A Proposed Mechanism for Relating “Psychology” and “Biblical Counseling”


, , ,

(The following is a draft of a tool for analyzing the common grace elements of psychology. It will be for the second half of an article on the usefulness and limitations of common grace for counseling in a manner which is consistent with the claims of Scripture).

As will be set forth at length below, I propose the following rubric for utilizing the results of “common grace” in social sciences, particularly psychology as an academic discipline; and a means for rejecting certain other ideas as incompatible with a consistently biblical position for soul care. This position is begins with both a scriptural understanding of common grace, and an understanding of the biblical of the nature and end of human beings before God. This position recognizes both the extent to which common grace can provide insight into the natural world; and the fundamental limitations of common grace when it comes to human problems.

A fundamental problem which takes place concerns what is meant by the word “psychology”. The range of meaning assigned to this word has exacerbated the disagreements between Biblical Counselors and those who hold one of the various positions commonly labeled as “integrationist” (and yes, there are a variety of labels which are utilized here; and often there is a rejection of label by Christian counselors, but the word will work well-enough for present uses).

I propose three categories of information which move from information most accessible to common grace to information which cannot be known by common grace.


Common Grace Special Revelation
Category One:  Observations The physical environment; including the human body. This includes study of the nervous system, functioning of the senses, et cetera.

Information from this level is often leveraged as an attack upon the Biblical Counseling position as unscientific for “refusing” information learned here.







Common Grace is most effective here.

Common grace does permit one to see the environment, the understanding is limited by the failure to take God’s creation and providence into account. However, due to the ability of unbelievers to ‘borrow’ from Christian presuppositions, reasonably accurate observations.


Thus, human physiology can be observed and reported. This area of “psychology” (neuropsychology, the operation of senses, et cetera) can be utilized with the normal sort of skepticism necessary for review of any scientific work


Special Revelation: Informs us of the fundamental nature and existence of the physical environment, but does not provide much detail. We know that it is the creation of God and maintained by providence, but the mechanics of the operation are not treated in detail. This is the place where Special Revelation offers the least information and common grace the most.






Category two:

Social science observations. With a markedly lesser degree of reliability, social scientists can make observations of patterns in human behavior and internal psychological states. Thus, we can see that people under certain circumstances, and/or with certain physiological conditions, will have a tendency to display certain behaviors and/or expressions.


Common grace makes it possible to make observations patterns.  However, there are serious limitations on the usefulness of such information.

These observations are fundamentally limited by (1) the inability to observe the internal workings of the human heart (observations of neurology and one’s self reported subjected experience are of some value, but cannot correlate to the depth of the human heart); (2) these observations are fundamentally limited that they cannot include the effects of the Godward relationship of the human being (observations which are commonly accounted as “the psychology of religion” are limited to objective observations and cannot provide information about the working of God); (3) these observations cannot take into account the effects of the “flesh” and the Spirit (this is related but not perfectly coextensive with point (2)).





Special revelation is critical at this stage, particularly in any attempt to “make sense” of social science observations. Understanding the deceitfulness of sin, for instance, may help to make an observation understandable.

The biblical counselor can use such observations as data points: for example, a study may suggest a line of inquiry; knowing that there is not a determinative relationship between one environmental circumstance and a future manner of life — even if there is a positive tendency toward a certain outcome.









Category 3

This category consists of what most people mean when they say “psychology”. Here we find theories which concern the matters are both (1) inaccessible to common grace and (2) are explicitly theological anthropology, teleology and methodology for change (ATM). These are the aspects of human life which are most directly affected by the breach between God and man.

While this category may make reference to elements of category 1 & 2, it goes further and assigns values. This aspect specifically concerns “spiritual” concerns:  matters of sin and sanctification, the action of God (and even evil spirits) upon human beings: these are precisely the matters which the Scripture claims as for its authority.

When biblical counselors reject “psychology”, they are referring primarily to information from this category.


Common grace is least valuable at this stage. Common grace  was not given to heal this aspect of the Fall.

















Special Revalation is needed for work here

First, this concerns anthropology: What constitutes a human being: this is beyond observations concerning the human body and human behavior. It is consists of the “manishness of man” to use Francis Schaeffer’s phrase. This concerns the human heart: the spiritual aspects of humanity and in particular human interaction with God.


Second, this category concerns teleology: what is the purpose of being human. For instance when a psychologist speaks of what is “healthy” for human sexuality, the psychologist is speaking to what is the purpose of a human being. The purpose of a human being cannot be known by observations, since, as Jay Adams notes: we are living in an abnormal environment under abnormal conditions (being on this side of the Fall).


Third, this concerns methodology: those things which are necessary to change the direction of the human heart.



The Savior Who Bears Shame


, ,

(This is the introduction to a sermon on Hosea 1-2)

The Savior Who Bears Shame

Hosea 1:2 (NASB95)

2          When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord.”

The story of Hosea is a story of the unyielding, unchanging grace and love of God. It is the story of love which undergirds the course of history. The love and grace of God form the architecture of the movement of time. The rebellion of Adam and failure of Israel could not unmake the love of God. “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”. Rom. 5:20.

God’s grace brings life from death, for

1 Corinthians 1:27–29 (NASB95)

27        … God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,

            28        and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,

            29        so that no man may boast before God.

This love runs deep in the channels of time; it forms the steel frame of all the universe; it bears such strength that not even death, not even adultery can break the bond of God’s love. It is the love of a God which begins before God said, “Let there be light.”  As Paul tells Titus, God promised eternal life, “long ages ago.”  It is a love which stretch into all eternity, as Christ has promised, “Where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3. It a transforming love which takes the one who is unlovely, and remakes him; it is love which presents the bride, “holy and blameless”.  Eph. 5:27

It is a love that will overcome all obstacles, so that not even the foulest rebellion will thwart his love:

For love is as strong as death

Jealousy is as severe as Sheol

It’s flashes are flashes of fire

The very fame of the Lord

Many waters cannot quench love

Nor will rivers overflow it

If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love

It would be utterly despised.

Song 8:6-7

But the story of God’s love in Hosea does not begin with the beauty of romance; with the hope and expectation of young love. The story begins with rank adultery, with spite, with unloved children, with war and chaos lurking at the horizon.

The book begins with this gunshot to the chest. We know nothing Hosea before — and little after — this command comes from the Lord:

Go take for yourself a wife of harlotry

Or as the King James aptly puts it

take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms

There is no preparation told us for this command. God comes and makes this command — and the personal commands of God cannot be avoided — a shocking command. Image come has come to you and says, You, marry that whore. Think of the confusion, the revulsion, the pain.

The command is almost inexplicable on its face. A variety of commentators have sought many explanations — and there are several explanations — but none of them can really get around the point of the disgust.

John Calvin, for instance, cannot believe that God would give such a command to the prophet. He draws out the trouble here: the wife to be is not “without blame in holiness before our God and Father”. She is no one’s “hope or joy or crown of exultation.” As Calvin writes, this woman

who has exposed herself to all, to gratify the wish of all, who has prostituted herself, not once or twice, nor to a few men, but to all.

This woman is not beguiling, not attractive. She is ruined with lust. Calvin cannot believe that God would bring such shame upon His prophet

for how could he expect to be received after having brought upon himself such disgrace.

Keep that question in mind, for that shame and disgrace are at the heart of the love of God. But for now just see this: God commands Hosea to marry a whore, because God himself is married to whore:

When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry;

Having given the command, God gives the reason:

for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord.”

The shame the Lord calls the prophet to bear is the shame which the Lord, himself, bears.

James 4:4 “The Lingering Wish to Retain the World’s Favor”

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

James 4:4

Ray Ortland explains (God’s Unfaithdul Wife):

James is not seeking merely to guard his readers from worldly patterns of behaviour; he is calling them away from even the desire for worldly approval by defining the issue so clearly, strictly and finely that no-one wishing to be God’s friend will allow himself to be drawn after the world, Demas-like, in his affections and aspirations. The Christian who understands and internalizes this warning will live outwardly with a kind of benevolent detachment from the world, enjoying the friendship of God so richly that the hostility of the world will be a small price to pay. Covenant faithfulness, then, is a deeply felt personal preference for the favour of God, at whatever the social cost. Spiritual adultery consists in the lingering wish to retain the world’s favour even as one also wishes to enjoy the benefits of redemption. Such hypocrisy provokes God to jealousy, as James goes on to explain in verse 5.

Proposed California Law AB 2943 “Unlawful business practices: sexual orientation change efforts”


, ,

There is bill pending in the California legislature which would declare the Christian sexual ethic (sexual expression is permissible only within the context of a  marriage between one-man and one-woman and that all other sexual expression is prohibited to Christians)

Courts, including in California, have recognized the practice of sexual orientation change efforts as a commercial service, and service. Therefore, claims that sexual orientation change efforts are effective in changing an individual’s sexual orientation, may constitute unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business practices under state consumer protection laws. This bill intends to make clear that sexual orientation change efforts are an unlawful practice under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.


(i) (1) “Sexual orientation change efforts” means any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.

Under the text of the law, it appears that selling a Bible in the State of California could constitute a violation of the CLRA. You can find the text and status of that bill here:


What follows below is a preliminary analysis of the Constitutionality of the proposed bill (this is just a draft of an analysis; and, I need to say — because of other lawyers! — this is not intended as legal advice; if anyone has a question concerning the legality of anything, please contact a lawyer who can give you particularized advise — all things in the law are fact-dependent, and there is rarely “a right answer):

But, someone may wish to see some of the analysis which underlies these sorts of circumstances. The “commenter” below will be a Christian group who will be posting a comment to the legislative analysis. I suspect the final comment will undergo editing, addition and subtraction before it is in final (nothing in the law every goes on the first draft; we’ll re-write an email ten times):


The Proposed Law Regulates Core Speech, Not “Commercial Speech”

The legislative analysis wrongfully assumes the expression at issue as “commercial speech”.  Speech is not “commercial speech” simply because there is the exchange of money. If that were so, every the government could regulate the content of every book simply because the book is offered for sale:

The fact that such items are sold rather than distributed free of charge or simply displayed does not affect their status as protected speech. See, e.g., Lakewood v. Plain Dealer Pub. Co., 486 U.S. 750, 756 n.5, 108 S. Ct. 2138, 100 L. Ed. 2d 771 (1988) (“Of course, the degree of First Amendment protection is not diminished merely because the newspaper or speech is sold rather than given away.”); ISKCON of Potomac, Inc. v. Kennedy, 61 F.3d 949, 953-54, 314 U.S. App. D.C. 63 (D.C. Cir. 1995) (“[E]xpressive materials do not lose their First Amendment protection merely because they are offered for sale. . . . Indeed, the [Supreme] Court long ago reminded us ‘that the pamphlets of Thomas Paine were not distributed free of charge.'”) (quoting Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105, 111, 63 S. Ct. 870, 87 L. Ed. 1292 (1943)). Accordingly, part of Mr. Enten’s activity — the display and sale of buttons that express his own personal political beliefs is constitutionally protected speech.

Enten v. District of Columbia (D.D.C. 2009) 675 F. Supp. 2d 42, 50. And:

Similarly, expressive materials do not lose their First Amendment protection merely because they are offered for sale. See, e.g., Virginia State Bd. of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748, 761, 48 L. Ed. 2d 346, 96 S. Ct. 1817 (1976) (“Speech … is protected even though it is carried in a form that is “sold’ for profit ….”) (citing cases). Indeed, the Court long ago reminded us “that the pamphlets of Thomas Paine were not distributed free of charge.” Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105, 111, 87 L. Ed. 1292, 63 S. Ct. 870 (1943).

ISKCON of Potomac, Inc. v. Kennedy (D.C. Cir. 1995)  61 F.3d 949, 953-54, 314 U.S. App. D.C. 63

Commercial speech is “expression related solely to the economic interests of the speaker and its audience. Virginia Pharmacy Board v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, 425 U.S. 748, 762 (1976); Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350, 363-364 (1977); Friedman v. Rogers, 440 U.S. 1, 11 (1979).” Central Hudson Gas & Elec. Corp. v. Public Service Commission (1980) 447 U.S. 557, 562-63.

As the federal courts have recognized, under California law, the nub of commercial speech is that the speech being regulated is solely a proposed commercial transaction and nothing more.

For example, in William O’Neil & Co., Inc. v. Validea.com Inc, et al (C.D. Cal. 1992) 202 F. Supp. 2d 1113, plaintiff sued defendant under California law for selling a book which discussed plaintiff’s concepts for financial investment. Plaintiff argued the book and the advertising for the book were commercial speech and thus its claims were governed by the commercial speech standard. The court rejected that argument as follows:

As a preliminary matter, Plaintiffs have argued that Defendants’ speech — both the book itself and the advertising material promoting it — is entitled to less protection under the First Amendment because it is “commercial speech.” Plaintiffs are incorrect, at least for purposes of a commercial misappropriation claim: this is not commercial speech. ” ‘Commercial speech’ has special meaning in the First Amendment context. Although the boundary between commercial and noncommercial speech has yet to be clearly delineated, the ‘core notion of commercial speech’ is that it ‘does no more than propose a commercial transaction.'” Hoffman, 255 F.3d at 1184 (quoting Bolger v. Youngs Drug Prods. Corp., 463 U.S. 60, 66, 77 L. Ed. 2d 469, 103 S. Ct. 2875 (1983)).

The Market Gurus is a book that analyzes the investment strategies of well-known financial analysts and stock pickers. It does not “propose a commercial transaction” and is therefore not commercial speech. Because it is not commercial speech, the book is entitled to the full panoply of First Amendment protections. Hoffman, 255 F.3d at 1185-86 (speech at issue not “commercial speech,” and therefore entitled to full First Amendment protection); cf. Downing v. Abercrombie & Fitch, 265 F.3d 994, 1002 & n.2 (9th Cir. 2001) (Abercrombie’s catalog, which used the plaintiff’s photograph without permission to promote its clothing, was “commercial in nature and, therefore, not entitled to the full First Amendment protection”).

Moreover, even though the advertising promoting The Market Gurus proposes that the target of the advertising buy the book, and in that sense proposes a commercial transaction, Cher makes clear that, to the extent this advertising is “merely an adjunct of the protected publication and promotes only the protected publication,” it is entitled to First Amendment protection to the same extent as the underlying publication. Cher, 692 F.2d at 639; accord Montana v. San Jose Mercury, 34 Cal.App.4th 790, 796 (1995) (newspaper had a right to advertise itself by republishing a front page sports story that featured celebrity Joe Montana because underlying story was protected by First Amendment); New Kids on the Block v. News America Publishing, Inc., et al., 745 F. Supp. 1540, 1546 (C.D. Cal. 1990) (“California courts have specifically allowed incidental commercial exploitation of a public figure’s name and likeness in the context of a publication’s advertising activities.”) (citing Guglielmi v. Spelling-Goldberg Productions, 25 Cal.3d 860, 873, 160 Cal. Rptr. 352, 603 P.2d 454 (1969)).  Therefore, because the book cover, flyleaf, and other material advertising The Market Gurus is “an adjunct” of The Market Gurus, it is protected to the same extent as the book itself.

Id. at p. 1119. If an advertisement for a book about money being sold for money does not constitute “commercial speech”, then speech which concerns matters of the greatest personal moment (and even though the legislature and the instant commenter disagree about what should be said about the matter of human sexuality, we both agree of that the speech of grave public and personal importance).

Thus, a law which sought to regulate advertising speech by drug manufacturers based upon the fact that it advertised a particular position as to drugs was found to be a content-based restriction on speech and thus found to be unconstitutional:

On its face, Vermont’s law enacts content- and speaker-based restrictions on the sale, disclosure, and use of  prescriber-identifying information. The provision first forbids sale subject to exceptions based in large part on the content of a purchaser’s speech. For example, those who wish to engage in certain “educational communications,” § 4631(e)(4), may purchase the information. The measure then bars any disclosure when recipient speakers will use the information for marketing. Finally, the provision’s second sentence prohibits pharmaceutical manufacturers from using the information for marketing. The statute thus disfavors marketing, that is, speech with a particular content. More than that, the statute disfavors specific speakers, namely pharmaceutical manufacturers. As a result of these content- and speaker-based rules, detailers cannot obtain prescriber-identifying information, even though the information may be purchased or acquired by other speakers with diverse purposes and viewpoints. Detailers are likewise barred from using the information for marketing, even though the information may be used by a wide range of other speakers. For example, it appears that Vermont could supply academic organizations with prescriber-identifying information to use in countering the messages of brand-name pharmaceutical manufacturers and in promoting the prescription of generic drugs. But § 4631(d) leaves detailers no means of purchasing, acquiring, or using prescriber-identifying information. The law on its face burdens disfavored speech by disfavored speakers.

Any doubt that § 4631(d) imposes an aimed, content-based burden on detailers is dispelled by the record and by formal legislative findings. As the District Court noted, “[p]harmaceutical manufacturers are essentially the only paying customers of the data vendor industry”; and the almost invariable rule is that detailing by pharmaceutical manufacturers is in support of brand-name drugs. 631 F. Supp. 2d, at 451. Vermont’s law thus has the effect of preventing detailers–and only detailers–from communicating with physicians in an effective and informative manner. Cf. Edenfield v. Fane, 507 U.S. 761, 766, 113 S. Ct. 1792, 123 L. Ed. 2d 543 (1993) (explaining the “considerable value” of in-person solicitation). Formal legislative findings accompanying § 4631(d) confirm that the law’s express purpose and practical effect are to diminish the effectiveness of marketing by manufacturers of brand-name drugs. Just as the “inevitable effect of a statute on its face may render it unconstitutional,” a statute’s stated purposes may also be considered. United States v. O’Brien, 391 U.S. 367, 384, 88 S. Ct. 1673, 20 L. Ed. 2d 672 (1968). Here, the Vermont Legislature explained that detailers, in particular those who promote brand-name drugs, convey messages that “are often in conflict with the goals of the state.” 2007 Vt. Laws No. 80, § 1(3). The legislature designed § 4631(d) to target those speakers and their messages for disfavored treatment. “In its practical operation,” Vermont’s law “goes even beyond mere content discrimination, to actual viewpoint discrimination.” R. A. V. v. St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377, 391, 112 S. Ct. 2538, 120 L. Ed. 2d 305 (1992). Given the legislature’s expressed statement of purpose, it is apparent that § 4631(d) imposes burdens that are based on the content of speech and that are aimed at a particular viewpoint.

Act 80 is designed to impose a specific, content-based burden on protected expression. It follows that heightened judicial scrutiny is warranted. See Cincinnati v. Discovery Network, Inc., 507 U.S. 410, 418, 113 S. Ct. 1505, 123 L. Ed. 2d 99 (1993) (applying heightened scrutiny to “a categorical prohibition on the use of newsracks to disseminate commercial messages”); id., at 429, 113 S. Ct. 1505, 123 L. Ed. 2d 99 (“[T]he very basis for the regulation is the difference in content between ordinary newspapers and commercial speech” in the form of “commercial handbills . . . . Thus, by any commonsense understanding of the term, the ban in this case is ‘content based’ ” (some internal quotation marks omitted)); see also Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. FCC, 512 U.S. 622, 658, 114 S.  Ct. 2445, 129 L. Ed. 2d 497 (1994) (explaining that strict scrutiny applies to regulations reflecting “aversion” to what “disfavored speakers” have to say). The Court has recognized that HN3Go to this Headnote in the case. the “distinction between laws burdening and laws banning speech is but a  matter of degree” and that the “Government’s content-based burdens must satisfy the same rigorous scrutiny as its content-based bans.” United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group, Inc., 529 U.S. 803, 812, 120 S. Ct. 1878, 146 L. Ed. 2d 865 (2000). Lawmakers may no more silence unwanted speech by burdening its utterance than by censoring its content. See Simon & Schuster, Inc. v. Members of N. Y. State Crime Victims Bd., 502 U.S. 105, 115, 112 S. Ct. 501, 116 L. Ed. 2d 476 (1991) (content-based financial burden); Minneapolis Star & Tribune Co. v. Minnesota Comm’r of Revenue, 460 U.S. 575, 103 S. Ct. 1365, 75 L. Ed. 2d 295 (1983) (speaker-based financial burden).

The First Amendment requires heightened scrutiny whenever the government creates “a regulation of speech because of disagreement with the message it conveys.” Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 U.S. 781, 791, 109 S. Ct. 2746, 105 L. Ed. 2d 661 (1989); see also Renton v. Playtime Theatres, Inc., 475 U.S. 41, 48, 106 S. Ct. 925, 89 L. Ed. 2d 29 (1986) (explaining that “ ‘content-neutral’ speech regulations” are “those that are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech” (internal quotation marks omitted)). A government bent on frustrating an impending demonstration might pass a law demanding two years’ notice before the issuance of parade permits. Even if the hypothetical measure on its face appeared neutral as to content and speaker, its purpose to suppress speech and its unjustified burdens on expression would render it unconstitutional. Ibid. Commercial speech is no exception. See Discovery Network, supra, at 429-430, 113 S. Ct. 1505, 123 L. Ed. 2d 99 (commercial speech restriction lacking a “neutral justification” was not content neutral). A “consumer’s concern for the free flow of commercial speech often may be far keener than his concern for urgent political dialogue.” Bates v. State Bar of Ariz., 433 U.S. 350, 364, 97 S. Ct. 2691, 53 L. Ed. 2d 810 (1977). That reality has great relevance in the fields of medicine and public health, where information can save lives.

Sorrell v. IMS Health, Inc. (2011) 564 U.S. 552, 563-566.

In short, AB2943 seeks to regulate speech based upon its content. The proposed law would in effect make it actionable to sell a book which proposes a traditional Christian understanding of human sexuality.

The analogy to court’s decision in Pickup v. Brown (9th Cir. 2014) 740 F.3d 1208 fails. As the Pickup court noted,

SB 1172 does just one thing: it requires licensed mental health providers in California who wish to engage in “practices . . . that seek to change a [minor’s] sexual orientation” either to wait until the minor turns 18 or be subject to professional discipline. Thus, SB 1172 regulates the provision of mental treatment, but leaves mental health providers free to discuss or recommend treatment and to express their views on any topic.

Id., at 1223.

The proposed law goes well beyond the provision of licensed therapy (which by virtue of the license comes directly under State supervision). In fact, the proposed law governs what SB1172 did not: it governs the speech of all persons; it does not regulate the issuance of a state license. It prohibits the discussion of human sexuality if there is any exchange of money. AB 2843 prohibits between adults; it is not limited to psychotherapy provided to minors.

Therefore, the analysis of this proposed law must not be done under the rubric of commercial speech, but rather as a species of government censorship of views which a majority of California legislatures disapprove. However, the purpose of the First Amendment is to protect the minority rights of those who advocate positions which are not approved by the majority or the government.

The Proposed Law is a Content Based Restriction on Speech

As noted above, this is not a regulation of commercial speech but an unquestionable content-based restriction on speech. As such, the law may stand only if it can pass strict scrutiny review.

As an initial matter, the legislature is well-aware of the scope of significance of First Amendment protection for speech. Thus, when the Supreme Court found a congressional ban films which depicted animal cruelty, the Court began its analysis:

The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.” “[A]s a general matter, the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.” Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, 535 U.S. 564, 573, 122 S. Ct. 1700, 152 L. Ed. 2d 771 (2002) (internal quotation marks omitted). Section 48 explicitly regulates expression based on content: The statute restricts “visual [and] auditory depiction[s],” such as photographs, videos, or sound recordings, depending on whether they depict conduct in which a living animal is intentionally harmed. As such, § 48 is “ ‘presumptively invalid,’ and the Government bears the burden to rebut that presumption.” United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group, Inc., 529 U.S. 803, 817, 120 S. Ct. 1878, 146 L. Ed. 2d 865 (2000) (quoting R. A. V. v. St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377, 382, 112 S. Ct. 2538, 120 L. Ed. 2d 305 (1992); citation omitted).

“From 1791 to the present,” however, the First Amendment has “permitted restrictions upon the content of speech in a few limited areas,” and has never “include[d] a freedom to disregard these traditional limitations.” Id., at 382-383, 112 S. Ct. 2538, 120 L. Ed. 2d 305These “historic and traditional categories long familiar to the bar,” Simon & Schuster, Inc. v. Members of N.Y. State Crime Victims Bd., 502 U.S. 105, 127, 112 S. Ct. 501, 116 L. Ed. 2d 476 (1991) (Kennedy, J., concurring in judgment)–including obscenity, Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476, 483, 77 S. Ct. 1304, 1 L. Ed. 2d 1498 (1957), defamation, Beauharnais v. Illinois, 343 U.S. 250, 254-255, 72 S. Ct. 725, 96 L. Ed. 919 (1952), fraud, Virginia Bd. of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748, 771, 96 S. Ct. 1817, 48 L. Ed. 2d 346 (1976), incitement, Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444, 447-449, 89 S. Ct. 1827, 23 L. Ed. 2d 430 (1969) (per curiam), and speech integral to criminal conduct, Giboney v. Empire Storage & Ice Co., 336 U.S. 490, 498, 69 S. Ct. 684, 93 L. Ed. 834 (1949) –are “well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any Constitutional problem,” Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568, 571-572, 62 S. Ct. 766, 86 L. Ed. 1031 (1942).

United States v. Stevens (2010) 559 U.S. 460, 468. The speech regulated by AB2943 falls into none of those categories. The proposed law is without question a content-based restriction on speech and thus is presumptively invalide,  “Content-based regulations are presumptively invalid,” R. A. V. v. St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377, 382, 120 L. Ed. 2d 305, 112 S. Ct. 2538 (1992), and the Government bears the burden to rebut that presumption.” United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group (2000) 529 U.S. 803, 817.

To overcome the presumption of unconstitutionality, the statute — even if it furthers an important governmental interest — must pass strict scrutiny review:

Sexual expression which is indecent but not obscene is protected by the First Amendment; and the federal parties do not submit that the sale of such materials to adults could be criminalized solely because they are indecent. The Government may, however, regulate the content of constitutionally protected speech in order to promote a compelling interest if it chooses the least restrictive means to further the articulated interest. We have recognized there is a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors. This interest extends to shielding minors from the influence of literature that is not obscene by adult standards. Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629, 639-640 (1968); New York v. Ferber, 458 U.S. 747, 756-757 (1982). The Government may serve this legitimate interest, but to withstand constitutional scrutiny, “it must do so by narrowly drawn regulations designed to serve those interests without unnecessarily interfering with First Amendment freedoms. Hynes v. Mayor of Oradell, 425 U.S., at 620; First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765, 786 (1978).” Schaumburg v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 444 U.S. 620, 637 (1980). It is not enough to show that the Government’s ends are compelling; the means must be carefully tailored to achieve those ends.

Sable Communications v. FEC (1989) 492 U.S. 115, 126.  And while there are without question persons who do not want to hear the speech proffered by commenter, the distaste of some hearers is no basis upon which the government may forbid the speech, “‘Where the designed benefit of a content-based speech restriction is to shield the sensibilities of listeners, the general rule is that the right of expression prevails, even where no less restrictive alternative exists. We are expected to protect our own sensibilities “simply by averting [our] eyes.'” Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15, 21, 29 L. Ed. 2d 284, 91 S. Ct. 1780 (1971); accord, Erznoznik v. Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 205, 210-211, 45 L. Ed. 2d 125, 95 S. Ct. 2268 (1975).” United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group (2000) 529 U.S. 803, 813.

The Proposed Law Infringes Upon Exercise of Commenter’s Religious Expression

The proposed law directly infringes upon the religious expression of commenter. The legislative analysis admits that the proposed restriction on speech will in fact infringe upon religious practice and speech, albeit in a disingenuous manner, Here, the bill does not apply to non-commercial activities, and therefore would seem to exempt religious and moral counselors who are unpaid.”

First, the act as proposed would restrict the sale of books which offer speech which does not endorse the legislature’s preferred position. This bill, as proposed, would make it actionable to sell a Christian Bible within the State of California. For example, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 both prohibits Christians from engaging in certain sexual acts and states that a fact of Christianity is the transformation from the practice of those acts:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:9–11 (ESV). We concede that the proposed speech is obnoxious to the proponents of this law. But it is precisely the fact that the speech and religious practice is obnoxious is why the First Amendment protection is critical: “The First Amendment is a limitation on government, not a grant of power.” ISKON, 505 U.S. at 695 (Kennedy, J., concurring in judgment).

Moreover, Christian teaching on human sexuality would arguably be actionable. Christian pastors are most often paid for their work; indeed, many if not most, engage in the practice of acting as a pastor as their full-time vocation. In that office, they both make public statements and give private counsel on any number of matters, including Christian sexual ethic.

They are in fact paid for the provision of this “service”, even if they are not paid separately and above from the work of providing counsel to an individual in a discrete transaction.

Anatomy of a Scam Email

This is an example of a scam email a friend just received:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the principal investigative arm of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ)*. Title 28, United States Code (US Code), Section 533, which authorizes the Attorney General to “appoint officials to detect .crimes against the United States,” and other Federal statutes give the FBI the authority and responsibility to investigate specific crimes. At present, the FBI has investigated the jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of Federal crimes.

28 USC 533, does give the AG power to appoint persons involved in criminal justice.  But the last sentence is interesting: Jurisdiction over a violation would mean something such as determining which governmental body had authority. I think the scammer meant they have investigated crimes in 200 jurisdictions.  The English is troubled — but it will get worse.

The FBI Criminal Justice Information Services ( CJIS) and National Central Bureau (NCB) is part of the National Crime Agency (NCA), a powerful body of operational crime fighters with the responsibility of leading the AMERICA fight to cut serious and organized crime.

I’m not going to take the time to figure out the operational structure of the Department of Justice. What I do note is that the author of this email is not a native English speaker from the United States. First “crime fighters” is a phrase only used in cartoons. An “operational crime fighter” sounds like a robot in a cartoon (as opposed an inoperable crime fighter?) Next, rather than use the adjective “American”, the writer used the noun “America”.  Next, I found the phrase “cut … crime” odd. So I looked up the National Crime Agency — which I learned does exist in the United Kingdom.  The phrase “cut serious and organized crime” is the tag line for the web page for National Crime Agency

But I bit on the National Crime Agency

The NCA addresses national threats and incorporates the functions of numerous former USA organizations, agencies and units in order to:

Now that is fascinating: The United Kingdom’s NCA has taken over for various American “agencies and units”. As an American, I would like to say thank you to the people of the United Kingdom for their generous acts in investigating and “cutting” crime in the United States.  Yet, as I continue one and learn what I am getting from the NCA, I begin to wonder if it is really that helpful:

The Tacra serious and organized crime;
Strengthen USA borders;
Fight fraud and cyber crime;
Protect children,Women and young people of US Citizens.

The NCA also provides a range of support services to police forces and law enforcement agencies across the country, including the services Provided by FBI.

Do I want the NCA “Tacra” anything? How does one “Tacra?” Is it safe? So I looked it up and found this “https://twitter.com/TACRA_Canada”. If this is the same Tacra, then apparently the Canadian Veterans Review and Appeals Board is also protecting the United States. Thanks Canadian friends!

FBI vision and mission: To equip our law enforcement, national security, and intelligence community partners with the criminal justice information they need to protect the United States while preserving civil liberties. It fights international crime through the coordination and provision of specialist support to investigations and Uses FBI channels to build effective partnerships between the AMERICA police forces and law sanctions agencies worldwide.

Some more rah-rah for the FBI. I am glad to learn that the FBI “uses FBI channels” (whatever they are). And again, the use of the nominative “America” where the adjective “American” would have been proper.

Here is the key graph:

According to my findings after proper investigation i have noticed through our Intelligent network platform that you are currently involved in a transaction coming in as Lotto winning, contract payment/Inheritance including coming in Trunk Box and they have diverted a huge amount of money which is On transit now in USA as it will interest you to know that the FBI have fully intercepted the box and the Diplomat with his agents have been arrested as we are still working on getting all of them apprehended. Some will tell you to forget about the FBI , but you as An American Citizens knows the right thing to do. Only the FBI will help you Legally. Please stop all your communication with anybody including your fake husband.

Some notes: After hearing all about how Canadian Veterans and British police are protecting the Untied States by using the FBI, this guy (whoever the “i” is) has been paying attention to my bank accounts. In addition, I either won the Lotto, am getting some money under a contract or by inheritance.

What is especially wonderful is that I am being paid via “Trunk Box”. So, my Lotto winnings (which is truly a windfall because I don’t buy tickets).  Unfortunately, “they diverted” my trunk box full of cash. But — I guess this is good– the FBI has intercepted the diverted trunk box.

Now the story gets really interesting, there was a “diplomat with “agents” who were somehow involved in my trunk box full of cash. I don’t know if they were the ones who diverted it. Again in a stroke of good luck, the diplomat and his agents have been arrested — except for the one’s who have not been arrested, but the guy who has been monitoring my trunk box of cash will “apprehend” the rest of them.

At this point, I will have demurrer: It is wildly improbable there is a trunk box full of Lotto cash coming to me (albeit currently in FBI possession); and yet, it is not impossible (in the strict sense). I must absolutely deny that anyone has ever told me to “forget about the FBI”. Never happened.

Then there is another ungrammatical sentence, “An American Citizens knows the right thing to do”. We citizens does knows. But I don’t think I can really affirm this sentence,” Only the FBI will help you Legally.” I have received legal help all through out my life. In fact, if I ask the FBI to help me do yard work this weekend, I strongly suspect they will not provide me help.

And, here is another thing I can’t do, “Please stop all your communication with anybody including your fake husband.” All communication with everyone? And what will my wife think we she hears about my fake husband? It was one thing to know about my trunk box full of lotto cash, it is another thing to break up my relationship with my fake husband.

And now we get to the whole point of this email:

For the FBI to work effectively, you are to list to us the total amount you have spend so far as the FBI will open up a file in your name and process the entire Legal release Documentation in your name and address as the sole true beneficiary.

You are to reconfirm to the FBI the following details ( mailtnow@tutanota.com )

Your Full Name:
Current Address:
Place of work and Position:
House Phone:
Amount paid:
The amount you are expecting In The Box:

Maybe I’m a little too cautious, but I am not certain that the FBI has subcontracted its investigation to this guy using a German encrypted email site. Something sounds fishy about that.

But then again, he did sign the letter “sincerely” — and who am I to disbelieve him?

All these details will go a long way in assisting the FBI with our investigation as well to protect you.

Help us to serve you better.

Yours Sincerely,

Detective Chris Smith

Toward and Exegetical Practical Theology, Joshua Clutterham


, , ,

Joshua Clutterham’s article in this edition of the Journal of Biblical Soul Care develops a point which is crucial to any effective pastoral work (and by that, I limit pastoral work to work which takes Scripture seriously). The Bible is not merely a book of facts and propositions (although it does contain such). The words are there not merely be read and recognized. The information does not exist merely so we can pass some hypothetical Bible knowledge trivia test. The words of the Bible are given to do something to us; to change us.

The Bible must not be merely thought of as a basis for systematic theology. Even preaching must not terminate in what the Scripture means as a proposition, but what that proposition does.  The Bible is given to not merely inform, but also to change people. This changing people is a matter of practical theology.

This matter of application is admitted by most preachers (indeed, many very bad sermons are merely a string of applications: Cheer – up! You’ll do great if you try!). There is another group who deliver an enormous volume of information, but with no point. Great, I can answer questions about the economy of Egypt, but I’m not sure why that matters.

The point of Bible’s information is to transform human beings in conduct, knowledge and affection: to make people different than they were before they read.

This matter of using the Bible to change people is also the purpose of counseling. And thus we should merely think of counseling as private exegetical practical theology. Preaching largely differs in the number of persons present.

What Joshua further proposes is that we take care to notice the rhetorical structure of the Scripture’s application: When we apply the text, we should note how the text functions and rely upon that rhetorical structure to help deliver the application. As Joshua writes, “We [must] consider the method of delivery of Scripture along with its meaning.”

The article itself is quite detailed. He develops and explains the rhetorical structure of the Scripture’s application — giving many examples and helps.  The article contains a number of proposals for future development, and explains the relationship between preaching and counseling.  This brief bit merely provides the slightest introduction to his work.

You can get your free subscription to the journal here:


Defining the Garden of Eden

Abraham Kuyper, Common Grace

But let it be noted here immediately that not the whole earth was paradise. The “Garden of Eden” is sharply and clearly distinguished from the rest of the world, in two ways. First, because it says, “the Lord God planted [that is, on the earth] a garden in Eden, in the east.” That addition “in the east” shows that the garden extended in only one direction. Not to the south or north or west, but only in the east. And second, it follows from the fact that after the fall, Adam and Eve could be expelled from paradise to another part of the earth. Thus we must not imagine that after creation the earth was one paradise. The whole earth was indeed good, so that it far exceeded in lushness and splendor what we can still see of the beauty of nature, but nevertheless paradise was something different. It was a garden, a pleasure garden, a deliberately appointed location. Not a garden in the sense in which we speak of it, let alone a kind of orchard. The additional statement that the sources of the four great, mighty rivers let their waters roar through this paradise proves that we have to do here with a pleasure garden of immense vastness. Yet, no matter how vast, it was a garden, that is, an expanse of terrain that was appointed with a certain purpose in mind, that was laid out for this purpose and that immediately gave the impression that this was not merely a valley or an immense forest, but a planned region.


Paradise was not funereal and quiet, but the whole Garden of Eden throbbed with life, not only through the wind in the daytime, and through the water that splashed and gurgled from all sides, but also through the songbirds in the branches and the noble, pure-blooded animals that populated paradise, newly created by God in undamaged perfection.

Freud, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life – Screen Memories


, , ,

In this chapter, Freud discusses memories which function in a manner similar to the word substitutions in earlier chapters: one thing stands in for another; one idea is repressed and another fills the space to cover up the repression. He is in particular interested in childhood memories which “frequently seem to be of trivial and unimportant matters”.

Why don’t we remember more of our childhood? When we consider the matter, it seems strange. A child does have a “high intellectual achievements and complex emotions”. The events of earliest years have a profound effect upon the entire rest of our lives; and yet we remember a few, often innocuous, seemingly random events.

Freud proposes that similar to his theory of words there is the “construction of a substitute” through “displacement by way of some superficial association”.  Yet, these differ from word substitutions, because when we get words wrong, we typically realize the error. Moreover, the word substitution does not persist; whereas the “screen memory” is not recognized as false (indeed, it may very well be a real event) and it does not fade like a misspoken word.

Why this is important,

It is perfectly possible that the forgetting of events in childhood can give us the keys to understanding the amnesia of the king which, according to the latest findings, lies at the heart of the construction of all neurotic symptoms.

He gives an example of a young man who had the memory of his aunt teaching him that a M was like an N except for the “extra part” — which of course relates to the boy realizing that boy were like girls except for “an extra part” (this is Freud, after all).

In a line which helps show the line from from Freud to Jung, he writes, “Childhood memories in general thus take on the significance of ‘screen memories’ and in this are remarkably analogous to early racial or national memories as recorded in myths and legends.”

Psychology Links


, ,

A review of the book, I am Jazz, by a board certified endocrinologist at Public Discourse. It provides a detailed explanation of what must and will take place for a child who “transitions” from their birth sex to the opposite sex as a remedy for their “gender dysphoria” (the current name for the psychological condition), “This is further evidence that Jazz does not in fact have a “girl brain.” He has a boy brain. It is his mind that is giving him the trouble. This is a psychological condition, rather than a biological one.”

A quick review of the literature on the “inference problem” in science, “Over the past few years, many scientific researchers, especially those working in psychology and biomedicine, have become concerned about the reproducibility of results in their field.”

Here is an explanation of how to critique research

The planning which lies behind (many/all?) mass murder attacks, “Extensive planning indicates that rampage attacks serve purposes. These also fall into clear repeated patterns, including vengeance, infamy seeking, and a need for a sense of macho power, often with a background of long-term internal discord and interpersonal defeats.”

Rioting when happy, “Aggressive behavior, property damage, is actually pleasant behavior—it feels good for a lot of people,” Chester told Fortune in an interview.” (People like to sin.)

Does your brain produce new neurons?

The October 2017 updates to the DSM-V 

Curious if you have dementia? Here’s the Mini-Mental State Exam (a common fact in lawsuits involving capacity)

Public displays matter, “The new study shows that individuals who watch events such as a  or State of the Union address have a more favorable impression of a president’s ability to govern than those who do not, even among those who disagree with the president’s policy goals.”

As Wallace Stevens wrote:


I am what is around me.

Women understand this.
One is not duchess
a hundred yards from a carriage.

These, then are portraits:
a black vestibule;
a high bed sheltered by curtains.

These are merely instances.

Conspiracy theories are just a way to slander and gossip, “The bottom line is that people don’t necessarily believe in the conspiracies they’re peddling – they just want to use them to make a point or promote a way of thinking.”It’s a way of expressing a dislike for something – like a politician or a group of people,” says Klein.”
How to manipulate your brain to hallucinate.
My brain implant made me do it, “Considering the impact brain implants can have on moral and legal notions of responsibility, it’s time to discuss whether and when brain interventions should excuse people.”
Flip Wilson did it better:




, , ,

My knowledge of the Manichaeans derived from mentions in Augustine’s Confessions. Here is a bit more:

As to what Mani taught, it was the well-worn Gnostic account of an evil creator and an evil world, with some especially scandalous details. It was not Adam but an evil archon who had sex with Eve and fathered Cain. Then Cain had sex with his mother and fathered Abel. Later Eve managed to arouse the ascetic Adam to father Seth, thus beginning a race of beings who are noble in spirit but “entrapped in innately evil material bodies.”

Mani created two levels of membership: the Auditors and the Elect. The former ‘heard’ the word but did not live a life that could qualify for admission to the Kingdom of Light upon their death. Rather, they could hope only to be reborn as vegetables and then to be eaten by the Elect and “belched” to freedom from the evil archons and sent on their way to the Kingdom of Light. As for the Elect, they were bound by extraordinary restrictions: no sex, no alcohol, no meat, no baths, and virtually no physical activity of any kind. They could meet these requirements only if Auditors waited on them hand and foot. The Manichaeians enjoyed some success. They missionized far eastward (into China), making converts even among the nobility, as well as far westward—the young St. Augustine was a Manichaean for a few years (but only as an Auditor and without giving up his mistress).

Stark, Rodney. Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome (p. 175-177). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. I wonder what anyone found attractive about such a scheme….