Friday, July 20, 2018

Dinosaurs And Christianity; Is There A Problem?

            Dinosaurs existed many many years ago. I say ‘many many years ago’ because there is an ongoing debate about the age of our earth and thereby the time or the era when dinosaurs existed.

            Broadly, Christians subscribe to either of the two creation models: (1) The Young Earth Creationism and (2) The Old Earth Creationism. If you believe that the age of the earth is approximately 6000 years old, then you are a young earth creationist. But if you believe that the earth was created millions of years ago, then you are an old earth creationist.

            The young earth creationist or those who believe that the age of the earth is approximately 6000 years would claim that the dinosaurs existed within the past thousand years. But an old earth proponent – a Christian who believes that the earth is millions of years old – would believe that the Dinosaurs existed millions of years ago.

            Is there a problem? Christian apologist, J. Warner Wallace, articulates this dilemma, “Perhaps the most frequent questions asked of me related to the age of the earth are these: What do Christians say about dinosaurs? How do Christians account for dinosaurs and the death we observe in the fossil record? Doesn’t the very existence of dinosaurs in the fossil record, contradict the claims of the Bible? There’s an impression, even amongst Christians, dinosaurs present the Christian community with a true dilemma. There seems to be something contradictory about the archeological record of dinosaur life, and the biblical record of creation…”1

            A systematic study of this subject should encompass a study of the claims and the counter-claims of the young and the old earth creationists. But because of a self-imposed word restriction for every essay that I publish for your consumption, I shall only consider the response to the dinosaur dilemma from the perspective of the young earth creationists.

            Since this view completely disagrees with the evolutionists, I believe it would be more interesting to study the arguments of the proponents of young age creationism with respect to the dinosaur dilemma. (On the other hand, the old age creationist’s view of the dinosaurs would largely agree with that of the evolutionists.)

            “Answers In Genesis” is a Christian apologetics ministry that believes in the young earth creationism. They believe that the existence of dinosaurs does not disprove the Bible or that of Historic Christianity. Here’s their response to the existence of dinosaurs:2

Did Dinosaurs Really Exist?
Dinosaurs certainly did roam the Earth in the ancient past! Fossils of dinosaurs have been found all over the world, and their bones are displayed in museums for all to see. Scientists have been able to reconstruct many of their skeletons, so we know much about how they may have looked.
When Were Dinosaurs Found?
The story of their discovery began back in the 1820s, when Gideon Mantell, an English doctor, found some unusual teeth and bones in a quarry. Dr Mantell realized there was something very different about these animal remains, and believed that he had found an entirely new group of reptiles. By 1841, about nine types of these different reptiles had been uncovered, including two called Megalosaurus and Iguanodon.
At this time, a famous British scientist, Dr Richard Owen, coined the name “Dinosauria,” meaning “terrible lizard,” for this is what the huge bones made him think of.
When Did Dinosaurs Live?
The story we have all heard from movies, television, newspapers, and most magazines and textbooks is that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. According to evolutionists, the dinosaurs “ruled the Earth” for 140 million years, dying out about 65 million years ago. However, scientists do not dig up anything labeled with those ages. They only uncover dead dinosaurs (i.e., their bones), and their bones do not have labels attached telling how old they are. The idea of millions of years of evolution is just the evolutionists’ story about the past. No scientist was there to see the dinosaurs live through this supposed dinosaur age. In fact, there is no proof whatsoever that the world and its fossil layers are millions of years old. No scientist observed dinosaurs die. Scientists only find the bones in the here and now, and because many of them are evolutionists, they try to fit the story of the dinosaurs into their view.
Other scientists, called creation scientists, have a different idea about when dinosaurs lived. They believe they can solve any of the supposed dinosaur mysteries and show how the evidence fits wonderfully with their ideas about the past, beliefs that come from the Bible…
Although the Bible does not tell us exactly how long ago it was that God made the world and its creatures, we can make a good estimate of the date of creation by reading through the Bible and noting some interesting passages…
…As you add up all of the dates, and accepting that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to Earth almost 2000 years ago, we come to the conclusion that the creation of the Earth and animals (including the dinosaurs) occurred only thousands of years ago (perhaps only 6000!), not millions of years. Thus, if the Bible is right (and it is!), dinosaurs must have lived within the past thousands of years.
Where Did Dinosaurs Come From?
… The Bible tells us that God created all of the land animals on the sixth day of creation. As dinosaurs were land animals, they must have been made on this day, alongside Adam and Eve, who were also created on Day Six (Genesis 1:24–31). If God designed and created dinosaurs, they would have been fully functional, designed to do what they were created for, and would have been 100% dinosaur. This fits exactly with the evidence from the fossil record.
Evolutionists declare that no man ever lived alongside dinosaurs. The Bible, however, makes it plain that dinosaurs and people must have lived together. Actually, as we will soon see, there is a lot of evidence for this.

            Another question that deserves a credible answer is, “Did Dinosaurs and Man coexist?” Evolutionists claim that dinosaurs and man did not coexist. In contrast, the young earth creationist claim that they coexisted, “Here, in short, is how we arrive at our conclusion that dinosaurs and man lived at the same time—starting with a straightforward reading of the Bible as the true, eyewitness account of history:

1. Dinosaurs, being land animals, were created on Day 6 of Creation Week. (Genesis 1:24–25)
2. Adam and Eve were created on Day 6 of Creation Week. (Genesis 1:26–30)
3. Thus, dinosaurs and humans lived side by side.6 (Genesis 1:31)”3

            Interestingly, carvings of dinosaurs have been discovered at various locations. Carvings of dinosaurs could only exist if man had seen them, claims an article in the “Apologetics Press,” entitled “Physical Evidence for the Coexistence of Dinosaurs and Humans [Part II],” “If humans and dinosaurs lived together on the Earth in the past, what would you expect to find to verify their cohabitation? One line of conclusive evidence would be a series of carvings or drawings accurately depicting dinosaur anatomy that could be shown to have been produced before modern information about dinosaur anatomy emerged. The Stegosaurus carving in Cambodia, the dinosaur carving found by Samuel Hubbard, the accurate dinosaur petroglyph on Kachina Natural Bridge, dinosaur figurines discovered by Julsrud and studied by Charles Hapgood, the Ica stones, and various other carvings, figurines, and ancient art that we have not had space to include, converge to form a mountain of physical evidence that is exactly what would be expected if humans saw live dinosaurs. Evolutionists have used dinosaurs long enough to teach their false worldview. It is time we take dinosaurs back, and use them to teach about the awesome power of the One Who created these magnificent creatures.”4

            If you desire to dig deeper into this subject matter from the perspective of young earth creationism, then this page5 in the ‘Apologetics Press’ website would offer you helpful resources (copy and paste the link found in the endnotes in your browser). Also please visit the website of “Answers In Genesis” to learn more about dinosaurs from the perspective of young age creationism.

            How do the Christians subscribing to old earth creationist model respond to the dinosaur dilemma?

            Reasons.org is a Christian apologetics ministry subscribing to old earth creationism. They claim, “Since dinosaurs were first given a name (“terrible lizards”) in 1841, they have fascinated people. Our testable creation model says God created dinosaurs to roam the Earth roughly 230 million years ago, and many different types of these creatures dominated the landscape. Their time on Earth ended when a 6 mile-wide asteroid impacted Earth 65 million years ago. Some Christians say the Leviathan and Behemoth mentioned in Job refer to dinosaurs, but we disagree. Because humanity arrived on Earth much later, no biblical author would have had contact with dinosaurs. The most popular scientific model claims dinosaurs evolved into birds, but we reject this view also. Instead, we argue that both birds and dinosaurs were specially created by God to fill the livable environments available on Earth during their respective eras.”6

            To conclude, sincere Christians endeavoring to study the subject of dinosaurs from within the perspective of Historic Christianity could either agree to the views of the young earth creationists or the old earth creationists. But as Christians subscribing to Historic Christianity, let us not condemn the proponents of the opposing viewpoint.

            The dinosaur dilemma and the various models/perspectives of creation (young earth creationism, old earth creationism etc.) are not essential to the truthfulness of Historic Christianity. In other words, we are not required to take a hard stand on fringe topics such as the creation model or the dinosaurs.

            It would be worthwhile to invest our time and energy into understanding the truth-claims that offer validity to the various essential doctrines of Historic Christianity e.g. Creation over Unguided Evolution etc. This is a better alternative than to pore over fringe doctrines because our belief in the fringe doctrines cannot jeopardize our belief in Historic Christianity.

            Hence, when we study/discuss dinosaurs or creation models, we can always agree to disagree with the opposing view to uphold this timeless saying, “In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, in all things charity.”

Endnotes:

1http://coldcasechristianity.com/2012/do-dinosaurs-disprove-the-bible/

2https://answersingenesis.org/dinosaurs/dinosaurs-and-the-bible/

3https://answersingenesis.org/dinosaurs/humans/dinosaurs-man-and-the-bible/

4http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=446

5https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&topic=59

6http://www.reasons.org/explore/publications/tnrtb/read/tnrtb/2011/07/29/rtb-s-position-on-dinosaurs


Websites last accessed on 20th July 2018.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Laws Cannot Change Flaws

            The five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court in India is hearing petitions that demand the scrapping of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes gay sex. One of the reasons offered by the Supreme Court to hear these petitions is the changing ‘social morality.’1

            The judiciary may decide to uphold Section 377 or it may decide to decriminalize gay sex in India. Even if the court decides to uphold the law criminalizing gay sex, the continuous uproar from the pro-LGBT section of India’s populace would, in the near future, succeed in decriminalizing gay sex in India. So it is a mere matter of time – possibly a few years – when gay sex would be legitimized in India.

            Would the endorsement of gay sex by the Indian constitution (at any point in time) motivate us, Christians, to change our view on gay sex?

            A worthy Christian response is two-fold:

            First, hating the gay people is out of the question, so let us love them. But remember that our love for the gay people is not an endorsement of their sinful lifestyle.

            A gay lifestyle is an abomination.  However, we should love the gay people. By doing so, we hope and pray that they will see God in and through our love and allow HIM to change their lives.

            Second, let us, as God-loving and Bible-believing Christians, be strong in our biblical convictions. The Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin. So let us uphold the biblical teaching at any cost.

            Significantly, let us not commit the error of diluting the biblical teaching because of the changing ‘social morality.’ Today our society may decide to decriminalize gay sex and tomorrow our society may decide to decriminalize other offenses.

            Let not the changing mores of our society dictate our response to sins. Sins are an assault against God, so sins ought to be hated and rejected at all costs because we are God’s people.

            We reject sins because we love God. Remember that the commandment to love our neighbors is always preceded by the commandment to love our God.

            If the Lord Jesus wanted us, HIS disciples, to declassify sins as acceptable practices, then HE would not have reduced the laws to two. Instead, HE would have reduced it to one. But the Lord did not!

            Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias articulated this thought wonderfully, “For living together in harmony, Moses gave 613 laws to help build their community. About half a millennium later, David, in the fifteenth psalm, reduced them to eleven. Isaiah, in his opening chapter, reduced them further to six. Micah, in his sixth chapter, narrowed them down to three: “To do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly before your God.”

            How much further could one go to find the essence of the law? Jesus, in the 22nd chapter of Matthew, was asked which was the greatest commandment. The point was to see if he would earn the wrath of the political or religious leaders who dictated social or religious practice with scores of laws. Jesus, knowing their intent, surprised them. He did not reduce the laws to one. He could have done that. Instead, he reduced them down to two: “To love the Lord your God with all our heart, strength, soul and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.” “On these two,” he said, “hang all of the laws and the prophets.”2

            Ascribing preeminence to God is the bounden duty of an honest Christian. Such a Christian would not endorse sins. Instead, he will reject sins but will love the sinner.

            Let us then love the gay people but let’s reject gay sex because it is a sin against God. Let us always love the Lord our God and continue to follow HIM all through the days of our life.

            But that’s not it! This situation in India is a classic case that reveals the incompetence of the law to change the hearts of the people. As Ravi Zacharias said, “Laws don’t change flaws.”3

            The law to criminalize gay sex has been in existence for around 150 years in India. But that law did not succeed in convincing people that gay sex is immoral.

            When India decides to decriminalize gay sex, I would like to think that India would have moved over from the side of the law to the side of grace. When grace is in effect, sins would be condemned but sinners would be offered a second chance to repent and reject their sins.

            Those practicing gay sex (not only them but all who sin voluntarily, which includes you and me) are being swayed by the powers of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air (Ephesians 2:2). The law is incompetent to save us from sins. Only the blood of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can save us from sins, says Ravi Zacharias:4

All the platitudes of political double-speak remind us that if we hope in politics and laws we will make the suicidal blunder of thinking that laws change hearts. They do not. Societal laws are always at the mercy of power brokers, as language without integrity of heart lends itself to the machinations of demagogues. Oftentimes those machinations will dress up their own violations with noble purposes. Few evils rise to the insidious level as those that mask reality with purportedly benign intentions, cosmetically hiding a cancerous, self-serving motive.
We see again and again in the ebb and flow of history how laws have the power of letters but they never win the soul of a person. Courts, agencies, police, military, EPA, FAA, FTC, IRS, the politically correct enforcers…my goodness, we have enough laws to make Rome look like a toy shop. All over the world we hear more talk about brotherhood and yet in reality we see more hoods than brothers.
But, thank God, there is a law above our laws. There must be a law above our laws that gets to the innermost being of a person and breaks the pursuit of autocracy within. That happens when we admit that the heart must humble itself before God, and this brings change. That surrender of the heart to God disarms the individual and engenders a love from God and for His will.
We look around today at the environment and mourn the abuse. Fair enough. But here is the greatest mystery of all. Why do we never think of the “invironment”? What stalks us within? Is there nothing sacred about this body? Is it only the trees that need protection? Is there nothing sacred about my relationships so long as I can pop something into the mouth to negate the behavior of the night before? Is there nothing sacred about work so long as the government will pay my bills? Is success all in the power to enforce and not in the power to change for eternal truths? Has the family no place in the building blocks of a society? Is politics purely left and right without any up and down? Ah! There’s the question.
Having left that question unanswered, we are producing a generation of young people that are ready to cry “justice” when wronged but seldom think of what is right in personal responsibility. They know everything about outer space and very little about inner space. They know how to hate; they simply don’t know how or why to love…
… we see the love of God at work. He sends and gives His Son so that we might not have to live with mere laws. We hear enough that we are a nation of laws. Laws don’t change flaws. They just reveal them. How about becoming a nation of grace? In Him, law and love converge. He brings the work of grace within us to make us hunger after the true, the good, and the beautiful. That rises beyond mere laws…
Several years ago, terrorists broke into two hotels in Mumbai and opened random fire. So many were killed. The carnage was bloody. One Indian actor was found alive amidst the pile of bodies under a table where several had dived for cover. In an interview he was asked, “Why didn’t they also shoot you when they walked by?” He said, “I was so covered with someone else’s blood that they thought it was mine and left me for dead.”
He didn’t know it but he hinted at the Gospel. The blood of our Savior saves us.

            The law cannot change your heart and mine. But Jesus can. But we need to allow HIM to rule us. We need to commit our lives to HIM and HIM alone. When Christ rules us, we will repent of our sins and HE will make us new again. The blood of Christ shed on the cross of Calvary will heal and save us.

Endnotes:

1https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/will-examine-correctness-of-2013-verdict-on-gay-sex-says-supreme-court-1880773

2https://rzim.org/global-blog/from-kiev-to-ferguson-stable-words-in-an-unstable-world/

3Ibid.

4Ibid.


Websites last accessed on 11th July 2018. 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Does Consensual and Harmless Sexual Intercourse Legitimize Homosexuality?

            Whenever I discuss against homosexuality in any forum, I can always predict this question to crop up: “When two consenting individuals engage in sex, why is that sexual activity wrong, especially when it is harmless?” The two key words in that question are ‘consent’ and ‘harmless.’

            When I encountered this question for the very first time, I thought this question was so valid that consensual and harmless sex did seem to legitimize gay sex!

            I had no clue then that this question was made popular by the renowned atheist Richard Dawkins, who in his work, God Delusion, said “Enjoy your own sex life (as long as it damages no one else) and leave others to enjoy theirs in private whatever their inclination, which are none of your business…”1 (Emphasis Mine).

            This then is what the gay activists are stating. What’s wrong when two [single] men or two [single] women fall in love with each other and decide to consensually engage in sexual intercourse? What if their consensual sex is harmless? If this is the case, why should anyone object to gay sex? This is the force of their argument.

            Then I thought about my opposition to gay sex. Why do I passionately oppose gay sex (homosexuality)?

            Primarily, I oppose homosexuality since I am a Christian!

            The Bible condemns homosexuality. God determines homosexuality as a sin. Hence I oppose homosexuality.

            But I wanted to learn more about the biblical condemnation of homosexuality.  The God of the Bible would not have arbitrarily condemned homosexuality. I was sure HE had valid reasons to condemn homosexuality.

            So why did God condemn homosexuality? This was a very easy question to answer.

            God condemned homosexuality since sexual intercourse is to be enjoyed within the precincts of a marriage between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7 cf. 1 Corinthians 6: 12-20). Hence, God, explicitly, prohibits homosexuality (cf. Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Romans 1:26-27). 

            Fair enough! As a Christian, this made sense to me.

            When I thought of this subject from within the confines of Historic Christianity, I understood that the question of a consensual and a harmless gay sex cannot even be raised. Why?

            When gay sex, in all forms and shapes (metaphorically speaking), is unequivocally forbidden by God, there can be no question about gay sex being consensual or harmless. Therefore, a Christian cannot indulge in or practice gay sex. Period!

            But when I talk about this subject in any forum, there are non-Christians in the form of atheists, skeptics and agnostics, and then there are Christians (and people belonging to other religious worldviews) who honestly question their faith. They are the ‘sincere rebels.’

            Unfortunately, non-Christians do not accept the Bible as God’s Word and so was the case with the sincere rebels. Hence, speaking to them, on this theme, from the vantage point of the Bible, need not necessarily resonate with them.

            There had to be another way to approach this theme with these folks. It's the way of natural law theory. We would receive much clarity if we think about this subject from the perspective of natural law theory.

            Much acclaimed theologian of the Catholic church, Thomas Aquinas, bases his doctrine on natural law. Natural law “does not refer to the laws of nature, the laws that science aims to describe. According to natural law moral theory, the moral standards that govern human behavior are, in some sense, objectively derived from the nature of human beings and the nature of the world… St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, identifies the rational nature of human beings as that which defines moral law: "the rule and measure of human acts is the reason, which is the first principle of human acts" (Aquinas, ST I-II, Q.90, A.I). On this common view, since human beings are by nature rational beings, it is morally appropriate that they should behave in a way that conforms to their rational nature. Thus, Aquinas derives the moral law from the nature of human beings (thus, "natural law").”2

            So now I prefer to approach the theme of gay sex being consensual and harmless from the perspective of natural law.

             Let me try to simplify this perspective without bogging you down with the heavy and deep Aristotelian point of view that natural law theory is predicated upon:

            (1)  The nature or essence of every biological organ, according to natural law theory, involves its purposes (or final causes). So the purpose of the eyeball is to make us see. Similarly, sexual intercourse also has its own purpose, which is to procreate (bear children).

            But I have heard arguments that the final cause or the purpose of sexual intercourse is the pleasure. This is wrong! Pleasure cannot be a purpose for sexual intercourse.

            Think about eating. You may argue that eating is pleasurable, but the biological point of eating is not to give pleasure, but to offer the body the nutrients it needs to be healthy and survive. The pleasure of eating is nature’s way of getting us to eat.

            As Professor Edward Feser states, “So, the final cause of sex is procreation, and the final cause of sexual pleasure is to get us to indulge in sex, so that we’ll thereby procreate…Notice also that nature makes it very difficult to indulge in sex without procreation. There is no prophylactic sheathe issued with a penis at birth, and no diaphragm issued with a vagina. It takes some effort to come up with these devices, and even then, in the form in which they existed for most of human history they were not terribly effective.”3

            (2) Natural law theory states that an action or a behavior, even if it does not harm anyone else, need not be acceptable or need not be the normal way of living life.

            The life of an alcoholic is not acceptable, even if he/she does not harm anyone. Similarly, a person – inclined to molest children (even if he has not molested children) – who masturbates to pictures of naked children is living a sick life. Such a person is not living the way a normal human ought to live.

            Therefore, gay sex cannot be justified even if it were harmless.

            (3) In the same manner, consensus cannot be a legitimate reason for an action/behavior. Gay people cannot argue that consensual sex is always righteous. 

            Consensual sex cannot be righteous always. A pedophile cannot argue that he had sex with a child because the child consented. A parent cannot claim that he/she had sex with his/her child (minor or major) because the child agreed to have sex with the parent. In a marriage, consensus between the husband and the wife to have sex with others outside the marriage does not justify their affairs.

            I will summarize now:

            A. According to natural law theory, the main purpose of sex is procreation through the sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. Thus gay sex cannot be natural, but it is an abnormal activity/behavior. 

            B. For reasons mentioned in (2) and (3), consensual and harmless sex cannot justify gay sex.

            But remember that this question was popularized by the renowned atheist, Richard Dawkins, and his fellow New Atheists. If you are an atheist, you can do just about anything and everything because you are your own authority (cf. relative morality and subjective truth claims). The problem with your position is that if you justify homosexuality, you should also, by the very same logic, endorse/accept bestiality, adultery, polyamory, incest, pedophilia etc.

            I have only one request to you if you are an atheist; please do not yield to your subjective desires, for they can absolutely mislead you. Ask God in utter sincerity, by assuming HIS presence, to reveal HIMSELF to you, and HE will indeed do so.

            If you are a Christian and if you are still unable to understand that a consensual and a harmless sex cannot justify homosexuality, then please communicate with your pastor or your church elder. Else please contact me. (My contact information is available on this website.)

            Therefore, the notion that gay sex is acceptable if it is consensual and harmless is invalid and a false assertion. 

Endnotes:

1God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, p.264.

2https://www.iep.utm.edu/natlaw/, last accessed on 30th June 2018.


3The Last Superstition, Edward Feser, p.142.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Recognizing Evil In “Progressive Good” (How Do We Respond To Progressive Content?)

            You know that morality plunged to another low in India when a Hindi television show1 depicted an 18-year-old girl marrying a 9-year-old boy and enjoying their honeymoon. You also know, undoubtedly, that this is an intrinsic evil that’s corrupted the moral fabric of the Indian subcontinent when the actress of this show sees nothing wrong with child marriage, “A girl aged 18 married to a nine-year-old boy having her ‘suhag raat’ and even enjoying a honeymoon may sound cringe-worthy and regressive to many, but actress Tejaswi Prakash does not see anything wrong with the storyline of her Hindi television show “Pehredaar Piya Ki”. She says it’s “progressive” content.”2

            She justified child marriage by disguising it as progressive3 content!

            Does progressive content possess an intrinsic privilege to violate the law of the land? This so-called progressive content blatantly violates, in my opinion, the ‘Sarda Act’ or ‘The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929.’

            The Child Marriage Restraint Act forbids the marriage of a child, wherein “child” is defined as “…a person who, if a male, has not completed twenty one year of age, and if a female, has not completed eighteen years of age…”4

            Actress Tejaswi Prakash justified child marriage in the show by stating that similar content has appeared in the wildly popular American fantasy drama, “Game of Thrones,” “Tejaswi also drew a comparison between the show to the most popular American fantasy drama “Game of Thrones”, created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. “It also happened in ‘Game Of Thrones’.. People love ‘Game Of Thrones’ and if same thing happens in ‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’, then it’s an issue,” she added.”5

            It’s not just that the moral fabric of India is corrupt. The moral fabric of our world is corrupt and depraved.

            A classic example is the American TV drama, Game of Thrones, which has won a surplus of awards, “The series has received 38 Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series in 2015 and 2016, more than any other primetime scripted television series. Its other awards and nominations include three Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation (2012–2014), a 2011 Peabody Award, and five nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama (2012 and 2015–2018).”6

            The glut of awards for Game of Thrones is an affirmation to the widespread acceptance of the content, some of which are utterly despicable. Here’s a sample:7

Craster and his daughters/wives
Craster is a wildling, and former ally of the Night's Watch known for marrying and sleeping with all of his daughters. Craster also would sacrifice any male children his daughters bore.
Incest, sacrifice, and nonconsensual relationships aren't uncommon occurrences on "Game of Thrones," but the combination of all three makes Craster and his unfortunate daughters/wives the worst relationship on "Game of Thrones."
Walder Frey and his child brides
It's hard to consider Walder Frey's relationships with his endless stream of disposable child brides relationships at all.
The nonconsensual nature of Walder Frey's relationships with his young brides makes these so-called relationships some of the all time worst on "Game of Thrones."
            The world expects us to condone morally despicable content in these TV shows because they are supposedly progressive in their essence. We are expected to accept and endorse incest, child marriage and by extension, homosexuality and what not - just because they are progressive content.  

            Most of the world’s population is gullible, ignorant and, at times, deliberately uninformed in the most crucial existential subject of morality and ethics. Such ignorance is not within the confines of any religious or secular worldviews. Hence, it’s quite plausible that these TV shows will infiltrate and corrupt gullible people to consider incest, child marriage, homosexuality etc. as legitimate.

            So does the term progressive smuggle a deceptive sense of legitimacy inasmuch as the expectation is for the public to consider any progressive act/content as legitimate? No, it need not!

            Every content/act smuggled into our domain disguised as progressive should be validated and endorsed by the Bible. Our subjective predilection or preference cannot pronounce legitimacy upon any content/act.

            Period!

Endnotes:

1Discontinued on 28th August 2017 amidst severe public backlash.

2http://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/pehredaar-piya-ki-is-progressive-tejaswi-prakash/article19471897.ece

3"Progressivism is the support for or advocacy of improvement of society by reform.[1] As a philosophy, it is based on the idea of progress, which asserts that advancements in science, technology, economic development and social organization are vital to the improvement of the human condition." (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressivism)

4http://wcd.nic.in/child-marriage-restraint-act-1929-19-1929

5http://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/pehredaar-piya-ki-is-progressive-tejaswi-prakash/article19471897.ece

6https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_of_Thrones

7https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/every-game-of-thrones-romantic-relationship-ranked-from-worst-to-best-a7918571.html

Photo attribution: Photo by Wicker Paradise on Foter.com / CC BY

Websites last accessed on 26th June 2018. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Was Jesus Poor?

            Was Jesus poor or wealthy when HE lived on earth? The common notion is that HE was poor. But the prosperity gospel preachers preach that Christ was wealthy.

            Before we seek an answer to the question about Jesus’ financial status, let us ask another question: Why is the question – Was Jesus poor or rich – even relevant? In other words, is this a subject worthy of our time and effort?

            At the very least, the preachers of ‘prosperity gospel’ or ‘health & wealth gospel’ allude to the notion that Christ was rich. Hence they convince their audience that they should be rich and not poor. Therefore, knowledge of this subject would enable us to determine whether there is any truth to the claims of the prosperity gospel preachers.   

The Case For Jesus’ Affluence

            A paper published in the journal African Research Review, entitled Jesus: Born Poor or Rich? and authored by Professor Ozomogo Jason Osai, presents arguments in favor of Jesus being born rich:

1. Carpentry, as a profession then, is equivalent to the modern day professions of an architect or a construction engineer. Hence Joseph was not a poor carpenter; rather he was a wealthy man.  
2. Apparently, Mary’s parents were wealthy, “Virgin Mary “was born in the city of Nazareth and educated at Jerusalem.” Implicit in this account is that she was sent from Nazareth, the city of her birth, to Jerusalem for education; even by the standards of Judaea of that epoch, the education of the boy child belonged amongst the rich; now, for a family to send its girl child to school not in the home city but in faraway Jerusalem, which was the regional center of learning and a comparatively expensive city, is a clear indication of not only wealth but consciousness of the invaluable essence of education.”
3. Jesus’ birth in a manger is another instance of his parents being wealthy. The Bible says that Jesus was born in a manger because there was no room in the inn, “And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7, RSV). This implies that Joseph had enough money to pay for a room in the inn. Therefore, Joseph was not a poor man.
4. Jesus’ escape to Egypt is a case for his parents’ affluence. Joseph and Mary would not have been able to afford an unplanned escape to Egypt had they not owned sufficient financial resources.

            Proponents of the case for Jesus’ affluence cite these reasons as well:1

1. Jesus was born into a family that owned a home.
2. Jesus’ step-father worked as a skilled carpenter and was required to pay taxes in Bethlehem even trying to rent a room at the inn there.
3. Jesus was born into the world and as a child was given gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
4. Jesus was not hungry and was criticized for eating with sinners and publicans.
5. Jesus wore fine expensive clothes of the day that were gambled over when He was crucified proving their extreme value.
6. When challenged by Jesus to feed the 5000, His disciples asked “do you want us to spend a year’s wages to buy bread for this crowd?” proving they had that much money in their pockets to do this.
7. The disciple Judas was the appointed treasurer of the entire ministry and this is only necessary if you have enough money to manage.
8. If Judas could steal money and it goes unnoticed, then there was a lot of money in his possession.

The Case For Jesus’ Poverty

            For years, preachers have preached about a poor Jesus and they may not be absolutely incorrect. The Bible seems to suggest that Jesus was poor. Consider these verses:

            Jesus did not have a house to live in: Matthew 8:20: “Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”” (NIV).

            Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb: Matthew 27: 57-61: “Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.” (NIV, Emphasis Mine).

            Jesus taught that earthly treasures are not important: Matthew 6: 19-20: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (NIV).

            Matthew 10:9-11: “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts — no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.” (NIV).

            Joseph and Mary were too poor to sacrifice a lamb: “…in Luke 2:24, it is written that the Holy Family offered a sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” Leviticus 12:8 reads: “If, however, she cannot afford a lamb, she may take two turtledoves or two pigeons.” This shows that the Holy Family was too poor to be able to afford the prescribed sacrifice and instead had to present the alternative the Law allowed for the poor…” (NIV), says an article in the uCatholic.2

            Christian apologist, Bill Muehlenberg emphasizes that Jesus was like most people in the first century Palestine: basically poor but able to get by. He contends that if Jesus and HIS disciples were affluent, they would not have required support from wealthy women (Luke 8:2-3; Mark 15: 40-41).3

            On a side note, the Bible states that Jesus had a home, “And when he returned to Caper′na-um after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them.” (Mark 2:1-2, RSV; cf. Matthew 4:13). So those who claim that Christ had no home to live in are not accurately portraying the Biblical data.

If Jesus Was Rich, Should Christians Seek To Be Rich?

            Preachers of the prosperity gospel emphasize that every believer in Christ should be wealthy. Bill Muehlenberg discredits this notion:4

The issue is this: during his life on earth, was Jesus “extremely wealthy” as folks claim, or was he very much like most people back in first century Palestine: basically poor, but able to get by.
All the biblical evidence we have would suggest the latter. And given how often Jesus warned about the dangers of wealth, it is highly unlikely that he chose an opulent and extravagant lifestyle. In fact, everything we know about Jesus suggests the exact opposite.
Those preachers who want to convince believers that they should always be rich and rolling in the dough by appealing to Jesus and the disciples are simply on very shaky ground when it comes to the biblical record. The truth is this: God may not want us wealthy, but he most certainly wants us holy. And if financial hardship is part of the means to bring about such holiness, then God is more than happy to use it.
And if he can trust us with wealth and riches, that is also fine. Of course the point of having such wealth is to finance the work of the Kingdom, not to be lavishing it all on ourselves. Wealth is a gift of God and is to be used for his work. But a lack of wealth is also a way in which God can and does work.
The issue is not ultimately about money, but our attitude toward it. The prosperity gospel teachers are simply appealing to carnal, materialistic and greedy desires when they promise every Christian great wealth. The Scriptures make no such promise, and Jesus and the disciples did not live it. We are promised however that if we put his Kingdom first, everything else will be added unto us (not for our greed, but for our need).

            Finally, Jesus’ financial status is irrelevant. Even if HE were rich, there is no reasonable biblical support to the claims of the prosperity gospel preachers.

Endnotes:

1https://agapegeek.com/2011/08/07/did-jesus-have-no-money-and-set-an-example-of-poverty-for-us-to-follow/

2https://www.ucatholic.com/blog/jesus-really-born-poor-one-biblical-hint-offers-clue/

3https://billmuehlenberg.com/2013/08/14/were-jesus-and-the-disciples-wealthy-part-one/

4https://billmuehlenberg.com/2013/08/14/were-jesus-and-the-disciples-wealthy-part-two/


Websites last accessed on 13th June 2018.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Are You A Member Of The Universal Church? (Conservative vs. Liberal Churches)

            THE PROBLEM: As we continue to live our lives as Christians, the spiritual deterioration of the church is distressing. On the one hand, there is a church that is conservative in nature, which professes to the Lordship of Christ by worshipping HIM as the God who came to save the lost. This church, for instance, believes that:

            1. The Bible is God’s Word and it’s infallible/trustworthy.

            2. Christ was born of a virgin.

            3. Christ rose again from the grave in bodily form.

            4. Belief in Christ is essential for salvation.

            On the other hand, there is another church that is liberal in nature, which also professes to the Lordship of Christ. The liberal church considers the Lord Jesus as the one who came to help the poor and the oppressed. Salvation [of people] is not the mission of this church. This church believes that:

            1. The Bible is not “God-breathed” and it contains errors.

            2. Christ was not born of a virgin.

            3. Christ did not rise from the grave in bodily form.

            4. Belief in Christ is not essential for salvation - everyone will be saved, even a practicing Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian or an Atheist, Agnostic or a Skeptic.

            Both these churches exist – the conservative and the liberal. Both these churches label themselves as Christian. They profess to the Lordship of Christ.

            But the Jesus whom they worship is not the same. (Either Christ was born of a virgin or HE did not. Either HE rose again from the grave in bodily form or HE did not.)

            Therefore, from a strictly spiritual sense, it is either one of these churches – the conservative or the liberal – that can be Christian. So from the perspective of truth and eternity, the bearer of the truth is either the conservative or the liberal church; not both the conservative and the liberal church.

            The Bible accentuates this problem. The presence of conservative and liberal churches emphasizes the existence of true and false believers in Christianity. The Bible speaks of this fact, which Norman Geisler highlights, “The Bible exhorts us to “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1) so that we can know “the spirit of truth” (v. 6). Paul warned against “deceitful spirits” (1 Tim. 4:1), and Jesus exhorted us to beware of “false prophets” (Mat. 24:11) who are really “wolves” that come “in sheep’s clothing” (Mat. 7:15).”1

            THE VISIBLE & THE INVISIBLE CHURCH: While discussing the theme of the church, the terms “visible church” and “invisible church” vis-à-vis the terms “local church” and “universal church” should be understood.

            The Greek word “Ekklesia” is commonly translated as church. Etymologically, the word ekklesia means “to call out.” This is used to support the biblical doctrine of the church as a people called out, and separated from the world by God. The New Testament uses ekklesia in the sense of the ‘local church’ and the ‘universal church.’ It is certainly not used for a church building or a particular denomination.

            The Local Church is the local or the visible assembly of all those who profess faith and allegiance to Christ. It could refer to a specific church (1 Thessalonians 1:1) or churches or any nonspecified individual assembly (“every church,” 1 Corinthians 4:17) or a nonspecified number of churches or for all the churches together (“all churches.” 1 Corinthians 7:17).

            The Universal Church is the invisible and the universal fellowship of the believers who meet visibly in local churches. The Universal Church refers to the spiritual unity of all believers in Christ. Ekklesia, in this sense, is not the assembly, but rather those constituting it; they are the church whether assembled or not. Gotquestions.org states, “Sometimes the universal church is called the “invisible church”—invisible in the sense of having no street address, GPS coordinates, or physical building and in the sense that only God can see who is truly saved.”2

            Two important points are to be assimilated:

            (1) The local church consists of the true believers and the false/fake Christians, who think/say that they are Christians, but in reality, they are not.

            (2) The universal church consists of the true believers in Christ. The universal church cannot contain the false/fake Christians.

            A Christian could be a member of a local church, but if his Christianity is fake or untenable, then he/she would not be a part of the universal church. In other words, if you are a member of a liberal church, then you should genuinely be concerned about your eternal destiny.

            HOW TO IDENTIFY A LIBERAL CHURCH? Knowledge of the truth is essential to identify a lie, says Norman Geisler, “Unfortunately, the truth is that one cannot discern what is false unless he is trained in what is true. Government agents who deal in counterfeits spend much of their time in studying genuine currency. The reason is simple:  we cannot recognize a counterfeit unless we know the genuine. Since Barna surveys show that less than ten-percent of evangelical Christians even have a Christian world view, it is no surprise that even the masses of Christians can be fooled by a good counterfeit theology…”3

            The liberal churches preach and proliferate a counterfeit theology. Christian apologetics website, Carm.org has a very helpful note to identify the liberal churches:4

Following is a list of basic principles and examples that reveal some aspects of liberalism.  Of course, not all liberals hold to all the points; but as you read through them, you should see that it comes down to one thing--not believing the Bible for what it says.
1. Denial of inspiration, inerrancy, and/or authority of the Bible
     1. Saying that the Bible has errors, is "written by man," is only a guide, or is not absolutely true.
2. Denying historic accuracy of the Bible
1. Denying that Adam, Eve, Moses, Jesus, etc., were real people.
2. Denying that the Exodus happened.
3. Denying that there was an actual Garden of Eden, etc.
3. Denial of particular parts of the Bible as being authentic
1. Denying that Moses wrote Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
2. Denying Paul's letter's as authentic.
3. Denying that the Gospels are accurate, etc.
4. Denial (sic) a basic Christian doctrine
1. Trinity, deity of Christ, resurrection, etc.
2. Salvation by grace.
3. Denying that Jesus is the only way to salvation, the doctrine of hell, etc.
5. Denial of historic understanding of Scripture and substituting new ones
1. Redefining salvation as self-deliverance from oppression.
2. Saying that Jesus' didn't literally rise from the dead and that it is a metaphor for success over trials.
3. "Husband of one wife" is not taken literally.  It is a phrase applied to wives, too.
4. Homosexuality is not a sin; it is an alternative lifestyle.
6. Affirming experience over Scripture
1. A person's feelings supersede biblical revelation.
2. "Feeling" that Jesus isn't the only way to God.
3. As long as you are sincere, God will let you go to heaven.
7. Using outside sources to interpret scripture
1. Use of psychology manuals, self-help books, science books, etc. and subjecting the Bible to their teaching.
8. Saying the Bible is outdated, patriarchal
1. This is an attempt to invalidate scripture by dismissing it as ancient and, therefore, not true.
2. It also negates the inspiration of Scripture because it implies the patriarchal structure is due to cultural influence and not scriptural revelation.
9. Imposing secular ideals upon Scripture
1. Women ordination.
2. Pro homosexuality.
3. Denying moral absolutes.
4. Upholding evolution as how mankind arrived on earth.
5. Defending "abortion rights" from scripture.
10. Gender Neutral wording in reference to God, people, mankind, etc.
1. Referring to God as Mother God or Father-Mother God.
2. Referring to various references of male leaders as people.
        3. Christians who are a part of liberal churches should reject that church. 

            So to conclude, every Christian should be duly concerned about his/her membership in the universal church while maintaining and growing in his/her membership in a local church that preaches conservative Christianity.

Endnotes:

1http://normangeisler.com/category/postmodernism/ (The Shack: Helpful or Heretical? by Norman L. Geisler and Bill Roach)

2https://www.gotquestions.org/universal-local-church.html

3http://normangeisler.com/category/postmodernism/ (The Shack: Helpful or Heretical? by Norman L. Geisler and Bill Roach)

4https://carm.org/elements-liberalism


Websites last accessed on 9th June 2018.