Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Is it a felony?

Anyone think that this guy will get charged with kidnapping and/or mayhem? (link) If not, do you think it is because he didn't remove a literal person from the room (or a little piece of a person)? Or perhaps you think that the crimes of kidnap and mayhem are only crimes with respect to the accidents of humanity and not the substance?

Granted, he may get charged with some lesser crime, like disturbing the peace or possibly some kind of dispossession by fraud (I don't pretend to know what, if anything, he will be charged with in the end). I'm not encouraging anyone to break any laws. I'm also not encouraging anyone to needlessly offend transubstantionists by going out and obtaining wafers the way this guy did, even if what he did is technically legal.

Any Aristotelean lawyers out there want to take a crack at it?


UPDATE: Another case, same problem, no charges of kidnap brought (link).


Anonymous said...

Well, I am no lawyer but I will post the Word and hope it cracks it.

This is Jesus' direct instruction to His little boy child Peter:

Mat 17:24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the tax?"
Mat 17:25 He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?"
Mat 17:26 And when he said, "From others," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free.
Mat 17:27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself."

All I would add is "we are not of this world". Whatever is lawful for us to do, let's do it so as not to be an offense to any pious of this world. Certainly not this admonition excludes us from rough debate! Is this one Christianity's problem?

Paul Hoffer said...

Taking you up on your mock (in the literary sense, not the perjorative sense), I would first suggest as a practical matter that since Jesus probably won't be showing up to make out a police statement, the guy probably won't be facing either kidnap nor mayhem charges.

Now if I were going to be Aristotelian about it, I imagine that he could be facing whatever the California version of theft by deception charges amount to since Catholics believe that the consecrated Host retains the accidents of bread and accordingly it could be stolen and he took the Host under false pretenses. In Ohio, that's a felony regardless of the value of the object taken. (my guess would be that jail time would be served consecutively with any time he would be serving as his eternal punishment for committing such a sinful act.)

In order to prove kidnap charges at least in California, you would have to prove the following elements:

1. The kidnapper took, held, or detained another person by means of force or by instilling reasonable fear;

2. Using that force or fear, the kidnapper moved the other person or made the other person move a substantial distance;


3. The other person did not consent to the movement.

A "substantial distance" is a distance more than slight or trivial. In determining whether the distance was substantial, the jury must consider all the circumstances relating to the movement. In addition to considering the actual distance moved, the jury may also consider other factors such as whether the movement increased the risk of (physical or psychological) harm, increased the danger of a foreseeable escape attempt, gave the attacker a greater opportunity to commit additional crimes, or decreased the likelihood of detection.

Without considering the issue of Christ's real presence in the Eucharistic host (which is the point I think you were questioning here), I think one would have other problems proving kidnap aside from whether the Host is Christ or not. I mean how could anyone demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that one could use meaningful force or threat of force against God? Also, doesn't Scripture say we are to fear God, not that God could be made to fear us? Further, how could one get God to do anything without His consent?

Not only does your query question the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but raises issues about God's sovereignity as well. I thought Protestants, Presbyterians included, believed in God's sovereignity. Then again-- perhaps not--given what I read in an article about the PCUSA voting to abolish from their constitution proscriptions against adultery, homosexual ministers and possibly same-sex marriages in that denomination. I thought God's commandments were supposed to be inviolate. I haven't read the NASB version of the Bible lately, but isn't the Seventh Commandment, "You Shall Not Commit Adultery" still in there? Do not those acts violate the Seventh Amendment?

[Please note that I am not suggesting that this is your view. From what I have seen here and elsewhere in the blogosphere, you seem to be a Godly man even if you and I do not agree on many things. You have my sympathies on this one since I think that you do not ascribe to their action.]

Since you have raised the issue of the reality of the Real Presence, I must ask which of the 200 different views Raspberger state that Protestants believe about the Lord's Supper do you ascribe to? It would be helpful to know this in order to discuss such issues with you in the future.

P.S. This sort of reminds me of the old canard about the guy who poisoned some communion hosts with arsenic and thought he could disprove transubstantiation when the priest dropped over dead from arsenic poisoning after consecrating them. "You moron," the police officer commented when he arrested him for murder, "the bread and wine may have been turned into Jesus during the Mass, but the Bible doesn't say anything about arsenic being changed into anything other than arsenic then."

God bless!

Paul Hoffer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Turretinfan said...

Dear Paul,

It was not matter of not liking your response ... it was actually a very interesting and informative read ... instead, I just hadn't gotten around to checking what comments had been posted. NatAmLlc's was waiting a bit longer than yours.

To answer your question, I deny that any physical transformation of the bread and wine takes place. Nevertheless, I accept the idea of "Real Presence," just not physical presence. It's transubstantiation that seems superstitious and ahistorical to me, not the idea that Christ is present in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

As far as kidnap (or mayhem for that matter) charges go, of course the victim need not be the person who requests that a prosecutor file charges. So, perhaps we could get past that barrier.

I'm confident that carrying of someone in your hands would constitute force. The substantial distance would be accomplished once the person left the building, I bet. Finally, I'm guessing that consent is probably a defense rather than (strictly speaking) lack of defense being an element.

Then again, if you disagree, I would defer to your expertise.

Finally, while there may be some technical translational merit in some of the proposed changes that the PCUSA is considering -- at a minimum the timing is quite suspect. Obviously, fornication, adultery, and the extreme perversion of homosexuality are sinful, and should be condemned.


Paul Hoffer said...

I forget that you have a delay on your comments. I shan't assume the worse in the future. If you like, please remove my second posting. It is redundant.

As far as force goes, different states have different definitions. At least where I come from it has to be sufficient to cause physical harm or pain.

We both agree that the asportation element is met. However, at least from the reading of California's statutes, the burden of proof falls upon the State to prove lack of consent.

Thank you for sharing your view on the Real Presence in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Of course, I agree with you that Christ is present in the Eucharist. However, I do believe what the Catholic Church teaches that He is physically present as well. Perhaps it is my worldview, but the doctrine of transubstantiation is a comfort to me because it provides an affirmation of what the Word of God says about Christ being present in Eucharist is true and thus. It is a corroboration that the Word of God is just that His Word. Perhaps I will be able to put it into words better someday.

Ben Douglass said...

No, this man will not be charged with kidnapping (though he ought to be), just like abortionists are not charged with murder. The problem here is not with Catholic doctrine, but with America's laws, which do not use the Catholic faith as a transcendental point of reference.

Turretinfan said...

Interestingly, there seems a split of views within those who adhere to Rome as to whether the body of Christ feels pain. I think the majority view (by far) is that the grinding, chewing, and digesting does not cause Christ to suffer. This would suggest that it's impossible for Christ (under the majority framework of the transubstantionist view) to be subjected to pain through the manner mentioned in the article.

As for harm ... it's hard to say. Presumably the majority answer would be the same again.

I wonder, though, whether simply taking a baby away from its hospital crib (gently and without causing any physical pain or harm) would be considered kidnapping using the definitions you mentioned? It sounds like it wouldn't, which is a surprising result. Although there would be no consent and there would be movement, the third prong of the analysis would seem to clear the person who we would colloquially view as a kidnapper.

As to the issue of consent, if I were the government prosecutor, and if I were going to adopt a transubstantionist view of the Eucharist in the Mass, and if I were trying to go after the guy for kidnap/mayhem, I'd tackle the consent indirectly by noting that the putatitive agents of the victim(the church-members, officers, etc.) clearly indicated a lack of consent, and even tried to stop the taking away.

"Thank you for sharing your view on the Real Presence in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper."

My pleasure.

"Of course, I agree with you that Christ is present in the Eucharist."


"However, I do believe what the Catholic Church teaches that He is physically present as well."

Try to keep in mind that just because a church calls itself "Catholic" doesn't make it so, any more than a church calling itself "Orthodox" makes it so.

The idea that Christ is physically present seems to be a denial of the Apostle's Creed (and the Scriptures on which it is based) which states that Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, from whence he will come in judgment.

It seems to be more the result of superstitious corruption of the universal Christian faith of ancient times than a truly apostolic or Catholic teaching.

Indeed, as you may be aware, the formulation of transubstantiation comes many centuries after the apostles, according to the best historical evidence that we have.

"Perhaps it is my worldview, but the doctrine of transubstantiation is a comfort to me because it provides an affirmation of what the Word of God says about Christ being present in Eucharist is true and thus. It is a corroboration that the Word of God is just that His Word."

The Bible doesn't say anything about Christ being "present in [the] Eucharist." Furthermore, understanding the words "this is my body" as announcing a symbol of the body (and not a declaration of physical transformation) in no way fails to affirm the truth of the Word of God. Thus, even if transubstantiation can be viewed as an attempt to affirm the truth of the Word of God, that's not a reason to prefer it over the traditional pre-transubstantiary views (i.e. the symbolic and mystical views).

"Perhaps I will be able to put it into words better someday."

Well, if you do, I am all ears!


(I'll try to delete that second entry of yours, in a just a minute.)

Turretinfan said...

Dear Ben,

It's not an either/or proposition (at least from where I'm standing). It may be both that the doctrine of Rome and America's laws are in error. America's laws are certainly in error with respect to the issue of abortion, whereas I'd suggest that Rome's teaching on transubstantiation is also in error.


Martin said...

Taking a baby from a hospital crib.

The laws PH quotes assumes the person has reached majority. Should the person be a minor then you would need parental consent and all the above would apply to obtaining said parent's consent.

Turretinfan said...


I agree about the consent issue.

I'm guessing that, in the case of an adult, waiting till the adult is asleep and then carting them off without consent would probably likewise constitute kidnap - at least that seems intuitive to me.

I'm intuitively confident that "force" in the kidnap statutes is just to distinguish the situation from one in which words are used ... with "threat of force" being an example of improper words.