to the criterion of orthodoxy...
You stop at the Church Fathers, but they are where I start. Do you see the problem now? Do they have recourse to … yet more Church Fathers? Do you see the problem?
"By the way, the Roman Catholic mass actually does not use the Bible; I am sure you know that."

Changing subjects will not help you.
You made a ghastly mistake in your claim about how the scripture came about, and hence that correction from me.
You know that is just a pious trick trying to show that you are a man of God and I am a follower of men. If you purely trust God Alone, than stop reading some of these crappy books you trust that is written by men.
But my books were not written by men; that is why men cannot decide on whether or not they are canon. Canon is recognised, not chosen. For you, however, absent a declaration from men, you really don’t know what the Bible is.

But now I will help you: why don’t you take me to task for having 66 books, since I have told you that the reason I use the LXX, but without the Apocrypha, is because of Jerome’s decision? Right there, a lot of rope for you to get lots of pro-Romanist apology out of me, a fierce Prot. You could get me to defend why I use the LXX, not the Masoretic, yet, as a Prot, I am from a Masoretic background. Then you could get a much more refined view of what—as I would insist—a sound Christian scripturology looks like. The reason you have stopped just short of wanting to prove your axioms (such as saying you test scripture because that same scripture says “test all things”) is because you treat scripture the same way many have been wrongly taught to. You have to understand that, because this is really far out of your league, you may have to stop the reflexive positions and perhaps listen to a more-nuanced position. Clearly a Prot of this type would have more to say than the canned responses.
——————

By the way, [interlocutor], I refrain from calling anyone names, even when I disagree. You are not a “spin artist” or “sophist”; just wrong.

Find a justification for those labels you gave me, and I will wear them before you with pride (for they will be my position).
You say that I am, because I don’t expect to prove my axioms. Is that the reason?
17th of September, 2014

BlogFight: Reformed and Septuagintal

I am Reformed, and I use the Septuagint. (In particular, I use Brenton for English.) I only count 66 canonical books in the Bible, because that is what our creeds count. Scripture is not all the books that could be included. There is a criterion, and it is not simply “valid prophecy” or the like.

Just because prophecy can be established in a book doesn’t imply that it is canon; after all, prophecy is the word of God, and not necessarily the stuff found in the canon. Paul, for instance, refers to the prophecies spoken over Timothy. They are not in the canon. There is no co-relation between valid prophecy and what is canon.

Furthermore, I see that this whole blog post is entirely confused about “scripture” on the one hand and “the Bible.” Clear up the misunderstanding, and you can have a discussion that approaches usefulness. Otherwise this is just an attempt at scandalising and provoking undue debate and argument. This is one of the things undoing the body of Christ since 1 Timothy was written.

“… here we have a single verse in which it clearly states that it was “the Son of God” who will be tortured and killed.”

You clearly haven’t had to countenance with what calls itself “higher criticism.” Some scoffers will say it is a later inclusion, in light of Christianity; and what will you say then? (Have you checked the original-language artifacts in Wisdom?) You should understand that Wisdow quote correctly, and see that it is not about Christ, since those who killed Christ never called Him “the just one.” The words in that reference could never have occurred from the mouths of those who thought Jesus was transgressing Deuteronomy 13.

You will reap many bitter fruits if you so lightly treat these matters.

“What I first found was that Protestants call the “extra” 7 books “apocryphal” meaning “doubtful”, “not genuine”, or even “not inspired”.”

No; we call them that because in the Greek it means “hidden”. And they are.

“Calvinist theologian R.C. Sproul summarizes the issue in the following manner”

Sproul is not the Protestant pope. That is his opinion, not the opinion of Protestants. We don’t have an authoritative figure. But have you, at the very least, checked to see what the canonical confessions say about this? I mean the Three Forms of Unity? Did you honestly, or even fairly, take Sproul’s to be the Protestant position?

Did I mention that I use the Septuagint for my Old Testament? LXX for life.

16th of September, 2014

The Problem is not Fanaticism

(From an online debate of mine …)

But even Muslim Brotherhood is not the problem, because what is wrong with wanting to implement the precepts of your religion? For this reason, even the Egyptian FM is being stupid, because, had he been a good man (that is, a good follower of his religion), he would support the MB and all its equivalents.

The problem is Islam—and the Egpytian FM will, of course, fail to see this, since he is a Muslim. There is nothing wrong with the piousness that is expressed as Islamic fanaticism. The problem is not the fanaticism; the problem is that the fanaticism is for Islam.

16th of September, 2014

Summa Contra Judaism

I just wrote this in response to a ridiculous thing written by some guy online, attacking Christian missionary activity, as directed towards Jews.
Do you agree that when your people were sent into exile, they were practicing Judaism? They were punished for their rebellion, in spite of having the Judaism, because even Judaism is still rebellion.

The Law—this thing that is central to Judaism—was never the point, because Abraham never had it (and, indeed, was not even circumcised) when he had this righteousness which the Jews never had (and, indeed, were exiled for not having). Faith in the self-revealing God was the point. Abraham had it, and it was credited to him as righteousness. The Christians have it, and it is credited to them as righteousness. The Jews (in general) don’t have it, and their exile is one of the proofs thereof.

Judaism is also bad for Jews, as it is not the religion of Christ. I get that Jews in general are blinded about Christianity, but that just means that they are generally lost. Judaism isn’t an alternative-correct. Jews are not less-deserving of Christianity, just because they have Judaism. They, just like Muslims, are without truth, because they are without Christ.

Christ is the point of the Law, that there may be righteousness for all who believe.

“Again, after three thousand years of skin-of-our-teeth survival, to lose more Jews who are now leaving by choice is a shame, whether it be to Christianity or secular assimilation.”

“Again, after three thousand years of skin-of-our-teeth survival, to lose more Jews who are now leaving by choice is a shame, whether it be to Christianity or secular assimilation.”

Lose more Jews? Are you saying Christianity is not Jewish?
Does it occur to you, at all, that your ancient forefathers could have been wrong, not just when they killed the prophets (and then decorated their tombs), but also to have rebelled against Christianity? Do you really say that what your fathers did is necessarily right, because they did it way back then, and for so long?

—And I can’t believe you are comparing Christianity to secularism!
May you be anathema.
14th of September, 2014

On Christians Fighting (for) the State

This is a comment I just threw on a blog somewhere.
I hate to be the bearer of this news, but it has been given to me to say it.

These Syriac brothers are still making the same old mistake which even their Assyrian cousins are making all over the place.
They organise on the basis of nation (“Syriac”, “Assyrian”, “Chaldean”, “Arab”, “Kurd”, it makes no difference), and that is a mistake.
Or they organise for the sake of other principles (“peace”, “love”, “democracy”, “coexistence”, “liberty”, “socialism”, “freedom”, or whatever, it makes no difference), and that is also a mistake.

The age of the blood-nation has come and gone. The age of the wishy-washy ideal has come and gone; faith starts and ends everything.
We are all going to fight and die under the banners of religion, whether we realise it or not. For as long as they continue organising on the basis of ethny, or some principle other than their faith, God will not fight for them. God doesn’t favour any nation over another; but He certainly favours our Christian faith over every other ideology, and over everything else.

And so, with great sadness, I tell you now that these people are certainly going to be defeated and humiliated. Their young men will be killed and their women taken. In all honesty, I don’t even support them, because I am not interested in any of their organising principles. Freedom is worth nothing, unless it is subjected to Christianity. Do you think atheists can’t fight even better and harder for freedom? If they are fighting for a secular state, may they lose. I don’t support the triumph of secularism. Doesn’t that young man complain about how the secular Ba’ath treated him?

There is only one organising principle I will support, because it is the only principle that is perfectly right. Freedom is a lie. Democracy is a lie. Socialism, liberty, whatever it may be, it is a lie. If they are not fighting for a Christian state—whatever other principles may come after that—I not only don’t support them, I actually hope for their speedy and humiliating defeat.
This is how more Assyrians died in blood-feuds between Muslims (Sunni Iraq versus Shia Persia) than had died under the flag of Agha Petros. Why did Christians ever give such an ultimate allegiance to heretical systems? May they be carrion!

I see them now fighting alongside Hezbollah (and justifying it, especially after the recent Ted Cruz incident that exposed the deep stupidity of Middle Eastern Christians), as though only Muslims can organise an army under the name of their faith. And, for that matter, even the Falangist Kataeb is in a state of secularist compromise, so it is no more worthy than Hezbollah. Repent!

To hell with Christians who are too shy to fight for a Christian state, but brave enough to fight for a quasi-hedonist state, and think there is much merit in making incessant noise about “brotherhood between Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs …” which is clearly a fiction. Do you not know what the Yezidis, the Kurds, and the Arabs—in league with the Turks—did to the Assyrians because of the faith distinction? There is no brotherhood outside of Christ. There is no liberty outside of Christ. There is no peace outside of Christ. How can I support that a Christian man bear arms to set up a system which accords Christ no higher a place than it gives the that accursed heretic Muhammad, or, for that matter, the opinions of voters? How can I not wish for the defeat of those who pretend that it is good to kill and die for a state that permits—even protects—anti-Christian activity? What do you think got us to where we are?

“For in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Gentile.” And only by this token can genuine and peaceful pluralism be built. We have to agree on Christ, or we should fight until one of us dies. Until I see them raising the cross—as Agha Petros of venerable memory did—I will pray that they die quickly before they soil the name of our Lord.

And of a surety they will die, all of them, since they have no hope for as long as they are not explicitly fighting for a Christian state. I am only transmitting a reliable message; do with it what you like.
14th of September, 2014

Towards an Orthodox Nudism

The only thing that is assured of being constant about a human is his weakness in regard to the righteous law. They continually fail to live up to it, and this is why the way to maintain Adam in good conscience before God (“they were both naked, and were not ashamed”) was to keep the knowledge of good and evil from him.

For as long as man knows good and evil, he also knows that he himself is not good as he is. Humans show their acceptance of this standard by dressing up; because God created us with nakedness which, if you know good and evil, is clearly something to be ashamed of. And yet that is how God made us. The nakedness was there, and its badness was also there, but it should not be a problem if we had obeyed and abstained from knowledge of good and evil. If you say that God did wrong by creating nakedness (or evil, or whatever), you are standing on your rebellion—the knowledge of good and evil—and presuming to judge His Perfect Wisdom.

The rebellion even started when, in our limited animal wisdom, we thought we had the capacity to evaluate the pros and cons of eating of the tree. “She saw that it looked good, and was good to make one wise.” Yeah, but that is based on human evaluation which is less-perfect than that of God, who said not to eat of it. The problem is that increased wisdom on Man’s part—acquiring knowledge of good and evil—gives him a standard which he has not been created for; it includes forbidding nakedness to Man, the image of God, and yet he, as an animal on the Earth, is fittingly created naked.
Even when human wisdom is convinced of the rightness of something, the thing is still wrong if the perfect wisdom of God says it is wrong.

So, God did no wrong to create us naked—animals are supposed to be naked—but we did wrong to find out that nakedness was not good for us. The relationship between Perfect God and us, His creation, who are necessarily less-than-God, would never have suffered, had we abstained from acquiring knowledge of good and evil, as we had been commanded.

Nevertheless, here we stand: created naked, and aware that it is not good. What then?
For everybody, in every religion, this is a problem to overcome. They set up laws to war against their evident imperfection. The first rule is that they enjoin clothes and forbid nakedness; this is true of every human and every society. The one thing that is constant from human to sane human is this: cover up your gonads! As a result, we are the only animal that is never as it was created, but always covering up its natural state.

The continuing dependence on clothing bears witness to the continuing imperfection of man. —For if they were in the state of innocence, they would not be ashamed of their nakedness. Babies, who are innocent, don’t care. But humans continue in the rebellion that they fell into by knowing good and evil, and they cover their gonads as acknowledgement of it.
And for as long as they continue to cover up, they continue to need a cure for the state in which they find themselves.

Enter Jesus.
At Calvary, Jesus was not dressed. Even though the gospels point out very clearly that Jesus was stripped naked—as was normal for convicts—all the artists are too ashamed to put Him up there with His circumcised dick visible, limp with pain, flaccid with shame, and shrunken from hæmorrhage. I understand that; I understand that fallen man even has trouble speaking of Jesus and penises in the same sentence (as though we confess in vain or pretence that He was truly and fully man). In spite of all that, it is simply a fact that Jesus was fully God and fully Man; that He had a dick like all of us; that He was stripped naked on the cross. So while the first Adam shed the innocence of nakedness and covered himself up in vain, the second Adam shed the honour of the seamless robe and hang up there doubly-undressed: circumcised and naked. (Haha!)

But this nakedness of Jesus on the cross bought for us an exit from the original nakedness. Faith in Christ is the solution to not just the shame of nakedness—which is merely a symptom—but rather the solution for knowledge of good and evil itself.
This continuing need for covering our nakedness bears witness to our continuing knowledge of good and evil; and this continuing knowledge of good and evil bears witness to our continuing need for the salvation that comes by Jesus Christ; such that if we ever have no shame before God—if we stand before God as though we are perfect, aware of good and evil, but unaware of our imperfection, even in spite of the continuing witness of our need to cover up our nakedness, this testimony to our rebellion—it is because we are aware of the complete perfection of our restoration, by faith, in Christ Jesus.

And so our weakness, our imperfection, our nakedness, which is the witness to our rebellion—for we would not even be able to discuss it, if we were not rebels in the first place—makes the salvation relevant.
You can always be sure that, if a man is sane, then he is aware of his need to cover up, his need for salvation. You can always be sure that a man will need Jesus Christ if he understands that his need for underwear, at the very least, is witness to his need for Christ. Men will always need clothing, therefore they will always need the grace of God in Christ; because the problem is not even nakedness itself—the cats and dogs, for instance, don’t mind it—but rather the rebellion that makes nakedness a problem to us in the first place.

Christ doesn’t just give us a pair of jeans; He puts us under grace.
We can’t deny our rebellion, because we cannot deny our need to dress up. We therefore can’t deny our need for Christ. This continuing awareness of nakedness is not a problem, because we have clothes; and also the continuing awareness of our rebellion is not a problem because we are in Christ.
Christianity—the true, Reformed Christian faith—does not pretend that the Christian is perfect and lacking in weaknesses. It doesn’t deny the awareness of nakedness. It merely affirms that there is no shame, since we are dressed; it affirms that there is no condemnation, since we are in Christ Jesus.

It is very central to our faith that we confess the reality of our nakedness, and our continuing awareness of the nakedness, and not deny that this—unambiguously, and on the authority the scriptures—is testimony to our rebellion. If we acknowledge nakedness, we acknowledge rebellion against God. And we all acknowledge nakedness—because we dress up—so we continually admit that we are rebels. If we were not rebels, we would be naked and unashamed, like the babies and the cows. But we are rebels, so we dress up, every day and every moment.

Similarly, we freely admit that we are sinners, so we cling to the grace of God in Christ. It is a real and continuing grace, because so is the weakness. There are those who downplay the imperfection of man, and so they downplay the centrality of grace in the life of the believer. In reality, it all begins at the grace of God. And if the grace of God is real and continuing—as indeed it is—so is the need for it. Those who are ashamed of admitting that they are continuing sinners, in the sense of simul justus et peccatore, are also the ones who are ashamed of the grace of God. (Here I include Roman Catholics, and all other legalists.)

And for this reason I am not fully dressed unless I have some Christian symbolism somewhere in the dressing, even if as a necklace or a bangle. This is my solemn tradition, and I hold to it firmly. Dresses are a placeholder, a prophecy, and a witness to the real fix for nakedness: Christianity. They only make sense if they bear witness to the real fix for nakedness; otherwise the dressing up is in fact mere superstition which cannot successfully contend with a nudist heresy, for instance. I actually prefer nakedness; but if I can’t have it, I should have clothing that makes sense. And if I can’t get the clothes to speak the truth, I don’t bother with them (much to the loud chagrin of my prudish neighbours).
13th of September, 2014

The State(s) of the Jews and Christians of the Old Ottoman

By now many have heard things like this:
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/09/ted-cruz-booed-off-stage-at-middle-east-christians-group/
Apparently an American senator gets booed off the stage at a meeting of Middle Eastern Christians, because he expressed support for Israel, and refused to recant.
What this senator did was good, and what these Christians did is wrong.

In fact, the suffering of Middle Eastern Christians is not independent of their attitude to Israel. I want to discuss that for a while.

In the Middle-East, both Christians and Jews have suffered massacre after massacre, and often directly as cleansing of an ethno-religious nature. The Ottoman Empire was built on a foundation of Christian skulls, and the new Turkish nation also trained for brutality with Christian victims.

The Armenian and Assyrian genocides were witness together with the Jewish Holocaust in making the modern word “genocide”, but the Assyrians are still running before Islamic State (Iraq-Syria), and the Israelis are digging in against the Arabs. The Armenians got a state, but the Assyrians were left in the hands of the Arabs and the Kurds. There is an even-more-interesting side to this, when you consider Lebanon and its Christian Falangists (“Kataeb”), who were in open military alliance with the Israelis; but that is for discussing further down.

I have noted that Christian communities that have had a political spat with Israel feel justified in being anti-Zionist, even pro-Palestinian. Lebanon was still majority-Christian when the Middle East had to deal with a returned Israel. The border tension made nationalists anti-Israel, even when they were Christians. The same happens with Iraq, where Assyrians were fierce nationalists, and so they found themselves fighting as Iraqis against Israel (and Iran).

In all these cases, the problem is exactly the same: you have Christians giving ultimate loyalty to non-Christian political systems, which mires them in unholy alliances against other nations, necessarily including against Israel.
No Christian should ever fight for a non-Christian system; if he does, he should not be surprised if he finds himself fighting against a Christian system—or, for that matter, against the Jewish state. And if you fight for heresy, die with the heretics.

In the Middle East, in particular, this has meant that Christians find themselves fighting against the Jewish state, and—in league with the secularist states, or Arab states, or whatever other non-Christian states—adopting this anti-Israel position which is in express opposition to truth and justice.
Having accepted the Arab state, and its consequent Arab nationalism—and, necessarily, the Ishmaelite’s requisite anti-Israelism—they cannot also champion the Christian state or its consequent “graft theology” which ties the Christian and the Jew together. It is either one or the other.

Some of these Christian nations have a state now; like the Armenians. But even the Armenians have a secular state, which merely recognises the Armenian Apostolic Church. The correct thing—“for there is neither Jew nor Gentile in Christ Jesus”—is to have a Christian state, for this Christian “nation of kings and priests”, which just happens to have a (probably majority) Armenian component in it.
So the danger is still there that even the Armenians could (and, if this continues, will) turn their backs on the Jews, and oppose the Jewish state.

The Christian state, on the other hand, doesn’t have the wherewithal to deny and oppose the state of the olive branch into which it was grafted. Furthermore, it is incumbent on the Christians to accept the Jews, because the Jews are (still) too blind to know the whole picture. The Christians, whose eyes are opened, are the ones who have to endure the ridiculousness that the continuing blindness of the Jews provokes in the Jews, either as suspicion of the Christians, or as an unwillingness to ally the Jewish state with the/a Christian state.
What the Jews cannot do anything about is support. —And this is incumbent on the Christians, unconditionally, whether as individuals or as state. Those nations that will be destroyed are first non-Christian (or post-Christian), so that they may either be anti-Christian or anti-Israeli, that they may be cursed destroyed. The nation that will be saved is first of all Christian, and therefore pro-Christian and pro-Israeli, that it may not be cursed and destroyed. All that it takes is that they not be either secularised, or Arabised, or social(ist-)ised, or anything else other than Christian.

For this and other reasons, it is important that Christians have a Christian state. They are often willing to fight and die for a democratic state, but this is wrong, because the democratic state can just as easily turn on the Christian as it does on the Jew. The Christian may only identify with—and fight for—the Christian state, so that he never be found fighting against his brothers, be they brothers in faith (Christians) or brothers in the graft (Jews).

And for as long as the Christians maintain this fornication with other systems, they will reap the fruits thereof: being sent to die in Islamist or ethnic wars, for instance, as was the case with the Assyrians in the war between Arab Sunnis under Saddam Hussein against the Arab-Persian Shiites under the Islamic Republic of Iran. This story is particularly painful, because the 10,000 Assyrian Christians who died under the banners of Arabism and Islam on either side were neither Arabs nor Musilms. But they didn’t prefer to die fighting for the Christian state—which, a few short decades before, Agha Petros had been leading a fight for, under a cruciform flag—so they died like chicken on both sides.

This catastrophic mistake has still not been corrected. Assyrians are still fighting either for Iraq, or for Assyria, or whatever. As long as they continue, they will keep dying out for no reason, and I will not feel sorry at all. I do not mind the mass-deaths of people who fight to establish vanities. I see them on their marches, and the flag of Agha Petros is conspicuously absent. Instead, they wave the stupid and pathetic flag of Assyria in one hand, and that of Iraq (or, for fuck’s sake, the flag of the Islamic Republic) in the other. Why should I mourn the death of people who fought that an Islamist—anti-Christian—government might hold sway? Why should I mourn the death of people who fought that an Arabist—anti-Israeli—government might hold sway? Do they not even see how stupid they are, to die in defence of those who hate our creed and our (still-blind) brothers-in-graft?

So: may all the Assyrians stupid enough to fight in a manner different from that of Agha Petros die, and they deserve it. May they be cleared speedily, and may nobody mourn them. May their wives be widowed, and their children orphaned. May their mothers die waiting, and may their fathers wail with despair, as their sons are cut down faster than they can have an orgasm. This is the curse of all who fight wars in defence of heresy; may they die in retreat, and may the carrion-eaters start with their eyes.

If you are a Christian nation—though you are proud of your ethny—you are first of all Christian. Not socialist; not democratic, not Assyrian, not whatever. The same bond that binds Jew and Gentile together binds Assyrian and Arab together: Christ. Not democracy, not communism, not liberty, not egalitarianism, not civilisation, not ethny, not history, nothing. Either “Christ is all in all,” or you don’t bother with Christ. —For I am determined to respect no bonds that are not Christianity, or not subjected entirely to Christianity.

Now, with the Jews it is different. They are (still) blind. They have no alliance beyond nation; it is understandable, in their case. They fight and die for nation, because they know no higher principle. “Where there is no law, sin is not imputed.” And also “Do not eat … of knowledge of good and evil … [or] you shall die.” The Christians, on the other hand, have no excuse for privileging any principle or nation above Christianity, the “nation of kings and priests.” After all, if “in Christ is … neither male nor female, Jew no Gentile, slave nor free” how could there be “Iraqi or Iranian”? But the Jews, being ignorant of Christ, can be permitted to continue on the lower level of “Jew and Gentile.”

So the mistake multiplies, for as long as Christians acquiesce to the non-Christian state. I could even excuse them if they never picked arms; but if you get to picking up arms, and you kill a man as your opponent, what is it that you, the Christian, are enforcing with such finality? “The Arab Republic?” Are you insane? You cannot kill for the establishment of a state for the Christians—that they may have an alternative on Earth, where they can run to when the Islamists come killing, where they can practice the true faith under the protection of a state that is subjugated to the Christian standard—but will willingly slay for some heresy, be it democracy, or socialism, or republicanism, or whatever?
May the curses be multiplied on their heads, and even more on the heads of their children.

This problem is fast-approaching even those Christian nations that refuse to ashame the secularists by declaring openly, firmly, and with finality—with the sword, if necessary—that their state shall be subject to Christ. Because they refuse to do this, God will turn them against the only nation of God that can legitimately privilege ethny above all else (Israel), and they will garner for themselves the curses that afflict all such nations. This is the danger facing the lax-Christian states of Europe, and the curse which the post-Christian states of Europe are enduring (primarily expressed as an invasion of Islamists).
For our part, we have declared in our Articles of Foundation that, by inalterable confession we are a Christian state, and allied on principle with all Christian states, and with the Jewish state, that we may never be legally in opposition to them. Any nationalism or any principle which would impinge on that is subjected to the Articles, and is therefore illegal (even if, because of the flesh, it may happen).
http://localhost.ug/decl.pdf

Another interesting case is Lebanon. It is an Arab state with a Christian majority, and indeed a Christian head of state. However, it is an Arab state, not a Christian state; therefore it has found itself committing the same sin which all other Arabs have committed, and it has richly earned the result, which has seen its Christians subjected to the Shiite Muslims (like Hezbollah), and that is only the beginning. At some point, there was a Christian political party, the Falangist “Kataeb” Party, which worked together with the Israelis to check the Islamist terrorists in the south of Lebanon. However, the Falangists didn’t also fight as Christians, but as nationalists of some sort. Therefore, for all the good their vigilance did, it was the wrong thing to fight for, and they richly earn the curse. They never fought for a Christian state, so they fought for the wrong reasons. May all who fight for heresy be eaten as carrion.

For as long as any nation fights for principles too different from those in the Articles of Foundation, they will be fighting against “the king of the kings of the Earth.” (Revelation 1) I think Christians have forgotten that, first of all, state authority comes from God. —And if it comes from God, subjecting our state impulse to Christ is a matter of living out our faith, for we believe that “whether thrones … all was created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1)
06th of September, 2014

Civilised Beheadings

This is the crisis that faces the non-Christian state—or, as in this the case of France, the post-Christian atheist state:
A controversial French comedian is facing charges for comparing the killing of US journalist James Foley to French Revolution beheadings and therefore an “access to civilisation” for his murderers.
Where is he wrong? Civilisation is full to the brim with be-headings. Two recent empires were literally built on “pyramids of skulls.” The French are screaming against be-heading, yet it is what got them their Republic?
http://www.france24.com/en/20140905-controversial-french-comedian-charged-jokes-foley-killing/

Since civilisation is merely humans being humans, even rape of little girls is part of it, and has been used to great effect. Humans are incapable of a holy standard apart from explicit submission of their state to Christianity. There is no alternative.
04th of September, 2014

Wilders Wilder

Geert Wilders is having fun telling the Dutch “I told you so.”
http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4674/geert-wilders-speech

However, since he is not a Christian, even he—even he!—will not be able to state the solution properly:
Recognize that Islam is the problem. Start the de-Islamization of the Netherlands. Less Islam.
Correction: no Islam. Light and darkness cannot co-exist. Literally, the Muslim World doesn’t have enough room for both us and them, so they have to vacate.



04th of September, 2014

On Drugs, Dependence, and Prudery

Most humans will not eat food without salt, even though they can—even when they should. This is a good thing, as part of what it means to be a human being is that you seek to perpetuate the good things and avoid the negative ones. Whether it is choosing particular friends to hang out with, or arriving early at work, we do these things to achieve or maintain a good mood. We would certainly not die if we changed behaviour, even though we certainly would have withdrawal symptoms of all sorts. (I mean, consider the effect of forcibly parting with habitual company, say by death.)

What I hope to have outline up there is that mood-alteration is human. Opposition to it is simple prudery.
—And if the prudes simply outlawed mood-alteration, they would notice that they have outlawed a central feature of a thinking and independent man. From coffee to peppers, morphine to ephedrine, cannabis to alcohol, humans depend on drugs. There is nothing wrong with that, since there is nothing wrong with being a human. Many people are tricked into making a big deal out of a particular drug, and so they miss the big picture.

Four tangential things; first: addiction and drug-addiction are not the same things. The most-destructive addictions are not drugs. Even tobacco could never ruin a life like gambling does.

Second: not all addictive things are equally-potent. A sex addiction or a crystal meth addiction is worse than a tobacco addiction. I find drunkenness off-putting in a way tobacco just can’t manage.

Third: the substance or activity involved in the addiction is never the problem. —Since it could easily be either womanising or alcoholism, it is stupid to worry and fret about the particular thing-du-jour rather than the person. Every time I see someone pontificating about how bad a certain particular addiction is, how it can “ruin your life”, I laugh inside; but it is a very insidious mistake. For instance, entire governments are campaigning against tobacco addiction, but not against nymphomania or adrenaline rushes, both of which kill sooner. Substances don’t do anything; put them in a bottle ten years and see! But if you have a person with a problem—with an active flesh—you have the problem independent of any particular substances or activities; you will have worse in fact: the problem present, since the flesh is still there, but no awareness of it, since the addiction agents are not apparent.

Lastly: addictions are used to mask real character flaws, as people blame innocent things—alcohol, for instance, or cannabis—for their simple refusal to live up to their responsibilities. Laziness is a bigger problem than intoxication—or Internet distractions, for that matter—whenever I see a case of this type, be it with me or with others.

One or two days ago, a study came out about the withdrawal effects of cannabis. As you may know, cannabis is generally considered non-addictive, as it lacks the kind of withdrawal symptoms one associates with drugs in general. But the study came out arguing against that view; it is here.
http://scienceblog.com/74174/cannabis-withdrawal-symptoms-common-among-teens/#arIlIYTH6G0DqC7A.97
Of the 90 cannabis-using participants, 76 (84 percent) met criteria for cannabis dependence – which include increased tolerance and use of cannabis, unsuccessful efforts to reduce or stop using, and persistent use in spite of medical and psychological problems made worse by cannabis. Withdrawal symptoms were reported by 36 participants (40 percent of the overall group), all of whom also met criteria for dependence. At the study’s outset, substance use was likely to be more severe and consequences – such as missing work or school, financial and relationship problems – tended to be greater in participants reporting withdrawal symptoms, who also were more likely to have mood disorders.
Now imagine for a minute that you can get a bunch of heavy tobacco-smokers to quit for a week. Or coffee-drinkers. When I am working—when I need the coffee—good luck taking me away from the drink! Anyway, imagine that you could get a bunch of smokers to quit …
But before we launch into the rest of the discussion on drugs, dependence, and prudery, let us add the paragraph that follows that:
While the presence of withdrawal symptoms is a strong indicator of cannabis dependence, the authors note, it did not significantly impact the ability of participants to reduce their use of cannabis during the 12-month follow-up period. The factor that did appear to make a difference was whether or not an individual recognized having a problem with substance use upon entering the study. Participants who both reported withdrawal symptoms and recognized having a problem had a small but steady improvement in abstinence through the entire study period. Those who reported withdrawal symptoms but did not recognize a substance use problem had a slight increase in abstinence in the first 3 months, but then had some increase in cannabis use during the subsequent 9 months, a pattern that was also seen in participants not experiencing withdrawal.
Well, interesting. Forget tobacco; imagine that you ran into some prude, myself in this case, who was sure that your habit of using Twitter and Facebook were “literally” costing you your life! —And that you should go out and do some jogging!  —And it is true that there is a serious and enumerable loss in productivity across the board, real money being lost, because of this social-networking addiction. —And this is rotting your brain!
All these things happen to be true. I put it to you now that there is more work left undone because of Twitter than because of cannabis. I know for a fact that an addiction to Twitter, Facebook, and Vines is going to cost someone his job—as in, I am going to be the one dealing with this particular case.

But since the Twitter and Facebook people of the World do not accept that they have a problem, I expect them to not only fail to quit, but to not even have a good reason to quit. And why should they? Do I have anything against the thrill of encountering long-lost friends on the Internet? Or the excitement of 140 characters (or whatever)? I can only condemn these things if I condemn mood-alteration in general. Anything else is prudery and nit-picking, the kind we do to make ourselves feel more-pious; we judge harshly what we do not do. Yet there is no denying that the World has developed a serious dependence on Twitter and Facebook. (Entire official government propaganda and communiqué channels would vanish if Twitter went down!) I don’t use these things; I have seen people become wrecks when the battery or Internet ran out; they spend too much on their Internet; they are constantly looking down and fondling their phones; they don’t even accept that they have a problem! Addicts, the lot of them. But whatever.

You see, addictions—especially the Twitter and Facebook kind—are not a bad thing; they are not automatically less-worthy than the thing they replace. The mood that precedes it, in all its serious soberness, is not more-righteous at all, since the human himself—sober or not—is the one with the problem.
The human has a problem; social networking is just a thing with which the human is relating, problems and all. Movies, for instance, are another common addiction around these parts, causing serious drainage and waste of precious time resources in a way that cannabis never could. Nobody mentions them anymore as serious time-wasters (together with novel and headphones) because now everybody indulges; you should see the comments from back then. When these social phenomena were new, their addictiveness was recognised. (And, according to someone I trust, TV with “Coming up next …!” is even worse than basically any drug out there.)

I used to read Internet news aggregation sites, and I was geniunely addicted, burning several hours a day following stupid comment threads. (I don’t regret all of it, but I am glad I recovered.) None of these things is bad to return to, especially since it is the normal thing because they feel good, but certainly humans have the flesh, which—when mixed with either social networks, High Fructose Corn Syrup, cannabis, video games, or whatever—will manage to bring forth the works of the flesh by nature.

I do not use Twitter, Facebook, Vines, or any of these Internet drugs. I know, also, that they are addictive. I have no trouble quitting them; I find them off-putting. I never got addicted to computer games; I actually hate them. But if I indulged in them, and I didn’t believe it to be a problem—regardless of what the non-using version of me would think—I would not be able to quit, and it would not even make sense to try to quit in the first place.

So, people do not smoke weed because it feels bad, but rather they smoke it because it feels good. And just because it is not classically-addictive, does not mean that quitting should be automatic. Quitting cannabis is easy enough, and I have done it more times than I remember. My only problem with quitting cannabis is that it is truly a bad idea, especially because the primary benefit I got from weed is that when I am high I can actually eat and enjoy food, a rare thing for me. (And I speak now as one who is consciously deferring my resumption of cannabis-smoking.) The only times I can actually justify not smoking is if I can convince myself that I could do better with a less-interesting mind-space, and that I do not really need to be eating at the normal levels. Essentially, unless the quitting is itself a beneficial mood-alteration strategy, I find no reason to do it. There is nothing praise-worthy about just opposing things simply because everybody else does. (Yes, even the others are opposing it with moral pretensions because everybody else is opposing it with moral pretensions. And these people are genuinely convinced of their own superior morality!)

The funny thing is that these situations show up often enough, and I have learnt that of all the things I have developed a dependence on, cannabis is the easiest to part with, but also the one I have least reason to part with. When I miss my home, for instance, I can often justify it with having to go to work, in spite of my dependence on being at home (for several reasons). But if the coffee and the sugar follow me to work, why does the cannabis not? I could never leave Vines and Twitter behind, even if I wanted to; why is it so automatic that I leave cannabis behind? Even when fats and sugars are killing you, you would have trouble quitting the stuff, because it is everywhere (but, of course try quitting an addiction to sushi or the runner’s high … easy!)

Being a fanatical Reformed Christian, I just simply don’t have much room for prudery. But this makes it hard to segregate against cannabis in a way I do not segregate against, say, sugar or news sites. I don’t say that dependence is bad, because it is not; it is what humans do with things they get a benefit out of. America’s oil and corn addiction/dependence is worse by far for humanity, the environment, and for moral integrity, than a global cannabis dependence outbreak would be, and I am not even saying anything against oil or corn. So, you see, I have no good reason to quit cannabis (even when I quit).

And since the only workable argument against cannabis is the one about social attitudes, this makes quitting cannabis in any case a simple cowardly decision to bow the head and give in to social bullying of a good thing, even as they almost enforce worse things. This has the effect, at least for me, of weighing the moral decision against quitting cannabis, because there would be a victory for the wrong things; I have to live out my activism. This may be the most-interesting thing I learnt about cannabis: that because the opposition is clearly irrational and evil-minded, smoking it becomes a simple obligation, the first duty of the resistance—if only to achieve more opportunities to oppose and weaken the ridiculous status quo.
(The other reason I’d quit is when I have developed high tolerance, and I need it to taper back down. But that doesn’t count in these cases.)

What about if the addiction was truly damaging? Interesting question. Even something as mild as cannabis can be damaging, and you can see that 800,000 arrests are made in America every year for it alone. So, you see, cannabis dependence can in fact be very damaging—even life-threatening. We are not speaking about hypothesis; people today are being caged for possessing less weed than would get a baby high. We needn’t hypothesise alcohol destroying livers, or heroin overdoses; cannabis is already dangerous enough, carrying death sentences in several Asian countries, and it is illegal everywhere in the open World. (Excluding North Korea.)

If we treat this as a general case about dangerous dependency, here is the answer: it is the flesh, not the agent. Consider porn addictions; people do not quit port because the Internet went away, but because they should (for whatever reason). And if they are not ready to quit, they should not (and they will not). Nobody makes anybody quit something; quitting is not from the outside in. When one has to quit, one does. It is really that easy; from tobacco to porn, you stop when you do not want anymore. The case for quitting should be strong enough to make itself; even when it is simple social disapproval, if it is less-preferable than the high—or, for that matter, less-bearable than the withdrawal—then people quit. It is really that simple. For many people, it takes a threat of death, then suddenly they can quit with no problems. (Usually the disease or over-dose kills them anyway, because it is too late for the quitting to be of any use.)

Interesting research was done about the prevalence of heroin use among people of certain psychological backgrounds. What seems to rise out of that research is that drug addiction, even of that kind, is a pretty predictable response to other mood-altering situations. —Essentially, that addiction problems are in fact solutions for these people. (“How surprising!”) Drug-addiction discussions would be more-useful if they knew that they are trying to replace a solution to a problem.

But perhaps the worst feature of this unthinking anti-dependence prudery is that it lumps together all mood-alteration chemicals, for instance, and says “Bad!” This has the very real possibility of confusing people who are looking to make a good choice for mood-alteration with a good conscience. We are not all hiding our alcohol or cannabis; we don’t mind being high; we just need to have a good and sober discussion of the facts concerning the substances beforehand.
I think I would label laboratory drugs “Bad!”, alright, but what about cannabis? Are you crazy? Can I ever live with myself knowing that I once sided with the unthinking idiots of sick conscience and denounced what may be the only safe way to supply the mood-alteration needs of those who may need mood-alteration? Rather, I side with the truth, and I light up one on principle. (Later, perhaps.)

What makes addiction complex is that we have managed to lie to ourselves that people can return and return to something so often because it genuinely lifts their moods, and yet it be foolishly expected that such weak and pathetic reasons as social disapproval should even suffice to justify to them the perpetuation of bad moods (or avoidance of good ones). What kind of ignorance (or wickedness) would make them buy into such unthinking hysteria, even as they leave Adderall and Ritalin on the shelves—for kids?