March 2017 Archives
March 9, 2017
Amish farmer in jail for selling salve
This is a good reminder that ridiculous prosecutorial aggression arises in all sorts of nooks and crannies unrelated to the culture war. The federal government is prosecuting an Amish farmer for selling an herbal salve that he believes cures cancer. Apparently the facts of the case aren't really very much in dispute. This blog post lays the facts, and the relevant legal "reasoning," out in some detail. See also here.
As the federal government sees it, if you make any healing claims for your product, including distributing pamphlets with anecdotal claims of healing from users, then you're by definition selling a drug. If you're selling a drug, then you have to be fully regulated by the FDA. This farmer at first made healing claims on the labeling of his product. Then he backed off on that repeatedly in response to demands by the FDA and judicial orders, until he got the labeling as required. However, meanwhile he also distributed pamphlets somewhere in the vicinity of the store where the salve was sold that made healing claims. Therefore, he's still an illegal drug seller across state lines.
March 12, 2017
To be or not to be...human.
One of the current problems with discussing things about marriage, transgenderism, homosexuality, and related issues is a relatively unsatisfactory degree of agreement about what it is to be “human”. And this poisons a lot of the discussions.
The ordinary “definition” I use is the one that Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas generally applied, man is a rational animal. To give a proper and complete definition of a substance is to give state all 4 of the kinds of cause for the thing, but primarily it is to state the “nature” of the thing, which is given by its form and matter – its formal and material causes. For a natural thing, it suffices, then, to state the genus in which the thing’s species is found, and the specific difference that differentiates it from all other species in the genus. Man is in the genus animal (which implies the material aspect), and he is different from all the other species by the fact that man is rational.
I don’t posit this as if it were undebatable, for others surely bring up problems with that definition. For the purpose of this discussion, it is sufficient to note that this is a reasonable attempt and a widely held classical definition. What I find interesting about it is that it often goes unnoticed that if this is the proper definition of man, it would imply that “animal” is the lowest possible genus above the species 'rational animal'.
This matter is taken up somewhat in an interesting article by David Oderberg in discussing whether there can be enhanced beings derived from humanity so that they would be a different (superhuman) species.
March 16, 2017
Six things wrong with this article on "homophobia" in the church
I just became aware of this article, "Homophobia Has No Place in the Church," from a year ago at the "Desiring God" blog. In case you don't know, this is the blog of an organization run by (normally insightful and careful) Pastor John Piper. Piper didn't write this article, but it's highly disappointing that it appeared on Desiring God.
The piece is by a pastor named Nick Roen, who (according to the article) has revealed that he struggles with same-sex attraction. It epitomizes what is often wrong with even relatively conservative Christian dealings with the issue of homosexuality. In these dealings, Christians state that actually having homosexual sex is morally wrong, but they repeatedly undermine their own position by attacking any natural law basis for this position and by generally normalizing homosexuality (e.g., through teaching that it is no worse than any other sin and by encouraging "coming out") and watering down opposition to it. In the end, it becomes "just another sin," and this position fails to do justice either to the unnaturalness of homosexuality or to its current cultural urgency and the need, now more than ever, for us to speak clearly about it. The article runs almost entirely on implication, and here I'm going to draw out a number of these implications and point out their falsehood.
March 20, 2017
Jonathan McLatchie on OT Undesigned Coincidences
If you are interested in undesigned coincidences, head on over to Answering Muslims and check out the work of Jonathan McLatchie. McLatchie has a lot of good material on a lot of subjects and is generally a very smart and interesting writer. He has posts on Old Testament UCs here, here, and here that I have not covered.
In other news, my book Hidden in Plain View is right now ranked #1 new release on Amazon in the category of Jesus, the Gospels, and Acts. I was interviewed today by Eric Metaxas and will let readers know when that interview will air. I thought it went well.
March 24, 2017
Timothy Miller and Philip Zodhiates sentencing updates
Thanks again to this blog spot, I have an update on Timothy Miller and Philip Zodhiates, who were both sentenced in the last two days. The Department of Justice website wasn't nearly so helpful, as I was able only to find there this post about Philip Zodhiates and nothing new about Timothy Miller.
The biggest good news (according to this source, which has proven accurate in other sentencing matters on these cases) is that Timothy Miller is (more or less) free. After his plea bargain, he was sentenced to time served and one year of parole in Pennsylvania, plus a $100 fine. Let's not forget, though, that the vindictive Janet Jenkins is still planning to bring a massive RICO suit against all of these people, which is independent of the criminal charges. So he's not out of the woods yet. But for the moment I'm sure he's rejoicing just to be reunited with his family.
Philip Zodhiates was sentenced to 36 months in prison, but he's appealing and is free pending the appeals. I don't hold out much hope for the appeals (it didn't work in the case of Kenneth Miller), but he's able to be with his family meanwhile.
Continue to pray for Kenneth Miller (see here for occasional updates) and pray that Jenkins's malice will be thwarted in the attempted RICO suit. Pray also, as always, for the continued safety of Lisa and Isabella, probably in Nicaragua.
March 25, 2017
Feast of the Annunciation: God Sent the Angel Gabriel
And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. (Luke 1:28-31, Catholic Revised Standard)
That isn’t necessarily a perfect translation of Luke, so let’s see some others:
King James Version:
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
Most of the translations have “favored” in some sense or other. Some of them make the construction out to be a declarative sentence in its own right: