Maybe. While I criticize the weaker and more beggarly arguments against Reformed Protestantism, I fear that might mean I don’t see anything good in Orthodoxy. I want to put that misconception to rest.
To Those Orthodox Who Fight the New World Order
My hat is off to you. You have seen the occultic underpinnings of modern society. You know that the Regime wants (and pursues) a war to the death with any kind of principled Christianity. You have refused to compromise with Freemasonry and the power elites. The mainstream Orthodox do not love you, yet you truly know St Cyril of Jerusalem’s statement, “In the last days believers will fight with antichrist in the flesh.”
If some Reformed guy came up to me and said, “I think I might convert to Orthodoxy because, you know, liturgy and apostolic succession and the are ‘the only True Church (TM)’ and stuff,” well, that is not intellectually justifiable or warranted.
But if someone came up to me and said, “I’ve really wrestled with what Fr Raphael Johnson has been saying and I think he has a point…I think I might become ‘true’ Orthodox.” Well, I will disagree with you, but as long as you know the hardship ahead of you, I can respect that. And I can join you in our fight against Antichrist.
But now comes the dialectic. Now comes the antithesis. What of Orthodoxy in America today?
Will They Become Liberal Hipsterdox?
Maybe. It will be worth watching. While I have problems with the former Metr. Jonah’s semi-Pelagianism, he was removed in areas for which he probably took biblical stands. I hope American Orthodox can resist the Lavender Mafia. Until two years ago, my money would have been on OCA that they could. I am not so sure anymore. The Greek church, while conservative in conciliar theology, is liberal in social issues.
If there is one book that summarizes the cultural ethos and failed nerve of Christianity Today and InterVarsityPress, it would be Ron Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. First, I will highlight some good points, then I will say a few really ugly remarks, then I will critique the book.
Some Good Points
He has a fairly decent take on the Sabbatical year (83ff). I don’t think he realizes that his master, The United Nations, isn’t that concerned with biblical law. Further, I like how he notes that Scripture “prescribes justice” (83; cf. Dt 15:9-10). Sider even approaches (and at times affirms) the godly principle that “sinful persons and societies will always produce poor people” (83). Amen, and amen. I have to ask though, if Sider can name some societies in the 20th century that adopted his principles and if they were sinful and produced poor people. One such society had four letters in its abbreviation.
Sider has some surprisingly astute comments on interest and he realizes that Christendom’s painful back-and-forth on interest wasn’t pretty and so we shouldn’t generalize (85).
He further notes that Marxists and Capitalists worship the same god: Economic forces (105). Of course, Sider himself labours (pun) for world revolutionary forces, so he can’t be taken all that seriously. Further, he rightly criticises the business model that has infected churches today (107).
He has an excellent section on asceticism (111ff) and its false ontology/anthropology. He writes, “Christian asceticism has a long history, but Jesus’s life undermines its basic assumptions” (112). Of course, a lot of the biblical examples Sider cites assume that one can legitimately spend one’s wealth on grain, alcohol, or feasts without feeling guilty by socialist agitators.
David Chilton has correctly pointed out that this book is a guilt trip. But that’s not why I am mad. Religious people of various denominations have been trying to guilt trip me over silly stuff for years. I’m largely immune to it. But when he projects “guilt-psychoses” onto godly, hard-working Christians who have made cuts in their lifestyles and to hear “they have earned hell-fire” because they didn’t meet Sider’s arbitrary “line of essentials.” To quote Chris Rock,
Shut the f%$k up
Sider makes routine comments like “And justice, as we have seen, means things like the Jubilee and sabbatical remission of debts” (115; statements like these are throughout the book). It raises the obvious question: Who will enforce this? Laws without sanctions are no different than PCA “recommendations.”
Holier than God?
Sider has modified his tone from his first edition where he was adding to the gospel (yea, preaching another gospel). Still, he makes comments like “It is sinful abomination for one part of the world’s Christians to grow richer year by year while our brothers and sisters in the third world suffer” (98). This would be a true statement if a number of other conditions were met. Are North American Christians causing other Christians to suffer? If they are, Sider has given us no argument nor shown any evidence. Further, would he have N.A. Christians be just as poor? If so, then how could they help? If they didn’t have any wealth, then how could Sider’s globalist masters take it from them? He hasn’t thought these things through.
He notes that conservative pastors speak on “personal sins” but rarely on “structural sins” (119). He does cite some texts trying to prove the existence of “structural sins,” but the texts mention sophisticated personal sins (ala Amos 2:6-7). If there is such a category of structural sins–by which he seems to mean a certain way of society in which participation is sinful–they usually appear as a complex of personal sins in a social setting. It’s hard to really talk about structural evils outside of presupposing Marx.
The institutional evils that Sider does criticize are in fact evil. I just worry about using a Marxist term to categorize it. But are the evils perversions of goods (private property) or are they embedded in the nature of things (private property, discipline use of scarce resources)? Sider has elsewhere affirmed private property, so it isn’t clear exactly what he has to say here.
To be fair, Sider does define what he means by structural evils: “Initial injustices, unless corrected, mushroom” (127). This is actually insightful, but he never disentangles his rhetoric from Marxist terminology. Marx saw society as inherently violent and could only progress by historical dialectic, which itself would probably be violent.
Plainly Misreads Texts
The most glaring misreading of texts is his appeal to the Jubilee principle (80ff). While he correctly notes that the text says “all land should be returned to original owners,” and that “it was the poor person’s right to receive back his inheritance” (81). While he doesn’t draw the conclusion, this is a brilliant argument against the evil and satanic practice of Federal inheritance taxes.
He does correctly note that Yahweh says “The Land is mine” (Lev. 25:23), but what principle should we draw from that? Only the dominum can thus distribute the land. This is the same dominion economics that Wyclif argued. Well and good, but one suspects that Sider has another dominum in mind: The State.
I don’t know how he thinks his model will work. He says “the specific provisions of the Jubilee year aren’t binding today” (85). I agree with him, so how does he apply it? Why is this law binding today but the ones about stoning sodomites and idolaters not? He gives us no answer.
External Contradictions with Scripture
Sider’s most notorious point is the graduated tithe. I just want to point out one Scriptural difficulty with it. The Bible tells us that a godly man leaves an inheritance for his seed (Prov. 13:22). Yet, if Sider has his way it’s hard to see how this could happen. There would be no inheritance. It would all have been given away!
Internal Contradictions with Logic
Sider’s book is riddle with inconsistencies. He notes (rightly) that “the right of each person to have means to earn his own way takes precedence over a purchaser’s property rights” (81). Absolutely. But when the state is interfering with regulations, how can he seriously claim the above?
Further, if Sider complains about world debt (and I don’t really disagree with him) yet he presupposes structures like the World Bank and the United Nations (which, ironically, are structural evils!), then his problem shouldn’t be with right-wing Christians but with his own statist overlords.
He complains about LDC (limited developing countries) “protein deficiency,” yet he ignores a concrete solution to the problem. A country like India with such a deficiency has a lot of cattle. Unfortunately, they worship the cows instead of eating them. Idolatry and economic devastation are connected. Sider doesn’t seem to see it.
Keynes or Smith?
Sider urges us not to make an idol of private property nor seek the advice of “that deist Adam Smith” (102). In the next paragraph he praises the Keynesian revolution. If we are going to make irrelevant comments about Adam Smith’s religious views, is now the time to mention that Keynes liked to molest little black Tunisian boys?
Fat Cat Corporations
I won’t address the sections on corporatism. A lot has changed in 30 years (both good and bad) and neither Sider nor I am really competent to speak on these matters. I would simply challenge him that his beloved World Bank is probably culpable in a lot of these international corporate schemes.
There is a lot of America-bashing in this book. For all of America’s evils, real or supposed, I do suspect that if America were to disappear, millions more would die.
Am I guilty?
Jesus asked, “Is your eye evil because mine is good?” I refuse to let socialist agitators make me hate God’s blessings. Still, per Sider’s recommendations, I really don’t eat all that much beef (for reasons other than guilt-trips), both of my cars were made in the last millennium (and breaking now, for what it’s worth), both churches I was a member of in the last ten years contributed to concrete, local charities that actually made a difference.
Graduated tithe: he realizes he can’t make this binding on Christians today, so I will ignore it.
Communal Living: This is almost funny. One should study the history of communal living in America. Besides a nigh-100% failure rate, they more often than not end up being sex orgies. In any case, the agrarian in me does gravitate towards simplicity, but not because of Sider’s guilt trips.
How should we live in response to Sider? For one, who are these cozy, fat-cat, presumably white and conservative Christians that are so callous to the poor? He doesn’t list any names. Further, I am not aware of conservative churches that don’t give money to charities (who are better able to manage it than some bureaucrat in Washington).
The danger isn’t that my feelings are hurt because Sider shamelessly libeled his brothers in Christ. No, he isn’t stupid. He is against charitable giving. Therefore, the only solution is the Government. But even here we have a problem. At least in theory, America’s government is democratic. Those white males don’t elect socialists. That’s no problem, though, for Sider has a stronger play: The United Nations.
Sider is long on saying governments should adopt biblical principles (79, 144, 194) but I get the sneaky suspicion that this is merely suppressing fire for a globalist order. He says America and Russia have biblical obligations to give their resources to poorer countries (194), yet he lists no bible verses proving these obligations.
He says this is not a call for a violent revolution (194). Okay, how will you enforce it then? What if I say no to your demands. What are you going to do then? At this point Sider has two options: something like PCA recommendations or the point of a bayonet.
Because I love my country, I won’t take up arms against the Government (unless I am led by a godly lesser magistrate; then I would be on the front line). I will fight to the death any bureaucrat from Brussels or Paris or London or wherever).
Given my Scottish background and heritage, perhaps it’s surprising that I’ve stayed quiet on the upcoming Scottish vote. Obviously, I don’t live there and should be somewhat reticent about offering advice that won’t be taken.
Still, the referendum does provide for critical reflection which can shine light upon our own situation in America. Tentatively, for what little it’s worth, I think it would be neat to see it happen, but with that said:
Nothing changes on the national level
Very few Christians are able to make an intelligent distinction between “nationalism” and “jingoism.” Nationalism is simply Genesis 10 and Acts 17. In some’s desire to attack Kinism, they end up espousing Marxist views on race and border. I’m not a Kinist (whatever that word means), but in rejecting Kinism please don’t reject Genesis 10. I used to perform an experiment on critics of Kinism: I used to quote Acts 17:26 without stating the verse and watch reactions.
In a debate with an Orthodox apologist he explicitly told me too bad for Paul, this is what it means today. Such a view was pure Marxism, of course (especially ironic for an Orthodox guy), but at least he was consistent.
The Scottish nation has existed for over 1,000 years and even though today it is Leftist and a shadow of its former glory, it’s still a nation. The Scottish State and Government apparatus is an entirely different matter, and the referendum will affect that.
So even if “Better Together” wins, the Scottish nation will still be the Scottish Nation.
Will they be poor?
Probably. I don’t see their keeping the pound and it is no guarantee they will be in the Eurozone (and stay out of that Harlot of Revelation 17). If they can make money off of their oil reserves that might help.
On the other hand, Europe is socialistic. It’s not like Socialists have any ability to keep long-term wealth apart from the threat of sanctions and the barrell of a gun. So for Socialists to tell Scotland they will be poor if they don’t’ stay is somewhat hypocritical.
Will they be threatened nuclearly (or newkular, to quote Bush)?
This is among the better objections. However, Scotland has somewhat natural borders. If Hitler couldn’t take England at the height of his power in wartime, Scotland probably won’t be invaded by anybody anytime soon. And if they are out of NATO, that simply means they won’t have to die in Bankers’s Wars.
Look at their geography. They are literally at the far North end of the world on an island. Even in a technological age it would be difficult.
But will they be holy?
This is what matters the most. The Church of Scotland is borderline apostate. At least the Roman church isn’t that large. I know an independent Scotland and popery often go together, but today’s Pope opposes independence.
I started a thread on Jack Chick at Puritanboard. Yes, I know he is off-base and I don’t take him seriously. I intended several things to happen from that thread, one of which was to highlight Jesuitism and Conspiracy Theories. When I got back from church, the thread was closed. Not only were some of my comments missing, but those referencing Alvierdo were also missing.
As I tried to make clear–but that comment is now missing–I don’t really care whether Alvierdo was a CIA spy or not. The other information about the Jesuits–claims that Turretin and Hodge were not afraid to advance–is public knowledge. I did some research on Alvierdo and noted that two of his biggest detractors were Rome (no surprise) and Christianity Today (probably no surprise).
In a fascinating article by Vladimir Moss, we have a capable discussion of the Orthodox political theorist Alexander Dugin, particularly his relation to Vladimir Putin. Moss’s article is important because it is written by a conservative Orthodox scholar who hates globalism, modernist Orthodoxy, yet has suspicions about Putin’s conservative Christianity. Putin’s annexation of Crimea and his twice-humiliating Obama (e.g., Syria and Ukraine) have forced conservatives to reevaluate their Russophobia and the future of international conservative thought.
I want to build upon Moss’s analysis, with which I mostly agree. My goal is to show tensions in Russian history that Moss doesn’t note and ponder the implications for Orthodox engagement today.
Who is Dugin?
Back in my Russophilic days I was watching Dugin’s career really take off. Dugin had abandoned the National Bolshevism Party (!!) and started his own Party. Eventually, he saw that Russia’s future was with Putin and cast his lot there. My Orthodox friends were emailing me pdfs of Dugin’s books long before they were in print. I was leaving any form of Orthodoxy at that point so I really wasn’t interested.
Leaving aside Dugin’s own political views, Moss highlights his “eschatological ecclesiology.” Moss rightly notes that Dugin’s views cannot be understood apart from his Old Ritualist beliefs. The Old Ritualists separated from the Moscow Patriarch NIKON in the 1660s because they saw Nikon modifying the liturgy (and they were correct–this has huge and embarrassing implications for semper ubique and an always united church).
Old Ritualists see the world as corrupt and expect a future, purifying catastrophe (a common theme among many Christian sects), even sacrificing themselves in the fire. I hope you make the connection between their own suicidal deaths by fire and Dugin’s call for nuclear war. It is not accidental.
Dugin’s own analysis of Revelation is bizarre (yet no more arbitrary and subjective than Reformed amillennialism) and while entertaining, largely beyond the scope of this essay. However, it does break down Christian history into three phases: Pre-Constantinian, Constantinian (and later Muscovite) and post-1660 Muscovite. The middle period is the Millennial Reign and the Third Period is the Age of Antichrist. This means, as Moss notes, that little good can be seen in the post-1660 Orthodox Church (which argument by the Old Ritualists is one reason I never joined).
Dugin’s analysis is strained when he comes to the Soviet era. He can’t simply defend it because of its atheism, but he does give it moderate praise. He sees God’s exercising a strange power through the Soviet world, but that doesn’t bother Dugin since he’s already identified America as the Antichrist (which is odd, given his dating of 1666 as the beginning of Antichrist).
Contra Moss, Dugin is correct to note that the “spiritual conformism” of the Nikonite patriarchs is no less revolutionary than the Sovietism of the Church. With exception of Fr. Raphael Johnson, very few American Orthodox have owned up to this problem. Dugin sees the future Philadelphian Church as a combination of the Old Ritualists, the Moscow Patriarchate, and the ROCA church. This is problematic, to say the least, since all of these churches have condemned each other for “schisming from the true faith” (this is a huge psychological problem for convertskii).
Dugin’s eschatology allows him to see Putin in a new, monarchical role, especially in opposing America. There are many aspects of American liberalism that should be rightly opposed, but one gets nervous in reading the nuclear overtones of Dugin’s proposal! The rest of the article is an analysis of Orthodox and Dispensationalist eschatologies, which do not concern us here.
So what do converts to Orthodoxy say about Dugin’s analysis? Few likely have heard of them and that’s expected. However, everyone in America has to face up to Putin’s Russia, whether good or bad. Some convertskii have pointed out many goods of Putin’s Russia: it refuses to tolerate sodomy and speaks out for oppressed Christians in the Middle East, much to the anger of the Beltway Alliance.
I suspect American Orthodox will break down in several lines on this question. The hard-core convertskii will understandably praise Putin(and by extension Dugin). They will see Russia as the last bulwark against the New World Order. The more moderate convertskii, those perhaps enamored with Schmemann, Thomas Nelson Publishing, and Ancient Faith Radio, might find Dugin’s analysis embarrassing. Yet he can’t simply be dismissed: if you accept Putin as a normative figure you have to account for Dugin’s influence on him.
Is Putin King Arthur Redivivus?
I used to think he was. I like him better than Obama, to be sure, but I do not think the future belongs to Russia, no matter if it is secular, Orthodox, or Communist. Putin divorced his wife and has taken up with a young and attractive gymnast. Hardly the actions of the leader of conservative Christendom. While Russia’s own situation has improved since the 1990s, it’s future is far from certain. The abortion, suicide, divorce, and prostitution rates in Russia are abysmal. Civilizations have been destroyed for far less (Boer Afrika had its problems, but they didn’t have the decadence of today’s Russia, either, yet they were destroyed by the Marxist torturer Nelson Mandela. Maybe South Africa did sin. She was formally covenanted to God).
I thought about doing a sociological analysis on Russia’s birth-rate and related variables. I used to have the info for that, but those days are long gone. I will give a snapshot analysis:
- While Russia’s energy reserves are formidable, she needs markets. While she has Western Europe by the balls, energetically speaking, her economy is fragile and severe enough sanctions could tip the scale.
- Even though her birth rate has improved, much of it is from Central Asian Muslims, not white Orthodox Christians.
- Most importantly–religiously–she does not appear to have the “want-to” to survive. Though Bulgakov and Dostoevsky could speak in eschatological veins, Orthodox theology is more inward, mystical, and onto-focused; overcoming estrangement. I realize I am speaking in generalities, but history’s bears it out. Where is the “Protestant” work-ethic–so famous and so maligned–among the Slavic lands? It was the Protestant understanding of the Covenant and the law of God that allowed them dominion in Europe and the New World.
- Finally,and I realize few will share my analysis, God doesn’t reward the worship of images. Civilizations that are built on language and communications are healthier than those built on fetishism.
Even the best of civilizations fall. If the criteria of success is longetivity, then few will last. However, we can analyze the nature of their lasting and the religious impulses within it.
While I reject as naive those narratives that say the Covenanters produced modern republicanism, the impulses which drove the English Puritans and Scottish Presbyterians did create a New World. Jock Purves writes,
The United States of America, too, is a great result of the further development of the Reformation in the orderings of the most High. It might have been settled by the Spanish or Portugese, and therefore, now been as South America, Romish, backward and dark. But in genius and constitution, in its strong depths and grand heights, it is a Protestant land. This is because of a people, such a people, in moral and spiritual stature incomparable, the finest expositors of Scripture ever known, the English Puritans (42).
Whatever else you say about Protestantism, ask why all of the economic and political developments for the common good in the modern world happened in historically Protestant lands? Whenever there is a crop shortage in Russia, why does it always turn into a catastrophe? Even under the decimating reigns of the Clintons and Obamas, America hasn’t had that.
I can only wonder what would have happened if King James I hadn’t murdered Sir Walter Raleigh at the behest of the Spanish Ambassador. Raleigh was talking of settling Latin America.
Only religion can bring life to a land. I hope and pray that Orthodoxy in Russia stops women becoming Prostitutes and aborting their babies. But it will take more than 10% of the population.
This just shows how messy ecclesiology is. I look with suspicion on any claim that “we have always continued unchanged.” Some considerations on Ecumenism and Truth.
Setting the stage:
Since the Bolshevik coup and civil war among Russians after World War I, the Russian Orthodox Church has been split into several groups. The two primary ones were the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate, subsumed under the Marxist regime, and the free part of the church, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), founded first in northern Serbia under the guidance of Metropolitan +ANTONY, later moving to its present headquarters on the east side of Manhattan. Unfortunately, the relations with the later Orthodox Church in America (founded and financed by the YMCA and the World Council of Churches) have been hostile, with most hostility coming from the OCA’s side…
What is the relation between this movement, on the one hand, and the other branch of the “Russian Orthodox Church,” the OCA, on the other? It has been well known for some time that the OCA has been continually lying about their membership; that they have been threatened by Moscow to have their already tainted �autocephalicity� revoked; it is alleged that their former (but still living) Metropolitan THEODOSIUS is a homosexual and was paying hush-money concerning this (Archbishop +JOHN of the Milan Synod states this is a “well-known fact”); that the OCA is, in many respects, the religious arm of the Archer Daniels Midland Corporation; and that grant money coming into the OCA was being diverted for purposes that are less than honorable. For many, these unfortunate facts are well known. In no manner, however, do these immoral irregularities affect many of her faithful, who maintain at least the aspects of the tradition they are able without proper leadership…
One question that no one has asked is why was the OCA being funded by the arch-leftist; globalist and anti-Christian Archer-Daniel-Midland corporation? What is the connection, and what is ADM’s interest here? ADM is long been involved in ecumenical activities in their drive for global agro-financial domination, and the OCA, in short, was very useful in this regard. Ecumenism, that is, theological liberalism and dogmatic indifferentism, can be understood best when one follows the money–as the old saying goes–and this situation is no different.
The ADM money was going into a discretionary account, one secretly controlled by Theodosius and was used, as some say, to pay off people who could squawk too loudly about Theodosius� irregularities. Once it became clear that this account was going to be audited (as there are many good people in the OCA), Theodosius loudly claimed he has some heretofore unknown abstract “right” to have such an account, and resisted all attempts to look into what this money was actually for (cf. http://www.ocanews.org for some more details).
Not only this, but that the OCA was in fact an in-house organ of the ADM corporation, as this horrific pimp of the New World Order was providing their pet church with nearly $1 million over the last few years; the OCA was hiding this by listing themselves under their old name of the “Russian Orthodox Greek-Catholic Church” in the public lists of ADM’s grantees. All ADM money was being deposited in a secret account. Of course, whether or not this all was a very well thought out attempt to break into the Russian agricultural market is a matter of speculation, but a financial interest is clearly obvious…
Archer Daniels Midland is one of the most corrupt companies in the world. They actively promote abortion and the elimination of nearly 90% of the world�s population as a means to “conserve the environment.” This initiative to eliminate most of humanity was announced by the elite-backed conference entitled “Toward a New Civilization: Launching a Global Initiative,” financed partially by ADM. The elimination of 90% of humanity though forced abortions and mandatory sterilization is an important plank in many radical environmentalists�s programs, and most recently advocated by the semi-psychotic TV star Jacques Cousteau. They have also financed “One World” type conferences the world over through numerous front groups…
There is an immediate connection between the rapprochement, of the ROCOR and the Patriarchate, and the recent exposure of the OCA�s irregularities. The OCA, even without the recent scandals which threaten to dissolve her, is an anomaly–a theological eccentricity. She is now isolated, with her former patron in Moscow largely turning their backs on their naughty step-child in America. Had the fallen metropolitan of the OCA merely come clean, confessed his sins and promised to amend his life, he would have been forgiven, as all of us are sinners and victims of modernity and its false promises. Had he retired to a monastery to struggle against his desires, he would have become an example for many of us to follow, rather than an embarrassment.