Monday, April 20, 2015

Eugenics: Killing Defective People; A Christian Response



            Eugenics is a combination of two Greek words meaning ‘good’ and ‘genes.’ The vision of “Eugenics,” a term coined in 1883 by Sir Francis Galton - cousin of Charles Darwin - is to create a superior and a flourishing human race, devoid of all genetic imperfections and hereditary diseases, by eliminating defective people.

            Eugenics posits an increase of ‘socially good genes’ by eliminating the proliferation of ‘bad genes’ within a given gene pool. Briefly, positive eugenics advocates marriages among fit people and negative eugenics limits procreation through sterilization and euthanasia.

            Eugenics destroys our society by disgracing those with hereditary diseases and other abnormal medical conditions to a status of being ‘defective.’ When a ‘defect’ is identified, elimination of the subject carrying that defect gains greater priority than healing of that defect. This is the damaging service caused by eugenics to our society. 

            In contrast, the Bible alludes to people with defects as sick and needy. The Bible also terms all human beings as sinners – with an innate propensity to sin. Some sinners, such as serial killers or rapists, violate their victims rather irreparably whereas others, in comparison, commit sins that do not violate others.

            Whatever the case may be, the Bible offers a cure for both the sick and the sinner. The cure is in God and HIS Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, so that those who believe in Christ will be healed of their infirmities and delivered from their sins. 

            Eugenics endorses:

a.       Forced sterilizations of defective people (between 1934-1939, 350,000 defective people were sterilized).

b.      Killing the hospitalized (In 1934, Adolf Hitler’s national euthanasia programme was aimed to free up 800,000 beds for war causalities).   

c.       Promoting abortion to kill defective children (Margaret Sanger, a proponent of eugenics and a founder of “Planned Parenthood,” is probably America’s largest cause for abortion at almost a million abortions per year).1

d.      Infanticide on defective children i.e. Stephen Hawking should have been killed.

e.       Killing people with diseases or other abnormal medical conditions (e.g. those who are disease prone e.g. Ludwig Van Beethoven, and the one billion obese people should be killed).

            One need not be an astrophysicist to affirm the evil of killing. Similarly, any average human being can understand the similarity between forced sterilizations and rape – both violate a person’s sanctity, and hence are evil. 

            If this be the case, why are we discussing eugenics? Shouldn’t eugenics have been eliminated from our dictionary?

            Whether we like it or not, eugenics raises its ugly hood under the guise of scientific advancement. Thus eugenicists posit cleansing of the society of its innate defects through eugenic sterilization, which is achieved by the alteration of the genetic basis of societal defects such as poverty and criminality.

            Eugenics manifests in various guises. If you wonder whether forced or illegal sterilizations happen today, then prepare to be shocked. 150 female inmates were illegally sterilized in California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation between 2006-2010.2 At least 8 women died after undergoing government sponsored sterilization procedures in India, which was conducted to curtail overpopulation. These women were paid a measly $23 to have the surgery.3

            The purpose of this short essay is to induce a Christian response to eugenics. I have offered my response to eugenics and you can formulate yours. Christians should either endorse or oppose eugenics, there is no middle ground. Having said this, eugenics has infiltrated into Christianity, for quite a few christian leaders support eugenics.

            What does the Bible have to say about eugenics? In other words, would Christ have supported eugenics? No, not by any stretch of imagination.

            The Bible does not warrant its believers to either kill or violate anyone’s sanctity. Historic Christianity is all about loving, healing and saving people who believe in Christ.

            The Bible reveals a sovereign God who creates and determines the length of man’s life. As a sovereign creator, God alone has the power to take life off this earth. This is an entailment of God’s sovereignty.

            But man is neither sovereign nor can he create life. Therefore, man, through the science of eugenics, cannot usurp God to determine who lives and who not. Nothing, not even science, provides man the authority to unjustly eliminate life. 

            The Bible does not discriminate people (cf. Matthew 22: 39; Galatians 3: 28), but eugenics judges and discriminates people based on their social fitness. Eugenics promotes the fit and eliminates the unfit. Life that God creates is precious in HIS sight (1 Peter 2: 4) and God is impartial (2 Chronicles 19: 7) to both the fit and the unfit.

            God heals the sick. Although in certain instances, HE does not heal all the sick, but unlike eugenics, HE offers strength to those HE does not heal, to live through their sickness. God does not eliminate defective people.

            God does not kill the sick to promote a flourishing human society devoid of all imperfections. Instead, God offers the imperfect man a means to eternally coexist with HIM – the only pure and perfect being, through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that those who believe in Christ will be saved.

            The Bible mandates care for the needy (Exodus 22: 21-23). We ought to care for the needy so to uplift them and enable them to live a better life. Nowhere does the Bible state that the sick and the needy ought to be killed so to construct a flourishing human society.

            The Lord Jesus Christ was a friend of sinners and downtrodden (Matthew 11: 19, 25: 34-36). In fact, Christ condemned those who ignored the needy (Matthew 25: 41-43). So the needy are not a burden upon our society; rather the needy ought to be cared and provided for.

            Thus far we have refuted negative eugenics. Positive eugenics is no better.

            Positive eugenics advocates marriage between fit people (man and a woman). So, two ‘non-defective’ people (free from all abnormal medical conditions) should get married.

            Even among non-defective people, a man with high IQ ought to marry a woman with high IQ. This is the compatibility proposed by positive eugenics.

            Are not grace, love, trust, sacrifice, humility, compassion necessary for the success and longevity of the marriage, than high IQ? High IQ does not necessarily presuppose grace, love, trust, sacrifice, humility, and compassion.

            What if two christians, one with high IQ and the other with low IQ, but both loving the Lord dearly and possessing grace, love, trust, sacrifice, humility, compassion in growing measure, decide to get married? This couple will most likely enjoy a long and a prosperous marriage than the couple with high IQ and less grace, love, trust, sacrifice, humility, compassion.

            Christians should oppose eugenics for it violates human sanctity and denigrates the weak. Instead we should love the weak and help them to live a better life and lead them to the Lord Jesus who alone can save and deliver them.



Endnotes:

1 http://www.sba-list.org/sites/default/files/content/shared/12.31.14fact_sheet_pp_2013_2014_annual_report.pdf
&
http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2015/01/01/planned-parenthood-annual-report-all-about-abortions-and-profits/

2 http://www.christianpost.com/news/three-generations-of-eugenics-sterilizing-california-prisoners-100053/


3 http://rt.com/news/204351-botched-sterilization-kills-women-india/ 

Monday, April 13, 2015

So You Messed Up Your Exam! Why Pray?

                  “Post debacle” prayer or ‘how would prayer help me when I have messed up?’ is intriguing enough to be examined.

            The specific situation of children writing crucial examinations in India could be good case in point. Contextually our question could be, ‘would there be any use in prayer after messing up the exams?’

            Indian high schoolers (11th & 12th graders) are deemed potentially unsuccessful if they do not pursue education in science or commerce. According to scores of Indian parents, these are flagship streams, while others such as social sciences (arts/humanities) are apparently worthless. This thought paradigm is predicated on the ostensible financial stability offered by jobs within the science or commerce domains.

            Children studying in grades 10 and 12 (who would, at the end of their respective academic years, write crucial examinations) in India are an incredibly stressed out group. I believe that parents, peers and public increase their stress.

            First, parents stress out their children. They burden the child with high, and in several instances, needless expectations by forcing them to pursue undergraduate and graduate programs in medical (not nursing), engineering, biotechnology, chartered accountancy or management.

            God has appointed parents as stewards of children – to care, nourish and protect them against all forms of evil. Unnecessary stress upon anyone, let alone children, is evil. God does not intend to bring stress upon anyone.

            If parents are sensitive to God’s will and leading, they will do well and not be a stress factor upon their children. There is an undeniable difference between handholding our children to excel and thrusting our desires upon them, especially when they do not buy into ‘our’ desire for their future.   

            Second, children are stressed out by peer pressure. When peers are focused on pursuing these much vaunted courses, the child is inevitably stressed out if he is unable to or does not desire to pursue these courses.

            Third, public pressure stresses out these children. Even before the student enters grade 10, a popular topic of conversation during public engagements with friends or relatives is, “what do you plan on studying in grade 11?” If the student responds, “I haven’t figured it out yet” or “I desire to be a teacher,” then the child, in all likelihood, will be explicitly or subtly disgraced, for professions such as teaching, and an existence without adequate knowledge or planning for the future, is considered slothful and stupid in the Indian subcontinent.

            Then there is the rather insane competition to secure admission into decent academic institutions in India that increases children’s stress. In many instances, even a score as high as 90% does not fetch one a seat in a premier institution.

            In India, ‘messing up’ need not necessarily imply an ‘F’ grade. Any score lesser than 90% (less than A+) is considered a mess-up depending on the actual situation the child could be in. When expectations are sky-high, a micro thin line separates success and failure in India.

            Why does a child mess up in exams?

            A child may not be innately gifted to excel in the Indian academic system. Moreover, adverse situations could negatively impact a child’s preparation preventing the child’s potential excellence.

            Certainly, a child cannot be held responsible if he/she is not gifted intellectually or if the child is thrust into an adverse situation, which the child has no control over. The responsibility then is in the domain of the sovereign God who created the child with subpar intellectuality, and who need not have thrust the child into the adverse situation.

            Thus children (and their parents), who are embedded in these situations, cannot be faulted for praying to God after messing up the exam. But our question remains, is it of any use to pray after messing up the exam?

            In other words, would God miraculously transform the wrong answer to the right or manipulate the evaluator of the test papers to award marks to the wrong answers? Although God could sovereignly perform the aforesaid deeds, HE would not perform those deeds (for it would contradict HIS attribute of justice) to unjustly rescue the child who prays to HIM.

            If God offers success to every diligent prayer, would not the child and parents resort to prayer with greater fervor than preparing for the exams? Also, if prayer is the recipe for academic success, then would not a majority of Christian students occupy all the premier institutions in India?  But this is not a reality in India.

            Furthermore, if God offers material success e.g. success in exam to every diligent prayer, would not the whole world flock to God merely for the sake of material prosperity?

            If this be the case, none will believe God for the sake of deliverance from their sins and none will love God for HIS perfect sacrifice in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

            Given these considerations, we could safely conclude that God would not miraculously help the child so to promote lethargy or disinterest with regard to his/her education. Instead, God will perform deeds to promote diligence and responsibility in a student as long as the student wills to work hard for success. God would not do anything unjust but to lead the evaluator to grade the test paper more graciously and in all fairness.  

            So are we not supposed to pray after messing up? The Bible mandates us to pray continually, which undoubtedly mandates us to pray after messing up.

            What then should be the purpose of our prayer after messing up?

            A child who is inadequately gifted intellectually or a child implanted in adversity should pray predominantly for the realization of God’s will for his/her life (this holds true for the parents of the child as well). These children and their parents should also pray for divine strength to overcome their weaknesses so to pursue God’s will for their lives.

            Parents, especially, should realize that social sciences or similar streams of education could be employed by God to fulfill HIS will for the child and the world. Moreover parents should realize that abundance of income is not primarily dependent on the work of our hands, instead it is solely dependent on God who offers life and various blessings to us.

            The loving, gracious, merciful and compassionate God does not will destruction upon the lives of HIS people. Although God allows pain into our lives, HIS grace will always be sufficient for us and HIS incomparably great power will enable us to overcome pain.

            There are children who prepare to the best of their abilities. However since they are gifted with subpar intellectuality or because of adversities, they cannot score high grades. Then there are those who could have messed up their preparation for a variety of reasons. In both instances, not only the children, but their parents should also pray to achieve the following: 

            First, request God for strength to accept the consequences i.e. result of messing up the exam. Second, ask God for wisdom to move forward i.e. our next step action subsequent to the failure. Third, repent and plead to God that HE would enable us to change so that we do not repeat our sins / errors of apathetic preparations that led to the mess up (repentance is only for those who deliberately mess up their preparations).

            We should always remember that God is a God of second chances. God expects us to exercise our freewill to love, obey and repent of our sins to be drawn closer to HIM for HIS will to be ours.


            Messing up is not an aberration in our life, but we need God to enable us to stop messing up repetitively. If we seek God earnestly, God will graciously enable us to do HIS will. Our goal is to become wiser as days go by – wiser by godly living that promotes diligence, responsibility and accountability in all that we do so that God is constantly glorified in our lives. Amen.    


Monday, April 6, 2015

Christianity In The Hands Of Mindless Histrionic Preachers


                   It’s a perennial joy to watch certain Christian preachers preach. I have enjoyed the sermons and lectures of Billy Graham, Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig and a few. They preach the gospel, defend historic Christianity and teach the Bible diligently.

            However, a few days ago I was bewildered to watch the mindless histrionic preaching of a few Christian preachers.

            A proud preacher1 had the audacity to claim that his anointed ministry is not meant to serve a mere 50-60 people rather it was meant to serve millions.

            Another theatrical preacher2 claimed that ordinary people could not step into a certain part of the stage (obviously that’s where he was standing) where apparently the Holy Spirit’s anointing was powerful. When people tried to step into that so-called anointed area of that stage, they were thrown back (the big question is if they were acting or not).

            Then there was a preacher3 whose primary task was to make people laugh. People laughed aloud uncontrollably when he touched them. People laughed because this preacher apparently anointed them with the Holy Spirit.

            Correct me if am wrong, but I most surely think these preachers are utterly mindless.  

            Why do I term them mindless? I am quite sure that there are many in Christendom in this genre of preaching. Is it demeaning to term these preachers as mindless? Let us think this through.

            What’s the purpose of this style of preaching? What do they try to achieve?  

            The proud preacher manifested his innate pride by purporting that his anointed ministry is not for a mere 50-60 people. His purpose, I reckon, was two-fold: (1) to explicitly yet proudly assert his astronomical spiritual net worth, and (2) to humiliate the members of his church whose sole fault was attending that worship service.

            His manifest purposes, as any honest student-of-the-Bible would affirm, are absolutely unbiblical. The Bible urges humility, not pride.

            The Bible mandates grace, love, mercy and compassion, not a vulgar demeaning outburst against naïve Christians – not the least to brutally massacre them for having attended the church service to worship God.

            What then was the proud preacher trying to achieve?           

            Apparently he did not want to waste his time on a few people (50-60) when he could have ministered profitably (pun intended) with a larger gathering. But was he justified in denying his ministry upon a few people?

            The Lord Jesus Christ, as the Bible reveals, ministered to both, the lone Samaritan woman, as well as a large gathering. If the Lord Jesus Christ ministered to a single person, who are we to not minister to a single person or a smaller group?

            When the Lord Jesus Christ did not condemn the woman caught in the act of adultery (a blatant sinner), who are we to condemn naïve Christians whose only fault was to attend a worship service to worship God.

            Would it not be appropriate to term this proud preacher as mindless because of his failure to be Christlike in his ministry? I honestly believe that this proud preacher, for reasons aforesaid, was mindless.

            Power preaching is in vogue in Christendom. Lavish display of power on stage attracts people.

            By power I do not mean powerful sermons preached by the power of God, rather an ostensible display of people being thrown around on the stage or people laughing uncontrollably when they were allegedly impacted by the so-called anointed preachers of God.   

            What’s the purpose of this display of power on stage? Superficially, I reckon, if I were to speak on behalf of these drama-preachers, these ravishing acts of power are meant to display God’s power.

            I ask two questions: (1) Did Christ display power where people were thrown around when he touched them? (2) Does God require us to perform such power-ministries?

            Christ displayed the power of the miraculous - resurrecting the dead, healing, casting of demons, calming the storm, multiplying bread and fish etc. These miraculous events blessed people’s lives.

            To the best of my knowledge of the Bible, I neither think that people were thrown around nor did they laugh uncontrollably when Christ touched them.

            The power Christ displayed was more meaningful i.e. it blessed human life significantly. Contrarily, as is the case with these preachers, lives are not blessed when people are thrown around and when they laugh uncontrollably.  

            The powerful ministry that God desires of us is to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28: 18-20) and be witnesses of Christ (Acts 1: 8). There is another power the Bible mentions, but rarely practiced these days, which is the power to share our possessions with the needy (Acts 4: 32-34). Of course, we cannot ignore the powerful ministries of healing and exorcisms.

            The Bible does not urge or mandate us to display power of comical proportions – to throw people around and/or to make them laugh uncontrollably upon being touched by the so-called anointed minister. So I do not understand the sincere purpose behind such scandalous display of power on stage other than the fact that their genuine purpose may be to propel themselves to greater fame among the masses.

            I honestly believe that this genre of ministry is mindless and unbiblical in that it does not normatively bless people (or at least I cannot understand how it blesses people, barring God’s sovereign intervention).

            This genre of mindless histrionic preaching is not the need of the hour, unless these mindless preachers compulsively desire to gratify the audience by humoring them at no extra cost.

            This is the need of the hour. People would be blessed when they are drawn to the love of Christ through the preaching of the gospel. People are blessed when they are loved and cared for, especially during their moments of need and desperation.

            Those ailing would be blessed when they are healed of their sickness or when they are delivered from demonic oppression. Those in doubt would be blessed when the Bible is taught and clarified – undiluted and unadulterated.

            May we do all that we can to bless people. May not our will be done, but may the good Lord enable us to do HIS perfect and pleasing will always. Amen.



Endnotes:

You can watch these preachers by copy-pasting the following links in your browser (they speak in Tamil – a South Indian language):

1 Proud preacher: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=612529632215319&set=vb.434891643312453&type=2&theater

2 Theatrical preacher: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=914453421922257


3 Preacher who makes people laugh: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=351088805086181&pnref=story

Monday, March 30, 2015

If All Religions Are Same, We Would Be Destroyed


            Let us equate ‘conversion’ with the claim that all religions are same.  

            Uniqueness is an underlying belief in conversion. A religion indulges in evangelism because of its uniqueness. The three major religions, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism are actively evangelizing religions.

            Notwithstanding these, the New Age movement, highly eclectic in its structure, converts people into its fold. Even atheists evangelize their faith. 

            If all religions are same, why convert? A religion that converts people into its fold denies that all religions are same. So a vast majority of world’s population denies that all religions are same.

Relativism Destroys The World

            Why should we be destroyed if all religions are same?

            If all religions are same, then religions should not reject each other. However, major religions claim exclusivity.

            Atheism rejects theism. Buddhism rejects Hinduism. Islam rejects all unbelievers of Allah. Historic Christianity rejects all other religions – for only those who believe in Christ are saved. Ravi Zacharias said, “…even all -inclusive religions such as Bahaism end up being exclusivistic by excluding the exclusivists!” 1

            Rejection occurs due to contradictions. Contradiction between atheism and theism is in the presence of God. While atheism denies God, theism posits God.

            Both atheism and theism cannot posit truth at the same time, since they mutually contradict each other. Either atheism or theism could be true, certainly not both. So, how can an average person believe that both atheism and theism are right?  

            Consider contradictions between religions from another vantage point.

            If all religions are same, we are urged to believe that the following contradictions are absolute truth. Let’s consider the perspective of Godhead:

            A. Historic Christianity claims that God is a trinity (Father, Son & Holy Spirit).

            B. God is one, and certainly not a trinity, asserts Islam.

            C. Hinduism claims that God is ‘Brahman,’ who manifests as Vishnu or Brahma or Siva. (Thus, Hinduism rejects both Islam and Christianity.)

            D. Atheism denies God’s existence. (Atheism is a religion!) 2

            If a student asserts that 2+2 is 10, the student would be penalized for wrong answer. In our day-to-day life, we are expected to speak the truth. We will be penalized or insulted if we do not speak the truth.

            However, in spirituality, we are urged to affirm contradictions as truth, based on relativism or relative truth or mind-dependent interpretation of facts. Therefore, those espousing similarity of religions mandate and promote hypocrisy, since their claim is predicated on relativism.

            Relativism would destroy us.

            If you teach your child to believe that all religions are same despite their innate contradictions, then, by virtue of subscribing to relative truth, you should not fault your child for theft.

            For instance, a parent cannot fault the child for stealing money from them. Based on relativism, a child caught stealing could assert that it is appropriate to take money off the parent because what is seen as ‘theft’ by the parent is seen as a ‘means to satisfy need’ by the child - the child had a need, so he took money off the parent. Thus, by virtue of relativism, a child could justify a crime as a good deed.

            If what is seen as crime in your eyes is a good deed according to others, then would this not destroy us? Is not terrorism an active example of relative truth in today’s world?

            Terrorists believe they are right, whereas others believe that the terrorists are absolutely wrong. Isn’t terrorism, which is predicated on relative truth, destroying our world today?

Sin Against God Destroys The World

            Those who claim similarity of all religions effectively imply that all religions are either false or truthful. Esoterism and /or deception could be means to this assertion.

            How does one know that all religions are false or truthful?

            Superior knowledge is required to affirm or debunk the truth claim of all religions.  One could proclaim superior knowledge via divine revelation à la Mormon leader Joseph Smith, who claimed that his revelation superseded the former divine revelations. This superior knowledge could be esoteric if not elucidated with adequate clarity.

            Conscious deception could be another means to the proclamation that all religions are same.

            Baha'ism believes that all religions are constantly evolving and each religion is in a particular stage of evolution. If this be true, we should have seen the evolution of Judaism, Islam, and Historic Christianity etc.

            For instance, the Holy Scriptures of the religions e.g. the Bible, Quran, and Vedas have remained the same, they have not evolved over a period of time. Since these religions have not evolved over the past, why should we accept the claim that all religions are evolving? In this case, isn’t it remarkably deceptive to actively sustain the claim that all religions are same? 

            Whether it’s esotericism or deception, we would be destroyed if we agree to the assertion that all religions are same. Why?

            We would be destroyed since the claim that all religions are same is a sin against God. When man sins consciously against God, he would be eternally destroyed.

            Those proclaiming ‘all religions are same,’ are, in a sense, affirming all religions.

            God, being just, does not tolerate affirmation or worship of false gods. The one true and living God condemns the affirmation and worship of false gods (cf. Amos 2: 4-5; 1 Corinthians 10: 21). Hence, a claim that all religions are same is a sin against God.

            On the other hand, man plays God when he asserts that all religions are same. To state that all religions are same is to educate God, and of course man, that worship of the one true living God and other false gods are appropriate and coequal.

            When man plays God, he presupposes his omniscience i.e. man claims omniscience. But omniscience is an attribute of a pure and a perfect being, namely God.

            When man plays God, he sins against God, for playing God is to usurp God - albeit unsuccessfully.  When man sins against God, he is doomed for destruction because of his conscious rejection of God and his active refusal to repent and believe in Christ.

            Furthermore, claiming that all religions are same accuses God of having failed to reveal HIMSELF adequately and with clarity to mankind. This claim accuses God of inactivity while mankind was busy implementing their religions systems. Moreover, this claim accuses God of confusing mankind over thousands of years with contradictions when those contradictions, according to this claim, were totally insignificant.

            When an imperfect man falsely accuses the perfect God, the imperfect man would be doomed to an eternal separation from God, which is the destruction of man.

Immoral / Amoral World Is Self-Destructive

            If all religions are same, there need be no criteria for salvation, and there is no need to worship God. 

            If salvation and worship of God is unnecessary, then morality, which ought to have its mooring in God, would have no legitimate grounding. Morality then would have its feet firmly planted in midair.

            So, an immoral (contradicting moral principles based on relative truth) or amoral (with no morality) world would be the legitimate consequence. An immoral or an amoral world is a recipe for disaster, since the reign of evil cannot be eliminated in this context. When evil reigns destruction ensues.

            Therefore, if all religions are same, the world would be a disastrous place to live. Thankfully, a vast majority of the world do not believe that all religions are same, hence evil is mitigated. However, the truth remains that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way, truth and life for mankind.



Endnotes:

1 “Why I Believe Jesus Christ Is the Ultimate Source for Meaning”


2 http://creation.com/atheism-a-religion

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fear Of Death; Are You A Genuine Christian?



            Some fear death and consider it evil. In contrast, the illustrious Greek philosopher Plato, who lived much before the Lord Jesus, ridiculed mankind’s fear of death, “No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils.1

            The Bible teaches that death is not to be feared. Apostle Paul welcomed death (Philippians 1: 21). Psalm 23 urges its believers to not fear death (verse 4). Having been seated at the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2: 6), Christians should eagerly await their death (Philippians 3: 20-21).

            If Christians fear death, it is because they remain ignorant of the biblical teaching behind life and death. When a Christian fears death he remains spiritually weak.

            So our question is, “If a Christian fears death is he a Christian?” Or, “Do genuine Christians fear death?” 

            Genuine Christians (those with mature faith in Christ) welcome death. Genuine Christians understand that they are crucified with Christ; they no longer live but Christ lives in them and their life is lived by absolute faith in Christ (cf. Galatians 2: 20). In other words, these Christians would have entrusted their life – all of it – to Christ.

            In my blog written in 2013, I had expressed my lack of fear of death, “Until I experienced God through HIS Word and deed, I was fearful, apprehensive and didn’t desire death. But when I believed in Christ and became aware of the glorious life that awaited me, the fear of death vanished. Today, I welcome death anytime, for when I die I will be with my God forever. The fear of death is dead in my life (cf. Psalm 23: 4; Romans 8: 38-39; 2 Corinthians 5: 8; Philippians 1: 21-23), for death is the gateway to a glorious eternity with God.” 2

            Am I a genuine Christian because I do not fear death?

            Many non-christians do not fear death. So lack of fear of death cannot be a primary criterion to measure the genuineness of a Christian.

            Christians would not cease to be Christians because they fear death. If a Christian fears death, we ought to examine the extent of his faith in Christ.

            A common deterrent to faith is wealth. A Christian’s absolute faith in Christ could be suspect during his prosperity. 

            Wealth and faith are mutually antagonistic. A wealthy Christian would not be too concerned about the financial welfare of his family, even if he were in his deathbed. On the other hand, a poverty stricken Christian or a sole breadwinner-christian would worry for his family’s welfare.

            Wealthy Christians ought to ask themselves whether they trust Christ or their wealth. The Bible teaches that it would be difficult for a wealthy Christian to trust Christ completely (cf. Matthew 19: 24 & Mark 10: 25).   

            So should we infer that wealthy Christians cannot trust Christ completely? How then can wealthy Christians trust Christ totally?

            Wealthy Christians cannot be attached to their wealth (cf. Matthew 6: 24, 19: 21-22). Nothing should come between Christ and the Christian (cf. Matthew 19: 29; Romans 8: 38-39).

            Wealthy Christians could be champions of faith in Christ. These wealthy Christians either give sacrificially or do not hesitate, at any point in time, to give up all they own for the sake of Christ.

            Uncertainty is another deterrent to faith in Christ. Those who fear death could be plagued by uncertainties.

            A couple of common questions predicated on uncertainty are:

            1. Will I really go to heaven when I die?

            While asking this question, the Christian doubts his status as a Christian. He doubts the promises offered in the Bible. More importantly, he doubts the Lord Jesus Christ.

            2. What will happen to my family when I die?

            This question is loaded with unbelief in God. This question implies that, if I live, I will do all that I can to support my family. This is incorrect.

            God enables us to care for our family. We support our family only when God blesses our life with health, sanity and wellness. Superficially it may appear that we are doing our utmost to care for our family, but we cannot do anything without God’s blessings.

            When God has enabled us to provide for our family, why should we doubt that God would not care for our family upon our death? Excessive concerns about our family, disputes God’s presence and goodness.

            On a side note, some Christians may not fear death but they may fear the manner in which they may die; paranoia of a long and painful death may haunt some. This fear may be unnecessary, since our death may or may not be painful.

            We fear because we forget that God is in total control over everything, and that God will help us even if we are to go through pain. Suffering Christians who are strong in their faith would testify to this fact.

            How do Christians overcome their fear of death?

            Faith in the Lord Jesus should replace our uncertainties and our security in material possessions. Let us totally trust God that HE will usher us into heaven because we believe and worship the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us totally trust God to care for our family even if we were to die, because God cares for us while we live.

            When we totally believe in Christ, we would not fear death. If our faith is not strong, we could earnestly ask Lord Jesus to increase our faith (Luke 17: 5). Amen.



Endnotes:

1 Written by Plato in his work “Apology,” (universally known as Plato’s ‘Apology’ of Socrates), p27.


2 http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2013/08/death-suicide-and-euthanasia.html

Monday, March 16, 2015

Could Christians Worship In Temples & Mosques? (Pope Francis Worshiped in a Mosque)


            Whether Christians could worship in mosques and temples is not a moot point, because Pope Francis has provided a panoramic backdrop through his worship at an Istanbul Mosque. Since we are wired to follow our leaders, we could think that worshipping in mosques and temples is acceptable to the God of the Bible.

            Christians’ worship in mosque or temples is predicated on our visit to these sacred places. So we should primarily clarify if Christians could visit a sacred place of another faith.

            Quite a few Christians believe that it’s a sin to visit a temple or a mosque. This thought cannot be blatantly dismissed.

            Let’s examine a couple of reasons cited by Christians to discourage visits to the sacred places of other faiths:

            A. Demonic – I was once invited to a Mormon tabernacle to defend historic Christianity with the local Mormon leadership. Friendly Christians cited the demonic presence in the Mormon tabernacle to actively discourage me from visiting the Mormon sanctuary. 

            B. Sacralization of the Impious – Removal of shoes (or wearing a headscarf / hijab) in a sacred place is cited as an act of reverence. Visitors are mandated to remove their shoes and / or wear headscarf in the sacred place of other faiths. Contextually, removal of shoes or wearing a headscarf by a Christian is considered a bad testimony, since the act affirms the sacredness of the place. In other words, the act reveres an unholy place.

            However, there are Christians who visit sacred places of other faiths. I visited a mosque when I accompanied an evangelist of a distinguished Christian ministry.

            Apostle Paul could have visited the idols at Athens (cf. Acts 17: 16, 23). He was taken to Areopagus (the hill of Greek god of war, Ares) from where he delivered his famous ‘The Areopagus Address’ (Acts 17: 22-31).

            Likewise, renowned Christian minister D. L Moody preached at the Mormon tabernacle in 1871 and 1899. In recent times, Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias preached the gospel at the Mormon tabernacle. Assemblies of God leader George O. Wood and Southern Baptist leaders Richard Land and Albert Mohler have also spoken at Utah before the LDS community.

            So Pope’s visit to an Istanbul mosque, per se, seems not an aberration.

            If the demonic is a valid reason to not visit a sacred place, then consider an open air evangelistic meeting. Would there not be demons in a large terrain where Christian evangelistic meetings are held? Don’t we attend such meetings?

            If we argue that demons in the terrain of an evangelistic meeting are cast out by prayer, then why not a visit to a sacred place be accompanied by a prayer that cleanses the place of demons or at least offers us protection?

            Moreover, demons could be at places we tend to visit (e.g. restaurants, super markets etc.). But that does not deter us from visiting those places or even sharing the reason for our hope in Christ to our non-christian friends in those places.

            Similarly, removal of shoes or wearing a headscarf need not necessarily subscribe to ‘sacralization of the impious.’ These are merely adherence to the rules of the authorities.

            In many parts of the world, Christian children study in schools and colleges belonging to non-christians. These Christian children may be required to participate in the assembly where prayers and rituals belonging to that particular religion are practiced.

            Participation of the Christian children in the assembly merely indicates adherence to the rules of the institution. It certainly does not indicate a conscious acceptance of the prayer or the ritual. Christian children remain Christians due to their non-affirming presence during such prayer and rituals.

            If a mere visit to these places does not hurt a Christian, then, in the same manner, a visit to a sacred place need not necessarily and adversely affect a Christian.

            However, if in doubt, Christians need not visit the sacred places of the other religions, although such a visit need not necessarily harm the Christian.

            Our focal point, however, is Pope’s worship in the Istanbul mosque. The Vatican termed Pope’s worship as a ‘moment of silent adoration.’1 So we ask:

            1. Which God did Pope Francis adore in the mosque?

            2. Was it necessary for the Pope to adore God while in a mosque? 

            Let us presuppose that the phrase ‘silent adoration’ referred to Pope’s adoration of God. If the context is an indicator (Pope’s presence in the mosque) and if the Pope does not offer clarity as to which God he adored from the mosque, we could assume that he prayed to Allah.

            An act of worship from inside the mosque is normatively directed to the native deity or could be assumed to have been directed at the native deity. In this case, the native deity of a mosque is Allah.

            Historic Christianity believes in the one living God. In fact, there can be only one God or only one absolutely perfect being or one maximally great being.

            The Bible categorically rejects the presence of other gods (Isaiah 45: 5a; Exodus 20: 3) and mandates worship of the only living God. Hence, Pope’s ‘moment of silent adoration’ in the mosque is unnecessary and uncalled for, for it is a sin against God, and has the potential to mislead naïve Christians.

            Some may argue that Pope prayed to the God of the Bible from the mosque. Why would Pope Francis desire to pray to the God of the Bible from the mosque?

            However, this issue was settled through Al Jazeera’s report that Pope Francis took part in a Muslim prayer as a mark of respect to Islam.2 So it’s quite evident that Pope did not pray to the God of the Bible from the mosque.

            To conclude, we could show our utmost respect and love to our non-christian brethren in more ways than one. But we need not participate in their religious practices or worship from their sacred precincts (cf. Acts 15: 29; 1 Corinthians 10: 18-22, 28).

            Pope's prayer in the mosque could lead weak Christians to do the same and be destroyed (cf. Deuteronomy 6: 14, 8: 19, 11: 16; 1 Corinthians 8: 11). The Pope then is responsible for the destruction of the weak Christians for he has sinned against Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 8: 9-13). 

            The Bible says that in whatever we do we are to glorify God. This essentially refers to abstinence from participating in the religious practices of the non-christians (1 Corinthians 10: 21-23).

            The Pope may have justified himself if he had merely visited the mosque without participating in the Islamic prayer. However, his participation in the Islamic prayer provides us an opportunity to address this significant aspect, so that naïve Christians do not get ambushed into destruction. Amen.



Endnotes:

1 http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-prayer-at-blue-mosque-exactly-the-same-as-benedict-xvi-21959/


2 http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/11/pope-francis-prays-istanbul-blue-mosque-20141129122643736106.html

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Foolishness of Lent


            Sacrifice is at the heart of Christianity.

            Christ sacrificed HIS life to save mankind of sins, provided mankind believe in HIM. So Christ’s sacrifice should motivate our sacrifice; not just once or twice but throughout our life.

            The Bible mandates the Christian to not live for himself but to be crucified with Christ and live for Christ alone, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2: 20, NIV).

            Lent, however, is at the heart of Catholicism.

            Catholic tradition advocates lent observance (fasting/self-denial/sacrifice of food or certain bad habits and attitudes for a 40 day period preceding Easter). Since Protestantism succeeded Catholicism, some protestant denominations retained the practice of observing lent. Interestingly, the Bible does not mandate or mention lent observance. 

            This then is the good, bad and ugly of lent.

            Sacrifice is at the heart of lent’s goodness.

            Make no mistake, lent could be good. The goodness of lent observance is the practice of self-denial. Since Bible mandates self-denial, relinquishing food or bad habits or bad attitudes should be commended within a certain context.

            False teaching is at the heart of lent’s badness.  

            It’s deplorable when lent observance creates a false dichotomy in Christianity vis-à-vis good and bad Christians. To teach that those observing lent are good Christians and those not observing are bad Christians is a rank false teaching.

            Would a Christian’s fast during lent erase his sins of omission and commission? No. Christians’ good deeds cannot erase bad deeds, for only God can forgive our sins, provided we repent and believe in Christ.

            Of what good is fasting if we continue to disobey God while we fast?

            Of what good is quitting a vice (alcohol, cigarettes, anger, lying etc.) if we intend to continue that very vice after lent? Isn’t it hypocritical of us to quit a vice during lent, but our mind is set on continuing that very vice after lent?

            Temporary self-denial during lent does not make a man good when he intends to continue to pursue that which he quit, after lent. Permanent self-denial is good, temporary self-denial is not. A temporary self-denial, unless intended towards permanency, is useless.

            Lent observance is not intended to receive material blessings from God. The Lord Jesus said, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6: 33, NIV).

            Lent observance does not mandate God’s blessing upon a Christian’s life, since Christianity does not predicate salvation or blessings on good works (cf. Romans 5: 17). Therefore, God will certainly draw us closer to HIM when we strive to receive HIM and HIS righteousness into our lives, not temporarily, but permanently, even lent notwithstanding.

            Christians cannot become good in God’s sight when they fast for wrong reasons even during lent. Conversely, Christians who do not fast during lent, but seek God always, do not become bad Christians.

            Therefore, lent is rendered foolish when we observe lent either mindlessly or to gain God’s blessing or religious superiority over fellow Christians.

            Ritualism is at the heart of lent’s ugliness.

            Rituals are Satan’s deceptions to move us away from God, for we tend to focus more on the rituals than God.

            Ritualistic lent observance where the body observes lent but the mind is disconnected from Christ yields nothing whatsoever to the Christian. To ritually fast during lent without spending quality time with the Lord Jesus is to render lent observance foolish and worthless.

            Similarly, ritualistic church attendance does not spiritually benefit a Christian. Christians are not meant to ritually attend church every week, instead they carry Christ-crucified in them (cf. Galatians 2: 20) to worship HIM in spirit and in truth in the community of believers.

            Ritualistic prayers in the morning and night do not get us any closer to God if our life between those prayers is as deplorable as that of the ungodly. Ritualistic bible reading will not draw us any closer to God if we do not love God with all our heart, soul and mind.

            So, if we observe lent as a ritual (as a duty), then our lent observance would be false and hypocritical. Lent would then be rendered foolish.

            How then could we make lent glorify God?    

            Observing lent doesn’t make you a better Christian any more than going to McDonalds makes you a delicious hamburger. Christianity is not about achieving greatness; Christianity is about worshipping God and serving others while being humble and sacrificial.

            A Christian is good when he believes and remains in the Lord Jesus. Lent is merely a means to a Christian’s growth in holiness by virtue of his dedicated devotion to the Lord. Observing lent would benefit the Christian if his sacrifices are solely intended for him to remain and grow stronger in Christ.

            So the only ritual that blesses a Christian is his devoted and constant (24x7) fellowship with Christ. When a Christian is devoted to Christ, he will see the world through God, and his blessings (not material blessings) will be immense.

            What’s the purpose behind self-denial or fasting? Isn’t it to spend more time with God?

            Lent would glorify God when we spend more time with HIM in praying (speaking and listening to God), reading and studying the Bible, doing deeds that would glorify God. Significantly, lent should accelerate our lifetime growth in Christ.      

            Observing lent would be a blessing to the Christian if he/she uses this opportunity to permanently remove bad habits or attitudes. To reiterate, we would be utter hypocrites to quit a bad habit during lent and then pursue it vigorously after lent. We abuse God’s grace while we practice this hypocrisy.

            The greatest worship of the living God is to live a sacrificial life continually, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12: 1, NIV).


            So it’s up to us. We could either render lent foolish or meaningful. Remaining in Christ should be our only priority whether we observe lent or not. Observing lent does not matter. Christ matters, for HE is the heart of our life. Christ is our life. Amen.