Biblical Economics: The Siege of Samaria, Part 3

Posted June 25, 2016 by Sean Gerety
Categories: Uncategorized

In part 3 Steve Matthews discusses the importance of the economic principle of “opportunity cost.” If you’re late to the game, proceed to part 1 and forgo jumping right into part 3. That’s the cost of admission. 🙂

Lux Lucet

Elisha Prophesies the End of Samaria's SiegeElisha Prophesies the End of Samaria’s Siege by Nicolas Fontaine, 1625-1709.

My goal in this series is to demonstrate that many of key concepts of economics are either explicitly or implicitly taught in Bible’s account of the siege of Samaria as found in 2 Kings 6:24-7:20.

In Part One, we looked at 2 Kings 6:25 and what we could learn from the exorbitant prices people were paying for undesirable food under siege conditions. In Part 2, we looked at the relationship between two economics and politics. Especially, we considered how economic hardship is frequently brought on by the ill-conceived policies of politicians, who, being loath to take the blame themselves, often will attempt to find a scapegoat to divert public dissatisfaction away from themselves.

Today, I would like us to look at another important economic concept demonstrated in 2 Kings: opportunity cost. But before diving into that, perhaps it would…

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Facts and Myths for the PCA on Racial Reconciliation

Posted June 22, 2016 by Sean Gerety
Categories: Uncategorized

PCA is at it again. Let the self flagellation begin. Thankfully, not everyone has been drinking the PC Kool-Aid. Bob Mattes really nails it.

“When the PCA repents of anything, that carries through to the every communicant in the pews, which causes them to violate the 9th Commandment when they have not sinned in that way. It’s logically a package deal.”

Reformed Musings

The PCA will consider a host of overtures at the 44th General Assembly that purport to deal with racial/ethnic reconciliation, although most merely parrot Overture 4.  I believe that all but a couple of the reconciliation overtures are seriously flawed. I hope to briefly explain a few of the issues.

Let me make clear up front that racism is sin. Exegesis that states or implies that ALL men do not equally bear God’s image is wrong and self-serving, not God honoring. Not loving ALL of our brothers and sisters in Christ as John admonished in his first letter is sin. Let’s get that off the table up front.

The Ninth Commandment

Westminster Larger Catechism Q/A 144 says that the 9th Commandment requires in part:

A. The duties required in the ninth commandment are, the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbor…

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Faith Alive

Posted June 18, 2016 by Sean Gerety
Categories: Doug Wilson, Gordon Clark, Heresies, Theology

faith aliveLuther rightly maintained that justification by faith alone is the linchpin upon which the church stands or falls.  If this doctrine is lost or even muddied, the semblance of religion remains, but the church fades into nonexistence. That is why a clear and unambiguous definition of faith is essential. If you don’t know exactly what the alone instrument in justification consists of how can it be defended? Further, and in order to avoid equivocation, any definition faith has to apply to all forms of faith whether saving or not.  Seems simple, right?  The problem is that in the minds of the vast majority of pastors and teachers any time the word “saving” precedes the word “faith” it’s the latter that takes on an entirely new meaning. To that end the traditional threefold definition of faith has been shown to be ambiguous at best and outright dangerous at worst providing an open doorway for pernicious and deadly heresies that snake their way into the Church unabated.

While a source of irritation to many modern Reformed pastors, it was Gordon Clark who first identified this gaping crack in the Church’s foundation and correctly argued that the difference between faith and saving faith are the propositions believed.  In contrast, a majority of Reformed pastors and churchmen, who are blindly wed to tradition seemingly for tradition’s sake, maintain that the difference lies not in the propositions believed at  all, but in some nebulous psychological state that when mixed with simple faith makes ordinary faith saving.

Like the secret recipe for KFC or McDonald’s special sauce, today’s Reformed leaders and apologists differ wildly when it comes to explaining what exactly in addition to simple faith in the Gospel is needed to save a sinner. PCA pastor Andy Webb says the secret ingredient is a Harry Potter potion mingling “the emotion of love with trust, inclination, and agreement.”  The self-proclaimed “Reformed Apologist,” Ron DiGiacomo, claims the magic happens when “a disposition of commitment,” whatever that might entail, is added to simple belief.  Alan Strange, who is an OPC minister and professor of church history at Mid-America Reformed Seminary, says the alchemy that makes simple belief alone in Christ alone saving is a “mystery.”  Strange warns that any attempt to define what it is that makes ordinary belief saving is like peering into the doctrine of Christ’s Incarnation and is “not amenable to rationalistic reduction.”  For Strange what makes ordinary belief saving is beyond human understanding or definition.  According to Strange even the words faith and belief differ, despite being translations of the exact same Greek word in Scripture, and that “justifying faith is something more than merely belief: not something less, but something more.”  The central error in all this is that faith is belief. Nothing more, nothing less. Consequently, and when you come right down to it, none of these men really believe in justification by faith alone.  They just pay it lip service.  No wonder the FV continues to spread unabated and the PCA is now a safe haven for the FV.  Such is the state of the Reformed and Presbyterian church today.

So, Sean, are you saying that the vast majority of Reformed churchmen don’t believe in justification by faith alone? Well, yes and no.  Yes, because they add to saving faith that which is absent from faith simpliciter and end up equivocating, even contradicting themselves, when explaining what exactly the alone instrument of justification is. No, because while confused and mired in meaningless religious jargon, metaphors and word pictures, they don’t add works as that which completes faith making it somehow “saving.”  They at least attempt to draw a distinction between God’s once and for all declaration of righteousness the moment a person first believes with works done as the result of this faith in sanctification.  They differ, albeit ever so slightly, with the FV men who profess  “the faith which is the sole instrument of justification can be understood as … a living, active, and personally loyal faith” (admittedly very similar to DiGiacomo’s “disposition of commitment”).

Concerning this idea of “a living, active, and personally loyal faith,” perhaps the best example demonstrating the inability of the defenders of the traditional threefold definition of faith to safeguard against the deadly errors of heretics like those in the Federal Vision (but you can think of the ever encroaching tentacles of Romanism as well), came during the final days of year long debate between Lane Keister and Federal Vision bigmouth, Doug Wilson.  At that point the discussion turned to the nature of saving faith and the questions concerning the “aliveness” of faith in justification.  Keister wrote:

Contrary to the criticisms of FV proponents … I know of NO Reformed scholar who says that we are justified by a dead faith. I know of no Reformed scholar who even hints at this. I know of dozens of Reformed scholars who say the aliveness of faith is not what justifies us. The best way I can put this is to say that the aliveness of faith is a sine qua non, but is not part of the inherent structure of justification. Of course the person who stretches out his arm to catch a ball has to be alive to do that. But his being alive is not an action inherent in stretching out his arm. Maybe I can put it this way: states of being are distinct from actions, just like verbs of being are distinct from verbs of action. We must distinguish then between the state of being alive and the verb of action of what faith does in laying hold of Christ’s righteousness. To put it another way, our aliveness can have no object. It is inherently reflexive. But faith’s action in justification takes a direct object: the righteousness of Christ. I really think this is as clear as I can be. I don’t see any reason why Doug should disagree with this, either.  I suppose I will have to enact a qualification of this, nevertheless, lest people think I am making faith active. When I am referring to “faith’s action” I do not mean that we are doing a work. I mean only that faith is doing something in justification. And this is what it is doing: it is “accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification” (WCF 14.2).

Before unpacking this tragically confused paragraph, the central thing to recognize is that both Keister and Wilson are operating from the exact same definition of saving faith. Both believe that faith can be either “alive” or “dead,” which means, when stripped of its metaphorical trappings, that a person can believe the truth of the Gospel, assent to it, yet still be lost.  In order to be saved and for faith to be effectual, something in addition to belief is needed.  I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve had Reformed pastors tell me that simply believing the Gospel and Christ’s finished work on the cross on account of sin is not enough to save anyone. So much for the idea that the Gospel is “the power of God unto salvation.” But, then, almost in the same breath, they identify Christians as “believers” blissfully unaware of the contradiction right under their nose.  This is also why Reformed Christians who refuse to accept contradictions or so-called “paradoxes” in Scripture are routinely attacked and routinely banned from blogs and discussion groups by men for maintaining that sinners are justified by belief alone.

Keister begins by saying that he knows of “NO Reformed scholar who says that we are justified by a dead faith.”  But, then he says the aliveness of faith is “not part of the inherent structure of justification.”   So, which is it?  If we are not justified by dead faith, wouldn’t it follow that we’re saved by a faith that is “alive” whatever that might mean?  He then adds this “aliveness” is a “sine qua non,” that which is indispensable or essential to something, just not to justification.  Again, how can that be?  If faith is the alone instrument in justification than it would seem it is very much “inherent to the structure of justification.” If it’s not, by what means can a sinner be justified?

The tragedy is that Keister is far from alone and his confusion is endemic to virtually all Reformed pastors today who cannot clearly define the difference between faith and saving faith without equivocating or just speaking nonsense.  This is why they identify faith as something that can be either “alive” or “dead.”  In fact, Keister takes a pointed jab at the late John Robbins writing:

…Robbins and his crowd seem to me to be in danger of denying that justifying faith is alive, which is what the confession says. Now, they may say that assent is alive.

First, as one who identifies with “Robbins and his crowd” I do deny that saving faith is “alive” simply because it is a metaphor that is misapplied to saving faith.  Besides, in order for any metaphor to make sense it has to be first explained in literal language.  Now, it could be said that saving faith is evidence that a person has already been translated from death to life in regeneration, but beyond that it is a completely irrelevant to the question of the role faith plays in justification.  This is an important point because as Dewey Robert’s observers, Federal Visionists like Wilson deny God’s grace in regeneration (see “The Federal Vision and Grace“).  Second, the Westminster Confession nowhere says that “justifying faith is alive.”  Concerning faith in justification the Confession states; “Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.” Keister is mistaken simply because that which accompanies something, in this case saving faith, is not part of the essence of saving faith, but rather results from it. That should have been obvious to Keister and the clue is the phrase “works by love,” but more on that later.

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Biblical Economics: The Siege of Samaria, Part 2

Posted June 13, 2016 by Sean Gerety
Categories: Uncategorized

Lux Lucet

Elisha Prophesies the End of Samaria's SiegeElisha Prophesies the End of Samaria’s Siege by Nicolas Fontaine, 1625-1709.

In the first installment in this series, we looked at some of the economic concepts taught in the Bible’s account of the siege of Samaria recorded for us in 2 Kings 6:24-7:20. In particular we looked at 2 Kings 6:25 and found that quite a bit of economics is packed in just that one verse. Today, we’ll continue the discussion of economic implications of Syria’s attack on the capital of the Northern Kingdom.

Politics, Economics and the Blame Game

As a kid, one of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons was Scooby Doo. The episodes were pretty formulaic, especially the ending where, as the bad guys were being hauled off to the paddy wagon, they inevitably would blurt out, “And I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling kids!” They never blamed their downfall on…

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Biblical Economics: The Siege of Samaria, Part 1

Posted June 6, 2016 by Sean Gerety
Categories: Uncategorized

The Bible has a monopoly on truth. This simple idea is basic to the entire Scripturalist enterprise. Yet while the idea itself is simple and ought to be taught and understood by every Christian, it…

Source: Biblical Economics: The Siege of Samaria, Part 1

Why the PCA is a Safe-Haven for the Federal Vision Heresy

Posted May 22, 2016 by Sean Gerety
Categories: Heresies

rotten-fruitMy friend, Pastor Richard Bacon, recently shared an interesting blog piece written by Rev. Clayton Spronk, lamenting the fact that the PCA is now a Federal Vision safe haven. Spronk is a little off on one thing and that Peter Leithart, after being refused a transfer into a less than FV friendly PCA presbytery, has since retreated to Doug Wilson’s faux Christian denomination, the CREC.  You can read Spronk’s, “Why the PCA is a Safe-Haven for the Federal Vision Heresy,” here.

Not discussed in the piece, and something that has become a sore spot for me, is the central reason why the PCA is now a safe-have for the FV. The PCA lost the fight against this blatant heresy for a simple reason; the failure to understand the nature of faith and saving faith. Men like PCA pastors Andy Webb, Lane Keister, and the other so-called “TRs” (Truly Reformed), deny, along with all of the FV men, that faith is simple belief and that saving faith is the simple belief in the propositions of the Gospel. They say the faith that saves is something more than mere belief, but whatever this “more” is, it’s ambiguous. The FV men too, particularly James Jordan, have maintained the fight over the FV is not primarily dealing with questions concerning the covenant, although that certainly is part of it, it is over “fiducia,” the imagined third element of saving faith that is supposed to make ordinary faith “saving.”

This how Jordan, whom some have dubbed the Godfather of the FV, explained the fight over the FV back in 2008:

Some men remain in the PCA because God has told them they have a duty to help the 7000 who have not yet bowed the knee to antichrist. They hatred of the Kingship of Jesus, which characterizes so much of the PCA, is with fighting. The Reformed faith is that faith includes fiducia, and this is still worth fighting for, regardless of how many antinominian blogs hate it.

Again, the reason why the fight against the FV men was lost in the PCA is because the “good guys” are blindly wed to the traditional and artificial division of saving faith as a complex consisting of  notitia, assensus and fiducia. Or, in ordinary English; understanding, assent and trust. The problem lies precisely with that the last element, fiducia, because it adds an impenetrable layer of ambiguity to faith’s definition rendering the alone instrument in salvation meaningless. Not that there is anything impenetrable or meaningless about “trust,” only that to trust someone is to have faith, is to believe, that what they say is true.  Trust is belief in the future tense, and, as such, adds nothing to an understanding of what faith is.  It is to simply define the word with itself.  Or, as Gordon Clark once said, it’s a tautology.  Now, if that is all it was it would just hardly raise an eyebrow.  But, those defenders of this threefold division of saving faith, both inside and outside of FV, never stop there. Consider this from PCA pastor Andy Webb, an early opponent of the FV; “Fiducia is the hardest element of saving faith to define…. Fiducia therefore mingles the emotion of love with trust, inclination, and agreement.” Now, that’s a definition that is so confused, anti-Scriptural, and hostile to a clear understanding of the nature of faith that no human could possibly understand it. It is a flight into mysticism and is a view of faith completely divorced from reason. But, that is what these men desire more than they ever seriously wanted to eradicate the FV from the PCA. They want a Christianity that is beyond reason, which for many, has become the hallmark of neo-Reformed piety.

For men like Webb, it’s the experience within that matters, not the object on which the mind or soul apprehends outside of itself. Websters defines trust as the belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc. Notice, there is no mention any mingling of the “emotion of love” in addition to trust, much less inclination or agreement (the last of which is just the restatement of the second element of faith or assent). That’s because in the minds of many to clearly and unambiguously define terms, even terms as central to the Christian system as “faith,” is to be guilty of “rationalism.”  Yet, despite their impotence in defending the faith, these men continue to wrap themselves in the confused and contradictory tradition that plays right into the hands of the very heretics they claim to oppose. After all, Christians are believers, not faith-ers. It is the Greek, not the Latin, that determines the meaning of the words of Scripture. Not surprisingly, these same TRs are the ones who will viciously attack anyone who uses seemingly innocuous phrases like “justification by belief alone” (try it sometime and you’ll see what I mean). In spite of all this, they continue to wonder why the PCA is now a safe haven for the Federal Vision.

As John Robbins explained writing in the introduction to Gordon Clark’s, What is Saving Faith:

Unintentionally and unwittingly, the defenders of justification by faith alone, by their un-Scriptural doctrine of faith (which makes faith a complex psychological act rather than simple assent to the truth) have created and sustained the theological climate in which those who deny justification by faith alone can flourish. The defenders of justification by faith alone have asserted that it is not enough to believe the Gospel, for even the demons believe the Gospel, and the demons are lost. Belief is not enough, they say. In order to be saved, one must do more than believe; one must commit, surrender, trust, encounter, relate, or emote.

The deniers of justification by faith alone agree: It is not enough to believe the Gospel in order to be saved. But rather than urging people to perform some further psychological task in addition to belief, they tell them to do good works in order to be saved. Their works (or their baptism) will complete what is lacking in belief alone. In this way, both the defenders and the deniers of justification by faith alone have lost sight of what in fact saves: The perfect, imputed righteousness of Christ completely outside the sinner, and received by the simple instrument of belief alone.

The current controversy over justification has broken out in conservative churches because Christians recognize that the Bible denies justification by works, whether works are regarded as a ground, condition, or an instrument of justification. But what most Christians have not yet recognized is that the common Protestant view of saving faith as something more than belief of the Gospel has fueled and will continue to fuel denials of justification by faith alone so long as it prevails. Until faith is understood as mere belief – the Bible makes no distinction between the two words – the justification controversy will continue, and those defending justification by faith alone will continue to be embarrassed by their agreement with the deniers of justification, that belief of the Gospel is not enough for salvation.

While it is too late for the PCA, Christians everywhere should be thankful for the rotten fruit of the FV for it exposed, more than anything before it, a long hidden weakness in the foundation of the historic Protestant system of belief. Sadly, those hopelessly wed to tradition in opposition to God’s Word, and who make up the failed leadership in the PCA, have been the last to learn from their mistake.

The Sins of Nations

Posted February 14, 2016 by Sean Gerety
Categories: Politics

cigar-c-cMany people think the worst and most pressing sin confronting our nation today is abortion.  After all, well over 54 million babies have been slaughtered since abortion on demand was first declared the “the law of the land” by the Supreme Court in 1973. Today we see videos of the butchers at Planned Parenthood wining and dining while discussing the price of fetal body parts to be sold for medical research that would have made the Nazis proud.  As grizzly and inhuman as wholesale legalized abortion is, the fact that abortion is legal doesn’t mean that a single baby must die.  A moral God fearing people would simply refuse to murder their own children.  Besides, the government isn’t lining up pregnant women forcing them to undergo abortions at gun point … at least not yet.

While that day may come (who knows maybe “global warming” will be the pretext to forced slaughter), the biggest sin is the one the Federal Government perpetrates right under our noses through the manipulation of our monetary system by means of the private bankers at the Federal Reserve.  This is all done with the blessings, albeit without the oversight, of our elected officials and in violation of our Constitution.  It is fraud on a mass scale and one that steals the wealth of everyone except the well-connected few who have mastered the game and who profit immensely at the expense of the widow, the poor and the rest of us schlubs.  Ron Paul rightly called the devaluation of our dollars (what some mistake for inflation through rising prices for goods and services) a “hidden tax.” To think we once fought a war over taxation without representation, today we willingly accept the surreptitious theft of our personal wealth simply because we don’t see it on our bank ledger.  While correcting this problem may require taking up arms again, the problem is most people simply do not know the extent of the fraud being perpetrated against them. Frankly, I can hardly grasp the extent of it and have only in recent years been trying to catch up.  I always thought critics of the Federal Reserve were conspiracy wack jobs who were waiting to be fitted for their tinfoil hats.  Besides, the Federal Government can always blame the rising prices at your local supermarket on tsunamis, earthquakes, e-coli outbreaks, or one of the endless wars in the Middle East. Every economic bubble that bursts can always be blamed on something else. They’ll never admit that any economic ill is the result of “quantitative easing”  or some other Fed created monetary distortion.  That would let the genie out of the bag and reveal that The Great And Powerful Oz is just the gray haired old Jewish lady now in charge of the Federal Reserve.

Thankfully Steve Matthews has started to pull back the curtain in the recent issue of Trinity Review with his piece: “The Fed, Fiat Currency, and Feckless Keynesian Economics.”  Matthews provides thumbnail sketches exposing the biggest fraud in history and its causes.   Here are Matthews’ big three:

Central Banking … “the Fed is and has been since its creation the premier crony capitalist institution in the US. It was a way of allowing the bankers to privatize their profits while socializing their risks.”

Fiat Currency … “The ability to counterfeit a currency allows central banks and those closely connected to them to essentially strip mine the assets of a nation and concentrate wealth in the hands of a few very wealthy, well-connected individuals. After all, those hundreds of billions and trillions of dollars created by the Fed end up first in the hands of the too-big-to-fail banks, who can then take that money and buy stocks, bonds, and real estate before the rise in prices created by all that new money kicks in.”

Keynesian Economics  … “Keynes denied that free market principles applied to wage rates. And because he believed wages would not fall in response to lower demand from the marketplace, he concluded that the economies of the industrialized nations were stuck in a vicious cycle of workers demanding more money than businesses were willing to pay, thus causing the extended depression experienced in the West during the 1930s. In order to break this cycle, Keynes proposed that governments needed to stimulate their economies by spending money that private business refused to spend.”

Concerning the last point on Keynesian economics, when you factor in the evils of a central bank with their ability to print money out of thin air, the way Keynesian economists accomplish paying workers less than businesses are willing to pay is by simply devaluing the currency.  That bit of evil Machiavellian brilliance was something I first came across in Brian Doherty’s review of Nickholas Wapshott’s book: Keynes/Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economies in Reason magazine.  Doherty writes:

In a 1930s context of very powerful unions, Keynes thought it was politically impossible to achieve the nominal wage reductions necessary to clear the market for labor—that is, to let wages fall so that hiring would be cheaper and unemployment thereby reduced. He instead promoted inflation as a means to trick labor into taking lower real wages.

Of course, by “inflation” Doherty means the end result of the Fed simply printing more money and the deception continues.  But, the real question is when will Christians realize that they have a responsibility to expose the sins of nations, even those nations like the United States that create money out of thin air.

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