The Reformation of Russia – Part 2 of 4

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

Reform in Russia

With the Bible translated into the Russian language, came the start of a Russian Reformation. As the Renaissance preceded the European Reformation, it also influenced a young monk from Mount Athos, Maximus the Greek. He would be responsible for carrying out the reform of Russian liturgy which led to the Ostrog Bible of 1581. Maximus the Greek, regarded as the most prominent spiritual figure of his century,13 worked to improve the earlier translation and translated many more works into the Slavic tongue.

As a young man, Maximus, or Michael, went to Italy to study and was introduced to several Italian humanists. But his interests soon took a new direction;

…strangely enough for a young humanist, the personality which impressed him the most and changed the current of his life was the ardent Dominican and reform minded preacher of Florence, Jeronymo Savanarola. Influenced by his passionate speeches Maximus gave up his scholarly ambitions and became a Dominican monk in the monastery of St. Mark in Florence. It seems, however, that the monastic life was not less disappointing for him than the environment of the humanists. Therefore, in 1505 or early 1506 he left Italy forever to retire in Mt. Athos and became once again a monk, but this time an Orthodox one in the ancient monastery of Vatopedi. He lived there for ten years, devoting his time to religious culture and to the study of the great Greek Fathers.14

Maximus’ studies of the Greek would lead him to become accepted as the foremost authority of his day when emissaries from Russia came in search of translators for their Greek books.15 Maximus left the monastery, arriving in Moscow in 1518, along with a company of others sent from the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Patriarch hoped that new ties could be established between the two Churches along with the request for translators.

Maximus began the work of translating the Greek into Latin as he knew nothing of the Slavic tongue. Others completed the work into the Russian tongue. Years later he developed a knowledge of Russian and could translate directly. As he translated the Greek for the Russian Orthodox Church, Maximus also criticized many aspects of the Church. This criticism eventually led to a mock trial and his imprisonment. But his literary work gained prominence;

His most significant product of this period was the translation of a copiously commented Psalter, a task for which he had been mainly invited to Moscow. It is pertinent to recall here that the Psalter was held in high esteem not only in the church but also in social and educational life in Russia. It was used as the basic reading book in primary schools, as a popular reading and even as a “magic” book. It is also worth noting that the heresy of the “Judaizers,” which shook the Russian Church at that time, based its dogmatic doctrine on the corrupted and misinterpreted text of the Psalter. The restoration of a genuine text, therefore, and the publication of an authoritative interpretation of this book was of manifold importance. Later on Maximus translated several patristic works, Byzantine collections of canonical texts, lives of Saints, etc. … So he soon became aware of the numerous mistakes contained in older Russian translations of the liturgical books and he emphasized the necessity of their correction. Therefore, he was charged with the revision of the commonest liturgical books in use, a task which gave him a chance to apply the methods of literary criticism that he had been taught in Italy and that led to his becoming a controversial figure. He used the same methods to prove the spuriousness of some apocryphal books widely spread in Russia at that time…

When he fell into disgrace, however, his literary and critical work was used by his adversaries to prove him guilty of corruption of the sacred texts. Nevertheless, his corrections were adopted later, and his philological talent became generally recognized. Indeed, thanks to his revising work Maximus stands out in the history of Russian letters as the introducer of the methods of literary criticism.16

The reform begun by Maximus grew as the Stoglav Council of 1551, (or the Council of the Hundred Chapters) followed some of his teachings. They worked to reform the Russian people, and to return the clergy to a purer monasticism.17 Incorporating the efforts of Maximus the Greek, many translations began to be published. In 1551, a Psalter and Psalm book, and among others, the Bible of Ostrog printed in 1581.18

While the Russian Orthodox Church separated from the Union of Rome and Constantinople, Constantinople formally recognized Moscow as a Patriarchate in 1589. However, in 1596, the Kingdom of Poland officially became Uniate (Union of Brest) and the Orthodox Church went underground. While they retained their Orthodox form, they were not formally recognized. Kiev was a part of Poland until 1686,19 and the enforced union between East and West only heightened the tensions between Kiev and Moscow.

Under Peter Mogila, who became the metropolitan for Kiev in 1632, the Church at Kiev was re-incorporated within the Moscow Patriarchate. Mogila also began a school at Kiev that eventually became the first college in Russia in 1635. As Kiev was strongly influenced by Poland, the school began using Latin as the official language for learning, borrowing the curriculum and books from Jesuit schools. Peter Mogila’s Orthodox Confession demonstrated the Roman Catholic influence.20 When books from Kiev were used in Moscow and elsewhere in the north, it fostered confusion and more division.

Separation of Church and State

The reform spirit that began with Maximus the Greek continued with the Russian Patriarch of Moscow–Nikon. Called, “Maximus’ most genuine spiritual descendant,”21 Nikon worked to bring the Russian liturgy closer in line with the Greek (1654). While the civil authority enforced many of his reforms,22 it led to the split of the ‘Old Believers’ who wanted to retain the traditional Russian forms. Millions of the ‘Old Believers’ were exiled or persecuted by the state.

While claiming full independence for the Church, Nikon was more than willing to use the state’s influence to further his Reform goals for the Church. The concept of church and state cooperation was built upon the Justinian concept of symphonia.23 Simply put, both church and state were independent yet acted in agreement. But his efforts and the later reaction of the state ended the traditional role of church and state;

The crisis came in the middle of the century, under Czar Alexis I (reigned 1645-1676) and Patriarch Nikon. It may be true that Nikon used to overstep his rights, but he was acting still within the traditional Byzantine scheme. Nikon’s deposition and condemnation in 1666, on the contrary, amounted to a departure from this scheme on the part of the state, not without some influence of the new Western conception of the supremacy of the state. Yet, in theory the old Byzantine conception was maintained.24

The Western concept of church and state noted above may have come from Poland as they struggled with the Reformation. Calvinist, Lutheran and other Renaissance and Reform movements made their way into Poland;25 and many began building reform minded schools. Although the Jesuits worked to end their presence, the Lutherian concepts of church and state may have filtered into Moscow. The contrast between the Catholic and the Lutherian views is quite sharp;

Presbyterian theorists maintained that their Reformed “two-kingdoms” concept differed from the Roman Catholic “two-kingdoms” theory, which they alleged had an implicit tendency for the church to assert control over the state. They also differed from the traditional Lutheran “two-kingdoms” idea, which the Reformed believed made too great a dichotomy between religion and state, with an implicit tendency for state to assert control over the church.26

Although the language of ‘a wall of separation between church and state’ is uniquely American, coming from Roger Williams who argued for the end of English state control over the Anglican Church, the concept of church/state separation is not unique to America alone. In Russia, the state began to dominate church affairs; which ended the Byzantine concept of the relationship between church and state.

Footnotes

The Reformation of Russia – Part 2

13. William E. Medlin & Christos G. Patrinells, Renaissance Influences and Religious Reforms in Russia, p. 20.

14. Ibid., p. 22.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid., pp. 24-25.

17. Cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 1190 & Medlin & Patrinells, Renaissance Influences and Religious Reforms in Russia, p. 25.

18. Medlin & Patrinells, Renaissance Influences and Religious Reforms in Russia, p. 108.

19. Encyclopedia Americana V 24, p. 27a.

20. Ibid.

21. Medlin & Patrinells, Renaissance Influences and Religious Reforms in Russia, p. 27.

22. Cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 960.

23. Encyclopedia Americana V 24, p. 27b.

24. Ibid.

25. Medlin & Patrinells, Renaissance Influences and Religious Reforms in Russia, p. 76.

26. Kelly, The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World, p. 75.

The Reformation of Russia – Part 1 of 4

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

Introduction

The Reformation of Russia was originally written as an epilogue to another book entitled, The Reformation of Texas; The History of Texas and of Religious Freedom. That work centered around the impact that two cultures had in Texas when the Spanish Catholic Church in Texas met the emigrant Reform culture from America. As a new Reformation resulted in Texas, political and religious institutions were changed. That book has since been reworked under the title of The History of Texas and of Religious Freedom in order to focus on the single issue of religious freedom.

The Reformation of Russia demonstrates how another Reformation occurred in a country on the other side of the globe. Although Texas and Russia were not directly connected to the Reformation of Europe, the influence of Europe’s Reform movement could be felt in both lands. However, as the history of Texas and Russia were both affected indirectly by the Protestant Reformation of the Catholic Church in Europe, the Catholic and the Reform Churches themselves had little influence in Russia, or upon Russia’s own Reformation.

Russia’s Church came from the Greek Orthodox Church which pre-dates both the Catholic and the Reform Churches. The history of the Russian Orthodox Church is a rich and complex tapestry. Even so, the influences of the Protestant Reform were felt by the Churches in Russia at the time the European Churches, under Catholicism, were being reformed.

While this is but one chapter from my earlier book, I believe it is worth a review. I will present this chapter in 4 parts. You will find many familiar themes within the Reformation of Russia when compared to the Reformation of Texas. Religious freedom is certainly as important to Russians as it is to Texans. I hope you enjoy reading this series of articles; you may even find a few surprises. And write me with any comments you may have (jamesrc@freepressinc.com). God bless you as you read.

East & West

The Western Christian Tradition did not play a direct role in Russia’s development. While we in America view history from this vantage point, we are at a unique disadvantage when trying to comprehend the Russian people. The Eastern Christian Tradition which formed the heart and soul of the Russian people, is foreign to most of us. But there are common links that provide a basis for our understanding as Russia experienced their own Reformation.

Under the Patriarch of Constantinople (now Istanbul) the Rus’ were introduced to Christianity. And while the West developed under the Roman (Latin) Catholic Church, Russia in the East was born from the Byzantine (Greek) Orthodox Church. So the European struggle to reform Catholic institutions was foreign to Russia who only knew of Eastern Orthodox traditions. Russia, however, would be affected by Reformation principles. And like Texas, Russia would also face post-Reform, Enlightenment philosophies.

Europe’s Reformation began from a desire among the humanists to study the source documents of literature, which included the study of the Bible from the original languages. After Erasmus printed his version of the Greek New Testament, Luther in Germany, Calvin in Geneva and Tyndale in England all began translating the Bible into their native tongues from the source languages. As the Bible was available for anyone to read, this challenged the claim of the Pope as the final authority for Church doctrine. And both the Reform Church and the Orthodox Church of Byzantium opposed the Pope on this point of doctrinal infallibility.

The Bible authorized by the Pope for the Western Church was the Latin Vulgate, produced by Jerome, whereas the Greek Septuagint (LXX) was the authorized version for the Eastern Church. When Jerome began his translation of the Bible into the Latin tongue (384 A.D.), he decided to use the original languages of Hebrew and Greek instead of the LXX translation, otherwise known as the Greek Septuagint. Augustine, however, had argued in favor of the LXX, calling it an inspired translation.1 Although Jerome was able to use the source language texts for the Latin translation, the same claims of infallibility made by Augustine about the LXX were made years later by the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Trent about the Latin Vulgate when Reformers began translating the Bible from the original languages instead of using the “inspired” Latin Vulgate.2

And when the Protestant Reformation in Europe began printing the Bible from the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, this brought the Catholic and Orthodox traditions closer together;

This was a return to what amounted to a unique Protestant blend of both ancient catholic traditions: the Greek New Testament text of the Eastern Church and the Hebrew Bible that Jerome had returned to in providing an official ecclesiastical recension for the Western Church. And for a brief moment, a genuine rapprochement actually existed between some Protestants of Western Europe and the Eastern Church under the Patriarchate of Cyril Lucaris (1572-1638), Patriarch of Constantinople from 1612 till his death.

Lucaris made contact with Protestants in his opposition to Rome and eventually became friends with the Archbishop of Canterbury, presenting Charles I with the precious Codex Alexandrinus as a gift. He sent his most promising priests to Oxford and to Geneva and came to accept the Protestant understanding of Predestination and election, justification by faith alone, two sacraments, and embodied these doctrines in a very Protestant Confessio Fidei published in Geneva in 1629.3

Codex Alexandrinus is a fifth century copy of the New Testament following the Alexandrian Text type expect in the Gospels where it follows the Byzantine Text. It came from Asia Minor, probably from the Orthodox monasteries on Mount Athos along the Aegean coast of Greece.4 As a Greek manuscript of the New Testament, it represents the “Majority Text” or the “Text of the Church” received from the Apostles in the first century.5 This is also called the “Text of Constantinople” that is the foundation for the Orthodox New Testament. It has also been called the “Received Text” that is the foundation for the Reformed/Protestant New Testament.

Christians in the Rus’

The history of the Greek Orthodox Church within Russia is a long, if not an unstable one. The first Church established in Russia was at Kiev near Poland in 945 A.D., under the See of Constantinople. And when the Grand Duke of Kiev was converted to the Christian religion in 989, he made Christianity the official religion of Russia.

Christianity spread rapidly and was organized under the jurisdiction of Constantinople with a metropolitan as the Russian head stationed at Kiev.6 With diocese across Russia, including Novgorod to the North, the metropolitan at Kiev assumed the title, “of the whole Russia,” indicating it’s national reach. While the Church was Greek, the native Slavic language was used from the very beginning. Bishops, however, were Greek.

In the year 1054, the Eastern and Western Catholic Churches split and Russia sided with the Eastern Church. A few years earlier in 1051, the monk Antonius from a monastery on Mount Athos began a monastic movement in Russia from Kiev.7 From the several monasteries that were established, came the formation of Russia’s heart and soul.8 Years later, another monk from Mount Athos would begin a Reformation of Russian liturgy that parallels the changes made in the European Reformation.

Following the Tartar invasion from Mongolia, the metropolitan was moved from Kiev to a safer location north at Moscow in 1328. Tensions grew following the shift from Kiev to Moscow and intensified when Russian Lithuania, near Kiev, became a part of Poland. As Moscow was Russian and Orthodox, Kiev attempted to assimilate Western culture. This regional conflict has never been fully abandoned and can still be seen today in the division between Russia and the Baltic states. The Church later split and Kiev formed their own Metropole in opposition to Moscow’s.9

In 1439, at the Council of Florence, the Byzantine Church signed a treaty to unite with the Roman Church. But Moscow would have nothing to do with the new ‘Uniate’ Church and cut all ties with Constantinople. The Uniate agreement was more popular in Kiev but only furthered tensions with Moscow. And as Poland Lithuania did become Uniate, a new Russian Metropolitan was established in 1448, that refused contact with the Greek Church, marking the Independence of the Russian Orthodox Church.

A few years later in 1453, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks; which ended the Byzantine Empire. This left Russia and the Czar as the sole protectorate of Eastern Christendom;

After the Ottoman Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, many Orthodox (and some Roman Catholic) clerics fled the defunct Byzantine Empire and eventually arrived in Muscovy, the last important Orthodox realm that was still independent from Islamic rule. These clerics began to promote the “Doctrine of the Third Rome.” They asserted that the original Rome had fallen because of the elevation of its bishop to papal status; that the new Rome, Constantinople, had fallen because it had briefly entered into union with old Rome … Ivan the Great married Zoe Paleologos, niece of the last Byzantine emperor, and used the title of Tsar (Russian for “Caesar”) to reinforce the belief that Moscow was the heir of imperial Byzantine traditions.10

Czars would rule in Russia until the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

In northern Russia at Novgorod, influenced to some degree by the West,11 a new Bible was being translated into the Russian language a few decades after the Turkish invasion;

Archbishop Gennadius of Novgorod decided to produce a complete code of the Bible in Slavonic. Ancient texts were used. But strangely enough, a Dominican monk, Benjamin, probably a Damatian, was invited to supervise the edition, and on the whole the final text seems to have been checked not by the Greek original, but by the Latin Vulgate. This Gennadius Bible (1499) was used for the first printed edition of the Slavonic Bible (Ostrog, 1581), and at this point once more was edited and revised on the basis of the Greek tradition.12

Russia was on the verge of a new reformation that was based upon a Bible written in their own language upon the original foundation of the Greek and Hebrew texts. This Reformation of Russia promised all the Blessings of Heaven that the West enjoyed.

Footnotes

The Reformation of Russia – Part 1

1. Theodore P. Letis, The Revival of the Ecclesiastical Texts and the Claims of the Anabaptists, p. 6.

2. Ibid., pp. 13-15.

3. Ibid., pp. 12-13.

4. Wilbur N. Pickering, “Can Anything Good Come out of [Egypt]?,” Unholy Hands on the Bible V 2, p. 608 & Cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 101.

5. Pickering, “Can Anything Good Come out of [Egypt]?,” p. 608.

6. Encyclopedia Americana V 24, p. 27.

7. Cross, The oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, pp. 1189-1190.

8. Ibid., p. 1190.

9. Encyclopedia Americana V 24, p. 27.

10. Collier’s Encyclopedia V 20, p. 284.

11. Encyclopedia Americana V 24, p. 27a.

12. Ibid.

Thanksgiving – A Holy Day

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

We celebrate many holidays in the United States and most if not all of them have been secularized or commercialized. Secularists want to defrock our country’s religious heritage because they not only don’t believe in God, they want to enforce anti-religious totalitarianism. But America grew up as a religious nation who appealed to God in many instances for our survival and growth. A national day of thanksgiving and prayer is what Thanksgiving was all about. We need to take back our holidays and remember to keep them Holy.

The Puritans of England practiced both days of fasting and days of thanksgiving. The number of English holidays were near 100 and they included days that Puritans didn’t even celebrate; Christmas and Easter were considered to be pagan festivals that the Catholic Church only Christianized. Replacing all these various holidays, the Puritans promoted days of thanksgiving to God long before coming to the new world as Pilgrims.

In the new colony of Plymouth, there were many seasons of good and plenty. However, one season of drought left the Pilgrims without food and on the verge of starvation. Early in the year of 1621 a ship arrived from Ireland that provided food to the colonists and later that year a feast was held with the local natives (Columbus called natives Indians). The actual date of the first Thanksgiving is not as important as the fact that they praised and thanked God for their wellbeing. These celebrations continued for years in the new colony and called days of thanksgiving.

The Puritans were not the only ones to celebrate Thanksgiving in the new world. Long before the Puritans arrived at Plymouth, Spanish Catholic explorers were in the new world holding days of thanksgiving and prayer to God for his Blessing. At St. Augustine, Florida, Don Pedro Menendez held a celebration and thanksgiving on September 8, 1565. In modern day El Paso, Texas, Don Juan Onate held a Thanksgiving celebration on January 26, 1598. These two days of Thanksgiving were held in connection with a Catholic mass and other feasts with local tribes long before the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving.

Abraham Lincoln established the national day of Thanksgiving for prayer and giving thanks to God during the Civil War as a means of reconciling the North and South.

Washington, D.C.

October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. … I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Many nations have a Thanksgiving celebration associated with their harvest festivals and this is no less true in the United States. Abraham Lincoln established a national day of Thanksgiving, which should include prayer and praise to God. Secularists may object to this public exercise of theism but it is the norm in America not the exception.

The commercial side of Thanksgiving includes eating a good turkey dinner, watching football, and shopping. There is nothing wrong with these things in themselves and I don’t condemn people for it. People also enjoy spending this holiday with friends and family. But we need to remember that Thanksgiving is a holiday that is supposed to be a Holy Day, in which we praise God for his abundant provision and mercy for our nation. I pray you enjoy this day and remember to thank God for all that he has given us. May God continue to richly bless America.

The False Gospel of Love

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

Who would ever call Love something wrong? Well, by the time you’re finished reading this blog, you’ll not only understand how love has gone wrong but how to get it right.

To begin with, God is Love but love is not god! Confused? Don’t be. Technically, when a character attribute of God is separated from the person of God (Jesus) and elevated to the level of deity, then you have a false doctrine. Clear right!? This simple mistake has profound consequences in America.

For decades, if not a century, there has been confusion about how to implement the love that Jesus taught. Reformed theology teaches solo fide, which is to say we are saved by faith in Jesus alone. Paul as and Jesus taught us to love one another but at some time love became the gospel instead of the person of Jesus Christ. We are commanded by Jesus to love but not to replace His Love with a false gospel of love.

Love is not the Gospel! Jesus is the Gospel. The Good News of Jesus Christ is the forgiveness of sin. By faith in Jesus we receive the forgiveness of sin, which is the love of God given to us. Jesus paid an awful price on the cross so we might be forgiven. And by faith in Christ we are assured of our salvation. No longer do we have to earn our way into heaven by good works. Good works follow the Christian faith, they don’t lead it. The Christian faith taught in the Bible is Jesus plus nothing for salvation.

Unfortunately, some Christians seek to live a good life of good works based upon love, a kind of social love that Jesus taught, without walking in simple faith in Christ for their salvation. There is nothing wrong with good works but the work Jesus did on the Cross is better. No matter how hard one tries to do good works, without God it is prone to failure. A false gospel of Jesus plus something, even if the something is man’s love, is no gospel whatsoever. We grow in God’s goodness and grace and share God’s Love (not man’s love) for the forgiveness of sin.

It is hard to fault a person who tries to follow love in their Christian life. Where love should follow the believer’s faith in Jesus, some have put love ahead of their belief in Jesus. When love is led of the flesh and not of the Holy Spirit you have false doctrine. The love of man is no substitute for the Love of God. Often, we find love becoming an excuse for practicing sin or a premise for making excuses for sin.

These errors in Christian theology and teaching have had a profound impact upon our nation in the United States of America. During the progressive movement of the 1930s, left wing social gospel Christianity taught that the government should do more to help people. Whereas love became an addition to the gospel for salvation in the Church, a left wing social gospel Christianity promoted good works of love for the government that appeared to give credence to the progressive movement. Government run charities (the entitlement state) has nothing to do with either the Bible or the Constitution. In fact, government run charities (charity by taxation) are a violation of the separation of Church and State.

Additionally, the idea of loving the sinner has been misguided and has misled people into offering acceptance of lifestyles that are lifestyles of sin. Homosexuality is one example. You will often hear in the pulpit of any given Church the message that we should ‘love the homosexual.’ But the Bible does not command us to do this. We are taught to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ and to share God’s Love with a sinful world for the forgiveness of sin. Homosexuals are sinners too. How will the person who practices sin (sodomy for example) know that they need to repent of their sin if you offer them acceptance with false love? They don’t need the enabling love of man, they need the saving Love of God.

The same can be said about abortion. There is no love that kills babies and rapes women with an invasive procedure designed to cover over people’s sexual promiscuity. Often people call sin – love, which is the definition of the word cupidity; this is not Biblical Love. There is nothing wrong with love when it is born from the person of God – Jesus. However, love without morality is a lie and love without righteousness is sin.

Political campaigns for the President of the United States of America have also focused on the false gospel of love. In the last campaign cycle (4 years ago) Governor Mitt Romney, who as a Mormon, subscribes to a one false gospel of ‘Jesus plus something,’ has put that ‘plus something’ into practice in Massachusetts calling it RomneyCare. President Barack Obama took this to the next level in what we call ObamaCare today. Both Republican and Democrat candidates practiced this same kind of left wing social gospel Christianity of a false gospel in government power.

It isn’t hard to understand why Mormons and left wing social gospel Christians share the same faith in a false love. Both are confused as to the role of love in the Church and in the State. Mormons have proselytized members from the left wing social gospel Church to join their religion as the two are almost indistinguishable from one another. Both promote government run charities. And both seek to exonerate practices that are clearly identified as immoral, practices that God calls sin. There was little difference between the candidates 4 years ago.

Today we have candidates for President supporting these programs. Before RomneyCare and ObamaCare there was HillaryCare. The nation rejected these proposals but they were forced upon us by law in violation of the separation of Church and State that James Madison advocated in 1785 (no tithes or offerings by taxation). Government run charity is a result of the false gospel of love, which follows the Democrats policy of ‘tax and spend.’ Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Republicans like Mitt Romney are all guilty of applying a Christless love through the government thinking they are doing God a great service.

We need to recall what Christianity is. It is about the person of God known as Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross for a reason – to share God’s love with us through the forgiveness of sin. Jesus said if we practice sin we will become slaves of sin. His was a love that freed us from sin’s bondage and renewed our fellowship with a loving God apart from sin. Jesus plus nothing means taking God at his Word. Apart from any and all good works, even works based upon love, we can be forgiven of our sin simply by believing in the good work of Jesus on the Cross.

Taking God at His word and taking the words of the Constitution as written is what it means to be a Christian conservative. These are dangerous concepts: taking the Bible and the Constitution literally! However, it is only dangerous to those who want to practice social engineering apart from the proper course of Christian faith and government activity.

We are called by God to share His Love with others but not make excuses for sin or pervert government into a national charity. There are consequences to false doctrines and false gospels. Unfortunately, many of the problems we face in America are the result of a false gospel of love. A gospel without Christ at its center can only lead to a Christless love – the false gospel of love.

Creationism for the 21st Century

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

‘God is the Creator’ is the first lesson we learn in the Bible. Sadly, many people have a hard time accepting this basic truth and get confused when they explore other explanations of origins. Following the explosion of knowledge during the Reformation, Biblicism and rationalism became competitors for the minds of the learned and the masses. These contests were furthered by scientific activity that led to endless published disputes with creationism defending biblical perspectives against the speculations of evolution. There have been as many creationist movements as there are denominations in the Christian Church. Turning to the history of science we can learn what works and doesn’t work and apply them as creationists in the 21st century.

Spontaneous generation was once considered to be a scientific (philosophical science) point of view before empirical science (testable/experimental science) proved it to be otherwise. Spontaneous generation came from the views of alchemy, which believed that matter could transform under certain conditions. Lead could be transformed into gold and nonliving matter could be transformed spontaneously into living matter (chemical and biological alchemy). 200 years of scientific testing from Redi (1668) to Spallanzani (1768) and Pasteur (1859) proved the idea of spontaneous generation to be false. The principle of science they discovered was biogenesis – life only comes from life. The principle of biogenesis has been called the foundation of modern biology (the science of life). However, evolutionists continue to believe in spontaneous generation today, calling it abiogenesis.

Spontaneous generation was a view of biological alchemy. The idea of evolution came from this form of alchemy where living matter transformed from one species to another. The history of evolution shows that alchemy dominated the thinking of many scientists in the 17th century, both chemical and biological alchemy. These ideas of matter transformations eventually led to the Transformationists of the 18th century (Lamarck et al). Charles Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, was an English transformationist who also believed in spontaneous generation. In the 19th century, transformationist thinking led to evolutionist thinking with Charles Darwin publishing his book in 1859, Origins of the Species, that outlined the transformation of species from one form to another. Ironically, one view of alchemy (spontaneous generation) was disproven in 1859, while a new view of alchemy (evolution) was gaining ground in 1859.

[For more connections between alchemy and evolution, please read my book, The Alchemy of Evolution on Kindle.com]

Like those who preceded him, Charles Darwin presented his view of species transformation in religious and philosophical terms (not experimental science). Darwin was a student of theology and his only earned degree was in Theology. Darwin studied natural theology in school and presented his own view of natural theology that he called natural selection. He published his view of nature using a philosophical method of science called induction. However, Darwin never proved his philosophical thesis by experiment (empirical science). Origins was in fact a religious/philosophical view of nature that has never been validated by empirical science.

Creationists object to evolution for many reasons. First is that evolution rejects a Biblical viewpoint of origins. Although many who believe in God also choose to believe in evolution, theological evolution is nothing new as Darwin himself was a theological evolutionist. Origins was a theological/philosophical view of evolution, not a presentation of experimental test results. Evolution is unscientific in that it has never been validated empirically. In fact, the central thesis of the transformation of species over millions of years cannot be tested in the lab. Evolution remains a theological/philosophical view of science that people more or less believe in.

Empirical science is testable science. From the experiment or the test we get empirical data and from empirical data we get empirical formulas. The math that comes from empirical formulas are expressed in simplified terms as the principles of science or the laws of nature. Biological evolution has never been validated empirically as there is no data showing species transformations nor any math based upon the data to explain species transformations (transmutations). Evolution is not empirical science and like the experiments on spontaneous generation, empirical science proves that evolution is not real.

In a vain attempt at testing millions of years of evolution in the lab, scientists have tried to facilitate thousands of generations of bacteria over a short period of time in order to mimic longer periods of time. Not only have they failed to approach the timeline of millions of years, they have also failed to produce anything more than bacteria. Not only do changes in bacteria produce more bacteria, all changes in fruit flies render fruit flies (even after 100 years of testing), all changes in moths breed moths, changes in finches bring new finches, turtles – turtles, lizards – lizards, dogs – dogs, cats – cats, etc., etc. The test results are in, evolution is not real. Empirical science is the foundation for a creationist movement exposing the falsehood of evolution in the 21st century.

However, creationists over the years have done more than try to refute evolution. Many in the creationist community work to prove what the Bible says about a sudden creation, fixity of species, a worldwide flood, etc. While these are lofty goals, the purpose of science is to validate philosophical theses, not prove a religious (or irreligious) viewpoint. If one can falsify a biblically historical event and test it, then we have a valid use of empirical science. Empirical science can test the theses of creationists and should also be a goal of creationist activity in the 21st century.

Sadly, religious/theological/philosophical debates between evolutionists and creationists continue to rage. Recent debates between Ken Ham and Bill Nye have centered upon the question of whether or not creationism can survive in a modern context of science. While I respect the work of those who seek to use science to prove aspects of the Biblical record, the debate should focus on whether or not evolution can survive in a modern context of science. Clearly the evidence is in and evolution is not real science. But are we making that clear enough?!

I am not a natural theologian nor do I want to be. Natural theology was a form of theological/philosophical creationism more than 100 years ago. The most famous natural theologian was Charles Darwin and his natural theology was natural selection, a materialist belief in how living matter transformed over millions of years. I bristle when I hear creationists debate against evolutionists using only theological and philosophical talking points. We have more at our disposal.

Charles Darwin included a quote, in his book of Origins, from William Whewell who was famous for using the philosophical method of induction to explain his view of natural theology. Whewell’s epigraph proves the theological/philosophical aspect of Darwin’s Origins and evolutionary thinking. But as Darwin himself used induction to develop his thesis (not test it), induction has a flaw in that it cannot refute an errant thesis. When creationists use induction to refute the induction of evolutionary thinking, as they have for decades, they guarantee that they will not win the debate. Clearly, this type of debate takes a back seat to the work of empirical science. Why use a flawed method of science (induction)? Although there are interesting and informative points to understand in this type of debate, it cannot resolve the issue of whether or not evolution is real and should not be relied upon in the 21st century.

Evolution as a philosophical thesis has never been validated empirically. Like those scientists who defeated the idea of spontaneous generation centuries ago, creationists in the modern era need to focus their work on refuting evolution empirically. There is no empirical data supporting evolution. There is no empirical formula leading to a principle of science based upon empirical data. Evolution not only cannot be tested empirically, those who have tried have failed in the attempt. Evolution cannot stand in a modern world of science and this fact should be repeated repeatedly in debates, etc.

But whether or not creationists use theological/philosophical arguments (induction vs induction) or arguments based upon empirical science to dispute evolution, the reason creationists believe in God as the Creator is because of their belief in the Bible. Creationists do not (should not) believe in God as our Creator because Creation Science attempts to prove this empirically or philosophically. The Bible is the foundation for what we know as creationists, not science, not natural theology.

I pity the fool (the atheist) who tries to discover God through creationism; that is not what creationism is meant for. Although creationism may incorporate the Gospel message of Jesus Christ for the salvation of individual souls, it is mainly used to defend a belief in God as Creator and refute the theory of evolution. Creationism is a poor vehicle to convert atheists to theism with. There is room, however, for delivering the message of the Gospel while defending a basic belief in God as Creator for creationism the 21st century.

Again, the only legitimate foundation for creationism in any century is the Bible. Our faith rests upon the Word of God. Therefore, the best foundation for 21st century creationism should be the understanding of 1st century creationists (Hebrews 11:3 NKJV):

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

Peeps are Peeps – Race in Modern America

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

Race has long perplexed politicians, the media, and the general public. From the days of scientific racism that sought to prove the inferior status of Black people to the days of Jim Crow laws that sought to suppress the freed slaves, Black Americans have been the victim of bigotry in one form or another. Modern civil rights groups sought to right the wrongs of generations gone by and today we find a mixture of rhetoric, perspective, and policy to fix the past and right the future. In the end, we need to begin with a certain understanding that Black people, like all people, are people too – peeps are peeps.

From the turn of the 18th century to the 19th century, the idea that Black people were inferior to White people captured the imagination of a few who sought to prove their point. At one point the skulls of a White man and a Black man were filled to see how many small BBs (shot) they could contain. They thought this would prove that Whites were superior to Blacks but when the count was equal, they abandoned the science that was then called phrenology. There was no difference between Black and White men.

Charles Darwin titled his famous book, published in 1859, The Origin of Species; the Preservation of Favored Races…, in which he championed many perspectives, not the least of which was scientific racism. The idea was that within the category of a species there were subcategories of race; this idea was keen in the minds of many scientific racists. Darwin’s idea was further elaborated in his, Decent of Man, in which the latent racism of Origins was explicit in Decent. Darwin like all scientific racists of his day believed that the White man was at the top of the ladder of human species next to Angels and that Black men were at the bottom near the monkey or the dog. This, however, is patently wrong and we know today that there is no difference between us – we’re the same.

Social Darwinism promoted a similar set of ideas called eugenics, which sought to reduce the number of unwanted human beings in order to perfect the human race. In early 20th century America, Margaret Sanger led a eugenics movement and published material that was later adopted by the Nazi Party in Germany and used to establish the Nazi death camps. The final solution of killing Jews in gas chambers was a eugenics program in Germany. In America, Sanger wanted to end what she called the illegitimate birth rate of degenerate people, referring to Black people. Scientific racism in the 19th century became a eugenic war in the 20th century against Jews in Germany and Blacks in America. Whether Jew of Black, they’re still people like us all.

Sanger continued to be an advocate of eugenics and became a founder of Planned Parenthood, an institution that has contributed to over 55 million deaths of children by abortion. 11 million people died in the Nazi death camps but five times that number have died in abortion clinics in the U.S. The unwanted truth about abortion is that Planned Parenthood is located in predominately Black neighborhoods and kills a disproportionate number of Black babies compared to other ethnic makeups. The abortion rate (in 2009) among White women was 12.1 % but among Black women it was 33.3%. The scientific racism of the 19th and 20th centuries is killing Black children in the 21st century. Although Black and White babies are equally valuable, abortion rights advocates fail to treat babies as people.

Segregation and political racism persisted in the American South under the Jim Crow laws that drew from the past ideas of scientific racism. Having to treat Black people as people instead of as a slave, Southern law required the treatment of Blacks as ‘separate but equal.’ However, legalized racism did not treat Black people as equal; separate led to segregation where Black Americans were denied their rights as citizens under the law for the equal protection of the law and the right to vote. Civil Rights groups began to claims their freedoms under the rule of law. Chief among the leaders of the civil rights movement was MLK Jr. who reminded us that we are all people no matter what our color.

The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior, a Black Baptist Minister, reminded us to judge people according to their character and not their color. Likewise, Sidney Poitier said that he didn’t want to be treated any more or less than anyone else because of his color; he just wanted to be treated like any other person. Treating people like people is what it is all about.

When people take a step back they understand that people are people too (go figure?!). The term ‘peeps’ is modern slang for ‘people’ and calling people peeps is one way to call people your ‘homie’ or ‘home slice’; it does not some marshmallow candy in this context. That people are people too is what is meant by ‘peeps are peeps’.

When playing football, the person who scores a touchdown spikes the ball in the end zone and punctuates the whole drive for the team at that point. Often in dealing with racism in America we are left wondering where the goal line is. We may know that when we take people one at a time, respecting their color but not focusing on color, we can know we’ve crossed the goal line. Treating people as people, taking peeps as peeps, means we can spike the ball and say ‘touchdown!’

 

Economic Issues are Social Issues

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

The recent Republican Presidential debate on Fox Business Network focused only on the candidates’ view of economic policy. Typical of the media and others who propose to focus on economic policy before addressing social policies is the lack of understanding that economics is a social issue.

The etymology of the word ‘economy’ shows that it comes from the Greek words ‘eco’ for ‘house’ and ‘nomos’ for ‘rule.’ Economics, then, is the ‘rule of the household.’ The family is at the center of what economics is all about. The rule to follow in dealing with economic issues is to begin with family values. Social moral values are at the heart of economic issues. Three traditional social issues that social conservatives oppose to are abortion, homosexuality, and illegal drug use.

What value is there to the family with the death of 55 million babies who would have been born into or adopted into a family if they were not killed? What value to the economy would these persons have if they grew up to contribute to the work force of America? Killing babies is not an economically sound policy and dismissing prolife values to focus only on economic issues betrays an understanding of what our economy should and can be.

Homosexuality is not a family value. Homosexuals do not contribute to the moral fiber of our society. Nor do they add to the number of children who grow up and develop in a moral community. As homosexuals become domestic partners or couple under homosexual marriage, they bargain for society to give them more benefits, supported by taxpayer dollars. Whether domestic partner or gay marriage, homosexuals burden the economy with more government spending and higher taxes.

Illegal drug abuse is often a sign of a dysfunctional family. Not only are illegal drugs a problem that families face with their children being introduced to an unhealthy lifestyle, it costs taxpaying citizens who support halfway houses and drug rehab centers to care for recovering drug addicts. Legalized marijuana is not a boost to the economy with more tax dollars, it is a sink to the health of our nation, which raises the cost of healthcare for those who cannot afford it. Recreational drug use or medicinal marijuana as social policies do not represent people in a responsible workforce contributing to our economy but people who are looking for an exit from responsibility and society.

Focusing on the traditional three social issues of abortion, homosexuality, and recreational drug use shows how we cannot ignore the economic impact of these immoral social issues. Family values adds value to our nation’s economy because that is what it is all about. But that is only the beginning of the many examples we can focus on.

Charity is a financial blessing given by people with a purpose beyond selfish ambition. Those who follow religious values, such as social moral and family values, find their way to giving more money to people than is required by taxes. But the immoral advocacy of abortion, homosexuality, and recreational drug use are examples of purely selfish activities. Those who seek the legitimacy of these issues have no ambition for charity other than to have the government subsidize them.

The wages that people earn should be adjusted to reflect the value a worker has to a company. Those who work harder earn more. And statistics show that head of household workers work harder, stay at work longer (less turnover), and produce more than their non-head of household counterparts. The best workers are family men and women who work for the welfare of their own family. Providing higher wages artificially with a minimum wage is not the kind of welfare our country needs.

Lowering taxes and reducing government spending puts more money into the pockets of the people that benefits the American family, the worker, and the economy. The opposite is true for government run charity that takes taxpayer dollars and redistributes it to poor families. People who live on a government handout do not develop habits of productivity, which keeps them and their children poor. There is no government program that can rescue poor families other than letting families keep the money they earn for their children.

These are just a few of the examples that can be presented to show how ignoring social moral values causes problem for the economy and the family. Many people want to separate social issues from economic issues. But there is not one issue that can focus only on economic issues without first addressing social values.

 

A New Reformation = A Sanctified Church

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

The Reformation of Europe began in 1517, ~500 years ago, when Luther nailed 95 theses on the door of his Church in Germany, challenging the Catholic institution to follow Biblical principles. 400 years ago, the Synod of Dort (1618-1619) challenged the Protestant institution with the notion of predestination; they competed in terms of Salvation by Faith. Today both the Catholic and Protestant Churches can experience a new reformation uniting the two institutions together with a new perspective of Sanctification by Grace.

Many troubled waters have gone under the bridge since the days of the European Reformation. The division between Protestant and Catholic was not the original purpose of the Reformation. The ideas of solo scriptura (the Bible is the only true source of doctrine) and of sola fide (salvation by faith in Christ alone), and sola gratia (salvation by grace alone) are 3 hallmarks of the Reformation. The purpose of the Reformation was to reform or improve the Catholic institution but problems occurred as a result of political contests.

There are also defined 4 works of God’s Grace that are presented in the Protestant theology. Prevenient grace, saving grace, sanctifying grace, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Various denominations subscribe to some part of this list but these are the works of God in the life of the believer (one who believes in Jesus).

The trouble with the Reformation 500 years ago was that it focused on the mechanism of salvation (by faith) without giving attention to the other works of God’s Grace. Clearly the Catholic Church teaches that salvation comes by believing in Jesus and that a life of good works are the result of that faith; traditional Catholic teaching says that faith plus works in this context is the sum total of salvation. The emphasis of Protestants, however, was that salvation came by faith in Jesus alone and not by works; but Protestants agreed that works follow faith in Jesus as a result of salvation. The emphasis was shifted but the total message was still the same. Salvation is by faith in Jesus and once saved, your life will demonstrate more, not less, good works.

The mechanism of good works in the life of the believer is one of spiritual growth. Sanctification by Grace is a work of God’s Grace in our lives and follows the work of grace called Salvation by Faith. The Baptists even combine the two Works of Grace into one saying that as we believe in Jesus for salvation we trust in Jesus for our sanctification. The Catholic doctrine is similar in that we are saved by the sum total of our belief and works in Christ, which are the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The emphasis has changed but the core doctrine has not. For both Protestants and Catholics, salvation is by faith in Jesus and sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The missing element in the Reformation 500 years ago was an emphasis on Sanctification by Grace.

100 years after the Reformation began, the Protestant Church split into 2 camps: Calvinist and Armenianist. Focusing solely on the doctrine of Salvation by Faith, they argued about how they were predestined in Christ. The idea of Predestination was tied to only one work of grace – Salvation by Faith; there was no consideration that it could be tied to another work of grace. As such, the debate over Predestination centered over how one was predestined. Could one ‘choose’ to receive Jesus and be saved by faith or could one ‘not refuse’ Jesus and be saved by faith? The question seems artificial when to ‘choose’ is ‘not to refuse’ and to ‘not refuse’ is to ‘choose.’ As the debate of Predestination was presented as a debate about one’s Salvation by Faith, they betrayed a misunderstanding about what Predestination means. It also means Sanctification by Grace.

The Armenianist (followers of James Harmen or Jacobs Arminius) said they chose to receive Jesus. And the Calvinists (followers of John Calvin) said they couldn’t refuse Jesus. If you could choose then you could potentially refuse Jesus (lose your salvation) later in your life but if you couldn’t refuse you couldn’t lose your salvation (once saved always saved). The question of losing one’s salvation began 400 years ago with an incorrect view of Predestination.

Predestination is not only Salvation by Faith; it is also Sanctification by Grace. If at first you could not refuse Jesus in your life, choose to walk with him day by day. And if you chose to accept Jesus into your life, do not refuse him in your daily life. Salvation by Faith is followed by Sanctification by Grace. It is the work of God in the life of the believer and one’s Christian growth doesn’t stop at the point of salvation, it begins. The solution to the problem of whether or not one can lose their salvation is Sanctification by Grace.

Whether addressing a theological problem that is 500 or 400 years old, they both have the same solution. Salvation by Faith is followed by Sanctification by Grace. We come to Christ by the leadership of the Holy Spirit when we first believe in Jesus and we walk in Christ, again, by the leadership of the Holy Spirit as we trust in Him. The Reformation and the Synod of Dort are two examples of under emphasizing the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

The work of the Holy Spirit is to provide growth to the Christian believer as they grow in the goodness and grace of God. The works of the believer, if based upon their ‘flesh,’ will not be rewarded. However, the rewards we get for doing good works come from God if we follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit in doing good works. This is true for the Catholic as well as the Protestant.

The missing element of the Reformation was Sanctification by the Spirit otherwise called Sanctification by Grace. The missing element of the Synod of Dort was also Sanctification by Grace. The Church has split over theology many times but can unite and find common ground to stand together as one in God’s Sanctifying Grace. As believers in Christ, we are cleansed of our sin based on the work of Jesus on the Cross for our salvation and then we are purified by the work of the Holy Spirit for our sanctification.

As we believe in Jesus we should also trust in Jesus daily. Isaiah 61:3 says we become trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. God wants a Holy Church, which is a sanctified Church. God is Holy and His Church will be Holy too. This is the true foundation for a new reformation of the Church – Sanctification by the Spirit also called Sanctification by Grace.

PS           You can download my book and read more on this subject at Kindle.com:

Scrupulosity: Answering the Tough Question, “Can You Lose Your Salvation?”

Merit and Metrics – How Decisions are Made

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

Our modern world floods us with information that we have to sift through every day. We use that information to decide what to buy, who to vote for, etc. We are given information from every media form and left to evaluate what is good and what is not. Information usually comes in two forms to establish its value – merits and metrics. From these two mechanisms we often estimate the relative value of information given to us and base our decisions upon them.

Merits and metrics simply means that there are moral values associated with a particular piece of information and/or a measure by which it can be evaluated. Morals and measures is another way to say merits and metrics. When given a piece of information, what is the moral value of that information? And then again, is there a definite measure by which we can estimate the worth of that information? Having both is great but we often face circumstances where both merit and metrics are not available.

When morals and measures agree to what is good or right in decision making, there is little to worry about. Presenting information in these terms helps the average person get a handle on reality and its value to people. The problem begins when only morality or measures are presented without the other. Or worse, what happens when measures contradict morals or vice versa? The problem is further compounded when one considers how people think about information and how to evaluate it.

There is a group of people in this nation (maybe you) who have decided that if something is genuinely moral, then your mind is made up. Right is right and there is no way you’re going to do what is wrong. However, there is another group of people (is that you?) who say, ‘wait a minute, let’s think about this.’ Some people find that they must rationalize everything that comes across their brow. Here then we see a mixture of the way information is processed as well as presented.

For people who decide things based upon morality, the merit outweighs the metric. However, those who must rationalize everything are just the opposite and believe they must measure everything on a scale to find its worth. For them, metric outweighs merit. As we are a society connected together for decision making on public and foreign policy, trouble occurs in places like Congress when decisions have to be made that affect us all. What is the foundation for decision making going to be?

If that wasn’t enough, the media plays a role in disseminating information. But what is the manner in which they do this? When we refer to a media bias, are we referencing merit over metric or metric over merit? Typically we associate a particular bias of the media in terms of liberal or conservative (FNC, by the way, has a libertarian media bias, not conservative). But the way the information the media conveys is far more important than how they spin it.

The media used to present information that Americans digested in standard terms. In the good old days (during the Reagan Revolution), the media often gave America a foundation of fact that was consistent no matter what the political point of view was. Today that is vastly different. Gone is the common foundation of fact in information where we can disagree about our perspectives on the facts. Now we have to compete for what the facts really are. The old adage is truer today than it was 35 years ago; you’re welcome to your own opinion but you’re not welcome to your own facts. The media today is failing everyone by not providing a common denominator of facts in information from which we form our viewpoints.

Example #1

Illegal drug use has been touted for years in the media as something that should be made legal. While obviously immoral, people say it has value for the taxes it could raise. The merit is missing but the metric that is presented in support of this policy is one of increased revenue for the government by taxing marijuana. For some who deny the value of morality in decision making, it seems more rational to tax the illegal product and release a large number of people from prison who broke the law.

Here we see the rationalization of immoral activity. Such rationalizations have been going on for hundreds of generations over thousands of years. If society is to facilitate a safe and moral environment for families to grow up in and people to live in, then more tax dollars for more government spending is not the a good decision. Especially when those tax dollars are also being spent to rescue people from drug addictions. The metric does not supersede the merit in this case.

Example #2

Genetic research has focused on embryonic stem cells as a wonder cure for many diseases. Here we have competing moral perspectives of 1) saving lives while 2) killing babies by abortion. Embryonic stem cell research requires the death of one person to save the life of another so where’s the moral value? There is no moral question involved here when all the facts are in. The good news is that embryonic stem cells are not the only cells available for research. Adult stem cells are also useful for research and do not require killing one life to save another life. The relative merit in this case is superseded by another merit of greater proportion.

Example #3

Homosexuals, and a few heterosexuals, practice a perverted form of sex called sodomy (oral and anal sex). Vaginal intercourse is moral and God ordained for married (heterosexual) couples. Homosexuals promote their alternate viewpoint of morality (the practice of sodomy) by putting lipstick on the pig, calling it a ‘gay lifestyle.’ And to advocate what is blatantly immoral, they advocate for ‘gay rights.’ All political campaigns have to have a moral imperative but some camps use false moral perspectives to substitute for the absence of moral values.

There is no right to do what is wrong! But the homosexual lobby in this nation has succeeded in removing the laws that prosecute sodomy, that prevent same sex partnerships in housing etc., and that prevent gay marriage. The continued promotion of a false merit has gained traction in the media, society, and the government where the merit of greater value has become suborned to one of a lesser value. Gone are the days when it was easy to stand up for what is right! Merit without merit has more merit than that which has genuine merit.

Example #4

Global warming is an interesting issue that has relatively no merit in terms of moral values. This topic is presented in terms of metrics which show how the planet is warming causing the depletion of the North Pole’s ice cap. Whereas example #2 and #3 had no clear metric (only a competition of merit), global warming presents a competition of metrics without any clear merit. The problem is deciding who is right with the metrics the information we’re presented has no clear moral value to present.

Global warming appeals to rationalists who believe in science. However, science is not a religion nor is rationalism a religion. However, some people are genuine believers without any rational foundation for their belief. Science is a tool that tests speculative theses. The data and math associated with tests should be examined for the relative worth of the metrics involved. As I’ve said before, the data points to polar warming and not global warming. We need to be careful about turning scientific arguments into religious ones and follow the data where it leads us. Here without merit, the truth may be found in the metric that provides a clear understanding of the issues we face. It’s at this point that we should follow the data not the moral.

Summary

Competing moral perspectives add confusion to the mix of information when the relative worth of Biblical moral values is questioned. The confusion is compounded when those presenting information have a particular bias or political agenda and spin the information in favor of a false merit over genuine moral values. Sometimes we’re presented information about what is patently immoral, like abortion or homosexuality and told these are human rights. Should we accept something that is immoral Biblically just because someone calls it a right when we know it isn’t right? Relative merit is a problem.

Society also faces challenges when metrics and merits collide. Recreational drug use is a perverted ambition for those who abuse themselves with illegal drugs (self-prescribed remedies for mental illness). When some say there is value in the metric of taxing marijuana and releasing people from jail, should that trump the merit of keeping society safe from such illegal substances? Should the metric trump the lack of merit in this case?

Competing perspectives of measures also adds confusion to public discussions of issue we all face. Have you ever wondered why can’t we all just get along? That’s funny; but it is no joke when the answer affects us all. Global warming is just one example of many where the facts behind the perspectives are often in question and there is no common denominator from which we can debate the issues. How do we make a group decision when viewpoints differ, values differ, and the facts differ? Competing metrics can lead to no metrics for a unified decision.

Merit can stand without metrics but should metrics be relied upon without merit? What happens when an issue has one but not the other? What happens when instead of competition between merits or metrics there is only one or the other? The answer depends upon your perspective of how to make decisions in the first place.

People who take God at His Word find that the Bible is clear on moral issues. Biblicists during the Reformation of Europe believed that if God said it then it is so; merit is not relative but absolute. However, rationalists also developed a perspective during the Reformation period and said that if the Bible makes sense to them then they’ll agree with it; merit, then, must be rational. Rationalism in fact shocks people who are Biblicists and Biblicism is a concern to people who are Rationalists. There is as much competition on how decisions should be made as there is about how information is presented.

In the end, you will decide what you think is best. If you believe in rationalism, then be careful that it doesn’t become a religion that competes against genuine moral values. And if you think God has all the answers, be sure you’re not irrational in moralizing what God has not spoken about in the Bible. For me, morals trump measures every time. And when there is competition, dig a little deeper and you’ll find the answer. Although a bit abstract, merit and metrics are a fascinating study.

 

Tax and Spend Conservatism

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

I find few if any people in the conservative community who are not angry about tax and spend liberalism. Liberals usually throw money at problems and create new government programs that require taxes to go higher to pay for their programs. Tax and spend liberalism should get anyone angry but who gets angry about tax and spend conservatism? It’s time to put a balance to the ledger of excess and greed.

Taxes represent the public recapture of private funds that are used for government services. We know that tax and spend liberals have lost their mind in putting us into $18.5 trillion in debt. But while we all agree that it is time to rescue the nation from this fiscal cliff, how about rescuing individual citizens from the excessive fines and other financial penalties that can bankrupt families struggling to make ends meet?!

The private recapture of private funds is a private sector tax that comes in the form of penalizing people who are late in paying their loans, credit cards, and other financial obligations. We all make mistakes, which should be the exception and not the rule. And when mistakes are made, people should get the benefit of the doubt so long as we don’t take advantage of the system. But when private companies penalize people without mercy for their rare financial short falls instead of giving them a break, they provide a disservice to the customer. And they reason why they do so is because they can make extra money to boost their own financial bottom line; their heads are so far up their bottom line that they cannot see the light of day.

Billions of dollars a year are spent by private citizens to private companies on penalties. This private tax on people for being late on their monthly payments is a financial boost to companies who get rich on the extra income. This is what I call tax and spend conservatism – the financial gains that cocktail conservatives get drunk on. Americans need to get a grip on this growing problem and reduce the penalties that we have to pay by law.

Let’s get real. Here are some personal examples of this problem.

Problem #1

I had 9 overdrafts on my bank card account in just two days (I was travelling and didn’t pay attention to my account). The total of the overdraft was less than $84. The 9 overdraft fees of $27.50 totaled nearly 300% of the total overdraft. The bank finally agreed to cancel 5 of the overdraft fees but I still had to pay more in fees than I was short on in my account. I paid the fine and the overdraft but learned in the process that banks are happy to get much more money than they are owed (130% more in this instance).

From this real event I thought about a new law that should limit overdraft fees to no more than the maximum per overdraft fee (where law regulates this already) or 50% of the total overdraft, which ever one is less. This type of law respects the obligations that people have to keep their bank balance current while giving them a break for occasional exceptions.

Problem #2

Another account I had was with HSBC where I had an $800 balance to pay off in 12 months with no interest. My first month’s payment was $10 but then I realized I couldn’t pay off the debt that way before interest hit me. So the next 3 payments I made were for $100 each. However, the last of the 3 $100 payments arrived a few days late. I was hit with a $39 penalty. That’s 390% more than the minimum payment – insane!

I called HSBC and complained. I said that I had made more than the minimum payment for 4 months with my $310 so why was I being hit with a penalty? They said it didn’t matter what the total sum of payments was; it was because I was late by a few days. They said that the contract allowed them to charge me a penalty no matter what I had paid if I was late. They agreed to cancel the penalty but not again.

Another law should be passed that limits when a penalty can be assessed and the maximum fine for each violation. If the total of payments is more than the total of the same number of minimum payments, then no penalty should be assessed for being late on a monthly due date for the next payment. And the maximum fine allowed for being late should be no more than 50% of the minimum payment.

It seems that every time I turn around there is someone trying to pinch my wallet. It isn’t limited to the government as private financial companies have gone wild in taxing people every time we turn around.

Problem #3

Another example of this type of problem comes from a late payment I made on my bank’s credit card. I was late, again by a few days, and they hit me with a large penalty. Again I called and complained and they told me something I never could have dreamed about. They said that if I make a payment to my credit card account before the due date, interest starts to accrue at that early payment date. But if I pay late, after the due date, interest begins accruing at the due date, not at the late payment date. So here is a problem that no matter how hard a person tries to get ahead on making payments on their credit card, they cannot get ahead of the interest. What’s up with that?!

Perhaps a law should be written that prevents companies from taking advantage of people with both a penalty for being late on payments and what I call ‘variance’ (the shift of accruing interest to a due date when late). Companies shouldn’t take advantage of people with a double whammy just for being late while taking advantage of them for resetting the date interest starts to be charged.

There are numerous instances in everyone’s background where they can point to the penalties, fees, fines, and variance they’ve had to pay for being late on one account or another. We all acknowledge that we should pay on time and keep our contracted agreements to pay the full amount of the money we owe. However, the issue isn’t making our payments as we should or if companies should be making a contracted profit. The issue is the excess of income above profits made by financial concerns off the backs of people are trying to make it through a workaday world, paycheck to paycheck, just to make ends meet.

I once heard that the sum of all financial penalties that Americans pay per year for financial penalties is over $100 billion. This fact (sadly) is without proper reference and needs a citation for accuracy. Yet here again, a law should be passed to require financial institutions to report the penalties that they enforce on their customers so that this number can be reported on an annual basis nationwide. If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it. And it may help consumers see who the predators are out there.

We can all agree that the public tax on Americans is becoming a growing sinkhole on our economy. And as financial institutions are taxing Americans more and more every year with excessive penalties, we can also agree that this is a sink to our nation’s economy. When Americans have their own money in their pockets to spend, save, and invest as they choose, our economy will grow; lower taxes on a growing economy will also provide more money in the public treasury than before.

Tax and spend liberalism is an obvious problem to this nation’s future and we need to be aggressive in limiting automatic government spending increases that require automatic tax increases from year to year. We cannot survive financially as a nation with business as usual in Washington D.C. Moreover, families cannot survive with the growing problem of tax and spend conservatism. We cannot just attack the excesses of liberals; we also need to fight the excesses of cocktail conservatives. We have to balance the ledger in favor of all Americans. Greed in Washington and on Wall Street is growing to the disadvantage of ordinary people who are just trying to make it through life one day at a time. It’s time to stand up for, We the People!