Drug Rationing

This article gives just a little a taste of what Obamacare will be like. Scarcity is a part of any economy. But when the level of scarcity depends upon the efficiency of the government, suffering follows.  Here is the conclusion of the WSJ commentary quoted in the article:

“One depressing implication is what the decision says about health-care financing as government entitlements expand. Avastin is a political target because of its high cost – a  typical course runs as high as $88,000 – and after ObamaCare all medical questions are inevitably political questions too. In September, the FDA and Medicare proposed a “parallel review” process that will allow the two agencies to coordinate market and reimbursement approval. Medicare is also increasingly opening “national coverage determination” reviews that allow a government board to decide if a therapy is “reasonable and necessary.”

Another danger is to the future of medical innovation. Cancer treatment advances incrementally. Every year doctors are better able to pair medicines with the biomarkers pointing to the individuals who are most likely to respond and learn more about tumor angiogenesis, which is the process of cancer growth that Avastin helps to choke off. The FDA’s assault will make it harder to conduct and enroll patients in further clinical studies, to say nothing of its message about the regulatory risk for drugs still in development.

The greatest tragedy will fall on the women who are suffering from an incurable disease and whose caregivers are trying to improve their quality of life in the months they have left. The FDA is taking away one of their only options.”

Time to Pray

“But St Luke tells us that it was his habit to withdraw himself into the wilderness and pray (Luke 5:16).

Our Authorized Version does not at all give us the force of the original in this verse. Dean Vaughan comments on it thus: ‘It was not one withdrawal, nor the wilderness, nor one prayer — all is plural in the original — the withdrawals were repreated; the wildernesses were more than one, the prayers were habitual.’ Crowds were thronging and pressing him; great multitudes came together to hear and to be healed of their infirmities; and he had no leisure so much as to eat. But he found time to pray.

And this one who sought retirement with so much solitude was the Son of God, having no sin to confess, no shortcoming to deplore, no unbelief to subdue, no languor of love to overcome. Nor are we to imagine that his prayers were merely peaceful meditations, or rapturous acts of communion. They were strenuous and warlike, from that hour in the wilderness when angels came to minister to the prostrate Man of Sorrows , on to that awful ‘angony in which his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood. His prayers were sacrifices, offered up with strong cyring and tears.”

–David McIntyre, The Hidden Life of Prayer, pp. 41-42

Narnian producer: “whether these books are Christian, I don’t know.”

Mark Johnson, producer of The Dawn Treader, on the Chronicles of Narnia: “We don’t want to favor one group over another … whether these books are Christian, I don’t know.” Well, this explains a lot about the movie. Steven Boyer did a fine job showing how the first two movies, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian lost so much of what Lewis put into them, among other things the centrality of Aslan (just what kids need, another movie about them!). The Voyage didn’t fair much better.

My purpose here is not to give a negative review of The Dawn Treader which could be easily done, but to make one belabored point. To make a film of a classic story, and one that has recently been shown to be brilliantly crafted and complex, and then to say that you don’t know the worldview behind it is to admit being a story dolt. “What was it about?” “I don’t know. Maybe reincarnation or resurrection or reinvention, something starting with “re”. They’re all the same anyway.” If a student of religions can’t tell the difference between Hinduism and Buddhism, he isn’t tolerant; he’s a chump. And when a story teller can’t distinguish between fundamentally different characters and story lines, well, he ought to be pumping gas or doing economics for the current administration. Johnson could have just read the Chronicles and learned his lessons. From The Last Battle:

“What is it now? said the Ape, “Be quick.”

“Please,” said the Lamb. “I can’t understand. What have we to do with the Calormenes? We belong to Aslan. They belong to Tash. They have a god called Tash. They say he has four arms and the head of a vulture. They kill Men on his altar. I don’t believe there’s any such person as Tash. But if there was, how could Aslan be friends with him?”All the animals cocked their heads sideways and all their bright eyes flashed toward the Ape. They knew it was the best question anyone had asked yet.

The Ape jumped up and spat at the Lamb.

“Baby!” he hissed. “Silly little bleater! Go home to your mother and drink milk. What do you understand of such things? But you others listen. Tash is only another name for Aslan. All that old idea of us being right and the Calormenes wrong is silly. We know better now. The Calormenes use different words but we all mean the same thing. Tash and Aslan are only two different names for you know Who. That’s why there can never be any quarrel between them. Get that into your heads, you stupid brutes. Tash is Aslan: Aslan is Tash.”

The scary thing about pluralism or the limp-wristed excuse that passes for secularism these days is that it simply cannot make distinctions. The idea that every religious hero–that is, every hero adhering to any religion no matter how different or antithetical one set of values is to another–is basically the same as every other hero does not result in peace and fair treatment for everyone. It means that terrorists are not profiled but three-year-old girls are body searched. Some people will think it’s a stretch to go from the inability to understand a story to the implementation of unlawful and uncivilized policies, but the connection is direct. The foggier our thinking gets, the more ridiculous and oppressive our policies will be.

The Cup of Fierce Ginger Ale

From Robert Capon’s The Supper of the Lamb:

“Witness the teetotaling communion service. Most Protes­tants, I suppose, imagine that it is part of the true Reformed religion. But have they considered that, for nineteen cen­turies after the institution of the Eucharist, wine was the only element available for the sacrament? Do they seriously envision St. Paul or Calvin or Luther opening bottles of Welch’s Grape Juice in the sacristy before the service? Luther, at least, would turn over in his grave. The WCTU version of the Lord’s Supper is a bare 100 years old. Grape juice was not commercially viable until the discovery of pasteurization; and, unless I am mistaken, it was Mr. Welch himself (an ardent total abstainer) who persuaded American Protestantism to abandon what the Lord obviously thought rather kindly of.

That much damage done, however, the itch for consistency took over with a vengeance. Even the Lord’s own delight was explained away. One of the most fanciful pieces of exegesis I ever read began by maintaining that the Greek word for wine, as used in the Gospels, meant many other things than wine. The commentator cited, as I recall, grape juice for one mean­ing, and raisin paste for another. He inclined, ultimately, toward the latter. Continue reading

Why did Jesus come?

http://images.bestwebbuys.com/muze/books/81/9781433501081.jpg Jeffrey, Ovey and Sach provide a wonderful definition of penal substitution. Here is why Jesus came. “The doctrine of penal substitution states that God gave himself in persons of  his Son to suffer instead of us the death, punishment and curse due to fallen humanity as the penalty for sin. . . .  God the Holy Trinity thus turned aside hs own righteous wrath against sinful humanity; endured and exhaueted the curse of the law that stood against us; cleansed us of our sin and clothed us in Christ’s righteousness; ransomed us from our slavery to sin, the world and the devil by paying our debt, cancelling the devil’s power of  accusation against us, and liberating us to live new lives empowered by the Spirit; triumphed over all evil powers by punishing evil in the person of the Son; and reconciled us with himself by removing the barrier of sins and enmity between us; in order that we may stand blameless and forgiven in his glorious presence, credited with the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, as adopted children of God, gazing upon his face for all eternity. God vindicated his  truthfulness by remaining faithful to his promise that sin will be punished; he maifested his justice by punishing sin and acquitting the righteous; he gloriried his name by exalting his Son and placing all things under his feet; and he demonstrated hs love by dying for sinners and reconciling to himself those who were once his enemies” (p. 104).

Christianity is a Religion

Here is a snippet of a good article by Eric Rauch, worth reading entirely:

“Religion does not only deal with where you will spend eternity. Every person on the planet has a religion (in fact several of them), whether they realize it or not. When a woman makes a decision to have an abortion because she believes that it is only a “clump of cells,” she is making a religious decision. When a man chooses to euthanize his aging and decrepit father because of his low “quality of life,” he is making a religious decision. When two parents decide to work longer hours and make more money to put their child through college, they are making a religious decision. Any time we act on our beliefs—e.g., fetuses are not babies, quality over quantity of life, better education means a better job, etc.—we are acting out of religious (i.e.spiritual, not empirical) convictions, even if those beliefs have been shown to be 99 percent capable of predicting future events (which begs the question of cause and effect, but we’ll save that for another day!).

What do we mean by the word ‘religion’? It is “the binding tendency in every man to dedicate himself with his whole heart to the true God or an idol,” according to F. Nigel Lee. In this sense all men are religious because no man can escape being a man in the image of God created to worship and serve God, rebellious and unregenerate though he be. Romans 1:25 says, “For they [mankind] exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” Man is inescapably religious.”

My Church, Right

Few doctrines are as tangled as the Eastern Orthodox views of church infallibility and unity. Whereas Rome insists on the infallibility of the Pope, Constantinople gives us “the Church as a whole.” Because the church is united to God, the argument goes, it is exempt from sin. “We must not say that because Christians on earth sin and are imperfect, therefore the Church sins and is imperfect; for the Church, even on earth, is a thing of heaven and cannot sin”, says Timothy Ware in his book The Orthodox Church (p. 244). So, say the Orthodox, though individuals sin, “The mystery of the Church consists in the very fact that together sinners become something different from what they are as individuals; this “something different” is the body of Christ” (ibid).

This distinction is completely arbitrary because no where in the Bible does it indicate that the Church as such cannot sin. When the Church at Corinth needed a warning to refrain from sin, Paul tells them “that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses….”  They ate spiritual food and drank from Christ, and still that generation of the church perished in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:1-6). It is precisely the church’s connection to Christ that Paul highlights in order to warn the New Testament church against the same sins. The saints have always been individually and corporately united to Christ, and this unity does not negate the real possibility, indeed probability, of both individual and corporate sin. Paul’s letter is to the church, and he addresses sins that the church is committing. To say that individuals sin but the church does not is akin to saying that members of a family tell lies but this family does not. What is the point? Of course the family is against lying and its members help one another to be honest. But for the family to say it never lies, only its members, is simply to evade reality, responsibility and to reveal a nasty bit of famiolatry. It’s not “my church, right or wrong”, which at least has the humility to admit fallibility. It’s “my church, right.”

The Orthodox doctrine of unity functions similarly to infallibility. “Unity is one of the essential characteristics of the Church, and since the Church on earth, despite the sinfulness of its members, retains its essential characteristics, it remains and always will remain visibly one. There can be schisms from the Church, but not schisms within the Church. And while it is undeniably true that, on a purely human level, the Church’s life is grievously impoverished as a result of schism, yet such schisms cannot affect the essential nature of the Church” (Ware, p. 245).  It is helpful to recognize that unity in the church is not something we generate or produce on our own, but something that we maintain: “bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). And it is helpful to recognize that just because the church sins against her unity she does not destroy the foundation of that God-given unity which is provided by the Spirit. But again, to say the Church “remains and always will remain visibly one” just forces redefinition and evasion. So when Isidore of Moscow, Patriarch of Russian Orthodox church, was condemned by the church in 1441 for uniting with Rome, did this maintain visible unity? How about when the next Patriarch Jonah was elected unprecedentedly without the consent of the Patriarch of Constantinople? Visible unity is broken and bond the Spirit grieved by one or both sides, as has been common in church history. The Orthodox either has to say this incident was somehow not part of the Church, or was not visible, or they can do the usual and necessary thing and just ignore it.

Ironically, to deny the broken state of the church’s unity is a means of perpetuating the sin. The first thing someone must do to correct a problem is to admit that such a problem really exists. How do you repent of division when you deny such a thing can be visibly manifest? How can you confess error and sin when you have decided beforehand that such error is impossible? And this is the sad reality of this true but mistaken communion. In the name of exalting the church as the pillar and ground of the truth, the Orthodox enshrine its errors. In the desire to magnify the unity of the church in Christ, it refuses to put back together the pieces which are unmistakably lying on the floor.