Antithesis Magazine

July/August 1991 – Volume 2, Number 4

ANTITHESIS (Back to Main Page)
July/August 1991 – Volume 2, Number 4

All that miserable tale of the Devil and Eve, and an Intercessor with the childish mummeries of the God of the Jews, is irreconcilable with the knowledge of the stars.
Percy Shelley

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, where their voice is not heard.
Psalm 19:1-3


  • Douglas M. Jones III

Senior Editors

  • L. Anthony Curto
  • David G. Hagopian
  • Ellery C. Stowell
  • Greg L. Bahnsen

Contributing Editors

  • Wesley J. Callihan
  • David W. Hall
  • Thomas Schirrmacher

Feature Articles

The Other Shoe: Copyright and the Reasonable Use of Technology by John Frame
Copyright laws are not founded upon prohibitions against theft but rather upon special privileges for the few.

The Approaching Storm: An Overview of Scottish Presbyterian History – Pt. 7 by L. Anthony Curto
Broken oaths, cowardly betrayals, and internal dissensions bring storms of persecutions to the Covenanters.

The Feminist Flaw by J. Daryl Charles
Feminist antagonism is driven by a non-Christian fixation with rights, but a sound theology of the cross liberates us from politicizing the purposes of God.

Challenging “Compassion” in Crisis Childbearing by Susan & Marvin Olasky
A Biblical notion of compassion stands as a challenge to the Pro-Live movement and the statist spirit of our age.

My “Final” Offer: A Moral Critique of Bluff in Negotiations by David Hagopian
Some of the harder questions about commonly accepted forms of “bluffing” demand a more careful Biblical analysis.

An excerpt from a W.G.T. Shedd sermon demonstrates why the gospel will triumph.

Issue and Interchange: Doug Jones rejects non-Christian thought
(…but Keith Parsons and Michael Martin still want to hold on).
Jones: The Futility of Non-Christian Thought
Parsons Responds: Is Non-Christian Thought Futile?
Martin Responds: Is A Non-Christian Worldview Futile?
Jones Responds


Democrats and Republicans Join Hands in Exacerbating Racial Tensions
“Civil rights” or “civil liberties” once meant the protections one held in person or property against the intrusion of the civil government, but now, of course, these designations refer to the subjugation of individual property rights to group rights, primarily sexual or racial. This well-known shift came to prominence largely in the Warren court era in its effort to strike down racist Jim Crow practices in state and later private institutions.

In and of itself, a court or legislature in its proper jurisdiction would be acting justly if it sought to do away with racist state restrictions given the Biblical charge to, “Judge righteously between a man and his fellow countrymen, or the alien who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike” (Deut. 1:16, 17).

But the transition from private to group “civil rights” arose in a rather statist century in which racism could easily prosper given that the potentially powerful sanctions of the marketplace, church, family, and individual eroded by themselves or were subjugated by the civil government. Hence, the only means the collectivist vision could imagine for righting racial discrimination was the coercive hand of the civil government.

But the civil government only exacerbates issues for which it was not designed to handle (e.g., prohibition), and it was not designed to legislate over issues of the heart, even race hatred. In the case of race discrimination, civil authorities attempted, in part, to fight racist attitudes by externally coercing communities to conform, all the while allowing resentment to fester. And we wonder, why after all the decades of struggle, we now face renewed outbreaks of racial violence and hatred.

Yet since collectivists are collectivists they cannot conceive of any manner of solving the tensions except by means of more civil action: “We must never allow the clock to be turned back on race relations in our country,” declared Richard Gephardt before the House passed the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The recent rancor between Republicans and Democrats over the civil rights bill is in reality an intramural debate. Both sides have bought into the collectivist vision and only differ in degree.

For example, John Dunne, Assistant Attorney General for civil rights, defended the Bush administration’s proposed civil rights measure by arguing that, “it will strengthen civil rights laws,… overturn two of five disputed 1989 Supreme Court decisions,” and provide that “victims… can recover $150,000 above the normal relief.”

We can be sure that the final compromise bill will serve to further poison racial relations in the long term. Perhaps the only short term hope is that when the President finally approves some collectivist bill, we may see it overturned at some point by his own Supreme Court hopeful, Clarence Thomas.


Why No Joy Over the Acid Rain Report?
We now have another good example of why it is foolish to lurch into imprudent environmental legislation. The National Acid Precipitation Assessment Project spent ten years, and over 500 million dollars, studying acid rain. After all that study, it turns out that “acid rain” which is “poisoning” rivers and lakes is in fact a result of water filtering through naturally decaying vegetation and has virtually no adverse effects on the environment.

The results came out last June, but were suppressed so that they wouldn’t threaten the passage of the Clean Air Act. In other words, the results of a scientific study were censored (and the naive gasp) in the interests of an ideological, religious agenda. This shouldn’t be surprising; our eco-fascists generally conduct their political activity as though there were little difference between proof and assertion. We help them out by failing to respond with appropriate skepticism. Why, and how, did we become so gullible? We must recover the art of asking discomfiting questions: “Exactly how big was the hole in the ozone layer in 1310?” “What was the average global temperature in 1776?”

Of course the answer is that we don’t know how big the hole was, and we don’t know what the global temperature was. The relevant corollary should be obvious; those in a dither about ozone depletion and global warming are, scientifically speaking, talking through their hats.

Is this saying that such things couldn’t possibly be a concern? Of course not. It is simply saying that such questions should be researched by careful scientists before our Solons charge off blindly, vigorously yelling and tapping their canes, enacting legislation to fix they know not what. It should also be mentioned, as an aside, that computer modeling, however useful to real scientists, can also be used as an instrument which enables one to speculate wildly at a high rate of speed.

Every religion has its fanatics and doomsayers, and eco-pantheism is a religion. Christianity has had, to its embarrassment, many who have prophesied with certainty the day and hour of the End. Not to be outdone by those on the fringes of Christianity, pantheistic environmentalists also indulge themselves in the same apocalyptic, apoplectic way. They too know that the End is Near, and nothing is worse for such folks than good news.

To return to our beginning example, how many enviro-pantheists were happy to hear the news that acid rain isn’t the problem we thought? First they were distressed because acid rain was causing all this damage, and now they are distressed because it isn’t. There’s no pleasing some folks.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Enjoin ‘Em
The Big Three automakers — Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors — have been hit hard during the most recent economic downturn, each posting massive losses. Take mini-vans, for example. After pioneering this market, the recent performance of the Big Three has been anything but sterling. But instead of learning how to improve and market their mini-vans at more affordable prices, the Big Three have, once again, appealed for legislated trade privileges over their competitors.

Recently, the Big Three filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC), seeking to enjoin Toyota and Mazda from “dumping” mini-vans on the American market — i.e., selling their mini-vans either for less than they “cost” to produce or less than such vans cost in America. This anti-dumping action, the first of its kind against Japanese automakers, alleges that Toyota and Mazda have been selling their mini-vans for as much as 27 percent below their “fair value.”

Of course, this is not the first time the Big Three have cried foul against their superior Japanese counterparts. For some time now, the Big Three have been appealing to the Bush administration to ease up market place pressure (read: to secure favored status vis-a-vis their true competitors overseas). While the White House has so far resisted implementing direct regulatory policies, both the White House and Commerce Secretary Robert A. Masbacher may view this anti-dumping action as a proper vehicle for halting the alleged problem of the import-export imbalance.

Should the ITC find that Toyota and Mazda have been dumping their mini-vans on the American market, the Commerce Department would then slap import duties on the vans to raise their prices before they ever reach the car lot. Result: the American consumer loses once again.

To see why the Big Three are ranting and raving, we need to focus, for a moment, on the big picture. While Chrysler has long learned to cry on the government’s shoulders, GM lost 12 percent of its market share to Japanese automakers in the 1980s. And don’t forget the fact that Ford posted record losses during the first half of this year, with Chrysler and GM not far behind. Also, consider the fact that Japan is not married to America’s wage-inflating and output-deflating labor unions, which means that Japanese autos can be produced at a lower cost.

What about the mini-van market, in particular? To date, the Big Three have invested six billion dollars in developing and marketing their boxes on wheels. But then it happened. Toyota and Mazda introduced their mechanically and aesthetically superior Previa and MPV, respectively, both of which met with the highest praise here at home. Although they are the new kids on the block, the Previa and MVP have recently been rated more highly than their Big Three counterparts.

Having once again been beaten on their home turf, the “Big Three” have done the only thing bullies ever do when they are humiliated: they have run home crying to Big Brother. By so doing, however, they are the ones who really have dumped on the American consumer.

The Best and Worst of “Children’s” Literature
Do you enjoy what you read to your children?

“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty.” If C.S. Lewis was right about this, then a good test of the quality of a given “children’s” book should be whether or not adults can (not whether they do) enjoy it as well. To put it another way, if it is only a children’s book, it is probably not a good children’s book.

He’s right, of course. Consider those books that are called children’s classics. Peter Rabbit is considered a classic. So is Winnie the Pooh. So are many fairy tales, and so also (though for different reasons) are the Little House books. Children love these stories — but the same is true of the adults who read them to the children. Something in them goes deeply enough into a person to obviate the question of age. A child may be delighted by a story in different ways than the adult who is reading the same story, but it would be surprising if those elements of poetry and romance (yes, in Beatrix Potter!) that delight the adult did not also delight the child, not because of some remnant of the child in the adult, but rather because of the human in both.

On the other hand, there is a class of books written specifically for young people which is nearly impossible for adults to enjoy. Nor should it be said that we shouldn’t try to enjoy them because they are written for young people. That would be a great mistake. These are the teen series of the pulp or school book club variety wherein some teenager “learns about life” through an adventure (in boy’s books) or through a relationship (in girl’s books). In these books, most of the elements that make children’s books so delightful are lost. The supernatural, the world of faerie, talking animals — all are gone. Some might respond, “and good riddance, too! Escapism is all right for children, but young people need to learn about the real world.” This response shows how badly literary fantasy and the purpose of stories in general is misunderstood — and what assumptions lurk behind such a remark about “reality”?

Something else is gone, too. In the best books, children are taken seriously as people — young, yes, but people nonetheless. In the other kind, they are talked down to in the attempt to give them “their own literature.” If they have their own, and we have ours, how will they make the transition? How do children’s minds become adult minds? What is the essential difference between the best children’s books and the best adult books? It is not one of kind.


Franky Schaeffer Hasn’t Left Contemporary Christianity
Franky Schaeffer recently joined the Eastern Orthodox Church, and in an article entitled “Protestant Orphans” he explained some of his reasons for doing so. He complains that, “For years I could not have honestly said why I went to church, let alone what communion was for” and argues (quite aptly) that “Protestants had as much ritual, tradition, and liturgy as anyone else.” This is quite true, but it presents us with a false dichotomy. There is no reason to prefer a disobedient Protestantism to a disobedient Eastern Orthodoxy, and, as classical Protestants, we don’t.

Whenever Christians meet, they will follow certain traditions and rituals in their services of worship. Such traditions are inescapable because of how God created the world. Our only choice, therefore, is between Biblical traditions and traditions of men. We do not have the option of “no tradition.” Schaeffer has confused this basic dichotomy, thinking of it rather as a choice between modern traditions of men and ancient traditions of men. What would we rather present to God, he argues, an ancient venerable tradition of worship or our modern evangelical treacle?

What this question amounts to is this: If someone wants to observe extra-Biblical traditions in worship, then it only makes sense to opt for a tradition that is ancient. Why abandon the Bible for a tradition that was established in the early 70’s somewhere in Cleveland?

But for the classical Protestant, there is another question. Why abandon the Bible at all? The Reformation tradition of sola Scriptura does not stand for the rejection of tradition. It stands for the rejection of man-made traditions. This principle of worship is known as the Regulative Principle of Worship, i.e. “Whatever is not commanded for worship is forbidden.” Schaeffer has left modern evangelicalism, which does not know what that principle is, for the Eastern Orthodox Church, which denies it.

In rejecting the man-made traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy, classical Protestantism does not do so because they are ancient, but rather because they are not ancient enough — they do not go back to the eternal counsels of God revealed to us in Scripture.

If Schaeffer wants to argue that modern evangelicalism maintains its own manufactured traditions, and that those traditions are aesthetically pitiful to boot, we are right with him. And if he wants to say that the traditions of the ancient apostate communions are far less trendy, we’ll buy that too. But when, as a consequence, he seeks to commend Eastern Orthodox worship as acceptable to God, we part company.

It is quite true that when the blessing of God is removed from a modern evangelical church, the results are immediate and pathetic. If the Spirit of God is not inhabiting the preaching of the Word, there is nothing left but bare walls. But when the Spirit is driven out of an Eastern Orthodox sanctuary by the smoke of candles and the veneration of saints, it will be about a millennium or two before anyone notices He has gone — because even when He isn’t there, the place still feels holy.

So Schaeffer’s testimony makes this one thing abundantly clear. He has left mainstream evangelicalism, which prefers its modern traditions to the Word of God. He has joined himself to a church which prefers its ancient traditions to the Word of God. In terms of the basic issue at stake, Franky didn’t leave contemporary Christianity at all.

Somewhere Under the Rainbow
We’ve all seen him. Behind homeplate during the final pitch of the World Series; at center court for the final shot of the NBA Finals; between the goalposts for the game-winning fieldgoal of the Super Bowl. Everywhere and anywhere we have seen his rainbow — the one on his head, that is. At the same time, or course, we have also seen his shirts and signs, usually with John 3:16 printed in bold letters. But something tells me we won’t be seeing much of this self-styled sports evangelist in the near future.

While innocent until proven guilty, forty-six year old Rollen Frederick Steward, better known as the Rainbow Man, has allegedly been running from an arrest warrant issued in southern California for a string of stink bomb attacks. Only recently, however, were police reportedly able to link the Rainbow Man with the attacks.

The break in the case came a few months ago, when police in Richmond County, Georgia detained the Rainbow Man after he apparently set off a remote-controlled siren while Jack Nicklaus was putting on the 16th hole of the Master’s tournament in Augusta, Georgia. After tournament officials decided to drop charges, but before he was released, the Rainbow Man drafted a statement that allegedly matched handwritten notes found with several stink bombs recently set off in the southern California area at the offices of the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the Crystal Cathedral, a local Christian bookstore, and other locations.

Then, five days after being released from custody in Georgia, an electronically-activated device coincidentally detonated a package of fireworks at the Foreman-Holyfield championship bout in Atlantic City, only to be followed the next day by a similar contraption found at the site of a televised professional bowlers tournament. Should these antics be attributed to the Rainbow Man, they would be nothing new. As far back as 1989, he was arrested for throwing skunk glands into the crowd of the American Music Awards.

Granted, the skunk glands, fireworks, and stink bombs have not yet injured anyone. But that is not the point. The point is that if the Rainbow Man has perpetrated these self-centered acts, he has endangered life and violated the rights of others without Biblical justification, to say nothing of his run-ins with the law. While he may be ultimately innocent of all charges, his flight from justice only adds insult to injury. Once again, the Christian community is forced to bear the onus of a self-proclaimed zealot who found his way into the public spotlight only to end up shaming the name of Christ.

Tragically, the Rainbow Man appears to have come to the end of his rainbow. After Richmond police detained him, they recovered a sign which confusingly read, “The trumpet and siren mean no rapture…a skunk was released to show you there is no God, no more John 3:16.” How sad.


Canadian Tax Dollars Flushed
Not to be outdone by their high rolling American counterparts who have long grown accustomed to spending other people’s money in the name of “the public good,” the city of Montreal plans to go where no city has gone before; or more accurately, Montreal is enabling its dogs to go where no dogs have gone before. Montreal plans on spending $34,000 from the public treasury to build an “experimental bathroom” for dogs in one of its city parks.

It seems that the traditional fire hydrant is no longer sufficient for good ol’ Fido. Much to his relief, he will now get to avail himself of an elaborate facility where he can choose from among an assortment of concrete poles, trees, and shrubs. What’s more, he will be able to parade his talents in front of his proud owner who can view the whole scene from a box seat located a few feet from center stage.

Montreal, mind you, is the same city that recently built an entire subway system without so much as a single public restroom. Even worse, Montreal, for the past several years has been systematically eliminating public restrooms — for humans — from its public parks.

So what’s really going on in Montreal? Who’s behind this fiasco and how can they possibly justify it? Animal rights activists? Spendthrift politicians eager to solve another crisis? Followers of Jim and Tammy Bakker who long for the air conditioned doghouse days? Or — and this is my theory — America’s National Endowment for the Arts which showered several several thousand tax dollars last year on a known porn star to do on stage in New York what dogs will soon be able to do in Montreal. In other words, NEA-funded “artists” and Montreal’s dogs have more in common than first meets the eye: they both produce the same thing at taxpayers’ expense.


Guest Editorial: What There’ll Be to Pay by Gerald Wisz
More people are believing in it — hell that is. According to a recent U.S. News and World Report cover story, belief in existence of a place of eternal torment is up, even when compared with “the generally more wholesome and pious 1950s.” What this portends is anyone’s guess, but ever since George Gallup began asking the question, more people have said they believe in heaven than in hell. It’s good at least to see a more even distribution.

U.S. News reports a variety of responses by clergy who were asked about their beliefs and preaching on hell. The Rev. Mary Kraus of Washington,D.C. says, “My congregation would be stunned to hear a sermon on hell.” No doubt.

An interesting sideline is the reported differences among evangelical “annihilationists,” who believe in the complete destruction of the condemned soul, and those who still view hell as a place of eternal torment for the damned. John Stott, Clark H. Pinnock, and the late Philip E. Hughes are numbered among the annihilationists. Like a college co-ed confronted with the gospel for the first time, Pinnock asks, “How can Christians possibly project a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness [as to inflict] everlasting torture upon his creatures, however sinful they may have been?” Such a God, says Pinnock, is “more nearly like Satan than like God.”

Of course, hell is awful, even to contemplate. The 19th-century American theologian R.L. Dabney, even while defending the doctrine of eternal punishment, said it is “so awful and solemn that it is with painful reluctance the Christian sees it made a subject of controversy … It is presumed that there is not a right-minded man in any church who would not hail with delight the assurance that every creature of God will be finally holy and happy, provided only it could be given with certainty, and in a way consistent with the honor of God.”

But it is the honor of God, ultimately, that justifies the doctrine of endless punishment. How? Consider an analogy in terms of debits and credits. All are debtors to God, born as we are in Adam’s sin. This sin requires payment by a just God, whose mercy never operates in contradiction to His justice, since He is perfectly consistent in all His attributes.

But how can a creditor remain just, that is, exact what is rightly owed, and cancel a debt at the same time? It cannot be done. Once the debt is canceled, mercy has supplanted justice. This seems to be Pinnock’s version. Then isn’t it possible for God to extend mercy while remaining just?

Payment for the debt must be exacted; the debtor cannot pay. But what if another paid the debt in the debtor’s place, reconciling the debtor’s account with the creditor? The creditor would be satisfied, and the debtor would go free, although the one making the payment may be set back considerably. The Bible teaches that the creditor and the one putting up the payment are one. By receiving payment for the original debtor, the creditor’s justice remains intact; by putting up payment on the debtor’s behalf, the one incurring the debt himself demonstrates love that passes understanding.

Are all debtors? Yes, most certainly. Do all debtors have someone to pay their debt to the lawful creditor? No, not all do. But if they don’t, they really can’t complain, since they are the ones who owe the creditor, not someone else. However, if someone does step in to assume their debt, paying it in full, then the only proper response is thanksgiving, eternally.

Now, what about those who still owe the creditor but have no one to pay their debt? They owe. How will payment be made? It cannot be, since regardless of how much the debtor pays out — even if it’s the life of his soul– it can never be enough to satisfy the creditor. There is such a great gulf between what he owes and what he can periodically pay out, that his account will always remain outstanding, and therefore, he will always have to be paying out. He won’t be able to make a dent.

For the unredeemed debtor, final payment will never be made in full. He can never earn enough to square off with his creditor. But from the creditor’s perspective, payment must be made, and so the unredeemed debtor pays, and pays, and pays, eternally, until (if it were possible, which it’s not) the last farthing is exacted.

God’s honor serves as a more reliable yardstick than our sensibilities for understanding Christian doctrine, whether it’s the kind we would rather talk about or not.

Gerald Wisz has served as an elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and written for Eternity, World, and Journey. He currently writes for a New York financial services company.




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