Monday, March 2, 2015

Was Mother Teresa Guilty? Responding To Ghar Wapsi & Conversion Controversy In India


            It’s a widespread firm notion among the resolute Hindu community that Christian missionaries in India have been converting people to Christianity under the guise of service. This accusation has now been leveled by the leadership of Hindu community against Mother Teresa – arguably the most popular face of contemporary Christianity.

            Mother Teresa founded ‘Missionaries of Charity’ – a prominent Catholic social service organization that cares for the needy - children, sick, dying and destitute.

            The Christian community in India is a meager minority. However, the minority status did not prevent Christians from establishing hospitals, schools & colleges, and care-homes for the needy.  

            Having said this, let us look beyond the allegation of conversion to establish a few undeniable facts.

            First, the accusations highlight a definite need for these social services in the Indian context. Indians needed social care. Even today, a demand exists for proficient service organizations in India.

            Second, in response to the need, the Christian missionaries and the Christian community in India established social service organizations. Notably, the allegations of the Hindu leadership have graciously granted the Christian missionaries the due recognition of blessing the needy Indians.

            Significantly, the Indian community, notwithstanding religious persuasions, was benefited by these services. In other words, these service institutions, although established by Christian missionaries, served the needs of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists etc.

            Third, these service organizations were government authorized ventures. They were established by the Christian missionaries after obtaining formal authorizations from the governing authorities.

            Notably, the governing authorities in India were not a Christian majority at any given point in time. So, the majority Hindu community did allow the formation of these service ventures.

            Finally, if the governing authorities had a compelling need to terminate these service institutions established by the Christian missionaries, they would have done so. Nothing could have prevented the government from terminating any institution. Hence, the continued existence of these institutions emphasizes their utmost credibility in their specific social service domain – healthcare, education etc.

            So the following facts have been established:

            1. There was a need for social services in the Indian society.

            2. The Christian community catered to the need by establishing the required service institutions to bless the Indian community without any religious barriers.

            3. These service institutions were government authorized ventures. The majority Hindu community allowed the formation of social service organizations founded by Christian missionaries.

            4. The continued existence of these services emphasizes the credibility of these social service organizations in their specific service domain.

            As a stark layman in Indian constitution, allow me to briefly address the subject of religious conversion in India by examining the background:

            1. Indian constitution does seem to allow a person to practice and propagate his religion, for Article 25(1) of the Indian constitution states that “Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.” 1

            2. In the past, this very article, albeit contextually, has been diversely interpreted to deny religious conversion e.g. Rev. Stainislaus v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (AIR 1977 SC 908). 2 In other words, “The Supreme Court has unequivocally declared that the right to propagate does not mean the right to convert.” 3

            3. “Ghar Wapsi” (home-coming) is a reconversion drive undertaken by Hindu religious organizations. Media has widely reported this phenomenon, especially the recent statement that in the next 10 years 5 million Christians would be reconverted to Hinduism.4

            Significantly, the Supreme Court of India, as a mark of approval of reconversion, has ruled that those reconverting to Hinduism from Christianity would be entitled to reservation benefits.5

            4. Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, stated that “each person has an “undeniable right to retain or adopt” any faith.” 6 The Prime Minister has also condemned violence against any religion, “We cannot accept violence against any religion on any pretext, and I strongly condemn such violence. My government will act strongly in this regard” 7

            In a nutshell, these background instances posit that…

            A. …any Indian can freely practice any religion.

            B. …any Indian can freely propagate his religion.

            C. …Indians are treading murky ground, if they aim to convert people. Why? The aspect of conversion seems to firmly reside in a disputable realm. On one hand, it seems that people can freely convert based on their conscience, but on the other hand it seems that people should not convert. There seems to be no clarity, at least to a layman such as myself.

            Now let us approach the aspect of conversion from a theological standpoint.

            First, people born into a Christian home or a non-Christian home are not different. They are unbelievers, to begin with. Anybody who professes to be a Christian now was an unbeliever. 

            Every Christian, their earthly citizenship notwithstanding, is a converted Christian. An Indian, American, Chinese or an Arab could be born into a Christian home. Mere birth into a Christian home does not make anyone a Christian.

            So nobody is a born-Christian. Christians can only be born-again Christians (John 3: 1-21). A person is born-again as a Christian when he/she consciously accepts the Lord Jesus as God and Savior.

            Thus, a person could only be born-again into Christianity. A person is never a born-Christian. So every Christian is a converted Christian.

            Second, true conversion happens only when man realizes his sinfulness and believes in the Lord Jesus, who through HIS perfect life, sacrifice, resurrection and ascension saved man from his/her sins. Thus the sinful man believes and loves the Lord Jesus.

            Man loves God for who God is – it was God who assumed the form of man, died and resurrected to save man from his sins. Man who loves God to derive material benefits is, in essence, in love with material benefits. Such a man does not love God.

            So a true conversion happens for spiritual reasons and not earthly reasons. Conversion into a religion for material benefits cannot be a true conversion.    

            Third, true conversion is an act of God who initiates people into Christian life (John 3: 8, 16: 8-11). I may provide reasons as to why I am a Christian and not a Hindu. Similarly, Mother Teresa may have provided reasons as to why she reckoned Christ as God or Christianity as the only true religion. That was her spiritual responsibility, as much as it is every Christian’s spiritual responsibility to offer reasons for the hope we have in Christ (1 Peter 3: 15).

            It was virtually impossible for Mother Teresa to have converted anyone into Christianity. Neither can you or I convert anyone into Christianity. So Mother Teresa was not guilty of conversion. The Indian constitution does seem to allow a Christian to offer reasons for the hope he/she has in Christ.

            Converting anyone into Christianity is an act initiated by God and not man. It is God who initiates people into Christian life. When God initiates, man merely repents and believes in God.  

            Finally, when true conversion occurs, the Christian loves God more than his own life. In other words, a truly converted Christian will not reject God even if his life is under threat or for the sake of material benefits. A Christian who truly converts and genuinely falls in love with God, if he/she remains in Christ, will not reject Christ.

            A Christian who rejects Christ may have been a true Christian to begin with, but over a period of time, if he/she does not remain in Christ, then there is every possibility that he could reject Christ for the sake of the world. Those who remain in Christ cannot reject HIM under any circumstances be it pain, pleasure or persuasion.

            So a program such as Ghar Wapsi could be successful against those Christians who do not remain in Christ. Those who do not remain in Christ would reject Christ when they encounter Ghar Wapsi.

            Those who remain in Christ would not fear death; they would not fear man. Those who remain in Christ would love God over and above anything and everything. Those who remain in Christ would rather die in the name of Christ than live by rejecting Christ (Philippians 1: 20-21; cf. Galatians 2: 20). 

            Ghar Wapsi cannot succeed against Christians who remain in Christ.

            Christians’ primary responsibility is to God and secondarily to man. While we respect and submit to our earthly rulers, we should, in gentleness and respect, offer many valid reasons for the hope we have in Christ.

            As a good Christian, I assume, Mother Teresa would have offered her reasons for the hope she had in Christ. Offering reasons for the hope we have in Christ does not convert anyone, for conversion is initiated by God and not man.

            This then is our sine qua non; we will, by being subject to public order, morality, health, and other provisions of Indian constitution, offer reasons for the hope we have in Christ. We will be good witnesses for Christ.

            Since conversion is initiated by God and accepted by man, one man cannot convert another.

            If we are to come in harm’s way for having been a good witness for Christ or for having offered the reasons for our hope in Christ, then so be it.

            Daniel 3: 16-18 is as much a linchpin of Christianity as John 3:16. So I conclude with these verses, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3: 16-18, NIV).

            And all God’s people said, “Amen.”



Endnotes:

1 http://www.constitution.org/cons/india/p03025.html

2 http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/conversion-and-freedom-of-religion/article6716638.ece

3 http://www.thehindu.com/sunday-anchor/propagation-without-proselytisation-what-the-law-says/article6711440.ece

4 http://www.charistimes.com/next-10-years-5-million-christians-reconverted-hinduism/

5 http://www.firstpost.com/india/sc-ruling-on-reconversion-its-a-stamp-of-approval-for-ghar-wapsi-says-vhp-2126461.html

6 http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/my-government-will-ensure-complete-freedom-of-faith-modi/article6905042.ece


7 Ibid.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Christian’s Letter To ISIS (A Christian’s Response To ISIS)


Dear ISIS,

            It’s exceptionally difficult to use an endearment term ‘dear,’ for you mercilessly traumatize and slaughter human beings. I am a Christian, and I write to you since you sadistically persecute the Christian community.

            You brutalize women sexually that forces them into hospitals.1 You are merciless with children. You beat, enslave, crucify, and use them as child soldiers! 2

            You mindlessly and cruelly deploy mentally challenged children as suicide bombers. 3 How can you not show mercy to mentally challenged children? Don’t you realize that they may not be able to understand the sadistic deeds you are forcing them into?

            I strive to love you with the love of Christ. My Bible teaches me to love you, for it instructs Christians to bless and pray for those who hate, kill and curse us (Matthew 5: 44, Luke 6: 28, Romans 12: 14).

            The Bible encourages me to pray for you. I pray you would realize your cruelty towards your brothers and sisters and refrain from hurting them anymore. Most surely, my fellow Christians are already praying towards your healing and deliverance.

            Please stop your barbarous and inhuman deeds against mankind.

            But is this even a legitimate possibility? Can you refrain from massacring people while you continue to receive support from your community? 4 Muslim women are offering their bodies to satisfy your sexual cravings a.k.a. Jihad Al-Nikah (sexual jihad),5 thus motivating you into greater evil.

            How could you cease your harmful existence if you are politically motivated? Rumors posit your creation by the British, American and Israeli intelligence agencies.6 

            Is it possible for you to cease the proliferation of unmitigated violence when you cite your religious texts as a source for violence? Intriguingly, you swear by your god Allah to justify your horrific deeds against mankind.

            Egyptian journalist Ibrahim Issa said this about you, “Whenever ISIS carries out an act of barbarity, such as decapitations, throat slitting, or the burning of a person alive, as they did today, various sheiks tell you – if they even bother to say anything – that this has nothing to do with Islam, that Islam is not to blame, and whatever. But when the people of ISIS perpetrate slaughter, murder, rape, immolation, and all those barbaric crimes, they say that they are relying on the sharia. They say that this is based on a certain hadith, on a certain Quranic chapter, on a certain saying of Ibn Taymiyyah, or on some historical event. To tell the truth, cavernous everything that ISIS says is correct…” 7

            If your insanity is fuelled by a certain Hadith or a Quranic chapter or other Islamic traditions, I can only pray for you and urge more prayers for you.

            Honestly, I pray more for the lives you have irreparably damaged. I love them dearly.

            You have rendered multitudes into unfathomable grief and despair. Their lives are perpetually transformed. Joyous lives are now in utter anguish. They need our prayers and support. They will receive our deepest sympathies and warm affection in thoughts, words and deeds.

            I pray these families would seek God during their distress. Notwithstanding man’s support, these families will receive, in abundance, the comfort and encouragement of The Triune God – The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Of this I am sure.

            Now please give me your undivided attention, ISIS.

            If the one and true living God allows you to exist, no matter how many Christians you continue to massacre, Christianity will continue to exist, and even grow. Christians will continue to love the Lord Jesus Christ despite your evil existence.

            You will never ever succeed in breaking Christianity. You cannot even impede Christianity’s growth.

            You are fighting a losing battle, ISIS.

            Do you want to know why?

            Persecution is ingrained in Christianity. Persecution neither surprises Christians nor is an aberration in Christianity.

            Christians who live godly lives will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3: 12). Those persecuted for our belief and devotion to the Lord Jesus would be blessed in abundance (Matthew 5: 10-12).

            So keep shouting at the top of your voice that your objective is to create a Caliphate or to invade Rome or whatever. But you cannot vanquish Christianity.

            Truth be told, your presence will unite Christians; for it is during intense persecutions that our otherwise warring denominations would unite. Your presence will strengthen Christianity.

            Are you aware that your existence teaches common man a bitter yet glorious truth? Yes, your evil existence posits hell as a literal, physical, and an eternal realm for the godless.

            Some mindless Christians foolishly and relentlessly argue that God will save all mankind. Thoughtlessly they advocate that your members will go to heaven despite your bloodthirsty evil atrocities that stems from your unbelief in the Lord Jesus. 

            Am I supposed to believe that you will continue to rape, massacre, immolate and plunder lives at your insane will and animal pleasure but, at the same time, go to heaven despite your cumulative evil?

            These debauched Christians erroneously argue from the Bible that God will save all mankind. A god who will usher you into heaven despite your cumulative evil and unbelief in Christ is not god. Such a god deserves to be abused and trampled under our feet. Such a god does not deserve worship. Such a god exists in degenerate minds.

            I named this figment-of-imagination-god as ‘unigod’ – the god who supposedly saves all mankind. This was my response to ‘unigod,’ “Please brace yourself for an unmitigated indecent assault on unigod. The unigod is an evil, corrupt, depraved, putrid, brainless blockhead; he is a nonsensical dummy, foolish idiot, insanely ignoramus dolt, a nincompoop, and a senseless monkey. Anyone can mock and thoroughly disrespect unigod. Despite these abuses on unigod, Universalists will claim that unigod will still save me. A god who accepts and agrees with abuse of any intensity is a god without perfection and holiness. Even man’s intrinsic dignity and self-worth prevents him from agreeing and accepting to abuses of any form or size. So a god who is awfully comfortable with abuses to the extent of supporting and welcoming evil is an evil god that resides only in the fantasies of certain minds.” 8

            I pray that your macabre existence would infuse good sense into those who advocate that God will save all mankind. Any worldview that offers heaven to perpetrators of horrendous evil is untrue and rooted in treacherous blunder.

            I pray you would repent and seek God’s forgiveness now. Now is the time for you to repent and accept the Lord Jesus as your savior.

            The Lord Jesus Christ died for you too. But you can reap the benefits of HIS sacrificial death if you believe in Christ, repent and plead for forgiveness for your sins.

            When the Lord Jesus returns in all HIS majesty, glory and splendor, your knees will bow down to HIS Lordship and your tongue will confess Christ as Lord. By that time, it would be too late for you to repent. So act now.

            Surely evil will not cease until the return of the Lord Jesus. If you don’t perpetrate evil, someone else will. Although we pray for deliverance from evil (Matthew 6: 13), we will pray that none of us will fear evil.

            We will not be afraid of you, because our God will never leave or forsake us (cf. Deuteronomy 31: 6; Isaiah 41: 10; Hebrews 13: 5).  

            Your evil existence urges our churches to teach Christians to face persecution head on. Our churches would nurture and develop stronger and mature believers, especially the younger Christians. You will indirectly strengthen the Christians.

            Christian persecution in 2014 was historic – approximately 100 million Christians were persecuted – by far the largest numbers in mankind’s history. 9 Above all, Muslims persecute Christians the most, so your persecution of Christians is normal.10 If the current scenario in persecution continues, persecution in 2015 and the future will be worse.11

            But our belief in our Lord Jesus will remain strong and steadfast despite your persecution. When persecution intensifies, we will unite like never before. Our cumulative prayers will pierce the heights of heavens.

            In life and in death we will glorify our Lord Jesus Christ. Amidst persecution, we will praise our God as long as HE gives us breath.

            Even though we walk through death’s darkest valley, we will not fear evil. Our God is with us; HIS presence will comfort us. Surely God’s goodness and love will follow us all the days of our lives, even amidst persecution. We will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (cf. Psalm 23: 4-6). Amen.

Striving to love you with the love of Christ,

Raj


Endnotes:

If you would like to read my earlier blog on “Should Persecuted Christians Fight Back?” please visit this link…http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2014/08/should-persecuted-christians-fight-back_18.html


1 http://nypost.com/2015/02/18/female-isis-captives-endure-brutal-and-abnormal-sex/

2 http://www.worldmag.com/2015/02/un_condemns_isis_for_brutality_against_children

3 Ibid.         

4 http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=381045

5 http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/malaysian-women-join-middle-east-jihadists-as-comfort-women-reveals-intelli

6 http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=381153

7 https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/all-this-barbarity-is-sacred-a-muslim-journalist-dares-to-say-that-isis-is-motivated-by-religion/

8 http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2013/10/the-god-who-admits-all-people-to-heaven.html

9 http://www.sltrib.com/lifestyle/faith/2038782-155/persecution-of-christians-reached-historic-levels

10 Ibid.

11 Ibid.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Are Children Who Are Disabled & Ugly, Gifts of God?


                  Our world discriminates the ugly1 and the disabled. 2 But the Bible does not discriminate them. The Bible says, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” (Psalm 127: 3, NASB). So our question could be organized as:

            A. God creates life (Isaiah 42: 5; Job 33: 4; Colossians 1: 16; Revelation 4: 11).

            B. If children are a gift from God, must we also consider ugly and disabled children as a gift from God?

            C. Gifts are to be good (Matthew 7: 11; James 1: 17; Romans 6: 23; Ephesians 2: 8), so how can an ugly or a disabled child be a good gift from God?

            We may consider this theme from a theoretical standpoint, for we may not be exposed to disability in our lives. But there are those who are either disabled or are circumstantially mandated to nurture the disabled. Those exposed to ugliness and disability could question God more vigorously, for to live with ugliness or disability is never easy.

            Within this context, the term ‘differently abled’ is gradually contesting the term ‘disabled.’ The disabled could be differently abled if we consider the lives of Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, Mozart, Charles Darwin etc. These famous personalities may have been on the autism spectrum; however their disability did not limit them from achieving greatness.3

            Whatever said and done, it is difficult to live with any kind of disability. Hence we could question the fact of ugly or disabled children being a gift from God, for it seems that God intentionally created these children with certain disabilities.

            So how do we reconcile the fact that ugly and disabled children are God’s gift to mankind?

Understanding the Fall

            A proper understanding of the ‘fall’ would enable us to overcome pain and live victoriously.  Since Adam and Eve rejected and sinned against God through their disobedience, God altered the dynamics of our earthly living (Genesis 3: 16-19). Thus pain is innate to our earthly existence.

            If pain is innate to our earthly existence, then it is futile to question pain. Similarly, it is futile to question God.

            Questioning God will not transform ugliness to beauty or disability to ability. Questioning God exposes our lack of understanding of the Bible.

God Is Not Obligated To Anyone

            God is not obligated to offer a painless life to a Christian. In other words, HIS gifts need not always be ‘good’ according to our definition of good. We define beauty as good; we do not define ugliness as good. Similarly we do not define disability as good.

            God is not a goodness vending machine through the nonexistence of pain. Significantly, God will offer goodness even through pain. An early comprehension of this truth would enable us to lead a victorious Christian life.

            According to HIS wisdom, God allows pain in our lives. Pain manifests through disability, ugliness, death etc.

            Certain painful situations can be overcome e.g. headache can be cured or a malfunctioning kidney could be surgically removed, and normal life could be lived. However, other painful situations cannot be overcome e.g. amputated limb does not grow. During painful instances, normal lives - lives lived in the comforting confines of a normal body or mind - cannot be lived.

            So God is not obligated to offer a painless life to any individual. In fact, God, through HIS wisdom and justice will allow painful situations to invade lives of certain people.

            What then is the purpose of God’s gifts? How could gifts that bring pain into our lives be good gifts?

            In order to live victoriously, we should understand the purpose behind God’s gifts.

To Praise & Glorify God Is Chief End Of Man   

            Let’s get to the basics.

            Although life is a gift of God, why did God create life?

            The chief end of man is to praise and glorify God always (1 Chronicles 16: 23 - 29; Psalm 86: 12; Matthew 5: 16; 1 Corinthians 6: 20, 10: 31 etc.).

            Glorifying God always is to glorify God during successes and failures. We are to glorify God during goodness and pain. This is the purpose of our lives.

            Consider Lazarus’ death and resurrection; the Lord taught that Lazarus’ sickness and death is for God’s glory (John 11: 4). The Bible is replete with such instances that pain and suffering is for God’s glory (cf. John 9: 2-3; Exodus 9: 13-16 etc.).  The Bible teaches us that we should praise and glorify God during moments of joy and sorrow.

            Therefore, God should be glorified when a child is born. We are also mandated to nurture the child so that he/she glorifies God.

            If God is to be glorified always, then God should be glorified by a child who is normal and a child who is disabled. But in order for this to happen, the parents should glorify God when they are gifted with a healthy child or when they are gifted with an unhealthy or disabled or ugly child.

            If parents glorify God during moments of joy and sorrow, then the child would also glorify God during joyous or sorrowful moments.

            Thus the Bible establishes the most important truth of a Christian life - to glorify God always – be it through a healthy or a disabled child. 

            Significantly, goodness of God’s gift is only realized when God is glorified. If God is not glorified, then the life that does not glorify God cannot be a good life. A healthy life that does not glorify God is not a good life.

            Therefore, a healthy life is not necessarily a good life or a healthy child need not be a good gift from God.           

            Any child, be it healthy or unhealthy, is a good gift from God since it has the potential to glorify God always. But goodness of the gift is realized when that healthy or unhealthy life glorifies God.  

God Gives & Cares

            God does not give and abandon us; instead HE gives and cares for us. HE cares us naturally - through family, friends, medical care etc., and HE cares for us supernaturally by providing divine strength, wisdom, peace, comfort, and encouragement to our weary spirit and soul.

            If we seek God, then God enables us to glorify HIM always. Those who have honestly sought God while under terrible trials and tribulations will vouch for the existential fact that God cares for the weary and downtrodden (cf. Isaiah 40: 29 & Matthew 11: 28).

            Hence God’s care during trials and tribulations is as much experienced in the practical realm as it is read and assimilated in the theoretical realm. 

Protect God’s Gifts

            Thus far, two central biblical imperatives have been established:

            1. God should be glorified always. God is the Heavenly Father for all mankind, since HE is the creator and sustainer. Life is to be lived to glorify God always.

            2. Every gift is a good gift since every life has the potency to glorify God in every situation of life – good or bad notwithstanding. A life would be a good life only when God is glorified during moments of goodness and pain.

            Therefore, every gift of God should be protected by us – be it a healthy or an unhealthy child. We should not discriminate the disabled or the ugly. But we should protect the disabled and the ugly so that they glorify God through their ugliness and disability.

            In conclusion, God could be glorified by people who are normal and disabled. Ugliness or disability is not a means to reject God. In fact, disability or adversity should carry us closer to God, for it is only God who can comfort us naturally and supernaturally.

            Every child born into this world is a good gift from God. We are obligated to care and nurture every life that God creates, and by the grace of God, we can. God would help us care for everyone – the healthy and the disabled – as long as we seek God to do HIS perfect and pleasing will.

            So may we seek God and glorify HIM always and may we nurture those around us to praise and glorify God. Amen.


Endnotes:
1 http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/the-ugliness-penalty-2011-8/
&
http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1906642,00.html

2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ableism


3 http://autismmythbusters.com/general-public/famous-autistic-people/ 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Why Did God Create Satan Knowing That Satan Would Cause Evil?


                  No one is spared of evil in this world. We either reel under the effects of evil or hear the impact of evil upon our relatives, friends and society at large. Some question God’s goodness on account of evil and a few others dispute God’s presence.

            Evil is real. Evil is not an illusion. Any sane human being would affirm this position. Terrorism or human trafficking is an act of evil, and the pain felt by those hurt by evil is indeed real.

            If evil is real, then it should have a source, and that source has to be real. (If Satan is not real, then was Christ hallucinating while HE was tempted by Satan and while HE drove away the demons?)

            The Bible terms Satan as the source of all evil (John 8: 44 etc.). Christians believe in God as a maximally great being; HE is supreme over all that has been, is and ever will be. If God is supreme, then HE should have created Satan. Isn’t it?

            Before we explore the Bible to learn about Satan, we should discard the following concepts:

            1. That Satan and his demonic entourage are merely a mythological conception drawn from the culture of the day. This is German theologian Rudolf Bultmann’s program of demythologization of Satan.

            2. That Satan and evil do not stem from a personal source but are woven in the fabric of our social reality as a part of the very structure of reality. This is Christian existentialist theologian Paul Tilich’s depersonalization of Satan.

            3. That demons are simply nothingness in their dynamic, not created by God but a threat to God’s creation. This is reformed theologian Karl Barth’s conception. This conception of evil denies the concreteness of evil, hence we disagree.

            So to begin with, we agree with the Bible that evil is real, Satan is real, and God is also real. Did God then create Satan? The answer is an unequivocal yes.

            But the bigger question is, “Did God create Satan as a source of evil?” The answer to this question is an unequivocal no, for God, as a good being, cannot be the creator of evil.

            This then is Bible’s teaching about Satan:

            Isaiah 14: 12-17 and Ezekiel 28: 12-19 are often termed as conjectures of the Satanic fall. This may or may not be so, for these passages could refer to human kings of Babylon and Tyre. Hence it would be profitable for us to explore the Bible outside these references to learn more about Satan.

            1. God created everything, which includes angels and demons (Colossians 1: 15-16).

            2. Everything God created was originally good (Genesis 1: 31; 1 Timothy 4: 4)

            3. Some angels sinned and are doomed for eternal destruction (1 John 3: 8; 2 Peter 2: 4; Jude 6). If some angels sinned, then they were created merely with a potential to sin i.e. they had the freewill to sin.

            4. Satan is an angel who is subordinate to God (Job 1: 6-7).

            5. Satan is a demon (Luke 10: 17-20) – casting out of demons implies the defeat of Satan.

            6. Satan is the prince of demons (Matthew 12: 22-32; Mark 3: 22-30; Luke 11: 14-23).

            7. Those who are demon possessed are under the influence of the devil (Acts 10: 38; cf. Luke 13: 16).

            8. Satan is the evil one (Matthew 13: 19; 1 John 2: 13, 3: 12, 5: 18).

            These passages undoubtedly teach us that God created Satan and his demons originally as good beings. But Satan and some of his fellow angels sinned against God and are in the business of enabling mankind’s rebellion and disobedience against God.

            Significantly, God did not create an evil Satan. God created a good angel, who used his freewill to reject God and become evil.

            If God had not created angels, then Satan would not exist. So why did God create angels? The Bible reveals the purpose behind God’s creation of angels. Angels were created to…

            1. …reveal and communicate God’s message to humans (Acts 7: 53; Hebrews 2: 2).

            2. …minister to believers (Acts 5: 19; Hebrews 1: 14).

            3. …execute judgment on the enemies of God (2 Kings 19: 35).

            4. …praise and glorify God (Psalm 103: 20, 148: 2).

            5. …be involved in Christ’s second coming (Matthew 25: 31)

            A variant of the bigger question is, ‘why did God create Satan knowing that he will cause evil in this world?’

            First, did God know that Satan would cause evil? Yes, God would have known all about Satan. God is all-knowing (Job 37:16; Psalm 139:2–4, 147:5; Proverbs 5:21; Isaiah 46:9-10; 1 John 3:19–20), so God would have definitely known that Satan would cause evil and disaster in this world.

            Second, could not have God created a world without Satan? Wouldn’t a world without Satan and evil be a better world than ours? In other words, is our world the best of all possible worlds?

            One of the great thinkers of 17th and 18th century is Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. He proposed that our world is the best of all possible worlds. Leibniz's proposition was that since God knew all of the infinite possibilities, this world should be the best of all possible worlds, for God has actualized this world over the other possible worlds.

            Christian analytic philosopher, Alvin Plantinga differed from Leibniz by positing that there cannot be a best world, for one more palm tree or one more morally righteous person can make any world better. So Plantinga concluded that there is no such thing as the best world. [Even if God does not create anything, HE alone will exist as the greatest good (Summum bonum)]. Therefore, God is merely obligated to create a good world and not a best world.

            This world is a good world, since God has offered freedom to his creation. God has offered freedom to man to love HIM freely. The same freedom was offered to the angels as well. Some angels a.k.a. Satan and his demonic entourage abused this freedom and rebelled against God.

            A world without freedom is not a good world. Therefore, as C.S Lewis wrote in ‘Problem of Pain,’ God has created a good world in such a way that the goodness of this world could be perverted into evil upon mankind’s rebellion or when creation is distorted.

            In other words, free beings i.e. man could use their freedom to perform evil deeds by rejecting God, which in effect would destroy the goodness of God’s creation. Similarly man can tamper with nature to bring about evil e.g. destruction of coral reefs would bring about hunger, poverty and political instability.

            As long as God offers freedom to his creation, the free moral agents (e.g. man) would possess the ability to do good or evil. So the question is not about Satan’s existence whereas the question should be about the presence of freedom.

            A world without freedom would be a world full of puppets or robots albeit in the form of human beings, which in essence is not a good world at all.

            Creating human beings with freedom is wiser than creating humans in an antiseptic environment from whom the logical possibility of desiring anything contrary to God’s will is excluded.

            Therefore, a world without freewill and Satan would any day be a terrible world to live in than a world with freewill and Satan.

            Could God have created a world with freewill and without Satan? A world with freewill will entail evil and a world with evil will posit a source, namely Satan. Even if angelic beings were not created, and as long as freewill exists, evil would exist.

            Evil would exist because God in HIS nature is good. So anyone opposing or rejecting a good God would do evil. So a world with freewill and without Satan would still contain evil.


            Satan and his cohorts are busy causing evil in this world. Although we reel under the effects of evil both directly and indirectly, God has offered us eternal life through the Lord Jesus Christ and God has promised to care for and protect those who believe and seek HIM. May we believe in Christ, gain life eternal, and protection against evil. Amen. 


Monday, February 2, 2015

Things God Cannot Do (Can God Do Anything?)


            The Bible says all things are possible with God (Cf. Genesis 18: 14a; Numbers 11: 23a; Jeremiah 32: 17; Matthew 19: 26). So let us examine if God can do just about anything or are there deeds that God would not perform. If so, why would God not perform those deeds?

God Would Never Contradict HIS Attributes

            The Bible reveals God’s attributes. God is perfect; HE lacks nothing. God is eternal, immutable, simple, infinite, omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (present everywhere), good, just, loving, merciful and gracious.

            God’s deeds will always be consistent with HIS attributes. God cannot violate any of HIS attributes through any of HIS deeds.

            Based on this premise, here are a few deeds that God would not perform:

            (1) God cannot sin or be evil (Cf. 1 John 3: 9). HE cannot perform any evil deeds (Cf. Habakkuk 1: 13). For instance, God cannot lie or deceive (Cf. Numbers 23: 19; 1 Samuel 15: 29; Titus 1: 2; Hebrews 6: 18).

            Some argue that God’s killing in the Old Testament reveals HIS evil nature because only evil minds kill. This is not true.

            God as the creator of life can remove life for just and valid reasons i.e. when people are wicked and unrepentant. (For more information on this theme, you can refer to my previous blog here http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2014/12/why-did-god-kill-25-million-people-in.html)

            (2) Man cannot force God into doing anything. It is God who is sovereign, not man. Man is subordinate to God. God is not subordinate to man. So God will not perform deeds in response to man’s desire or request (Cf. Matthew 6: 10). If it seems as though God has yielded to man, then it’s due to God’s will and not man’s will.

            (3) God deeds cannot be in response to man’s deeds. God is omniscient (HE has foreknowledge that includes middle knowledge); HE knows man's actions at any given point in time. Hence HIS deeds cannot be based as a response to man’s deeds.

            So God did not think of introducing Christ to the world after Adam and Eve sinned against HIM. The perfect sacrifice of Christ was planned before the creation of the world (1 Peter 1: 20).

            (4) God cannot be tired, since God is perfect and omnipotent (Isaiah 40: 28). Tiredness is lack of energy. But a perfect being cannot lack anything.

            (5) God cannot be unholy, since God is perfect and immutable (Isaiah 6: 3).

            (6) God cannot be partial, since HE is just (Acts 10: 34-35)

            (7) God cannot stop loving us, since God is love (Jeremiah 31: 3)   

God Would Never Contradict HIS Word

            The Bible contains God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation (without the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical books). Since God cannot lie, the Bible speaks the truth. (Liberal and postmodern Christians say that the Bible is corrupt in its transmission. This is undermining God – that God was unable to sustain the truthfulness of the Bible, which disputes God’s omnipotence or that God is intentionally corrupting man by removing HIS only objective revelation (written word) from man, which implies that God is evil.)

            Based on the premise that God would never contradict HIS Word, here are a few deeds that God would not perform:

            (8) God will not save everyone. The Bible states that belief in Christ is mandatory for salvation, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life…” (John 6: 40, NASB). If belief in Christ is mandatory for eternal life (salvation), then God will not save those who do not believe in Christ. (I do not take joy in referring to hell and its inhabitants, but I affirm this with a heavy heart, which is totally dependent on the Bible and common sense.)

            (9) God will not heal everyone. We extrapolate this information from the Bible.

            The Lord Jesus did not heal all those who were sick at the pool of Bethesda although there were many sick people there (John 5: 3). Jesus chose to heal only one invalid man from the many who were sick, and quickly left Bethesda (John 5: 13b). In fact, the man who was healed did not request healing for he did not know Jesus (Cf. John 5: 13a).

            Another instance is this; the Lord’s disciples, Peter and John, healed a lame man (Acts 3: 1-9), who was lame from birth. This lame man had been begging at the temple gate every day. Although he had not asked for healing, Peter and John healed him.

            If this lame man was there at the temple gate every day, would not have Jesus seen him during HIS ministry on earth? A reasonable inference would be an astounding yes. It’s greatly plausible that Jesus having known his condition chose to walk past him during HIS visits to the temple without healing this man. 

            Jesus did not heal everyone in HIS hometown either (Mark 6:5). HE merely laid HIS hands on a few sick people and healed them.

            Therefore, multiple instances in the Bible attest to the fact that God does not heal everyone. 

            Although God would not heal everyone, all those who seek God during their times of trials and tribulation would receive HIS grace in abundance. This is explicitly said in the Bible when God refused to heal / deliver Paul from his tribulation (2 Corinthians 12: 9).

            (10) God will not destroy evil until the Lord Jesus returns again in all HIS glory. God will never force Satan to be good, hence evil will reign.

            The Bible says that Satan and evil are inevitable realities in this world. Moreover, the Bible categorically asserts the eternal torment of Satan and his entourage (Revelation 20: 10).  God knows that Satan, out of HIS own freewill, would never become good, hence God will not force Satan to be good. This implies that evil will reign until God binds Satan to HIS eternal destiny.

            Christians would not be immune to evil, we are susceptible to evil. But during anxious moments, instead of questioning God and reeling under the weight of our agony, we could pray to God that HIS peace would guard us in Christ Jesus (Cf. Philippians 4: 6-7).

            (11) God can’t break a promise because God has promised us that HE would not break HIS covenants (Psalm 89: 34).

            (12) Similarly, God can’t abandon us (Deuteronomy 31: 6).

Conclusion

            To conclude, God’s actions are predicated on HIS being (HIS attributes) and HIS revelation (The Bible). Therefore we reiterate that God cannot do the following based on HIS attributes and revelation: 

            (1) God cannot sin or be evil.

            (2) God cannot be forced into doing anything.

            (3) God will not do anything based on man’s actions.

            (4) God cannot be tired.

            (5) God cannot be unholy.

            (6) God cannot be partial.

            (7) God cannot stop loving us.

            (8) God will not save everyone.

            (9) God will not heal everyone.

            (10) God will not destroy evil until the Lord Jesus’ second coming.

            (11) God cannot break a promise.

            (12) God cannot abandon us.

            The list is far from being complete, but we are now aware that there are things that God can’t do. This does not undermine God in any manner. God as a maximally great being will never contradict HIMSELF.

            I pray that these truths would spiritually enrich our lives. May the blessings of the triune God be upon you and your family. May HIS will be done in our lives. Amen.

Exercise:

Here are additional 20 things that God cannot do. Study the Bible and answer as to why God cannot do these things:

1. God cannot stop HIS existence.

2. HE cannot give Godhood to man or angel.

3. God cannot be surprised.

4. God cannot learn anything new.

5. God cannot be wrong.

6. God can never create a rock so heavy that HE cannot lift.

7. God cannot despise a broken heart.

8. God cannot sleep.

9. God cannot forget us.

10. God cannot be imperfect.

11. God cannot be a subordinate to anyone.

12. God cannot change.

13. God cannot be destroyed.

14. God cannot be selfish.

15. God cannot be tempted.

16. God cannot lust.

17. God cannot not forgive sins upon repentance.

18. God cannot be unjust.

19. God cannot deny Christ’s sacrifice.


20. God will not violate HIS own rational nature.