Substitutionary Atonement: The Satisfaction of the Wrath of God? (Long Read)

Many, who give Christianity a go, so to speak, do so on the basis of emotive appeals and/or yearning. And many, who eventually and effectively fall away, do so because Christianity seems incoherent. This may manifest itself as outright rejection, as neglect, or in wayward departure from essential verities and their application. Application is an entailment of genuine faith; much as technological applications entail genuine faith in underlying principles of scientific theories.

Proponents of Christianity can do little in regard those who honestly cannot reconcile Christianity with perceived realities; or those who exalt their own reason and/or psyche as the ultimate arbiters of Truth and the Good, especially whenever the counter-intuitive wisdom of the God of Scriptures comes into conflict (which shall inevitably occur); or those who were never sufficiently serious.

However, proponents of Christianity ought to, at least, ensure that the Gospel and Full Counsel of God that is transmitted is scripturally faithful and thereby rationally coherent. It is cause for deep grief and great disgust when it is the errant teachings of ecclesiastical orthodoxy, which prove contrary to Biblical orthodoxy, which are the reasons for initial or eventual rejection. It is cause for deep frustration when more time is required disabusing what Christianity is not, perpetuated by those self-identified and supposedly Christian, than in explaining what Christianity is.

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The Atonement of Christ, as the sating of the wrath of God unto our Justification, is one such ecclesiastical orthodoxy, deserving of such disdain. Continue reading “Substitutionary Atonement: The Satisfaction of the Wrath of God? (Long Read)”

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics (Re: Why This Recovery Is So Lousy – WSJ)

“Truth,” it has been said, “is the first casualty of war.” – Philip Snowden[i]

A theme, long sustained within conservative economic circles, is that FDR’s New Deal crippled the recovery and prolonged the Great Depression. Screeds, like the following by Phil Gramm, a not insignificant player in legislative assemblies past, is stereotypical of this meme.

In all recoveries following all 30 economic contractions since 1870, only two have failed to have strong rebounds after deep recessions. Only two are now labeled “Great” because of the long periods of suffering they caused. And in only two recoveries did government impose economic policies radically different from the policies pursued in all the other recoveries—different than traditional policy but similar to each other— FDR’s Great Depression and Mr. Obama’s Great Recession.

From 1932-36, federal spending skyrocketed 77%, the national debt rose by over 73%, and top tax rates more than tripled, from 25% to 79%. But the tectonic shift brought about by the New Deal was the federal government’s involvement in the economy, as a tidal wave of new laws were enacted and more executive orders were issued than by all subsequent presidents combined through President Clinton . . .

. . . As government assumed greater control, private investment collapsed, averaging only 40% of the 1929 level for nine consecutive years. League of Nations data show that by 1938, in five of the six most-developed countries in the world industrial production was on average 23% above 1929 levels, but in the U.S. it was still down by 10%. Employment in five of the six major developed countries averaged 12% above the pre-Depression levels while U.S. employment was still down by 20%. Before the Great Depression, real per capita GDP in the U.S. was about 25% larger than it was in Britain. By 1938, real per capita GDP in Britain was slightly higher than in the U.S.

Considering that in the four years following FDR’s ascension, the American economy grew at 10.88, 8.88, 13.05, and 5.12 percent respectively, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA); or 10.74, 8.92, 12.91, and 5.23 percent respectively, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce; I am not quite sure what would constitute a strong bounce back for these partisans. There certainly has not existed any comparable rebound since.

This revisionist representation of the Great Depression abounds in sophistries and what we, in biblical circles, would call statistical proof-texting. Why, for instance, include years 1929 to 1932/3, a period when private investment totally collapsed, in determining the impact of New Deal policies from 1933 onward? (With inordinate price and asset deflation between late 1930 and mid-1933, investing one’s money in one’s mattress or backyard garden guaranteed that “investor” a 5–10% real return tax free.)

Nor is it fruitful to compare with other industrial nations without also mentioning that except for Germany and Canada, the economic downturn in America from 1929 to 1932/3 was considerably greater. Great Britain is, in particular, an egregious ploy, considering that the Great Depression was for Britain, a Great Recession within a Long Depression which began after WW1.

The national debt may have increased 73% in nominal terms from 1932–6. But as a percentage of GDP, it only increased from 32.5% to 40% during very trying times.[ii] Even so, comparing federal revenues and expenditures from (June) 1932 instead of (June) 1933, when Republican President Herbert Hoover governed for 8 of those 12 interim months, is but more statistical gamesmanship. In the final two years of the prior Republican administration, federal spending as a percentage of GDP was 10 (1932) and 13.5 (1933) percent respectively. Prior to WW2, FDR’s administration, except for 1934 (17%), never topped the last year of Hoover’s administration.

Indeed, FDR seemed not to have been particularly sold on Keynesian economics, which dominates the current economic thinking in Obama’s White House. Indeed, while John Maynard Keynes had hitherto expressed some rudimentary musings on his thesis, his The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money was only published in 1936. Deficit spending during WW2 was mandated far more from existential survival than economic theory.

Did Gramm also fail to mention that Hoover’s administration deemed it necessary to raise top income tax rates to 63% in 1932?

Considering how easily accessible the extant documentation is to refute Gramm’s assertions, articles like these constitute an incompetent form of mendacity. Does The Wall Street Journal seek to vie with Vox for the gold medal in Mendacity in American Journalism.

[i] Philip Snowden, Introduction to Truth and the War, by E. D. Morel, (London: National Labor Press Ltd., 1916), p. vii.

[ii] GDP in 1932 was $60 billion, national debt $19.5. In 1936, the figures are $85B and $33.8B respectively.

Do-Overs! Do-Overs!

Being a foreigner to the “mother country,” I cannot honestly say that I studiously followed and agonized about the Brexit referendum. My current fascination is purely academic.

But I am bemused by the condescension of many within the Remain camp who frame the vote outcome in terms of a sociopolitical schism between urban Cosmopolitans and the less well-educated and Nativist know-nothings. Well; not in so many words.

In that context, I become doubly bemused when the cosmopolitan effetes, including a former minister for higher education, demand a do-over referendum, after thrashing the shires to uncover a few dyslexic rubes who checked the wrong box, or who didn’t realize that after a messy divorce, there is quite normally a temporary dislocation cost.

There is even a parliamentary petition, signed, to date, by 3.5 million presumably actual  Remain voters who claim a moral political right for a do-over because the plebiscite did not garner a sufficient quorum (turnout) and super-majority.

We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum.

Being resident of a nation in which one province sought a divorce in 1995 on the basis of a fifty percent plus one vote, I concur that such a set of conditions would be prudent. Bare majorities over significant political changes can easily become formulas for civic conflagration within that jurisdiction.

However, such a post-hoc rule might have rational and ethical credibility if it was signed prior to the vote outcome. Free civic polities can only remain free civic polities if all factions respect the rules of the “game.” As it is, the petitioners remind me of little children screeching, “Do-overs! Do-overs!” or the Grim Reaper in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.

(Irony is that the petition was created by an adherent of the Leave camp in May 2016, prior to the vote, but also for less than principled reasons, fearing that his preferred option would not rule the day.)

But before ridiculing these well-educated cosmopolitans for failing Civics 101, it should first be noted that this petition may not  represent the feelings of U.K. citizens and residents. I signed the petition from this Brampton, Ontario flat on behalf of Bea(trice) McTavish of Port of Ness, Outer Hebrides (postal code – HS2 0TG), and on behalf Tom, Dick, and Harry, their 2,947 children, and in-house midwife. Well actually . . . only Bea McTavish; just to see if it was possible.

The more absurd petition is the one over at change.org, signed by 172K cosmopolitan Londoners, or so we presume, to Declare London independent from the UK and apply to join the EU. A mere quarter century after another beleaguered European city, isolated deep within a distinct and adversarial jurisdiction, was freed of its predicament and wall; these ninnies advocate that a land-locked city within a larger geographical landmass pursue similar geographical isolation. How would that work? Will they erect a Great Wall and commission Donald Trump to build it to keep the rubes out and effetes in? If there is a diplomatic tiff between London and England, and the latter closes access in order to put diplomatic pressure, will the EU organize a great airlift to London?

No doubt that these well-educated cosmopolitans are reasoning with their feelings. Nevertheless, I had previously believed that the stupefaction of the highly educated was only an American phenomenon.

The Significance of Trumpism

For most of my occupational life, I have been an IT professional, either as a code writer or network employee/consultant, dealing with business proprietors, accounting controllers, office and plant managers. In other words, I belonged to the grey-collar set on behalf of the white-collar. But in the autumn of my working life, I have doubled as a blue-collar, just in order to put sufficient bread on the table, while flailing in my attempts to establish myself as a no-collar.

But re-introduction into the blue-collar milieu has been a bit of culture shock, although nothing compared to the psychological disarray experienced during a night in 1979 in a bus station in Tétouan (Morocco). In having been so familiar with the relatively cultivated and effete metrosexual ethos of the corporate office, where collaboration was the modus operandi; the hierarchical and masculinist ethos, which still permeates the factory and warehouse floor, was and continues to be disorienting.

I belong to neither milieu, being too Scythian for the metrosexuals, and too cultivated for the masculinists. As it seems to be in all things, I occupy the middle, in a schismatic age which the middle is largely devoid of fellow sojourners, while the extremes are steadily being saturated to the hilt. But I have discovered that it is psychologically destructive to pretend to be that which one is not, even if it results in social isolation and economic denigration.

And like many in the no-class class, I have been trying to comprehend the sociopolitical significance of the Trump phenomenon. Donald Trump himself is less important. As the ethical barometer has precipitously declined these last many decades, the rise of demagogues and demise of free civic self-governing polities has been expected, although not in the form of Trump. It is the supporters of Trump who will endure, well after Trump (likely) self-destructs and/or becomes absorbed into the Borg of Washington venality, who are more historically and prognostically important.  Continue reading “The Significance of Trumpism”

Gender Neutral Bathrooms and Circumcision

My wife and I never saw eye to eye with regard to the circumcision of our three boys. But she was a nurse from Britain, where this operation is a “minority” procedure; whereas at the time, most North Americans allowed the members of their boys to be given a slice.

The medical arguments which I floated, and which might have substance in ancient Israel or modern undeveloped countries, seemed feeble even to me. There is absolutely no Christian warrant for circumcision (Gal 5:6, 6:15). The best argument that I mustered was so that our sons would not feel alienated from their father and later their siblings if by chance, such members were sighted; the rawest form of traditionalism. I am loathe to admit that she was right.

So, when I see Mark Joseph Stern argue himself rouge that circumcision has significant medical benefits in the antiseptic West, it becomes obvious that other motivations are driving his drivel. Having lived in Israel for eight months, it is likewise obvious that circumcision serves as a fundamental distinctive ethnic, cultural, and religious marker. Mr. Stern’s arguments seems to be “pseudoscientific argle-bargle—it’s about religion and very little else.” Continue reading “Gender Neutral Bathrooms and Circumcision”

Transgenderism: The Trumping of Reason and Rationality

A major and long promoted argument on behalf of gay rights has been that sexual orientation has a genetic or other direct physiological basis. This claim is proven by a promissory note of future conclusive scientific evidence and the repeated number of times it is proclaimed.

Motivated researchers thrash through the DNA code, in hopes of finding some statistically significant anomaly, no matter how minor, which corresponds with self-identified homosexuals. (“Then, researchers went through each man’s samples looking for unique genetic markers shared by all men in the study.”[1]) The laws of probability dictate that, in any given study of limited sample size, one will almost invariably find such anomalies. Such findings will not likely be consistently duplicated in further studies. But by the time that claim is totally falsified, some new study with dubious findings will have taken its place, in order to uphold the general propagandistic claim.

These genetic studies are normally conducted on identical and fraternal twins, under the premise that environmental influences can be largely isolated out, especially if the twins are separated at birth. However, the morphological factor never seems to be considered or addressed. Twins, especially identical twins, look quite similar. Social and sexual response to each of those twins, deemed gorgeous or contrariwise homely, will have similarity within any social context.

Dependent upon whatever masculine physiological ideals exist within the gay male community in any given era; identical twins, in which both twins will inherently meet such criteria, will probabilistically attract similar flatteries and solicitations by gay males. Furthermore, the beautiful are prone to physical self-admiration, a psychosocial reality attested by those Hellenistic pederast cultures, which gave us the myth of Narcissus. If one twin be gorgeous and likely self-admiring, so will his double. Such will more likely like like, and like to be liked by like.

But although the underlying similarity of physiology is generated by genes, these are not direct genetic causes of sexual orientation but indirect environmental factors. Twin studies are not as immune from environmental factors as has been hitherto purported.

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But let us assume, for the moment, authenticity of belief within the LGBT… community. While the case for gay and lesbian rights is ostensibly rooted in “born this way” determinism; so soon after achieving that last victory, the clamor for legal recognition of transgenderism is premised upon subjectivist, even Existentialist sensibilities, in the face of genetics, morphology, significant differences in brain structure, let alone genuine conscious experience.

The LG component of this sexuality paradigm is premised upon “genetics,” while the T component is premised upon “not genetics”; indeed contrary to “genetics.” This violates a rudimentary principle of rational logic, the Law of Non-Contradiction. And in such manifestations as the bathroom wars, they and their allies insist that all others dwell within this their contradiction, this their irrationality.

It is supremely difficult not to perceive this blatant inconsistency in their public arguments as nothing but a will-to-power sophistic shell game, by those who lack belief in and/or care about the Truth and the Good; in order to give intellectual cover for their vices; in order to dupe the simple, naïve, and gullible, whose ability to think critically lay dormant or has atrophied.

© Copyright John Hutchinson

[1] Carl Engelking, “Study of Gay Brothers Suggests Genetic Basis of Male Homosexuality,” Discover, November 18, 2014, http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2014/11/18/study-of-gay-brothers-suggests-genetic-basis-of-male-homosexuality/#.Vz1J3-R0dII.

Well done, you good and faithful servant

These are the times that try men’s souls. – Thomas Paine – Dec 23, 1776

Every so often, God sends a test to publicly differentiate the wheat from the chaff. During the Decian (250–1 AD) and Diocletian/Galerian (303–311 AD) persecutions, the official test of fidelity was whether professed Christians would renounce Christ and sacrifice to the gods under pain of punishment including death. Those who succumbed, were branded lapsi (apostates) and traditores (“those who had handed over” – e.g. Scriptures, other religious artifacts, or the names of other Christians). Such would later have understandably difficult time being accepted back into the fold.

In 1934, the church was confronted by fascists and their Deutsche Christen wolves, who attempted to sublimate and subordinate the mandate of Christ under the immediate needs of the Volksgemeinschaft. Yet there remained a minority of faithful who were among those who signed the Barmen Declaration and belonged to the German Confessing Church.

I suspect that the Trump phenomenon might be one of those divine tests. For whether from the sociopolitical perspectives and concerns of conservative Evangelicals or of progressive Evangelicals, Donald Trump, this lawless one, violates the ethics and ethos of them all. Continue reading “Well done, you good and faithful servant”