The Fallacy of Simplicity (Constantinople II) - RR126D8
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Our Heavenly father, speak to us this day, and day by day the word that you made, that we may with faith hope and courage do that which thou hast appointed unto us and might with all things be more than conquerors through Him that loved us, in Jesus name, amen. Our scripture today is from Hebrews 5:12-14, and our subject Constantinople II, the Fallacy of Simplicity, the second council of Constantinople. Constantinople II, the Fallacy of Simplicity.
Hebrews 5:12-14. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, he hath need that one teach you again what be the first principles of the oracles of God, and are become such as have need of milk and not of strong meat, for everyone that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of youth have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
In this passage and several others, Paul and his epistles rebuked the early church for lack of maturity, and he tells them that indeed they are a price that they are bathed in Christ have not grown up to maturity, so that instead of being on a diet of meat they must be continued on a diet of milk. One of the terms he uses for the babes in Christ as he calls them is in the Greek idiotas, which is our word idiots. Now the child that doesn’t grow beyond the barely crawling or barely walking stage remains an idiot. It has not the capacity for maturity, and Paul says in effect that many Christians remain spiritually idiots, they refuse to grow up. [00:03:27]
This condition is even more true today I suspect than...
This condition is even more true today I suspect than it ever was in Pauls time or any time since. We have in our day so strong a democratic temperament that people refuse to understand anything that is above their level, and so they demand that everything be reduced to the lowest common denominator. We hear a great deal of talk among those who profess to be bible believing people and bible believing churches that what they stand for is the simple old time gospel, the old time religion. Now this simple gospel that they are so insistent upon, where is it to be found? When we turn to the bible, the first five books, the books of Moses, give us the law of God and it is a highly complex legal code that takes a great deal of patience and time to understand, it can be understood like the whole scripture, but it requires that we stretch our intellectual muscles. Certainly the prophets, which make up the bulk of the Old Testament are not easy reading. When we come to the gospels every page is full of hard and naughty sayings by our Lord, and the epistles of Paul of course, are regarded as some of the profoundest most difficult reading that anyone can turn to, and shall we call the last book of the bible, the book of Revelation an easy book to read? Obviously the bible does not give us this simple old time gospel that these people are talking about. It gives us a highly complex volley of writings, the infallible word of God which expresses the mind of God and all its profundities, the law of God and all its holiness, the word of God for us and it requires maturity, study and faith to be understood. [00:06:02]
Those who talk about the simple gospel usually do not...
Those who talk about the simple gospel usually do not have the word of God as their gospel. They have one or two verses which they call the whole of the gospel, and usually it is John 3:16, you must be born again. A great verse, but very much perverted by them because John 3:16 calls for rebirth that we might become mature men and women in Jesus Christ, not that we might remain spiritual idiots, and certainly the old time religion that we meet with in the apostles creed in the Nicene Creed in the Athanasian Creed and in the councils of the early church and in the definition of Chalcedon which give us the biblical faith of rigorously and conscientiously applied. These are not simple statements. And the great heroes of the faith like Augustine give us a further glimpse of the profundities of the word of God; the demand for simplicity is a demand for perversion, and every demand for simplicity is also a demand for suicide. William Carl Bart the historian has written of the fall of Rome and I quote: “They confounded simplicity with strength as if one could not exist without the other.” The more Rome grew, the more it fell prey to this fallacy, and they felt that the answer to all things was to simplify, to reduce it to the simplest possible element. What did this mean practically? It meant totalitarianism and socialism. As life becomes more complex, as it grows, as it matures, the need for specialization increases and hence our social need for decentralization. Every one of us here is a specialist in some form. There is scarcely a man in our day and age who is not a specialist, the time of the unskilled laborer is virtually gone. [00:08:54]
The more complex the world becomes, the greater the...
The more complex the world becomes, the greater the requirement for specialization and decentralization, and yet this wicked democratic demand that would reduce all things to the lowest common denominator says when they face complexity, let us simplify. And this involves centralization, consolidation, socialism. Socialism is the fallacy of simplicity applied to economics, and to politics. The same fallacy of simplicity applied to Christianity is what we get in most of the churches today both modernist and fundamentalist; it is the destruction of the faith. And of course, it is always and everywhere suicidal. What Rome did with its fallacy of simplicity was to destroy its culture and reduce it again to the household level, in which a person had to do everything because civilization had broken down, and today one of the signs of the breakdown again is the do it yourself impulse. And the do it yourself movement is governed by the sheer economic necessity, because it is no longer practical in terms of socialism to do things that are priced out of your reach, to have them done for you you must do them yourself. The fallacy of simplicity, the lust for simplicity is suicidal; it is destructive in every area. The first four councils declared the complexity of biblical faith concerning certain doctrines. The fifth council which is the second council of Constantinople meeting in 553 defended the work of the first four councils, especially Ephesus and Chalcedon against this lust for simplicity. The emperor wanted peace religiously in the Empire, and a great many of the churchmen said why bother with all these complex and involved doctrines, let us get down to a few simple basic things that everyone can agree on. And so it was that again the kind of thing condemned at Ephesus and at Chalcedon arose out of this demand for simplicity. [00:12:01]
To define Christ in terms of scripture, as the councils...
To define Christ in terms of scripture, as the councils have done, as very God of very God and very man of very man, truly God and truly man, two natures without confusion, without comingling, without the one being absorbed in the other, a but imperfect union. A great many said that this is getting too complex for me, and some said as far as I am concerned, Jesus was God and that’s enough, and others said as far as I am concerned He was the perfect man and that’s enough. And this lust for simplicity played right into the hands of the humanists. And so the humanists took advantage of this, to press again their doctrines. Those who insisted that Jesus was to be taken as the perfect man who was so perfect that he was united with God morally we in a sense following Nestorianism, only in the person now Theodore Mopsuestia who although dead at this time was the thinker most followed by the people in this camp. Theodore Mopsuestia did not see sin as man’s basic problem, but finitude, the fact that man was not infinite. And it was not God who saved man but man who saved himself with the cooperation of God, Christ as the perfect man who voluntarily entered in union with God and salvation was doing exactly what Jesus did and becoming one with God through your moral excellence. Those who said that Jesus was completely divine seem to be at the other end of the pole that basically they were in the same pan, even as Trotsky and Stalin were in the same thing. How so? Because in both cases they destroyed the reality of the incarnation, and they made for the confusion of the human and divine, on the one hand the monophesites (?) be the absorption of the humanity into the divinity so that Jesus Christ was of one nature, God. On the other hand the followers of Theodore Mopsuestia by saying that man by his moral works reached a point of excellence whereby we became God. Now the humanists recognized the philosophical implications of these positions, they had earlier developed them, and now of course this lust for simplicity was playing into their hands as they had hoped all along. In any philosophy, the universals represent something basic to the system. The universals of the system are the basic truths, the ultimates, the realities that govern all things; those things in terms of which everything is to be understood, in terms which all things find their meaning. [00:15:41]
Now in terms of Orthodox Christianity, the universals...
Now in terms of Orthodox Christianity, the universals of our philosophy are all in the triune God. For humanism they are all in man, and the existentialists today are the prime example of people who find all their universals in themselves, there is no law, there is no truth, there is no God outside of themselves. Now both of these sides with their lusts for simplicity had broken that barrier and they had made the universal now one with man. Because since man for those who followed Theodore of Mopsuestia could reach this pinnacle of perfect and become one with God, then man could become his own universal, his own law, his own god. And if as for the monophesites man could become in Christ absorbed into the deity it meant all men now who became members of Christ were absorbed into the Godhead and were one with God and therefor they were walking universals. So that in the name of the faith God was taken out of heaven and made every man. And so that every man was his own walking truth, his own walking existential universal, his own existential truth. The council met this head on with fourteen anathemas that condemned both positions and every variation of these positions. [00:17:46]
They did not only this, but they also condemned everyone...
They did not only this, but they also condemned everyone who expounded them, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodore the church historian, Epos the bishop of Odessa, everyone who held the offense. This again has been a very unpopular measure with many people. And the council of Constantinople, the second council, has been regarded as a nasty affair because here they were laying down the law and condemning men who in most cases were already dead. This is not very nice, and you should- people said then as they said today, you should hate sin but love the sinner. Now this is a monstrous absurdity. Can you hate murder and love the murderer? Can you hate adultery and love the adulterer? Can you hate theft and love the thief? This is ridiculous. These acts are the acts of a man, they cannot be abstracted from the man, a particular act of murder is the act of a man, and if the act is condemned, the man has to be condemned, and there cannot be any objectifying of the act as though it were something that exists apart form a person. You cannot take an act of murder and execute it, but you can execute the murderer. You cannot take heresy in the abstract and say this I hate, but the heretic I accept. This calls for a schizophrenia that is unbelievable and unfortunately all too true. It is significant that Theodore of Mopsuestia in describing Christ in his relationship to God said that Christ was to God what the image of the Emperor was to the Emperor, this is a significant comparison, and revelatory in much of Theodore’s thinking. Because the image of the Emperor which was worshiped, and so Theodore of Mopsuestia said Christ too is to be worshiped, the image of the emperor that was worshiped by the emperors was not the emperor himself, in itself it was a meaningless thing it simply represented the emperor, the reality was the emperor. So that when Theodore of Mopsuestia said that Jesus Christ was the image of God and therefor to be worshiped, but God himself is the God, the reality. He was saying that anything that comes to us in the image of God can be worshiped. And so whatever other great prophet or teacher or religious leader comes forward and tells us that he speaks for God, he can be Theodore of Mopsuestia indicated, the image of God for his followers, so that all religions become equally true. [00:21:33]
This was the clear cut humanism in the thinking of...
This was the clear cut humanism in the thinking of Theodore of Mopsuestia. The second council of Chalcedon anathematized all such thinking. The council needs to be honored and remembered today because we face the same problem, today we have on all sides a mad lust for simplicity that is steadily destroying the faith, destroying the body politic, destroying the world. And we find increasingly that the test no longer even among Christian people is faithfulness to God but faithfulness to man. Recently one young college student told me, he said you know the test increasingly you get when you say you are Christian is you face not only the secular groups on campus, he is here at UCLA, but also the religious groups, the test question is this: what are you doing for human welfare? What are you doing for human welfare? And if you are doing nothing you are told that you are not a Christian he said. In other words the real God of such Christianity is man not the trinity, and we find a similar test applied in other areas. Someone defended Billy Graham to me this past week on the grounds that he is saving souls, and it doesn’t make any difference whether some of the things about him be true or not, such as ones faith and made at that meeting by someone else, that he had as some of you recall some years ago been ready to Mickey Cohen ten thousand dollars to get up and make a testimonial and say he was converted. As long as he is saving souls ostensibly he is doing a great work, and of course the only answer can be the test of being a Christian evangelist is faithfulness to God, not counting heads among men. [00:24:13]
The day there is the prevalence of humanism and the...
The day there is the prevalence of humanism and the mad rush into simplicity, the fallacy of simplicity, but this is always in every age has been suicidal. The fallacy of simplicity and the demand for simplicity is the demand for perversion and it is also the course of suicide. People who remain permanently babies are idiots, and their chances of survival are poor. The future belongs to men and women under God who are not content with the ABC’s of the faith, to delve into the truth deeply and intensely; the men and women who in every area of life spurn the fallacy of simplicity and insist on maturity. Let us pray. Our Lord and our God we give thanks unto thee that thou hast with thy grace called us to be thy people, and we thank thee our father that by thy grace we have been separated from the world of unbelief. We thank thee that thou art leading us step by step into the fullness of maturity in Jesus Christ, and that thereby thou art giving us the assurance of victory, for this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Confirm us our father therefor in Godly maturity, and to end that the kingdoms of this world might become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, in Jesus name, amen. Before we have our questions just a little more on one point that I discussed, here is a statement from Billy Graham, “verbal inspiration of scripture is only a theory, and not a matter of great importance for the Christian faith.” And then this too from his December six speech at the national council of churches general assembly in Miami beach quote: “I watched on TV from the hospital (unintelligible) I wasn’t dead in Hawaii. And I saw that march in (?) clergymen with clerical collars on them, and when I looked at the clerical collars in America, I usually think of a clergyman as not too emotionally unstable, but here I saw them as they rounded that corner and saw the capital of Alabama, and I saw the excitement and anticipation building up, and they began to sing we will overcome, and I saw these clergymen clapping their hands, their emotions, tears falling. Why? Because they cared.” [00:27:51]
Are there any questions now, yes...
Are there any questions now, yes.
(Rushdoony) Very significant, and you see this is why they are trying to be more and more intolerant of Christianity, they will seek to destroy it because it is a religion and it is an intensely intolerant religion and there is no truth but this and everything else must be smashed. It is very interesting. Yes.
(Audience) Theodore of Mopsuestia, MOPSUESTIA IA, excuse me.
(Rushdoony) Yes. [00:30:02]
In the Middle East it was a very important center at...
In the Middle East it was a very important center at the time but I don’t know whether it’s even in existence any longer. Yes.
(Audience) Well (unintelligible) epistemological self-consciousness (unintelligible)
(Rushdoony) How does epistemological self-consciousness affect economics? Very definitely, and I think perhaps the most telling way it does is this: recently we have seen several cases of conservative economists who a few years ago were describing exactly what was going to happen, now when everything they have described is beginning to come to pass they are denying it, instead of stepping forth and taking bows and saying I was a prophet, I called the tune. They are withdrawing from their conclusions because they are coming to a self-consciousness of what man is and what man is bringing upon himself and they are withdrawing from it. Now this is one reason why conservative economics is on the wing. It isn’t that these men don’t recognize that the old economic laws are valid; it’s that they want to destroy them and replace them with manmade laws because they recognize that its either God or man, and if you don’t believe in God and you believe that these laws are going to be fulfilled then how are they going to be fulfilled by writing you out? So, you withdraw from the conclusions of your own economics. Today that economic conservatives are on the run they are not standing out. We have half as many as we did ten years ago, Milton Freedman is not the conservative he was previously, and of course he has now a plan for guaranteed annual income so that this is not the best kind of conservatism for my notion, the new issue of National Review has his justification of this, I haven’t read it yet though I’ll reserve judgment. Basically you can see what is happening to these conservatives, and it is simply because their epistemological self-consciousness is driving them to the realization that it is either God or man, and if it is man and they are humanists they are going to have to choose ultimately in favor of man-made laws. And that’s liberalism. [00:33:20]
(Audience) What does it do?
(Rushdoony) What does it do to money? It means that you are going to try to have your own kind of money, you are going to make money even as you make everything else, you are going to be your god then. I hope some time soon to have a talk ready on another one on money, because I was reading this weekend in Lenin and in his second volume of his collective works I ran into his thesis on money and banking, and it’s quite remarkable, and he took the best preparation for socialism its exactly what we’re doing today. It makes it inevitable, so he said it is the kind of monetary policy, the paper money policies, central banking policies that is exactly the necessary ingredient that makes socialism inevitable. I’m going to work on that for a talk up north next month.
(Rushdoony) Yes, well it does affect it, but first of all because money no longer has value you break down capitalization, now I won’t go into this because the first part of this would be a part of my talk next time, and second a great deal of this is going to be Dorothy’s talk on the basis of some thinking she’s done on her own at the next women’s group, so we will pass that up.
(Rushdoony) Yes, epistemological self-consciousness comes from the word epistemology which means a theory of knowledge. Now, epistemological self-consciousness is that self knowledge whereby you know what the roots of your foundations are so that if you are a Christian, you are root and branch Christian. If you are a humanist then you are a root and branch humanist. Now we are all familiar with people who don’t have epistemological self-consciousness, they’ll talk like a humanist and a socialist one moment, and the next minute they will talk like a Christian and a conservative, because they don’t have epistemological self-consciousness, they don’t have the consistency coming from a self-knowledge of where they stand, what their roots are, and developing everything out of those roots. Now the unbeliever fights against epistemological self-consciousness because if he were to be consistent to his humanistic principle he would have to admit that he can know nothing, and that he has no hope. So the unbeliever fights against epistemological self-consciousness, a self-knowledge of what he is, a sinner under the judgment of God, but the Christian works forward to epistemological self-consciousness. Yes. [00:36:55]
(Audience) Why do people think (unintelligible)
(Rushdoony) Because they’re sinners, and as sinners- Yes alright.
(Audience) Why do they still do it though?
(Rushdoony) Because there are bigger sinners.
(Rushdoony) Yeah. Yes, but you see they talk about complexity in order to say this is why we must simplify, and we must control because it’s too complex for you, and of course they have far less capacity to control than we do. As far as the farmers concerned, his work is far more complex now than it was fifty years ago. Today he has to be an expert mechanic because he cannot afford to take his tractor and truck into the garage every time something goes wrong with it, he does all that work himself. He has to be an expert in a number of areas because it’s so highly competitive, and unless he has mastered a number of things, he is out of business. And in every area this is true, there is less and less unskilled labor in any area, so there is a progressive need for specialization. There are very few people you can think of today that you know whose work is a simple one that almost anyone can do. It has to call for a specialized type of skill and aptitude and special knowledge, even in your own field, law, there is no overall lawyer who handles any type of case, it is a very specialized type of law that every lawyer today practices. [00:40:39]
And there will be specialties within specialties just...
And there will be specialties within specialties just in a single field. Yes.
(Audience) (Unintelligible) the second council of Chalcedon did you mean the second council of Constantinople?
(Rushdoony) Yes, I am sorry. There were three councils of Constantinople and this was the second, and only one of Chalcedon. Yes.
(Audience) You know Rush, in the self-conscious (?) presented it so well, and rationally and intelligently that it became very obviously that the way it came (?) to man (unintelligible) you could not argue with him from a rational standpoint.
(Rushdoony) Exactly, because once you accept their premises everything is logical. If you accept that humanistic man centered premise, then you have to accept their conclusion, the only way you can fight them as you said, is in terms of a basic Christian faith, otherwise you’ve surrendered. Yes.
(Audience) You spoke of the humanism being a (unintelligible) faith, well Christianity is intolerant in many areas, but we are not out to be (?) we are taught to offer our religion, but the humanists has to withdraw.
(Rushdoony) Yes. Right, he cannot compete.
(Audience) Yes. Now is there any new testament verses that give a basic or a purpose of man? In Ecclesiastes we have in the (?) chapter and the thirteenth verse, this verse led us to the conclusion of the whole matter, fear God and keep is commandments, for this is the whole duty of man, is there any (?)
(Rushdoony) No, there is no single verse, however the Westminster Catechism gives a lot of different verses when it gives the statement which sums up the verses, what is the chief end of man, the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever, and it lists the verses in the proof texts section, which bear this out, but there isn’t one verse that sums it up well like Ecclesiastes does. Yes.
(Audience) I’m a little bit confused in this simplicity (unintelligible)
(Rushdoony) [00:44:46] Yes, that’s a point well taken, simplicity can be used in this double sense, and there is a difference between what is the straightest line between two points and an attempt to, which means efficiency, so that there is a kind of simplicity which is efficient, eliminating frills, eliminating nonsense and so on, and that of course we must be for, but this fallacy of simplicity is trying to make complex things simple when they cannot be. In other words your work is not simple work; it’s a highly complex skill kind of work. It’s not a job that any one of us here in this room could step into, and the idea that every kind of work and every kind of idea is something that should be on the level of everyone else, simplified to the lowest common denominator is this fallacy of simplicity that I’m dealing with, that there is the difference between that and specialization which is efficient. Now what you are talking about is efficient specialization that cuts through these things. now who makes the mistakes that you’re talking about where they get in unnecessary steps and unnecessary procedures, it’s the person who doesn’t know as much as you do, and because he doesn’t know as much, he takes a great many extra steps; but because you are mastering your field you eliminate these extra steps and you reduce it to the essentials but this in itself you see is the product of specialization, and a high degree of knowledge, so this is a simplicity that comes from skill. I brought with me something today that delighted me to no end and I thought you might enjoy it because so often we are treated to what the world is going to be like in twenty years or fifty years and it’s interesting to see what somebody said along the same lines some time ago, and this is from the Saturday evening post for December twenty nine, 1900. Very interesting set of issues at that time to go through, to look at the ads and the prices in it, one of the ads that tickled me was write in and get a year’s supply of toilet tissue for a dollar. (Laughter) [00:47:33] Now this article is titled the dwelling house of the twentieth century, by Otis T Mason, and its about the architecture of the average home in 1950, and of course they are sure its going to be a marvelous world, and it says that a house is a suit of clothes for a number of persons, shielding them from observation and protecting them against extremes of temperature, and it goes on to say that in terms of this houses are going to be styled for people be 1950. The old cracked houses and subdivision houses that are going to be all alike is going to be a thing of the past, they will no longer exist. Also wood or frame houses will be gone, all houses will be made of composition rock, and they will be in other words quite lovely, dwellings are no longer, writing as though this were 1950, put up in solid blocks all exactly alike outside and inside, a style most popular in the latter part of the nineteenth century, each house stands alone mainly because in the year 1950 people have come to realize that the lumping together of buildings renders them less attractive to the eye and deprives them a large degree of the power to express the individuality of their owners, so your house will express your individuality in 1950. Then of course such old fashioned things as stairs will be gone, they will be completely replaced by automatic elevators because in the simplest private home with electricity so cheap, everything will be all electrical, and the house will be heated by electricity, there will be no such ridiculous things as visible lights overhead or switches on the wall, there will be a register you will set for a particular degree of light, and it will maintain that light at all times during the day until you change the register, so that if it gets a little cloudy outside or if it begins to darken, the invisible lighting will come on in proportion to that, and you will have this controlled and perfect lighting without the necessity of turning on a switch and looking at ugly lighting fixtures too. [00:50:17]
Houses will be cooled by liquid air, and cellars and...
Houses will be cooled by liquid air, and cellars and pantries will be a thing of the past because who will put up with such nonsense when you can have all of your food from the stores just to order precisely ready to go into the oven and so on. And then well it will be totally electrical, dishes- electricity has been substituted for the alcohol lamp in making tea and dishes on the table are kept hot by current conveyed through the cloth from copper placed beneath. Not a battery is to be found in the twentieth century dwellings here described, the electricity used in the establishment comes in a single current through a heavy wire from a distributing station, and on the premises is split up as required for heating, for lighting, for cooking, running the elevators and so on, the dumbwaiter runs by electricity, and of course you have a dumbwaiter and so on because you’re going to live in luxury, as well as the housewife’s sewing machine and the sink would both run and regulate all the cloths in the house, it works the automatic piano and might be made to agitate the babies cradle, only the people in 1950 have learned to know that infants are apt to be rendered stupid or even idiotic by rocking them. If the daughter of the house wants to crimp her hair she fastens her curling iron with a little plug to a convenient wire and enjoys the (?) that the instrument will not scorch her curls. Also it goes on to describe how all the furnishings will be radically different, they won’t go in for the old fashioned set of things, and how clear the ancient four post bedstead, massive wardrobes and chests and drawers look nowadays. It must have been very uncomfortable to live with them, and so on. They are going to have these beautiful streamlined all metal and other sort of things, well modernistic furniture. Then of course one of the things that will be certain in 1950 is that there will be no polluted air. (Laughter) In the twentieth century we regard smoke and waste air turned out above our premises as an infringement and a cause of action for trespass. It goes on along this plane of course, brick and wallpapers are out of date, their turn captures, no one will put up with any such thing, there will be all kinds of modern plastic and other composition inventions that will totally replace them. So, the article concludes: a judicious person writing in nineteen hundred must hesitate to attempt any serious prediction as the modifications in the building and equipment of dwellings which will be accomplished by the middle of the next century. There are ventured here only a few guesses as to what changes may come to pass, it will remain for future generation to discover how far these surmises are accurate, though of course a good many people who have already arrived at adult age will survive long enough to live in and enjoy the luxuries and the improvements of the houses of A.D. 1950. So when you read about the marvels of the future that are planned for us we remember what they were talking about as far as the marvels of today are concerned. And with that we stand dismissed. [00:54:17]