Thursday, September 22, 2016

Would A World Without Satan Lack Evil?

            The question, “Would there be less evil in a world without Satan?” could be relevant, for if the answer to this question is a yes, then we could plausibly ask, “Why did God create angels i.e. Satan, if evil in this world would be lesser without Satan?”

            Within this context, if God had not created Satan, evil would have been less, and our world would have been a good world. However, since God created Satan, could we then infer that God erred in HIS decision to create Satan?

            The entailment to this thought process could potentially debunk Historic Christianity. God (as a maximally great being) cannot err. If God erred in creating Satan, HE cannot be God. Hence God’s existence could be disputed. The infallibility of the Bible that reveals God to mankind could also be thus disputed. We could go on and on.

            Let us discuss this theme by considering the following aspects albeit from a biblical standpoint.

The Source of Sin

            Sin is an evil action or motive that opposes and assaults God. Sin replaces God with something or someone in God’s rightful place of supremacy. Sin entails evil.

            Understanding the source of sin is vital to understanding the theme we are discussing now. If Satan is the source of sin and evil, one could argue that God should have not created Satan to keep the world free of sin and evil.

            The “Animal Nature” of man is the source of sin, claimed British Philosopher and Theologian Frederick R. Tennant. Under this notion, humans possess natural animalistic impulses as a means to human survival that have intensified through natural selection based on their evolution from less highly developed forms. Other theologians have posited other sources of sin. However, each of these views has been found to be largely inadequate.1

            The Bible teaches differently. Sin is not caused by God (James 1:13) but man is responsible for his sins (James 1: 14-15).

            Man possesses certain innate desires. He could either satisfy those desires in moderation or sin by abusing those desires to either hurt himself or the others.
            His ‘desire to enjoy’ could result in an enjoyment of eating in moderation or a sin by being a glutton, whereby he injures himself.  His ‘desire to obtain’ could be satisfied either by legitimately acquiring material possessions or he could sin by exploiting and stealing from others. His ‘desire to achieve’ could be satisfied either through legitimate achievement or he could sin and achieve at the expense of others.

            Man could satisfy these desires in a godly manner by dwelling within the divinely imposed constraints. But man sins when he fails to accept the divine limits to these desires and makes these desires as ends in themselves, which are the cravings of a sinful man (1 John 2: 16).

            While desires are natural, there could be external inducements (Satanic or human) that motivate man to sin. Whatever be the case, man is wholly responsible for his sins. Sin is the choice of the person who commits it.

Function of Satan in Sin

            Satan is a demon (cf. Luke 10: 17-20). He is the tempter and deceiver. Satan opposes God and the work of Christ by tempting and deceiving humans. Satan tempted Adam & Eve, Jesus, Judas etc (cf. Acts 5:3, 1 Corinthians 7:5, 2 Corinthians 2: 11, Ephesians 6: 11, 2 Timothy 2: 26).

            Sometimes we state that Satan is the source of sins. While making such statements, we use the word “source” informally. In this informal usage, “source” refers to an ‘originator’ or an ‘instigatory cause.’

            If we claim that Satan is the source of all sins i.e. if we use the word ‘source’ to mean, in an Aristotelian sense, the material cause (‘that out of which’) or the efficient cause (‘the primary source of…’), then we posit dualism. Dualism contradicts the Bible, for there are no two equally ultimate powers, one good and the other evil.

            God is the only ultimate power and God is good. God is not the source or the originator of sin or evil. Moreover, Satan was originally created good; hence Satan is not the source of sin and evil. 

Potency of Freewill to Sin without Satan

            If asked differently, the title question would be, “Would Adam & Eve have sinned without Satan?” Since man is responsible for his sins, the answer should be yes.

            The premise on which this argument is also predicated on is the freewill-based rebellion of angels in the heavenly realm. (This premise presupposes the metaphysical similarity of the freewill of the angels and humans.)

            The angels that rebelled against God did not have an external inducement (as Adam & Eve had Satan as an external inducer). There were only two entities during the angelic fall – God and Angels. (Even if mankind was created before the fall of Satan, man was totally incapable of influencing Satan’s fall.)

            Since God can neither tempt nor cause evil, the angelic rebellion was an entailment of their freewill. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to conclude that Adam & Eve had the potential to sin or would have sinned irrespective of the presence of Satan.

            Satan merely accelerated the sin of Adam and Eve. Had Satan not existed, Adam and Eve would have sinned (or eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) sooner or later.

Conclusion

            Satan is not the source of sin. Man’s freewill is the source of sin. Man would have inevitably sinned irrespective of Satan or not.

            Would the quantum and the extent of sins be minimized if Satan was not created? Not necessarily so, for if Satan is to be considered as an accelerant of sin, then there is a possibility that the quantum and the extent of sins would be actualized at a later time. So the quantum and the extent of sins would have been the same with or without Satan, for the potency of man’s freewill to sin is independent of Satan.

            The other possibility is that the quantum and the extent of sins would be lesser without Satan. In which case, the question, “If evil in this world would be lesser without Satan, then why did God create Satan?” gains legitimacy.

            If Satan is the sole cause of evil, then evil would have been absolutely eliminated, had Satan not been created. However, since Satan exists and that Satan is not the sole cause of evil, only God, in HIS omniscient wisdom would be able to determine the extent to which evil would be reduced had angels not been created. 

            But on the other hand, if the good that is to be actualized from the good angels in ministering to people is commensurately immeasurable, then God would be justified to create Satan even with the potential of evil.

            Finally, natural evil, which is devoid of human willing and acting, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis etc. and suffering caused by a host of diseases  such as cancer, cystic fibrosis etc. exist independent of Satan and adds substantial numbers to the victims of evil. The pain and suffering caused by natural evil and diseases are innate in the creational design of this world and the human body.

            The fact of the matter is that evil would not cease to exist if Satan were to be non-existent. Hence, numbers need not matter. When evil exists, the terms ‘lesser’ and ‘greater’ do not gain greater significance, for the world we live in would be evil even if only 1% of the total population (1 out of 10 people) are adversely affected by evil. Moreover, if only 1% of the total population is affected by evil, then there is a certain possibility for evil to increase. 

            Therefore, the question, “Would there be less evil in a world without Satan?” would neither debunk nor harm Historic Christianity.

Endnotes:


1 Other theologians have posited various sources for sin. The “Anxiety of Finiteness” was proposed by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). The idea of “Existential Estrangement” was proposed by Paul Tillich (1886-1965), the “Economic Struggle” proposed by the Liberation Theology, and “Individualism and Competitiveness” as argued by Harrison Sacket Elliott (1882-1951).

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pastor Joel Osteen’s Sin Or Not?

            Pastor Joel Osteen’s volte-face on homosexuality is certainly intriguing. Initially he said homosexuality was a sin and homosexuals would not inherit heaven. Later he claimed that God approves homosexuals.

            His radical shift is intriguing and damaging as well, for Christians could be led to believe that Pastor Joel Osteen is correct in his views. He is after all a very successful and a wealthy Christian pastor. 

            Should Christians follow or emulate Pastor Joel Osteen especially with regards to his views on homosexuality?

            Here is the background.

            A blog “Joel Osteen's Sin” published by The Huffington Post in the year 2012 was updated this year (2016).1 That blog was an offensive on Pastor Joel Osteen because the blogger quotes Pastor Osteen speaking to Oprah Winfrey in which he echoed the Bible and deemed homosexuals as sinners and that they would not go to heaven unless they repent, “When Oprah asked Pastor Osteen if he thought gay people would enter heaven, he answered, "Yes, if they repent for their sins." Pastor Osteen went on to say that the Bible defines homosexuality as a sin.”2

            However, in the year 2013, Pastor Joel Osteen, when interviewed by HuffPost live’s Josh Zepps, reversed his views on homosexuality. He claimed that God absolutely approves of homosexuals, “Zepps read a piece that he liked from Osteen's new book: "It doesn't matter who likes you or doesn't like you, all that matters is that God likes you. He accepts you, he approves of you." Zepps followed up by asking if that included homosexuals. "Absolutely," Osteen insisted, "I believe that God breathed life into every person and that every person is made in the image of God and you have accept them as they are, on their journey. I'm not here to preach hate or push people down."”3

            So Pastor Osteen knows in his heart that practicing homosexuality is a sin. However, it seems to me that because of the tremendous pressure upon him to be politically correct, he diluted the seriousness of the sin of homosexuality and made public statements such as “God approves of homosexuals.”

            I have not watched or attended Pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood church services, but I have read media reports that he usually does not preach sin or hell, “Last month Texas megachurch leader Joel Osteen was asked on CBS News' "Sunday Morning" program if he feels "like you're cheating people by not telling them about the Hell part? Or repentance part?" Osteen replied that "No, I really don't, because it's a different approach" and that "I say most people are beaten down enough by life. They already feel guilty enough."”4

            I personally do not endorse the style of preaching of Pastor Joel Osteen, but then who am I to object to his preaching? He is arguably the most famous Christian pastor and people flock to hear him, and his books are bestsellers.

            Since Pastor Joel Osteen is so famous and successful, Christians who follow him may be well inclined to be like him. They may think that since God has blessed him abundantly, he must be pleasing God, hence it is only appropriate to emulate Pastor Joel Osteen.

            This is an invalid thought process, for God can choose to or allow someone who does not believe in HIM to be abundantly prosperous as well. In other words, those who do not believe in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ could be abundantly prosperous, for God could have either blessed them abundantly or allowed them to prosper.  

            Worldly success is never a benchmark for genuine Christians. If the unbelievers of Christ could be abundantly prosperous, then prosperity need not be a benchmark for a genuine Christian. Hence let us consider Pastor Joel Osteen as a mere Christian and not as a wealthy or successful Christian pastor.

            To recap, this is the dilemma. Pastor Joel Osteen echoed the Bible to deem homosexuality as a sin. But he neither preaches about sins (e.g. homosexuality) nor about repentance. To top it all, he makes public statements such as “God approves homosexuals.” This is as if to say that God approves the practice of gay sex.

            This then is the drift of the dilemma; if the Bible condemns homosexuality, then how could anyone claim that God approves homosexuals? It is appropriate to say that God loves homosexuals, for HE loves sinners. But it is incorrect to say that God approves homosexuals, for the Bible screams that God does not approve of any sin.

            God hates sins. So the wrath of God is upon the thieves, drunkards, adulterers, homosexuals, and the like.

            A born again Christian would not be a practicing homosexual. He would strive to be straight. A born again Christian may have the urge or the temptation to be a homosexual, but he/she would resist those urges to live a straight life.

            The much acclaimed and renowned Christian leaders are tempted to be politically correct. People like Pastor Joel Osteen succumb to this temptation to refrain from calling sin a sin. The danger of being politically correct is to make sins seem like God-approved deeds. Does Christ mandate us to be politically correct or biblically correct?

            Today, a small fry, or a rather unknown Christian minister can say anything and hardly anyone would notice it. But if this small fry were to be as eminent as Pastor Osteen, then the whole world would become aware of his words and deeds. Would he then have the audacity to say in the public media that homosexuality is a sin? Similarly, if he is given an opportunity to preach in a famous Church, to tens of thousands of people, would he preach that homosexuality is a sin and that homosexuals ought to repent to enter into the Kingdom of God?

            Known or unknown, wealthy or poor, successful or not, a genuine Christian ought to be biblically correct. A genuine Christian cannot be politically correct so much so that he makes sins appear to be a normative Christian lifestyle that God approves of.

            Should we follow Pastor Joel Osteen or the Bible? Of course, the answer is that we are to follow God and HIS Word - the Bible.  

            Does God approve of homosexuals? No! God loves them, but HE does not approve of their sinful lifestyle. Should we love practicing homosexuals? Yes, absolutely. We should unconditionally love a practicing homosexual. Should a practicing homosexual repent to gain eternal life? Yes, of course! Within this context, should we follow Pastor Joel Osteen or not? Absolutely not!

            Wasn’t it St. Augustine who said this, “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it”? Let us do the right by following God and HIS Word – the Bible. Let us also pray that our leaders would have the courage to do what is right.

Endnotes:

Websites cited were last accessed on September 15, 2016.

1 http://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/joel-osteen-sin_b_1213936

2 http://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/joel-osteen-sin_b_1213936 & Oprah Winfrey’s interview of Joel Osteen can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTl1YLI8C5g

3 http://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/joel-osteen-pope_n_4031530


4 http://www.christianpost.com/buzzvine/bible-verses-joel-osteen-never-preach-hell-160830/#lDHpU0lJeyfG7j0C.99

Thursday, September 8, 2016

So What If Adolf Hitler Was A Christian? (Would Hitler’s Christianity hurt Historic Christianity?)

            The antagonists of Historic Christianity claim that Adolf Hitler was a Christian and that Historic Christianity was the primary cause of the holocaust. The defenders of Historic Christianity counter-argue that Hitler was not a Christian or he may have been an atheist and that his non-Christian worldview was the primary cause of the holocaust.

            The holocaust, masterminded by Hitler and his Nazi regime, devoured 11 million lives, among them were 6 million Jews, and the other 5 million comprising of people with mental and physical disabilities, communists, resistance fighters, Slavic people, homosexuals, priests, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and anarchists etc.

            If Hitler was a Christian, would Hitler’s Christianity hurt Historic Christianity? In order to think through this theme, let us consider the case for Hitler’s Christianity, the case for Hitler’s non-Christianity, and the interpretation of Hitler’s apparent Christianity.

Hitler Was A Christian

            The high priest of Atheism Richard Dawkins, in response to Pope Benedict XVI praising the British for having fought the Nazi’s, claimed that Hitler was not an atheist but a Catholic Christian. Dawkins quoted Hitler’s 1922 speech wherein he referred to Jesus as “my Lord and Savior.”1

            Popular atheist author Michael A. Sherlock in his article “The Atheist Atrocities Fallacy – Hitler, Stalin & Pol Pot” claimed that Hitler was a Christian, “…Hitler was a Christian.  This undeniable fact couldn’t be made any clearer than by his own confessions…

            To begin, here are just a few of Hitler’s Christian confessions:

            “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter.  It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth!  was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter.  In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders.  How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison.  To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross.  As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice…For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.” [3]

            “The greatness of Christianity did not arise from attempts to make compromises with those philosophical opinions of the ancient world which had some resemblance to its own doctrine, but in the unrelenting and fanatical proclamation and defense of its own teaching.” [4]

            “His [the Jew’s] life is of this world only and his mentality is as foreign to the true spirit of Christianity as is character was foreign to the great Founder of this new creed two thousand years ago. And the Founder of Christianity made no secret indeed of His estimation of the Jewish people. When He found it necessary He drove those enemies of the human race out of the Temple of God; because then, as always, they used religion as a means of advancing their commercial interests. But at that time Christ was nailed to the Cross for his attitude towards the Jews…” [5]

            Over and above these solid testimonies, there are other equally strong pieces of evidence that indicate that Hitler was a Christian, like the fact that his soldiers all wore the slogan, ‘Gott Mit Uns’ (God with us) on their belts, that his birthday was “celebrated from the pulpits until his death,” as Hitchens so eloquently put it, and that the Nazis published their own slightly revised Christian bible. [6]…”2

Hitler Was Not A Christian

            As much as the atheist argues for Hitler’s Christianity, there is enough evidence to argue that Hitler was not a Christian.

            Hitler and his Nazi regime were much influenced by the ideology of German philosopher and thinker, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). Hitler was consumed by the idea of “Superman” (who has a great “will to power” and would reign over other humans) that was taken from Nietzsche’s work “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.”

            Nietzsche’s sister, Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche was married to Bernhard Fӧrster, a prominent leader of the German anti-Semitic movement. Elizabeth was also a friend of Hitler. Elizabeth influenced the Nazi regime to an extent that Hitler was influenced by the Nietzschean ideology.

            Hitler was so fascinated by the Nietzschean ideology that he had copies of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” given to all his soldiers between 1933 and 1945. Hitler often visited the Nietzsche museum in Weimar at the invite of Elizabeth and proudly posed for photographs of him staring at the bust of Nietzsche.

            When Hitler began his career, Germany was mostly a Christian nation. So Hitler often referred to himself as a follower of Christ. However, Hitler either imprisoned or executed more than 6000 clergymen on the charge of treasonable activity.

            Significantly, after establishing the “National Reich Church” that projected Hitler as superman / god, Hitler banned the Bible and the cross. Bibles were replaced with copies of Mein Kampf and the cross was replaced with swastika.

            Hitler also printed his version of the Bible, wherein words such as Messiah and Hallelujah were altered. Ten Commandments were revised to 12 Commandments. Hitler demanded worship; the Lord’s Prayer was revised, “Adolf Hitler, you are our great Fuhrer. Thy name makes the enemy tremble. Thy Third Reich comes; thy will alone is law upon the earth. Let us hear daily thy voice, and order us by thy leadership, for we will obey to the end, even with our lives We praise thee; hail Hitler Fuhrer my Fuhrer, given me by God. Protect and preserve my life for long. You saved Germany in time of need; I thank you for my daily bread; be with me for a long time, do not leave me, Fuhrer my Fuhrer, my faith, my light – hail, my Fuhrer.”3 This was recited by the Hitler Youth.

            Hitler systematically gained control over the Protestant churches in Germany to make them an instrument of the Nazi regime. In response, the “Confessing Church” movement gained momentum within the German Protestant Churches to resist Hitler’s attempt.

            Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian, pastor and a founding member of the “Confessing Church.” Bonhoeffer and other leaders of the Confessing Church opposed the Nazi regime and sought to establish the true identity of the Church. Ultimately, Bonhoeffer was executed by hanging.

            Think about this; had Hitler been a genuine Christian what was the necessity for a Christian rebellion against Hitler? Christians subscribing to Historic Christianity fervently opposed Hitler to an extent that they risked their own lives. They were either imprisoned or executed for their anti-Hitler rebellion.

So What If Hitler Was A Christian?

            When our atheist friend argues that Hitler was a self proclaimed Christian, should the defenders of Historic Christianity negate that argument to begin a street fight with the atheist? Debunking Hitler’s Christianity need not be the one and the only option for us.

            The other option is to ask a question, “So What If Hitler Was A Christian?” The atheist primarily posits Hitler’s self proclamation as evidence to his Christianity. Self proclamation is inadequate to one’s identity as a Christian. A genuine Christian not only proclaims himself to be a Christian, but also obeys Christ through his deeds.

            Genuine Christians do not kill as Hitler did. The very extermination of the 11 million people screams against Hitler’s so-called Christianity. Hitler’s execution of the leadership of the confessing church that included Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who actually sought to establish the true identity of the church, is most surely not a genuine Christian’s deed.

            Friedrich Nietzsche was not a Christian; he constantly attacked the Christian ideals. A genuine Christian would not follow the Nietzschean ideology.  

            Significantly, a genuine Christian would not elevate himself into a position of “Superman” demanding worship of any form whatsoever. On the other hand, Hitler, so fascinated by Friedrich Nietzsche, and so desperate to be a superman, demanded that people revere him.

            Therefore, however which way we may want to think, Hitler, even though he may have been a self-proclaimed Christian, was not a genuine Christian. So Hitler’s Christianity does not harm Historic Christianity, and any claim to Hitler’s Christianity can and should be ignored completely.

Endnotes:

Websites cited were last accessed on September 8, 2016.

1https://whydoyoubelieve.org/2016/09/01/hitlers-religion-christian-apologetics-faces-the-hitler-question/

2 https://michaelsherlockauthor.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/the-atheist-atrocities-fallacy-hitler-stalin-pol-pot-in-memory-of-christopher-hitchens/

3http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/churchhistory/godandhitler/

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Why Are There Many Young & Unmarried Christian Women?

            The presence of young & unmarried Christian women is significant, for confusion could reign in the minds of some Christians as to why God has allowed this cruel predicament of the presence of young and unmarried Christian women.

            On the one hand, there are unmarried / single Christian women. On the other hand, the Bible advises the young single women to marry, “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (1 Corinthians 7: 8-9, NIV, Emphasis Mine.).

            If the Bible mandates unmarried women to marry, and if there are unmarried women who fail to find a suitable man, does this not mean that the sovereign God has failed to provide a suitable man for this unmarried woman? The alternate situation to this predicament is that God did bring suitable Christian men into the domain of unmarried Christian women, but they either failed to recognize or consciously rejected those men.

            Even if the latter reality (of the woman consciously rejecting men brought into her domain) were to be true, the blame cannot merely reside in the domain of the unmarried Christian women. Men, who are endowed with freewill, whom God brought into the domain of the unmarried Christian woman, could have rejected the unmarried Christian woman for reasons best known to them. So the blame cannot be ascribed to the unmarried Christian woman.  

            Consequently, when the woman in contention remains unmarried, it seems that God has either failed or has allowed man’s freewill to reign supreme while the woman burns inwardly with the passion to marry.

            So another important question we need to ask is “Who is at fault for the presence of unmarried Christian women? (Wo)Men or God?”

            Two factors are in play here: God’s sovereignty and man’s freewill. Let us consider the freewill aspect first.

            The presence of unmarried Christian women implies the employment of freewill of either the man or the woman to sustain the singleness of the woman. In other words, the man or the woman could have freely rejected the marriage proposals of the opposite sex. In this case, man’s freewill reigns supreme over God’s sovereignty.

            But man’s freewill cannot be supreme to God’s sovereignty, for if this is factual, then God cannot be sovereign. However, God, as greatest conceivable being, ought to be sovereign. We ought to concede this aspect.

            In the case of the unmarried Christian woman, is man’s freewill supreme to God’s sovereignty? This is an easier predicament to resolve, for the sovereign God may have allowed man to employ his freewill to reject the woman or the vice versa. Since God allows man to freely accept or reject the woman, God’s sovereignty remains unscathed (allows being the operative word). 

            But establishing God’s sovereignty still does not resolve the reason behind the presence of unmarried Christian women. The question, “Has God failed to provide a suitable man to the unmarried Christian woman?” still remains in play.

            If the unmarried Christian woman remains unmarried (rejection notwithstanding), then it seems that God has failed to provide this woman with a suitable man. But God cannot fail! Failure belittles God.

            If failure could be attributed to God, then God cannot be the greatest conceivable being. Since, God is the greatest conceivable being and since God cannot fail, there should be an alternate situation that could have contributed to the presence of unmarried Christian woman.

            This conundrum could be reconciled through this alternate situation. God, for some reason unknown to us, would have not chosen to establish HIS sovereignty to resolve the predicament of this unmarried Christian woman situation. Although God chooses not to establish HIS sovereignty, HE, as a gracious, loving and a good God, would not allow the woman to burn inwardly in her passions. God’s power is always available to the woman to sustain her unmarried condition.

            Therefore, the answer to the question, “Who is at fault for the presence of unmarried Christian women? (Wo)Men or God?” is this. The fault resides neither with God nor the unmarried Christian woman.

            Given the presence of unmitigated evil in this world, the unmarried woman may have just exercised utmost caution in evaluating her future husband. Her caution is valid, for many horror stories of failed relationships before the marriage and separation and divorces in marriages provokes the woman into being extra-cautious.

            The woman who rejects men sent by God remains a victim of the design of this world, wherein the potential of evil to ruin marriages is enormous. Hence, the unmarried Christian women ought to be viewed with utmost grace.

            The unmarried Christian women cannot be blamed at any cost.

            So “Why Are There Many Young & Unmarried Christian Women?” In some instances, family situations, such as taking care of ailing parents, could have contributed to the singleness of Christian women. Previously failed relationships could also be the cause for the presence of unmarried Christian women. Hence, women could be extra-cautious while choosing their husbands (and they cannot be blamed for this situation). On the other hand, single and eligible Christian men could have rejected the proposals of the women rendering her to the domain of singleness. Hence, this by no means implies an absence of suitable Christian men.

            What then is the destiny of the unmarried Christian woman?

            Age notwithstanding, marriage could most surely be on the cards for the woman. So patience is a virtue that the Christian woman should develop. Since patience is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the Christian woman ought to remain in Christ to be patient and not be bitter about her condition.

            In other instances, marriage may not be on the cards for the unmarried Christian woman. Given such a situation, the unmarried Christian woman needs the power of God to remain single and not burnout in her passions, for the power to remain single comes only from God (cf. Matthew 19:11). Hence she has to remain in Christ to be holy, sane and single.

            Last but not the least, the Bible offers an intriguing counsel and an existential reality. First, the existential reality reiterated by the Bible is the presence of troubles in marriage, “But those who marry will face many troubles in this life” (1 Corinthians 7: 28b, NIV). Being unmarried or single is one surefire way to escape the troubles that a marriage is to offer.

            Lastly, the intriguing counsel offered by the Bible to the unmarried women is to devote herself totally to God, “I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.” (1 Corinthians 7: 32-35, MSG).

            Please add this concern to your existing prayer points. Please pray for unmarried Christian women. May the Lord’s power and peace be upon them, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3: 20, NIV).  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Silence of God & The Despair of Man

When God Is Silent, Darkness Descends

            A few weeks ago, Sarah, a cute little girl, was abducted in the Island of Bahrain. Prayers pierced the throne of grace and search teams thronged the roads of Bahrain. God answered prayers when Bahraini authorities recovered little Sarah and handed her over to her mother. The family, friends and public cried, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”

            For every cute little Sarah found, tens and thousands of cute little children are lost and never recovered. Eleven month old babies are offered to demonic perverts to satiate their sexual perversions, says Ravi Zacharias in his book “Jesus Among Other Gods.” Parents shed bloody tears and suffer in excruciating agony.

            God remains silent. Darkness descends.

            Where is God when a child is killed or even lost for good?

            Where is God when innocent lives are brutally maimed and mindlessly massacred?

            Where is God when I am connivingly cheated of all my life savings?

            I am sure you get the drift.

Unanswered Prayers Are A Biblical Reality

            Job pleaded, “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me. You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm.” (Job 30: 20-22, NIV).

            Some faithful and well meaning Christians would contend the reality of unanswered prayers. They would argue that although Job suffered immensely, he was blessed mightily. The same holds true for King David as well (cf. Psalm 22: 1-2).

            The same Bible that narrates the blessing of Job and King David also narrates the incomparable suffering of God’s people. In other words, the Bible implies God’s silence when HIS people were suffering, “There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” (Hebrews 11: 35b-38, NIV).

            These verses reveal God’s silence to those who were faithful to HIM. Even when the faithful cried out to God, HE remained silent.

            Thank God for poets who so wonderfully articulate these moments of despair,1

            "It’s enough to drive a man crazy, it’ll break a man’s faith
            It’s enough to make him wonder, if he’s ever been sane
            When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
            And the Heaven’s only answer is the silence of God."
           
            (Andrew Peterson in “The Silence of God.”)

Is Renouncing God A Better Option?

            Many have renounced Christianity because God did not answer their prayers. To renounce Christianity is one option when God does not answer prayers. If I have to paint with a broad brush, the other option is to trust in God even when God does not answer our prayers. Easier said than done though!

            Consider the option of renouncing God. What would happen to those renouncing God? Do they get a better God? No way! There is only one God, and that’s it.

            Those who renounce God are relegated to the severely debilitated domain of man. Within this context, the dynamics of God’s silence is to be comprehended.

            When prayers are unanswered and when the praying man is in pain, it is implied that he does not receive any satisfying help from his fellow men or his fellow men are rather incapable of helping him. (Had he received help from his fellow men, he would have received answer to his prayer.)

            Given this situation, renouncing God would not benefit the man in pain because men are useless anyway i.e. men cannot replace God, however which way you think.  Godless men, as it is well documented throughout history, are quite adept at going astray. Therefore, those who renounce God, voluntarily yet foolishly jump from the frying pan into the blazing furnace.

            Without God to save them from the blazing furnace as HE saved Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, those who renounce God would remain in perennial pain and utter despair when pain assaults them with all its consummate brutality.

What Do We Do When God Is Silent?

            When God remains silent, we remain in pain. Instead of asking a hypothetical question “Why God is silent?” we may as well ask, “What do we do when God is silent?” If we are confident of our faithfulness and if we are lovingly resolved to obey God, the question, “Why God is silent?” may rather be unnecessary.

            Pastor Charles Stanley offers these words of biblical wisdom, “Think about what happens when you don't receive an answer to prayer. Initially, most of us experience disappointment and confusion, especially when we have a scriptural promise and God isn't doing what He said. If the silence continues, doubts arise, and we can easily descend into discouragement. Some people feel guilty or afraid, thinking they've done something wrong and God has deserted them. Others get angry with Him.

            All these are natural reactions; however, there is a better way to respond. The next time you feel God isn't answering your prayer, try the following steps:

            Ask why. It's not wrong to question the Lord in order to gain understanding about His ways.

            Wait for His timing. God has infinite knowledge and wisdom. He knows exactly what to do and when to do it.

            Trust Him. The Lord may seem silent, but that doesn't mean He isn't involved. He's personally interested in the details and is actively working out every situation according to His good purposes.

            Anticipate a more intimate relationship with Him. When we respond to the silent times with submission, trust, and patience, our relationship with Christ is enriched and deepened.

            Read the Bible. If God's voice is unclear, reading His Word is a good place to tune in. That's where His thoughts, desires, and ways are revealed. It's simply His voice in written form.

            Keep praying. Don't stop communicating with the Lord. Keep asking, seeking, and knocking (Matt. 7:7-11), but don't let it end there. Sit quietly with Him and listen (Ps. 46:10).”2

Stay Strong

            When we are with God, when our prayers go unanswered, when God remains silent, be sure of this that God will never leave us or forsake us, “because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.”” (Hebrews 13: 5-6, NIV).

            When God’s silence confronts us, when our prayers remain unanswered, let us echo the words in the Bible and proclaim, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.” Better is one day in the Lord’s court than a thousand elsewhere (cf. Psalm 84: 10).


Endnotes:

1http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/when-god-seems-silent


2http://www.crossmap.com/blogs/unanswered-prayers-why-god-remains-silent-3822

Friday, August 19, 2016

A Beginners Guide To Understand & Answer Dr. Bart Ehrman

            Dr. Bart Ehrman’s works could rattle the faith of naïve Christians. Hence, those who debate Christians frequently appeal to Ehrman's works.

            This is a beginner’s guide to comprehend Ehrman, and the scholarly response from Christian apologists to debunk his attacks against Historic Christianity.

Who Is Bart Ehrman?        

            “Dr. Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill…An expert on the New Testament and the history of Early Christianity, has written or edited thirty books, numerous scholarly articles, and dozens of book reviews…Five of his books have been on the New York Times Bestseller list: Misquoting Jesus; God’s Problem; Jesus Interrupted; Forged; and How Jesus Became God,” says Ehrman’s website.1

Why Did Ehrman Renounce Christianity?

            Dr. William Lane Craig, a Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptist University, is a contemporary to Dr. Ehrman. Craig and Ehrman attended the same college and studied Greek under the same professor. Craig briefly narrates Ehrman’s apostasy from Christianity, “Sadly, Dr. Ehrman came to radically different conclusions as a result of his studies at Princeton University. He pointedly describes how he came to doubt the doctrine of biblical inerrancy as a result of his studies and how this finally led him to abandon faith in Christ. Eventually, he became an agnostic, finally an atheist, and today he is an apostate Christian to all appearances and writes books against the Christian faith which are enormously destructive and which have proved very troubling to many Christians who read them and as a result are filled with doubts about their own Christian faith and experience.”2

Why Did Ehrman Become Famous?

            Ehrman’s book “Misquoting Jesus” was published in November 2005. Within one week, it was among the top fifty sellers at Amazon. Within three months, more than 100,000 copies were sold. Ehrman was much sought after by media outlets.3

            “Why all the hoopla? ...Jesus sells. But not the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus that sells is the one that is palatable to postmodern man. And with a book entitled Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, a ready audience was created via the hope that there would be fresh evidence that the biblical Jesus is a figment…More importantly, this book sells because it appeals to the skeptic who wants reasons not to believe, who considers the Bible a book of myths…”4 says Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, the Senior Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.

What Are Ehrman’s Accusations Against Historic Christianity?

            Dr. Craig A. Evans, the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins and Dean of the School of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University, offers a terse yet highly meaningful synopsis of Bart Ehrman’s attack against Historic Christianity, “In Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman argues that today’s text of the Bible (and he mostly speaks in reference to the Greek New Testament) does not exactly match that of the original writings and that some of the changes in the text were deliberate, at times motivated by theological dogmas. Therefore, we really don’t know what the evangelists originally wrote. In Jesus, Interrupted, Ehrman shows why the Gospel narratives cannot be harmonized, nor their histories trusted. In Forged: Writing in the Name of God, he argues that several books of the Bible were not written by their ascribed authors. Most recently, in How Jesus Became God, Ehrman argues that the early church’s belief that Jesus was divine was not what Jesus claimed, nor what his original disciples believed.”5

Where Do I Begin To Debunk Ehrman?

            Ehrman is a textual critic, not an expert in the research of Historical Jesus, says William Lane Craig, “Bart Ehrman’s area of expertise is the text – the original Greek text – of the New Testament. He is a textual critic. Although he likes to posture himself in his books as a historian – an expert or scholar in life of Jesus research – in fact that is not his area of specialization or training. He is a textual critic who is someone who works with manuscripts to establish the original text of the autographs – or the original writings – of the New Testament…Unfortunately, Bart Ehrman has used his prestige as a text critic to give the impression to lay people that the text of the New Testament is terribly corrupted and uncertain.”6

            Ehrman is a double-faced accuser; he knows that the New Testament is 99% established yet he attacks the veracity of the New Testament, “…there are really two Bart Ehrmans that are on display...the scholarly Bart Ehrman and the popular Bart Ehrman. The scholarly Bart Ehrman knows that the text of the New Testament has been established to 99% accuracy. That is to say, the original wording of the New Testament is now established to about 99%. So the degree of uncertainty of the text of the New Testament is only about 1%. There are about 138,000 Greek words in the New Testament. Of these, only about 1,400 are uncertain today. 99% are established with real certainty. Of that 1% that still remains uncertain, virtually uncertain, bad Bart deliberately misrepresents the situation to lay audiences to make them think that the New Testament is incredibly corrupted and uncertain. It is very interesting that when the bad Bart is pressed on this issue by someone he will come clean and admit this. For example, I heard Bart Ehrman interviewed on a radio show some time ago about Misquoting Jesus and the interviewer was talking to him about how uncertain the text of the New Testament is, all the thousands and thousands of variants that there are…and finally the interviewer said to him, “Dr. Ehrman, what do you think the text of the New Testament originally really said?” And Ehrman replied, “I don’t understand what you mean. What are you talking about?” And the interviewer said, “The text of the New Testament – it has been so corrupted as it has been copied. What do you think the original text actually said?” And Ehrman said, “Well, it says pretty much what we have today – what it says now.” And the interviewer was utterly confused. He said, “I thought it was all corrupted” and Ehrman said “We’ve been able to reestablish the text of the New Testament as textual scholars.” So he knows and when pressed admits that the text of the New Testament is 99% established.”7

            Ehrman argues like a fundamentalist and is frequently guilty of the fallacy of the excluded middle, says Dr. Craig Evans, “The problem is that, in his popular books, Ehrman is frequently guilty of the logical fallacy of the excluded middle, the idea that there are only two options — either we have every word of the original text or we do not; either we have harmonious accounts of the teaching and activities of Jesus or we don’t. Bart Ehrman is arguing like a fundamentalist. It is an all-or-nothing approach. If the Bible is truly inspired (and therefore trustworthy), it must be free from discrepancies. But this is not how most seasoned scholars think, including evangelicals. Nor was it the way early Christians thought.”8

            Ehrman will not engage the best critics in the field, claims Nick Peters while reviewing Ehrman’s latest book, “Jesus Before the Gospels,” “…he will very rarely interact with those who are his best critics in the field. In Forged, he spends no serious time on the work of Randy Richards on the usage of secretaries, for instance. In How Jesus Became God he barely interacts with Hurtado and Hengel and does not even once mention Bauckham. So it is that in this book, he doesn’t deal with many of the best critics out there, such as the work of Walton and Sandy in The Lost World of Scripture or with the work of Robert McIver in Memory, Jesus, and the Synoptic Gospels.”9

            To conclude, Ehrman has been more than adequately debunked. This article merely provides a basic understanding of Bart Ehrman and offers a starting point to debunk his accusations. The reader can gain deeper insight into Ehrman’s fallacies upon studying the materials cited in the endnotes and the scholarly work by the Christian apologists that are in the public domain.

Endnotes:

Websites cited were last accessed on 18th August, 2016.

1http://www.bartdehrman.com/barts-biography/

2http://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/the-work-of-bart-ehrman-gracepoint-church#ixzz4H6kIbuVC

3https://bible.org/article/gospel-according-bart

4Ibid.

5http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2014/04/16/fundamentalist-arguments-against-fundamentalism/31725

6http://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/the-work-of-bart-ehrman-gracepoint-church#ixzz4H6kaTIwv

7http://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/the-work-of-bart-ehrman-gracepoint-church#ixzz4H6l6dm6h

8http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2014/04/16/fundamentalist-arguments-against-fundamentalism/31725

9http://deeperwaters.ddns.net/?p=9181


This article was originally written for Christian Apologetics Alliance and posted at their website http://christianapologeticsalliance.com/2016/08/18/a-beginners-guide-to-understand-and-answer-dr-bart-ehrman/

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pedophilia (Sexual Attraction To Children) To Be Legalized?

Legalize The Lies / Sins

            Christian apologist Frank Turek said, “Lies are born the moment someone thinks the truth is dangerous.” One can’t hit the nail better on its head.

            Not so long ago, the conventional thought of the majority was to deem homosexuality as an abnormal or as we Christians say, sinful, sexual behavior. This conventional thought was predicated on the truth that homosexuality is a sin against God or as a secularist would claim – a behavior contrary to nature, and hence should not be practiced.

            However, an alternative, but a weirdly powerful thought process began devouring the conventional thought. This weird yet powerful thought asked the question, “Why should love be denied between consenting homosexuals?” This weird thought promoted the lie under the pretext of love, because it thought that the truth was dangerously condemning love between homosexuals. 

            As a result homosexuality is now considered as an alternative lifestyle in many, if not all cultures. Some countries have legalized homosexuality and others are on their way to do so. In India, once a bastion of conservative thought, hate would inundate those who dare condemn homosexuality.

            When the lie of homosexuality camouflaged as truth and taken off the taboo-list of condemnatory sexual behaviors, many well-meaning voices envisaged a time when the greater lie of pedophilia (sexual attraction to children) would follow suit. Appropriately so, a few years ago, at a conference held by the University of Cambridge, university academics began the process to legalize pedophilia when they presented papers advocating legalization of pedophilia.

Pedophilia Will Piggyback On Homosexuality

            On what grounds would pedophilia be legalized? 

            Pedophilia will piggyback on homosexuality. Two prominent Canadian psychologists believe that pedophilia is a sexual orientation as heterosexuality or homosexuality, "Van Gijseghem, psychologist and retired professor of the University of Montreal, told      members of Parliament, “Pedophiles are not simply people who commit a small offense from time to time but rather are grappling with what is equivalent to a sexual orientation just like another individual may be grappling with heterosexuality or even homosexuality.” He went on to say, “True pedophiles have an exclusive preference for children, which is the same as having a sexual orientation. You cannot change this person’s sexual orientation. He may, however, remain abstinent.” When asked if he should be comparing pedophiles to homosexuals, Van Gijseghem replied, “If, for instance, you were living in a society where heterosexuality is proscribed or prohibited and you were told that you had to get therapy to change your sexual orientation, you would probably say that that is slightly crazy. In other words, you would not accept that at all. I use this analogy to say that, yes indeed, pedophiles do not change their sexualorientation.”

            Dr. Quinsey, professor emeritus of psychology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, agreed with Van Gijseghem. Quinsey said pedophiles’ sexual interests prefer children and, “There is no evidence that this sort of preference can be changed through treatment or through anything else.”

            In July, 2010 Harvard health Publications said, “Pedophilia is a sexual orientation and unlikely to change. Treatment aims to enable someone to resist acting on his sexual urges.”"1

            Therefore, the abnormal sexual behavior of pedophilia will be camouflaged as truth under the pretext of an alternate sexual orientation to gain legitimacy.

Further Justification For Pedophilia

            NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) justifies pedophilia on the basis of its presence during the evolution of man, "THERE IS GOOD evidence for the view that man/boy love is rooted in our earliest social evolution.  If true, then no amount of suppressive legislation, beefed-up police powers, or       psychological conditioning will ever be able to eradicate it without fundamentally altering and impairing something essential and vital in human nature. Intergenerational homosexuality has been observed repeatedly in one of the most intelligent creatures on the planet.  Dolphins not only engage in homosexuality, but also the cetaceous equivalent of boy-love.  In what has come to be regarded as the "classic observations of dolphins at the Marineland of Florida," marine biologists A.F.  McBride and D.O.  Hebb published their findings in the Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology.  Their landmark study revealed that sexual play among young male dolphins was so common it seemed to typify a pre-adult stage. Not as common but nonetheless frequent were sexual encounters between maturing male dolphins and fully adult males. These liaisons were not matters of dominance and submission.  Indeed, the younger dolphins often sought out the older males. Force or coercion never appeared in such contacts."2

            NAMBLA then goes on to substantiate the presence of pedophilia in mankind that existed 4000 years ago, “If American moralists are scandalized by the dolphin's sex practices, how much more offended might they be by the behavior of their own ancestors, the founders of western civilization, more than 4000 years ago?  In his deeply researched investigation of the Indo-European peoples of the third millennium B.C., Rick Fields recreated their ceremonial life: "Very probably they practiced ritual pederasty, like some of the warriors in New Guinea.  This custom was known among warrior societies in Sparta and Crete, where young boys were 'captured' by older warriors as part of initiation.  It was also found among the Celts and Germans."” 3 (Pederasty is the sexual relationship between an adult and a minor.)

            Today, pedophilia advocacy groups (organizations working towards legalizing paedophilia) are active in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States. 4

            So do not be surprised if you are living in a country that will soon legalize pedophilia.

Consequence: Increased Child Sex Abuse

            We do not need an astrophysicist to inform us that legitimizing pedophilia would result in an increased child sex abuse. It is estimated that 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls in the USA are victims of sexual abuse before the age of 18.5 If pedophilia is to be legitimized, then more children would be vulnerable to sexual abuse.

            Moreover, we will observe an increased number of pedophiles in action. Even the church would present an increased number of pedophiles clothed as clergy. For instance, the Pope had apparently announced that 2% of Catholic clergy are pedophiles.6 If pedophilia is legitimized, then it is quite possible that this percentage could increase.

Consequence: Legitimize Other Lies / Sins E.g. Child Pornography

            Would there be associated threats if pedophilia is to be legitimized?

            The seeds for such threats are being planted already. Even the most learned scholars would then advocate the legitimization of child porn in order to keep the pedophiles in check, “Milton Diamond, a University of Hawaii professor and director of the Pacific Center for Sex and Society, stated that child pornography could be beneficial to society because, “Potential sex offenders use child pornography as a substitute for sex against children.”

            Diamond is a distinguished lecturer for the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco.”7

Christian Response

            What should the Christians do in the wake of such inordinate threats to our children?

            Let us primarily educate ourselves and our children about this situation. Let us also develop a healthy relationship with our children that they would approach us first when and if they are abused or even if they suspect a person as a pedophile. This person could even be a most trusted person in our domain.

            Focus on the victims; love and care for them says this wonderful article, please read this article if you are serious about tackling the menace of pedophilia, especially in the church, (http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/07/02/towards-a-christian-response-to-pedophilia-in-the-church/).

            Finally, today, even within Christianity, voices are getting louder to tolerate homosexuality. A good number of Christians have sinfully embraced the lie of tolerance that appears as a noble truth.

            So here’s my question to those who tolerate homosexuality, “how do you propose to tolerate when your child or a dear friend’s child, in trauma, divulges that he/she has been painfully sodomized by an adult?” 

            Huh! 

           Come Lord Jesus and deliver us from evil. 

Endnotes:

Websites cited were last accessed on 11th August, 2016.

1http://www.allenbwest.com/ashleyedwardson/that-was-fast-yesterday-it-was-gay-marriage-now-look-who-wants-equal-rights

2http://www.nambla.org/dolphins.html

3Ibid.

4https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pedophile_and_pederast_advocacy_organizations#International

5https://www.nsopw.gov/en/Education/FactsStatistics?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1#reference

6http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-28526106


7http://www.allenbwest.com/ashleyedwardson/that-was-fast-yesterday-it-was-gay-marriage-now-look-who-wants-equal-rights