To be a Christian, Part II: Why Do It?

[Part I, which lays out basic Christian teaching, is here.]

Christianity is not like any other thing you can join.

You join other things because they are enjoyable, or beneficial, or their cause is important to you. Otherwise, you have no reason to join.

Granted that it can be enjoyable, beneficial, or an important cause, Christianity is not like other things you can join. When it comes to ultimate issues, the criteria for joining a thing are different.

There are two basic reasons why you should join Christianity. One, unless your sins are forgiven you face eternity in hell, and forgiveness of sins comes only through Jesus of Nazareth. All humans live forever, but some live forever in a bad place.

The other reason is this: The completely true description of what reality is and how it operates comes only from Christianity, because God revealed this knowledge in the Bible. When a society rejects Christianity (as ours is doing) it cannot function correctly (as ours increasingly does not.)

A non-Christian society can sometimes function adequately, based on its partial understanding of reality that man can attain because he is made in the image of God and is therefore capable of grasping many truths. But America lacks even this pagan common sense. Our rulers are anti-reality, not just non-reality, in their basic orientation. We need the sanity (to say nothing of the wisdom) that comes only from Christianity.

True knowledge of how reality operates includes knowledge of the proper operations of the individual person, the family, and the society. To fix our nation we need to know how people and nations properly operate. If you’re going to fix things you must know how they’re supposed to be. And who would know how they’re supposed to be? Only the Creator of reality, or anyone who knows what this Creator has revealed in written form, in the Bible.

Atheists believe there is no manual of operation because reality has no Manufacturer. This belief is mistaken. Reality must have a Creator because nothing is self-creating. The Creator has always existed, because nothing else is available to create Him and because there must be something that is eternal. If nothing is eternal then everything had a beginning and there was a time when nothing was. But if nothing was, nothing could come to be, because a state of nothingness cannot give rise to anything.

Therefore the Creator has always existed. But the reality we can directly observe has not always existed and therefore Something created it. This is why the Creator necessarily exists. Therefore the only question for those who want to know how reality operates is whether this Creator has spoken to us.

He has spoken, in the Bible.

Members of other religions deny that the Bible is from God. There is proof that the Bible is from God, but the proof is not quick. Here is a summary.

If the Bible were from God how would it be possible to know this?  Not easily.  You cannot just look at the copyright page (“Copyright 95 AD by God, all rights reserved”), nor can you simply assume, as atheists do, that God does not exist. Nor can you just hunt for errors, because to know that something is an error you must know the truth about it already, which is to assume that the Bible is not God-breathed, which is to assume your answer, not prove it.

Another approach is needed.

When it comes to judging ultimate issues, we must judge the system as a whole. This principle is well-known in science. We judge a scientific paradigm by its internal consistency and its ability for account for more known facts than any rival theory. Every scientific theory has anomalies (unexplainable / unexpected things), but the best overall theory is accepted as basically correct.

A similar approach is needed when we judge our religion. Christianity is internally consistent (meaning that you cannot derive a contradiction from its basic principles) and it does a better job of accounting for the facts we see than rival worldviews. This is why it is to be believed. And Christianity comes from the Bible.

There are other reasons to accept the Bible. When we can independently verify what it describes, we find the accounts are accurate. It has a unity unparalleled among other religious books. Its system is satisfying and compelling. The person of Jesus Christ whom it describes is forceful and wise. These are only some of the reasons.

As I said, this is a summary, not a complete proof. Ultimate reality cannot be wrapped up neatly in a few paragraph.

We have no choice but to judge systems. Since man is not omniscient he cannot just intuit the right framework of thought and then spend the rest of his life operating within it. The world presents us with many competing systems of thought but there is no universally agreed-upon Manual of Thought that will tell us which system is correct. If God exists then there will be an optimal system, because reality will be a certain way and not another way. But each of us is capable of being wrong so we need to test our way of thinking.

(Many people do not test their thinking. They go with the system they like best.  They go with their intuition. Sometimes people intuit right, sometimes they intuit wrong. Your odds are better if you test your system.)

Of course, our worldview colors our interpretation of the facts. Atheists fail to see many facts that theists are able to see. (The reality of sin, for example.) That’s why you need to be aware of your worldview so that you can test it.

That’s the second reason why you should join Christianity: It’s true.

So what is this Christianity and where can it be found? Inquiring minds want to know, because all good things have counterfeits.

To know what it is, read the words of its founders. Jesus is the one Founder, but He also trained assistant founders and His spoken words, and the writings of His assistants, are found in the New Testament.

And the New Testament declares the Old Testament also to be the Word of God. The whole Bible is the manual of Christianity.

There is controversy about the correct way to interpret the Bible. You will have to choose a side. But consider this:  Authors of books usually intend that normal people can understand the main meaning without the need for an expert to supply an esoteric meaning that a normal person would never discover on his own.

So it is a good assumption that the Author of the Bible intended that normal people of the time and place where each of its parts were written would be able to understand the basic meaning without an esoteric interpretation being supplied by an elite.

Our society is different from the societies in which the Bible was written, so experts in the ancient world and its languages may occasionally be needed for us to understand the exact meaning of a biblical passage. But the expert’s knowledge is pubic knowledge, based on public data. He does not supply an esoteric interpretation.

So find the straightforward meaning of a text, by consulting Bible commentaries or competent Bible teachers if necessary. If experts disagree, consider which expert makes the most convincing case, all evidence being considered.

Then make your choice and take your stand.

52 thoughts on “To be a Christian, Part II: Why Do It?

  1. Christianity does not come from the bible, it comes from Christ. How did the very first Christians become Christian when the New Testament wasn’t even written down yet? It was either because they directly saw Christ when He was on earth of followed Him, or the accept the preaching of his appointed apostles. It was because they read the gospels that weren’t written yet. In fact, most people up until the spread of literacy with the printing press didn’t become Christian by reading the bible because they couldn’t read. Rather they converted on hearing the preaching of a man with authority given by God.

    The only true Christianity is the Catholic Church established by Christ. How do you know the text you have that is called the bible is in fact the bible? The only way you know that the bible is the inspired word of God is because we have established witnesses who were given an office by Christ Himself to guard and tell us what His revelation is. There is no way to know that the manuscript you have is the actual uncorrupted inspired word of God without an authority delegated by God to protect the deposit of faith.

    • Christianity came from the teachings of Christ, and in the year 2021 the words of Christ are only found in the Bible.

      It is far easier to verify the Bible than to verify the Catholic Church.

      • Protestant argumentation is only circular. So you say the words of Christ are only in the bible. How do I know who Christ is? Go to the bible. How do I know the bible is true? Because it follows the words of Christ in the bible.

        Really the bible by itself is impossible to verify. How do I know the translation I have is correct? How do I know the manuscript version of my text is authority and not a corrupted text? What books are inspired and what books aren’t? There is no canon of what is the inspired text anywhere in the bible so that is an extra scriptural tradition.

        If the bible is the only source of the true Christian faith, there is no way to figure why it is better than the Quran. Both claim to be inspired texts, both believers of bible alone and the Muslims say that their religion is based on their book alone. What it comes down to in the end for the Protestant here is which faith resonates with him subjectively more.

      • All argumentation is ultimately “circular,” therefore circularity per se is not fatal.

        So how do you prove that your Church has the authority that you say it does?

    • I think it is a mistake to argue that the Church “made” the New Testament, since this skirts very close to the infidel argument that the Church “made up” the New Testament, and that the New Testament could therefore have been quite otherwise than it is. I would say, instead, that the Church simply recognized, perhaps simply ratified, what was apparent to any sentient reader. The documents that became the books of the New Testament were radically different than the spurious letters and Gnostic gospels that were beginning to circulate. We can certainly be grateful that the Church identified the canonical documents, since this certainly lessened the evil influence of the apocryphal documents, but it did not require inspiration to separate canon and apocrypha. I am a Catholic, but I don’t need the Church to tell me that John’s Gospel is radically superior to the Gospel of Truth.

      I also think you have oversimplified the relation between a text and its authoritative interpreter. The text reveals its authoritative interpreter just as much as its authoritative interpreter reveals the text. The perils of private judgment do not disappear when it is the Church that makes that private judgement. The interpretive authority of the Church in the difficult passages rests on its fidelity to the text in the passages where the meaning is plain.

      • @JMSmith

        I agree that “made” is at least not a very precise way of saying it.

        You’ve given some pretty stark examples, but what about a less obvious one: why not the Didache? Nothing in it is obviously spurious. Nor does anything shout its authority as canonical. In these ways it resembles pretty much every other writing included in the New Testament. I think jamesthe1st’s point was that something authoritative outside of Scripture itself must have the authority, even if that means that something’s recognition is adhered to and not another’s.

        It is difficult for Catholics to discuss this issue since it is quite a ways off-center from what we see as foundational.

      • I am very far from expert on these questions, but the non-canonical books I’ve read strike me as commentaries on the primary documents that were gathered in the New Testament. Or perhaps on the events described in those documents. Some of these commentaries are beautiful, intriguing, or profound, but their value entirely depends on the facts recorded in the primary documents. Stated more precisely, their value entirely depends on the fact (and facts) of Jesus Christ. Take that fact away and all this literature becomes another deposit of oriental mysticism and poetry.

        My understanding is that an essential Gnostic fallacy is to blur the distinction between commentary and primary text, or even to prefer the commentary. One sees this same fallacy in people who would rather read literary criticism than literature. To this I think we must give Paul’s answer: if Jesus was not the Son of God who was crucified and resurrected, then everything that followed–the Church, the scholarship, the art, the liturgy, the cathedrals, the music–these things are just glorious folly.

        It seems to me that the canonical books largely aim to establish the facts that Jesus was the Son of God who was crucified and resurrected, and that the non-canonical books largely assume the truth of these facts and ask what follows from them.

      • The main problem with the non-canonical books is that they were not written by men who had firsthand knowledge of Jesus. They appeared many decades, or even centuries, after the last Apostle died.

      • Yes I agree with what you say for that the Church didn’t not create the bible. I think what you are describing for the textual interpretation is the sensus fidelium of the Catholic faith. The Faith by its nature is public, not private, and so you can weigh whether what the current leaders of the Church are teaching is matching up with the unchanging faith held at all times in all places. The private judgement problem you describing is because the leaders of the Catholic Church during this Vatican II crisis are refusing to their God given office to give authoritative teachings. Instead they seek to speak of their own human authority to get along with the world.

      • I can accept a pretty large gap between the ideal and the actual, but I do expect the actual to at least intermittently tend towards the ideal. If the Church saw Vatican II as such a great problem, it seems it would have done something in the past fifty years to correct that problem. But it looks to this humble pew-sitter that the Church sees resistance to Vatican II as the great problem, and that the Church may therefore not be the Church I thought it was. I have no special knowledge in these matters, just many years of observing little things that made me wonder “what on earth is going on here.” One was the perverse unwillingness of so many priests to fit their homilies to the readings. It seemed trivial at first, but eventually led me to conclude that scripture was, for them, merely decorative. Their real Lectionary was the New York Times or Psychology Today or Good Morning America. Since I was attending Church to get away from all that, I stopped attending Church.

      • @JMSmith July 21, 2021 at 12:51 PM

        It seems the crisis of faith extends deeply into the Orthosphere. I appreciate your honesty in this comment, but it now makes sense to me why there is so much apparent resonance here with the (in my judgment of course) strange and meandering religious ideas expressed by Bruce Charlton and his disciples like Francis Berger. I am not up to the task of intellectual demonstration of what feels so wrong about these, except to say that they seem to reveal a weakness of a misplaced trust in man. When sinful men in the Catholic church don’t live up to the trust placed in them, the weakness is revealed.

      • I have always felt that Orthosphere is a misnomer for the oddballs and cranks who post on this site. The name long predates my arrival, and we’re now stuck with it as our “brand.” I don’t think we are suffering a “crisis of faith,” if you mean by that phrase a temptation to outright apostasy. But I will personally confess to a crisis of faith in our leaders and institutions. To use a scriptural metaphor, I believe too many of them aim to fill the old wineskins with new wine.

        Because I am a traditionalist, I feel affection for the old wineskins, by which I mean archaic forms of Christian liturgy and expression. But I also recognize that Christ taught us that wineskins wear out and have value only because of the wine they contain. And I am, of course, shocked by the much of the spurious new wine.

        I see Bruce Charlton as somewhat like Father Spike in C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. Writing to his nephew, the demon Screwtape says this about Father Spike: “The humans are often puzzled to understand the range of his opinions . . . . But I must warn you that he has one fatal defect: he really believes.” I only know him as an Internet personality, but I think the same could be said about Bruce Charlton.

        I personally sympathize with much that Charlton says about “Romantic Christianity,” although I have no desire to impose these ideas on anyone who does not find them congenial. I believe Christianity has some essential doctrines (the old wine), but that these doctrines are legitimately expressed in many different styles (new and old wineskins). I actually spent many years outside of any sort of faith because some people had convinced me that their wineskin was the wine, and it was only by God’s grace that I eventually saw that their wineskin was just the style that was suited to their personalities (which I would call enthusiastic).

        I do not hate the wineskin of enthusiastic religion or the wineskin of ritualistic religion, but I will oppose anyone who tells me that these wineskins are more important than the wine. I am also convinced that Christians should be preparing for dark times in which the old wineskins will be entirely unsuitable.

      • @JMSmith | July 21, 2021 at 5:35 PM

        To my reading you (along with Charlton, et al.) seem to be speaking the same language as the currently recognized pope. From his Angelus address of July 4, 2021:

        And here, we enter into the true crux of the problem: when we allow the convenience of habit and the dictatorship of prejudice to have the upper hand, it is difficult to open ourselves to what is new and allow ourselves to be amazed. We control: through attitudes, through prejudices… It often happens in life that we seek from our experiences and even from people only what conforms to our own ideas and ways of thinking so as never to have to make an effort to change. And this can even happen with God, and even to us believers, to us who think we know Jesus, that we already know so much about Him and that it is enough to repeat the same things as always. And this is not enough with God. But without openness to what is new and, above all – listen well – openness to God’s surprises, without amazement, faith becomes a tiring litany that slowly dies out and becomes a habit, a social habit.

        I refrain from comment whether I think that a good or bad thing.

      • You are right that the language is the same, but I think the referents are different. I am open to worshiping the old things in new forms of worship. I fear that he is open to worshiping new things in old forms of worship. I’m open to using new words to express old meanings. I fear that he is open to expressing new meanings with old words. But I’m just a slightly paranoid nobody, so I’m trying to stay openminded.

      • So that’s where my priest got this. A couple of weeks ago, at outdoor Mass, he gave this bizarre homily about how we’re always putting people in boxes, how we get upset when our spouses or family members behave unexpectedly, how we don’t allow God to “surprise” us because we have put Him “in a box” as well. I hate to pull the celibacy card, but listening to this I couldn’t help thinking that he really doesn’t know much about family life. Where did he get the idea that all our expectations of family members are good? I expect to have to remind Sabrina to pick up her toys, but does that really mean I would be upset if she did it on her own? Is it really true that people freak out when their spouse or children take up a new interest or hobby? I’ve never encountered this. What does it even mean to say that we constrain God’s actions in our lives by our expectations of Him? How, absent a direct private revelation, are these expectations to change? If they are based on scripture and doctrine, the inputs are fixed. If it just means that God’s providence may allow unexpected things to happen to us, no one doubts this, and there is in any case no question of allowance on our part. I’ve never heard that we are required to endorse our misfortunes just because God can work our good through them. It would have helped to have had some examples to work with, instead of juts vague analogies to things in “boxes” and families that don’t act like real families.

      • Your priest does have strange ideas about family life. I get upset with my family when they behave badly, not unexpectedly. I can think of dozens of surprises that would cause me to dance on the front lawn while throwing my hat in the air. I’d say the same thing about God. I can think of hundreds of divine surprises that would wring heart-felt Hosannahs from my lips.

        With that said, I also have sympathy for priests and preachers who must say something new every Sunday. I have, all told, about one hundred polished lectures that I give every year. I always try to improve them, but very seldom start from scratch. Perhaps I should tell our priest that I would rather hear a few good homilies over and over, rather than an endless string of low-grade novelties.

        We are all familiar with the repackaging of old products, but I’m more concerned with the “reproducting” of old packages. I know this sounds crass, but “Christian” and “Catholic” are still good brands with a huge and very loyal (although shrinking) customer base. I’ve seen plenty of “product” that was neither Christian or Catholic packaged as Christian or Catholic, but have never seen Christianity or Catholicism pretending to be Marxism, or Feminism, or Randian Objectivism. I’ve seen plenty of family therapists disguised as priests, but no priests disguised as family therapists.

        The homily you heard sounds like family therapy repackaged as Catholicism. My suspicion is that the Church is trying to repurpose itself as therapeutic institution with stained glass windows.

  2. I take “by their fruits you shall know them” to be the central epistemological principal in the New Testament. In fact, I take this to be the core of Jesus’ critique of moribund Judaism. I’m not saying that “fruits” are always easy to judge, but I will still say that the “test” of any philosophy or religion is its practitioners. Christianity invites this test since it promises regeneration and new birth. My impression is that this test typically confirms Christianity, since most converts to Christianity are improved by the conversion. They are still far from perfect, but they are better than they were.

    Your point about the plain meaning of scripture is well taken. How much mischief has been caused by the belief that the Bible–especially the New Testament–is written in a secret code. My sense is that an interpreter who claim special knowledge of ancient idioms almost always produces a reading that is comfortable to the modern zeitgeist. There are exceptions, but deviations from the plain reading normally bring scripture into alignment with modern prejudices.

    • “By their fruits you shall know them.” I had not noticed that this passage also pertains to apologetics and the judging of worldviews. Good point, JM

    • In consequence, we can expect that frankness about the shortcomings of Christians past and present will severely damage our credibility when everyone else is engaging in aggressive self-promotion. Nobody’s going to buy our line of “yes, we are wretched sinners, but think about Jesus!” Jews, Muslims, communists, and sodomites don’t see themselves as wretched sinners. They have “proud history”. We’re the only ones with “shameful past”. Who would ever want to join our team?

      • Dear sir may I ask what you might propose to correct this deficiency if you see it as one. You have put your finger precisely upon the critique constantly thrown at Christians on dissident right blogs. I must admit that critique is rather persuasive and all I find myself doing is clinging to belief without much recourse. I see that from one point of view the perspective you identified is in fact a serious flaw in the Christian thought process as it appears to contribute to the state of social shame in which we find white people. We Christians may indeed have set ourselves up for failure in the eyes of others. Of course the counter is that all humanity is sinful but that seems not to be believed by the opposition since it appears to them as if only whites are a problem.

      • As I said in the comment I just finished, we begin with an absolute refusal to apologize for our ancestors. Our authority is Proverbs 20:20–“Whosoever curseth his father or his mother / His lamp shall be put out in deep darkness.” This is obviously develops the commandment to honor our mothers and fathers. We should go on asking others to forgive us for our personal transgressions, but must absolutely refuse to apologize for our ancestors with fire in our eyes.

      • I will grant that Christians have most often used the fruits doctrine to remark on the wormy crab apples that are born by other Christians. Anti-Christian writers got their best material from these sectarian slams. But I cannot see how anyone is going to make an argument from authority in today’s world. The authority of the secular clergy of science and the media is cratering, so I don’t expect scriptural or ecclesiastical authority to revive any time soon.

        I think I agree with what you are saying, though. That is if you are saying that we need much more organization, discipline, and solidarity, not to mention a very wily defensive strategy, if we are going to survive. We are under orders to love our enemies, but are under no obligation to tell them the dirty secrets with which they can humiliate and blackmail us.

        I cannot say that hard reaction is a winning strategy, but its refusal to apologize is a huge advantage over contrite conservatism. A reactionary never apologizes for his ancestors and is outraged by any penitent poltroon who tries to apologize for him. I mean outraged to the point where he seriously considers breaking the laws against duels of honor.

      • “Who would ever want to join our team?”
        Because according to our Leader (who is God and therefore knows all truth), you Jews, Muslims et al are also hell-bent sinners. It says so right there in the Book that God authored.

      • “We should go on asking others to forgive us for our personal transgressions, but must absolutely refuse to apologize for our ancestors with fire in our eyes.”
        I don’t see why if they were indeed egregious in certain sins that sin couldn’t still be acknowledged as sins. So that we don’t repeat them.
        If Cain was our Forefather are we cursing Father and Mother by condemning his murder of Abel?

      • info @ To whom would we apologize for the sins of Caine? Or the sins of Adam and Eve, for that matter? If we grant the reality of hereditary guilt and observe no statute of limitations, every human being will bear hereditary guilt for a very large number of murders, rapes and thefts, and also hereditary injuries for the same.

        I am descended from people who massacred, and people who were massacred. Should I apologize to myself?

        I don’t think a sin is more egregious when that sin is very common. I might say it is less egregious. For example, individual abortions are not made worse because abortions are common and legal, and one might say that a young woman who obtains an abortion is less culpable because it is harder for her to understand what she is doing. If slaveholding is a sin, an individual slaveholder is not more reprehensible because many of his neighbors are also slaveholders.

      • @JMSmith

        Sorry I misread your comments on this. So I made an argument against a strawman which is the notion of actually denying the sin of one ancestor or another because to do otherwise is cursing one’s mother and father.

        My counterargument being that while one is not actually being responsible for the sin of the Ancestor. One nonetheless acknowledges their guilt in themselves.

        What then is your comment on the incidents in the Bible that no doubt are examples of collective punishment?

        Achan’s whole family was killed with him for violating Cherem by taking the devoted things for himself.

        And to a lesser extent all male descendants of royal houses of rebellious Israelite Kings were ordered to be killed(granted it looks like in this circumstance God spares the females from the sword similarly to the Midianites).

        And when Saul murdered the Gideonites. What satisfied Divine Justice was killing 7 of Saul’s Male descendants.

      • I would say the big example in the Bible is Original Sin, which we inherit from Adam and for which we are all condemned to die. This hereditary guilt is essential to the whole Christian system, since it provides both the occasion and the model for the imputed merit we receive from Christ. I’ve actually begun to sketch out a post on this question, so will say more in that.

      • To “info”‘s question, renouncing one’s ancestors is the grossest imaginable act of impiety. It is also shockingly uncharitable to one’s own children, since it deprives them of a healthy reverence for their past and condemns them to live their whole lives as low moral status simply for being white. It is, therefore, a deeply evil thing to do.

        Where, by contrast, comes this moral duty to apologize? There is certainly a duty to privately repent for one’s personal sins. Public apology is not a categorical duty; it can be good or bad depending on the consequences and whether other moral obligations are in play. In the case of apologizing for one’s ancestors to one’s racial enemies, the consequences are uniformly awful, and the moral obligation of loyalty is flagrantly disregarded. Apologizing for one’s ancestors is a deeply evil thing to do.

        Actually, not apologizing is sometimes not even a bare minimum, since we are often called up on not only to privately venerate but also to publicly defend and extol our ancestors and our race.

      • @Bonald
        Reverence for Ancestors must depend on whether they are worthy of reverence.

        Should Stalin be reverenced despite being a mass murderer of Ukrainians? Should Cain be reverenced for shedding the innocent
        blood of Abel?

        Should we love the unrepentant wicked because they happen to be our ancestors?

      • Filial piety means honoring the memory of one’s ancestors. This implies muting the dishonorable episodes in their lives and getting angry with anyone tries to highlight those dishonorable episodes.

      • To Prof. Smith & Bonald

        Prof. Smith wrote:

        Icannot say that hard reaction is a winning strategy, but its refusal to apologize is a huge advantage over contrite conservatism. A reactionary never apologizes for his ancestors and is outraged by any penitent poltroon who tries to apologize for him. I mean outraged to the point where he seriously considers breaking the laws against duels of honor.


        I don’t think a sin is more egregious when that sin is very common. I might say it is less egregious. For example, individual abortions are not made worse because abortions are common and legal, and one might say that a young woman who obtains an abortion is less culpable because it is harder for her to understand what she is doing. If slaveholding is a sin, an individual slaveholder is not more reprehensible because many of his neighbors are also slaveholders.

        Bonald wrote:

        [R]enouncing one’s ancestors is the grossest imaginable act of impiety. It is also shockingly uncharitable to one’s own children, since it deprives them of a healthy reverence for their past and condemns them to live their whole lives as low moral status simply for being white. It is, therefore, a deeply evil thing to do.

        Thank you gentlemen for expressing my own sentiments concerning this subject so precisely. Within the little circles I generally fly in and in which I have at least some small influence, the thoughts and opinions of you two men (as well as all the other contributors here) are highly respected. I can write, and have written on numerous occasions before, precisely (or, almost precisely) the sentiments contained in the quoted extracts above, but my ‘unilaterally’ doing so is never as ‘weighty’ as when I have the likes of you two gentlemen to back me up, even when your backing me up is unknowing and unintentional on your parts. So I thank y’all for that.

        Prof. Smith:

        I sent you an item (an essay) via email that I wrote for my kids at their private blog some months back concerning this very subject of impiety towards one’s ancestors, and, as you rightly iterate, the righteous anger it should engender in us when some self-righteous lefty (or, “Compassionate Conservative” – same thing) presumes to apologize in our steads. First of all, I understand the history of antebellum slavery in this country better than most, and, as such, am not ashamed in the least of my ancestors (the Stewarts and the Pruitts) who were in fact slaveholders. Some writer at the Abbeville Institute wrote sometime back that (and I paraphrase) ‘lefties make a mistake in assuming we on the right don’t understand that slavery was evil; that we on the right in fact do understand that slavery was evil.’ Well, he can speak for himself; I certainly do not know that slavery was evil, and that my slaveholding ancestors were therefore evil men and women. With friends like that particular writer, who needs enemies, right?


        Your quote above brought to mind something I read several years back in a little book titled, The Confederate Cause and Conduct in the War Between the States (c. 1899). Here is a small excerpt from a longer passage in the book pertinent to what you wrote concerning the effect impiety towards one’s ancestors has on one’s children and grandchildren:

        Wiser statesmen have known with Macaulay, that “a people not proud of the deeds of a noble ancestry will never do anything worthy to be remembered by posterity.” He is a stupid educator who does not know that a boy ashamed of his father will be a base man. …

        I certainly agree that (s)he is a “stupid educator” who *does not know* that a boy ashamed of his father will be a base man, but I also believe there exists the smart set of teachers who are also malevolent actors/educators who in fact are wise to this, and teach the children under their charge to hate their ancestors and their deeds for this very reason and purpose. Indeed, the public schools (and more private schools than one might think as well) have been systematically turning the hearts of the children under their charge against their fathers for many decades as a matter of course. Which of course is a big part of the reason I would never *voluntarily* allow any of my kids to attend the public schools. Indeed, I’d be more likely to allow the state to use them as guinea pigs for testing the COVID vaccine than I would to destroy their souls in the public schools. But that ain’t ever going to happen either, not at least so long as I have a say in the matter. So there ya go.

      • Terry @ It is a wonder how “conservatives” will grant that the left has been right about everything, right down to the day before yesterday. But they are “conservative” because they wish to raise some footling quibble about the latest leftist innovation. In a couple of years they grow used to the innovation and admit that the Left was right about that as well. A refusal to apologize does not imply a desire to restore, only the humble recognition we would have acted just like our ancestors if we had lived at that time. I hope my descendants will not despise me for burning fossil fuels, or eating meat, or fathering children outside of test tubes. They may view all of these things as primitive, distasteful or amusing, but should understand that I am not a moral cretin or a fool. I appreciate the quote you sent Bonald, since it expresses a sentiment I have been trying to find in print.

      • In the real world, everyone is a mixture of good and bad. Good guys and bad guys exist in comic books, not real life. Even our white Christian ancestors were not entirely evil. If nothing else, they were the conduits through which God created us, and so they are icons of Him for us and to be honored as such. I think that people fail to appreciate what a momentous accomplishment it is to build and maintain a society of any sort, to raise a next generation that survives to adulthood, and to have anything material or spiritual to pass on to them. As the recipients of such great gifts, how could we be so ungrateful as to complain that they didn’t do better, and still yet to throw in with their enemies?

        The fact that everyone else hates them makes it more important that I honor them. I am very unworthy of my ancestors, but (aside from a few scattered others, most of whom are even older than I am) I’m all they have left. Surely humanity can spare them the reverence of a few inconsequential persons.

      • @JMSmith @Bonald

        “Filial piety means honoring the memory of one’s ancestors. This implies muting the dishonorable episodes in their lives and getting angry with anyone tries to highlight those dishonorable episodes.”

        That’s why I specified unrepentant evil not those like David who are flawed repentant Men of God. God forgives the repentant. But the unrepentant unapologetic evil God hates.

        We should get angry at others seeking to pin sins of Ancestors on us as if we existed at that time.

        But we shouldn’t having filial piety with unrepentant evil. Should we love those who go out of their way to hate God no matter what?

      • If my grandfather were generally remembered as the worst man who ever lived, it might be my duty to be the last person on earth who remembered whatever there was that was good about him. But we’re not really talking about individual forebears here. We’re talking about generalized “fathers,” and more specifically about “dead white males.” The zeitgeist is massively against us, but those of us who have “dead white males” in our family tree have a duty to resist, or at least not to join–even amplify–their denunciation. This doesn’t mean that I must leap to the defense of Charles Manson.

      • Prof. Smith: You are of course familiar with R.L. Dabney’s “takedown” of “American conservatism” in his essay revealing the absurdity of the Women’s Suffrage movement. I have written numerous times over the past several years that the Republican Party (which is supposedly the “conservative” party in American politics) has come full circle in our generations. It started as radicalism and innovation for the sake of it, and apparently cannot resist the temptation to return to its own vomit. Dabney’s quotation above-mentioned follows your line of thinking on this matter very closely. Below is the quotation, extracted from the longer essay for the benefit of anyone who has not yet read it.:

        It may be inferred again that the present movement for women’s rights will certainly prevail from the history of its only opponent, Northern conservatism. This is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is to-day one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will to-morrow be forced upon its timidity, and will be succeeded by some third revolution, to be denounced and then adopted in its turn.

        American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom. It always—when about to enter a protest—very blandly informs the wild beast whose path it essays to stop, that its “bark is worse than its bite,” and that it only means to save its manners by enacting its decent role of resistance. The only practical purpose which it now subserves in American politics is to give enough exercise to Radicalism to keep it “in wind,” and to prevent its becoming pursy and lazy from having nothing to whip.

        No doubt, after a few years, when women’s suffrage shall have become an accomplished fact, conservatism will tacitly admit it into its creed, and thenceforward plume itself upon its wise firmness in opposing with similar weapons the extreme of baby suffrage; and when that too shall have been won, it will be heard declaring that the integrity of the American Constitution requires at least the refusal of suffrage to asses. There it will assume, with great dignity, its final position.

        -R.L. Dabney, Women’s Rights Women, 1871

      • Dabney is the real McCoy. He’s buried in Dallas and I should make a pilgrimage to his grave one of these days. A conservative can acquiesce to something like female suffrage as a fait accompli, but he should at least know the old arguments against it. He can acquiesce to the fact of a liberal social order without acquiescing to the myths that represent the old enemies of that order as fiends.

        I don’t suppose it is possible to be a truly conservative politician or party in the United States, since our political system is liberal and non-liberal politicians and parties are therefore otiose. Going to Washington as a conservative is like going to the beach in a snowmobile suit–your going to feel bad and fail to fit in.

      • @JMSmith

        That makes sense. Because it could just as well be applied to other forebears as well. And by that definition all Mankind is condemned.

        Which brings us back to the Christian position.

  3. Thank you Mr JMSmith. You provided a great Biblical quote that I think supports your point and grants one authority to know how to proceed. It appears that replies to replies are not available here so perhaps this will float into the flow of comments but I feel amiss in not expressing thanks for you taking the time to reply. I do not comment here but only read so I am engaging tenuously.

    • I’ve been thinking about your question “how to correct this deficiency”. JMSmith is right that we should never renounce or apologize for our ancestors. That’s a necessary first step.

      However, consider the following standard piece of Christian apologetics.

      “Over past ages, Christians have mostly failed to live up to the high demands of the Gospel. We have given in to selfishness, greed, and hatred. However, our faith is not in ourselves but in Jesus Christ, whose message still retains its beauty and life-giving power. Without it, we would have been so much worse!”

      We’re all used to reading bullshit like this. The standard objection is that it’s still too congratulatory toward Christianity–placing all blame on individual Christians while refusing to “face up” to the wickedness of our religion as a whole. And yet, suppose you were to replace “Christians” with Jews, “Gospel” with “Torah”, and the like. Suddenly you have what will strike you as an outrageously anti-semitic statement, one that any Gentile would lose his job and friends for making (even though I expect most rabbis would grant its truth, just as most priests would grant the Christian version). What’s going on here?

      We must not only attend to our own failure, but learn from those who have been incredibly successful maintaining morale in the modern world, e.g. the Jews and Blacks. How do they do it?

      For one thing, they’re always on the attack, always accusing. The sins of Whites and Christians is always the subject; bringing up their sins is always “changing the subject”. Who gets to decide what “the subject” is? How do they do it?

      • I was caught out in a violent thunderstorm on my evening constitutional yesterday, and the circumstances put me in mind of Noah, and more especially his three sons. It is today a grievous offense, in some instances a crime, to say disparaging things about the descendants of Ham and Shem, but you are at the same time required to throw rotten tomatoes at the descendants of Japheth. Even the descendants of Japheth are expected to throw rotten tomatoes up into the air so they will fall on their own heads.

        That made me wonder if anyone had even once used the word antijaphetitism, and your comment has reminded me to ask Google. The answer is no, not once. We have antisemitism, of course. Racism really means antihamism. But no one anywhere has even once thought to use the word antijaphetitsm. I did get one lonely hit for antijaphetite, and it is not clear that the word is not there a term of honor.

        I realize that you are talking about Christians, not Japhetites, but the circumstances of the two are similar and related. I agree that we should learn from the groups who successfully demand respect, but I do not think we should copy them. To use an annoying cliche, being reflexively self-critical is who we are. It is essentially how we became the people that the descendants of Shem and Ham love to hate, and we should not exchange it for the pleasurable delusions of collective narcissism.

        The problem with today’s Christians and Japhetites is that too many have exchanged reflexive self-criticism for the pleasurable delusions of collective masochism. We should denounce this for the sexual perversion that it is.

      • Collective narcissism is exactly what I want for my people. You can’t lose with it. If I could have for my people what the Jews and Blacks have, I would be completely happy. Imagine being able to hold your head up high, not having to worry that your children will renounce the faith and hate you. Tendency to self-criticism is a disease. Being able to understand others’ points of view is a disease. Our enemies have shown us what true health and true strength are. Alas, there is no way for a sick man to wish himself healthy. It really would be a major surgery on the Western soul to replace our self-hatred, probably impossible to carry out at our current terminal stage.

      • I’m with you on the ends, but not on collective narcissism as the means. I’d like physical and spiritual descendants who can survive, and who do not despise my memory, but who also actually resemble me in body and soul. I can envy the results of the rhinoceros-skinned egotism of Jews and Blacks, and also the results of their facility at telling self-serving whoppers, but the people I wish to defend and preserve are not notable for those traits. I would add that narcissism, whether collective or individual, works only so long as there are suckers willing to feed the ego of the narcissists. A narcissist without an audience is a pathetic creature.

        I think there are several things we could do to root out our collective masochism, beginning with some hard ostracism of anyone in our in-group who tries to win status points by an ostentatious display of masochism. In the present system, traitors have high status and loyalists have low status. We must also somehow raise the cost of attacks by out-groups. Organized boycotts work and we should use them. We can forgive them their trespasses and still take our business elsewhere. We must lastly discard the sense of noblesse oblige since we are no longer the nobility in this culture, and thus can no longer afford to ignore insults. Respect for all out-groups must be reciprocal and given on a pay-as-you-go basis.

      • “We must lastly discard the sense of noblesse oblige since we are no longer the nobility in this culture, and thus can no longer afford to ignore insults. Respect for all out-groups must be reciprocal and given on a pay-as-you-go basis.”

        What every leading Ethnic group of every Western Country must emulate:
        “In Chinese Legalism there are both carrots and sticks, rewards and punishments, but fundamentally the laws and rules exists to consolidate the authority of the Sovereign which is deemed to be foundational to social order. Without reverence or respect for the authority, everything would fall into ruin around them. It matters little that there is an “inconsistent” application of rules or principles of freedom of press or freedom to wear religious garments to school, what is important is simply that everyone must revere and honour the authorities. To foster such reverence Chinese authorities can use sticks, or punishments, as much as rewards or liberality.

        This system is ultimately centered around the Sovereign from whom social order arises. It is less important whether he implements consistent or impartial rules, and more important for him to secure the reverence and honour of his subjects. So he rewards those who ask nicely acknowledging that if they receive it is only by his good graces, while punishing those who demand stuff from him as of right. To know when to use the carrot and when to use the stick requires a strong sense of realism and judgement to know who to accommodate and when, and who not to accommodate and make an example of when one’s authority is threatened, in short tact and firmness.”

        “There’s the usual line about the need to maintain social cohesion, integration, harmony, etc, etc, but the underlying message is clear: if you challenge our authority it will go very badly against you. If you want something from us, ask nicely, quietly, recognising our authority and that it is a grant by our good graces. But the moment you demand something as of right, you’ll learn that you have no rights. ”

        Revere and Honor the Authorities and the leading Ethnic Group. Or else lose all your rights.

      • There are two problems with this proposal: (1) we are not Chinese, (2) our authorities are bums. The second problem is a paradox for authoritarian reactionaries who live in a liberal society. They are authoritarian in theory but anti-authoritarian in practice. The first problem fits comfortably into a reactionary belief in human diversity.

  4. “Christianity is not like any other thing you can join.”

    The conviction more and more overtakes me that the prime attraction of Christianity is that it is uniquely not a religion. It is something so different from religion that we do not yet have a word for it. Islam is a religion. Hinduism is a religion. Dionysianism is a religion. The Aztec Cult of Vitztliputzli is a religion. What they share is a zeal for rituals that originate in the expulsion or murder of a scapegoat-victim; or — in the case of Islam and the Aztec cult — simply for killing.

    Atheists think that they don’t belong to religion, but their Nietzschean ire bonds them with Muslims, Aztecs, and Dionysiacs. Atheism would not exist if it weren’t formed spontaneously by resentment against what it is not; the Twentieth Century atheist regimes killed plenty of Christians simply because they were Christians.

    I think that I can say: I am a Christian – and therefore not an adherent of religion.

  5. JMSmith and Bonald. You both make great points and I am pleased to read them. Nevertheless I think perhaps that the salient point is that we should forgive our enemies their trespasses. This strike me as the heart of the matter. I have come to think that one should never forgive the sins of the enemy unless the enemy asks forgiveness thus demonstrating a change of heart. Is it not this rapid, unrequited willingness to forgive that keeps us heading downward while evil rises. Has this hopefully mistaken tenet of Christianity not essentially been the root of why we keep losing and evil keeps winning. Add to that the idea of turning the other cheek, again hopefully misunderstood, been as well used against us by the sinister people seeking our demise.

    • I’ve often made this case here at the O. Forgiveness is contingent on repentance. To do otherwise would be to be more moral than God. This does not mean we should brood on our injuries or magnify the trespasses of those who trespass against us. Another way to read the commandment is that we should not overlook the iniquities of our in-group while cracking down on outsiders. But this is not our problem today. We overlook the iniquities of out-groups and crack down on people who should be on our side. I think this hostility to the in-group is what Bonald is unhappy about, and there is good reason to think it is a malignant mutation of the “forgive your enemy” doctrine.

      • I am in complete agreement and how doubly correct you are in stating that we punch down on our own for often even small indiscretions. Many appear more then happy to turn the other cheek to our most deadly enemies while ready to literally destroy the impure amongst us. Often in this attack we implicitly incorporate the argument of the enemy to weaken and damage ourselves.
        I am quite glad to have found this site of like minded Christians who seem to have their finger on the pulse and have not succumbed to the social order as it is today and can argue against it. I thank you for your replies and will continue to read here. You all give one a bit of hope while we are all trying to live under very dark and grave skies.

      • It would be a great start to just remember past injuries. I have noticed that there is a big difference in how we Westerners remember our injuries and how the Jews/Negros remember theirs. For us, the focus is on the bravery of our lost comrades–martyrs choosing death without sign of fear, hopelessly outnumbered soldiers fighting on to the last man. There’s not much interest in how mean the enemy must have been to have wounded us so. Because our men’s heroism is the focus, there must have always been a way out for them–the martyrs could have apostasized; the soldiers could have surrendered. An outright genocidal enemy determined to kill us all in any case would not serve this purpose nearly as well as one who offers life with dishonor. For the horror stories of the Jews and Negros, the main focus is on the wickedness of their oppressors, who are always identified with today’s white Christians. You’ll sometimes hear of the courage and grace with which Blacks endured centuries of oppression, but it’s all rather vague and formulaic without specifying any alternative that they might have chosen. (I don’t doubt, by the way, that many of them were indeed brave and gracious, but the narrative is not really designed to let these virtues show forth. The narrative is only designed to highlight our cruelty.) It seems that our way is designed to instill pride, theirs resentment, and I would prefer to keep, or rather bring back, this aspect of our own culture.

  6. Bonald, That is a quite interesting observation about the different reactions to injuries. It raises thoughts in my mind. One is that again might we be going towards the root assumptions of Christianity where we have been taught the world is flawed thus we expect to find the flaws as we proceed into various situations. In other words whites are trained to face reality, accept it as it comes and deal with it as we do. If the world then is as it is the only thing to focus upon is the behavior of those who must deal with the flaws and how they do it. This is the white psyche. It tends to face reality and the white mind makes adaptation to what it confronts. We admire those who confront that reality best.
    The Jews on the other hand have been led to believe that they are special, God’s chosen people. Transgressions against them are therefore undeserved and at odds with their sense of being a superior people. To my mind much of the Old Testament reads like a Jewish sale pitch placing them at the center of the universe so undoubtedly they would see every act of aggression toward them as an assault upon their unique superior position and the guilt must always rest on the the outsider doing the assaulting.
    Blacks on the other hand appear to have several traits which contribute to your point. First they possess an unsupported extremely high level of self esteem. Second, they do apparently as well consider themselves to be born as gods, the movie Wakanda was no accident. Third, they seem to have no ability to do any self evaluation at all at the group level and maybe even at the personal level. These line up to form conclusions in their mind that every act against them is unjustified and goes against their sense of self.
    I think the political accusation we see coming from blacks and jews is one more example of self projection. Both blacks and Jews actually have the true sense of supremacy and because of their orientations cannot but project it upon others since they possess no flaws.


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