Antithesis Magazine

January/February 1990 - Volume I, Number 1

ANTITHESIS (Back to Main Page)

January/February 1990 – Volume I, Number 1

The “real world” — an idea no longer of any use, not even a duty any longer — an idea grown useless…a refuted idea: let us abolish it!
Friedrich Nietzsche

…they became futile in their understanding, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise they became fools…
Romans 1:21-22


This is the first issue of Antithesis, a review of Reformed/Presbyterian thought and practice. Our goal is to glorify Christ by providing a vigorous and Biblically faithful analysis of the issues of life.

Thousands of complimentary copies of this first issue have been sent to many Reformed churches in the U.S. and Canada, as well as to many colleges, media centers, and friends here and around the world.

We aim to challenge non-Christians in their unbelief and to strengthen Christ’s church in its understanding and practice of God’s word.

We, therefore, are unashamedly committed the to truth of God’s revelation and its resounding challenge to the futility of unbelief.

We are also unashamedly committed to what is arguably the most faithful expression of Biblical truth — the Reformed faith, as found in its rich Continental, British, and American heritage.

Join us, then, in this issue and in the future, to examine the power and depth of Christ’s gospel.

  • Editor
    • Douglas M. Jones III
  • Senior Editors
    • L. Anthony Curto
    • David G. Hagopian
    • Timothy J. Harris
    • John G. McClendon
    • Ellery C. Stowell
    • Greg L. Bahnsen

Feature Articles

At War With the Word: The Necessity of Biblical Antithesis
Greg L. Bahnsen
The radical distinction between Christian and non-Christian thought demands an uncompromised apologetic.

The Dawning Light: Reformation in Scotland
An Overview of Scottish Presbyterian History – Part 1
L. Anthony Curto
The founding of the Scottish Church stands as a model of Biblical loyalty and courage in the face of tyranny.

Vietnam: Biblical Reflections on National Messianism
Roger Wagner
Covenantal obligations would not allow a nation to play Messiah or violate painful obligations.

Behind the Scenes of an Abortion Clinic: An Ex-Director Speaks by Carol Everett
Those in the lucrative baby-killing industry use deceptions, rationalizations, and jokes to reconcile themselves to their genocidal profits.

Puritan Jurisprudence: A Study in Progress and Inconsistency by John G. McClendon
Contrary to popular mythology, Puritan legal history has much to offer; and some unbiblical points to avoid.

The Biblical Offense of Racism by Douglas M. Jones
Though non-Christians are intellectually impotent to counter racism, Scripture calls for color-blind individuals and institutions.

Social Security and Its Antidote by Timothy J. Harris
Biblical self and familial responsibility stand in stark contrast to a failing and coercive redistributionism.

So Help Me God: A Biblical View of Oaths by David G. Hagopian
Promise-keeping is the life-blood of Biblical practice, even when it hurts.



A brief case for Presbyterian Government by Greg Bahnsen.


Two authors interact on the question of whether we are obligated to tithe on our net or gross income.



Observing the Current

The Bathos of Recent Baby-Killing Rhetoric

Pathos arouses emotions of sympathy, tenderness, and pity. Bathos, on the other hand, brings to mind ludicrous sentimentality and melodrama. Contemporary baby-killing rhetoric has descended to the latter.

Examples of this bathos are spread across the popular and political press. A Nation editorial pleads against handing over the “rights to my body to any state,” but does not flinch in the same essay to demand the subjugation of other individuals’ rights in order to provide “health care, housing, day care, a decent income, all the rest.”

A subsequent Nation issue claims that early human life is not worthy of protection since its DNA does not determine a “prepackaged human being” but is dependent on several later interactions of cells. The freshman’s reductio is simply to grant the premise and note that there are other stages of life after the womb which would fail to meet the criterion of “full human potential.” Shall we slaughter infants as well? Why not be rid of irksome pubescents?

Mother Jones magazine notes with the grace of an S.S. officer that, “theoretically both vacuum aspiration and menstrual extraction could be adapted for home use.” Such relief! We no longer have to worry about exterminating groups of humans in messy back alleys.

The Humanist offers one of its typically naive “separation of church and state” arguments. Murder is now somehow purely a “religious” matter and therefore protected by the Constitution’s “restraint” on religion. Wow, the First amendment is tougher than we thought.

The New Republic attempts to reduce Pro-Life arguments to absurdity by threatening that if we grant protection to human life before birth, we would truly wrangle our tax and bureaucratic system. That reductio would be a pleasure to swallow. We could protect human life and, at the same time, reduce a burgeoning regulatory system.

If baby-killing advocates truly cared for women, then they would want to protect them from a male dominated abortion industry which thrives on pregnant women.

The base issue is not reason or concern for women but rebellion against the Creator. In the near future, we should expect to hear fewer arguments from the defenders of baby-killing and see more exertions of raw power.


Bush Administration Impedes Soviet Christians’ Attempt to Enter U.S.

The Russian Reformation Report cites a News Network International source which reports that the Bush administration’s new policy on Soviet refugees will hinder Christians trying to immigrate to the U.S.

The new plan will shut down the traditional processing centers in Rome and Vienna, in favor of processing immigrants through the U.S. embassy in Moscow. The administration claims that it is spending too much money caring for the refugees who arrive for processing via the Vienna-Rome pipeline.

Donald Hammond, U.S. director for World Relief, the international assistance arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, testified before Congress that this plan means that “evangelical Christians will have to go the end of a very long line.”

Virtually all of the 12,000 evangelicals who have left the Soviet Union since early 1988 have been processed through Vienna and Rome. “Fewer than one percent of the 65,000 people on line at the American embassy in Moscow today are evangelical Christians. The cold, hard fact is that no evangelical Christian refugee will be able to leave the U.S.S.R. for at least two years.”

In an interview with the Russian Reformation Foundation, Serge Duss of World Relief’s Russian resettlement program, was discouraged about the possibility of changing the Bush administration’s policy in the near future.

If this policy does prove to keep Christians from effectively coming to the U.S., then World Relief may attempt another public opinion blitz in the future. RRF urges believers to write to Congress and the Administration about the plight of Soviet Christians. (See RRF ad on p.15.)


Mystical Humanists on the Rampage

Humanists are short these days on cogent argumentation, so they have to increase the decibel level of their rhetoric. In the October issue of The Humanist, Mieczyslaw Maneli calls for a “New Humanist Militancy.” He claims that Humanists are in a defensive stance against a growing religious barbarism.

He calls on Humanists everywhere to unite against this barbarism, identify the barbarians, and proclaim the truth “so that it will become ingrained in the minds of all.”

What makes this call to militancy so laughable is that Maneli must invoke some mystical and spooky entities to make his point. Isn’t this sort of mysticism supposed to be left to the barbarians?

Maneli repeatedly appeals to notions which are ultimately nonsensical in a humanistic framework. For example, he bemoans the attack on “Human progress [what standard?]…the traditions of democracy and decency [like the Reformation?] and of the perversion of the moral distinction between good and evil” [universal standard for a humanist?]. He opposes every adversary of “our American heritage of freedom of justice” [the heritage of the Puritans? John Witherspoon?]

He calls us back to the humanist ideals of “peace, order, justice, and the observation of the rules of friendship and fraternity.” He also shows us some of the depth of humanistic thinking, “Racism in any form, under any guise, is racism.” Shivers travel down my spine when I hear such profundity.

Maneli even cites Christ and Solzhenitsysn to buttress “humanist and humanitarian traditions.”

The truth is that such humanism does not have the courage of its convictions. Humanists can provide no legitimate justification for appealing to Truth, Justice, and Peace. They appeal to the mystical absolutes of Plato but reject his world. They appeal to logic, but the humanist worldview has no place for such transcendent norms. Reason requires living up to the consequences of one’s views. Humanists like Pol Pot and Stalin did.


Leviathan in the Nursery

A couple of years ago Americans were hearing much about the child-abuse “crisis”. For a time it seemed the media’s airwaves and publications were full of ghastly accounts of parents abusing and neglecting their children. Decisive action must be taken, we were warned, in order to stem what was fast becoming a national epidemic. Legislatures in many states, responding to this latest crisis, quickly set about crafting child protection laws designed by “experts” to halt the growth of this problem. In short order, these laws were on the books, and reformers were congratulating themselves on a job well done in solving yet another social ill.

But what are the first fruits of this latest crop of fix-it legislation? For Stephen and JoAnn DeCosta of Rumney, New Hampshire, it has truly been a bitter harvest. In August, 1989, the New Hampshire Department of Health & Welfare, Division of Child and Youth Services, (“DCYS”), alleging child abuse, removed the DeCostas’ four children from their home. And what is the abuse the DeCostas are accused of? It seems an anonymous caller informed DCYS that the DeCostas — Bible-believing Christians who discipline their children according to biblical principles (Prov. 22:15; 23:13-14) — spank their children. And according to the DCYS dictionary, spanking and child abuse are synonymous. In a subsequent secret court hearing, DCYS succeeded in persuading a judge to protect the children from future parental spankings by placing them in state custody. There the children will remain, unless the DeCostas can regain custody on appeal or, as a condition of the children’s return, promise not to spank them and permit DCYS to constantly monitor the family. As we go to press, the DeCostas still have not recovered their children.

Under New Hampshire’s Child Protection Act laws, the proceedings in these cases are secret, and Mr. and Mrs. DeCosta could have faced thousands of dollars in fines and a year’s imprisonment for so much as talking about the case. Fortunately for the DeCostas, their ordeal became public when DCYS made the mistake of filing separate criminal assault charges against them. These charges were hastily withdrawn when DCYS discovered, much to its chagrin, that Section 627.6 of the Criminal Codes of New Hampshire actually authorizes parental spanking of unruly minors. But charging the DeCostas in the criminal court allowed them to respond publicly to the criminal allegations raised against them. This permitted the DeCostas and their supporters just enough freedom of speech to publicize the invasive outrage DCYS was committing in the continuing closed-door juvenile proceedings. As word spreads of their plight, public reaction has been one of disgust for the state’s actions and an outpouring of sympathy for the family. Whether they are able to articulate it or not, most people seem to viscerally understand that the issue in this case is a critical one: Who rules the family — the parents or the State?

Travesties abound in this case. Initially, DCYS was able to persuade the judge not to allow the DeCostas to even see their children. Only after the DeCostas discovered, by chance, that their 3 year old daughter had broken her arm in two places while in state custody, did the judge relent and permit visitation. However, the judge denied the DeCostas any contact with their oldest child, accepting the arguments of DCYS social workers that visitation would impede her “bonding” with her new foster-home family. In spite of a state policy that children are to remain within the religious community of their family, even when separated from their family, DCYS has consistently balked at permitting the DeCosta children to have contact with the Baptist church the family attends. Apparently, DCYS and the courts are blissfully oblivious to the probability that the only child abuse the DeCosta children have suffered is at the hands of the state, in being forcibly taken from their parents and church and placed in the homes of strangers.

The DeCostas’ attorney contends DCYS has been surreptitiously leaking false information about the case in a calculated attempt to blunt public support for the parents, knowing court secrecy rules prevent the DeCostas and their supporters from divulging vindicating facts. “I’d love to tell you the facts in this case, but I can’t,” their attorney told ANTITHESIS. “If you knew the facts, you’d wonder how anyone could have thought to charge them with child abuse in the first place.” The judge’s secret findings in the case, virtually a rubber stamp acceptance of the claims made by DCYS displaying a pronounced bias against the DeCostas, were leaked to the state’s largest newspaper and published. Defying logic, the judge held that while no single spanking constituted child abuse, (31 spankings distributed over four bottoms during a seven year period), the aggregate of all the spankings did. The judge thus circumvented the criminal code provision condoning parental spanking and found “injury” to the DeCosta children according to provisions of the Child Protection Act, which defines injury so broadly as to include hurt feelings and wounded pride.

The DeCostas’ nightmare is a vivid example of how various social “crises” are often used as the pretext for smuggling into law the hidden agenda of the statist proponents of omnicompetent government. A “housing crisis” becomes the pretext for legislation denying landlords freedom to control their own property; a rise in crime becomes the rationale for depriving citizens of the right to own firearms. A “health care crisis” is the basis for nationalizing health care; an “auto insurance crisis” serves as the excuse for government turning insurance companies into public utilities. Most of these governmental intrusions aren’t brazen enough to attract widespread outrage. But when the state grabs for control of the home and begins telling parents how they will raise their children, this is one usurpation Americans are unwilling to countenance. Therefore, the DeCosta’s battle is our battle. Let us all pray for victory.


Bush Administration Attempts to Save Face by Sacrificing Lives in Panama

Following the failed October 3 coup attempt against Panamanian leader Gen. Manuel Noriega, the Bush administration received sharp criticism for its lack of involvement. In response, President Bush first defended this decision but then subsequently began discussions with Senate leaders on amending the executive order which prohibits U.S. assassination of foreign officials.

In 1975, President Ford ordered this pro-hibition following invest-igations which implicated the CIA in several assassination attempts against foreign leaders opposed by the U.S.

The administration released a memo in the second week of November detailing its legal justi-fication for targeting foreign leaders for elimination.

One may strongly oppose Noriega’s actions and despise his tyranny without granting that the U.S. or any nation has the right to eliminate him or any other unfavorable foreign leaders. Such arrogant interventionism oversteps the Biblical jurisdiction of the State. Scripture limits the activity of any civil authority, like the U.S., to matters of criminal justice and defense (Rom. 13; I Tim. 1:8).

Moreover, the jurisdiction of that civil authority is limited to the realm over which it rules. This should be a truism. If a State were to intervene beyond its borders, then it would violate the protection of life and property of foreign individuals (Ex. 20: 13,15; Deut. 17:14ff; Deut. 19:14).

The result of the U.S. invasion of Panama is scandalous. At last count, 23 U.S. soldiers and 139 Panamanian soldiers are dead. 241 Americans and 95 Panamanians are wounded. Several people are still missing. Looting and bombing have turned Panama city into what some call a “pocket Hiroshima.”

The administration allegedly aided in the sacrifice of life and property in order to preserve life! Les Aspin endorsed the President’s action because “it broke up the drug cartel.” Thus, responsible U.S. citizens sacrificed their lives in order that irresponsible citizens would not abuse their bodies with drugs. On top of this, we are supposed to rest assured that our taxes are being wisely used as million dollar bounties.

This sort of intervention is common. Under Theodore Roosevelt, the U.S. wrenched the Panamanian isthmus from Columbia in 1903 when we sent troops to quell a staged revolt. We kept Columbian troops from putting down a revolt in their own territory and quickly negotiated a treaty granting the canal to the U.S. at an excellent price.

Roosevelt would later boast, “I took the canal zone and let Congress debate.” Things haven’t changed much, except for much less debate.


Beware: Nationalized Medical Care Can Be Dangerous to Your Health

Congressional leaders are renewing the call for some form of national health care program. The Bi-partisan Commission on Comprehensive Health Care is developing recommendations for Congress in light of pressure from private corporations and public opinion.

Physicians for a National Health Program advocate a system similar to Canada’s nationalized program. On this plan, the State would slowly eliminate private health insurance by law and receive funding from a further progressive income tax. Many leaders find this plan attractive due to its alleged availability and low-cost.

However, the Fraser Institute of Vancouver reports (Reason, Oct. 89) that the nationalized Canadian system is not as attractive as some declare. Canadian consumers have “fewer facilities and longer waits for diagnostic services and surgical procedures.”

The Fraser Institute found that Canadian patients have extremely limited access to CAT scanners, magnetic-resonance imaging machines (there are more in Michigan than in all of Canada!), etc.

Moreover, patients must often wait two months for a CAT scan, two-and-a-half for a mammogram, and three for bone scans.

Hip replacements may take six to ten months and coronary bypass surgery may be delayed as much as a year. Six heart patients died last year waiting for surgery at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre. Two more died in Toronto.

The list goes on. Such waiting lists always emerge under nationalized systems, whether the product is bread, shoes, or medical care, because there are no market set prices to allocate services. Moreover, consumers cannot force providers to meet their demands of quality because they are not the purchasers of the service. The providers have no incentive to satisfy patients as they would under a market system.

Though we should reject implementing the Canadian system here, the American system faces other problems. U.S. medical care may provide adequate technology and immediate service, but health care costs are skyrocketing.

Much of the blame for these high costs must be placed on occupational licensing regulations. These require-ments grant monopoly privileges to doctors and radically restrict the influx of new doctors. Such an artificial restriction on the supply of doctors naturally forces prices up, much to the joy of those already in the business.

Medical associations readily ask for such “protective” regulations since doctors, not consumers, reap the benefits.


Media Hype and Environmental Myths

As environmental hysteria grows, and United Nations types call for draconian and “radical change[s] in the conduct of world policy and the world economy” (Time, 12/18/89), we should expect to see collectivist prescriptions cloud the truth.

One such cloud concerns the destruction of Brazilian rain forests. For years this genuine environmental disaster has been used as an example of the failure of Western values and free markets. Time magazine predictably declared in light of such concerns that “laissez-faire, free-market rules that allowed the industrial world to prosper must now be suspended” (12/18/89).

However, most environmental disasters can be laid at the feet of governments who fail to defend property rights and encourage collectivized ownership of land, forests, and wildlife, thus inviting environmental exploitation.

The Brazilian government is a case in point. The rain forests would not be facing destruction if it were not for that government’s intervention in the marketplace. The Economist (3/18/89) reports that the Brazilian government actually subsidizes the destruction of these forests by regulations and tax policies aimed to benefit cattle ranchers.

Without such intervention, the forests would be protectively cultivated for their fruit, rubber, and timber, which, in some cases, are three times more profitable than cattle ranching. A realistic environmentalism would simply repeal such distorting policies, but mystical environmentalists are after something else.


Copyright © by Covenant Community Church of Orange County 1990

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