Category Archives: Ethics

Having Children Study the Bible

St John Chrysostom

St John Chrysostom on having children study the Bible, in a homily on Ephesians 6.1–4:

Don’t say, ‘Bible-reading is for monks; am I turning my child into a monk?’ No! It isn’t necessary for him to be a monk. Make him into a Christian! Why are you afraid of something so good? It is necessary for everyone to know Scriptural teachings, and this is especially true for children. Even at their age they are exposed to all sorts of folly and bad examples from popular entertainments. Our children need remedies for all these things! We are so concerned with our children’s schooling; if only we were equally zealous in bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord! And then we wonder why we reap such bitter fruit when we have raised our children to be insolent, licentious, impious, and vulgar. May this never happen; instead, let us heed the blessed Paul’s admonition to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Let us give them a pattern to imitate; from their earliest years let us teach them to study the Bible.

Having just come back from the 2017 Thematic Bible Conference in Princeton, I heartily approve. Even children can learn through inductive Bible studies to study the word of God for themselves, and even older high-schoolers should learn to make ready and lead a systematically inductive Bible study. It can be done, if only we will get it done by faith.

The Lord Curse James Martin, SJ

For the Lord says of those who cause believers to stumble,

Thus, Yianni raises a fair point about the laxity of the Roman churches:

It would be entirely suitable for the Lord to show forth his justice unmistakably, that the wicked might tremble and fear to blaspheme against his ever blessed and holy Name.

I am quoting one of the Psalmist’s imprecatory psalms.

If that filthy Jesuit meets a bitter and cursed end, still dead in his sins and unwilling to repent, I myself will wash my feet in his blood. Don’t @ me about how hateful that is. The Psalmist said it first, not I.

Indeed, it befits a Christian to do so. Our Lord, who humbled himself to die the death of the Cross for the salvation of miserable sinners, is the God of both mercy and justice, of both forgiveness for repentant sinners and everlasting damnation for the wicked. The sword, when it comes justly, is not a thing to mourn but a thing to hail as showing forth the righteousness of God, a sign of the blessed Last Day when all things shall be set right in Christ.

Father’s Day

I’m glad the Rev. Luke Lau, at Montgomery Chinese Baptist Church, did not do yesterday what White Left 白左 evangelical Christians do about Father’s Day. Instead, he preached a normal sermon that did not insult fathers but honoured fatherly love and exhorted everyone to live lives that honoured God.

st-joseph-and-the-jesus-child-jusepe-de-ribera

‘St Joseph and the Jesus Child’. Jusepe de Ribera.

Perhaps, though, the Church in America and elsewhere ought to bring the day honouring fatherhood back to the feast day of St Joseph, on 19 March, for two reasons: (1) to tie things explicitly to the life of the Church and her saints, and (2) to resist commercialistic trends by which, as the Father’s Day Council said in the 1980s, ‘[Father’s Day] has become a Second Christmas for all the men’s gift-oriented industries’. After all, as my father says, of all the useful things in the world, money is the most useless. To orient ourselves toward commercialism, then, rather than the life of God in his saints, is to forsake the things that are worthy for the things that are not; it would be far better, then, for human society to use a day on which the fatherhood of God was expressly glorified in the self-sacrificing life of St Joseph.

Aside

If you were planting a church in Sodom and Gomorrah, would you allow ‘winsomeness’, as judged by the standards of those around you, to overshadow the need to proclaim openly and forcefully the reality of the coming wrath as well … Continue reading

The Only-begotten Son of God Exceeding Traditional Knowledge

St.-Boniface-cutting-down-tree-of-Thor-1200x450

There are those who, reading Guénon and Evola, or even Dugin, take a Perennialist view of true religion. Those of the Traditionalist School especially see the world’s traditional religious traditions as sharing a single, metaphysical truth, from which they suppose that all esoteric and exoteric knowledge and doctrine have grown. For this reason, they also sometimes oppose Christian evangelism, believing that such endeavours endanger the peace of the world for the sake of sectarian ends. I’m sympathetic to Perennialism, but I don’t consider myself a Perennialist.

For one thing, though I do think human knowledge of God has come down from Noah in (almost) every society and been built upon through experience in various societies, there is no knowledge of God like the revelation of God’s only-begotten Son himself, come to us in the flesh, crucified for us, raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, now reigning as God-king from heaven. It is for this knowledge, and right worship grounded on it, that the Christian is called to make all nations into disciples of Christ: not lest every last man who has not heard of the work of Christ should suffer everlasting perdition, but so that those who hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and reject it may be judged by everlasting justice, while those who hear it and believe may be sanctified and made just in this life, to the glory of God the Father.

And though it is certain that many have been saved through an implicit faith in Christ who have never heard of him, a Perennialist doctrine that would deny the full truth of the Scriptures’ exoteric message, namely the gospel, would be a road not to greater spiritual depth but to the depths of hell. For the Bible is full of esoteric things, at which even the most erudite can only point and conjecture, with greater or lesser probability; but greater than all of these esoterica is the gospel, simple enough for a child and deep beyond the most learned seraph. The Lord said against the Jews of his generation, whom he called evil and adulterous, The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. It will be no better for those who know what the gospel of Jesus Christ says, but for their own sophistication will not confess Christ truly, but go to church only because their fathers did, believing that God is not truly and literally come in the flesh to save sinners and join them to himself. Their own fathers will rise up in the judgement and condemn their folly. But if they believe and do not deny the Lord in their hearts, they will be his people, and he will be their God.

Quote

Lenin Against Free Love as ‘Bourgeois’

A letter by Vladimir Lenin, to Inessa Armand, 17 January 1915, in Collected Works 34, suggests that the hippie New Left’s sexual degeneracy is (at least in the eyes of Lenin) related more to bourgeois society than to socialism:

‘I feel bound to make one point right away. I suggest you delete altogether paragraph 3 dealing with “the demand (on the part of women) for free love”. This is, in fact, a bourgeois, not a proletarian demand. What do you really mean by it?’

Aside

Remember, Chinaman: watching anime is cultural cucking. Anime is of the devil, and the Lord’s hatred of the cruel dwarf pirate 倭寇 runneth to the third and fourth generation.

Robert P. George’s Hypocrisy on Punishing Women Obtaining Abortions

Robert-George

Robert P. George, professor of jurisprudence at Princeton, is a leading figure in the American ‘pro-life’ movement. I feel indebted to him for his being a professor at an élite university who publicly opposes abortion; that alone is, in these evil times, supposed to be a great feat. But he also signifies, to me, the moral failures of America’s neoconservative establishment. Continue reading

North African and Horn of Africa Anglicans Refuse the Money of Sodom

Mouneer Anis in talks with the late Coptic patriarch Shenouda III.
Photograph by Patrick Comerford.

The Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North of Africa and the Horn of Africa, one of the four dioceses of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, refuses money from The Episcopal Church™:

The decision not to receive these funds came after the 2003 decision by TEC to consecrate as bishop a divorced man living in a homosexual relationship. The decision not to receive money from TEC is one expression of the reality that the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa was (and still is) in an impaired relationship with The Episcopal Church. One of our clergy in Ethiopia states our situation in graphic terms: ‘We rather starve and not receive money from churches whose actions contradict the scriptures.’

God bless these grave and brave Christians who suffer so much at the hands of their Muslim neighbours but still refuse to bow to Mammon. Their testimony will not be forgotten, and our feeble prayers for them will be heard by our mighty Lord. Strengthen their hearts and their hands, O Lord, that neither the violence of Islamists nor the extortions of false brethren may keep them from bearing witness to the righteousness of thy kingdom; through the merits of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Talks About Double Standards; Does Nothing

The good professor Anthony M. Esolen says, in Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture,

We now know, from the confessions of one of the fabricators (Dr. Bernard Nathanson) and the boasts of another (Dr. Alan Guttmacher) that the statistics upon which the Supreme Court based its infamous decision on abortion were just made up – for example, that a million American women had died from illegal abortions. How far wrong was that statistic? It is like saying that three decades ago the earth’s temperature was five hundred degrees, or that a human skeleton had been discovered at another Piltdown, measuring a hundred feet in length. The lies have been amply documented. Has anyone other than the repentant Dr. Nathanson of blessed memory hung his head in shame and recanted? Or do any legal experts say, ‘It disgusts us to have to endure this decision, based as it was on sheer mendacity’? No, never. The lies are our lies. Harvey Milk was an openly homosexual politician in San Francisco, assassinated along with the mayor [in 1978]. His assassination had nothing to do with his sexual predilections. Mr. Milk was also a serial predator of teenage boys. That will get you a Hollywood movie and actual ‘religious’ icons, featuring the man with a halo. They will name a street after you. They will produce daft picture books of Mr. Milk, dressed and not tumescent, for the consumption of little children in school. The lies are our lies.

First, a bit of an autistic note, perhaps, but one I cannot help making: To say the earth’s temperature was 500 °F is only about twice the actual figure, because the zero we must use for temperatures is absolute zero (−273.15 °C; −459.67 °F), not the zeroes of either Celsius or Fahrenheit. To measure how many times a given temperature is another temperature, we must use figures in kelvin (K).

Second, disgust is necessary but not sufficient. Morally, of course, repentance is essential, and no Christian can dispense with a call to repentance. When all is said, there are reprobates so hardened that they will never turn no matter how much you upbraid their arrogance; neither does it any political good for the conservative to feel good about his own moral superiority. When all is said, then, virtually nothing is done. By all means, the Church must call the wicked to account before God, with the word of God. That is what the Lord did to the Pharisees: he called them what they were, sons of the devil. Ye are of your father the devil, he said, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Likewise, we must pray for God to ‘abate their pride, assuage their malice, and confound their devices’. But Christians may not do these things only and consider their duty done. We must actually stop the wicked, by force when necessary.

duterte-punch

The pieties that tell us we must ever do only what is legally regular are the pieties of the eunuch’s schoolyard, not the pieties of the Christian. Western Christian condemnation of Rodrigo Duterte and those like him is often no more than that. ‘So much for the tolerant left,’ and all the chatter like it, has to go. Conservatives talk; to defeat the enemies of all moral law, we need action.

Graham Greene Reads Bourgeois Christianity

one-does-not-simply-modernize-God

We warrin’ on bourgeois Anglicanism like it’s 1689.

In The North American Anglican, Brian Miller has some brief thoughts, ‘Praying to Themselves’, about Graham Greene and a passage in his Orient Express.

In this short piece’s second part he says, ‘Graham wants us to think about what happens when religious bodies undertake the effort to update and modernize religious texts.’ Greene, he says, shows us how an attempt at relevance in fact makes the Church accessible only to a select group, weakening or destroying the ‘common prayer’ that the English world and the Latin world once enjoyed. Replacing the language of Zion, therefore, is a fool’s errand. That second part is well done.

The first part, however, is strange. It may make full sense only to a bourgeois audience, for it is perhaps only to a bourgeois audience that it seems necessary. To those with a bourgeois sense of Christianity, Mr Miller notes that Graham Greene ‘had notorious communist sympathies’ but was nevertheless a devout Romanist. ‘Catholic and Communist’, he says, ‘seem oxymoronic.’ He then quotes the ‘conservative’ William F. Buckley interviewed in The Paris Review:

Graham Greene always struck me as being at war with himself. He had impulses that he sometimes examined with a compulsive sense to dissect them, as though only an autopsy would do to dissect their nature. He was a Christian more or less malgré soi. He was a Christian because he couldn’t quite prevent it.

But Mr Miller can see in the Greene passage in view that, ‘far from being a contradiction, the communist and the conservative Christian impulses are perfectly aligned in that they both speak a universal moral language that seeks to transcend the matters of every-day life.’ Maybe, just maybe, William F. Buckley was wrong about Graham Greene, and Buckley was the one at war with himself. Buckley attempts to read Greene, but through that Orient Express passage he instead is read by Greene.

Buckley, eat your heart out. The contradiction is between Christianity and Whig conservatism.

Decrees of the Church to Be Kept as Wisdom

common-prayer

A high churchman’s conviction that holds the old decrees and customs of the Church in high regard is not unreformed, nor among the Reformed churches is such a conviction unique to Anglicans. Thus says Girolamo Zanchi in De Religione Christiana Fides:

For I beleeve that the thinges which were decreed and received of the fathers, by common consent of them all gathered together in the name of the Lord, without anie contradiction of holie scriptures, that they also (though they bee not of equall authoritie with the scriptures) come from the Holie ghost.

He speaks similarly in his Operum Theologicorum, intended to be a Protestant ‘summa’ modelled after that of St Thomas Aquinas, in the section on the traditions of the church:

Thesis 3. Moreover, just as political laws have their origin in natural law, so, too, the traditions of the church have their origin both from the Holy Spirit (as in the case of the apostles) and from the written Word of God (as in the case of the holy bishops and synods).

[…]

Thesis 4. Therefore, as long as these traditions are either consistent with Scripture or at least not contradictory to it, they are truly the traditions of the Church and must be accepted. And we ought to obey and honor them.

Thus did the fathers of the Council of Jerusalem speak, as St Luke records by the Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles:

Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us [emphasis mine], to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well.

Therefore, such decrees received from the Holy Ghost, consonant with what he breathes out in the holy Scriptures, are also reverently to be kept until altered under the law of Scripture, and of nature, by duly appointed authority.

Decrees and recognition of adiaphora

Yet reverence for what we have received is not always simple. St Paul tells the Corinthians,

Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him. As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; and through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

If what St Paul teaches is as true as the words of the Apostolic Decree recorded by St Luke, then the matter seems less simple than that decrees of the Church should be obeyed religiously, as a matter of religion strictly. To acknowledge this complexity we are forced all the more if, as historians believe, 1 Corinthians was written a few years after the Apostolic Decree was sent out. Here, the Council of Jerusalem’s decree to abstain from meats (i.e., in today’s English, foods) offered to idols is not the basis of St Paul’s argument at all, though he should know of it. Instead, he treats an idol as nothing in itself: As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world. Thus, that some food has been sacrificed to idols is also nothing in itself: it is the weak conscience that is defiled by eating what has been offered to idols. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. The matter in itself St Paul as adiaphoron, a thing indifferent.

food-offering-incense-chinatown-bangkok

But it makes little sense that a decree recorded many years after in Acts should be nothing to St Paul writing to the Corinthians. After all, the Council of Jerusalem was summoned in the first place because of his disputation against Judaizers in the Church, and at this council he and Barnabas declared what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. The letter promulgating the Apostolic Decree was sent with them at least ‘unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia’, and there is no reason to suppose that the decree’s compass would have excluded the Gentiles of Corinth. There is no room for doubt that St Paul knew of the decree and followed it in his ministry to the Gentiles.

St Paul’s way of arguing for adhærence to the Apostolic Decree, then, is instructive. Nowhere is his persuasion of this sort:

 The Church has ruled against eating what is offered to idols.
 What the Church has ruled, the Corinthians should obey.
 The Corinthians should not eat what is offered to idols.

Instead, he recognizes a basic Christian freedom but urges the Corinthians of ‘stronger’ consciences to take heed lest by any means their liberty become a stumbling-block to those of ‘weaker’ consciences. Otherwise, when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. How St Paul argues for the Apostolic Decree is how Richard Hooker, writing fifteen centuries later, argues for the reformed Church of England’s episcopacy, liturgy, and canons. On the Apostolic Decree, he can easily be read in The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, particularly in book 4; on the settlement of the Church of England as it then stood, throughout the eight books. ‘The end which is aimed at in setting down the outward form of all religious actions’, Hooker says, ‘is the edification of the Church.’ It is not, then, a mere matter of obedience to divinely ordained authority, as if any arbitrary judgement can be taken for that of the Holy Ghost, but a matter of submitting to an intelligible wisdom.

ChristBol Defended Ethically on Just War, Subsidiarity, and Wealth

OrthodoxPolitics has replied to my more recent defence of ChristBol, which addresses a comment of his, on three points:

  1. Just war and aggression;
  2. Subsidiarity and sovereignty;
  3. Redistribution and commonality of wealth.

Just war

Following the order we have used in the earlier parts of our exchange, I shall begin with just war. Continue reading

Introduction to Family Devotions

Reproduced below is the introduction to Family Devotions, from the Book of Common Prayer: With prayers at the communion, from bishops Taylor, Ken, and Beveridge, compiled by Thomas Stephen in 1841. Since this Mr Stephen was also the author of The Confession of Faith of the Church of England in the Thirty-nine Articles, and in the piece below refers to the prayer of ‘the Reformed Catholic Church’, we can well be assured of his commitment to the scriptural piety that is the standard of the Church of England.

* * *

An established religion is as necessary and useful in a family, which is a little kingdom, as in the state. In both, the voluntary system is pernicious, and will not be found to work well; for what is left to the good pleasure of every man’s own discretion will perhaps be left entirely undone. The learned and pious Dr. Doddridge has very justly remarked – ‘that, if any had rather that a family should be prayerless than that a well chosen form should be gravely and solemnly read in it, I think he judges as absurdly as if he would rather see them starving to death, than fed out of a dish whose materials or shape are disagreeable to him.’ Many, from early prejudice, object to forms of prayer; and many, on the other hand, are incapable of conducting their family devotions without a form. Set forms of prayer have many advantages; but, of all forms, the Book of Common Prayer is incomparably the best. Eloquence is a gift of God which few men possess; neither is it necessary in divine worship. Aaron was a most eloquent man, and had the gift of a fine and ready utterance; yet Moses, who was ‘slow of speech and of a slow tongue’, was appointed to instruct him what to say. It is not, therefore, eloquence, but faith and repentance, with obedience and humility, that are necessary in our devotions. Continue reading

A Reply to OrthodoxPolitics on ChristBol

In response to my post defending an irenic approach to Christian -Bol (particularly of the National Bolshevik variety), the author of the Orthodox Christian Politics blog has commented,

While I like some elements of Nazbol, there are elements of both National Socialism and Communism that are contrary to Christianity. With National Socialism, it is usually very aggressive, rather than following the principle of just war. It also has a very centralized system, violating the principle of subsidiarity. In terms of Communism, while it does a lot of good in helping the poor. It also does mass redistribution of property, but private property is a right in Christianity.

First, I shall note that National Bolshevism, despite the common nickname NazBol, is not directly related to Hitler’s National Socialism, and its exponents have never claimed ideological descent from National Socialism. The resemblance or convergence between the two, historically, was mostly in the general context of German nationalism; National Bolshevism, however, was part of the Conservative Revolutionary milieu and not of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). Nevertheless, with a view to patriotic ideology’s dialectical development, I think it useful to answer some of the objections that the Orthodox Christian Politics author has expressed, so I shall not limit my remarks to the matter of Bolshevism.

Second, as I have noted in my ‘Defence of Christian -Bol’, it is with some ironic distance in the first place that I take up the name of National Bolshevik. I am not a German like Ernst Niekisch, who may be considered the father of National Bolshevism; nor am I a Russian like Eduard Limonov and Aleksandr Dugin; nor am I even of Europæan descent. I am a Chinaman, and my perspective naturally differs from that of the average Western dissident against contemporary liberalism.

ROC-nazbol

With those caveats, what follows is my reply to the Orthodox Christian Politics author’s comment:

* * *

The problems you posit for a Christian’s appropriating National Bolshevism are not insuperable, and I think as Christians we are free to take what’s healthy from movements that are not explicitly Christian, or even profess themselves opposed to Christianity as actually practised, under the judgement of holy Scripture.
Continue reading