Sunday, November 20, 2022

Is Patricia Engler Wrong in Some Detail?

She wrote an essay about the French Revolution:

AiG : Why the French Revolution Is a Warning for Christians Today
by Patricia Engler on October 7, 2022
Featured in Patricia Engler Blog

She's absolutely right about something:

Similar festivals took place throughout France, with a “hymn” sung at one such event in 1794 including the line, “Convenez en, mes bons amis: Rousseau vaut miex que St. Pierre” (“Agree, my good friends: Rousseau is better than St. Peter”). Rousseau, an eighteenth-century philosopher who believed that humans are inherently good, had argued that a totalitarian government ruled by majority consensus would offer true liberty. But— ironically, given Rousseau’s faith in human goodness—the Revolution which championed Rousseau’s ideas hunted, imprisoned, and guillotined thousands of humans in the name of this “liberty.” Despite its destructiveness, later revolutionaries including Karl Marx deemed the French Revolution an admirable, if incomplete, success.

I would not put the main blame on Rousseau, as much as on Voltaire. In fact, one of the most prominent people in power during the most bloody period was Robespierre. And his politics about death penalty to a T mirror those of Beccaria who wasn't as much Rousseauist as Voltairean. But wasn't Beccaria against death penalty? Yes, in peace time. For revolutionary times, he was as much for executions as his disciple Robespierre. Was it a revolutionary period? Check. Was Lewis XVI a person hopes of the former régime and its loyalists could cluster on? Check. Beccaria would have approved as much of Robespierre voting the death of Lewis XVI (but he died in a Milan not yet conquered by Napoleon, as he died in 1794 an Napoleon came in 1796) as of his proposing (earlier on) the abolition of death penalty.

But Voltaire via Beccaria or Rousseau, there is no doubt that the Revolution was a bloody affair.

Here is the first major blooper:

Rome had conquered France before the time of Christ, leaving France officially Roman Catholic after the empire’s Christianization. But the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries brought two movements that would shake France’s religious landscape: the Reformation, which called people to embrace God’s Word as the authority for truth, and the Renaissance, which began promoting human thinking as the authority above God’s Word. These rumblings of humanism swelled to an explosion of unbiblical philosophy during the Enlightenment.

In fact, there is a first unbiblical philosophy humanism had let to first. Ultimately unbiblical, as Calvin had no real accounting for perseverance of miracles* and of the apostolic succession** in the Church, but pseudo-biblical. Could be made to sound biblical to people not very versed in the Bible - or taking their Bible lectures from such as Calvin.

Lesser blooper:

While multiple French Enlightenment philosophers (philosophes) helped create the worldview climate behind the Revolution, one especially notable philosophe is Voltaire. Voltaire, an avid deist, believed that an impersonal “Supreme Being” had created the world and had given humans consciences to deduce certain moral codes but had not revealed himself through Scripture.

As far as I can see, Deism is actually a belief in a personal god, but one who is unknowable, has no interest in communicating with his creatures - apart from putting the natural law in men's hearts. In the protests against Gay Marriage, some secularists who were opposed would actually quote Voltaire (on the natural law, arguably).

So, Voltaire rejected the biblical revelation of a personal, triune God who sent his Son to redeem fallen creation.

Replace "personal" with knowable, even by revelation, and you've nailed it. Especially he was allergic to creation being fallen.

Here we come into a new major blooper:

While Voltaire and other philosophes had no excuse for rejecting the Creator revealed in Scripture, it’s worth pointing out where their criticisms of religious institutions were biblically valid.

Except they weren't.

Blending biblical and Greek worldviews. While a biblical worldview emphasizes the importance of both physical (“earthly”) and spiritual (“heavenly”) realms,16 a branch of Greek philosophy called dualism viewed immaterial realities as separate from and superior to physical realities.17 As this unbiblical thinking slipped into the church, many Christians began to value permanently withdrawing from society to focus on solely “spiritual” pursuits.18 This opened the door for criticism from philosophes that Christendom had no practical value to society and needed a secular religion to replace it.19

For the monastic life, we have the promise of surviving in the wilderness (the first two hermits in Egypt, St. Paul the First Hermit and St. Anthony the Great, were fleeing from Decius and Diocletian, respectively), we have the injunction to always pray (Benedictines do in fact work as well, but spend more time a day praying than either Protestant or Catholic laymen would normally do), and for the monasticism in Palestine, which the Egyptian monks found already there when arriving, the heritage from Elijah and Elisha, probably involving the Essenians as well.

Actually, each of the footnotes needs some unpacking.

16) For instance, the Bible affirms that Jesus created, sustains, stepped into, has authority over, and will one day restore all physical creation. Meanwhile, biblical Christianity entails following Jesus in every aspect of physical life, serving others as he did (e.g., John 13:1–17; Philippians 2:3–11).

Is each Christian obliged to follow Jesus in every aspect - like each must be male, wear a beard, be unmarried, die on a cross at age 33 (or according to others 40)?

John 13:1 - 17 is followed in monasteries.

Philippians 2:3 - 11 is specifically adressed at those believing Luther's actual calumny that monastics became such out of vainglory, may have been Luther's own case, after he was told he was not bound to keep a promise to St. Anne if pronounced under fear of death, and he still went on with it, but he would have been wiser if he hadn't concluded from his own conditions to those of each and every Catholic trying to make his salvation in the system of the seven sacraments, specifically Confession, and to those of each and every monk.

17) Dr. Joe Boot discusses dualism and its impact on Christian thinking in “The Root of Jesse: Unifying and Renewing a Divided Life,” Ezra Institute, January 5, 2021,
You learn more from Dr. Boot in the Creation, Cross, and Culture video series available on Answers in Genesis–Canada’s YouTube channel and

Dr. Joe Boot's blooper. I would have preferred if Patricia Engler hadn't shared it.

18 a) Boot, “The Root of Jesse.” Please note that pursuing spiritual disciplines and staying set apart from the world’s ungodliness are biblically imperative (Scripture references below).

Indeed. And there can be degrees of being set apart from it. A layman is less set apart than a monk.

18 b) But withdrawing from earthly society in the dualistically minded sense meant “going out of the world” (compare to 1 Corinthians 5:9–11) rather than remaining “in the world” (John 17:14–18) while being set apart from its ungodliness, as Scripture mandates (James 1:17, 4:4; 1 John 2:15–17).

James 1:17 - Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration. - What if monasticism were a perfect gift from God?

James 4:4 - Adulterers, know you not that the friendship of this world is the enemy of God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of this world, becometh an enemy of God. - An excellent reply to those that would take the first sentence of Gaudium et Spes as fully Catholic!***

I John 2:15-17 has probably been cited more than once when encouraging young people to embrace the monastic life, or certain versions of it.

Now, the key points in rejecting monasticism were I Cor. 5:9-11 and John 17:14-18, see here:

I wrote to you in an epistle,

So, St. Paul had written an epistle to the Corinthians before First Corinthians. An excellent answer to those who might think "if it's apostolically authored, it is canon" since that previous epistle to the Corinthians is not in the Bible.

not to keep company with fornicators. I mean not with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or the extortioners, or the servers of idols; otherwise you must needs go out of this world.

Aha, the injunction is not meant to oblige to monasticism. However, he does not say it is wrong to go out of this world, he says it would be wrong to oblige all the normal parishioners to become monks. Which Catholicism perfectly accounts for. Becoming monks is not the strict duty for everyone to save their souls.

But now I have written to you, not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or a server of idols, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: with such a one, not so much as to eat.

I think this verse may have been abused by my enemies and accuser to isolate me from Christians. St. Paul is giving the injunction about the "company to avoid" within the Christian world, as is apparent from "if any man that is named a brother." Now to John 17:14-18.

[14] I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world; as I also am not of the world. [15] I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil. [16] They are not of the world, as I also am not of the world. [17] Sanctify them in truth. Thy word is truth. [18] As thou hast sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

Did you know that some monks are sent back into the world? They are called bishops. And the bishops are the successors of these that Christ was praying for. Can we confirm this? Yes. While there is no passage at all for Christ sending all of His disciples into the world, there is for His doing so with the 72 and with the 12, before this occasion, and there also is for His doing so again after the Resurrection, namely in John 20.

[18] Mary Magdalen cometh, and telleth the disciples: I have seen the Lord, and these things he said to me.

This could not have been all of the disciples. Probably it was either the remaining eleven of the twelve, or a few more with them, with St. Thomas° lacking on this occasion.

[19] Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews,

They couldn't have been the 500 then, you are probably not able to gather that many in a house, and especially, a crowd of 500 would not be too fearful. They definitely were fewer, like the remainder of the twelve, and some more.

Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you. [20] And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord.

In this context, I'll not withhold the Challoner comment:

[19] "The doors were shut": The same power which could bring Christ's whole body, entire in all its dimensions, through the doors, can without the least question make the same body really present in the sacrament; though both the one and the other be above our comprehension.

Now, what did He say?

[21] He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. [22] When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. [23] Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

Again, Challoner comment:

[23] "Whose sins": See here the commission, stamped by the broad seal of heaven, by virtue of which the pastors of Christ's church absolve repenting sinners upon their confession.

But back to 21 - As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.

The exact parallel to John 17:18, right?

Now, footnote 19:

E.g., Baron Paul-Henri d’Holbach, an atheistic philosophe, opined, “Nature tells man in society to cherish glory, to labour to render himself estimable, to be active, courageous, and industrious: religion tells him to be humble, abject, pusillanimous, to live in obscurity, to occupy himself with prayers, with meditations, and with ceremonies; it says to him, be useful to thyself, and do nothing for others.” (The System of Nature Vols. 1 & 2, trans. H. D. Robinson [Boston: J. P. Mendum, 1889], 280.)

Holbach pretty much echoes Luther and some of the antimonastic violences of the Revolution echoed those of the Reformation. Note two things:

in society to cherish glory,

Weren't there a few warnings against this ambition? I mean, somewhere in the Gospel?

to labour to render himself estimable

In other words - tough luck if you don't own the tools of your trade°° and don't get hired! We'll despise you, since by not labouring, you are not estimable.

It also tells people that any religious ambition is selfish:

religion ... says to him, be useful to thyself, and do nothing for others.

Since, obviously, being useful to others means being seen. Praying for them? Nah, won't make any difference ... only action counts.

This was the precise idea of Nimrod at building the tower of Babel - according to Josephus, it was meant to bring some of us into the place which couldn't be flooded, apparently, namely Heaven, since it was from there that God had flooded earth.

Ties in with lots of coastlines getting flooded in the Younger Dryas, since Nimrod had some apparent excuse of saying God wasn't keeping the promise. And he could then go on to say, those who didn't care about getting the top of a tower into heaven, were indifferent to mankind. In Göbekli Tepe, just after the Younger Dryas, we have found skulls that were decapitated and that were stringed onto one or two ropes on top of each other. Probably what Nimrod had in store for shirkers. Except he couldn't get rid of all the Hebrews that way. Anyway, when the mark of the beast comes (or if it is already here), expect that it will involve an appeal to altruism and pretending the opponents want to get selfish religious illusory security, instead of contributing to mankind's "real salvation."

Which such people obviously seek outside God.

Viewing humans as the authority for truth. Before the Reformation, Christians had increasingly begun to view the church as (more or less) equal to Scripture as the authority for truth—even if teachings by church spokespersons contradicted the Bible.20 Meanwhile, the French monarchy had grown so enmeshed with the mainstream church that being a French citizen meant identifying with royalty-approved Christendom.21 Whoever happened to reign had power to punish—including by exile or death—people whose convictions didn’t match official teachings,22 which had become untethered from the sole authority of God’s Word. This cleared the way for philosophes’ criticism that Christianity was all about having (and abusing) political power.23

Let's take it one piece at a time.

Before the Reformation, Christians had increasingly begun to view the church as (more or less) equal to Scripture as the authority for truth

I guess that St. Paul in fact does count as "before the Reformation" but I don't know about "increasingly" ....

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
[1 Timothy 3:15]

What did St. Paul just call "the pillar and ground of the truth"? The Bible? No. The Church. Yes, precisely the Church.

Some Protestant scholars would actually admit that the NT Church once upon a time was this pillar and ground of the truth, but by now we can't rely on the Church any longer, since it became corrupt.°°° Hence, the canonic books of the NT is a standin for the NT Church. But the proposition that the NT Church itself is gone is contrary to the Bible. See again Calvin's very clumsy attempt to engage in a kind of restorationism without heeding the apostolic succession that makes this superfluous.**

even if teachings by church spokespersons contradicted the Bible.

What would be examples of that one?

See “The Reformation,” in Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1976), 79–105.

So, Patricia Englen is not informing us where the Church is supposed to have contradicted the Bible, she's telling us to trust Schaeffer. I prefer trusting the kind of shepherd that is shepherd for Christ's sheep according to Christ's words (John 21:15-17). And by the way, if someone is:

  • not Christ Himself
  • legitimate shepherd for His sheep
  • and this according to His words.

.... how does that not add up to him being Vicar of Christ?

Meanwhile, the French monarchy had grown so enmeshed with the mainstream church that being a French citizen meant identifying with royalty-approved Christendom.

As long as the royalty-approved Christendom is also Christ-approved, why not?

Christ didn't tell the Apostles to "make disciples of individuals out of all nations" but to "make disciples of all nations" or "teach all nations" - meaning entire citizenries at a time. A bit like Moses had made citizenship of the twelve tribes and of the Levites dependent on loyalty to the Mosaic revelation, which prepared for Christs, as Patricia Englen will agree.

Whoever happened to reign had power to punish—including by exile or death—people whose convictions didn’t match official teachings,

This is not documented in relation to times before the Reformation, Patricia Englen prefers to cite, footnote 22:

A history of these times is documented in John Southerden Burn’s (remarkably titled) book, The History of the French, Walloon, Dutch and Other Foreign Protestant Refugees Settled in England from the Reign of Henry VIII to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes: With Notices of Their Trade and Commerce, Copious Extracts from the Registers, Lists of the Early Settlers, Ministers, &c., and an Appendix Containing Copies of the Charter of Edward VI, &c. (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1846).

I don't see what's remarkable about the title. Some titles were meant to serve as blurbs, that's all. But when it says "from the Reign of Henry VIII to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes" this means that we are dealing with, when French, refugees into England which had been expelled (their relatives sometimes killed) only after the Reformation had shown itself violent and destructive.

which had become untethered from the sole authority of God’s Word

If by "God's Word" Patricia means the Bible, it is never in all of itself ever named the sole authority.

And here is the final part of this with footnote 23:

This cleared the way for philosophes’ criticism that Christianity was all about having (and abusing) political power.

E.g., some of Rousseau’s statements to this effect are documented in Arthur Melzer, “The Origin of the Counter-Enlightenment: Rousseau and the New Religion of Sincerity,” American Political Science Review 90, no. 2 (1996): 344–360. Melzer points out that Rousseau also criticized other Enlightenment intellectuals for making themselves absolute authorities for truth—the same mistake they criticized official church leaders of making—by viewing themselves as nature’s “supreme interpreters” (348).

Rousseau certainly got one thing right - Enlightenment philosophers were NOT absolute authorities on truth NOR nature's supreme interpreters.

The charge has arguably been made already by Albigensians from their viewing all of earthly society as inherently bad and therefore political authority as totally unholy, a sacrilege in matters of religion.

Reflecting the Pharisees. Importantly, Jesus had a lot to say about religious leaders—scribes and Pharisees—who hypocritically pursued power, prestige, and wealth but “neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness”24 (Matthew 23:23–24). Professing Christians who commit wrongdoings or otherwise act hypocritically do not change the truth of God’s Word; in fact, the truth of God’s Word provides a foundation for criticizing hypocrisy and wrongdoing in the first place. But while the philosophes’ unbiblical foundation didn’t grant them a consistent basis for criticizing wrongs, the wrongdoings of professing Christians opened channels for later anti-Christian propaganda.

It’s important to note that the biblical concept of justice does not align with later neo-Marxist representations of justice, due to differing views about oppression. For instance, Scripture repeatedly associates oppression with wrong actions committed against vulnerable people including orphans, widows, foreigners, and the poor. But neo-Marxism associates oppression with class identity, meaning that anyone who fits a certain social profile prejudged as “oppressive” must be unjust, regardless of their actions.

Neo-Marxism began with Calvinists and Albigensians, then.

A Cathar of the 13th C. arguably considered a Crusader as unjust even before the Crusade against Albigensians, simply because he was a knight, aligned with power.

A Calvinist of the 16th or early 17th C. considered St. Francis of Sales as too rich.

Why? He was riding in a beautiful and richly ornate carriage. He challenged St. Francis of Sales, "supposed" successor of the apostles, if he held with Apostolic poverty. With such a "princely" carriage. St. Francis of Sales told the Calvinist that St. Philip had ridden an a carriage that was arguably very ornate too. "Yes, but that belonged to the eunuch of the Candace" - "you were right to call this carriage princely, this one belongs to the prince of Savoy." Supposed case of hypocrisy unmasked as a Calvinist too eager to find something to condemn - perhaps also sth that Pharisees did from time to time in the Gospels.

And there is another blooper.

Take, for instance, this crucial line from the Declaration: “Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.”43 This might look reasonable at first glance. But if we stop and think about it, basing objective morality on anything but a personal God raises serious problems. For example, without God’s Word as the authority, who can absolutely, consistently define what harm means, or why harming someone else is wrong?

Actually, there is an other possibility of correctly identifying harm. Romans 2 has:

For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law; these having not the law are a law to themselves: Who shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them, and their thoughts between themselves accusing, or also defending one another,

So, the fact of being created in God's image is in fact enough to know what harm is, unless one willingly blinds oneself. Now what about "absolutely" or "consistently"? The views Patricia Englen has on the proportions between Church and Bible would make me suspect that even a man of the Church couldn't, even with the word of God - since she believes the Church is not infallible.

However, the real problem is:

These limits can only be determined by law.

It's what Voltaire and Beccaria had said, as opposed to both canon law and the equity exercised by courts of justice and by kings. This is one reason why French law is not "Common Law" jurisprudence with "case law" but the cases invoked as precedents are only meant to voice the actual text of the law along with the correct understanding of its concepts, and involve no more interpretation about equity, what legislators hadn't foreseen and so on. It's bad enough when a law pretends that a really harmful act, like abortion, is legal, and it can then lead on to innocent or useful acts becoming illegal (like Homeschooling in Germany)~ ... it's the exact sentiment of Voltaire being shocked that butchers could be punished for selling meat during Lent, while such punishment was not foreseen by the law - or in fact police.

The following is correct, but the point would not have needed the Bible, since many of the harmful laws recently made (and in some rare cases recently unmade) are opposed to what even Greco-Roman Pagans would have known.

Attempts to define good and bad apart from an external truth rooted in God’s unchanging character become arbitrarily circular. Saying that “harming” others causes “injury” and is therefore “wrong” is just another way of saying bad actions cause bad results and are therefore bad. But what makes “badness” fundamentally bad is grounded in nothing higher than capricious human calculation, opinion, and rhetoric. As a result, humans can redefine bad in ways that justify guillotining thousands of people—despite theoretically being opposed to harm and injury. Redefining language reflects humans’ attempts to redefine truth—and with it, morality, ethics, and justice.

When a collection of humans (like the National Assembly) makes itself the authority for truth in this way, the result is totalitarianism. In fact, nearly 200 years after the French Revolution, psychiatrist Robert Lifton observed that redefining morality and manipulating language were hallmarks of “thought reform” (brainwashing) in totalitarian communist regimes.44 To enforce their own power, totalitarian states must subjugate—or eliminate—anyone and anything that holds to a higher authority, including God’s Word. The result is the kind of dechristianization that unfolded during the French Revolution. Let’s investigate the key steps involved.

So, I think I have dealt with the bloopers, now you enjoy the study!

AiG : Why the French Revolution Is a Warning for Christians Today
by Patricia Engler on October 7, 2022
Featured in Patricia Engler Blog

Hans Georg Lundahl
Lord's Day of Last Judgement

It would have been nice to actually contact AiG, but this is what happens:

No, I did very much not mean "" but I did mean "" - the one email they are not accepting. It is my "for correspondence of a more official or public nature" email. In Europe, it does not carry a connotation of my claiming to be a Doctor Medicinae or Medicinae Doctor. I chose it over "" when "" was not available for my letters before the @. I hope no one is using "" to usurp my identity./HGL

* See his infamous exposition of Mark 16:17, available on StudyLight - as close as or closer than Cicero to being the real root of Enlightenment's antimiraculous prejudice, generalised against those in the Bible too.
** Great Bishop of Geneva! : Protestants - Not - Getting Around Matthew 28 Last Three Verses: John Calvin's Attempt

*** As some Protestants are not aware, some Catholics reject Vatican II and the Popes who convoked it or followed it up. Pope Michael confirmed he still believed this to be correct (otherwise his own election would have been a rogue one) I think less than two months before he died.
° St. Thomas often refers to Aquinas, but here obviously to the Apostle. I have met a priest named Thomas, who, unusually, was named for the Apostle rather than the Scholastic.
°° In the age of internet, and of cybers and libraries, I actually can labour even if only borrowing the tools of my trade.
°°° Not in the sense of Vatican II being corrupt while Sedevacantists and Pope Michael stay aloof, but in the sense of all of it being corrupt.
~ Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : HomeSchooling, Germany and US

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