Ben Lowdown

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Some have asked for guidance in their thinking and reaction to the killing of Ben Lowdown. Okay, some quick ones. But first let me assure you that these comments are NOT personal and have no one in view.

That said, I mourn over our unreaction to this unqualifiedly wonderful news and regard our confusion as evidence that we have taken another huge step toward perfect judgment. The outpouring of conflicting opinion is grievously revelatory. What do I mean?

Let us start with the foundation: the norm according to Scripture (see end notes) and all rational historical precedent is this: when a people have been victimized by a bloodthirsty evil low-life scuzz, and when the perpetrator uses all means and opportunities at his disposal to demonstrate his unfitness to live on God’s earth—for, rather than repenting or exhibiting remorse, or even hesitation or second thoughts, he instead TAUNTED, and further threatened those he has assaulted—then NORMAL PEOPLE will have a single, SHARED reaction at news of his demise—especially if by the honored hands of their own military. The ONLY sane response is, “Hallelujah!”

But we have been enduring a range of responses that deviates greatly from the norm, including drunken impiety, boisterous ignorance, guilt-loaded women moaning and castrated men looking for something they’ve lost. We are subjected to blathering attorneys who cannot grasp that the rights of American citizens do not inherently belong to foreign ENEMIES; and we’re reading reports of prating bozos who struggle with the concept that righteousness and wickedness are not the same. We are under a deluge of OPINIONS aplenty because we have lost all covenant cohesion.

So understand this: When the news America hears is that “he’s a harmer bum low-down” (dog) has been executed by God via the hand of one of our Navy soldiers, we are in a setting which fully justifies the expectation of a single, predictable response: the rendering of deep thanks for such a great kindness from the Lord. The only mental reservation we provide for deviation is the one we typically allow for the small number of deviants and defectives among us on any given day. Thus, the sane expectation is for a SINGLE response, which is essentially “Hallelujah.” Therefore, the most significant feature of America’s reaction is its multiformity. We do not HAVE A reaction at all. Instead we have a pouring forth of a plethora of purposeless opinions. The totality testifies that we are suffering from egalitarian tumors on our brain.

This whole exercise of moronic soul-searching, the public second-guessing from the most cowardly of all armchair quarterbacks, and the gushing ignorance drenching the papers and screens—all this desperate “concern” and posturing in the wake of what ought to have been the occasion for our united rendering of gratitude—all of it serves to guarantee one thing: our flailing tongues will effectually tie our hands and arms and cause us to become a target most irresistible to the next evil-minded morons driven by pure envy in the guise of caring about “justice.” Maniacs in waiting abound. We’ve admitted them to our shores, given them welfare and other funding. Our multiple-personality reaction is just a begging of Muslims for more attacks.

It should have been, “Okay, look closely: that’s what happens when you do what he did. Anybody else with similar ideas will meet a similar end, God helping us. Now let’s see, where were we?” Instead we’ve just advertised ourselves as a target most attractive and deserving. If the message of impotence now carried by our media was not stemming from our real national guilt for our very real sins (abortion, perversion, etc.), I’d suggest that the outlets ought to be tried for treason. But we have LOST the ability to understand even what a united, national expectation would look like. We are permanently and pathetically fractured, crippled, lying in wait for the vultures. How painful it is to be that when limitless strength and vigor is but a sincere repentance away.

If we cannot REJOICE together at the destruction of a SWORN AND KNOWN ENEMY, it is because we have broken our covenant beyond repair. We now share NO presuppositions (subscribe to presupp series for more), we have NO unity, we have NO collective values or beliefs, and we are therefore, nothing. There is no United States of America. We have been at war with our Christian history for more than 100 years and have offered no single narrative in its place (how could we when there is none?).

In the meantime, we swelled our shore-to-shore with scores of millions of foreign-born who, unlike all who preceded them, were told implicitly and explicitly that there is nothing for them to adapt to: they don’t even need to speak English. Why? Because NOTHING unites us—nothing whatsoever; not language, not faith, not the past, nor our hopes for the future (that is, anchored, grounded hopes, as opposed to graphic-novel-wishful-thinking). Even the pandering which comprises the whole of political campaigns is fragmented, self-contradictory, hypocritical, focus-group-generated, ephemeral and impossible. (Of course, the unspoken point of commonality is avarice, covetousness and greed. They come for money, period.) I have worked with thousands of immigrants in these last 32 years and I can’t think of one who was aflame with passion for the great principles which came together as the flame in Lady Liberty’s torch. We teach them enough of the Constitution to pass a citizenship test, but they learn from what they daily read that the Constitution, like the Bible in liberal churches, has run out of Viagra and become a flaccid, malleable blob of nothing in particular. One retired Egyptian doctor I recently met told me of his hopes to become a citizen. He had left a one-million-pound luxury apartment on the Mediterranean Sea to join a daughter here in the States. He arrived five years ago but spent nearly one full year of the five in visits back home. He and his wife are supported by various “entitlements” taken from the skin of American-born workers. What happened to the money from the sale of his luxury apartment? When I asked him why it is he wants to become a citizen, he told me unabashedly, “Because I will get about $500 more per month in my check.” There can be NO FUTURE for such a self-hating nation.

The fractured response to the victory of our Navy Seals reveals us to be salt without flavor, fit for you know what. That Americans do not KNOW how to respond to the death of an enemy makes us more pitiful than a vegetarian who is handed a pastrami sandwich from the Carnegie Deli. Useless, futile affairs, both. We have become, in the loss of our national character, of all people, the most to be pitied. Instead of the blood of the Passover Lamb upon the doorposts of our house, we may now see only these words, written though they be, in red: EE CHAVOD. Ichabod!! The glory has departed. We are spiritually dead and psychologically twisted. We have soldiers willing to die in service to us, yet we are unsure if we may be enthused when they are granted triumphs on our behalf. I tell you most solemnly, we have become a people with very few triumphs left in the pipeline. Woe is me—woe to my people. It is over. Ichabod! Ichabod indeed!

I close with two texts for you. The first is from Psalm 58:

The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked. Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

One of the errant notions of unbelief which had somehow worked its way in to become a presupposition supporting this week’s grievous display, is this: Because Muslims make false claims about, and have erroneous expectations of their deity, therefore Christians may not make any claims about or have any expectations of the True God. If we did, so the brain-dead reason, we’d be just like them. But sooner or later, I suspect, they will learn that Mt. Carmel cuts through all human history. It isn’t a question of claims per se, but of which God can and will back them up. It was certainly our sins that caused a ten-year delay of justice. But if justice is unrecognized when it finally arrives, if a token of justice is granted by God yet is not met with immediate, profound and sincere gratitude from those to whom it was granted, I fear that it can only mean our hardest lessons are still ahead of us. If you are too sinful to trust God for victory, put away your sin. But if you won’t trust in God for victory, what will you trust? The bad boys ain’t going away, my friends. Whatever we believe it is that will grant us victory, that is our deity. Is it undressing our womenfolk at airports that will give safety and peace? Can we call anything safety and peace that includes undressing our womenfolk at airports? It is in our hesitation to trust and lift up God’s name—the God of Scripture—that we are becoming like the Muslim terrorists. For they are placing their trust in the wrong place and for wrong reasons. Why follow them in their error? Trust in the Lord with all our heart, then watch all enemies flee.

Second text: Proverbs 24:15 says,

“Do not gloat when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.”

Some silly souls think this militates against all we’ve said above. It does not. First, we are here warned about having a bad attitude. But is the bad attitude warned against an appreciation of the enemy’s downfall? That is quite impossible. Why? Because the text is not finished. It goes on to say:

“lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.”

This text is a warning: if you do “x,” then God will not finish off your enemy. If the enemy’s termination is not to be sought, is not valued, then the passage is gibberish. The passage serves as a warning so that kings who read it wouldn’t miss out on the sweet end of an unrepentant enemy’s demise. Clearly then, the bad attitude in question is SELF-SATISFACTION, a smug and smarmy notion that our power and the strength of our hands have done this. Now that happens to be the very attitude of no small number of Americans who see the whole complex of events occurring under the hand of sovereign man alone. In that light, I ask: how confident are you that we have passed the attitude test?

No. The righteous response to the eye-popping of He Swam a Spoon Ladling is HALLELUJAH! Not more, perhaps, but certainly not less.

sms-MC3-nyc

Covenant Thinking 101

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Beloved People of God,

Certain teachings hold the promise of opening vistas of understanding, enabling us to truly make awful sense even out of what we see today. So I thought it might be well to give a brief treatment of something which ought to be as familiar to thinking Christians as rice is to hungry Asians. I realize, however, that many in Christ are situated where teachers major in minors. Thus, through no fault of their own, children of the King are deprived of essential instruction. This piece is sent in the hope of providing a small corrective, prayerfully equipping a few not to be overwhelmed for want of an interpretive key to today’s events and perhaps equipping others to be more like the the sons of Issachar who can understand the times. On to it, then.

The first and most direct way to grasp the centrality and the character of presuppositions to all human thinking, acting and covenant keeping-or-breaking, is to think of a presupposition as a tuchas. That’s right–a tooshie. Why? Well, because it is behind and under everything a man does, and is with him wherever he goes. He’ll spare no effort to protect it and will develop a number of habits and manners designed to keep it hidden.

Again, a man is just as disposed to offer his presuppositions for scrutiny as he is to submit to a rectal exam on first base at Yankee Stadium during the 7th-inning-stretch. Not likely! Fact is, people prefer the company of those who honor the “no mention of tooshie” rule– not even a casual muttering.

Despite all the obsessive guardedness, healthy men (note: we must specify men because the fairer gender, we are told, has no need for tooshies) often disclose their concern for their tooshies when making their daily food choices—though they may use the euphemism, “stomach.” A man’s public habits and private disciplines, then, coalesce and together testify to concern for and commitment to something he will ordinarily deny exists. In fact, men live their lives as if adumbrated by a cartoon bubble e’er above their heads with the silver-foiled words: “A happy tuchas means a happy man.”

Bringing this metaphorical romp to “an end” (ahem), let me make plainer what I before just hinted at: people are as anxious to change their presuppositions as they are to post their interview with their newest proctologist candidate on YouTube. All this concern, wouldn’t you say?, suggests that men regard the tuchas and the presupposition as matters of the greatest moment.

But with your leave I’ll leave tuchas-talk behind (oy!), in order to call your attention to something a man’s posterior does not share with his presuppositions: Planned or unplanned, like it or not, sooner or later every breathing human exchanges his presuppositions for others. That clearly differs from the one-man/one-tuchas policy. And speaking of “one,” there’s another difference: humans operate with a great number of presuppositions, each tending to operate in assigned spheres of thought and life. Perhaps by practicing the deceit of not having a toosh while actually devoted to it, most folks have become adept at tenaciously holding certain presuppositions which are flatly contradicted by others they cherish. Sometimes the warring presupps live in neighboring apartment!

Also, not all presuppositions function at the same level. Their varying depths can be measured by how much grief and effort will be required should the presupp need to be exchanged. Those which surface when a man is converted by God to Christ are usually the most pervasive, deep and unsettling. I think of one young woman who had swallowed the feminist agenda pretty much as it was dished out, but when Christ claimed her as His own, she entered upon a clearing out of notions and a relearning process which she found dizzying, utterly liberating, and exhausting.

When a supposition has comfortably wedged itself into your worldview to become a “pre,” it morphs into an 800-pound gorilla in your mind’s apartment. Every other piece of information that enters is compelled to find a place in the apartment based upon the arrangement which had accommodated its biggest and baddest occupant. The privilege that goes with adding the “pre” to supposition is fixedness and honor: from the coronation on, each applicant for entry– every thought, idea, belief– is granted admission only on The Xerxes Basis: it must be invited. Intruders are executed, treated as presumptions (presumptions are low-class pretenders to the throne).

Think of how a bricklayer might greet your opinion that the first row of bricks he laid in that wall of 700 rows was crooked, not plum. Of course, if it was the last row laid, no problem! But the first? Then EVERYTHING has to be removed to get at it. That is exactly how presuppositions function in relation to subsequent (and prior) learning. It is easy to see, then, why people are loathe to question the fitness of those first rows. Let sleeping dogs lie!

You might well ask, “if that’s how it is with presuppositions, how would they ever change?” And that question, along with, “How do they change?,” is the $64,000 question, especially for Christian thinkers.

Why? Because Christian thinkers want to live in the fullest possible self-consciousness under God. They realize that is only when they are self-consciously conformed to the image of God they have been designed to be, it is only when thinking God’s thoughts AFTER Him that they can experience the gratification and joy of being a created, redeemed human being.

END PART I

Study the Bible with Pastor Steve: the Meandering Minion

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Good day Friends!

Wanna join us live for a Bible Study in NYC with Pastor Steve Schlissel?

Well, now you can—depending on the meaning of the word,”live.”

Messiah’s announces its maiden effort to bring some new technology into the service of the King: A live-streaming Bible Study at our new internet channel MessiahsMedia*, broadcasting Tuesdays, 7:30 pm eastern. Just visit MessiahsMedia* at that time and we will be there!

And check this out: there is a live-text-chat feature on our channel for viewers to ask questions during the program! (or you can email me directly at MessiahsMedia@gmail.com.)

We will also be archiving the studies for repeat broadcasting at times more convenient for our friends in other timezones. (But for now, if you want to participate in the live Study—be there or be square—Tuesday evening, 7:30 pm Eastern.)

Before you go…it would make a significant difference for us if you’d *click here first*, so you can express your support for Messiah’s Ministries thru Paypal. With every wicked agenda having free shots at our faith, we think it’s pretty important that the faithful sustain those few voices who are shining a light, illuminating the times for us so we may know what to do. Don’t you agree? So please, show your support today? Thank you very much.

*if you have trouble with either link to the live Bible Study above, try this in your browser: http://www.blogtv.com/people/messiahsmedia

Yours and His,

Craig Lawrence Bavinck (I wish!) Brann

A Personal Note from Pastor Steve (and a FREE sermon!)

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Beloved Friends,

12/31/2010

Greetings in our Messiah. Here we are, a full decade—plus one— of years since the world was in the grip of a different brand of fear: Y2K-mania, or, The Error Terror. Born with the favor of a terminal date by which it would be revealed as either malignant or benign, it came in with a bang and left with a thud. Almost hard to believe how an idea, which in its day had garnered considerable respect and prestige—and which had generated enormous amounts of activity, greatly disproportionate to its actual disruptive power—is now so far removed from our minds that we need to be prodded to recall it at all. I think all of us know at least one dude who went bonkazoolie, who devoted himself to proving he’d be ready for the cataclysmic event for which no amount of preparation could prepare anyone (or so they said). No amount turned out to be the right amount. For, at 11:59:59, as a planet held its breath, six billion listened to a tick they had been assured would be tockless, the first left standing at the altar: the tick for whom no suitable tock would be found.

What everyone encountered instead was the biggest anti-climax in a thousand years of history. (I say one thousand because hysteria of a like magnitude and force gripped much of the Western World on 12/31/999).) The only anti-moment of our millennium which might be a fair contender for that top spot was the one caused by the mouse that roared—appearing in a film of the same name. Come to think of it, I wonder if that mouse wasn’t the one commissioned to run up the clock on December 31, 1999. Hmmm.

That midnight stroke of Y2K was so anti-climactic; most of us have determined to set aside no space in our memory vault to preserve it. If we were confessionally honest, though, our stinginess might better be explained by our embarrassment at the wee tad of credibility—just the tiniest bit—we had accorded to the hysterical rumors. We were smart enough; after all, to know all along that Paul wasn’t dead (and won’t we be smug if Ringo goes first, ironically leaving Paul as earth’s only living Beatle), so why permit any tarnish to form on our buttons of pride by chronicling in our own Memorial Library proof of our gullibility, our finitude and other assorted limitations?

But it might be well for us to retain a vivid sense of our credulity as it was shining forth in 1999, a proposition for which I offer two good reasons, that is, two not counting how refreshing a novelty like honesty can be. First, regardless of how transparent we may ordinarily be (or not be) with others, it is essential to be honest before two particular faces: God’s, supremely, and the one in the mirror. There are our temples of truth where guilelessness is required, and only Israelites indeed get to gaze upon the respective countenances profitably, if at all.  Keep in mind, as a motivator, that in no other place, and for no other face, will you be paid such handsome rewards, so handsome that the pain, ever attending upon these (and similar) exercises, is altogether palliated by them. You know—don’t you?—that is only as we become older that we begin to appreciate how delicate yet robust a vintage honesty is. Why, it’s not unusual for individual bottles to require as many as six decades ripening in the cellar (out of sight) before honesty is ready to be uncorked, i.e., before it is drinkable.

The second reason to keep mnemonic flags pinned to that over-eager gullibility which, just a dozen years ago, set out to “party like it was 1999” (well, I’ll be Prince [or, The Artist Called Schlissel]—for, come to think of it, it was 1999!); this second reason, I’ll frame as a dare: I’ll wager (gentleman’s bet) that those most prone to Y2K-fever were also those most sensitive to  and troubled by the hue and clamor of Western Civilization which had begun to “call God out,” saying, “Come, judge us. We dare You.”  What I am saying is, many were drawn to the YU2notOK shtick, not because they were techies or Luddites, but because they heard Christendom begging for judgment, and then figured, “That’s a creative way to deliver it.” It wasn’t because they comprehended or endorsed the technological arguments then being bandied about—how the programming of computers had since Day One reserved two digits in a default position to serve for “19,”—as in 1900, and how no provision (best non-theological use of this word, I submit) was made for the day when the fourth column left of the decimal point would require a “2.” This failure to look down the pike, we were told, would mean the collapse of everything collapsible.

This seemed right and just to many because appearances were amenable to a correspondence. For it is roughly to the time of the computer’s ascent that we might trace the rise of Western arrogance. Though the two did not require cause/effect linking, their chronological commonality was sufficient to satisfy an instinct in search of supporting reason.  The arrogance I speak of here is not of the garden variety, but a special sort of pride—that warned against by the Living God in Deuteronomy 8. It’s the brand seen uniquely among a God-blessed people who, instead of becoming more grateful as God opens the heavens and pours it on out, become more presumptuous, until they become so jaded by the superabundance of His magnanimity that they fail to give heed to that truth employed as a weapon by the Lord Jesus in His wilderness battle with Satan, after His baptism.

It wasn’t only our civilization-wide arrogance, however, which suggested to sensitive ones a propriety in judgment heading our way (or, our heading Judgment’s way). It was also what we might describe as America (here standing for all the West) playing feng shui with that which the Lord God said may not be relocated. This requires a little paragraph of explanation.

We have elsewhere demonstrated that the Regulative Principle of Worship—praise it, love it, adore it as you like—is a fabrication, one which is not biblical in origin, and is so encumbered by contradictions and illogic that, in places where it is zealously imposed, gleg observers will find ironic, iconic instances of the very thing the RPW was invented to prevent: the intrusion into Divine worship of human-originating governances.[1] I mention it now for one reason: Where the RPW stands strong, it serves as a wall, effectively blocking from that Church’s view the correct interpretation/application of Deuteronomy 12. However desirable a thing it may be to rule that, in a worship service, only those elements explicitly commanded by God may be introduced, still, it is not the burden of God or Moses to teach that in Deuteronomy 12. Rather, there we are taught to seek salvation only where God tells us it may be found. And the New Testament fulfillment and analog of Deuteronomy 12 is Acts 4:12. Speaking of Jesus the Messiah, Peter says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Jesus’ work may be modeled on the Temple, but the Church’s services in the New Testament are according to the synagogue, which contra the Temple, was without direct, strict, positive Divine oversight. I know. But what can I say? Some people are just terrified by liberty.

Returning to our present concern, it was the rise, not of industrial structures, but of technological wonders that closely tracked the rise of the notion that the benefits “thought” to derive from Christianity can actually be derived from a great number of other sources. This specific thought would become the foundation of a new conception of America, one in which the most we may encourage others to think of us is that we are a religious people; but never do we say we are a Christian people (an astonishing admission of apostasy, I submit, when 200,000,000 of your citizens are Christians!). But of course, the great problem here is that atonement (salvation) will not be found any place God has not put it. And He put it in Jesus alone.

Thus, as various forces combined to lead us nationally further and further from the truth, we heeded the principalities and simultaneously undertook to prevent any possible return to from whence we came. (“When they said, ‘Repent!,’ I wonder what they meant?”—Leonard Cohen.) Our technological prowess became the occasion, not for humble thanksgiving, but for eating the bread we had scattered for a possibly needful and quick return to where we came from. When we most needed wisdom and caution, we threw them to the wind, which is what we may now expect to inherit. It is not as though we’d altogether forgotten Deuteronomy 8 and Jesus’ employment of it. It’s just that we gave it a double mod. Instead of repeating the whole truth, we say, “Technology has enabled us to make so much of so little, that man needn’t live by bread alone; now he can have cake instead.” And—you guessed it—“he can eat it, too.”

So, to be clear, I don’t think we can say the Y2Kers I’ve been describing were wrong. They were just early. For man has not set the stage, but God has. And man has not furnished the theater, but the Lord has. And man has not written the script, but the Terror of Jacob has.

We have been led to a department in which RJ Rushdoony stands as a gigantic gift from God. I submit that he was given to help the church—and the nation—understand themselves and their respective callings correctly. If you understand our times, you understand the enormity of this gift and its tremendous importance. We have come to a place of epistemological self-consciousness greatly resembling the end of an age. One of the things we’ve all been learning (if we’re paying attention) is the unique, incalculably great value of identity. What we have not yet learned is how to identify ourselves! That is one major problem, let me tell you. Have you noticed that all battlefronts are raging over different aspects of the same issue: every institution, every lawmaker, every occasion is being seized and instructed to hasten one project along: the identification of self completely without God. It’s been tried before. Brothers, we have a lot to learn and little time in which to learn it. Wanna ride with me?

We’ll be discussing these things a bit more in days to come, DV. If you want to join us for the conversation, send your end of year gift to Messiah’s (address below). If you want a 2010 receipt, will like Spock for your gift to be so reckoned, and we’ll do a Vulcan mind-meld with you. Just get the scratch in the mail. Or call Craig for credit card donations: 917-757-9297. Or give via PayPal at our site: MessiahNYC.org or simply CLICK HERE. Only givers will be invited back. And that’s only right. Those giving $111 or more may request a copy of The Dictionary of Jewish Words, a small reference work that is both helpful and enjoyable.

In the meantime, we are sending you a short (110 minute) sermon, delivered on the last Lord’s Day of the Year of our Lord 2010. It’s entitled, “Pardon, the Intrusion.” (Simply CLICK HERE to download, “Pardon, the Intrusion.” for FREE!) We treat many topics, including the “perfect obedience” of Zecharias and Elizabeth. I’d like your feedback on our treatment. In it we also attempt to establish Deuteronomy 8 as the critical epicenter, a real determinative voice, one, which holds the scepter for revealing the course of any nation, which had experienced abundant favor from the One True God. According to that passage, our future is not rosy. If we insist on continuing to move away from God and the unique, efficacious, gracious atonement He’s provided, we should begin to feel the thorns shortly. In the future, therefore, I submit the only thing those sensitive Y2Kers we’ve been discussing—the only thing they’ll have been proven wrong about was the date. T minus 7 and counting? Who knows? We only know the count is going down. Oh—we also know Who’s counting.

Let me hear from you. I need to. And it’s reciprocal, I hope.

Yours and His,

Steve

Steve Schlissel
Messiah’s Ministries
2662 East 24th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11235

[1] Please accept—for now—this disclaimer as sincere: Despite believing what I’ve written, above, I would also insist that, like Social Security, the sudden and entire dismantling of the RPW would be a disaster, a formula for chaos in the Church, an act of revolution. No need to hunt for contradictions here. They are resolvable once it is allowed that human traditions may in fact be permissible, and may also prove enormously beneficial. It ought to be clear then, that the objection is not against RPW-type worship, per se, but rather against the claims of its proponents to its being a) Biblical, b) the Biblical rule for worship particulars, and c) indispensable.