Augustine and Calvin, Please Pick up the White Courtesy Phone, Paging Augustine and Calvin . . .

Original sin. As I’ve written before, you don’t have to believe in the literal accuracy of Genesis or in the doctrine of Original Sin to find it a useful metaphor for why the world is less-than-perfect, and the people in the world likewise. The idea that at some point, humans went astray from the divine ideal and as a result the perfect world became corrupt, permeates a lot of Western and Islamic teaching, even among those who profess not to believe in traditional religion. Looking over events since June 2019, I’m tempted to call these past twelve months “The Year of Original Sin,” because that’s what’s been trumpeted by activists of various stripes. Not the Christian doctrine, but variations on it, often even harsher than the Christian version is claimed to be.

The original Original Sin is found in Genesis, and refers to Adam’s knowing disobedience of G-d’s rule about “Don’t eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Eve disobeyed first (thanks to the Serpent) but (Protestant-Calvin) Adam saw what sin had done to her and went on and ate anyway. According to the theologians, this first sin passed from Adam to all of his children and their children. Or as the New England Primer put it under “A is for Apple,” “Through Adam’s fall, sinned we all.” And so humans became corrupt and fallen, requiring divine intervention to regain the option of choosing salvation and redemption. Depending on which teachings one follows, Original Sin led to Innate Depravity, and to Election and Reprobation. Only G-d knows who has been Elected to salvation, or who has been Reprobated for eternity. But some have been saved! Even double predestination is not hopeless doom.

The modern versions . . . are hopeless doom, in part because they deny the salvation part of eternity. Free-market supporters, or people of a certain culture, or now of a certain skin-color and ancestry, are cursed forever, no matter what sort of atonement is made. To warp St. Paul, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of [whatever deity is being worshiped this week.]” I have this mental vision of John Calvin and John Knox sitting up in their graves and snarling, “Fools! One, you’re leaving out the most important part and two, to say that you are damned and not even G-d can save you is the worst sin of pride!” Then they probably go back to spinning in said graves.

If you listen to some of the intellectual and academic supporters of the 1619 Project, environmentalism-as-a-faith, and other movements, you hear the language of Calvin and Augustin, but without any hope for redemption. There is nothing more than the material world. Even if all power plants are shut down and all motorized transport halts instantly, if all property in the world is turned over to [somebody or something], if all people of a certain ancestry spend the rest of their lives serving and supporting people of other ancestries, the sin can not be expiated. Anything touched by that sin is forever tainted and corrupt, unworthy of preservation or memory.

What this leads to is fury, despair, and “Nihil ex nihilo.” Nothing comes out of nothing. Instead of building a new, better world, the old one is torn down and . . . Ashes. It is a profoundly sad philosophy, as well as a terrible one. Hope is forbidden, redemption is forbidden. From sackcloth and ashes comes nothing.

“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of G-d.” And in all traditional religions, Deity will and does forgive, for reasons we perhaps just can’t grasp yet (Calvin). Love, mercy, forgiveness. “Faith, hope, and charity, but the greatest of these is charity.” Loving kindness, forgiveness, hope . . . the best of humanity is barred by the prophets of 2019-2020.

If it were not so dangerous, this heresy would be something to pity. Except they cost lives and probably souls—people who come to believe that there is no hope, no redemption, and that they are not worth saving. Which leads to other things, to orgies of destruction and wrath. “If we destroy the fallen world, we can be saved! Destroy everything, and then Paradise!” Ragnorak, but worse.

18 thoughts on “Augustine and Calvin, Please Pick up the White Courtesy Phone, Paging Augustine and Calvin . . .

  1. It’s amazing–yet probably inevitable–how the Marxist Left is a deeply religious heresy. It’s where the power is. And when liberals reject .. (https://theindependentwhig.com/haidt-passages/haidt/conservatives-understand-liberals-better-than-liberals-understand-conservatives/) …

    “From page 334 of The Righteous Mind (emphasis added):

    When I speak to liberal audiences about the three “binding” foundations – Loyalty, Authority, Sanctity – I find that many in the audience don’t just fail to resonate; they actively reject these concerns as immoral. Loyalty to a group shrinks the moral circle; it is the basis of racism and exclusion, they say. Authority is oppression. Sanctity is religious mumbo-jumbo whose only function is to suppress female sexuality and justify homophobia.”

    The very groupthink and mob action that the Hard Left instigators rely on is itself a large measure of those Binding foundations: Loyalty, Sanctity, an Authority, but to different things, and cut loose from the civilizing effect of the other foundations.

  2. In various unpleasant circumstances, people have asked me, “What’s really going on?” When I tell them, they look at me in astonishment. Then they usually ask something like, “How do you keep going (working), knowing all that?” I respond, “I am a cynical optimist. I believe everything will go to Hell in every possible way, yet somehow work out all right in the end.”

    Does that make me a Calvinist?

    • “Does that make me a Calvinist?” Not unless being harassed and persecuted confirms that that you’re right and the other side is wrong. 😉 [T.U.L.I.P reference, for those wondering.] Actually, it puts you closer to being an Augustinian and some branches of Lutheran, but there’s a lot of overlap with Calvin.

      • Thanks!
        I’ve never understood the differences between all the different branches of Protestantism. Your summary a while back is the best one I’ve ever come across.

  3. I really really need to get more of the numbers on the medieval Dublin slave market, and how many Irish and Scottish people ended up enslaved in Africa and the Muslim world, and how many people in isolated parts of Africa have enslaved medieval white people in their genomes.

    Because I really really need more people to think.

  4. Enter the Jewish and Christian doctrine of repentance. If you are proud, you can humble yourself. If you are guilty,you can be forgiven after recognizing your errors and making what amends you can. Even if you are bloodstained, you can become clean, The secular version of original sin doesn’t have it, which is why it is soulcrushing.

  5. Minor nit.

    This secular version of original sin applies only to “Whites”. 😡

    • I’m trying not to mention specifics, because when you expand it, all of Western Civilization, including Judaism and Christianity, are seen as corrupt and flawed beyond redemption.

    • …applies only to “Whites”…for now. I’d bet other group(s) could become the target of ire at the drop of a hat, since this mindset needs an “other” to sustain itself.

  6. Amazing how the Levellers demand that everything gets flattened to their desires, yet no one else gets a say. Envy and Pride chattering in their ears.

    St. Thomas Aquinas would smite them, and open the text to chapter IV..

  7. “Fools! One, you’re leaving out the most important part and two, to say that you are damned and not even G-d can save you is the worst sin of pride!”

    The unforgivable sin, the sin against the Holy Spirit– the sin of denying that God Himself can save you. Unforgivable, because it requires that you reject sin in order to commit it.

  8. And those ‘useful idiots’ screaming the loudest for change will by the first put against the wall when they are no longer needed by the elites… sigh

  9. Aquinas wouldn’t smite them. But then, when your entire family (including your sisters!) is built like knights/football players, and so are you, there are very few people who could face you down or give you trouble.

    So all your nice long lectures and arguments would get absorbed without much attempt by your listeners to get away. Strangely enough!

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