Friday, February 14, 2014

Free Markets

Carson Spratt and I started having a discussion on a third friend's facebook wall. I didn't want to hijack the thread, so I'm bringing the conversation over here.

In response to my claim that "free markets" are not necessarily any more "free" than "free love is", and so the syllogism "free men therefore free markets" is no more valid than the syllogism "free men, therefore free love":

"Now you're equivocating on "free.""

Since I'm not defining "free", but asking for a definition of a "free market", I am not equivocating. If "free market" means "Markets freed by the freedom of Christ", it is not obvious that so called free markets are in fact free markets, and we would need to argue that free markets means free markets in the common sense. On the other hand, if "free market" has it's usual definition, it's not obvious whether free markets are created by Christ's freedom, or destroyed by Christ's freedom, and either direction needs arguments.

What we cannot do is use "free" as a substitute for argumentation.

Then he says:

"A free man, who bows the knee only to Christ (which is true freedom) will not serve wealth, but will seek it out as a good and God-given tool. A free man will ensure that he does not infringe his neighbor's freedoms. A free man will encourage trade, diligence, and prosperity. A free market will imitate these things."

But since he's defined "free market" with the usual definition, the last statement is not necessarily true. That is, he still needs to argue that "free markets" promote the ends he describes--that is, that they are truly free.

Next, in response to my claim that "free men make free markets" treats human freedom as a means to the end of a free market, whereas this is backwards, man's freedom is greater than the free market, and (as argument above shows) freedom of a market is subordinated to freedom of man, he says:

"About ends and means, yes. That's how creation works. God was a means by which earth was made. Men are the creators of markets, and thus they too are means. There are various types of means, and I'm not sure how being a means of something is objectionable."

As an aside, God was the means by which the earth was made, but God is also the end of all earth, and God Himself, in the Incarnation, was the end of creation. But the question isn't whether men are the means to a free market, but but whether the freedom of men is a means toward the greater thing, the freedom of the market, or whether the freedom of the market is a freedom of the greater thing, the freedom of man. (And man's freedom is a means of the freedom of the market only inasmuch as the freedom of the market is a means to other men's freedom.)

That is, we should define freedom of the market as that which helps or encourages or allows men to be free--that is, to willingly pursue the good--perhaps particularly, in their market dealings. And while a "free market" may be truly free, that judgment needs argued for, and cannot be assumed.

Finally, Carson concludes:

"As to ends, nothing is an ultimate end except God. But there are mediate ends, one of which is making free markets because God told us to."

But this last point, again, turns on the definition of "free market". Is a "free market" truly free? Or is it only called free, but is not in fact so? This point needs argument.

Monday, June 06, 2011


Steven Wedgeworth has been posting a series on the Trinity. Though the first several have much to commend them, the most recent one seems to be assuming Reformed and Western distinctives as if they were common to all. It is perhaps slightly off topic since you are talking about Trinitarian theology from a Calvinist perspective: namely, the Orthodox distinguish between the essence and the nature, and likewise the Orthodox (and to some degree I some Lutherans) would be uncomfortable with defining the essence as "eternal, immortal, immutable, self-existing, etc.". And finally, (also on that line) would not a mention of the alternative understanding of "godhead" as operation, from "On not three God's" be appropriate?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What's the subject of this sentence?

Just checking, what's the subject of this sentence? "God suffered in the flesh, and not in his aseity." I believe it is God, but I man be mistaken. The reason I ask is that over on Brad Littlejohn's blog I asserted that the divine nature is neither subject nor object, but that God the Word is. The response I received, claimed that my position was outside the patristic doctrine since, the fathers said "God suffered in his flesh, and not in his aseity." But if I am correct that the subject of that sentence is "God", which in this case must mean God the Word, then the response is wholly irrelevant and not on point.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Another comment for Steven


That probably is not what Nicea meant by "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church."

Also, the issue of being a elder is a red-herring. Church government belongs to this age, and is destined to perish with use. But the Eucharistic assembly is preserved. And equality does not refer to some interior unity, but to the Sacramental unity. In that passage from Galatians, St. Paul is explicitly drawing a parallel between circumcision which divided between Jew and God-fearer, and divided among the Jews between male and female; and Baptism, which is common to all worshipers of Christ. "As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." Immediately follows (or precedes) that passage, and the passage is in Galatians, which is all about circumcision. There is no restriction between male and female, between Jew and Greek. All are baptized, and all receive communion. All have been sprinkled with the Blood of the New Covenant, which in Hebrews is very clearly the Eucharistic cup.

This issue is precisely the division between the Protestants and Catholics, for the Catholics maintained that the priest receives the Eucharist on behalf of the laity, and withheld the cup from the laity. If our unity is invisible, and not in the Mystic Supper--using the term as de Lubac does--the whole split with Rome is superfluous.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This doesn't seem to be going up. :S

A response that belongs here.


I don’t have much to say, but I thought I should note that your explanation is significantly different from Steven’s. The idea that the one Christian polity is under the king, and directed toward resurrection by the pastors–I should say perhaps shepherded toward resurrection–is not the same as the idea human nature is in two, and therefore needs two politics. The first I think is incomplete, but the second, dangerously false.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Two Cities on Earth, but not within the One City

This is another, rather more lengthy, response to Wedgeworth. I am rather more sympathetic to Brad Littlejohn's position, which is here.

The chief difficulty I have with Wedgeworth and his friends' model is that it seems to divide the human person into two persons. I would be willing to allow that the civil magistrate is a deacon within the Church, responsible for keeping order in the Church, but the civil magistrate is then not a magistrate within a separate kingdom from the Church, but a petty official within the City of God. (At least the believing magistrate is.)

But when we say things like: "Furthermore, man is always both body and spirit, and he always has bodily concerns and spiritual concerns. Thus man needs to order both his body and his spirit...Thus it should not be thought unusual for us to say that there are both bodily and spiritual sorts of politics. Man is always concerned with both, and thus he fashions representative governments for both. The magistracy rules the bodily realm, and the ministry rules the spiritual realm." we seem to divide the human person into two persons, and moreover, to divide even the city of God into two.

The clearest way I can think of to get at this problem is to adopt the terminology from the Christological controversies, with the question being is Christ from two natures, or merely in two natures. The Miaphysites staunchly maintained Christ is not merely in two natures, but is indeed one from two natures. They accused the Calcedonians of separating Christ into two, and thus embracing de facto Nestorianism--as if Christ existed over here, and separately, over there. Ultimately, the orthodox solution was to embrace both positions, thus St. Maximos the Confessor can say Christ exists in and from two natures.

But as I read it, Wedgeworth's and Escalante's doctrine makes precisely this error the miaphysites accused the orthodox of making. Namely they divide the human person into two persons, one existing here, the other there. They say, in short, that the human person exists in two natures, but implicitly deny there is one human nature from these two natures.

This is a crucial mistake, first, because it denies the unity of Christ. Even in the Eschaton, human nature shall be body and spirit. And if human nature is merely in two, and not from two, even in the Eschaton it shall be in two, not from two. Thus the two kingdoms are not a temporary feature of the New Covenant which is destined to perish with use. Rather, even after the Resurrection, there shall be physical and spiritual politics. But it is only possible to have two polities with two rulers. And therefore the One Christ shall not be one ruler, but shall be two rulers. But Christ is not two Christs, but One. And thus, the hypothesis that we need spiritual and physical politics results in a contradiction, and therefore is false.

N.B. I am not simply taking a Lutheran criticism of the Reformed doctrine of the Incarnation. I do not mean that Wedgeworth's doctrine separates the humanity from the divinity, but rather that it separates even the humanity into two.

Second, it is novel. During the Christological controversies, the Miaphysites were able to say that the orthodox were Nestorian because they claimed that unlike human nature, which is one, though it is from two, Christ's nature is not one. That is, both sides agreed that human nature was not parted into twain, but rather was one composed out of two. This was simply not an issue. Both sides agreed that human nature was one--otherwise how could the Miaphysites have appealed to the unity of human nature as an illustration of their position?

Finally, it is unAugustinian. For Augustine, the City of God consisted of those who were turned by love--on earth as in heaven--rather than by lust for power. But the citizen of the City of God was turned by love in all his affairs, bodily and spiritual. The citizen of the City of Man was turned by lust in all his affairs, bodily and spiritual. Augustine's division is not between the body and the soul, but between charity and lust. Though Wedgeworth's distinction maintains some of the Augustinian concerns, it is radically, a different doctrine.

Rather than saying that human nature exists in two, we rather should say that human nature is from (or in and from two). And if it is from two, we exist in one kingdom—or rather inasmuch as we exist in two kingdoms, it is because they are hostile to each other. Thus St. Paul insists that the Philippians—Roman citizens—do not have human citizenship, but citizenship from heaven. And the Romans, correctly, perceived this challenge to their city. Though the Christians were obedient to the Emperor, they would not recognize the legitimacy of the emperor by offering incense to him, but rather offered incense to the true emperor, Jesus Christ. This is not to say that should the Emperor convert, he must abdicate, but rather that he must recognize that his kingdom is a temporary province of the true Empire, the Church.

Moreover, as N. T. Wright has shown, we are colonists from heaven. Now Roman colonists were farmers sent to till the land, and by planting and harvesting the seeds, turn the land into Roman land. And this is precisely the Christian mission. We are commissioned to labor for the kingdom of heaven, and through our labors and prayers to bring the kingdom onto earth. And we labor for heaven, turning this world into heaven, through farming the land. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” We labor by planting our bodies as seeds in the land here, awaiting that day when the “at Christ’s glorious advent [this] holy harvest field shall all its full abundance yield , then the golden ears of harvest shall before His presence wave, rising in the sunshine glorious from the furrows of the grave.” (As the Christopher Wordsworth hymn says.)

And thus we come to the correct understanding of the fallen, but redeemed, human person. The fallen but redeemed man is in the world as Christ was in the world. That is, we are subject to corruption, but “belong body and soul”, to the kingdom of heaven. And we are, body and soul, a seed. And in Christ, we have become, body and soul, a living, heavenly seed. And as Christ’s body and soul was a living seed, and has risen again as the firstfruits, and has waved before the Father as a firstfruit offering, so we are, body and soul seed which shall grow into a heavenly person, humanly identical to Christ. We do not exist in two realms, but rather are one from two, and awaiting planting that we may sprout up, body and soul, into new life.

The ministers of the Church are given to guide this seminal Church, this seminal heaven, till that time when we, and she, shall spring out from the furrows of the grave, and wave before Christ’s presence. Likewise, when the civil magistrate submits himself to the Church—not to the magisterium, but to the Church—he takes a position within the Church, physically ordering the kingdom of heaven. Helping, in his way, to plant the seeds; as the pastors help in theirs.

Moreover, as an officer in the Church—unless the Church is fundamentally Macabean, not Davidic, which is a coherent position, in which case he would have a position in the Church, but merely a functional one, and not an official one at all—he should be subject to church discipline, particularly to the sort of discipline exercised against officers, namely, defrocking. And he specifically is not the ruler of the bodily realm—as if such a thing existed.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Two kingdoms?

This is a reaction to this post.

I think I disagree with your anthropology. Human nature is one, from two; human nature is not two. I do not exist in two kingdoms; I, who am from two natures, exist in one kingdom. Similarly, the Church on Earth is one kingdom, from two; not in two.

It seems that your understanding here makes me, and the Kingdom, into two.

"Man is always concerned with both, and thus he fashions representative governments for both. The magistracy rules the bodily realm, and the ministry rules the spiritual realm." (And elsewhere.)

And this is problematic because even in the Resurrection I will be from two. The visible/invisible distinction in this sense refers to something that shall exist even after the resurrection. If I am now in two kingdoms, I shall even then be in two kingdoms. And though we would not need a king with the sword, Christ, when ordering our bodies, would have a different office than Christ when ordering our souls. Which is nonsense.

It seems rather that you should say that man is one from two, and that the ministry, as those who hold the Word and Sacrament is able to penetrate directly into the heart, and thence onto the body; whereas the king, in his exercise of authority, works on the body, and thence on the heart. (Though that is not quite sufficient as the Word and Sacraments are all received bodily.)

But if that is the case, the magistrate has, like the Pastors, a ministry within the Church (though, of course, a distinct ministry from them). Moreover, if he is to be responsible for maintaining visible order within the Church (as he was in the ancient world, and is in England) he has a position of ministry with in the Church as a deacon. Which should mean that the ministers can, in extreme circumstances, defrock him, and then excommunicate him if he refuses to abdicate.

Moreover, the soul is to rule the body either as a king his peers, or as a king his subjects, depending on which aspect of the body is referred to. Which means that the king should be subject to the ministers, and not the Church itself under the king, for She is from two, and if the Church is under the king, the Spirit of the Church is under the king.

Monday, May 31, 2010

It was a very bright day, for both the sun and the moon were shining

A couple of months ago I had a discussion on the Biblical Horizons blog here. Both sides seemed to be talking past each other. I thought about it again today, and I think I can succinctly phrase my chief concern.

"It was a very bright day, for both the sun and the moon were shining."

I suppose no none would be silly enough to actually write this, but if they were, they would not communicate so much the brightness of the day, as the dimness of the sun.

Statements like (and I'm not quoting you) "God blessed Mary and Joseph with Jesus, but continued to bless them, increasing their honor with more children." makes the same mistake as the above quote. It does not so much honor Mary and childbearing, as minimize the honor which is Christ Himself.

Similarly, consider the following (rather silly) statement "Though Aristotle had many great writings, though he nearly single handedly founded the study of Rhetoric, literary criticism, metaphysics, science, astronomy, and many other disciplines; the honor in these hardly deserves mention next to his greatest honor: he was the tutor of Alexander the Great." Though this statement superficially purports to praise Aristotle, in fact, it is (rather clearly) over the top praise of Alexander the Great.

But if we change it slightly, substituting Mary for Aristotle, and Jesus for Alexander the Great, it is no longer excessive, but a fitting praise for Jesus. And Orthodox praise of Mary, in which the praise of her as ever-virgin plays a large part, has become such praise of Christ. As such, we must be very careful that in correcting errors they have made, we do not make them say something like "Aristotle is chiefly to be honored for tutoring Alexander, but aside from this he has many other great accomplishments, including the founding of the disciplines of..." which, though more fitting praise of Alexander, is nearly blasphemous when made praise of Christ.

And my concern with what you have written about Mary here, though it is in many ways admirable, is that it falls into these two traps. In the first place, while attempting to honor childbearing, it in fact dims Christ; and while attempting to correct Orthodox errors, in fact, treats Christ as just another man.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Reformed Faith

I just listened to Pr. Wilson's second quick talk on Eastern Orthodoxy. You can find the talk here. Overall the talk was neither impressive, nor unimpressive. he didn't really say anything surprising. But one quote really bothered me. "A husband falling into doctrinal sin like that...and that's what it is...he's backsliding, he's falling away from the Reformed Faith." I'll grant that Orthodoxy isn't the Church. Sure. But this quote cannot be correct. First, if someone left Trinity for an E-Free church, I would say there are serious problems with the decision, but it is a complicated issue, and in some ways they are going right, in some, wrong. If they leave hostilely, that is a problem, but in leaving itself cannot be described simply as backsliding. Reducing a conversion to Orthodoxy to backsliding simply, makes light of what is a hard complicated decision, and likewise of the one who makes the decision. And, more seriously, it makes the Orthodox semi Christians. Do they deny God the Father maker of Heaven and Earth? Do they deny Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord? Do they deny the Holy Spirit? Do they refuse to acknowledge one Baptism for the Remission of Sins? Do they rupture from the Historic Church, thus denying the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church? In no, they are Christians.

But far more serious than this: What is this "Reformed Faith"? Reformed Doctrine is good. I am a member of a Reformed Church. Reformed Churches are good. But what is the Reformed Faith? "One Lord, One Reformed Faith, One Baptism"? No. The Reformed Faith was created in Hell. The Reformed Faith be damned. One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism. The Orthodox worship Jesus Christ, the Orthodox are baptized in His name. They are not of a different faith.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Christ is Risen!

ἀναστήτω ὁ θεός καὶ διασκορπισθήτωσαν οἱ ἐχθροὶ! Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν!

We sang Psalm 68 at Matins today, and I was struck by how fitting a Psalm it is for Eastertide.  We generally associate verse 18 with Easter: "Thou art gone up on high; Thou hast led captivity captive, and received gifts for men; yea, even from Thine enemies, that the Lord God might dwell among them."--if only because of the Aria from Messiah. But the whole Psalm is filled with Easter references. "The Lord gives the the women who announce the news are a great host" is a prophesy of Mary preaching the good news to the Apostles. And most strikingly, verse 1 is a clear reference to the Resurrection. "Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered." In English "arise" could be taken as a reference to the Resurrection, but there is not much linguistic reason for saying it is. But the LXX is much more clear. Anastito ho Theos!" Prior to the resurrection this would mean "Let God arise." But the first word of Psalm 68 is the verb form of resurrection (anastasia). The same is true in the Hebrew "Yakum Elohim!" "Resurrect! Let God Resurrect!" would perhaps be a better translation.

I also think the end of verse 18 as a prophesy of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit make his dwelling among us.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Prayers to the Saints and Prayers to the Saints

"In particular, we should be very suspicious of the medieval idea that the saints can function as friends at court so that while we might be shy of approaching the King ourselves, we know someone who is, as it were, one of us, to whom we can talk freely and who will maybe put in a good word for us...If you have a royal welcome awaiting you in the throne room itself, for whatever may be on your heart and mind, whether great or small, why would you bother hanging around the outer lobby trying to persuade someone there, however distinguished to go in and ask for you?" --N.T. Wright Surprised by Hope p. 173.

He is absolutely right, but I would also like to add that he captures well a distinction between Orthodox and much Catholic prayers to the saints.  (I would still object to Orthodox prayers to the saints, but not on quite the same grounds, nor so vehemently.)  The Orthodox do not pray to the saints because they are the courtiers who have the king's ear, but because the king has lots of friends in his presence, and he would like to share them with us.  And that difference is liturgical.

Again, I'm not endorsing the Orthodox view, just taking notes.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

"Both literalism and skepticism regularly operate with what is called a receptacle view of space; theologians who take the ascension seriously insist that it demands what some have called a relational view...Heaven relates to earth tangentially so that the one who is in heaven can be present simultaneously anywhere and everywhere on earth: the ascension therefore means that Jesus is available, accessible, without people having to travel to a particular spot on the earth to find him."  --N. T. Wright Surprised by Hope p. 111

Not arguing anything here, just posting a question to keep track of it.  I may follow it up with other thoughts later.  But maybe not.

The Reformed argument, and indeed I have been told Wright's own argument, against the Lutheran position that the Bread in the Eucharist is the Body of Christ, and the Wine is His Blood, is that Jesus is physically in heaven, not on earth, and thus the Lutheran doctrine is a denial of the true humanity of Christ.  But if Wright is correct that one who is in heaven can be present simultaneously anywhere and everywhere on earth, what is the problem with Jesus being simultaneously on the tables in all the churches on earth?  And indeed wouldn't the argument that Christ cannot be simultaneously, physically, in heaven and on earth be a denial of his ascended body?  Yet Wright would, I believe, make just that argument.  I must be missing something.

Eternal Truths

Randall Munroe captures a typical modern attitude, one which those of us studying Mathematics are particularly prone to. In other areas we may debate the truth. In other areas truths change. In other areas truths are contingent. But here, in mathematics, we find ultimate unchangeable incorruptible truths. 2+2=4. Finite fields off order p^n exist and are unique. Every number greater than 5 can be expressed as the sum of three prime numbers. (Perhaps.) Always and everywhere, eternally and incorruptibly.

But this is false. Only God is eternal. Mathematicians do not teach eternal unchanging truths. "Christ is Risen!" Here is an eternal unchanging ultimate truth. This corruptible must put on incorruption. Mathematics, even mathematics, is but flesh, and must put on incorruption. Even 2+2=4 shall grow old and die. But Christ is Risen! In this, the one eternal truth, the one perfect truth, the one ultimate truth, all other truths are saved and resurrected.

"Yet by God's death the stars shall stand
And the small apples grow."
And by God's death and resurrection, one and one make two.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Windhover

To Christ our Lord
G. M. Hopkins

I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing, 5
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion 10
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.