Monday, May 30, 2016

Should Christians Cremate Or Bury Their Dead?

            “Christians should prefer burial rather than cremation based on what the Bible says about the human body in relation to God and resurrection,” said Pastor John Piper on April 26, 2016 in his modest appeal to Christians.1 It’s a preference, not a mandate, added Pastor Piper.

            Founder of Prison Fellowship, the late Chuck Colson, and the American author and radio host, Eric Metaxas, deemed cremation as a pagan practice.2 So if cremation is a pagan practice, are Christians mandated to bury their dead?

            But you may argue that the cremation of the bodies of King Saul and his sons challenges the notion that cremation was a pagan practice, “When the people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all their valiant men marched through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where they burned them. Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.” (1 Samuel 31: 11-13, NIV, Emphasis Mine) If cremation was a pagan practice, the bodies of King Saul and his sons would not have been cremated, is it not?

            Would cremating dead Christians render them ineligible for the final resurrection?

            No well-meaning Christian would argue that cremation renders Christians ineligible for final resurrection. Why?

            What about the Christians who died thousand years ago? Their bodies would have disintegrated into dust by now, is it not?

            What about Christian martyrs burnt to death? What about Christians who are burnt to death in fire accident? Would not their bodies be burnt to ashes?

            Cremation is merely a faster process of disintegrating a body. If the Lord would return after another 2000 years, would not the bodies of those buried now be disintegrated then as well? If the total disintegration of bodies would prevent the final resurrection, then only those who have died closer to the Lord’s return would be eligible for the final resurrection. Moreover, if total disintegration of bodies would prevent the final resurrection, then the implication is that God cannot raise a totally disintegrated body. This limitation ascribed to God is incorrect for it is a severe slur on HIS omnipotence.  

            The Bible does not speak against cremation. The Bible teaches that God will resurrect a [cremated] unbeliever (a good number of unbelievers are cremated). Hence, it is not impossible for God to resurrect a cremated believer, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5: 28-29, NIV). So to argue that cremation renders a believer ineligible for final resurrection is to argue in vain. 

            Having said this, the more favored Christian practice is to bury their dead. Why?

            The early Christian gravesites in the catacombs were called “coemeteria” (cemeteries), which literally means “sleeping places.” They were termed sleeping places because of the belief in the future final resurrection.

            Four reasons are attributed to favoring the burial of the dead, “(1) The body of every human was created by God, bore his image, and deserved to be treated with respect because of this. (2) The centrality of the Incarnation. When the Word became flesh, God uniquely hallowed human life and bodily existence forever. (3) The Holy Spirit indwelt the bodies of believers, making them vessels of honor. (4) As Jesus himself was buried and raised bodily from the dead, so Christians believed that their burial was a witness to the resurrection yet to come.”3

            Pastor Piper states the dreadfulness of fire as a disincentive to cremation, “The use of fire to consume the human body on earth was seen as a sign of contempt. It was not a glorious treatment of the body but a contemptuous one. This is the meaning of Achan’s cremation. He had betrayed Israel and so was not only stoned with his family, but deprived of an ordinary burial by being burned… To be sure, fire is a great gift from God. It warms, and brightens, and guides, and cooks, and refines. But in relation to the human body, it is a dreadful thing. It wounds and tortures and kills and destroys.”4

            Consider this theme from the perspective of salvation. Burial or cremation is immaterial to man’s salvation. Salvation is only through belief in Christ. Belief or unbelief in Christ is realized during life and not after death.

            The biblical pattern is to bury the dead; ergo, if we can, we bury our dead. But if we cannot bury our dead for any circumstantial reason whatsoever, and if cremation is the only possibility, then let us cremate our dead without guilt or shame.

            God will resurrect the dead, whether they were buried or cremated. Those who believe and remain in Christ in their lifetime will be with HIM forever and ever. This is the unshakeable hope we have in Christ.

            Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ. who will transform our frail bodies that they may be conformed to his glorious body, who died, was buried, and rose again for us. To him be glory for ever. Amen.






Monday, May 23, 2016

Jesus Christ A Hindu?

          “Christ Parichay” a book authored by Ganesh Damodar Savarkar, one of the founders of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), claims that Jesus Christ was a Tamil Brahmin, born in Tamil Nadu, India and died in Kashmir. This claim, in an attempt to invalidate Christianity, posits the following:

            1. Christ was a mere human, not divine.

            2. Christ did not die; hence HE did not resurrect.

            3. Christ does not offer salvation (Christ cannot save people).

            4. Therefore, the Bible is incorrect and Christianity is invalid.

            Such claims denigrating the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ are not new to Historic Christianity (remember the Da Vinci Code?). So Christians need not be offended by such claims.

            Naïve Christians could be rattled by such claims. Hence, Christians who are strong in their faith should make use of these opportunities to strengthen the faith of their naïve neighbor.

            The popular Indian magazine, India Today, reveals the major claims of this book, 1 “Here are some of the audacious claims made by the author in his book:

            1. Ganesh Damodar claims that Christianity is a sect of Hinduism.

            2. The present day Palestinian and Arab territories were a Hindu land.

            3. He went on to say that Christ traveled to India and learnt yoga. Who knows Modi might have also learnt it from 'our very own' Christ, right?

            4. Christ's real name was Keshao Krishna, according to the author. He even had a dark complexion and his mother tongue was Tamil.

            5. Christ's sacred thread ceremony (janeyu) was held when he was 12, according to Brahmin tradition. He even wore a sacred thread.

            6. Apparently, Christianity was never a separate religion and it was a Hindu cult and doctrine introduced by Christ.

            7. Christ was saved after his crucifixion by people from the Essene's cult, who practiced Yoga and spiritual science.

            8. He was given medicinal herbs and plants for his recovery from the 'deathbed'. Christ also was taken to Kashmir.

            9. It was in Kashmir that Christ prayed to Lord Shiva and he spent the last days of his life in the Himalayas.

            10. Damodar claims that Christ's family dressed in an 'Indian' way and had Hindu signs on their bodies.”

            So how should Christians respond to this book?

            Here is my response for your consideration.

            There are multiple approaches to debunk Christ Parichay. One option is to present reasonable evidences to believe the inerrancy or, minimally, the infallibility of the Bible. If the Bible is factual, then the claims of Christ Parichay could be discarded, because the Bible contradicts Christ Parichay.

            Another option is to present reasonable evidences to believe in Christ’s resurrection. If Christ’s resurrection is factual, then Christ died on the cross. Therefore, Christ did not travel to India, as this book claims.

            Consider the central tenet to Historic Christianity, which is the resurrection of Christ. The Bible says that Christianity would crumble if resurrection is proved false, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15: 14, NIV).

            This book negates Christ’s resurrection (ref. #7). So if we can reasonably ascertain the validity of Christ’s resurrection, then this book, with all of its claims, can be safely discarded and forgotten. (If Christ did not resurrect, HE is not the Son of God, so Christianity would be rendered false and invalid.)

            In an earlier blog of mine, I had mentioned the reasons to believe in Christ’s resurrection.2

            Historians affirm Christ’s resurrection because there were confirmations by independent sources (Gospels and Paul’s letters), unsympathetic sources (Tacitus, who was not a friend of Christianity, affirmed Christ’s crucifixion), and that of eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15: 3-7).

            Dr. Gary Habermas’ minimal facts approach lends greater credibility to Christ’s resurrection, “Furthermore, Dr. Gary Habermas, Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy and Chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Theology at Liberty University, who specializes in the study of Resurrection-of-Jesus research, states five highly credible historical facts a.k.a. “Minimal Facts” that almost every historian accepts:

            “1) Jesus died due to crucifixion.

            2) His disciples had experiences that they thought were appearances of the risen Jesus.

            3) Their lives were transformed because of this conviction.

            4) As a result, they proclaimed this message very soon after Jesus’ death, actually within weeks…

            5) A man named Saul of Tarsus was converted to Jesus Christ by what he also concluded was a personal appearance of the risen Jesus to him.

            These are five tough facts that virtually everyone is going to grant as historical, especially the scholars who have studied this area.” 3

            Moreover, Habermas includes the conversion of Apostle James, brother of Christ Jesus and a skeptic, who became a follower of Christ after HE appeared to him. These historical facts are sufficient to conclude that Christ’s resurrection was factual.”3   
            Christ’s resurrection is heavily predicated on HIS death on the cross. If Christ did not die, then HE could not have resurrected.

            In our context, if Christ had died on the cross, then the claim of the book “Christ Parichay” is invalid. Christ could not have traveled to Kashmir for HE died on the cross and resurrected.

            Christ’s death on the cross is also a highly credible historical fact. The “Swoon Theory,” which negates Christ’s death on the cross has been debunked, “The Quran states that Jesus did not die on the cross. Other detractors of Christianity state that Jesus merely swooned or lost consciousness at the cross.

            Medical science strongly suggests that Jesus died of asphyxiation. The heart wound inflicted by the soldier upon the crucified Christ confirmed Christ’s death. The sucking chest condition (Piercing of the spear into Christ’s upper thoracic area would have prevented effective breathing and produce sucking sound from the wound. This would have certainly killed Christ) is an added affirmation for Christ’s death on the cross.

            But the supreme defeater to the objection that Christ did not die on the cross comes from the German liberal scholar, David Strauss.

            Strauss asserted that the swoon theory was self-contradictory. If swoon theory was accurate, then Jesus would have been alive. The disciples then would have no reason to preach the gospel, for there need be no forgiveness, no church, and no eternal hope in Christ.

            Finally, we can safely bury the swoon theory for we also have the affirmation of Christ’s crucifixion by non-Christian historians such as Thallus (52AD), Mara Bar-Serapion (70AD), Josephus (93AD), Pliny the Younger (112AD), Cornelius Tacitus (116AD), and Phlegon (140AD).”4

            Therefore, we have reliable evidences to believe in Christ’s death and resurrection. In fact, Christ’s death and resurrection are believed by most critical scholars today. Hence, we can safely and securely discard the claims of the book Christ Parichay.

            But be sure of this; Christianity has flourished in spite of unrelenting attacks during the past 2000 years. In the same vein, Christianity will continue to stand strong until the Lord Jesus Christ returns.

            “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Jude 1: 24-25, NIV)




3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Jesus In Vedas?

            On 8th May 2016, the Gospel Truth Newspaper flaunted the conversion of Hindus in New Zealand.1 Apparently, the conversion was motivated by Acharya Vikas Massey’s speech that the Vedas (Sacred Scriptures of Hinduism) pronounces the Lord Jesus Christ as the one and the only way to heaven.

            I was exposed to this rather stunning detail many years ago, and I was astonished when I first heard it. The Vedas (written much prior to Christ’s birth) prophesying Christ! Well, this is indeed a stunning piece of news, isn’t it?

            If the instance of Hindus converting to Christianity because of Acharya Vikas Massey’s ministry was factual, then those who converted were probably awestruck by the Vedic endorsement of Christ. So what if the Vedas affirm Christ, why should anyone be awestruck?

            The reason is rather evident and simple. If the sacred scriptures of Hinduism state that Christ is the only way to heaven, then, seemingly, Hinduism self-destructs. In other words, Hinduism would endorse Christianity as the true religion at the cost if its own credibility. This probably is the reason for the conversion of Hindus to Christianity in New Zealand.

            However, Jesus in the Vedas is more fascinating than Jesus in the Quran. Why?

            The Vedas prophesied Christ. But the Quran, written much later than Christ’s death and resurrection, merely narrates the existence of Jesus.

            Moreover, Jesus in the Quran contradicts with the Jesus of the Bible. The Quran considers Christ as a mere prophet, whereas Christ in the Bible is God incarnate. Hence, the information that the Quran mentions Christ is not as stunning as the news that the Vedas prophesies Christ.

            When I was awestruck by the news that Vedas affirm Christ, I did not venture into exploring the validity of such a claim. I considered my source as infallible and continued to believe that Christ was indeed mentioned in the Vedas.

            But do the Vedas prophesy the Christ of the Bible?

            Two quick facts are in order. First, Christ is not explicitly mentioned as the only way to heaven in the Vedas. Second, the Vedas mention the deity, Prajapati, who according to some Christians is an allusion to the Lord Jesus Christ.  

            The Christ of the Bible is not prophesied in the Vedas.

            Consider the attributes of the Lord Jesus Christ from the perspective of Historic Christianity. The Bible that reveals Christ in all HIS fullness informs us that Christ is the second person of the blessed Godhead. Christ is God incarnate (God in the form of man), the savior of the world. In other words, Christ is not one of the many gods, but God HIMSELF.

            Consider the attributes of Prajapati from the Vedas.

            Apparently, the 10th mandalam of the Rig Veda mentions “Prajapathy” as the son of God, “Prajapathy, the son of the God comes to this world at the appropriate time. After coming to this world he travels around advising mankind, what is sin and what is not sin; what is to be done and what is not to be done; what is wrong and what is right. To those human beings, who accept his advises and obey his orders, he offers prosperity and peace in this worldly life and salvation at the time of their death. And being the completion of his venture to redeem mankind from sin, he gets sacrificed at the end his specified period on earth.”2  

            According to the Vedas, Prajapati presides over life and procreation.3 But Prajapati is not the only deity mentioned in the Vedas. In addition to Prajapati, the Vedas speak about other deities as well.

            So the Prajapati is one of the many deities stated in the Vedas. Whereas, according to the Bible, Christ is God, not one among the many gods. The Bible does not mention the existence of other gods. The Bible specifies one God – God in three persons, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, the blessed Trinity. This fundamental difference is sufficient to disregard the claim that Christ was prophesied in the Vedas.

            The Prajapati of the Vedas and the Christ of the Bible contradict each other. Studies have exposed the dissimilarities between the Prajapati and the Christ of the Bible. The website of World Revival Prayer Fellowship offers information to this theme.4

            It is evident that the Vedas do not prophesy the Christ of the Bible. Therefore, just as how we, the Christians subscribing to Historic Christianity, disregard the Jesus of the Quran, we should also ignore and disregard the claim of Jesus in the Vedas.






Sunday, May 8, 2016

Are Godless Parents Better Than Christian Parents?

            Oh how some people passionately assault Christianity using any and every opportunity! In an op-ed piece authored by Tracy Moore and published online by Jezebel, albeit a year ago, Christianity was eagerly attacked.

            Deploying parenting as a premise, the author’s explicit assault was against God. She deployed the research data that godless homes nurture good children to explicitly assert the existence of morality independent of God and implicitly deny God’s existence.  

            Haven’t God and Christianity been constantly assaulted? So what’s new!

            Apart from the attack against God, this op-ed piece implies that Christian parents raise their children to be intolerant, racists and sexists, “Parents who raise their kids without religion are doing just fine, studies say, possibly even better. Overall, not believing in God seems to make people and their offspring more tolerant. Less racist. Less sexist. Enviro-friendly. And their kids care less about what's cool, which—say it with me—only makes them cooler.” (Emphasis Mine).  

            If my children fight against sins, for instance, if my children’s tirade against homosexual practice renders them as intolerant, then so be it. I prefer to be a proud parent of a child who fights against sins of all forms and sizes than not.

            But the Bible does not endorse racism or sexism. Certain passages in the Bible may insinuate racism or sexism, but, in essence, they are not. These verses could be clarified reasonably and adequately.

            Tracy’s op-ed piece creates a false dichotomy in parenting – godly and godless parenting – from within the context of morality. Since God exists necessarily, my argument to establish the false dichotomy presupposes God’s existence. (Proving God’s existence is beyond the scope of this article.)

            Men and women are created in the image of God. This does not effectively mean that only those who believe in the God of the Bible retain God’s image and the unbeliever does not retain God’s image. Even a godless man, a man who denies God’s existence, is created in the image of God. Whether the unbelieving man realizes or not, whether he accepts or not, he is indeed made in the image of God.

            Within the context of morality, man, who is created in the image of God, is innately inclined to do that which is good, because God is good. (Although evil exists in this world, our world is predominantly good.)

            A man, who rejects God’s existence, since he is made in God’s image, will innately do good. Therefore, since God’s image is firmly implanted in man – in both the believing and the unbelieving man – “Godless parenting” is an incorrect notion.

            Tracy Moore, in her op-ed piece, implies the failure of Christian parenting. This is not a ridiculous notion, for if we understand Tracy Moore’s argument from within the Christian perspective, we would partly agree with her. Allow me to elaborate.

            Because man sinned against God in the Garden of Eden, he cannot be perfect in doing good.  While a Christian’s innate inclination is to do good, he could sin because of Satan, who tempts him to sin.

            Satan has more reasons to attack a Christian than a non-Christian (cf. 1 Peter 5: 8-9). A non-Christian is already alienated from God, so Satan need not have any significant interest in attacking this man, unless this man could be an agent of greater evil e.g. Hitler, Stalin etc.

            Satan takes pleasure in attacking Christians who love the Lord dearly, who strive for righteousness, and who promote the rule of God on earth as it is in heaven (cf. Job 1:6-12; 2:3-6). Because the Apostle Paul served the Lord Jesus diligently with all his life, he was known by Satan and his entourage (Acts 19:15).

            Christian families are often a victim of Satan’s assault. This notion is not inconsistent with the Bible, “From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12: 52-53, NIV).

            However, this assault of Satan against Christian families need not be permanent, for Christian families would overcome Satan’s ploys by the power of God over a period of time. This is precisely the reason why we could partly agree with Tracy Moore that Christian parenting could fail.

            We partly agree with Tracy because Tracy spoke from an atheistic perspective, whereas we speak from a strictly conservative perspective of Historic Christianity.

            Christians could err. Christian parents could err. This is an acceptable existential reality.

            Christians are not an embodiment of perfection. While we march towards Christlikeness in our life, let us remember that we will only be perfect when we meet God face to face in heaven. While we live our life in this side of heaven, a genuine Christian strives to live a godly life. In other words, he will strive for perfection in all facets of his life.

            Why do Christians strive for moral perfection? To harmonize with God, says C.S Lewis in his discussion on Christian behavior, “People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, ‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’ I don’t think that is the best way of looking at it. I’d much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven; that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”

            Christians’ striving for moral perfection is a derivative of their remaining in Christ. When we desire to live right, God enables us to live right. When we strive to live right, God’s abundant blessings are always upon us – the greatest blessing of which is to live in harmony with God.

            Herein lies the distinct advantage for a Christian home over a non-Christian home. Irrespective of our parenting techniques, we enjoy, very minimally, two inherent advantages by virtue of our faith in Christ.

            First, even though we could err, God will be with us during our time of pain and suffering. He will transform our situation and heal the brokenness of our heart and that of our family. All we need to do is to remain in Christ, strive to do that which is right, and wait on God with faith, hope and patience. Time is not the criteria when it comes to fixing brokenness, but God will help us in our moments of pain and suffering. This is certain.

            Last but not the least; a Christian’s eternity is secure. When it is time for us to pass on from this world, we are sure to inherit a blissful heavenly dwelling with God, HIS angels and all those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.


Tracy Moore’s op-ed piece can be accessed at

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Real Face of Jesus; What Did Jesus Look Like?

            The most famous face in human history is always under intense scrutiny. What did Jesus really look like? Was Jesus fair, black or brown? Was Christ handsome?

            The most familiar image that adorns many Christian homes is that of a fair Jesus with long flowing light brown hair and light-colored eyes. Had Christ possessed these facial attributes, HE would have appeared very different from HIS disciples and everyone else in the Galilee-Judea-Samaria region.

            But scholars dispute this version of Christ, for Matthew 26: 48-50 reveals that Christ appeared very similar to HIS disciples. Christ looked so similar to HIS disciples that Judas Iscariot had to kiss Jesus for the Roman soldiers to identify Christ from among HIS other disciples.

            Recently, the media proclaimed that British forensic anthropologists and Israeli archaeologists have apparently recreated Christ’s face. reveals the identity of lead scholar in this project, “Richard Neave, a medical artist retired from The University of Manchester in England…The co-author of Making Faces: Using Forensic And Archaeological Evidence, Neave had ventured in controversial areas before. Over the past two decades, he had reconstructed dozens of famous faces, including Philip II of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great, and King Midas of Phrygia. If anyone could create an accurate portrait of Jesus, it would be Neave.”1

            Richard Neave’s team strived to reconstruct Christ’s face through the following steps: 2

            1. They acquired 3 well-preserved Semite skulls from the Israeli archeology experts.  These skulls were excavated from near Jerusalem.

            2. Neave used computerized tomography and special computer programs to study the minute features of these skulls especially with reference to the thickness of soft tissues at key areas of human faces. They then recreated the muscles and skin overlying the representative Semite skull. These results were verified with anthropological data.  

            3. The researchers built a digital 3D construction of the face.

            4. Cast of the skull was created and “layers of clay matching the thickness of facial tissues specified by the computer program were then applied, along with simulated skin. The nose, lips and eyelids were then modeled to follow the shape determined by the underlying muscles.”3

            5. Researchers deduced that Jesus probably had short hair because:

                        Paul had seen Jesus (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:8).

                        Paul criticized men with long hair (1 Corinthians 11:14).

            Hence, Jesus may not have had long hair, for if Christ had long hair, then Paul would not have criticized men with long hair.

            6. Researchers also concluded, in keeping with historical records and Jewish tradition, that Christ probably had dark eyes and was bearded.

            Neave did not believe that he recreated Christ’s face, “Neave emphasizes that his re-creation is simply that of an adult man who lived in the same place and at the same time as Jesus” 4 But Neave’s work is considered as lot closer to the truth than the works of the past.

            But does it matter? Do we need to debate over whether Christ was fair or dark or whether HE had long hair or short?

            Isaiah 53:2 offers an insight into Christ’s looks, “…He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” So Christ need not have been fair or even handsome. Christ was a Jewish male, so HE would have certainly possessed the physical attributes of the Jews. However, Christ’s physical appearance is totally irrelevant to us.

            What then is relevant?

            That outside of Christ there is no salvation for anyone, as it is said in John 14:6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

            What then should we do?

            Christianity is true. Christ’s existence and HIS resurrection are proven facts. Very minimally, the Bible is infallible (trustworthy).

            So believe in Christ and be saved, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10: 9-10, NIV).



2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.