Hyperinflation is now here

Monty Pelerin makes some interesting observations about Gary Shilling’s investment advice, saying that it works when things are normal, but the global financial situation is anything but normal today.  Indeed, I believe that the signs of hyperinflation are now here, and I’m not the only one.  Even some of the mainstream papers are starting to see it (e.g., the Globe & Mail).  Indeed, I have virtually no fear now that my portfolio is going to plunge like it did in 2008–I have the Bernanke put to count on.  If asset prices go down, he’ll just monetize more debt and it’s back to races.

So I made this comment on Monty Pelerin’s article:

I follow a blog whose author likes Gary Shilling. His portfolio was static in 2009 and he didn’t bother telling us his returns in 2010. By contrast, our own portfolio is up high double digits (See DIY 2010 summary). Whose advice am I following? Jim Rogers, Marc Faber and Peter Schiff–long commodities, esp. gold and oil. This is an anti-inflationary portfolio and it is already up handsomely. I don’t think we have to wait for high inflation or even hyperinflation. I believe that hyperinflation is already here.

Look at the international situation. (BTW, I loved the video of Jim Grant that you recommended.) The Chinese and others who hold US treasuries are scared to death of the devaluation of the dollar, but they can’t dump them all at once or their hyperinflationary fears become instantly realized. So they are buying up assets, diversifying their holdings. Billions of Asia dollars have been sunk into the Canadian resource sector, while the Chinese have essentially ended their net purchases of US treasuries. So how does the Fed react to this? Buy, buying the debt, and monetizing (pun intended).

When the bubble finally hits the commodities market–and I don’t think there is a bubble yet by any stretch of the imagination since Americans can still afford gasoline and food–I think I will dump the commodities and purchase a farm. But until them, I’m still very long on Canadian resource companies, especially junior oils. The Chinese want what Canada’s got, and they are the most liquid players in town.

See also http://www.beatingtheindex.com/weekend-edition-expect-more-energy-deals-in-2011/

Who owns Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Liberals or evangelicals?

My wife and some other friends have enjoyed reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. There have been some negative reviews of Metaxas (see this post), and it seems it can be boiled down to one thing:  certain Liberal critics believe that Bonhoeffer belongs to them, that he is part of their heritage: he is a liberal like them, so evangelicals find inspiration in Bonhoeffer only illegitimately because he believed, among other things, in biblical criticism.  Therefore, Metaxas portrayal of Bonhoeffer is wishful thinking, a reading into the history of Germany his own sentiments.

Why are they saying this?  And why are liberals, who don’t hardly even believe in Jesus, claiming the author of The Cost of Discipleship as one of their own, when they hardly even desire to be disciples of Christ and mock those who do?  My hunch at this point is that liberals are running from their terrible legacy in Nazi Germany and they want to hold up Bonhoeffer as their own because he is the most famous theologian that opposed Hitler.

Liberal theologians are largely distinguished from orthodox Christians by their questioning of tradition:  this includes both scriptural (the Bible) and ecclesial traditions (the creeds).  They also have a tendency to insist upon evolution as the only means to explain the origin of the species, and they also tend to believe in human progress and the ability of government to provide solutions to social problems (statism, socialism, etc.).  Well it doesn’t take much research to see which side the liberals were on in Nazi Germany.  They were often anti-semitic–since they themselves belonged to the more evolved Arian nation race–and generally supporters of the Third Reich.

Against them, the more conservative Christians with whom today’s evangelicals can mostly identify–affirmed the reliability and authority of Church tradition, including both the Bible and the historic creeds.  Bonhoeffer signed the Barmen Declaration which claimed the exclusivity of Christ and opposed both the liberal church and the Nazi state; he belonged to the Confessing Church which remained faithful to the authority of the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, against the liberal German Christian Movement which denied it.  Then, Bonhoeffer went further and was involved in a plot against Hitler.  If Bonhoeffer wasn’t an American evangelical, he wasn’t an 21st century liberal either.  But the liberals of today, who constantly question the reliability and authority of the Scriptures stand closest not to Bonhoeffer, who affirmed these basic truths, but to the Harnacks and the Wellhausens, the anti-semites, whose theology led to the support of Hitler and the genocide of the Jews.  This is a terrible legacy and it is no wonder that some liberals would want to revise history and expropriate Bonhoeffer for themselves.

Resources:
HITLER’S THEOLOGIANS: The Genesis of Genocide
by Stan Meyer

Was Bonhoeffer an Evangelical?

Belief in Action review by Joseph Loconte in WSJ

Bonhoeffer: Liberal, Evangelical, or None of the Above?

Appendix: I made the following comment at the City of God to Dan’s post:  News flash:  Non-evangelicals are non-evangelical, which suggested that Bonhoeffer and C. S. Lewis were not evangelicals, depending on the definition, and which occasioned my above reflexions:

Continue reading

What is counter-cultural, charismatic giving: A Response to Poser or Prophet

Poser or Prophet, Dan Oudshorn, in response to made the following comments in response to my sermon on charismatic giving :

Okay, I read the sermon. You think that “counter-cultural generosity” is charismatic giving that is done cheerfully and is not performed based upon mandated compliance with any sort of law of tithing (BTW, I agree with a number of your criticisms about the supposed 10% local church tithe rule).

Still, that doesn’t get us much closer to providing any sort of concrete example of what “counter-cultural giving” looks like in our day. You do say this: “the generous giving of the early Christians, so that no needy person was found amongst them, was a response to the amazing reality of the Holy Spirit” (emphasis mine). So, I take it that the absence of any poor people within contemporary Christian communities would mean that “counter-cultural generosity” is being practiced appropriately. Is that correct? That seems to contradict things you have written elsewhere.

Well, not quite.  Certainly the local church is a start.  We must care for one another within our local assemblies.  But the mission of the church is global.  So the scope is much bigger than what happens in our local community.

You also write that this practice “sets us free also from the bondage of materialism, of trusting in material possessions instead of in the God who created all things.” Could you explain in more detail how exactly it does this? The only way I can imagine it doing so, is if we give so much that we are actually uncertain about our own stability not just in the distant future, but tomorrow as well (hence, “give us this day our daily bread” regains the urgency it had in Jesus’ day). However, I can’t imagine you agreeing with this interpretation, so clarification would be good.

We don’t need to live unwisely in order to demonstrate liberation from material possessions.  To a degree, all of us need food, shelter, and clothing.  And for most places in the world, the struggle to provide all of those things for oneself and one’s family is very consuming.  Your suggestion of giving so much that we become uncertain of the future is not a good way to approach the matter.  (By the way Greek behind the line, “Give us this day our daily bread,” probably means, “Give us this day the bread of the future kingdom”).  I think it is better to make giving a passion or a preoccupation rather than a road to personal poverty.

Here are some other suggestions:

(1) Charismatic Giving becomes a higher priority than consumption. Consumer debt in Canada is $25,000 per person at end of Q3 2010.  The Bible teaches the avoidance of debt (though I don’t hold that all debt is bad).  So those who can claim that they have no consumer debt  are on average counter-cultural.  It is counter-cultural in a Christian manner when one can say, “As a result of having no consumer debt, I am able to give more to charity and to respond to the needs of others.”

(2) Once one has made enough wealth to survive, then charismatic giving becomes the motivating factor for further work or investment.  The goal of many people in our culture is what Jonathan Chevreau has called “Findependence”, financial independence from the obligation to work.  Others are more ambitious and wish to have more power or be able to consume more.  The charismatic gift would lead the Christian to work beyond what is needed to comfortably survive in order to be even more charitable or to be able to maintain a constant revenue stream towards their charitable gifts.  Paul says work with your hands so that you have something to give (Eph 4.28).

(3) A charismatic investor whose hope is not in material possessions can become an investor par excellence. Why?  Because investing requires risk taking.  Those in bondage to riches may be the worst investors because they are afraid to lose what they have.  An investor has to be able to risk when market fear is palpable.  The Christian investor whose confidence is in the Lord instead of riches will be able to risk at the right moment.

(4) While some may be called by the Lord to sell all they have, most charismatic givers are called to use what they have in service to the Lord. It is far better in the long term vision of the Kingdom of God that donors provide a revenue stream to charitable projects than a one time gift which will be spent and then lost.

(5) Since death is the ultimate separator from wealth, the charismatic giver must have a will with designated charities and people they intend to help.  In this manner, the charismatic giving is not ended by temporal death of the person.

(6) Do not muzzle the ox that treads the corn (1 Tim 5.18).  Charismatic giving does not require that the giver wallow in mud eating pig crap.  Above all, those who have the gift of giving must be able to enjoy their wealth too.  Paul says (1 Tim 6:17): “As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches but on God who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy.”  It is ok for a Christian to drive a nice car, if that is how he enjoys his wealth, or have nice house, or go on an expensive vacation.  If it were not the case, then neither Abraham nor Job would have been lifted up as models in the Bible, for they were wealthy men who had many servants and lived in fairly opulent conditions compared to their contemporaries. Wealth is also a blessing of God according the Bible.  For those who have received from charismatic givers, it is also important not to criticize them for trivial matters such as their choice of foods or vehicle.  The person who receives has the duty to be grateful to God but not the right to criticize the trivial luxuries that help the giver to enjoy God’s creation.

(7) The charismatic giver should obtain wealth through righteous investments or honest work and business, not through exploitation, extortion, or gaming the system. I personally have a problem with the tobacco investments because it is a product which exploits its clients’ addiction to nicotine, though there may be some room here for other opinions.  Other businesses have less legitimacy.  But this principle does not mean becoming hostage to trendy ideas about the environment.  I am heavily invested in the Canadian oil industry because it is a righteous investment.

(8) Recipients of a gift have no right to expect support beyond what has been promised, for God’s riches are fungible. If a charismatic giver has made a pledge, then it is normally right to keep that pledge.  But the recipient has no right to say to the giver, “Because you are rich and I am poor you must give to me.” Or, “Because you have supported us in the past you must do so now.”  The charismatic giver is answerable to the Holy Spirit.  If God is behind the project, then those seeking funds must seek God’s face first and foremost, because ultimately it is God’s responsibility, not the responsibility of the charismatic giver.

(9) Socialism destroys the relationships that could otherwise be established through charismatic giving. Charismatic giving is an overflow of God’s love.  Socialism is forced redistribution voted on by the majority and enforced through threats of fines and imprisonment.  Christians therefore should avoid lobbying the government to spend more money on social systems, because the government goes into de facto competition against the Holy Spirit for the people’s money and time.

(10) The primary motivation of charismatic giving is the advancement of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God. It is the Lord’s prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.”  Our motivations should be in line with this prayer.  Hence, it is not social justice or the alleviation of the poor that is the primary focus, but the advancement of the gospel and God’s Kingdom.  If this is our main focus, then God will take care of the rest (See Matt 6.7-34).

Good Stewardship and the Imitation of God

Good Stewardship and the Imitation of God

Dr. Peter W. Dunn,

February 5, 2006, FATEB

Matthew 13:1-9 (NIV)

In John’s Gospel Jesus says that he has seen him has seen the Father (John 14.9).  Thus, we can say that one aspect of the mission of Jesus is to reveal the nature of the Father to us.  In Matthew’s Gospel, he says (Matt 11.27) that no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  Thus, one very clear aspect of the Parables of the Kingdom is that Jesus is trying to reveal to Jewish people of his time what God is really like.   And there was then as there are today many misimpressions about God’s character.  In looking at the parables of the Kingdom, I would like to focus on the issue of God’s generosity, to complete a two part series on giving.  In the first sermon, which I gave Friday, January 27, I spoke about how we as evangelical Christians often view giving in terms of the law of tithing instead of as a charismatic gift of the Spirit.  I would like to continue this teaching of giving because I believe that when God pours out his Spirit into our hearts and our hearts overflow in generosity to others, we are actually becoming imitators of God.  Jesus does tell us that we must be perfect, even as our heavenly Father is perfect.  And Paul calls us to be imitators of God (Eph 5.1).  So I would like to study God’s generosity so as to be a better imitator of that generosity.

Continue reading

The Charismatic Gift of Giving or the Law of Tithing? Which?

The Charismatic Gift of Giving or the Law of Tithing?  Which?

FATEB – 27 January 2006  Dr. Peter W. Dunn

Acts 2.41-47

Acts 4.32-5.11

Romans 12.6-8

Introduction:  Having taught the books of Acts several times at FATEB, I have read several exegesis papers on the Acts 2.41-47 and Acts 4.32-37.  There was even at least one sermon here in chapel on one of these passages.  What has struck me is that in every case Fatebian exegetes and preachers have placed the emphasis so squarely upon the imperative:  this is what we must do if we wish truly to be the community of God.  When I have taught Matthew 5.20, where Jesus says that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, we will surely not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, I have told my students that the problem with our righteousness as evangelicals is that our righteousness too often IS the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.  Because our righteousness is the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, we see the actions of the earliest disciples, adhering to the apostle’s teaching, joining for the breaking of bread, the holding of all things in common, as prescriptions—things that God requires of us as Christians in order for us to be a good community of faith.  Since the absence of these qualities in our community continually besets us, we are forced to preach sermons and write exegesis papers making law out of passages which do not come to us in the form of a law, but as a description of true Christian community as it was experienced in the nascent church.  At least the Pharisees had the excuse that their tradition was based upon the Torah, which really is in the form of a law.

Continue reading