By their beheadings of children ye shall know them

September 5, 2014 § 32 Comments

The fruits of theological voluntarism as trump card over the natural law and the traditional understanding of the fifth commandment are on the front page.

“From this book, accordingly, we see that the religion of the Turks or Muhammad is far more splendid in ceremonies — and, I might almost say, in customs — than ours, even including that of the religious or all the clerics. The modesty and simplicity of their food, clothing, dwellings, and everything else, as well as the fasts, prayers, and common gatherings of the people that this book reveals are nowhere seen among us — or rather it is impossible for our people to be persuaded to them. Furthermore, which of our monks, be it a Carthusian (they who wish to appear the best) or a Benedictine, is not put to shame by the miraculous and wondrous abstinence and discipline among their religious? Our religious are mere shadows when compared to them, and our people clearly profane when compared to theirs. Not even true Christians, not Christ himself, not the apostles or prophets ever exhibited so great a display. This is the reason why many persons so easily depart from faith in Christ for Muhammadanism and adhere to it so tenaciously. I sincerely believe that no papist, monk, or cleric or their equal in faith would be able to remain in their faith if they should spend three days among the Turks. Here I mean those who seriously desire the faith of the pope and who are the best among them.”
– Martin Luther, preface to the Tract on the Religions and Customs of the Turks, published in 1530.

§ 32 Responses to By their beheadings of children ye shall know them

  • Marissa says:

    “it is impossible for our people to be persuaded to them…This is the reason why many persons so easily depart from faith in Christ for Muhammadanism and adhere to it so tenaciously.” Contradiction.

    “I sincerely believe that no papist, monk, or cleric or their equal in faith would be able to remain in their faith if they should spend three days among the Turks. ”

    That could be taken a few different ways.

  • pukeko60 says:

    Yeah, and Luther was aware of the problem with this. It leads to spiritual pride, and in that pride seeing all kaffir as subhuman.

    And then treating them appallingly while praising your own self righteousness.

    Such a delusion is evil, and the fruits of this satanic level of pride in their spiritualily are now obvious.

    Do not be them, and do not be like them.

  • […] The idea that we can be saints, that we can be righteous in this life, is a fundamental error. It is making ourselves into a little religion. And by thinking that we can make a religion and justify ourselves, we fall into the trap of either gnostic lawlessness or a scrupulosity of practice that sees all others as subhuman. […]

  • William Luse says:

    I followed a pingback to your previous post and read some of the comments, yours included, at the other site. Among the voluntarists I saw no attempt to understand that if our God is ordering the slaughter of innocents, and the Muslim god is doing the same, we have a problem with voluntarism. No attempt, that is, other than the circular “the Muslim god is a false god.” It either doesn’t register on the intellectual radar, or is a problem not worth solving. I was reading quickly, though, and might have missed something.

  • Zippy says:

    Bill:
    Whenever I start to doubt the connection between Islam and (at least certain kinds of) Protestantism, some Protestant shows up to vanquish my doubt.

  • Mike T says:

    One important difference is that most Protestants take the voluntarist position as a fixed moral command that existed as an exception to the moral laws ordinarily in effect on mankind. I’ve met plenty of Protestants who do believe in and defend the wholesale genocide of the Canaanites, but none of them defend the slaughter of woman and children outside of that context. It arises mainly by a belief that the genocide was a revealed particular judgment on a nation, not a moral principle.

  • One important difference is that most Protestants take the voluntarist position as a fixed moral command that existed as an exception to the moral laws ordinarily in effect on mankind.

    How has anybody not been addressing the discussion in that sense?

  • Andrew E. says:

    How has anybody not been addressing the discussion in that sense?

    If this is a serious question, the answer is by comparing Islam (characterized as it is by endless jihad against the infidel) to Protestantism.

  • Zippy says:

    Maybe Malcolm’s point is that voluntarism is really an ‘all in’ position, not an ad hoc position. Once you accept that it isn’t always wrong to deliberately slaughter infants because of the nature of God (His intrinsic goodness) and the nature of man-as-God’s-creation, you’ve moved from Christ to Allah. We’ve established what she is and are just haggling over the price.

  • To further clarify my point: We’ve always been addressing the Protestant position that God’s command was an exception to the strict moral law. That was the point of the whole discussion.

  • Marissa says:

    Once you accept that it isn’t always wrong to deliberately slaughter infants because of the nature of God (His intrinsic goodness) and the nature of man-as-God’s-creation, you’ve moved from Christ to Allah.

    I’m confused–didn’t the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc. all slaughter infants?

  • Zippy says:

    Marissa:
    The confusion arises from conflating acts of men with acts of God. They aren’t even really the same kind of thing: they are at most loosely analogous.

    Murder is an irrevocable act. God is literally not capable of murder as a logical matter: it is like Him being able to create a rock too heavy for Himself to lift, etc. I think people are often far too impressed with their notions that they understand what it is like to be God, but even granting the view for the sake of argument the proposition that God is capable of murder is self-refuting logically.

    A human being is a different matter entirely.

    A man always makes a choice within a context of his limited human knowledge and his limited capacities. Murder is intrinsically immoral because of the natural (and divine) law, which follow from the nature of man. A virus (e.g.) cannot be guilty of murder: natural law moral categories follow from the nature of man.

  • Mike T says:

    To further clarify my point: We’ve always been addressing the Protestant position that God’s command was an exception to the strict moral law. That was the point of the whole discussion.

    To compare the “Protestant position” with that of groups like ISIS is just downright insulting. Protestant understanding (regardless of tradition) of morality leaves no room for ordinary slaughter in the name of God. I reiterated the point I posted above to point out that Protestants tend to take a view that if God ordered it, it was justified. Our position is one of defending the Israelites and scripture, not making moral claims about war from it today.

  • I reiterated the point I posted above to point out that Protestants tend to take a view that if God ordered it, it was justified.

    Like the Muslims.

  • Andrew E. says:

    Like the Muslims.

    Larry Auster made this distinction years ago. A specific, limited act against a now extinct people (Canaan) is different altogether from the open-ended command of Allah to eliminate all infidels. Come on.

  • Zippy says:

    Larry was wrong about plenty of things. There is a difference of degree, but not of kind.

  • So you’re conceding that their are certain things that you would never believe God ordered?

    So why is the point there and not baby-killing? Both are intrinsically immoral, unless you’re going to loop right back around into your circular reasoning.

    Because if you don’t accept that there are certain things it is impossible for God to order, your comment is a red herring and a non-starter..

    Plus, Zippy is right.

  • Andrew E,

    By the way:

    Larry Auster made this distinction years ago.

    Distinction about what? When did I bring up specific actions? Mike said this, which is the comment I directly responded to:

    Protestants tend to take a view that if God ordered it, it was justified.

    This is the same logic the Muslims use, whatever they specifically justify with it. Once again you’re just dragging across red herrings.

  • Zippy says:

    I should say that just because the difference is one of degree not kind, that doesn’t make it unimportant. I’d much, much rather deal with a group of Divine Command southern Baptists than ISIS.

    But ideas have consequences, and making exceptions to the prohibition of murder when we think God is commanding us to do so requires a conception of God as Allah, pure will, rather than Christ, whose will and goodness are inherent and inseparable aspects of His being.

  • Andrew E. says:

    I’m going to use Bruce Charlton’s rule of thumb for discernment which he has applied to Mormons. If Protestant voluntarism actually does lead to grossly immoral acts on a large scale, we’d observed it by now. Just as we’re able to observe the fruits of Allah’s divine commands.

  • Zippy says:

    For that matter I’d rather deal with functionally apostate Muslims than ‘good Muslims’.

    It is a strike very much in their favor that, as a practical matter, most divine command protestants (and not all protestants are voluntarists) would never actually believe some ‘prophet’ who was telling them that God commands them to murder children, and would probably conclude that they were personally going nuts before granting credence to visions or whatever.

    But what is at issue, again, is ideas and their consequences.

  • Zippy says:

    Andrew E:

    If Protestant voluntarism actually does lead to grossly immoral acts on a large scale, we’d observed it by now.

    Not necessarily. Unprincipled exceptions are how incoherent ideas survive and thrive.

  • Marissa says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Zippy.

    If Protestant voluntarism actually does lead to grossly immoral acts on a large scale, we’d observed it by now.

    Like abortion and contraception? “Everyone” does it, which religion(s) condone it?

  • Zippy says:

    Whenever I drive by the tall Mormon temple near Washington DC I feel like I am seeing an artifact of the Lithians.

  • DeNihilist says:

    Thanx for the link to the Lithians Zippy. Gonna have to get it, looks very interesting. If it is half as good as A Canticle for Leibowitz, it will be worth it.

  • Mike T says:

    Not necessarily. Unprincipled exceptions are how incoherent ideas survive and thrive.

    The typical Protestant understanding of the Canaanite is not an unprincipled exception to the moral law because it is understood to be God exercising a divine prerogative to bring a nation under judgment and condemnation. You may disagree with that, but that is not the basis for an “unprincipled exception” because it is coherent within the Protestant claims about God’s law.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    Allah commanded it and it was just because it was what Allah willed. Allah isn’t commanding it now, but it has already been established that in principle he might command it now.

  • Sometimes I think that the moderate Muslims you meet in the US and the ISIS people are two entirely different religions, but that’s probably a fallacy on several levels. I guess After all, there are good Christians and there are not-so good ones, bad ones and not-so-bad ones… (I think I fall either into the not-so-good or not-so-bad category… which one depends on the day.)

  • […] Things like Islam, even though they are horribly false understood objectively, appeal to people mired in ‘every day is opposite day‘ modernity who can feel that something is wrong with making our preferences and perceptions the measure of all things in the areas that matter most. Islam appeals to some people simply because it allows wrongthought about what everyone can’t help but know instinctively: that a reality independent of our self-obsessed cartesian/Manichean selves exists at all, even though the external reality of Islam is just the voluntarist arbitrary Will of Allah. […]

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