A Side of Dutch Calvinists You Don’t See Anymore

This anonymous interlocutor who reads Rod Dreher’s blog, sells real estate, and sometimes preaches may be a member of a Christian Reformed Church congregation in Canada:

Why would you bring guns to a state legislature in protest?

Because the meritocracy are a bunch of gun hating pussies that’s why. It’s a show of “strength.” It’s a statement, “You may have all the levers and instruments of political power, but we have all the guns.” It has been my belief for a several years now that the politicization of our society and its radicalization are only going to get worse. I also believe that if de-escalation is going to happen, the first steps must begin with the left and with the meritocracy. They must begin walking back the Alinsky-ite attitude of the left. They need to show “respect” to those that differ with them, who disagree with them and will not join them in the “climb” up the social ladder. Calling them selfish morons and jerks only fuels the fires and widens the divide.

Why would people be willing to vote for and continue to support Trump? Why, when there many more qualified and better people who could do the job and were willing to do the job?

If I were an American, I would have voted for Ted Cruz. But the movers and shakers in the Republican Party hated him so much that they were willing to allow Trump to get the nomination rather than see Cruz win the nomination. Why are so many people willing to vote for Trump? It’s not just the red meat rallies. It is not just that he thumbs his nose at the press and constantly battles with them. Every other candidate was obviously a part of the meritocracy. Even though Trump is super rich and was born with a silver spoon, he is gauche enough to be thought of as having a common touch. He connected with people and made them believe that whatever he is, he isn’t one of “them.” “Them,” the meritocracy, are so reviled and so hated that his supporters would vote for anyone, as long as they had no stench of “them” on themselves. Anyone but a member of the meritocracy. Trump understands this instinctively. So, as long as he is seen as “not one of them” his base will follow. And there is a large segment of the population willing to die of coronavirus than listen to the dictates of the meritocracy. They are that hated and reviled. But the leadership class in both parties do not see it, will not see it and wouldn’t believe it even if they did. Nobody likes them. There is no one other than Trump. Tucker? Name someone other than Trump who can or is willing to lead the fight against the growing hegemony of the meritocracy? Do you think that the meritocracy is willing to stand down and end its war against the common people, the deplorables, to make peace and once again earn the trust of the people? The common people know that they will do anything to destroy them. Send their jobs overseas, flood the market with illegal aliens, wreck their families and towns and so forth. There is already a war going on and people are starting to wake up to that reality. Guns in the state house is only the beginning. Who will fight for the common man? Fight hard enough to win? Right now the perception is that Trump is all they got.

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

This is the question that opens the Heidelberg Catechism, an amazing document and one of the core confessional teachings in the Dutch Reformed stream of the Christian faith. Most of us who grew up in a church with roots in this tradition can give the answer of “The Catechism” from heart. And it is this answer that makes me not afraid. At the same time, I am also conscientious enough and polite enough to wear a mask, sanitize and stay home. I also have two university degrees, am regularly asked to speak as an “expert” (preach from the pulpit), make a six figure income, send my kids to private (Christian) grade school and high school and we are on swim team. By all metrics I should be a happy and contented member of the meritocracy. But I just can’t do it. I just can’t embrace it. A big part of it is my Christian faith. But I think a larger part of what turns me off from the meritocracy is that so many of them – people, who, on their own, seem like nice people – behave in way that reminds me of treatment I received in high school from the “cool kids.” I see it at church. I see it at swim team. I see it on Facebook, Twitter and almost every time I turn on the TV. Good looking “cool kids” telling me how to live my life and admonishing me to “stay safe.” I don’t want to stay safe. I want to live life. I want to challenge myself in my faith journey to be as honest with myself as I can stand it and more. I don’t want to be afraid. I am not. Why am I not afraid? Because I share in a reality that is more real than the empty material world of the elites. I don’t need to figure out what the world means to me, because it is already deeply imbued in its very fabric and foundation with meaning. Truth, Beauty, Justice, and so forth are all out their waiting to be discovered, pondered and embraced. Its not “safe” to pursue these things. But I can do so knowing:

That I am not my own,

but belong –

body and soul

in life and in death—

to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,

and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.

He also watches over me in such a way

that not a hair can fall from my head

without the will of my Father in heaven:

in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to him,

Christ, by his Holy Spirit,

assures me of eternal life

and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready

from now on to live for him.

For many in my community, these words are the ordering principle and foundation for their approach to life. Why would I be afraid to live if I know that my life belongs to Christ? Can a virus take away my salvation? Can it separate me from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ?

Even though I am not afraid, I know others are, and so I try to respect that as best I can. I wear a mask and other than trips to the grocery store and a few house showings, I have allowed myself to be kept prisoner. But I would much rather be living life.

33 thoughts on “A Side of Dutch Calvinists You Don’t See Anymore

  1. Good words, but not strong enough words. I have been huuugely disappointed in much of the clergy and in many Christians I know. Comfort and cowardice rule. While the message of the Gospel is not spread by force of arms, defense of overall liberties sometimes has to be defended by them. I applaud the resisters in Michigan. If Trump loses and the Demoncrats take over the executive and legislative branches of the federal (actually now national) government, Christians can kiss their liberties goodbye. Resistance then will not be easy. Might be time to lock and load before the election but pray for Trump’s victory. The alternative means your children and grandchildren will live under oppression. Trust in God, keep your powder dry, pray, and vote for liberty.

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  2. Darryl,
    Check out this power Karen. Speaking of that, when does the resistance against Karen Whitmer begin?

    Not trolling here, but wasn’t Machen skeptical of the 19th amendment?

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  3. Rev. John, sorry to be such a yuge disappointment but I’m with Dreher: the protests in Lansing were an utter display of Know Nothingness (fat lotta good it did, too, since Whitmer extended the order through the end of May). I depart from Dreher when his own meritocracy slip shows in wanting to understand the Know Nothings better. Know Nothings, just like their religious counterparts the prosperity peddlers, aren’t actually owed serious attention. Sorry if that just makes them angrier or whatever, but if it’s true that daintiness isn’t always helpful then some people and ideas should be readily slotted to the dumb bin. I’m looking at the man-boys in Lansing in semi-riot gear and guns beating their collective chests in public. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    ps I know guys like this in the CRC. When will they “man up” themselves and join the OPC?

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  4. Rev. John, sorry to be such a yuge disappointment but I’m with Dreher: the protests in Lansing were an utter display of Know Nothingness (fat lotta good it did, too, since Whitmer extended the order through the end of May).

    Extending the order through the end of May sounds petty and punitive rather than necessary. Do Michiganders have a plan for getting back to work and church or are you just going to obey Karen Whitmer? It sounds like Karen is giving you what you want, for the most part, and dissenting localities either have to practice civil disobedience. Churches are going to have to start keeping the 4th commandment again at some point whether the government allows it or not.

    I see your point about protesting (though the Women’s Marches were deemed an important, effective act in ARE VIBRANT DEMOCRACY), but getting mad at protesters who have been locked down for almost two months seems snobbish. I mean, people are pissed and many of them are going broke. 33.5 million people are out of work in a workforce of 164 million people. Is your pay at risk?

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  5. I have a lot of sympathy for the Michigan protestors, since Karen Whitmer has proven particularly inept in this season. It’s easy to look down on protestors when your livelihood and family aren’t on the line.

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  6. Zrim,

    I depart from Dreher when his own meritocracy slip shows in wanting to understand the Know Nothings better.

    And attitudes like this are precisely why Trump was elected.

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  7. I agree that the protestors are mostly know-nothings. But this sentiment is dumb, dumb, dumb:

    Sorry if that just makes them angrier or whatever, but if it’s true that daintiness isn’t always helpful then some people and ideas should be readily slotted to the dumb bin.

    These people comprise a significant block of the nation. If you don’t understand where they are coming from and find a way to channel that energy, you get Trump at best and Oklahoma City at worst. It is similar to the Ferguson protests… it is stupid to dismiss the concerns being raised because Michael Brown really was at fault or whatever. You can call them know nothings, but that rage is real. Writing them off as people who should be ignored because they are dumb will only reap the whirlwind.

    I know it may sound pollyanna-ish, but this winner-take-all mentality is simply not sustainable. We aren’t going to get the secular technocratic state the left desires and we aren’t returning to our Christian roots like the right desires. That doesn’t mean we can’t make things better at the margins and preserve some core elements that we prioritize. This is true whether the concern is the war on drugs, police brutality, abortion, DQSH, or the response to lockdowns. Perhaps being a moderate committed to political liberalism is the most radical position at all.

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  8. Two things about sdb’s remarks.One. We are well into the secular technocratic state. Two. As a society we probably won’t return to our Christian roots but perhaps a purified church will emerge, along with a strong minority of constitutional rights people who are really committed. The torch can then be kept lit under conditions of duress.

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  9. This is true whether the concern is the war on drugs, police brutality, abortion, DQSH, or the response to lockdowns. Perhaps being a moderate committed to political liberalism is the most radical position at all.

    The two sides are incompatible. The Left is not liberal in the classical sense and the Right has nothing to gain by accommodating the Left and everything to lose.

    The nation needs to be re-partitioned and broken-up as peaceably as possible. Everyone sees this now and the Left is showing us the way. What do you think the Western States Pact is?

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  10. “… The nation needs to be re-partitioned and broken-up as peaceably as possible…”

    An attempt of sorts to do this occurred in Illinois during the last off-year election. One of the gubernatorial candidates proposed splitting the state into three new ones; one for the Chicago/Cook County area, another for the surrounding collar counties, and a third for everyone else down state. Michigan has has similar attempts in the past where the UP has threatened to secede from the rest of the state. None of these has ever been successful because the political strong arms in the dense urban areas control too much of the voting. I don’t blame the people in these small towns and rural areas who see their tax dollars wasted on graft and welfare support. But it’s never going to happen. In the case of the UP, for example, too many of the residents are already too dependent upon down-state dollars and could never manage to be self supporting.

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  11. None of these has ever been successful because the political strong arms in the dense urban areas control too much of the voting. I don’t blame the people in these small towns and rural areas who see their tax dollars wasted on graft and welfare support. But it’s never going to happen

    “Never” is a long time. Remember Prussia, the Austro-Hungarian empire, and the USSR? Remember when the Sudan was one country?

    I don’t think it’s going to happen through voting at the state or federal level, but rather through foot-dragging, nullification and the forming of local identities which are being forced on us already. We saw that when counties in CA opened back up against the governor’s orders, or when the sheriff in a county in Michigan said he would no longer enforce Karen Whitmer’s lockdown. Karen can send state troopers to that county, but that will only solidify local identities. 2nd amendment and illegal immigrant sanctuary cities are another example. Or when Governor Patrick Bateman gave gay “marriage” licenses in 2004 as mayor of San Francisco.

    Why do you think the Left is always passing resolutions and condemnations of state and federal laws and networking with each-other? They understand Protestant resistance theory very well. We just need to re-learn it.

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  12. Walt,

    I think you’re right. Especially if this lockdown persists, local municipalities are just going to more and more ignore governors, maybe even the federal authorities. States could send in the national guard or enlist local authorities/police, but a lot of these local leaders/police are sympathetic to the resistance. You couldn’t marshal enough national guard to quell any local armed rebellion, that would likely not happen anyway.

    Attrition and nullification. People will, hopefully, more and more in practice reject their overlords at the federal and state level when these overlords continue to screw up badly.

    Could the benefit of the virus and shutdown be a renewed focus on local politics?

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  13. I think you’re right. Especially if this lockdown persists, local municipalities are just going to more and more ignore governors, maybe even the federal authorities. States could send in the national guard or enlist local authorities/police, but a lot of these local leaders/police are sympathetic to the resistance. You couldn’t marshal enough national guard to quell any local armed rebellion, that would likely not happen anyway.

    Right. All county and city officials need to do is stop answering the phone and emails from those above them. Stop sending taxes, etc. There could be some tense standoffs between varying jurisdictions of law enforcement though. I feel bad for law enforcement which is asked to carry out absurd state and county policies in many cases.

    Remember Lee Kwan Yew just pulled up the bridge one day. He never fired a shot.

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  14. What’s the difference between a Reformed person who writes about evangelicals and an evangelical? What makes Mike Horton more Reformed than the McIntires (father and son)? And what’s the difference between a librarian and a historian?

    Christian Winn on my friend Don Dayton: “I have never known anyone with a wider bibliographic knowledge.”

    Don Dayton—It seems very odd for Mark Noll to stand in Wheaton College that was founded by the Wesleyan Church in the Holiness Movement (Jonathan Blanchard), and claim that it is the best available, and then blame the holiness movement for the fact that it is not better.  The holiness folk founded a majority of the Christian College Coalition schools (Wheaton, Seattle Pacific, Azusa, Houghton, Gordon)  Noll and Mouw and others were raised in baptistic fundamentalism, went to holiness schools and then grafted themselves into the Reformed tradition (Princeton Theological Seminary for Mark Noll,  CRC & Kuyper for Rich Mouw)…

    https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/may-web-only/donald-dayton-heart-makes-theologian.html

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  15. Walt, what’s wrong with snobbery? We have to discern and make judgments all the time, and sometimes things have to be judged as just dumb. Toting guns to a public square demonstration that has zero to do with guns and making thinly veiled threats to the civil authorities is dumb. And the fact that these clowns are angry bears not one iota on that assessment. Is that what you tell a five-year-old when he’s angry about having to stay in his room and starts yelling threats, etc.–well he’s angry about being cooped up. Boo hoo, try harder, Junior. I don’t like being cooped up either, but I hardly see what value threatening demonstrations have in response.

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  16. Robert, it’s also easy to be an armchair Governor. It’s a pretty extraordinary circumstance and public servants are doing the best they can. I’m not sure the standard is govern through an extraordinary circumstance or else you need to be sued, recalled, or personally threatened. My sympathies actually lie with more those ordained to keep order than with those having armed hissy fits.

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  17. sdb, sorry but it does sound Pollyannish I don’t buy it. I’ve heard that argument and whatever else could be said, it sounds like a threat: try to understand the Know Nothings or else you’ll get Trump or bombed. When Junior behaves childishly is the best response really to try and understand his self-centeredness and ignorance? This argument sounds like telling the adults in the room not simply to condescend and accommodate to a child who needs guidance and discipline but to indulge him (or else). I don’t find this a moderate or politically liberal outlook but a “can’t we all just get along” sentimentalism. No, we can’t all get all along, some people are wrong and some ideas should be stigmatized and marginalized.

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  18. Walt, what’s wrong with snobbery? We have to discern and make judgments all the time, and sometimes things have to be judged as just dumb. Toting guns to a public square demonstration that has zero to do with guns and making thinly veiled threats to the civil authorities is dumb. And the fact that these clowns are angry bears not one iota on that assessment.

    Most of those groups are heavily-infiltrated by the Feds and are often goaded into ridiculous and illegal actions for propaganda purposes. I’d say you’re the mark in the latter case.

    What’s wrong with snobbery? Nothing, if you’re a snob. By definition snobs think they’re better and that there’s nothing wrong with that.

    You never answered my questions. Is your pay at risk? How do you plan to go back to church under Karen Whitmer’s regime?

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  19. Zrim, aren’t you a public school teacher? If so, is it possible that your praise of deference might be a tad self interested?

    I’m willing to give people a shot, but when the tin pot dictator wannabe in Michigan outlaws buying seeds and yet keeps abortion an essential service, one might start to think political realities are doing the heavy lifting, not the common good. In which case, the people toting guns at the statehouse might be the most serious actors on stage.

    Say what you want about pollyannish politics, but Trump won, in part because the blue collar folk in this country have been shafted by both major parties. You don’t have to like Trump to recognize that people vote in their self interest, and inept as he may be, at least he recognized a group that the elite pretend isn’t worth listening to.

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  20. @Zrim: I get the point about obedience, but I don’t see why we have to find good guys and bad guys here. If the protesters are five-year olds, Whitmer is the dad who cancels everyone’s Disneyland trip because of the five-year-old’s tantrum. When you see bad parenting in public, it’s cringy for everyone.

    Respecting the magistrate does not extend to refusing to criticize obvious overreach in performance of her duty.

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  21. “sdb, sorry but it does sound Pollyannish I don’t buy it. I’ve heard that argument and whatever else could be said, it sounds like a threat: try to understand the Know Nothings or else you’ll get Trump or bombed.”
    It’s called democracy in a constitutional republic. The Know Nothings get to vote too. That’s a constraint on how we deal with fellow citizens.

    “When Junior behaves childishly is the best response really to try and understand his self-centeredness and ignorance? This argument sounds like telling the adults in the room not simply to condescend and accommodate to a child who needs guidance and discipline but to indulge him (or else).”
    Do you really want to use a paternalistic analogy for understanding the relationship between the citizen and the state in a constitutional republic that guarantees rights to its citizens and restricts government power? We aren’t a family – we are co-equals (before the law anyway) and you can’t just wish away the people you don’t like.

    “I don’t find this a moderate or politically liberal outlook but a “can’t we all just get along” sentimentalism. No, we can’t all get all along, some people are wrong and some ideas should be stigmatized and marginalized.”
    That’s fine when the group is marginal, but when the group is big you don’t get that luxury. How do you marginalize 50% of the country. When you fracture into even more groups, it gets even more complicated. If you aren’t careful, you’ll find yourself on side of those who are marginalized. Welcome to pluralism. Your view leads to Balkanization. Finding ways to avoid that so that we can leave peacefully together (even with people with crazy ideas) is the recurring challenge of pluralistic states. The alternative is to implement concentration camps for those with bad thoughts as China is doing.

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  22. McMark, Lane Seminary where Blanchard went, was New School Presbyterian. Sure that’s holiness but different from Methodist holiness. Don’t ask me how.

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  23. Zrim, as much as I sympathize with this view of the Lansing protests, I sure hope you take the Branch Davidians’ side against the FBI. Governments should not kill their own citizens.

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  24. The fear porn propagated was obviously overwrought and a tool of manipulation directed by government and its propaganda arms in the media and to see the depths of false fear it created in people disgusts me to no end and its reach was nearly universal so thank God for a few men who defied the fear and were willing to do their American duty to keep government in check from these excesses.
    I never “locked down” (house arrest) but rather traveled extensively. I visited friends in the UP who sat scared in their house even though there was no kung flu in their area. I dont engage in the mask wearing social pathology. Resistance need not be violent but it does take courage to embrace a cultural stigma.
    After a few months of continual fear porn it seems the populace is fully satiated and ready to bust out of house arrest.

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