And now it becomes legal. (Warning: somewhat graphic language). I am encouraged that many theonomists are condemning VF, although DP’s old homeschool conference buddies are backing him.
(My Eastern Orthodox friends should like this, since most convertskii are hard-core monarchists). I’ll make clear what I mean by monarchism:
- I know there are difficulties in a monarchical government.
- I am not advocating America become a monarchy.
I’ve been a monarchist in the sense that it functions as an epistemological critique of modern secular democracy (and “secular” can include conservatives). I think the current American order is in a dialectics from which it cannot escape. I do not think grass-roots movements will work on a large scale. The godly kings and revivals in the Old Testament were usually top-down, not bottom-up. Monarchism is an epistemological critique in the sense that, acknowledging its own faults and difficulties, it can stand outside the current American system and offer insight which is impossible from within the “voting dialectic.”
What does this have to do with Vision Forum? Not a whole lot, admittedly. I was remembering old debates on whether it was a sin to vote for anyone besides Peroutka. Attacking the Republican party is easy and fun and something we should all do. But there are also problems in third-party candidates which their advocates will never see.
PS: Samuel Rutherford acknowledged the validity of monarchy in Lex, Rex.
In the mid-2000s the U.S. did their usual “war games” in order to prepare for a war in the southern Middle East. They lost. Badly. The retired officer who defeated the U.S. used the doctrine of “swarming.” Using lots of small units to pin down larger entities.
That’s because U.S. military leaders have not sufficiently grasped that even quite small units — like a platoon of 50 or so soldiers — can wield great power when connected to others, especially friendly indigenous forces, and when networking closely with even a handful of attack aircraft.
Some might think I am myopic on the Vision Forum scandal. I probably am. I’ve also seen first-hand how strong their ability to silence people is. What most people don’t know is that the original Kinist website was Little Geneva. There were three Reformed men always attacked by them: Doug Wilson, Doug Phillips, and R.C. Sproul Jr. Eventually, Doug Phillips’ aids were able to silence and dismantle Little Geneva. You might be saying, “Good, the Kinists deserved it.” Well, maybe they did, but this had the beauty and effect of a precision strike. A precision strike that one day might be pointed at others.
Which means you and I do not stand a chance. However, in battle timing is sometimes more important than strength or numbers. Lots of things are coming to light and it is having an avalanche effect.
On the flip side, though, defamation lawsuits are hard to win.
Doug Wilson originally wrote a piece on the Vision Forum scandal where he applauded DP’s “confession” and alluded that the woman in question was a Delilah or a “Foxy Bubbles.” Now, Wilson is smart. He doesn’t actually call the intern “Foxy Bubbles,” but the connection is hard to miss. He doesn’t actually excuse DP’s behavior, but he plays the line “no one should say anything until they know what’s going on” with the qualification “no one will know what’s going on.” Problem is evidence is coming to light. He notes,
The point is that patriarchy is inescapable, and our only choice is between men being faithful, for blessing, and men failing, for humiliation and chastisement. The thesis is not that men are good, but rather that men are crucial. When they are crucial and selfish, a lot of bad things happen. When they are crucial and obedient, a lot of good follows.
As is the problem with everything Wilson writes, it sounds good on paper but there is so much ambiguity here. He denies that the VF system, or the system that created VF, is to blame. His reason, “Men will be men.” What isn’t said and what is on everyone’s mind concerning the elephant in the room, is the implied “Delilahs will be Delilahs.”
Patristics: While the idea of the patrum consensus is demonstrably false, studying Patristics is extremely valuable. The Orthodox guys loved to talk about acquiring the mind of the Fathers. It sounds noble but it is hard to pin down. Comparing the chiliasm of Irenaeus with the vague idealism of SCOBA Orthodoxy with the manly and rugged Russian apocalypticism of the Jordanville school will show that there is no unified consensus, at least with regard to eschatology. Still, I liked the idea at the time. At the time (Fall, 2009) CBD.com was running a sale on Schaff’s church fathers series. With each volume costing around $4, I bought up as many as I could. I immediately devoured Cyril of Jerusalem and Gregory of Nazianzus. Cyril isn’t particularly deep, but he is systematic. Gregory is deep but often at the expense of clarity (and Bulgakov is the only one who understood him on the monarchia!).
I then moved on to Athanasius, Basil, Hilary, and Gregory of Nyssa. Each has his important points, but no one was entirely adequate. Basil framed the knowledge of God on agnosticism. He also said non-Orthodox were not heretics (yeah, deal with that, you rad trads! (NPNF Series 2, 8:223-228. Basil completely destroys the exclusivism of the convertskii. And John McGuckin also agrees with me. He calls your view inhumane. Which it is. I remember reading a rather rabid convertskii gloat on how my Huguenot ancestors were in hell for busting relics, so-called (never mind King Josiah did the same thing). Athanasius and Hilary taught the Filioque. Gregory taught universalism (and David Bentley Hart’s exposition of Gregory on this point is spot-on). Maximus the Confessor suggested that the Christian faith was a synthesis of paganism (cf Henri Cardinal de Lubac’s defense of Maximus on that point, Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man). He also suggested that there was no distinction of sex and gender before the Fall. Semper ubique, anyone?
Still, if you want to learn the basics of person, nature, Triadology, and Christology, you have to go to the Fathers for counsel. Good luck getting a definition of what a person or nature is, though!
Avoiding the Worst of Fundamentalism: When I was at Reformed Seminary and Louisiana College I became slightly enamored of the Vision Forum catalogue. When I began reading the EO guys I realized I had no use for these fundamentalists. Perhaps I rejected them for the wrong reasons, but reject them I did. I also saw that the hyper-Patriarchal prairie muffin model, whether right or wrong, was simply unworkable in a modern, technological society. And it really can’t explain the prophetess Deborah. Therefore, when the recent sex scandal came out, I wasn’t affiliated with the movement at all.
Skeptical of political ideologies: Take note of many convertskii and see if they become attached to the idea of Mother Russia. It’s an enchanting narrative. The culture is beautiful. Further, when you compare Vladimir Putin with Barack Obama, you can’t help but become a partial Russophile. One is a patriot who stands for his people and his country’s values. The other is an Indonesian Islamist who openly campaigned on the destruction of the middle class, America, the white race, and the marginalization of Christianity. It’s almost an unfair comparison.
Apropos of the above point, many of the anti-NOW Russophiles pointed out many diabolical nexuses within the American system. (By the way, every conspiracy theory I’ve held to over the past five years has come true). One of the end results is a healthy skepticism towards political idolatry during a time of America’s worst politics. Of course, in line with the Russian narrative, convertskii need to explain the connection between the hyper-canonization of hundreds of Russian saints in the 1500s with the oppression of Ukrainians by these same saints.
The comments immediately following this one, including the one related to Young Earth Creationist Kent Hovind, are worth reading from a legal perspective. Backlash happens in anything. Here are some of my predictions (not prophecies, notwithstanding my views on spiritual gifts! LOL). This won’t affect older theology students and pastors, but it will affect younger ones. I have in mind those students are just beginning to explore the mature Evangelical faith in a scholarly manner.
- All other things being equal, I expect a rise in conservative, Old-Earth creationism. This will be a solid response to Peter Enns and a mature counterbalance to some of the extreme statements made by VF (and YEC is a huge part of their ministry). I remember listening to a Doug Phillips lecture and he told anecdotal stories of people who lost their faith in college because the (conservative) Bible professor held to an Old Earth position. I thought that was probably the silliest thing I ever heard.
- A movement away from presuppositionalism. There are good presuppositionalists like Scot Oliphant. They are the Westminster types. I personally do not hold those views, but I respect them. They are not the same “wavelength” as Vision Forum. Sadly, Vision Forum, and I can say this from personal experience, was remarkably talented at communicating presuppositionalism. I am sad to see Greg Bahnsen’s name tarnished with this (and for the record, Bahnsen voted for Bush I in the 1990s and not Howard Phillips. That led to a break between him and Rushdoony).
- There will be a massive PR spin on “complementarianism.” The pendulum is going to swing back to Wayne Grudem. Doug Wilson might scoff at such “squeamish” terms (and I Plan to do a response to his calling the victim in the VF scandal “Foxy Bubbles” and trying to give DP a free pass. I’ve seen a number of “worldview wonks” do the same thing). As a marketing term, “Patriarchy” is down for the count.
- Apropos above point, I think we are going to see a muting of the “worldview talk.” I grant that worldviews are inescapable to a degree, but so is breathing. But nobody talks about how important it is to breathe.
- Will there be healthy Christian alternatives to nouthetic counseling? I don’t agree with Freud and “psychobabble” as such, but I can give several clear-cut arguments why nouthetic models are flawed. Depression doesn’t have to be related to sin. It can be something as simple as “lack of sleep.” The Soviet KGB knew this for decades (which is why they would raid homes at 3 A.M., the time where the body’s circadian rhythm was lowest. When the CIA created assassin-clones in its MK-ULTRA program, aside from the pornography, prostitution, and mind-altering drugs used on the victim, sleep deprivation was essential the process. All of this goes to falsify the premise of nouthetic counseling at its most basic).
Most novels I read aren’t as gripping as this. And this isn’t salacious gossip. This “dominionist” movement seriously derailed my own development at my most formable. And these people use legal threats and intimidation to silence any opposition (I actually saw it in seminary). If this will help steer people away, then well and good.
The comments are by those who were neighbors to the Phillips 8,000 square foot home.