27 Jul 2014

Christian Doctrines Hang Together

Religious No Comments

One of the best insights I drew from a Bible study series I once attended was that you can’t pick and choose from the doctrines of Christianity. If you do, the whole thing collapses.

In the present post, I’ll walk through four elements of Christianity, at least as it is practiced in my church. Each element, viewed in isolation, understandably looks suspicious or even awful to a cynic. But when you put all four together, it makes possible a synthesis that is beautiful and awe-inspiring.

(1) Christians dwell on the omnipotence of God. They sing songs praising His mighty power. (When people literally worship power in other contexts, it is abominable.)

(2) If you have to rely on your own merit, you cannot escape hell. The doctrine of original sin says that you don’t even have a chance. (That sounds horrible.)

(3) God wanted the innocent Jesus to be punished for others’ crimes. (That sounds awful.)

(4) What God does is good, period. We might not understand why, and we might agree that if a human did comparable things–like ordering the slaughter of infants–it would be monstrous, but if God does something, it is good. (This sounds like moral relativism, which is monstrous.)

But now let’s put them together:

God effectively says, “To spend paradise with Me, you must be perfect as I am.” This is impossible, because you cannot help but sin. But Jesus led a perfect life, and volunteers to absorb your sins such that you are now blameless. Thus by Jesus’ sacrifice made out of infinite love, all of us can enjoy eternal bliss.

This bargain sounds very attractive, but is it just? It feels like we’re cheating. No need to worry, of course it’s just: It’s God’s plan, and He only takes actions that are good.

But c’mon, can God really set up a system like this, which defies our intuition? Yes, of course He can: He’s God. If He says this is the arrangement, then He’s right, it is.

* * *

What motivated my thoughts above was the consideration that a psychological function (perhaps one of several) of going to church and singing “Praise & Worship” songs–which stress the four points above–is to make a person really believe it.

I realize this might be hard for atheists/agnostics to understand, but even honest-to-goodness Bible-believing Christians often have doubts, and I don’t just mean things like, “Hmm, do I really think a guy came back from the dead?” No, I also mean doubts like, “I don’t care what the Bible says, I don’t think God could possibly forgive me for that.”

And so, for people with that fear, it offers indescribable relief to remember that God can do anything, and that if He decides your past sin is no longer a strike against you, then it isn’t. Period. You can move on with your life, and dedicate it to His glory.

26 Jul 2014

Distinguishing “Land” from “Capital Goods”

Austrian School, Shameless Self-Promotion 8 Comments

I answer Gene Callahan’s interesting question. An excerpt:

For a fanciful example, if Superman went and got an asteroid full of precious metals and brought it to the surface of the Earth, and then died in a sneak attack from Lex Luthor, the pile of metals would have the same economic status as a gold mine newly discovered by prospectors. The fact that a (super) man had moved the asteroid wouldn’t make it a capital good. But, if Superman were still alive and capable of repeating the operation on additional asteroids, then the asteroid brought to Earth would be a capital good.

25 Jul 2014

Potpourri

Potpourri, Shameless Self-Promotion 17 Comments

==> Are there Mulligans in climate policy? I say yes.

==> An interesting interview on investors and Austrian economics.

==> David Stockman agrees that the stock market is poised to fall. By the way, come hear him in Nashville!

=> I write about gold as an inflation hedge. (And by “inflation” I mean “banana.”)

==> I had words of wisdom for the young radicals at Mises U last night. Everyone agreed that my conclusion was the best part.

24 Jul 2014

On Mises’ Use of the Term “Inflation”

Inflation 151 Comments

Since there have been attempts lately to argue that modern-day Misesians are incorrectly stating the master’s position, I thought it helpful to clarify.

23 Jul 2014

More Moves Against the Dollar

Dollar 13 Comments

The problem with the USD being the world’s reserve currency is that it’s a situation where things could unravel very suddenly. So long as most investors think that the dollar will be OK next week, then it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. But if people start to worry, then there could be a sudden crash as people head for the exits. Thus the USD system is like a giant commercial bank subject to a run, whenever the public loses confidence.

In that context, it’s interesting to relate three recent news items:

==> ZeroHedge reported on this exchange (in an interview in a French magazine) with Christian Noyer, governor of the French National Bank and member of the ECB’s governing board:

Noyer

==> The German government recently decided to keep its gold stored in the US after all, but Gary North explains the irony of that decision.

==> Russia and China made a major energy deal that didn’t involve the US dollar. Here’s how a Telegraph article analyzes the significance:

With the dollar as the world’s petrocurrency, it also remains the reserve currency of choice for central banks globally. As such, the US is currently able to borrow with “exorbitant privilege”, as it has for decades, simply printing money to pay off foreign creditors.

With China now the world’s biggest oil importer and the US increasingly stressing domestic production, the days of dollar-priced energy, and therefore dollar-dominance, look numbered. Beijing has recently struck numerous agreements with major trading partners such as Brazil that bypass the dollar. Moscow and Beijing have also set up rouble-yuan swap facilities that push the greenback out of the picture.

If Russia and China now decide to drop dollar energy pricing totally, America’s reserve currency status could unravel fast, seriously undermining the US Treasury market and causing a world of pain for the West. This won’t happen tomorrow or next year. It’s unlikely even by 2020. But by announcing this deal, Russia and China turned the screw half a twist more.

23 Jul 2014

Two David Stockman Hits

Night of Clarity No Comments

Here he is on the Scott Horton show talking about foreign policy, and here’s the transcript of his recent appearance on the Tom Woods show talking about his (Stockman’s) conversion from the Left.

If only there were somewhere you could go to see David Stockman live… Oh wait!

23 Jul 2014

Downtown Nashville

Night of Clarity No Comments

Apparently it was featured in Forbes recently with this shot:

nashville

Hey hey hey kids, if you want an excuse to check out “NashVegas”–and you want to hear hard-hitting commentary on our financial system–come to the Night of Clarity August 15!

21 Jul 2014

Tom Woods’ Opening Talk at Mises University

Night of Clarity, Tom Woods 4 Comments

Tom got us all fired up last night:

Hmm you’re probably wishing that you could catch Tom live. And you’re free on August 15. Plus you’ve been meaning to visit Nashville because you hear it’s as fun as Vegas but classier. Oh I know! You can come to our Night of Clarity!