Thursday, February 28, 2019

Animal Rights, Veganism & Abortion (Considering Abortion From The Perspective Of Veganism And Animal Rights)

            We live in a time and age in which a vegan is glorified and a pro-lifer (anti-abortionist) is condemned by the secular world! The moral values of the secular world seem to have its feet firmly planted in midair.

            This situation confuses many Christians – the young and the old. Youngsters seem to think that being a vegan is to be kind to the animals. While this may be true, they, on the other hand, believe that the mother has the right to choose whether or not to continue with the pregnancy.

            Animal life, today, has a greater value than human life. Or so it seems!

            What does the Bible say about animal rights?

            Steve W Lemke, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, in an article entitled ‘Does the Bible Affirm That Animals Have Rights?’ says:1

No, Scripture never specifically grants rights to animals. The Bible doesn't assume that animals have intrinsic rights, even the right to life. Unlike humans, animals were not created in the image of God. God made humans the pinnacle of His creation, with inherent worth and greater capacities than animals. He appointed humans to subdue and rule over all animals (Gn 1:20-31). God specifically approved the use of animals as food for humans (Gn 9:1-3; Lv 11:2-3).
Since animals have lesser value than humans, they shouldn't be given the rights accorded to human beings, and human life should never be sacrificed to save animal life.
Yes, the Bible affirms that humans have a moral obligation to treat animals humanely. Although animals are clearly not equal in worth to human beings, they have value since God created them as "good" (Gn 1:20-25). So, as part of our God-given stewardship, we shouldn't abuse or pointlessly harm animals. Scripture uses the same word to describe the animating force that God gave animals (nephesh, Gn 1:20-21, 24, 30) as it does in describing how He breathed a living soul into persons (Gn 2:7).
Unlike animals, human souls have unique capacities: self-awareness, abstract reasoning, an orientation toward the future, freedom, moral responsibility, and the capacity to have a relationship with God. Animal sacrifices presuppose that animals have value (Lv 4-6; Heb 9:11-28). Animal pain is a matter for moral concern because God cares for animals (Gn 7:2-4; Ps 104:10-30; 147:7-9; 148:7-10; Mt 6:26; Lk 12:6-7, 24).
Although God gave people permission to eat animals after the flood (Gn 9:1-3), this may have been a concession to human sinfulness. Vegetarianism practiced in the Garden of Eden (Gn 1:29-30; 2:16), and the prophecy that natural predators will live together peacefully in the future (Isa 11:6-8), suggest that the eating of animal flesh isn't God's ideal.
Scripture calls upon humans to treat animals humanely. The Mosaic law forbade the heartless treatment of birds, promising long life to those who don't abuse animals (Dt 22:6-7). Other regulations were given for the welfare of farm animals (Dt 22:1-4, 10; 25:4). Humane treatment of animals is a characteristic of godly living (Pr 12:10).  

            It’s quite clear that we are called to treat animals humanely. There is no doubt about it.

            But how could a vegan, who cares for plant and animal life, care less about human life?

            Interestingly, one of the basic defenses put up by the vegan camp to justify abortion is that plant and animals are sentient beings (having the power of perception by the senses e.g. able to perceive pain). They contend that fetuses are not sentient beings. Hence they find justification in killing (aborting) fetuses.

            If this argument is valid then it should apply to an adult human as well. A person in a coma (in a vegetative or in an unresponsive state) is generally considered to not feel pain. Is it then valid to kill this person because he/she cannot feel pain?  

            God is the creator and sustainer of life. This implies that only God can create or take life off the earth. However, even if euthanasia is to be considered, it could only be on the basis of administering medical support to merely extend one’s life when medial support is no longer helpful to a dying patient or when treatment is more burdensome to the dying patient. 

            If euthanasia is contemplated from within the Christian context, it would be predicated on the fact that death should not be resisted by medical means because a Christian’s eternal destiny is beyond death. For a Christian, death is a good death, for it ushers him/her into God’s presence.

            So if euthanasia is considered on a vegetative comatose patient, then it is not considered on the basis of pain, but on the basis of resisting death and eternity.

            If we merely think about pain as a reason for euthanasia, then scientists would inform us that even a comatose person in vegetative condition can exhibit signs of consciousness and feel emotions (cf. the case of Rom Houben2). Therefore, arguing for abortion based on ‘pain’ cannot be justified.

            It’s one thing for a secular person to consider abortion, but for a Christian to consider abortion is something else entirely.

            In fact, a very plausible argument can be made to justify that Christians who endorse abortion are not Christians, to begin with. Here’s an excerpt from my blog entitled ‘The Christianity of Abortion:’ 3

Chelsea Clinton, in an interview on September 13, 2018, said that as a deeply religious person, banning abortions would be unchristian to her.1
…Matt Walsh, in response to Chelsea’s comments on abortion, termed her as a Satanist:5
…The point is that Jesus Christ is the Lord of Life. He gives life to our children and commands us to care for the precious gift He has bestowed. It is the most twisted kind of heresy to suggest that God may breathe life into your child and then raise no objection if you crush the child's skull and throw his body in a medical waste dumpster. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you," says the Book of Jeremiah. "Children are a gift from the Lord," says Psalm 127.
… Let us remember, also, that Jesus Christ was Incarnate as an unborn child. He was a "fetus," to use our modern term. A stage of human development cannot be anything less than sacred after the Lord Himself lived through that stage. Christianity is the only religion in the world that believes God Himself was once unborn. For this reason, no religion on Earth is less compatible with abortion than Christianity. You cannot be a pro-abortion Christian. It's like trying to square a circle. It just doesn't work.
Satanism, on the other hand, is deeply compatible with the pro-abortion view. The two go hand-in-hand, a match made in Hell…
It's not hard to see why satanists not only support abortion but consider it sacramental. Through abortion, a woman places her own comfort and convenience above the life of her child. She declares that her child's very humanity is contingent upon, and subordinate to, her desires. Pro-aborts are quite explicit about this. If you ask them when life begins, they'll tell you it begins whenever the mother wants it to begin. They ascribe Godlike power and authority to the individual. What else can we call this but the deification of the self? It is textbook satanism.
            Abortion is predicated on choice – the choice of the mother and maybe even the father. Such people remain in control of their lives, thereby they choose to abort.
            Being a Christian is also predicated on choice. A person chooses to believe in Christ. But in this instance, when a person chooses to believe in Christ, that person willfully surrenders his/her choice or submits his/her life to the rule of the Lord Jesus Christ.
          When the Lord Jesus rules our life, HIS choice becomes our choice. Our choice gets lost in HIS. From this time onwards, a Christian chooses to obey the Lord Jesus and the commands that are taught in the Bible.
            Christianity is not about having a strong social outlook. Christianity is all about loving God and being obedient to HIM and HIM alone. When we love God, we cannot ignore the social concerns of our world. However, caring for social concerns cannot supersede our obedience to God. Our allegiance is to God and to the sanctity of human life.
        Therefore, the entailment of the true Christianity is to hold a high view of God, obey HIM and HIS commands. Hence, true Christians oppose abortion. Those Christians who support abortion may not be Christians, so their deep religiosity does not matter to us.




Websites last accessed on 28th February 2019.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Divine Sovereignty & Human Freedom – A Molinistic Perspective (Doctrines Dividing the Church)

            With respect to the salvation of mankind, there exist two major schools of thought within Christianity. They are Calvinism and Arminianism.

            Very minimally, Calvinism subscribes to divine sovereignty to teach that God chooses some people to go to heaven and others to hell. ‘Arminianism,’ which is predicated on human freedom, teaches that man has freewill to either accept God or reject HIM. This action of man will lead him to his eventual eternal destination, namely heaven or hell.

            Predestination is certainly one of the most controversial doctrines of the Christian faith. But the Bible reveals this doctrine. Hence a Christian has no other option but to understand it to the best of his/her ability.

            ‘Predestination’ refers to God’s choice of individuals for eternal life or eternal death. ‘Election’ is God’s selection of some for eternal life, the positive side of predestination.

            A definite tension (as to who is correct) exists between groups subscribing to Calvinism and Arminianism. explains the basic nuances of Calvinism and Arminianism so to understand this tension:1

Calvinism and Arminianism are two systems of theology that attempt to explain the relationship between God's sovereignty and man's responsibility in the matter of salvation. Calvinism is named for John Calvin, a French theologian who lived from 1509-1564. Arminianism is named for Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch theologian who lived from 1560-1609.
Both systems can be summarized with five points. Calvinism holds to the total depravity of man while Arminianism holds to partial depravity. Calvinism’s doctrine of total depravity states that every aspect of humanity is corrupted by sin; therefore, human beings are unable to come to God on their own accord. Partial depravity states that every aspect of humanity is tainted by sin, but not to the extent that human beings are unable to place faith in God of their own accord. Note: classical Arminianism rejects “partial depravity” and holds a view very close to Calvinistic “total depravity” (although the extent and meaning of that depravity are debated in Arminian circles). In general, Arminians believe there is an “intermediate” state between total depravity and salvation. In this state, made possible by prevenient grace, the sinner is being drawn to Christ and has the God-given ability to choose salvation.
Calvinism includes the belief that election is unconditional, while Arminianism believes in conditional election. Unconditional election is the view that God elects individuals to salvation based entirely on His will, not on anything inherently worthy in the individual. Conditional election states that God elects individuals to salvation based on His foreknowledge of who will believe in Christ unto salvation, thereby on the condition that the individual chooses God.
Calvinism sees the atonement as limited, while Arminianism sees it as unlimited. This is the most controversial of the five points. Limited atonement is the belief that Jesus only died for the elect. Unlimited atonement is the belief that Jesus died for all, but that His death is not effectual until a person receives Him by faith.
Calvinism includes the belief that God’s grace is irresistible, while Arminianism says that an individual can resist the grace of God. Irresistible grace argues that when God calls a person to salvation, that person will inevitably come to salvation. Resistible grace states that God calls all to salvation, but that many people resist and reject this call.
Calvinism holds to perseverance of the saints while Arminianism holds to conditional salvation. Perseverance of the saints refers to the concept that a person who is elected by God will persevere in faith and will not permanently deny Christ or turn away from Him. Conditional salvation is the view that a believer in Christ can, of his/her own free will, turn away from Christ and thereby lose salvation. Note - many Arminians deny "conditional salvation" and instead hold to "eternal security."
So, in the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate, who is correct? It is interesting to note that in the diversity of the body of Christ, there are all sorts of mixtures of Calvinism and Arminianism. There are five-point Calvinists and five-point Arminians, and at the same time three-point Calvinists and two-point Arminians. Many believers arrive at some sort of mixture of the two views. Ultimately, it is our view that both systems fail in that they attempt to explain the unexplainable. Human beings are incapable of fully grasping a concept such as this. Yes, God is absolutely sovereign and knows all. Yes, human beings are called to make a genuine decision to place faith in Christ unto salvation. These two facts seem contradictory to us, but in the mind of God they make perfect sense.

            According to other theologians, this tension need not exist. These theologians subscribe to the teachings of Molinism.

            Dr. William Lane Craig offers an introductory explanation as to how Molinism can help us understand God with respect to man’s salvation:2

The biblical worldview involves a strong conception of divine sovereignty over the world and human affairs even as it presupposes human freedom and responsibility (cp. the accounts of Saul’s death in 1 Sm 31:1–6 and 1 Ch 10:8–12). An adequate doctrine of divine providence requires reconciling these two streams of biblical teaching without compromising either. Yet this has proven extraordinarily difficult. On the one hand, the Augustinian-Calvinist perspective interprets divine providence in terms of predetermination, God choosing in advance what will happen. It is hard to see how this interpretation can preserve human freedom or avoid making God the author of sin, since (for example) it would then be He who moved Judas to betray Christ. On the other hand, advocates of revisionist views (e.g., open theism) freely admit that as a consequence of their denial of God’s knowledge of future contingent events a strong doctrine of providence becomes impossible. Ironically, in order to account for biblical prophecies of future events, revisionists are often reduced to appealing to the same deterministic explanations that Augustinian-Calvinists offer.
Molinism offers an attractive solution. Luis Molina (1535–1600) defined providence as God’s ordering of things to their ends, either directly or indirectly through secondary causes. In explaining how God can order things through secondary causes that are themselves free agents, Molina appealed to his doctrine of divine middle knowledge.
Molina analyzed God’s knowledge in terms of three logical stages. Although whatever God knows, He knows eternally, so that there is no temporal succession in God’s knowledge, nonetheless there does exist a sort of logical order in God’s knowledge in the sense that His knowledge of certain truths is conditionally or explanatorily prior to His knowledge of certain other truths.
In the first stage God knows all possibilities, not only all the creatures He could possibly create, but also all the orders of creatures that are possible. By means of this so-called natural knowledge, God has knowledge of every contingent state of affairs that could possibly be actual and of what any free creature could freely choose to do in any such state of affairs.
In the second stage, God possesses knowledge of all true counterfactual propositions (statements of the form “If x were the case, then y would be the case”), including counterfactuals about what creatures would freely do in various circumstances. Whereas by His natural knowledge God knew what any free creature could do in any set of circumstances, now in this second stage God knows what any free creature would freely do in any set of circumstances. This so-called middle knowledge is like natural knowledge in that such knowledge does not depend on any decision of the divine will; God does not determine which counterfactuals are true or false. By knowing how free creatures would freely act in any set of circumstances He might place them in, God thereby knows that if He were to actualize certain states of affairs, then certain other contingent states of affairs would be actual as a result. For example, He knew that if Pontius Pilate were the Roman procurator of Judea in A.D. 30, he would freely condemn Jesus to the cross.
Intervening between the second and third stages of divine knowledge stands God’s free decree to actualize a world known by Him to be realizable on the basis of His middle knowledge. By His natural knowledge, God knows the entire range of logically possible worlds; by His middle knowledge He knows, in effect, the proper subset of those worlds that it is feasible for Him to actualize. By a free decision, God decrees to actualize one of those worlds known to Him through His middle knowledge. In so doing He also decrees how He would freely act in any set of circumstances.
Given God’s free decision to actualize a world, in the third and final stage God possesses so-called free knowledge of all remaining propositions that are in fact true in the actual world, including future-tense propositions about how creatures will freely behave.
Molina’s scheme effects a dramatic reconciliation of divine sovereignty and human freedom. In Molina’s view God directly causes certain circumstances to come into being and brings about others indirectly through either causally determined secondary causes or free secondary causes. He allows free creatures to act as He knew they freely would when placed in specific circumstances, and He concurs with their decisions in actualizing the effects they desire. Some of these effects God desired unconditionally and so wills positively that they occur. Others He does not unconditionally desire but He nevertheless permits due to His overriding desire to allow creaturely freedom, knowing that even these sinful acts will fit into the overall scheme of things, so that God’s ultimate ends in human history will be accomplished. God thus providentially arranges for everything that happens by either willing or permitting it, and He causes everything that does happen, yet in such a way as to preserve freedom and contingency.

            To conclude, divisions among Christian churches over doctrinal matters are rather unfortunate. If we are one in Christ, then much could be achieved in Christendom with the pooling of all resources.

            It is with this objective that these systems of thought are presented here. The hope here is that if Christians subscribing to Calvinism hear and study the Molinistic school of thought, then it is quite possible that they may appreciate the Molinistic perspective. This could then bridge the divide between Calvinists and Arminians.




Websites last accessed on 25th February 2019. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good And Evil – Oh What A Blessing!

            Lost in the abundance of good news in the Bible is one least mentioned yet significant detail – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (the forbidden tree).

            This is a familiar narrative. God commanded Adam and Eve to not eat from this tree. But they succumbed to the temptation of the devil, disobeyed God, and ate from the forbidden tree.

The Cross & the Forbidden Tree

            Interestingly, there are at least a couple of similarities between the forbidden tree and the Cross of Calvary.

            First, death was a common element in both the forbidden tree and the Cross of Calvary. The forbidden tree was a means to bring about death upon mankind. The Cross was a means to defeat death.

            Second, Satan was made to be a fool through the forbidden tree and the Cross of Calvary. Satan thought that by killing Jesus on the cross, he could defeat God. But we know that that was not the case. God reigned victorious over Satan through the resurrection and ascension of Christ, thereby defeating death once and for all.

            God displayed the foolishness of Satan through the forbidden tree as well.

            This tree is largely considered to be the precursor of the curse upon mankind. But by placing this tree, God, had in fact, blessed mankind. Although the forbidden tree ensured the disobedience of Adam and Eve, God in HIS infinite wisdom defeated Satan’s plan to pave way for the man to respond to God’s love and goodness.

The Necessity of the Forbidden Tree (An Intricate Part of God’s Plan of Redemption)

            God knew that Satan would assault Adam & Eve through temptation. God also knew that Adam & Eve would succumb to Satan’s temptation. So God, through the forbidden tree, paved way for the man to respond to HIM.

            Just a simple thought should suffice.

            If the cross was a means to defeat death, then death should have a point of entry into the realm of mankind. The forbidden tree provided death that point of entry into man’s domain. In other words, if the cross was a means of death’s exit (read defeat), then the forbidden tree was a means of death’s entry into man’s domain.

Why the Forbidden Tree?

            Evidently, the angelic rebellion occurred in the heavenly realms before the fall of man (disobedience of Adam and Eve). God knew that Satan would orchestrate the rebellion of mankind.

            The purpose behind the orchestration of mankind’s rebellion against God was to bring about a spiritual separation between God and man. However, the separation was not the intent behind the creation of man. God did not create man, for the man to be independent of God. God created man so that man could glorify God by being in HIS presence.

            Why did God place the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

            Had this tree not existed, we could assume that Adam and Eve may not have rebelled.

            But that need not be the case.

            If Adam and Eve did not rebel or if they did not possess a chance to rebel, they may not have been able to display their obedience to God. But obedience to God can only be accentuated if there is a possibility to disobey God. Obedience would not carry much value if disobedience were impossible.

            Then again, if God had removed every possibility of mankind’s rebellion, then man could only be an automaton. This was and is not a viable environment for love to exist (love between God and man).

            On the other hand, had the tree of the knowledge of good and evil not existed, Adam and Eve may have been tempted to rebel in other ways. As long as Satan existed there was always a possibility of him tempting man to rebel against God.

            But God, it seems, made Satan’s life easy through the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The presence of this tree entailed a possibility to disobey God. Satan recognized this and promptly ushered Adam and Eve into disobedience.

            However, ultimately, God’s wisdom prevailed. Satan was made to be a fool. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil ensured this eventuality.

The Blessing of the Forbidden Tree

            God, in HIS infinite wisdom, ensured that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a blessing to mankind.

            The wisdom of God prevailed. In and through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, God ensured that man had a clear path to respond to HIM (thankfully, through the redemptive sacrifice of our Lord Jesus). This was the blessing behind the presence of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

            Man’s disobedience ensured that he had a clear sight of the good and the evil. In other words, through their disobedience, Adam and Eve learned three important lessons:

            1. They knew that God is good, Satan is evil, and that God would judge and punish their disobedience.

            2. They also knew that God had power over Satan and them.

            3. They knew that Satan had power over them.

            So by virtue of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God, Adam and Eve had a clear sight of (A) The good (and the most powerful) God and (B) An evil (and the less powerful) Satan.

            This clear sight allows man to respond to God’s goodness and love by being obedient to HIM through a conscious disregard of every possibility to disobey God.

            By possessing the knowledge and discernment between good and evil, Adam and Eve (read mankind) could know the difference (if only they made an effort to respond to God) between God and Satan. This knowledge is vital for man to respond to God’s love.

            This is indeed a blessing of God. 


            The tree of the knowledge of good and evil reveals God’s infinite wisdom.

            Albeit its very brief appearance in the creation narrative, the forbidden tree was a significant element in God’s plan of redemption. It was also a blessing to mankind because its presence offered the man a clear sight of God thereby enabling his proper and adequate response to God’s love and goodness. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Lord’s Supper – What Is The Proper Attire?

            While baptism is the initiatory rite, the Lord’s Supper is the continuing rite of the visible church. The Lord’s Supper was established by Christ for the church to practice as a commemoration of the Lord’s death (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20).

            Who participates in the Lord’s Supper? It is generally agreed that one has to be a practicing believer in order to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Anything less is a sin (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). The Lord’s Supper signifies, at least in part, a spiritual relationship between the believer and the Lord. Thus a personal relationship with God is a prerequisite for participation in the Lord’s Supper.

            The believer should also be mature enough to be able to discern the meaning of participating in the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:29). Hence, it is advisable that children do not participate in the Lord’s Supper.

            What is the proper attire to participate in the Lord’s Supper? Before we consider this subject, let us recollect the most important prerequisite to participate in the Lord’s Supper. The believer’s active relationship with God is the most important prerequisite.

            While we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we are to approach the Lord ’s Supper in holy awe (our motives should be thoroughly examined), “Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-28, THE MSG).

            On the other hand, if we give no thought to our participation in the Lord’s Supper, then we run the risk of facing serious consequences, “If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave.” (1 Corinthians 11: 29-30, THE MSG).

            In other words, the most important prerequisite to participate in the Lord’s Supper is spiritual in nature, and not physical. The physical aspects such as our attire, posture etc. are secondary, at most, or of no significance at all. 

            So a rich man who is impeccably clothed and a beggar with his ragged attire can both participate in the Lord’s Supper as long as their motives are appropriate. Clothes do not matter while participating in the Lord’s Supper.

            The motivating factor to blog on this topic was my friend’s question to me recently. He asked if it was appropriate to wear shoes while participating in the Holy Communion / The Lord’s Supper.

            In certain churches, the Holy Communion will be served at the altar/stage. The believers walk to the altar/stage to partake in the Holy Communion.

            In other large churches, the believers remain in their seats while participating in the Holy Communion. The elements (bread & grape juice/wine) are brought to their seats. In this situation, the believers may be wearing their shoes while participating in the Lord’s Supper from their seats. Significantly, these churches do not impose any restrictions on attire.

            The disposition of our heart is more important than our shoes or clothes. By being silent on the type of clothes or other paraphernalia that believers ought to wear or not to, the Bible offers greater importance to the hearts of the believers than their attire. The dirt in our hearts has far fetching spiritual ramifications than the dirt in our shoes.

            Does the Bible say whether you and I should not wear shoes while participating in the Lord’s Supper? No, the Bible does not!

            God commanded Moses to remove his sandals because he was standing on the holy ground (Exodus 3:5 cf. Joshua 5:15). Should this be a point of reference for believers to partake in the Lord’s Supper without their shoes?

            I do not think so!

            If you are diligent enough to not wear shoes, but if your heart is not in the right place while you partake in the Lord’s Supper, then you are sinning against the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:27-31). Not wearing shoes does not provide any immunity from sinning.

            God commanded Moses to remove his sandals because God was locally manifesting HIMSELF in the place where Moses was standing. Thus that place was holy ground. 

            Today, there is no localized manifestation of God’s presence (at least not in our churches!). So it really does not matter whether we wear our shoes inside the church or while partaking in the Lord’s Supper.

            But it does matter where our heart is while we partake in the Lord’s Supper.

            Significantly, let us not be legalistic while practicing Christianity. Let not law rule our faith in Christ and fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters. May the grace of our dear Lord Jesus Christ rule our hearts and minds as we think and decide on practicing our faith.