Saturday, July 14, 2018

No Scriptural Foundation: Further Dialogue with Faith and Heritage


In our continuing dialogue regarding the topic of Kinism, Mr. Carlton has penned his most recent response over at the Faith and Heritage website, entitled No Middle Ground: Continuing Dialogue With Truth Tribune. I'm not quite certain if Mr. Carlton intends for this to be his last response to me. If he does, I of course respect that; I never force anyone to respond to me, and he won't be hounded with emails and phone calls. In fact, that Mr. Carlton chose to offer any response in the first place is not a problem for me either. As I've told others in person and have expressed on Twitter, I'm thankful to Kinists for the fact that they've been willing to interact at all. I've written far more on Hyper-Charismatics for a much longer period of time, and yet, within so short a time frame, I've already received much more interaction from Kinists or those who hold Kinist-like views. (Even if this has ranged between beneficial conversation to - in extreme cases - reaching for the block button.)

If the reader is just now coming across this post, I would highly advise that they go back to the beginning, and start from there. I will be taking for granted that the reader is already aware of certain things discussed, or the flow of thought in this conversation.

As always, direct quotes from the article will be written in purple.

Returning to General Equity

Near the beginning of the article, Mr. Carlton returns to the topic of general equity, as mentioned in the Westminster Confession of Faith.
TT believes that my understanding of general equity is not in keeping with the intention of the Westminster divines. TT suggests that I use a “loose definition of ‘general equity,’” and he outlines several statements from Reformed theologians to make his case.

There is no need to reproduce all the quotes that TT provides since they can be read within his response. First, what I would like to address is the threefold division of the law that is utilized by the WCF and has been used by theologians long before the Protestant Reformation. This conventional distinction is present in many Christian writers throughout the centuries, and for the most part these Christians considered the judicial or civil laws of Israel to be no longer binding. However it would be overly simplistic to conclude from this that most Christians, Reformed or otherwise, rejected the basic premise of theonomy. These categories are often defined differently by modern theonomists than they were by more traditional Christian thinkers.

An example of this is the theonomy of Thomas Aquinas, wherein Aquinas states that the civil laws of Israel have been abrogated, but in his discussion of the divine law argues that the principles taught throughout what would often be considered civil laws remain binding. Aquinas speaks of natural law in the same way that early Protestants like Martin Luther and John Calvin did, as the divine and eternal law manifested in God’s creation and able to be understood to a certain degree by reason. According to Aquinas, God gave the written divine law “for the correction of natural law . . . because the natural law was perverted in the hearts of some men . . . so that they thought those things good which are naturally evil, which perversion stood in need of correction.” Aquinas’ Summa is replete with quotations of case laws given to Israel in which he assumes their abiding validity. Aquinas clearly believes that the underlying principles of the civil laws are the written manifestation of the divine law, which is based upon universal eternal principles and clarifies what human reason is prone to distorting.
I want to pause here and ask the reader a simple question: what did I do in my previous post?

The answer is I quoted the "general equity" section of the Westminster Confession in its entirety. I showed what else the Westminster Confession said regarding the Law. I then showed what other Reformed confessions and what great Reformed men from John Calvin onward had taught regarding the Law. What did we find? That all of them would have been condemned by Mr. Carlton, were he as consistent with them as he was with me. Consider, for example, that Kinists have cited the inheritance laws as something which are still binding; yet these laws are among those commonly cited by Reformed commentators as those rules and ordinances which are not binding at all upon the believer.

Instead of responding to the quotes themselves, or providing counterquotes to show the context is being misunderstood (as I have with Kinists), Mr. Carlton instead attempts to argue that "many Christian writers" (none named, let alone quoted, save for Aquinas in regards to another point) actually don't have "a contradiction or a major disagreement with the principles of theonomy" (no examples provided). Even more interesting, he goes on to say "non-theonomists seem to categorically reject any application of the civil code to our present circumstances," and says this "goes beyond the historic Christian position." Again, nothing is presented to show the Kinist position as the "historic Christian position," other than a passing reference to Aquinas and cavalier claims from Mr. Carlton himself. Here I will point out again that Mr. Carlton has refused to handle the passages quoted in my post, other than to claim we're all just misunderstanding Christians of the past, even though they are quite clear in what they say, which is often in contradiction of his much more extreme view. (eg., "[the Civil Law] expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue of that institution..."; the Savoy Declaration, emphasis mine.) If it is true that the beliefs of older Christians are being misunderstood, then this should be able to be documented, and citations and quotations should be provided.

Mr. Carlton does not do this for one simple reason: he cannot

It must also be pointed out that Mr. Carlton dances between extremes. He continually speaks of those who believe that the Civil Law has zero relevance in our modern day. This mentality might exist, and certainly the Reformers and those from the Westminster period onward believed the Civil Laws had, within certain contexts, some relevance or guidance. However, the question for us, with the topic of Kinism, is whether or not these laws are binding upon us today in the same vein as the Moral Law. Are they as applicable as the Moral Law? On this point, Mr. Carlton cannot remain consistent, if he wishes to appeal to history. He admitted earlier in his post, regarding Reformers and Reformed theologians, that "these Christians considered the judicial or civil laws of Israel to be no longer binding." Yet the Kinist, as Mr. Carlton himself argued, does believe they're binding - to violate the Civil Law is to commit a sin, in the Kinist's eyes. That will come out more clear in this post.

There was a metaphor used by Luther against Erasmus, referring to the child-like thinking that, if a toddler closes his eyes to something and cannot see it, it does not exist, and hence no one else can see it. In like manner, Mr. Carlton closes his eyes to the plain historical evidence, and seems to think that, if he cannot see it (and pretend to the contrary), then no one else can see it. The fact is the historical evidence on the traditional Reformed thinking of the Law is obvious, and it is for this reason that more consistent Kinists like Rushdoony actually mocked the Westminster Confession regarding its view of the Law, calling it "guilty of nonsense." Despite the claim of other Kinists, one can only claim "the historic Christian position" when you ignore what that "historic Christian position" actually is.

Application of the Civil Law

Now we turn to application of the civil law.
This leads me to consider the specific questions TT raises. TT suggests that the criminality of certain offenses (though not their sinfulness) is no longer binding upon society. TT uses sodomy as his example: “Those who cite the law against homosexuality (Lev 18:22) as a command for modern governments to execute homosexuals forget that nobody in the New Testament church seemed concerned with executing former homosexuals who came their way, but rather welcomed their repentance (cf. 1 Cor 6:9-11). The moral decree that homosexuality is a moral abomination is still binding upon the church; the judicial decree that those guilty of homosexuality should be executed is not.”

There are several arguments to be made in response. First, the fact that the apostolic church welcomed penitent sodomites, adulterers, and thieves into their ranks does not mean that they ignored their criminal nature. The church of the first century could easily have welcomed repentant sinners into their ranks while believing that crimes that had been committed still merited a civil response, even if one would not be forthcoming under a pagan government. Secondly, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 does not say that any or all of these offenses are no longer crimes or that their criminal nature is simply left to the judgment of the particular civil magistrate. Can civil magistrates choose to decriminalize theft? Obviously not, but thieves are mentioned alongside adulterers and sodomites in this same passage. I believe that there is at least some latitude in how particular crimes are punished that can vary in different times and places, because Numbers 35:31 implies that all crimes can have a lesser penalty assigned to them saving premeditated murder. This would still oblige civil magistrates to actively root out vices that the Bible identifies as crimes.
Two points:

First, Mr. Carlton responds to the citation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 with: "The church of the first century could easily have welcomed repentant sinners into their ranks while believing that crimes that had been committed still merited a civil response, even if one would not be forthcoming under a pagan government." In other words, Mr. Carlton is actually arguing that, when the apostle Paul wrote the words, "such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" (v. 11), he might as well have added immediately afterward: "...and boy, are you former gays lucky we aren't under a Christian magistrate, or you'd all be dead, repentance or no." Mr. Carlton is likewise arguing that, as the Corinthians sat with each other during their Sunday worship, they might have been glancing at those repentant homosexuals and thinking, "Those people deserve to hang." I recognize, of course, this is entering the realm of hyperbole; nonetheless, when we follow Mr. Carlton's conclusion (which he made sans an examination of the text), we have to make such assumptions. However, one would be hard pressed to think that the apostle Paul wrote this epistle with such a thinking in mind.

Second, Mr. Carlton argues: "1 Corinthians 6:9-11 does not say that any or all of these offenses are no longer crimes or that their criminal nature is simply left to the judgment of the particular civil magistrate." Neither was anyone arguing as such, so that's irrelevant. The point was to elucidate the different views of the laws between the two administrations, and why things were seen and treated differently in the New Testament church than Old Testament national Israel. All Mr. Carlton does here is argue from silence, in essence shifting the burden of proof by saying, "But it doesn't say they can't be punished by the civil magistrate!"

Note as well that this is again all speculation, using thinking such as "they could have believed this," and "but you can't prove the negative." There are many possibilities one can discern from scripture, but when we are seeking to acquire dogma, especially that which tells us whether or not we are in a deep sin against God, we should expect to find scriptural language speaking much plainer, rather than in grey areas. The fact remains, while the unbelieving Jews stoned people like Stephen for blasphemy, we do not see any example where the Christians of the early church were dragging repentant homosexuals out to be executed.
The Westminster divines agreed with this application. In WCF 23:3 we read that it is not only the magistrate’s right and prerogative, but also his duty, to see that “all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed.” The Westminster divines cite several passages of the Old Testament that virtually all anti-theonomists would consider part of Israel’s civil code that has expired and is no longer binding, but the divines insisted that the underlying principle of protecting true worship is still binding. Idolatry and false religious worship are revealed by God to be not merely sins but crimes. Our circumstances are certainly different from ancient Israel, but the severity of false religions upon societies has not changed. The modern Enlightenment concept of absolute religious freedom violates this biblical principle as understood not only by the divines at Westminster, but by all Christians throughout history.
I'm actually well aware of that part of the Westminster Confession. The problem is, Mr. Carlton is extending it well beyond it's means. Note even in the quote he provides that it mentions "blasphemies and heresies," yet he's clearly attempting to apply this along the same lines as the civil magistrate punishing homosexuals. In fact, here is what the Wesminster Confession of Faith says in regards to the magistrate and heresies, in the section that follows after the part Mr. Carlton quotes from:
For the better effecting whereof, he has power to call synods, to be present at them and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God. [source]
The Westminster Divines did indeed hold that a Christian ruler was to see to it that order was seen in the church... but they add the caveat that, "for the better effecting whereof," he was to call for councils and let the church decide the matter. This is not something the governing body did unilaterally, as did many of the kings of Judah (eg., Hezekiah). Rather, this was closer to what was seen with the later Roman Emperors, such as Constantine, who would ask for councils to be held to resolve major theological disputes (eg., the Council of Nicaea and Arianism).

Mr. Carlton also claims: "The Westminster divines cite several passages of the Old Testament that virtually all anti-theonomists would consider part of Israel’s civil code that has expired and is no longer binding." In the original printing of the Westminster Confession (the section regarding the magistrate was changed in a later edition), there are only two (not "several") sections from the Law which are quoted: Leviticus 24:16, and Deuteronomy 13:5, 6, and 12 (both of which, again, are in reference to the preservation of theology and right worship). The Westminster Divines quote far more from other Old Testament books such as Isaiah, Ezra, the Psalms, and 2 Chronicles.

We should also note here that Mr. Carlton arguments here are focusing on the doctrine of theonomy. Even if this were the case, one would have to be intellectually honest and admit this is entering category error, for while all Kinists are theonomists, not all theonomists are Kinists. Mr. Carlton's overall position is to prove the historicity of the Kinist position which many non-Kinist theonomists would readily, and passionately, oppose. It's similar to the tactic of some Premillennial Dispensationalists who attempt to prove the historicity of their doctrine by turning to early Church Fathers who were Premillennial... leaving out the inconvenient fact that, before the 19th century, most Premillennials were of the Historic Premillennial camp. Similarly, Mr. Carlton seems to be intent on proving the Westminster Divines and other early Reformed theologians were theonomists, or held theonomists views, and hence we must conclude that they would have also been Kinists, or would have been okay with the Kinist position. One must wonder, then, which of the Westminster Divines would have agreed with the notion not only that Rahab wasn't a Gentile, but that her Gentile genes contaminating Christ's bloodline would have made the entire Gospel null and void.

Hence Mr. Carlton is really presenting a largely irrelevant argumentation here, for even if he can present a case that theonomy has some historical legitimacy, it is non sequitor to conclude that this automatically means Kinism likewise has historical legitimacy. As we just discussed, proving the one does not prove the other.
This is the same methodology that theonomists use in applying the moral principles of Israel’s case laws to our present circumstances. TT cites my example of how general equity would apply to Deut. 22:8 as establishing building codes to maintain a basic degree of architectural integrity. TT asks, “Is Mr. Carlton likewise telling us that buildings which are not ‘safe for ordinary human occupancy’ are likewise treason to God? Is it ‘intrinsically immoral’ to have improper railings on a building? Could OSHA rightfully claim that, in performing their task, they are merely doing God’s work?”

Yes, it is immoral to make buildings unsafe for ordinary usage. This particular case law falls under the sixth commandment, Thou shalt not kill. The modern application would be any laws that legitimately promote public safety. The Westminster Larger Catechism states, “The duties required in the sixth commandment are all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others.” Erecting safe buildings preserves human life and prevents unnecessary death and injury. TT muddies the waters by mentioning OSHA, because there is no reason to believe that proper building codes or safety regulations have to be promulgated by centralized government bureaucracies like OSHA – which in any case deals fundamentally with workplace safety and not with construction, anyway.
The last comment on OSHA makes me guess that Mr. Carlton has never worked in construction. Granted, neither have I, but my late paternal grandfather did, and he could have told you horror stories about OSHA and their interfering with construction and building design. Imagine shutting down an entire operation because of one small thing, and you get the idea. Even putting this aside, part of "workplace safety" is whether or not the building itself is structurally safe for its employers to inhabit; if it's not, OSHA can unleash fines or penalties upon the business until this is rectified. There was even an entire sketch in the "Space Mutiny" episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 centered around this very fact. (And yes, I just nerded out there for a moment - I promise it'll be the only time in this post.)

More to the point, we have here the extreme view of the Law as found within the Kinist camp. Namely, that even having a building that is somehow unsafe is immoral and a violation of God's Law. I once lived in an apartment building where a railing was a bit wobbly and not as sturdy as it should have been - I should have commanded by landlord to repent of his sins and fix the railing, or the curse of the Law would hang over his head.

More importantly, we see here that the Kinist position is separate from the Reformers and their immediate descendants, who would have opposed such thinking. Remember, Mr. Carlton earlier admitted that the men I quoted "considered the Judicial or Civil Laws of Israel to be no longer binding." How could Deuteronomy 22:8 be cited that something was immoral if it is no longer binding, while at the same time attempting to demonstrate that the Reformers would have held the same position? The Kinist has to in essence attempt a tap dance between two positions, depending on whether or not it suits their position. One example: the Civil Law is a guideline when scripture proves wanting for them; the Civil Law is binding and violations of it are immoral when their position is threatened. Another example: the Reformers considered the Civil Laws no longer binding; nothing among the Reformers contradict Kinism, and if it does, it's just a misunderstanding on the part of the non-Kinist. You cannot have both without having to admit you hold an irrational position.

Full Circle: Ethnic Laws

After further explaining his few on the term "general equity," Mr. Carlton now returns to the very heart of the subject: the supposed ethnic laws.
The same applies to the laws that govern and protect Israel’s national identity as a people. Laws that regulate inheritance to prevent tribal dispossession are derivative of the fifth commandment, which promises that the Israelites would prosper in the land that God had given them. The Apostle Paul applies this promise to all Christians in their respective lands and estates (Eph. 6:2). Are we really to believe that the promise of the fifth commandment remains while laws that protect the inheritance that the fifth commandment promises are no longer applicable to today? The specific circumstances of ancient Israel have indeed changed, but the importance of ethnic and tribal identity has not. Christians throughout history have taken the necessary steps to safeguard the generational transference of their property within their families. The modern assault on property and inheritance is simply another manifestation of the rejection of biblical morality.
So, after the many passages in Deuteronomy, Ezra, and Nehemiah were demonstrated to be weak support at best for Kinist doctrine, and after such ludicrous theories such as those pertaining to Rahab and Ruth were found to be unscriptural and historically vacuous, what do we ultimately get?

Israel's national identity laws can be applied today because we can personally choose to interpret it as such.

"Wait, that's a straw man!" I can hear some Kinists saying. However, this is precisely what Mr. Carlton is attempting to put forward. He could not defend Kinism with scripture in previous posts - that was abundantly clear. He attempted to defend Kinism with a looser interpretation of scripture (the "secondary concern" argumentation), and this too clearly came up wanting. Now, he is clinging to the phrase "general equity," and demanding that, since we have general equity on the table, it can be taken to mean passages like Deuteronomy 7 are laws for the protection of a group's "national identity as a people."

But why?

It has been established ad nauseum that Deuteronomy 7 is religious in nature, focused entirely on right worship. There is no "secondary" concern from God in that passage and others. This is why nobody, until the rise of Kinism, had an issue with Rahab being a Gentile, let alone identifying the Rahab of Matthew 1:5 with Rahab the harlot. The Kinist demands we interpret the so-called national identity laws according to their use of "general equity" and their group's interpretation of scripture... even though both history and scripture speak against such a notion. Consider that Mr. Carlton again cited inheritance laws as something which is still binding morally upon societies, when this is something commonly cited by Reformers and other theologians as an example of those parts of the Civil Law no longer binding in the same vain as the Moral Law (eg., Turretin saying of the Laws concerning the division of the land and inheritance, "having been taken away, they can have no further use"). In the face of so many historical quotations and original sources, Mr. Carlton could only argue from a defense of theonomy, rather than true Kinism, and without citing any original sources himself.

With all due respect to Mr. Carlton, this is not making a case - this is whistling in the dark.

To further add to the problems found in Kinist appeals to scripture, Mr. Carlton refers to Ephesians 6:2, though he neither quotes it nor exegetes it. This verse in question reads:
Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise)...
I'm assuming he meant to also add verse 3, which continues with "so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth." However, going back to verse 1 and onward finds that this is a passage dealing with children obeying their parents. Paul is talking about the roles within households, having already spoken about wives (Eph 5:22-24) and husbands (Eph 5:25-33). He will go on from here to address fathers (Eph 6:4), slaves (Eph 6:5-8), and masters (Eph 6:9). Are we really to believe that the mindset the apostle Paul was drawing from was that Christians under the new administration are to focus on "the importance of ethnic and tribal identity," and should "regulate inheritance to prevent tribal dispossession"? Are we to believe here that Paul held such a view to the point that if two believers of different races were to marry, they would then be in sin, or violating God's blueprint for nature? Such an understanding is a complete mangling of the text, reading into it things which simply do not exist.

Mr. Carlton says at the end of the article:
TT assures his readers that he opposes “Marxist views that say national or ethnic identity has absolutely zero value in any sense.” Phew! Unfortunately it does us no good when the nations of the West are experiencing treason from within and an onslaught of hostile foreign invaders who are euphemized as “refugees” and “migrants.” We are witnessing the curse of Deuteronomy 28:43-44 play out out before our very eyes. Being slightly to the right of the cultural Marxist zeitgeist without rejecting its major premises will do nothing to halt its progress. We who live among the ruins of Christendom must choose to either accept the status quo of white dispossession, or choose to resist and defend our ethnic and tribal identity as our Christian forebears once did. There is no middle ground.
I have to be blunt here: this is just absolutely pointless fluff. Flowery language like "we who live among the ruins of Christendom" or "resist and defend our ethnic and tribal identity" might get the rah-rah-rah emotions going with Mr. Carlton's support base, and it might get him pats on the back from friends over at Faith and Heritage, but it doesn't help the conversation. And frankly, unless you're going to make the book Siege become a reality, or you're going to form a militia and try to fulfill the Day of the Rope from The Turner Diaries, you're just LARPing, and no one wants to hear it.

As for the idea that there is no "middle ground," this goes back to the false dichotomy dilemma found among Kinists that I've brought up before. That is, I have found, in my dialogue with Kinists, that they presume, if you're not a Kinist, then you're a Neo-Marxist, SJW, or something along that stripe.

Concluding Thoughts

It seems at this point that fighting over the definition of "general equity" in the Westminster Confession is the hill Mr. Carlton wishes to die on. In reviewing how these discussions began, it is certainly interesting to see how the topics have developed and shifted. Gone are any attempts to fully exegete and explain the doctrine of Kinism from scripture. Gone are any attempts to demonstrate that there are "secondary" concerns by God within the passages in question. Gone is any attempt to substantiate the Kinist beliefs on Rahab. Gone is the bold declaration that "confessing Canaanite blood in Christ's genes is a heresy that undoes the Gospel and Incarnation." Gone is any attempt to show that every single jot and tittle of Deuteronomy 17 can be applied to modern governments. The only thing that has perhaps remained consistent is the Kinist claim that they are following "historical Christianity."

Mr. Carlton says to us there is no middle ground between "white dispossession" and having to "defend our ethnic and tribal identity." There are astounding developments in racial politics across the west, that is certain... but as far as Kinists go, there is another concern for them: there is clearly no scriptural foundation within the movement. This back and forth has only demonstrated Kinism is not founded upon the word of God, whether if by that we mean the plain meaning or the historical interpretation of it.

Mr. Carlton writes in his article: "I’ll leave it for our readers to consider our arguments as they stand." I agree with this, and therefore I would ask the readers who have been following this exchange some simple questions:
  • Who has gone to scripture? Who has attempted to explain the passages from the context itself? Who has handled the passages rightly?
  • Who has gone to history? Who has provided quotes from original sources? Who is able to handle those quotes provided without diverting the topic or ignoring the quotes provided? Whose position in toto has a greater foundation in Christian history?
If the reader answers these questions honestly, I think they will find their answer on just how strong a position Kinism is when it comes to the word of God and historic Christian doctrine.

I would again warn and readers involved with this movement, and it's false Gospel, to do away with it and flee from its clutches. Do not be seduced by unbiblical doctrines which promise to free you from modernism, and yet use ahistoric, modernist interpretations of God's holy word in exchange. Do not permit yourself to be under a yoke which not only has no scriptural foundation, but places you under the Law with even more severity than is required, to the point that even a wobbly hand railing places you under God's condemnation. Turn to the true Gospel, founded not upon a racially pure Savior, but a Savior free of sin - a Savior who died for His lambs, so that they may be right before God, and redeemed before their King. I pray my blog may seek to awaken many towards this path. God bless.