Monday, October 20, 2014

Are Generational Curses Valid? Can Christians Suffer From Generational Curses?


            A few years ago a Christian missionary said this to me about a Christian family I was well acquainted with, “…that family is suffering from that disease for many generations since they are under curse.” This implied a presence of unrepentant sin or unbelief. Because they are Christian, unbelief in Christ could be eliminated.

            From what was observable to plain sight, at least two people from that family, one who passed away and another who is under the clutches of that deadly disease, cannot be termed blatant sinners; instead I can honestly affirm their goodness.

            The Bible does indicate generational curses in Exodus 20:5, 34:7; Numbers 14:18, Deuteronomy 5:9 and Lamentations 5: 7. If we concede that generations would be adversely affected because of the sin(s) of one or a few people belonging to that family, the question lingers rather bitterly in our minds as to why God would punish an innocent person for a sin that he/she did not commit.

            It seems perfectly reasonable if the person who sins, and remains unrepentant of that sin, dies. But the death of a person (offspring / child) who hasn’t sinned, especially when the children do not practice the sins of the ancestors, seems perfectly unjust and unreasonable. If this were to be true, then God seems very unjust.

            Punishment of the innocent for the sins of the parent / ancestors is grossly unjust. Only an unjust and a heartless God would punish an innocent child for the sins that he/she didn’t commit.

            The Bible, on the contrary, teaches that God is loving and merciful, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103: 8, NIV et al.). The God of the Bible is also a God who loves both the good and evil for HE, “…causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5: 45, NIV).

            If God loves both the evil and the good, HE would not punish the innocent for the sins they did not commit. In fact, the Bible posits a just God within the context of generational curses, “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18: 20, NASB).

            The context of Ezekiel 18: 20, found in Ezekiel 18: 2, is “generational curse.” God, in this chapter, clearly states that the children will not suffer because of the sins of parents, “What do you people mean by going around the country repeating the saying, The parents ate green apples, The children got the stomachache? “As sure as I’m the living God, you’re not going to repeat this saying in Israel any longer. Every soul—man, woman, child—belongs to me, parent and child alike. You die for your own sin, not another’s”” (Ezekiel 18: 1-4, MSG). Thereby, God demolishes any notion of generational curses.

            In face of an explicit assertion that the person who sins will only die and not the child who does not practice the sins of the father, we confidently claim that generational curses does not exist in the lives of God’s people. Therefore, it is clear and concrete that if the child does not commit the sins of the parent, then the child remains unaffected by the sins of the parent.

            But this is not it. We need to explain the verses that indicate generational curses. Christian theologians have already explained it rather reasonably. If a parent is a chronic liar it’s more likely possible that the child would resort to lying. If a parent is an alcoholic, then it’s more likely that the child could also be an alcoholic.

            But that’s not it. When children consciously repeat the sinful practices of the parent, it is imperative to note that the child who sins, sins on his/her own accord.

            However, when parents’ sins are consciously repeated by the children, do we say that generational curses are active? In other words, can we invoke generational curses when the children commit the sins of the parent?

            Before we proceed further we need to bring a certain distinction into picture. Within our context, let’s analyze the state of a Christian family and not a non-Christian family.

            Being born into a Christian home does not imply that the child is a Christian. The child does not become a Christian because the parents are Christians. The child becomes a Christian when he/she consciously repents of sins and believes only in the Lord Jesus as God and Savior.

            Therefore, when a person believes in the Lord Jesus, every curse, including the generational curse, is broken. The generational curse that every person suffers from is the curse of sin that is communicated down the generations.

            The Bible teaches us that the generational curse of sin is broken when a person believes in the Lord Jesus, “You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone….. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides? Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right…” (Romans 5: 12-19, MSG).

            Thus we are simply left with this – the person who sins shall die (from an eternal perspective) provided he/she does not believe in the Lord Jesus. If he/she believes in the Lord Jesus, then they will live, and live eternally.

            Can we appeal to generational curses when children commit the sins of the parent? While we ask this question, we also need to examine if there are children in the non-Christian households who do not commit the sins of the parent.

            Presence of children who do not commit the sins of their parents among the non-Christian households is an indication that generational curses are virtually non-existent.

            Consider this argument in a theoretical sense, if generational curses are valid, then shouldn’t it first affect the non-Christian households for the simple fact that they do not believe in the Lord Jesus? But if there are instances where non-Christians households are not affected by generational curses, then is it not utterly ridiculous that the God of the Bible would punish HIS children, the Christians, despite their belief in HIM?  

            Can we appeal to generational curses when families are plagued by genetically heritable diseases such as diabetes (type 2), certain heart diseases, Early-onset Familial Alzheimer Disease (eFAD) etc? Not at all, for verses such as Ephesians 1: 3 (Christians are blessed with every spiritual blessing), Colossians 1: 13, 1 John 5: 18 teach that those who believe in Christ have been delivered from darkness and satan cannot harm them.

            If you think about it, generational curses can be deviously used to wriggle out of many an unpleasant situation. For instance, if we want to get out of a particular relationship, and if we find a particular disease lingering in that family for generations, we could simply cite our unwillingness to be a part of that family that is plagued by generational curse (disease), and wriggle out of that relationship. Generational curses then seems to be a legitimate Christian means to abandon relationships. But this is a deceitful act even by the corrupt standards of this world, let alone the high moral standards defined by the Bible.

            So to conclude, the Bible does not provide me with reasons to believe in generational curses. Hence the notion of generational curses is utterly invalid, and those who proclaim it are merely revealing their biblical misunderstandings. Amen. 


Monday, October 13, 2014

Science Confirms Life After Death; Should Christians / Theists Rejoice?


               A few days ago, on 7th October 2014, “The Telegraph” reported an intriguing study in afterlife (life after death), “… scientists at the University of Southampton have spent four years examining more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria. And they found that nearly 40 per cent of people who survived described some kind of ‘awareness’ during the time when they were clinically dead before their hearts were restarted. One man even recalled leaving his body entirely and watching his resuscitation from the corner of the room. Despite being unconscious and ‘dead’ for three minutes, the 57-year-old social worker from Southampton, recounted the actions of the nursing staff in detail and described the sound of the machines...”1 Apparently experts agree that this study concurs with the emerging thoughts in resuscitation medicine about death and its reversal.

            Also recently, a team of psychologists and medical doctors associated with the Technische Universität of Berlin claimed that they have proven existence of life after death. 2 Therefore, studies into afterlife are not a recent phenomenon; much has been discussed and debated.

            There is widespread unbelief in God and afterlife among a vast majority of scientists.  Astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross offers an intriguing insight into the reason behind scientists’ unbelief in afterlife. 3  

            He reckons that 45% of scientists believe in God and afterlife, and offers a distinction between scientists belonging to life sciences and physical sciences. While the percentage of unbelief in God and afterlife is a miserable 5-10% among life-scientists, a vast majority of physical scientists believe in God and afterlife.

            There exists a huge disparity in the numbers of life scientists (3 million) and physical scientists (e.g. 12, 000 research astronomers). A vast majority of 12,000 research astronomers (physical scientists) in this world, who believe in God and afterlife, pale in comparison to the vast majority of the 3 million research biologists (life scientists), who do not believe in God and afterlife.

            Dr. Hugh Ross also provides a fascinating reasoning to the unbelief of the life scientists. The life scientists study the day-seven of creation (the day God rested from creation, which extends to the present day) whereas the physical scientists study the first six days of creation (the data of the past).

            This is an excerpt of his reasoning, ““On the seventh day he rested from all his work.” (Gen 2:2, NIV). God’s rest on the seventh day carries great theological significance (e.g. establishing the Sabbath), but it also helps clarify the nature of the creation days. The author of Genesis closes each of the first six days with an "evening and morning" but not the seventh day. Passages such as Psalm 95 and Hebrews 4 declare that we all have an opportunity to enter God’s rest, implying that the seventh day extends to the present time. Long creation days integrate well with evidence from creation. During the first six days of creation, as Psalm 104 explains, God created animals, caused them to go extinct and then created new animals. On the seventh day God ceased His creation of new animals, and today, the day of rest, we see evidence only of variation and extinction.”4

            Why do I mention the fact of unbelief of the vast majority of scientists in afterlife? It’s because one can expect a series of rebuttals (sense or nonsense notwithstanding) to the recent affirmation of afterlife by science. 

            So the question we ask is if we, as Christians or theists, should rejoice when science affirms the biblical truth of afterlife (heaven and hell).

            Christians have often appealed to modern science to corroborate biblical truth, and in our context - the afterlife. Dinesh D’Souza, the author of Life After Death: The Evidence, posits the evidence of afterlife through String Theory.5 He says, “…revolutionary discoveries in the past 25 years suggest that there is dark matter and dark energy that make up 95 percent of all the matter in the universe. All materialist generalizations about matter are immediately rendered partial, because how can you claim to know something if you've seen only 5 percent of it?

            Scientists now posit through string theory the presence of multiple realms, multiple dimensions. One of the implications of the big bang is that space and time had a beginning, and that space and time are properties of our universe. If that's true, then outside our universe or beyond our universe, there would be different laws of space and time, or no space and no time.

            The idea that our universe may not be the only one and that there may be other universes operating according to different laws is now coming into the mainstream of modern physics. So the Christian concept of eternity, which is God outside of space and time, is rendered completely intelligible. It opens up possibilities that would have seemed far-fetched even for science fiction a century ago.”

            Most surely there is no problem whatsoever in appealing to science to corroborate biblical truths. Although we respect and appreciate science for all its developments, science does not and cannot arbitrate theological truths for the simple fact that science is not omniscient.6

            Let alone theology, science does not even offer an adequate explanation to the everyday aspects of life. Do we eat butter or not? 7 Science is yet to offer a decisive conclusion. We do not reliably know what actually happened to the 227 passengers and 12 crew members aboard Malaysian airlines MH370 that virtually disappeared into thin air. All that science offered us was a speculation based on a possible satellite communication that the flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

            Alongside science, yet another element cannot arbitrate theological truths. When we consider contemporary Christianity, we necessarily have to include the gross heresies of Christian cults, liberals and postmoderns. Some heresies of these so-called progressive thinkers, who in actuality redefine biblical truths maliciously to suit their personal preferences, preclude the possibility of heaven and hell. Hence, when we consider contemporary Christianity, these heretics exclude themselves from the historic Christian comprehension of afterlife that most definitely includes literal, physical and eternal realms of heaven and hell.

            The historic Christian doctrine of afterlife is aptly summarized by Dr. William Lane Craig, “When a person dies, his body lies in the grave until the return of Christ. The souls of those who belong to Christ are drawn into a closer, more intimate fellowship with Him in this disembodied state. We really don’t know what this disembodied existence is like. It’s possible that souls in this disembodied condition project mental images of each other and themselves as bodily, so that they can relate to one another. The souls of unbelievers, by contrast, enter into a state of conscious torment and separation from God which is called Hades. When Christ returns, He will bring with Him the souls of the departed believers, and their remains will then be raised from the dead and transformed into glorious, powerful, resurrection bodies, and their souls will be reunited with their bodies. After appearing before the judgment seat of Christ for rewards, they will then be ushered into the new heavens and the new earth. Unbelievers will also be raised from the dead and reunited with their bodies, and then after being judged by God, they will be cast into hell.” 8

            Simple aided reasoning reasonably establishes the existence of afterlife:

            1. God should be and is an uncaused maximally great being.

            2. So God should live transcendentally outside space-time coordinates and immanently [within us]. In other words, God is an eternal being.

            3. Because God is a maximally great eternal being, by sheer entailment, HE should create human beings, know us before our birth, and sustain our existence.

            4. God then should not only sustain our existence in this temporal world, but should provide a means of a continued or an eternal existence post our temporal existence in this world. Provision of an eternal existence is the most logical sequence to a temporal existence, which perfectly completes the purpose of creation. (The doctrine of Annihilationism posits a horrendous blemish in divine creation.)

            5. Therefore afterlife - an eternal life with God in heaven or without God in hell - is indeed reasonable.  

            Christians subscribing to and assimilating the doctrinal comprehensions of Historic Christianity celebrate God’s revelation through HIS eternal Word – The Bible. Affirmation or denial of biblical truths by science and the liberal and postmodern cults, which maybe heartwarming or heartrending, should not play a definitive role in a Christian’s life.

            It does not matter if a vast majority of the scientists do not believe in afterlife. It really does not matter when cultic, liberal and postmodern Christians maliciously redefine the Bible to deny the presence of heaven or hell or even posit universalism. All that should matter to us is God’s revelation to us through the Bible, and God’s establishment of his revelation through the promptings of HIS precious Holy Spirit. 

            Having said this, a Christian lives by faith while [divinely] aided-reason and science merely complements his faith. The Bible univocally calls for faith in a Christian, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith (Romans 1: 16-17, NASB, Emphasis Mine).

            Let nothing come between God and us – neither science nor anything. While we praise God for science and scientists, we do not allow science to dictate our faith in God. There is life after death. Amen.



Endnotes:

1 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/11144442/First-hint-of-life-after-death-in-biggest-ever-scientific-study.html & http://www.resuscitationjournal.com/article/S0300-9572%2814%2900739-4/fulltext

2http://worldnewsdailyreport.com/german-scientists-prove-there-is-life-after-death/

3 http://www.reasons.org/videos/navgen-bonus-7

4 http://www.reasons.org/rtb-101/creationdayseven & http://www.reasons.org/articles/the-continuation-of-creation-day-seven

5 http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/december/19.38.html

6 http://www.christianapologeticsalliance.com/2013/10/20/can-science-answer-all-questions/

7 http://time.com/2863227/ending-the-war-on-fat/


8 http://www.reasonablefaith.org/transcript/what-happens-when-we-die#ixzz3FtU1ruFK

Monday, October 6, 2014

Christian Or Indian? (Is My Religion More Important Than My Nationality?)


             Which is of a greater importance – a person’s nationality or his religious identity? Some may wonder if this is even a topic worth discussing, because superficially, a tension between nationality and religious identity seems ludicrous. But situations could arise where a choice would have to be made between the two, or when the one would suffer more than the other.

            The nationality-religious identity tension from the perspective of religious oppression is a good case in point for a situation where religious identity suffers more than nationality. In some countries there is a quantitative asymmetry between religions. When a particular religion commands an 80%++ majority the other religions are relegated to a measly minority status.

            In such religious asymmetry, the majority religious group stands poised to extract maximum mileage of this dynamic, at times, at the cost of minority religious group(s). Non-existence of Christian church in some countries is a good example of religious oppression.  

            In these situations, the nationality-religious identity tension raises its ugly hood, where a citizen remains utterly impoverished to exercise his freedom of religious identity. In other words, when a nation subjugates its citizen’s religious freedom, the nationality-religious identity tension reveals itself to be alive and unmistakably real.  

            The much acclaimed movie, Chariots of Fire, divulged another facet of this nationality-religious identity tension. In this instance, the individual should choose either his sense of nationality or his religious identity. In Chariots of Fire, the devout Christian, Eric Liddell, refuses to represent his country at the 1924 Olympics on a Sunday. His Christian convictions motivated his decision to not run on Sunday. Eric Liddell chose to be a Christian than being Scottish. Variations of this facet are found in real life, so it is not limited to movies.

            Of course, there are other dynamics to the nationality-religious identity theme. For instance, Judaism is considered to be a religion, nationality and a culture. Even within this context, it is Judaism the religion that binds the Jews as a nation and forms the crux of Jewish culture. Therefore, religion assumes preeminence in this context.  

            Therefore the question ‘is my religion more important than my nationality?’ remains pertinent and worthy of discussion.

            Some claim that nationality is always of a greater importance than one’s religion. To refute this line of reasoning, we need to exhibit valid instances where nationality assumes lower priority to anything other than religion. If such a valid instance is showcased, then the claim that nationality should always gain preeminence over religion cannot be absolutely sustained.

            Take sports for example; at the recently concluded FIBA basketball world cup or the Asian Games, some superstars were missing. The superstars were missing [not because of injures] but because they obviously had something better to do than represent their country at these games. So the pride and joy of playing for their nation was a mere second to that which motivated them to miss out on representing their country at these games.

            Then there are the NRI’s (Non Resident Indians) - those who pursue their vocation outside their nation’s shores. Within the NRI community, there are those who [mostly] invest and spend their money in their motherland and there are those who have nothing to do with their motherland. The latter group, by virtue of their total disconnect with their motherland, abandon their nationality to a greener pasture.

            So there are unmistakable precedents where people abandon their national pride to that which is either more lucrative or critical. More importantly, we should never lose cognizance of the fact that these people groups (elite-athletes and NRI’s), who abandon their nationality to something else are those that are normatively glorified.

            So we infer that people do abandon their nationality to a more competitive, or vital aspect of life, other than religion. Therefore, the line of reasoning that nationality should always gain preeminence over one’s religion is futile and unsustainable.

            Theists believe that God created them and that their nationality, by virtue of their creation, is not a random occurrence, but ordained by God. If the omniscient God has ordained each of us to our respective nations, then our nationality, by default, remains subordinate to divine providence. Therefore, religion should dominate one’s nationality, and not the other way around.

            But the buck does not stop here. The nature of religious dominance should at least be superficially scrutinized.

            The sovereign God determines nations (Genesis 35: 11; 2 Chronicles 7: 14; Psalm 33: 12; Isaiah 60: 12; Amos 6: 14; Zephaniah 3: 8). Because the sovereign God determines nations, HIS people should be rightfully aligned with their respective nations and not, in any way, be detrimental to their nation.

            A person who claims to be rightfully aligned with God should be a constructive agent in his nation. This then is the most appropriate application of an individual’s worship of the sovereign God.

            There could be situations where nations may rebel against God. Once again let me invoke religious oppression into this context.

            An individual should never be constrained to not worship his maker. But if the nation plays this unholy card of preventing its citizens from worshipping their maker, then man does posses an innate and a divine right to pursue his worship. If and when the nation rebels against God, man’s utmost loyalty should be with God.

            Daniel is a classic case in point in this context. Please read Daniel 6: 6-13, “Then these commissioners and satraps came by agreement to the king and spoke to him as follows: “King Darius, live forever! All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials and the governors have consulted together that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions’ den. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction. Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God. Then they approached and spoke before the king about the king’s injunction, “Did you not sign an injunction that any man who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, is to be cast into the lions’ den?” The king replied, “The statement is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.” Then they answered and spoke before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you signed, but keeps making his petition three times a day…”” (NASB, Emphasis Mine).

            In such situations, when man chooses to be loyal to God, there could be adverse repercussions. But these adversities cannot deter man from his loyalty to God.

            God would deliver HIS people from adversities but in other situations God would allow HIS people to be martyred. Whatever be the case, man should speak the same words as that was spoken by three young worshippers of the living God thousands of years ago when they chose to be loyal to their God than the ruler of the nation, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up…” (Daniel 3: 16-18, NASB, Emphasis Mine).

            Therefore the answer to the question ‘is my religion more important than my nationality?’ is a very simple YES. It is God who creates man and places him in a particular nation.  It is the sovereign God who determines and rules over all nations. Therefore, God is over and above man and nations.


            Hence, it is only mandatory that man professes his allegiance to God than the nation. But a man who worships God would not act in a manner detrimental towards his nation, unless the nation rebels against God, forcing the man to choose God over his nation. Amen. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why Does God Not Heal And Save Despite Belief And Prayers?

             There’s pain and sickness all around us. As you read this article, you could be in pain. I am in moderate physical pain and have been in intense emotional pain. Moreover, those we know and do not know are suffering from a variety of painful situations. Christians as well as non-Christians are in pain.

            No one enjoys being in pain. No one enjoys observing the painful existence or the death of a loved one.

            When in pain we solicit help. Apart from atheists, the others pray to God for deliverance, healing and relief. It is more than just a mere fact that the walls of the hospitals have heard more intense prayers than the walls of the churches. Then there are local support systems (friends, hospitals, counseling centers etc.) that serve many.

            When we ardently believe in God and earnestly approach HIM in prayer, we expect healing and deliverance from the most gracious and the most loving God. God does heal; but healing and deliverance does not always happen, which is precisely why we have overcrowded hospitals and innovative measures to bury the dead or as an alternate, choose cremation.

            Some Christians teach that all sickness is because of sin. While sickness could be because of sin (Cf. 1 Corinthians 11: 29-30), we should also recollect that Christ denied that very notion, “As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:1–3). Therefore, to state that sickness is always because of sin is theologically incorrect.

            It’s also not always true that Satan is the source of all sickness. These verses (Exodus 4:11, 2 Kings 15:5, Luke 1: 19-20) assert that God sends sickness. There are also situations when God sends evil upon the most righteous, “they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him…” (Job 42: 11, RSV, Emphasis Mine).

             I recently witnessed the death of a new born which was a consequence of a complicated pregnancy. In this instance, the new born died despite her parents’ ardent belief in God and fervent prayers. On the other hand, I have witnessed births of premature babies who continue to enjoy good health. So on one hand, God took away the life of a newborn but in another instance, HE blessed the newborn with life and good health.

            We can extend this situation to many scenarios. There are remarkable illustrations of freak accidents and freak births. Consider the lives of Joni Eareckson Tada, Nick Vujicic and many many more.

            Joni is paralyzed shoulder-down after a freak accident that fractured her 4th and 5th cervical levels. Nick was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of four limbs. Joni continues to remain a quadriplegic and Nick remains without his four limbs. Significantly, they remain grateful to God and continue to serve HIM with faith and fervor.

            Another famous argument against God is that HE does not heal amputees, even the amputees who are faithful Christians. Even the most famous pastors are not exempt from the predicament of pain. The author of best selling ‘Purpose Driven Life,’ Pastor Rick Warren’s son committed suicide recently.

            So the question ‘why does God not heal everyone’ is indeed pertinent.

            The greater problem is that some Christian teachers preach and teach that lack of faith in Christians defeats God’s plan to heal. This motivates a conclusion that Pastor Rick Warren did not have faith in God; hence God did not save his son from suicide. But it may be absurd to treat Pastor Rick Warren as an unbeliever. Therefore pain and death seem to be the lot of those who have utmost faith in Christ.

            We could also observe pain and healing from the perspective of God’s sovereignty. If God wills not to heal, then HE would not heal. This is the implication of God’s sovereignty.

            There are some who were not healed by God in the Bible, they are: Elisha (2 Kings 13: 14), Apostle Paul (Galatians 4:13-15; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10), Timothy (1 Timothy 5: 23), Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20), and Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25–27).

            Even Jesus did not heal everyone. For example, at Bethesda, Christ healed only one, although there were many who were ill there (John 5: 1-8).

            This affirms the notion that while God does heal; healing is not always assured to everyone.

            When God’s sovereignty is juxtaposed with God’s perfect justice and love, there should be very good reasons as to why God does not heal everyone. However, the sovereign God is not constrained to make it known to men. This too is an entailment of God’s sovereignty.

            How then do we understand the verses that proclaim healing upon God’s children? An oft quoted verse is Isaiah 53: 5, “by his wounds we are healed.” Hebrew word study reveals that “heal” (Hebrew “rapah”) does not always refer to physical healing, e.g. “Rapah” refers to spiritual healing in Jeremiah 3:22 (healing of faithlessness). The other two much quoted verses 1 Peter 2: 24 and Matthew 8: 16-17 are quotes of Isaiah 53.

            Suffering is an integral part of Christian life (John 16:33, Romans 8:17, 2 Corinthians 1:5, 2 Corinthians 4:8–10, Philippians 1:29, Hebrews 11: 35-38; James 5:10). Therefore, our attitude should be that of Job’s, “…Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said” (Job 2:10).

            Failure to receive healing from God is not a universal indication of our faithlessness or our sinfulness. Of this we must be sure. However, we should consciously ensure that we do not fall ill by indulging in sinful activities.  

            Therefore we infer that while God does heal, healing is not assured to everyone. While God may not heal everyone, HIS peace and guiding presence is available to all those believe in HIM during their trials and tribulations. So while we pray, we pray for healing as well as wisdom, peace, comfort and encouragement especially when healing does not come our way.


            Whether we are healed or not, we can always glorify God. To glorify God during our times of trials and tribulations is a greater testimony to God’s presence, and may we do just that. Amen. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hey Prosperity Gospel Preacher, Don’t Condemn The Poor (Is A Christian Poor Because He Sins?)


            This short essay is to emphasize the false doctrine of the prosperity preachers. Prosperity preachers preach false doctrines when they preach prosperity and blame the poor for their poverty. When prosperity preachers blame the poor for being poor, they miss out on the crux of Historic Christianity that Christ came not to make poor people rich, but to make dead people live (spiritually).

            A few introductory remarks are essential.

            First, let’s define poverty. In the context of this short essay, I use the word poverty to signify material poverty (not spiritual). Material poverty includes wellness of body and mind. Poverty, therefore, is an insufficiency of necessary ingredients such as shelter, food, clothing, sanitation, education and healthcare.

            Second, people generally do not desire poverty. Minimally, all of us strive to have our basic needs met.

            Third, the Bible teaches that God prospers people (Deuteronomy 15: 4, 28:11; Psalm 25:13, 37:11, Proverbs 13:21 et al.). But the question is whether prosperity ought to be the universal status of all believers. In other words, does God allow poverty upon HIS people?

            Fourth, the Bible does not teach that God desires poverty or that God’s people should desire poverty. However, the Bible mentions the presence of poor and needy even among God’s people. This is not a condemnatory reference of the poor but a reference that encourages the wealthy to help the needy, but more on this later.

            This is the claim of the prosperity preachers:

            1. God wills prosperity upon HIS people and not poverty.

            2. If God’s people obey God and believe that God would prosper them, then they prosper and not remain poor (Deuteronomy 15: 4-6 et al.)

            3. There are poor Christians.

            4. Poor Christians are poor since they do not obey God (sin) or they do not believe in God’s words that God wants HIS people to prosper or because of other people’s sins.

            5. Therefore, poverty is the fault of poor Christians.

            My brief response to this teaching of the prosperity preachers is, GET OUT!

            My rather elaborate response to the prosperity preachers is as follows:

All Are Sinners; Even the Prosperity Preachers

            The Bible teaches that all are sinners - Christians and Non-Christians (Romans 3: 10, 3: 23 et al.). The sinners include the wealthy and the poor Christians, and the prosperity preachers as well. The prosperity preacher is either just as much or more sinful than the poor Christian. Therefore, if sin is universally present in mankind, then sin does not play a universal role in causing poverty among Christians.         

            This entails that prosperity is not granted to a lesser sinner or poverty upon a greater sinner. In other words, prosperity need not be the consequence of a believer’s greater obedience to God or poverty a consequence of a believer’s lesser obedience to God, especially when all believers are sinners.

Poverty Is Not Sinful

            The Bible does not teach poverty to be a sin as in the likes of idolatry, adultery, drunkenness, theft, homosexuality etc. Neither does the Bible teach that it is very difficult for the poor man to enter God’s Kingdom.

            In fact, it’s the other way around. The Bible teaches that it is very difficult for the rich to enter God’s Kingdom (Cf. Matthew 19: 23-24).

            If poverty is not a sin, then the prosperity preacher is not justified calling it so.

God Allows Poverty; Poverty Is A Tenable Status In Christendom

            These verses state that God allows poverty, “The rich and the poor have a common bond, The Lord is the maker of them all” (Proverbs 22:2) and “In the day of prosperity be happy, But in the day of adversity consider— God has made the one as well as the other So that man will not discover anything that will be after him” (Ecclesiastes 7:14)

            Just as the rich, if the poor are to praise God, then poverty is a tenable status in Christendom, “Let not the oppressed return dishonored; Let the afflicted and needy praise Your name” (Psalm 74:21).

            The following verses establish that God’s people could be poor.

            Exodus 22:25: “If you lend money to My peopleto the poor among you…”

            Exodus 30:15: “The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel…”

            Leviticus 14:21: “But if he is poor and his means are insufficient, then he is to take…”

            Prosperity preachers who cite Deuteronomy 15: 4-6 should read the 7th and the 11th verse as well. Deuteronomy 15:4, “However, there will be no poor among you…” is not a categorical imperative about the poor being an abomination, for a couple of verses later the poor are mentioned as being in the family of God’s people, If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns…” (Deuteronomy 15:7).

            Subsequently an imperative appears in Deuteronomy 15:11, “For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land…’(Emphasis mine). The importance here is on your brother, your needy and the poor in your land, signifying that the poor belong to the family of God’s people.

            Primarily, the Bible establishes the fact that there could be poor among God’s people. Then the Bible states that poor will always exist. These verses do not state the reasons behind the poverty of God’s people, but they merely state that they are poor and should be supported.

            If the Bible refrains from emphasizing causes to the poverty of God’s people, then so be it. Instead of examining and emphasizing the cause of a believer’s poverty, these nonsense-wielding prosperity preachers should alleviate the poverty of their brothers and sisters. 

            We are not done yet. Please observe more verses that establish the presence of the poor among God’s people.

            Leviticus 25:25, If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property…”

            Leviticus 25:35, “Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him…”

            Leviticus 25:39, “If a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to you that he sells himself to you...”

            The Lord Jesus exalted the giving of the poor widow instead of alleviating her poverty or blaming her for her poverty (Mark 12: 41-44; Luke 21: 1-4). In fact, Christ’s ministry was not about eradicating poverty or prospering people.

            The Apostle Paul boasted about his weakness than his success (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10). He relates abundance and poverty giving neither the dominance over the other, but emphasizing upon the fact that we should be satisfied during poverty and abundance (Philippians 4: 12-13).

            The verses cited above merely mention the poverty of believers, and instruct the fellow believers to sustain and support the poor than blame them for being poor. There are more such verses, but the point is made.

            The Bible establishes that poverty is a tenable presence in Christendom.

Poverty Sans The Sin Of The Poor

            Sin could play a specific role in poverty e.g. a person may gamble his possessions to become poor. But specificity of sin as a cause for poverty is in some instances only. Most surely, sin cannot be universalized as a cause for poverty.

            Think this through please. If a person is born to a poor family, then the person cannot be blamed for poverty.  People cannot be blamed for poverty when their entire possessions are destroyed due to natural calamities such as earthquake or hurricane. Similarly, a person may invest his life’s savings into a business and may end up in bankruptcy.

            In these instances and more, the poor cannot be blamed as being sinful for their poverty.

            The Bible, in other instances, refrains from blaming the poor but recognizes their presence and supports them. Here are those citations from the Bible:

            The Bible commends the giving of poor people (Luke 21:4; 2 Corinthians 8:2).

            The Bible warns against pursuing wealth (Matthew 6: 19, 24; 1 Timothy 3:3, 6: 10; Hebrews 13: 5)

            God will sustain the poor man (Psalm 12:5, 34:6, 72:13, and 140:12)

            Bible defends the poor (Proverbs 19: 1, 31: 9)

            Finally, how can the prosperity preacher judge with all certainty that the poor refuse to believe in God’s words that HE would prosper them? Only God knows perfectly well as to what a man believes or not.

            Moreover, God is a God of believer and unbeliever. When God blesses those who do not believe in HIM, how can the prosperity preacher proclaim that God will not bless the Christians who apparently do not believe in God’s promise for prosperity? Thus the prosperity preacher exposes his lack of understanding of God and HIS Word.

            May these words of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ conclude my tirade against the prosperity preachers, “Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15; NIV). Amen.




Endnotes


All Scripture verses are from NASB, unless mentioned. The scripture verses have been emphasized by me through italics and underline.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

So What If There’s Gay Gene? So What If You Are Born Gay?



            Why is the pro-gay lobby eagerly waiting for the discovery of a gay gene? Is it to possess a so-called legitimate excuse to practice homosexuality? If a gay gene is discovered, would it offer true legitimacy to practice homosexuality?

            First things first, homosexuality is a deviant or an abnormal behavior whether it’s viewed from a natural or from a Historic Christian perspective. Nature deems that the final cause of sexual intercourse is to procreate. This sexual intercourse ought to happen between a man and a woman. That homosexual couples cannot bear children naturally is basic knowledge. 

            Reproduction or procreation is inherent and mandatory to sexual activity, argues the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Freud wrote that “It is a characteristic common to all the perversions that in them reproduction as an aim is put aside. This is actually the criterion by which we judge whether a sexual activity is perverse – if it departs from reproduction in its aims and pursues the attainment of gratification independently.” 1 It is quite interesting to note that these words came from a man who was quite liberal on homosexuality, but who through his views on perversion deems homosexuality as a sexually perverse act.

            The Bible explicitly forbids and condemns homosexual behavior (Genesis 19:5; Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; I Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:10; Jude 1:7). However, it’s important to draw a distinction between homosexual orientation and behavior.

            The Bible does not condemn those possessing homosexual orientation and not expressing their orientation in actions. Therefore it’s not important whether a man or a woman has homosexual orientation, but what’s of ultimate importance is whether people express their homosexual orientation as homosexual actions.

            This entails that it’s not important how one gets their orientation, but what one does with their orientation.

            Many gay men and women truly believe that they were born gay and hence they argue, “If I were born this way, how can I not be attracted to those from the same sex? And if am born this way, how can I change?”

            On the face of it, the arguments of the gay people seem legitimate. But the question we need to ask is whether these arguments are seemingly legitimate or truly legitimate. 

            In line with procreation, which is only possible when opposite genders unite sexually (man and woman); we could reason out that homosexuals should act primarily according to their gender than their desires. In other words, why do homosexuals follow their desires more than they follow their gender?

            Although a person could be born with certain desires, he / she can necessarily control those desires. By soliciting the most appropriate supportive measure, a person can control and suppress any desire, including their sexual behaviors. If homosexuals argue that sexual behaviors are uncontrollable, then by the same logic, they could be taken to endorse crimes of all sorts (murder, rape etc.). Because no sane person tolerates crimes, this contention could be deemed nonsense.

            The existence of genetic basis for traits does not by itself prove anything about whether the trait is natural in its relevant sense. For instance, clubfeet is a defect. So proving genetic basis for clubfeet does not necessarily prove that clubfeet is ‘natural.’

            Therefore, establishing a genetic trait for homosexuality does not necessarily prove that homosexuality is ‘natural.’ (Moreover, none with normal feet would want clubfeet through surgery. It’s always the other way around. Man always strives for normalcy and not abnormalcy.)

            Let’s observe from another vantage point that genetic traits do not necessarily prove a behavior to be natural. Suppose science offers genetic predisposition to anger, would that justify thrashing gays and those who support them? In other words, if a homosexual seeks to legitimize his behavior by reasoning that he/she is born gay, then can his antagonist seek to legitimize bashing of homosexuals by arguing that he/she is born mean and angry? Therefore, genetic predisposition does not determine a behavior as ‘natural.’

            Here’s another intriguing instance. Are you aware that pedophiles (an adult who is sexually attracted to young children) argue that their damaging trait is inborn? Retired FBI agent Bob Hamer and author of “The Last Undercover” recounts his experiences, “It actually brought back memories of the NAMBLA conferences I attended. I listened to men justify oral sex on 18 month olds. How often I listened to men claim their pedophilia was an inborn trait; it was natural, ‘this is the way God made me’”2 (NAMBLA is an acronym for ‘North American Man Boy Love Association’).

            Whatever said and done, pedophilia cannot be a ‘natural’ practice even if it is proven to have genetic basis. It is unnatural for an adult to have sexual relations with a child. Similarly, it is unnatural for homosexuals to have sexual relations; hence homosexuality cannot be a ‘natural’ practice even if it’s proven to have a genetic basis.

            On the other hand, if homosexuals demand freedom to pursue their illicit sexual relations, then would they endorse pedophiles to sexually molest a child? (Well with the kind of depravity that exists, I would not be surprised to hear them argue to justify the actions of a pedophile. Such is the deplorable depravity we encounter in today’s world.)

            The cause for the deplorable moral depravity we find in today’s world is a logical extension of the Humean moral philosophy that “reason is a slave to passions.” 3  If reason is a slave to passion, then one should endorse all possible depravities, including homosexuality and pedophilia.

            Where is the scientific world on the discovery of the gay gene? The largest scientific organization in America, the 'American Psychological Association,' a pro-gay organization, believes that “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles…” 4  Although we do not conclude that the search for gay gene has ended, we contend that ‘gay gene’ is irrelevant.  

            Why then is the homosexual community harping on genetics? As Bryan Fischer, Director of Issue Analysis, American Family Association, articulates commendably, “If homosexuality is not in fact genetically caused, they have nothing….Without a genetic causation, sexual preference in behavior is clearly a choice, a choice which no one is compelled to make. And that choice can be evaluated in any number of ways, including whether or not it is good for human health and whether or not same-sex households are sub-optimal nurturing environments for vulnerable young children.” 5    

            To conclude, gay gene is not a matter of concern at all. Even if it were to be discovered in the near future, it would not affect our thoughts and conviction.

            Gay gene or not, homosexuality is an inappropriate and a deviant sexual behavior, and hence should not be practiced. But we should love homosexuals, albeit reminding them lovingly that homosexuality is unnatural and sinful, which should be overcome by the grace and power of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and by seeking the right support and remedial measure. Amen.   
                       


Endnotes

1 Sigmund Freud, A General Introduction to Psycho-Analysis, p277.

2http://townhall.com/columnists/frankturek/2008/11/01/born_gay_or_a_gay_basher_no_excuse/page/full  

3 http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hume-moral/

4 http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf


5 http://www.onenewsnow.com/perspectives/bryan-fischer/2014/06/17/the-latest-in-scientific-research-there-is-no-gay-gene

Monday, September 8, 2014

Why Pastor Osteen Why? (Response to Pastors Victoria & Joel Osteen’s Sermon Viral)


            Forbes cites Lakewood church as the largest church in America.1 Pastor Joel Osteen with his wife and co-pastor Victoria Osteen lead Lakewood church.

            A recent video posted on YouTube shows Pastor Victoria Osteen’s remarks, which have gone viral on social media attracting scathing criticisms as well as sympathetic defense. She said, “I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it—we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy… So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy,” she continued. “When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen” (Emphasis Mine).



            I disagree with Pastor Victoria’s theology. Let me merely introduce Pastor Victoria’s error.

            The crux of her message was “self over God” (narcissism), which is an outright idiocy. Man worships God for the Almighty God is to be worshiped in spirit and in truth.

            Holiness is the key theme in the book of Leviticus. We are not called to be holy for our sake, but we are called to be holy for God, whom we worship, is holy (Leviticus 11: 44 et al.). Therefore, when we worship God, we are not doing it for ourselves, but we are solely doing it for God. This thought pervades the Bible.

            Our joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We bear the fruit of joy if and only if we remain in Christ. Apart from Christ we can do nothing.  Therefore if we are joyous, God would be pleased with us, not for being joyous, but for being in HIM and HIM alone.

            Think about this as well; are we in the business of keeping God happy?  Alternatively, would our failures cause sadness in God? If this be true, and if the whole world, Christians included, are sinners, we are looking at the possibility of a very sad God. This God cannot be happy at all.

            On the contrary, if God is ‘perfect’ (of course God, as a maximally great being, has to be and is perfect), then HIS perfect being entails HIS happiness. Therefore, as the much acclaimed Aristotelian philosopher Thomas Aquinas said, “God is happiness itself.”2

            I hope this introduces the error. 

            As pastors of a church boasting attendance of 45000, Pastor Joel and Victoria Osteen would be much scrutinized. They would be much sought after and scorned by quite a few. This is the dilemma and the inevitability of success. Yet their immense popularity and mass acceptance would drown these negativities, even if these negativities are justified.

            Let’s look outside the persona and into the nature of the teaching. Why do preachers preach errors at the local church?

            Erroneous teaching would continue in the local church for the very simple fact that Christian or shall we say some of the so-called Christian seminaries teach these errors to their so-called gullible students. Thus, pastors graduating from these seminaries would preach errors to drag their congregation into deplorable theological pits and existential pitfalls.  

            This is the sad reality in the church today. When errors are preached by the pastors, the congregation simply believes the error as if the preacher’s words are infallible and inerrant. But in fact, it is the Bible that is infallible and inerrant because it is inspired by God.

            Since the average Christian is too busy to study and understand the Bible, and even discuss in Bible study groups, they render themselves vulnerable to the evil schemes of satan, which also could be in the form of church leadership (Cf. 2 Corinthians 11: 14).  When the average Christian refuses to study and understand the Bible, he/she loses the ability to discern the right from the wrong.

            When the average Christian loses the ability to discern the right from the wrong, he/she mindlessly applauds the heresies proclaimed by the preachers. These preachers are motivated by the applause, and they continue in their people-pleasing endeavor. The vicious cycle continues.

            So, it is not right to only blame the preachers for preaching errors. Please blame those in the congregation who hear and applaud these errors rather mindlessly. As some say, biblical illiteracy is at an all-time high.

            Here is a disclaimer. Not all churches and not all preachers preach errors. There are preachers and churches that remain faithful to God and HIS Word. Similarly, not all Christians remain without a great desire to study the Word of God. There are quite a few and I am blessed to know a few who have a deep desire to know more of God and HIS Word.

            So what do we do when we encounter errors? C.S Lewis once said, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.” We ought to pray that God opens a door or even a window of opportunity where we can engage the error so to present the truth with a view to liberate the many who may have believed in the error.

            So those who are empowered to counter the errors should not remain silent, instead voice out the truth so that the truth will set them free. Having said this, the truth does not set everyone free, for many will reject the truth. But rejection of truth need not dampen the voice of truth. Truth should be proclaimed always, especially by those empowered to negate errors.  

            So let’s understand the Bible (2 Timothy 3: 16-17) through the anointing of the Holy Spirit and continue to destroy “ …speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God…” (2 Corinthians 10: 5a, NASB), and may we do so in the power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.



Endnotes:

1 http://www.forbes.com/2009/06/26/americas-biggest-megachurches-business-megachurches.html


2 St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae (A Concise Translation), p61.