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

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Men Could Become Pregnant!

            In the reel life, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a male scientist in the movie Junior, used hormones and invitro fertilization to become pregnant. In the animal life, male seahorses become pregnant.

            In the human life, the man Thomas Beatie, in the year 2008, became pregnant to deliver his first child. Thomas Beatie, however, is a transgender man, who retained the sexual organs of the gender of his birth to have babies.1

            Yes, transgender men could become pregnant and have babies!

IS MALE PREGNANCY POSSIBLE?

            Could 100% normal men (not transgenders) become pregnant?

            Scientists posit the possibility of male pregnancy because of the possibility of uterus transplantation. An article in The New York Times quotes Dr. Rebecca Flyckt, an obstetrician-gynecologist and expert in reproductive endocrinology to explain the theoretical possibility of male pregnancy, “Although theoretically this would be possible, it would be a huge surgical and endocrinologic undertaking and involve not just the creation of a vagina but also surgical reconstruction of the whole pelvis by someone skilled in transgender surgery. After this procedure and the grafting of a donor uterus, a complex hormone regimen would be required to support a pregnancy prior to and after embryo transfer (although this could be done, as we provide similar hormone regimens to menopausal women to support a pregnancy). The interesting thing is that these embryos would be created using the patient’s sperm (rather than eggs as in our protocol) and a partner or donor’s eggs. This sperm would have had to be frozen prior to their transgender surgery, which people are doing more routinely now.

            I did anticipate that there would be interest in this application of uterine transplant from the Trans community; however, our protocol is limited at this time to women without a functioning uterus.”2

            An article titled “Scientists are Now Attempting to Figure Out How to Get Men Pregnant” in Lifenews.com presents the risky nature of male pregnancies, “According to Scientific American, male patients would require even more “extreme steps” to carry a child. Here’s more from the report:

            Here is how it could work: First, a patient would likely need castration surgery and high doses of exogenous hormones because high levels of male sex hormones, called androgens, could threaten pregnancy. (Although hormone treatments can be powerful, patients would likely need to be castrated because the therapy might not be enough to maintain the pregnancy among patients with testes.) The patient would also need surgery to create a “neovagina” that would be connected to the transplant uterus, to shed menses and give doctors access to the uterus for follow-up care.

            For some scientists, the procedures involved in making males pregnant are too risky. Baylor University transplant surgeon Dr. Giuliano Testa called the possibility a “feat of unknown proportions.” He told the science news outlet that he would never consider doing the procedure.”3

            Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, Lee Silver, thinks that reproductive biologists would, in the future, figure out a way to ensure male pregnancies through abdominal pregnancy, which is, at the moment, a high risk endeavor, “So is male pregnancy possible? Probably yes. Is male pregnancy safe? No, not at the present time.

            But at some point in the future, it’s likely that reproductive biologists will figure out how to direct the growth of the placenta away from vulnerable abdominal organs and onto an easily detachable, but blood-rich, surface for growth. And then, pregnancy will be possible for men who are 100% men, although it's certainly not something that I would want to do.” 4

            This then is the writing on the wall as far as male pregnancies are concerned. Uterine transplants and abdominal pregnancy, along with other possibilities, would be explored by the scientific community to enable the possibility of risk free male pregnancies in the future.

THE BIOETHICS OF MALE PREGNANCIES

            Male pregnancy is predicted to be a very expensive procedure, which could cost approximately US$ 1 million. From the standpoint of ethics, the class issue will be raised, for male pregnancies would only be afforded by the wealthy class of people. 5

            Another ethical concern deals with the rationale behind pouring millions of dollars into researching male pregnancies when there are more pressing needs that could do better with greater funding. Healing is desperately needed for many diseases such as cancers and genetic illnesses like Autism and Alzheimer's disease.   

            Wesley J. Smith, award winning author, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism, and a consultant to the Patients Rights Council, condemns male pregnancies. He was also named as one of America’s premier expert thinkers in bioengineering by the National Journal and these are his very words, “Biologically male mothers would be unethical and immoral from every angle one looks at the issue; whether the potential fatal harm to the man, treating new life as a mere experiment, and the obliteration of the concept of societal norms.”6

WHY DO WE NEED MALE PREGNANCIES?

            In other words, “Why is mankind not satisfied with female pregnancies?”

            Outside of career driven women driving their docile husbands (pardon the pun) to become pregnant, here are a few apparent reasons for male pregnancies.

Impossible Is Nothing

            Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali is credited to have uttered the famous Adidas slogan, “impossible is nothing,” “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” Man is in a constant state of overcoming barriers – small and large.

            If male pregnancies are deemed impossible now, the scientific community would consider overcoming this impossibility as a landmark conquest of impossibility.

Need For Transgender Women

            If uterine transplants are successful enough for men to become pregnant and deliver safely, then Genetic literacy project posits transgender women (born as a male) as the first possible clientele for male pregnancies, “As for who will be the first candidates after the infertile women who already are benefiting from this experimental procedure, we could imagine a man opting to do it in the name of science, similar to Schwartezenegger’s character. On the other hand, it seems logical that transgender women will constitute a bigger market.

            “I’d bet just about every transgender person who is female will want to do it, if it were covered by insurance,” remarked Christine McGinn M.D., a plastic surgeon on New Hope, Pennsylvania who is consulting on a film about the early days of sex reassignment surgery. “Human drive to be a mother for a woman is a very serious thing,” she added. “Transgender women are no different.””7

Need To Rebel Against God

            Joseph Fletcher, a pioneer in bioethics, who anticipated male pregnancies way back in 1988, in his work The Ethics of Genetic Control, exemplified mankind’s rebellion against God.    An article in the National Review magazine says, “Joseph Fletcher–one of the bioethics movement’s founding fathers, who also gave us situational ethics–sighed ecstatically at the prospect of men giving birth. From page 45 of his 1988 book The Ethics of Genetic Control:

            [T]ransplant or replacement medicine foresees the day, after the automatic rejection of alien tissue is overcome, when a uterus can be implanted in a human male’s body—his abdomen has spaces—and gestation started by artificial fertilization and egg transfer. 

            Hypogonadism could be used to stimulate milk from the man’s rudimentary breasts—men too have mammary glands.  If surgery could not construct a cervical canal the delivery could be effected by a Caesarean section and the male or transsexualized mother could nurse his own baby. Fletcher was at war with the natural and longed for the day when man could manipulate the created (or evolved) order into our own image.”8  

            Man, who does not submit to God, possesses an innate desire to rebel against God and HIS creational intent. Male pregnancies are another manifestation of man’s rebellion against God.

            Consider God’s creational intent. Both man and woman are appropriately created by God to produce life. When man intends to violate God’s creational intent, especially within the context of male pregnancies, he ought to dangerously and artificially alter man’s body i.e. import a foreign uterus into the man’s body, artificially fertilizing the sperm and the egg and so on.

            When we think about it, there is no need for male pregnancies when adoption is always a pragmatic option. Why then do we interfere with God’s marvelous creation? It’s because that’s who we are and that’s who we will be as long as we rebel and do not submit to God to enjoy HIS marvelous creation. Come, Lord Jesus.

Endnotes:
Websites cited were last accessed on 4th August, 2016.

1 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2019579/Worlds-pregnant-man-Thomas-Beatie-unveils-muscular-body-3-babies.html

2 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/insider/will-uterine-transplants-make-male-pregnancy-possible.html?_r=0

3 http://www.lifenews.com/2016/06/20/scientists-are-now-attempting-to-figure-out-how-to-get-men-pregnant/

4 http://www.science20.com/challenging_nature/a_real_pregnant_man_almost_certainly_possible_but_it_might_kill_him

5 http://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/male-pregnancy-a-real-possibility/11726

6 http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/427270/coming-next-men-mothers-wesley-j-smith

7 https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2016/01/14/male-pregnancy-its-not-just-for-seahorses-anymore/


8 http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/427270/coming-next-men-mothers-wesley-j-smith

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Oh no, Pokémon Go? (A Christian's Response To Pokémon Go)

            Why is this topic “Could Christians play Pokémon Go?” even relevant?

            Expert in the occult, William J. Schnoebelen of “With One Accord Ministries” explains the innate spiritual dangers of Pokémon (pocket monster):

            “1) Pokémon teaches kids that they can make demon-like beings (cuddly little monsters1) obey them;

            2) They are taught that these demons can be mastered and controlled;

            3) They are taught that demons are their servants and will help them.

            4) They are encouraged to become “Pokémon masters” by “conquering” more and more demons.” 1

            While warning his readers about Pokémon’s native spiritual dangers, Bill Schnoebelen does not mince any words, “In essence, these games are turning kids into real sorcerer’s apprentices! No wonder children are obsessed with this! Their culture’s greed is coming at them from one front and the games themselves are doorways for demons. Remember, anytime you are dealing with serious addictive behavior (and some of this IS SERIOUS), you can assume a spirit of bondage (Rom. 8:15) is at work. The spirit of bondage is a powerful strongman that needs to be dealt with quickly and preemptively in the authority of Jesus. Its best “antidote” is the “Spirit of Adoption” (same verse) which speaks deep to our hearts and cries out “Abba Father”…

            …Many of these kids (just like their parents) have never known the Love of Abba Father. Because of their thirst for it, they are drinking out of hell’s cisterns with these demonic, addictive games. Remember, just because your kids think they are innocently playing does not prevent the evil spirits from being deadly in earnest in exploiting their neediness and bringing bondage. If the devil (or his minions) can appear as an angel of light (2Cor. 11:14), he can certainly appear as a cute, warm fuzzy little cuddle-toy of a character.” 2

            On a similar note, Christian Apologetics & Research ministry, CARM.org, in an article written in 2007, explains that Pokémon is potentially a dangerous game that could lead people away from God, since the game lures the gamers into accepting the occult and evolutionary principles.3

            How do we resolve the concern that the game Pokémon Go could be Satanic?

            On July 16th 2016, CARM website posted an update apparently deeming Pokémon Go as a game without any occultic overtones. 4 This update comes from a scholar who had earlier argued that Pokémon contained occultic overtones. (There is also an assurance to continue the research into Pokémon Go.)

            Another accusation against Pokémon Go is the reference to the TIME magazine interview with Satoshi Tajiri, one of the founders of Pokémon. Satoshi is reported to have confessed that Pokémon was intentionally developed to contradict the Historic Christian principles.5

            This is a false accusation.6 In his interview with the TIME magazine, Satoshi did not confess to Pokémon being Satanic.7

            So on one hand is the fear that Pokémon Go is satanic and that Christians should not dabble with it. On the other hand, Christian scholars who have played the game contend that it is not Satanic. What do we do?

            One could err on the side of caution and not play Pokémon Go if there is much fear about playing Pokémon Go and being sucked into the occult. Conversely, if there is no fear and if the gamer is a strong believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then my personal opinion is that the game could be played.

            Consider this perspective. The fundamental premise that creates controversy among Christians is Pokémon’s insinuation to the term “monsters.” Instead of naming Pokémon as Pokémon, if Satoshi Tajiri had named Pokémon as Pokéman, would Pokéman have created much controversy among the Christian community? I do not think so.

            In the year 2000 the Vatican had seemingly endorsed Pokémon, “The Vatican-based satellite TV station declared that Pokemon trading cards and the computer game is “full of inventive imagination,” has no “harmful moral side effects” and is based on the notion of “intense friendship.””8

            The commonsense reality is this; if Pokémon Go is eating up your time and money, then it should not be played. We have specific mission(s) for our life. We are to devote adequate time to God, study / work, care for the family and society. If Pokémon Go prevents an efficient discharge of any of these responsibilities, then Pokémon Go ought to be deleted from the phone.

            Having said this, how could the Christian churches respond to Pokémon Go?

            While on one hand there is intense opposition to Pokémon Go, there is also a spirit of embracing Pokémon Go within Christianity. Churches are urged to utilize this opportunity of Pokémon Go to evangelize.

            Although Pokémon Go is not released in India, which is where I live, the internet offers much needed knowledge to learn about the game and to prepare for its onslaught in India. In the article, “8 Ways Churches Can Capitalize On Pokemon Go” there are suggestions a church could employ to engage the Pokémon Go gamers.9 These are practical suggestions that any church can use.

            For instance, a church may be a “PokeStop” or a “gym” in Pokémon Go. If a church is a gym, then more foot traffic could be expected during the week. If evangelism is of a high priority to that church, then the leadership of the church could make use of the unique opportunity of an increased footfall to evangelize the gamers.

            The church should be innovative enough to grab every opportunity that comes her way so to glorify God, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV).

            The words of the writer in the website of “The Gospel Coalition” constitute a pertinent conclusion, “Pokémon Go taps into our longing for unity in a fractured world. For a moment, we are together, sharing the same physical space and playing the same game.

            Pokémon Go also taps into our longing for something beyond the flattened, rationalist society of our age. For a moment, we feel the magic of the old mythologies and long for something beyond this present world.

            Of course, this is all just a game, and like all fads, its appeal will soon wear off. These myths do not reflect the biblical worldview. They give us a few moments of fun, but no promise for the future. No game can provide lasting community or eternal significance; only the gospel can do that.

            But as missionaries in this time and place, we should have eyes wide open to the pressures people feel in this fractured and flattened world, so that we can better tell the better Story, which, in the words of C. S. Lewis, is “the myth that became fact.””10

Endnotes:

Websites cited were last accessed on 28th July, 2016.

1 http://www.withoneaccord.org/assets/images/freedownloads/StraightTalkonPokemon.pdf

2 Ibid.



5 http://www.p4rgaming.com/pokemon-creator-admits-games-aimed-towards-satanists/

6 http://www.snopes.com/pokemon-satanist-anti-christian-inverview/

7 http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2040095,00.html

8 http://enquirer.com/editions/2000/05/02/loc_vatican_broadcasters.html

9 http://thewardrobedoor.com/2016/07/churches-pokemon-go.html


10 https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/trevinwax/2016/07/13/pokemon-go-in-a-fractured-and-flattened-world/

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Blessed Are The Pentecostals (An Evangelical Christian’s Thoughts About The Pentecostal Movement)

            Protestant reformation occurred in the 16th century. In other words, Protestantism was born in the 16th century.

            We live in the 21st century. Sadly, within a span of 500 years, the spiritual decline of the mainline Protestants (Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Anglican etc.) gained momentum.1

            It may be quite reasonable to date the birth of Pentecostalism to the 20th century, although The United Holy Church and the Pentecostal Holiness Church would date the birth of Pentecostalism to the 19th century, 1886 and 1879, respectively.2 The birth of Pentecostalism is so precious to Christendom that Life magazine declared it as among the top 100 events of the second millennium – ranked 68th to be precise.

            Pentecostalism is growing at the rate of 35,000 believers a day or 13 million a year. It is the second largest denomination in Christianity, second only to the Roman Catholics.4

            God did not sit tight watching the decline of Protestant denominations. God birthed the Pentecostal movement.

            The decline of mainline denominations need not be construed as a decline of Christianity. The decline merely reveals the decline of nominal Christianity, argues Ed Stetzer, President of Lifeway Research, an evangelical research company. He said, “A better reading of the stats is found when you move beyond the headlines and see a long, slow (but accelerating) decline of (mostly) nominal Christianity. However, the percentage of convictional Christians has remained relatively steady, with some decline.”5  

            Ed Stetzer is indeed right. There are greater possibilities for the nominal Christian to reject the Lord than the spiritually mature Christians. This compels us to consider the aspect of nominal Christianity.

            The Lausanne Movement, founded by the much acclaimed Christian evangelist Dr. Billy Graham, characterized a nominal Christian as, “…a person who has not responded in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour and Lord. He is a Christian in name only. He may be very religious. He may be a practising or non-practising church member. He may give intellectual assent to basic Christian doctrines and claim to be a Christian. He may be faithful in attending liturgical rites and worship services, and be an active member involved in church affairs. But in spite of all this, he is still destined for eternal judgment (cf. Matt. 7:21-23, Jas. 2:19) because he has not committed his life to Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10)” (Emphasis Mine).6

            The nominal Christian bears personal responsibility for his spiritual malady. However, the church is also equally responsible for the sustenance of nominal Christianity.

            In our context, since it is the nominal Christian who is more likely to reject Christ, the church responsible for the sustenance of nominal Christianity were the mainline Protestant churches. Therefore, the birth of Pentecostalism, which emphasizes much on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, was much needed and extremely justified.

            Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

            Being the second largest tradition after the Roman Catholic Church, it would be worthwhile to consider the spiritual contributions of the Pentecostal tradition to Historic Christianity.

            First, Pentecostals believe in the inspiration, inerrancy and the infallibility of the Bible. They also believe that salvation is through Christ alone. These beliefs are vital to control and oppose the development of the liberal and postmodern Christianity that desacralizes the Bible to be a mere historical document and feigns salvation upon all and sundry.  

            Second, nominal Christians tend to be much lesser within the Pentecostal tradition. Pentecostals by virtue of their theology – emphasis upon the baptism of the Holy Spirit – tend to rather instinctively restrict the presence of nominal Christians in their fold. A Pentecostal yearns and prays for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This vital desire of the Pentecostal to be the channel of the Holy Spirit’s gifts sustains him in the Lord’s presence, thus preventing him to be a nominal Christian.

            Third, Pentecostals are stern fundamentalists about social behavior. Many Pentecostal denominations ban traditional vices such as alcohol, tobacco, movies, and short-sleeved dresses. In today’s context, this much needed attribute of the local Pentecostal church would vigorously oppose homosexuality, abortion and the other sinful practices that many mainline churches endorse.

            Last but not the least, one of the local church’s main emphases is upon the spiritual development of our youth. Youth are more attracted to a Pentecostal church than a mainline church. When the mainline churches struggle to attract the youth to attend their worship services, the natural presence of youth in their worship services offers the Pentecostal church a tremendous advantage to nurture them and develop their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

            Are there challenges to the Pentecostal movement? Yes of course!

            Divisions are always a challenge to the unity of any movement. There are almost 11,000 denominations in the Pentecostal movement. This could pose a serious challenge to the Pentecostal movement.

            However, history has taught us a valuable lesson that there could be unity in diversity. So by the grace of God, the various denominations of the Pentecostal movement could thrive even amidst their differences and be united in serving God and HIS people.

            I am a Christian. I do not consider myself a Pentecostal, for I do not believe that all Christians ought to speak in tongues. Since speaking in tongues is one of the prime tenets of the Pentecostal faith statement, I disqualify myself from being a Pentecostal (although I could speak in tongues in my private prayer time). I am more an Evangelical Christian than a Pentecostal. 

            There exists a definite theological tension between the Pentecostals and the mainline churches where each one claims spiritual superiority over the other. However, the theological differences are not severe enough to disrupt the peace between the concerned entities.  Hence we could agree to disagree on the theological differences and live in harmony with each other.

            The need of the hour is unity and not division. When Historic Christianity is constantly under fire from the secular and postmodern world, I believe with all my heart that it is the Pentecostals, Evangelicals and the faithful Christians from the other denominations that will uphold and sustain Historic Christianity.

            Blessed indeed are the Pentecostals for they have blessed Historic Christianity immensely. Let us pray for the continued growth and sustenance of Pentecostals and may their service to the Lord and HIS people be much fruitful.

Endnotes:

Websites cited were last accessed on 21st July 2016.

1 http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

2 https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/uploaded/50cf83d3192469.20505915.pdf

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 http://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/16/living/christianity-american-dead/index.html

6 http://www.lausanne.org/content/lop/lop-10#1

Glossary of Terms:
http://www.pewforum.org/2006/10/05/spirit-and-power-a-10-country-survey-of-pentecostals2/ offers definition of the following terms:

Pentecostals
Members of denominations that emphasize the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the belief that speaking in tongues is necessary evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals belong either to one of the historical denominations, such as the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ, that originated in the religious revivals of the early 20th century, or to newer, largely independent churches, sometimes labeled as neo-pentecostal churches.

Evangelicals
Members of Protestant denominations who hold traditional religious beliefs but are neither pentecostal nor fundamentalist. Evangelicals do not stress the gifts of the Holy Spirit (as pentecostals do), but they are not hostile to them (as fundamentalists are). All three groups share certain basic religious doctrines, such as the need for believers to have a conversion experience (i.e., be “born again”) and to convert non-believers. As a consequence, they all can be thought of as belonging to a broader evangelical Protestant tradition.

Mainline Protestants
Members of the once-dominant Protestant denominations. Although affirming many traditional beliefs, these churches are known for their generally progressive theology and openness to new ideas and societal changes. These denominations do not stress the gifts of the Holy Spirit but are often tolerant of such practices, and thus include charismatics in their ranks.