Contra Mundum
© Contra Mundum 1991-2024
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Saturday 17 February 2024

Recently some Baptists, notably James White, have been exercised by the increasing presence of Thomists amid the Baptist pseudo intellectuals (i.e. the seminary profs) and, for that matter, among their Presbyterian counterparts as well. That should not surprise us. Having a long anti-cultural tradition, the Baptists are forced to borrow and, when they do, they borrow from the worst sources, for a couple of reasons. A review of fundy websites shows that they are very weak on apologetics, but when they do feature something and it is along the lines of philosophy or basic theism, they reach far back into history and pull out Thomas Aquinas. That is because in systematic theology they have to go back to patristics when it comes to basic doctrines, and for basic philosophy the same impulse takes over, and they find more in Aquinas than in Augustine’s Platonism. The second reason is that to take from recent sources they would have to take from thinkers whose ideas are in some areas antithetical and a danger to baptist principles, most notably in the case of Reformed thinkers. But there is also a new factor, which is a loss of confidence in Biblical authority. This leads to a search for some sort of tradition that can fill in. They then turn to the totally debunked Roman Thomist tradition. This tells us something very important. It shows that the crisis in confidence behind this action is not intellectual, as the solution chosen is among the worst possible from an intellectual point of view. The Reformed, for their part, built on one or another form of neo-calvinism, and as that has fallen apart are turning to Thomism. The baptists seem to be on two tracks: those who are going directly to Thomism and those who are moving into neo-calvinism (a poor fit for Baptists) which can only be a way station in route to something else. As long as apologetics and basic theology is seen as supporting Christianity by shoving something else under it as a foundation, the problems will continue. There is still something to be explained about the Reformed. As they have produced some actual philosophers, for them to turn to Thomism is even more ridiculous than the case of the Baptists, and requires a deeper diagnosis of their pathology. In their case it often goes hand in hand with a turn toward the Radical Two-Kingdom theology, is which is not Reformed. There is some repetition of the impulse that centuries ago produced the anabaptists.

Friday 9 February 2024

And now for something completely different. We are releasing a book in French. It is partly a response to the Without Excuse book edited by David Haines of Québec, Canada. As an aside, this French connection is peculiar in that it was Jacques Ellul, who shot the foundation out from under natural law revivals, pointing out that is was a philosophical theory, which besides its problems as philosophy had nothing to do with actual judicial law, and never had. Natural law is another example of how Evangelicals can never stop being silly, as long as they continue to split their commitments between Christianity and the secular world. The split commitment compels them to anchor themselves to something that does not belong to either, that is artificial, that is concocted. As a concoction it can never be stable and its authority is feigned. We mean, of course, natural law as they define it. There are various quite different theories of natural law coming out of the ancient world, the middle ages and early modern times, and some seek to provide an explanation of the context in which law operates, rather then making it to be the moral foundation for society. It is one of the points of the Divided Knowledge book that the evangelical natural law theories are promoted in ignorance of this larger variety of natural law. We find, however, that this sort of thinking is often associated with people who have gone though papist diploma mills. Of course, if Baptists are happy to make men like Ergun Caner president of their colleges and seminaries, why should they not hire half-baked papist products as well?

Wednesday 31 January 2024

Now that everyone has sounded off on Alestair Begg’s public collapse in the face of woke-world, I will point out a few things. The best analysis has come from Andew Isker over at the other, upstart, Contra Mundum. He points out that contrary to the widespread perception that Begg, after decades of faithful ministry, had made a serious error, in fact, Begg was never faithful. He always preached a truncated Christianity. As Isker points out, someone can exegete the doctrine justification from Romans for decades, while avoiding confrontation with the anti-Christian world, in the sense of its culture. Finally, though, that world came for Begg in the form of woke practice that will not leave the personal practice of the Evangelical alone, because the Evangelical practice is now evil in the eyes of the publicly proclaimed woke ethics. Begg sought to justify himself saying that he is not one of those American fundamentalists who do not understand nuance. He listed his English mentors who gave him his superior background. One of them is John Stott. Stott used to tour as a speaker for InterVarsity, where he would expand on the the rules for having a correct personal religious cultic practice. Then Stott began to pick up leftist ideas, as it became to seem to him that the ethics of the left should be added on to evangelical legalism. Finally, Stott became an annihilationist, because his type of God could not condemn anyone to eternal punishment. Another mentor was Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He was for a long time the hero of the Banner of Truth, neo-puritan “Reformed” people. Again, it was a truncated Christianity with an emphasis on revivalism and what could be accomplished within the four walls of the church building for the personal cult. Begg chose the wrong type of Englishman as his guide. He should have studied Stephen C. Perks, especially such works as Baal Worship Ancient and Modern.

Friday 27 January 2024

All book sales so far this month have been outside the United States. Why is that? Probably it shows where the open minds are. In the US people follow gurus, and they do not want to be told that they cannot trust their gurus to tell them what to believe. This does not necessarily mean that these people will not change their minds, because they can and do switch gurus. In fact, such a change seems to be underway, with a switch to Thomas Aquinas. Why is this? Reformed people, and to an extent Evangelicals more generally, have lost confidence in their Bibles, and now need think that there is some great tradition behind their belief. The reason for this is not so evident. Could it be that it is the proliferation of Bible versions? Everyone sees that their Bible says something different from the Bible of the person next to them. If the translators cannot agree about what the Bible means, what hope is there for certainty of doctrine outside of a long tradition? But the problem with the versions mainly seems to be due to dumbing down the Bible so that it might be understood by people today, who are so much dumber than even the people of even the 19th century. For those who might be interested, J. Glenn Friesen has uploaded a book (226 pages) onto Adacemia.edu. Two Paths of Reformational Philosophy: Early Writings of Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd gets into the early sources of the Reformational Philosophy. It contains Appendix A, “Differences between Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd”. This should be helpful in figuring out at what points Cornelius Van Til followed Vollenhoven and at what ones he followed Dooyeweerd. Not that Van Til seemed to actually grasp the extent of their differences. Friesen says: “Disagreements between Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd were kept private, and only revealed late in life. My own research indicates that they disagreed on almost every issue.” (p. 4)

Thursday 11 January 2024

The paperback copies of Divided Knowledge are finally being delivered. The hardback ones have still not cleared the holiday backup at Amazon, and the ones ordered the day of publication are still listed as due January 30. Judging by some presentation by Internet presenters, there is a continuing upsurgence of Thomism at the seminaries. Reformed seminaries, to the extent that they are up-front about it, are divided between those who still push the Van Tillian theology of this or that, as though it contained some insight, and Thomist views which are being brought out in some quarters as the replacement. Oddly, Thomism is combined with Radical Two-Kingdom theology by some people, as though they had anything it common. Strangely, the Baptists (in the seminary professorships) are also running madly after Thomas Aquinas. Whatever appeal the revived pagan philosophy combined into the theology held for the medievals, there is no intellectual justification for it today. Nothing good can be expected from the intellectual nullity of the leadership of prestige seminaries and denominations. At some point will the people in the pews realized that their institutional leaders are making fools out of them? Would that make a difference, or will their loyalty always be to their institutions above all?

Thursday 14 December 2023

There is another book forthcoming in English and Spanish. This takes a look at apologetics theory, and also reviews most of the essays in the book about Van Til’s apologetics that The Davenant Press put out. (Without Excuse: Scripture, Reason, and Presuppositional Apologetics, ed. David Haines) Those essays are very uneven in quality, and not all are reviewed, as the ones on the historical role of Reformed Scholasticism are skipped. The Davenant idea of “classical” Christianity is the general topic of Divided Knowledge. Their idea of classical is very restricted. Most of the essays do not acknowledge the medieval intellectual movements other than the Thomist, nor do most acknowledge the place of Presbyterianism within the Englightenment. There are some exceptions among the authors, notably Nathan Greeley, whose contribution to Without Excuse is quite good. Travis Campbell’s contribution on Van Til’s view of the Trinity is also to be commended.

Saturday 19 August 2023

There is an interview with Dr. Peter McCullough and Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche on Fearless Nation. This week a new Veteran’s Administration clinic opened just down the street, and I went to the opening event. A lot of federal bureaucrats made speeches. One told us that “it takes a village” to build a Veteran’s Administration clinic. The mayor gave a speech. The RINO congressman gave a speech. An Indian chief was brought out to say a prayer in the Lakota language blessing the place. There were no Christian prayers, not even from the mayor, whose previous job had been to be a Wesleyan Methodist minister. The latest Inside Russia is titled “Stalin is Back and Sanctified by Russian Church” Some town put up an new statue of Stalin and the Eastern Orthodox priest came to say a prayer to consecrate it. He said that Stalin had provided the Eastern Orthodox with many new martyrs to pray to. Someone should tell Andrew Torba over at Gab that the next time he posts one of his pictures of an Eastern Orthodox church he should add an icon of St. Stalin.

Sunday 6 August 2023

Dr. Pierre Kory was interviewed on USAWatchdog about vaccine injuries and treatments. A few days ago Ed Dowd was interviewed about vaccine injury evidence and statistics. I am not hearing anything from all those people who claim that the church should speak out on issues. Do they not think that the attempt by civil government to carry out genocide against their people is such as issue? Have they spoken about it and somehow I have missed it? As far as I can tell, the hot topic in that crowd is getting to be speculation about the Nephilim.

Saturday 5 August 2023

A church down the street set up a stand today to wash and bless motorcycles arriving for the Sturgis motorcycle rally. God, though, did not cooperate, and it rained all day.

Friday 28 July 2023

Legislative changes at the state level to promote abortion, transsexual surgery on minors, pedophilia, and censorship are discussed by Sarah Westall and Dave Janda. Recently a number of reaction videos have come to my attention, which were made by various personalities who wanted to respond to Abraham Piper, son of the famous Baptist performer. These videos seem to be all about a year old. This Abraham Piper seems to be fairly ignorant and stupid on the whole, and he is only taken seriously because of who is father is. The age of the videos indicates that there was a brief reaction, and then the subject was dropped. The responders want to say what AP is wrong about, but they all seem to miss the important point. Abraham Piper was brought up in a false religion, and whatever his intellectual deficiencies, Piper was perceptive enough to spot the essential point: that he was brought up in a false religion. The religion of John Piper, the father, is a religion of emotionalism. He is a baptist pietist, with a charismatic theology overlaid on top of it. In Piper’s religion one gins up some emotions, and then claims that it was God that you were experiencing. Abraham Piper came to realize that this was fake. But this shows how it is possible to construct a fake religion within the confines of creedal orthodoxy (though John Piper was not that either, having fudged on the doctrine of justification). We then must ask how common it has been and is now within Evangelicalism to move the center of religion onto phony experience, and make this the essence, while maintaining the doctrinal appearance of orthodoxy? This mentality leads to an inversion of values and priorities, as is made clear on this episode of Wretched Radio.

Thursday 29 June 2023

A very important interview with Dr. Eads is on Greg Hunter’s channel for June 24. It covers the high rate of disease including rapidly developing cancers resulting from the COVID-19 injections. Much more dubious, to my mind, is the June 27 interview with Martin Armstrong. This Armstrong has a computer (probably actually a database) that he named Socrates, which is the source of Armstrong’s prognostications. As soon as Hunter hears the word “computer” he assumes infallibility. Hunter is also in awe of Clif High’s database. Over at Sarah Westall’s channel there is an interview with a Seth Holehouse. Where Hunter becomes extremely credulous in the presence of charismatic “prophets”, Westall’s gullibility is new-agers. Nevertheless this Holehouse makes some valuable points. His topic is who is really behind all the trouble we are seeing, namely the role of the globalist/deep state crowd vs the commies. Holehouse notes that some of the Alternative media has taken to regarding Putin, Xi, Kim Jong Un as the future saviors who will destroy the globalists (for example the guy who runs x22report). But this is pure self-deception. Also, I should note these same parties think the Russians are the good-guys in the Ukraine war. They point to the biolab facilities that the US built there. These are reopened Russian bio-warfare facilities. I think a far more reliable view of Russia is found here.

Saturday 20 May 2023

The paperback editions of Theosophy, Van Til and Bahnsen, can now be ordered at Amazon. The hardback should be available in a few days. It is a simple little book pointing out how Neo-Calvinism isn’t Reformed, nor does it make sense. This extends to the Westminster Seminary theologies based on it.

Wednesday 17 May 2023

For several years in the 1950s Frederick Nymeyer wrote in his journal Progressive Calvinism about what was wrong with Neo-Calvinism. At the time it was a Dutch and American Christian Reformed phenomenon. For twenty years we have made this material available, not that it appears to have influenced anyone. The situation today is far different, in that Neo-Calvinism has split into different streams, where people have hacked off the parts that did not suit their agendas and have combined Neo-Calvinist ideas with a very heterogeneous selection of other ideas. What was Neo-Calvinism originally? It was the discarding of the old systematic theology and social system, a vision of Christendom, to replace it with something new that was thought to answer the challenge of the modern age. This featured a modification of covenant theology to add a third track to God’s program, the common grace track. So a common grace covenant had to be found, which for Abraham Kuyper was the covenant with Noah. Thus Neo-Calvinism became tricovenantal, in distinction from the Reformed bicovenantal position. This common grace administration freed the Reformed concept of political and economic engagement from its ties to God’s redemptive program, and pushed aside the institutional church so that the church no longer had to be embedded in the system of institutions which made up the official social order. Instead it became an ‘interest’, something that could lobby for its share of government largesse and delegation power beside all the other interests. In America various groups latched on to aspects to Neo-Calvinism as they found it useful for their respective projects. Cornelius Van Til adopted the Neo- Calvinist philosophy (which had developed from theosophy, while pretending Calvinism), and he also became a promoter of the tricovenantalism. In the Dutch denominations, tricovenantalism flourished as a pretext to take in political and economic agendas that were popular with opinion makers (that is, they tended left) and make them Reformed. Among the Presbyterians, tricovenantalism became the pretext for saying that politics, economics and other cultural matters were distinct from the covenant of grace, and therefor not the concern of the church. An idea of cultural transformation, that appealed to Kuyper, but discarded his theological framework, went forward under a monocovenantal scheme. The glue holding this together was a commitment to certain figures and their “thought”. Chief among these was Cornelius Van Til, promoter of Neo-Calvinist epistemology, of tricovenantalism, of common grace as a central principle, but also of Norman Shepherd’s idea of justification, and whose followers soon turned toward monocovenantalism. Another figure combining these elements was R. J. Rushdoony, principally by confusing things. Without these personalities, the movements they influenced will fall apart as force of their legacy fades, because the ideas have no essential unity. Just consider Christian Reformed leftism and culture echoing, theonomic and presuppositional cultural transformation, and Radical Two-Kingdom theology. All are streams out of Neo-Calvinism. It is actually the Christian Reformed who are the most true to the whole concept. What is most notable is that one way or the other they throw away the Reformed Federal theology for tricovenantal or bicovenantal alternatives into which they can better accommodate their agendas. Each of these has developed its own way of pretending that it is actually the Reformed tradition. At this point along comes Stephen Wolfe with his The Case for Christian Nationalism to remind everyone what the Reformed social vision was. So much squawking from those who are exposed! How long can they keep this up instead of admitting that what calls itself Presbyterian or Reformed today is something different from the foundations up, and really does not belong in common denominations, seminaries or other institutions?

Wednesday 10 May 2023

A couple of books are forthcoming, and should be available in two or three weeks. It was always evident that Cornelius Van Til said a lot of crazy things. But other than that there are people who like the sort of thing and think it is spiritual and there are people who do not, there was not much more to say. But the appearance of J. Glenn Friesen’s, Neo-Calvinism and Christian Theosophy a few years ago, and now the new edition, changed that. Now we can see the reason for Van Til’s positions, how they trace back to Dooyeweerd, and in turn how the model of the knower in these systems comes from Dutch theosophy. If that sounds like a bad thing it is because it is a bad thing. It is, though, part of a bigger problem with neo-Calvinism, and that is discussed in the book as well. In addition to the examination of neo-Calvinism, there is an analysis of presuppositionalism as a form of foundationalism.

Monday 13 March 2023

There is now a website, https://hyperpreterism.com/, dedicated to opposing hyperpreterist doctrine, and it includes a seven point statement that readers are invited to sign. The statement has the appearance of being hastily drawn up. Here are a few thoughts on the statement. Also there is something strange about how this suddenly blew up into a big thing. Hyperpreterism is the view of a few small cults. The last cult alarm was over the Federal Vision, and that was alarming because it arose in the “respectable” denominations, that is the ones with the seminaries full of heavy-hitter theologians, which were supposed to be proof against this sort of thing. Also it accompanied a rise in advocacy of the New Perspectives on Paul, which had an overlapping group of supporters. Now the big cult threat, bigger than the Federal Vision, is the Radical Two-Kingdom Theology, and its glad handing of the genocidal deep state, but instead people are stirred up over preterism.

Saturday 11 March 2023

The Preterism stir. A controversy has arisen over Gary DeMar’s stand, or non-stand (as he has not answered certain questions) on preterism, especially its implications for the Last Judgment. There is an open letter on Kenneth Gentry’s website addressing the issue. When an issue of this magnitude arises in which some prominent teacher’s commitment to basic creedal doctrines is questioned, the Christian public had legitimate concerns: who is involved, on either side? Who is going along? Are they going along because they too have fallen from orthodoxy, and do not want to reveal this to their followers? Are they going along simply to avoid taking a stand and making enemies? Contra Mundum has long featured Spanish translations of Gary DeMar articles, sent in by some contributors. They are by far the most popular items on the site. (The reason, strangely, is that the Google search engine likes one of them and promotes it.) So readers could reasonably wonder about Contra Mundum, particularly as we have in the past axed heretics such as Jordan and Leithart. The letter of concern is signed by Andrew Sandlin, Ken Gentry, Doug Wilson, Jeffery Ventrella, Phillip Kayser, John Frame, Ardel Caneday, Jeff Durbin, James White, Brian Mattson, Keith Sherlin, Jason Bradfield, Sam Frost, and Uriesou Brito. Half of them have or have had translations of their items on this site. Ardel Caneday wrote an article for the print version of Contra Mundum, Fall 1992. It transpires that two recent actions, not based on this topic, have partly addressed the Contra Mundum stand on these questions. First, as mentioned in the Blog post just prior to this one, the more prominent “take a stand” and advocacy material has been moved to an new site, Via Moderna, though still linked here for now. This clarifies that Contra Mundum serves to introduce (critically) certain positions (or call them perspectives or worldviews) that claim to represent the Christian position on culture. These are all Reformed or Reformed-influenced, as we see little value in trying to dig out something from the Romanist, Lutheran or Arminian positions. DeMar is a representative of a significant international movement, Christian Reconstruction, which readers need to be able to read in order to confidently understand it, and so the articles remain in place for now. The other action is a publication of a somewhat lengthy Overview of Millennial Systems, with an appended review of Riddlebarger’s Man of Sin. There is a distinction between preterist interpretations of some text or texts, and presterism as an eschatological systems. Any of the main systems could take some text here or there as a reference to events around 70 AD. It is hard not to. The review of Riddlebarger’s book may suggest disapproval of such eclectic interpretation, but the problem with Riddlebarger is that he interprets the same texts in multiple ways: one way to satisfy what the text says in context, and another way to fit into his amillennial system, and maybe a third way to cover all bases. The problem with millennial systems is that they tend to sweep all texts into a single interpretive bin, unless like Riddlebarger they simply abandon consistency. But let us take a few steps back and look at the whole issue of movements gone heretical and the response. David Chilton was the first big name in Tyler Reconstruction to go full preterist. Gary North denounced Chilton as a heretic, but continued to promote his (earlier) books. Yet Gary North was a promoter of Norman Shepherd’s defection from orthodoxy on the central doctrine of justification. Ray Sutton, the inventor of the key Tyler doctrine of the five point covenant went full high church sacramental (see this interview), and has now even banned the teaching of Calvinism at his seminary. James Jordan co-invented the Federal Vision theology, with multiple heresies including the New Perspectives on Paul, and Peter Leithart also went Federal Vision, and has taken over Jordan’s Biblical Horizons. In fact, among the major figures of Tyler Reconstrution, to remain orthodox has been the exception. Then, too, Christian Reconstruction, like the Westminster Seminaries before it, have always incorporated the theosophy structured philosophy of Cornelius Van Til and theology of Meredith Kline (see the review of McAtee’s book pp. 6-8). So why is a stand being taken now on this bridge, and by these people? It was under Doug Wilson’s watch that Shepherdism and the Federal Vision went through his CREC denomination, and Leithart was allowed to run wild. Uriesou Brito is associated with Leithart’s Theopolis, and Caneday is co-author of the quasi-Arminian book The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance Assurance. Then there is the argument by Ken Gentry that full preterism cannot affirm Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed. Neither can premillennialism (see Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology, p. 863).