Monday, December 11, 2017

Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem: Justification & Impact On Christians

            The announcement that America has finally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital invoked a mixed response. Christians, who support Israel, are joyous. Conversely, Muslims and Christians, who do not support Israel, nonchalantly exhibit hostility to this development.

            Jerusalem has always been the capital of the nation of Israel. However, a majority of UN member states, by virtue of disputing Israel’s ownership of East Jerusalem, positioned their embassies in and around Tel Aviv. Thus the official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was withheld by these countries.

            Ben Shapiro contends that the American recognition of Jerusalem is a wise, legal and a powerful development. He lists seven reasons to justify the same:1

1. Jerusalem Is The Eternal Capital Of Israel. Jerusalem is only important because the Jews made it important; it was the capital of the kingdom of Israel, the site of the Temple, and the wellspring of Judaic thought for millennia. Both Christianity and Islam value Jerusalem because Judaism did. The dream of Jerusalem has animated the Jewish people for its entire existence; there is a reason the Psalms (137:5) state, “If I forget thee, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.” Jerusalem is mentioned hundreds of times in the Prophets and Writings (during the time of the Torah, it was not yet called Jerusalem). By contrast, Jerusalem is not mentioned at all in the Koran. If Jews do not have a historic claim to Jerusalem, they have no historic claim to any part of Israel, including Tel Aviv.
2. Congress Has Long Recognized Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital. In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, requiring the movement of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The act also said that Jerusalem should be undivided and be recognized as the capital of Israel. The executive branch has refused to implement the law thanks to both political and separation of powers concerns. Trump would merely be stamping Congressional law with approval. That law, by the way, passed 93-5 in the Senate and 374-37 in the House.
3. Recognizing Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital Recognizes Israel’s Sovereignty. By removing the United States from the position of pressuring Israel to sacrifice its historic, religious, strategic capital, Israel will now be able to negotiate on its own behalf. That means that the U.S. will no longer be in a position to twist the arm of our closest ally in order to pursue separate strategic interests. Imagine the United States pressuring Great Britain to hand over all of Belfast to the IRA. That’s what the U.S. has been doing to Israel for years.
4. Recognizing Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital Will Minimize Violence. Every time negotiations fail, the Palestinians threaten violence and participate in terrorism. The sticking point for such negotiations has generally been Jerusalem — that’s the excuse the Palestinian Authority and Hamas use to launch campaigns of terror, to international approval thanks to the international community’s refusal to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. They hope that using violence as a tactic will earn concessions from Israel, or pressure from the West on Israel. By leading the charge to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States will be sending the unmistakable signal that violence over Jerusalem will not be tolerated, and that pressure tactics through murder will earn no rewards.
5. Showing The United States Will Not Be Bullied By Terrorists Is Good Policy. The entire Oslo Accords was based on a blackmail program: Palestinians vowed not to murder Jews if Jews turned over land. That deal wasn’t just blackmail, it was a lie: Israel offered many generous peace deals, and the Palestinians responded with terror waves. The United States shouldn’t participate in such blackmail. If the Palestinians threaten violence, Trump should drop the other shoe: he should refuse to authorize the release of foreign aid to the terrorist government. There’s no reason taxpayers should be paying terrorists in the first place.
6. Recognizing Reality Makes Peace More Possible. A few days ago, the Saudi monarchy reportedly summoned Palestinian leadership and told them to support a peace deal with the Israelis. That deal would retain major Israeli settlement blocs, prevent the establishment of a Palestinian standing army, and leave the PA without Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital. By declaring Jerusalem Israel’s undivided capital, the United States would remove any other option from the table, thereby pressuring both the Saudis and the Palestinians into accepting that deal.
7. Recognizing Jerusalem Means Cementing The Anti-Iranian Alliance. President Obama's horrific foreign policy united Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel against Iran. But that alliance cannot be cemented until realities are recognized by all parties. Just as George H.W. Bush should have allowed Israel to join the coalition against Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War in order to force the Muslim states to recognize that their common interests with Israel outstripped their differences, Trump would be right to make clear to all parties that Israel has control over its own capital, and that the price of alliance is recognition of reality.
Jerusalem is, was, and always will be Israel’s capital. Failing to recognize that is a slap in the face to history, to reality, and to Israel itself. If Trump does what is necessary, he’ll deserve credit not just for bravery, but for decency.

            How does this development impact Christians?  

            Christians who believe that the Church has replaced the nation of Israel would neither support Israel nor be excited of this development. Their concern that this development could possibly set off violence in the region that’s immune to peace is understandable.

            However, this development cannot impede the peace process, claims Dr. Brown, “When it comes to the peace process, more than two decades of negotiations have yielded precious little progress. So the idea that recognizing Jerusalem would hurt this process is ludicrous. Instead, if the Palestinians want peace with Israel, they can have wonderful, lasting, prosperous peace — without dividing Jerusalem.”2

            Christians who believe that the nation of Israel is distinct from the Church would be immensely excited about this development!

             The Bible reveals Christ’s future rule from the city of Jerusalem for 1000 years (cf. Isaiah 2:3; Matthew 19:28, 25:31-34; Acts 1:6-7; Revelation 20:4). Hence, when the most powerful country in the world, the USA, recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it invariably sets the date of Christ’s bodily rule on earth closer than ever before. This event heralds the glorious second coming of our Lord! This development is also a matter of great joy because it is marvelous to witness the unfolding of the events prophesied in the Bible right before our very own eyes.

            Finally, would God bless those who bless Israel? Dr. Brown says yes!3

Will God bless President Trump and the United States for making this bold and courageous move? I believe He will, for the following reasons.
1. On doing so the president is blessing Israel. God still blesses those who bless His covenant nation, despite that nation’s sins.
2. Out of all the cities on the earth, the Bible only calls us to pray for the welfare of Jerusalem (see Psalm 122; Isaiah 62:1-8).
3. The tremendous resistance to the president’s decision gives evidence to the intensity of the spiritual battle over this city.
4. There are prophetic scriptures that speak of a Jewish Jerusalem welcoming back the Messiah. So the decision to fortify the unity of the city is in explicit harmony with those Scriptures (see especially Zechariah 12 and 14).
And what about God’s love for the Muslim world? What about justice for the Palestinians?
The answer is simple: If they want to be blessed, they too must recognize the Jewish claim to Jerusalem, a city that they do not need to possess or divide. They don’t need to call for violence and war. Instead, they need to accept that East Jerusalem will not be the capital of a Palestinian state. That working with the Jewish people rather than against them will be in their best interests, too. And that the Jewish people have a massively greater claim to Jerusalem than the Muslims do.
As for President Trump, he is convinced that this formal recognition of Jerusalem will aid and abet the peace process. But even if that is not the case, I truly believe that God will bless him and bless America for making this courageous and righteous decision.
Let’s watch and see in the coming days.
Endnotes:
1https://www.dailywire.com/news/24354/excellent-trump-7-reasons-trump-would-be-right-ben-shapiro#exit-modal

2https://stream.org/will-god-bless-trump-moving-embassy-jerusalem/

3https://stream.org/will-god-bless-trump-moving-embassy-jerusalem/


Websites cited were last accessed on 11th December 2017.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

How To Overcome Needless Fear?

          Quite a few Christians are consumed by needless fear. I don’t think we need a definition of needless fear since the term is quite self-explanatory. And this very term (needless fear) implies that fear is unnecessary in a Christian life.

            But this is easier said than done. Christians (not all, but some) are consumed by needless fear. Although some of them know that this fear is absolutely unnecessary in their life, many do not know how to eliminate this fear from their life.

            If you are consumed by needless fear, you may not be able to lead a normal life. Hence, you could complicate your life, if you do not know how to deal with your fear. And your life could get worse and unmanageable (depending on the intensity of this fear). So I pray that a few relevant spiritual thoughts would help end this unnecessary fear.

            Before we jump into the spiritual realm of this theme, let us momentarily consider the solutions offered by science.

            Anxiety disorders could be a broad synonym for needless fear. Panic attacks, fear of being judged, embarrassed or ridiculed, and fear of heights (flying in an airplane) are some instances of anxiety disorders.

            If you are prone to anxiety disorders, you may not be able to sleep well or you could be nauseous, dizzy, cold and sweaty, and you will not be able to remain calm. These are certain symptoms of anxiety disorder.1

            Treatments for anxiety disorders range from antidepressants, anxiolytics, and psychotherapy. The effectiveness of these treatments is largely subjective (every patient would respond differently to these treatments).

            This is as far as my comprehension about the scientific intervention to anxiety disorder goes.

            Now let’s get to the spiritual realm of needless fear.

            The Bible narrates a few instances of needless fears. Let’s consider an example from the Old and the New Testament.

            Prophet Elisha’s servant was in needless fear when he saw the army of King Aram (2 Kings 6:8-23). But Elisha asked his servant to not fear, for he knew that God’s protection was active and that his servant was in needless fear, “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (v15-17, NIV).

            The disciples were in needless fear when they were in a boat with the Lord, “That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”” (Mark 4:35-41).

            Unfortunately, God’s power is not experienced so directly by those in fear today. Our spiritual eyes, in most instances, will not be opened to see God’s armies surrounding us when we are in fear. Christ is also not with us in HIS incarnational form, as HE was with HIS disciples then, to annihilate our fear once and for all. So, many of us find ourselves in lonesome and vulnerable situations when we fear.

            It’s quite clear from the biblical narratives that Christians should not be slaves to needless fear. That’s why Charles Wesley wrote this hymn, “Away, My Needless Fears:”

             Away my needless fears,
And doubts no longer mine;
A ray of heavenly light appears,
A messenger divine.

Thrice comfortable hope,
That calms my troubled breast;
My Father's hand prepares the cup,
And what he wills is best.

If what I wish is good,
And suits the will divine;
By earth and hell in vain withstood,
I know it shall be mine.

Still let them counsel take
To frustrate his decree,
They cannot keep a blessing back
By heaven designed for me.

Here then I doubt no more,
But in his pleasure rest,
Whose wisdom, love, and truth, and power,
Engage to make me blest.

To accomplish his design
The creatures all agree;
And all the attributes divine
Are now at work for me.

           Charles Wesley knew that apart from God, we cannot overcome our needless fear.

           Easier said than done!

           Legendary yesteryear preacher, Charles Spurgeon, specified the reasons that cause needless fears in Christians.2 Christians suffer from needless fear because they have already succumbed to one or many of these fears:

a.      Fear of man.

b.      Fear that the truth of Christianity may be destroyed by the opposing forces.

c.      Fear of losing their salvation.

d.      Fear of imminent poverty (adversity) striking them.

e.       Fear of death.

            Spurgeon echoes the Bible when he says that all these fears are unjustifiable. Nothing can separate a Christian from God’s love (Romans 8:37-39). If Christians believe this, they will not fear needlessly.

             If Christians realize that God is in absolute control of their lives (and that nothing unpleasant can happen in their lives without HIS permission), they would not fear needlessly. This is a mandatory condition in a Christian’s life, according to Spurgeon.

             None can curse those whom God has blessed; this is stated in the Bible (cf. Numbers 23:23). When Martin Luther was summoned by the Roman Catholic leaders, his friends were afraid for him to go. But Spurgeon recollects Luther’s response, “If all the demons in hell could fill your house, and seek to injure you, there is no need for you to fear or tremble more than Martin Luther did when his friends were afraid for him to go and be examined by the Roman Catholic leaders who were trying to get him to recant, but Luther said to his friends, “If there were as many devils there as there are tiles on the roofs of the houses, I would face them all in the name of God.” And you may say the same. If all the armies of the earth came against you, and all the demons in hell, had come up to join with the world against you, you could still say, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge;” and charge them in the name of the Most High, and cause all of them to flee in defeat, because the One who is in you is greater than the ones who are against you [1 John 4:4].”3 (Emphasis Mine).

            Science states that anxiety disorder is a mental disorder. According to the Bible, those who fear needlessly are in a state of bondage. The Lord Jesus Christ offers the only viable solution to all those who suffer from fear, which is to pray, pray and pray more without ceasing (cf. Mark 9:29).

            Pray that God will fill you with HIS peace when you are in fear, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV).

            God says this to us, “Why do you forget the Lord, who made you, who stretched out the sky and founded the earth? Why do you constantly tremble all day long at the anger of the oppressor, when he makes plans to destroy? Where is the anger of the oppressor? The one who suffers will soon be released; he will not die in prison, he will not go hungry. I am the Lord your God, who churns up the sea so that its waves surge. The Lord who commands armies is his name! I commission you as my spokesman; I cover you with the palm of my hand, to establish the sky and to found the earth, to say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”” (Isaiah 51:13-17, NET).

Endnotes:

1https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/anxiety-disorders#1

2http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/3098.htm

3Ibid.

Cited websites were last accessed on 5th December 2017.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Is Christianity Only About Love?

Introduction

            Some Christians believe that Historic Christianity is only about love. (When I refer to Historic Christianity, I preclude all other flavors of Christianity that contradict the core essence of Historic Christianity.)

            These brothers and sisters consistently harp on verses that communicate love: ‘God is love, ‘love your neighbors’ etc. Love is the only lens through which these Christians assimilate Christianity. Hence, their beloved slogan is love, love, and more love.  

            Is this the most perfect understanding of Christianity?

            Let’s examine the following aspects:

            (1) If Christianity is only about love, then there should be NO room for ‘hatred.’ But if Christians are mandated to hate someone or something, then Christianity is not only about love. So is Christianity only about love or is there room for hatred?

            (2) The command to love our neighbor is with a qualifier. The qualifier is this: you love your neighbor as you love yourself. We are not called to love our neighbors, but we are to love them as we love ourselves. What does it mean to love our neighbors as we love ourselves?

Should Christians Hate?

            If you study the verses that mandate love, you would learn that the verses mandating love in the Gospel of John and in the letters of Apostle John, the author defines a boundary for love. The love mandated in these writings is between fellow believers. These verses do not necessarily mandate love between the believers and the unbelievers of the God of the Bible. Consider a few verses:

            John 13: 34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

            1 John 2:9-11: “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”

            1 John 4:20: “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”

            But when Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31), HE had already annihilated the boundary that limits love. In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), Christ defines a neighbor as anyone we would come into contact with – be it Christian or non-Christian. Therefore, Christians are mandated to love our neighbors (anyone) as we love ourselves.

            Although Christians are called to love everyone, there is still room for hatred. For instance, God, who Christians are to primarily love, obey and emulate is not all about love. Yes, God is not all about love; God hates certain actions and certain people. Consider these verses:

            God hates wicked people (Psalm 5:5: “You hate all who do wrong”).

            God hates wicked deeds and wicked people (Proverbs 6:16 -19 (MSG): Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family.).

            God’s hatred is unlike human hatred. Although the wrath of God is upon all those who do not believe HIM (Matthew 10:28; John 3:36; Romans 1:18), God sends rain and sunshine upon the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:43-48). Because God loves both the believers and the unbelievers, HE has provided ways and means for the unbelievers to believe in HIM and be saved. Therefore, God’s wrath is only upon those who consciously reject HIM.

            God does not mandate Christians to merely love. Christians are mandated to hate evil. Here are a couple of verses for your consideration:

            Psalm 97:10: "Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked."

            Romans 12:9: "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."

            Believers of God are to hate evildoers as well. But this is a righteous hatred. This is not a hatred that seeks harm upon the subject of our hate.

            Significantly, Christians are called to hate Satan. We are mandated to perpetually battle Satan (Ephesians 6:10-18).

            The Psalmist says, “I hate double-minded people…” (Psalm 119:113). And elsewhere the Psalmist says, “Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.” (Psalm 3:7). Does the Psalmist, out of his abundant love for his enemies, plead to God to break their teeth? Or would you say that the Psalmist had not understood God adequately?

            If your child is kidnapped, would you not pray for deliverance? Of course, you would! Do you realize, at times, the only means to deliver your child is by killing the kidnappers?

            Any Christian, who claims that he would forget his child and not take any action against the kidnappers because he is mandated to love his enemies a.k.a. the kidnappers must be obtusely insane and acutely ignorant of the Bible.

            To those of you who say, hate the sin but love the sinner, I ask, just as how you may accommodate a needy person in your home, would your sacrificial love for a pedophile motivate you to accommodate him at your home with your children, thereby endangering your children’s lives? Or would your amazing love for your fellow neighbor and enemy – the ISIS – prompt you to fund their intents?

            Only an insane Christian would intentionally accommodate a pedophile at his home, thereby endangering his own children, whom he should only nurture and protect. Only a stupid Christian would fund the ISIS (thereby placing many innocent lives at risk) just because the Bible says that he is to love his enemies.

            Believe it or not; there is room, in Christianity, for righteous hatred! The prison is the most appropriate location for a pedophile, terrorist, and all evildoers. The primary expression of your love for your enemies should prompt you, as a responsible Christian, to inform the police upon sighting an evildoer.

            What about your colleague who misappropriates funds at your workplace? Isn’t he your neighbor and your enemy? He robs the company of its financial resources, an outcome of which could jeopardize your job. Would you, in your abundant love for your dishonest colleague, not inform your managers of your colleague’s misdemeanor, so to deceive your organization?  

            Christianity allows for righteous hatred! Upon your report, if your dishonest colleague gets fired, your love for him could motivate you to serve him by striving to transform him and alleviating his financial needs, if he is needy. But love for our neighbors does not entail Christians to promote evil in any size, form or manner.

            Here’s another articulation of righteous hatred, “…if the love is real, it must include hate…We hate evil because it is wrong. But on the other hand, if this hatred is part of loving our enemies, we must hate the evil of our enemies because of what the evil means for them…ISIS does evil and is evil — and our love for them means we hate both. We hate that they are blinded by darkness, that they are trapped by Satan’s schemes, that they are following the course of this world and ignorant of it all (Ephesians 2:2; 4:18). But that hate, if we are obeying Jesus, means that we hate them not only because of their disgusting injustice, but for what that injustice means for their souls…Love for our enemies means, fundamentally, that we hate our enemies for wholeheartedly joining in the evil that will ultimately cause their damnation (John 5:29). That is the kind of hate — the kind of love — that might look on them and say, in the spirit of our Savior, Father, forgive them for being so oblivious to what they’re doing. Open their eyes.”1

How To Truly Love?

            Loving your neighbors as you love yourself is easier said than done. Quite a few of us scream at the top of our voices that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

            Really?

            I love myself and my family so much that I give us the best my money can buy. Does your life reflect this statement?

            True love is not visiting orphanages and elderly care homes once or twice a year. True love is not to help a senior citizen cross the road or offering a small portion of what’s in your wallet to your neighborhood beggar or the homeless.

            As long as there are needy people in your vicinity who are unable to eat three proper meals or afford appropriate healthcare or education, and as long as you and I continue to enjoy all these benefits, we do not truly love our neighbor.

            It’s not true love when we refuse to part with our money, but we assure our neighbors of our prayers. The Bible depicts this situation wonderfully well, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:15-17). Make use of all your resources (financial and non-financial) in such a way that you and your needy neighbors are never in need.

            What then is true love? It is to give and give graciously and freely until our giving hurts us. I am not saying that we should become poor. Moreover, we may not be able to alleviate poverty in our neighborhood. But we can certainly make a strong difference in people’s lives by graciously and sacrificially giving what the Lord has graciously and freely given to us.

            Finally, true love is not to encourage the sins of our fellow Christians. Some Christians claim that Christianity is all about love only to legitimize their own sins or the sins of their fellow Christians (E.g. Endorsing homosexuality).

            Sins are an assault on God. God has defined and determined sins in the Bible. Let us not strive to embark on a futile journey to legitimize sins under the false pretense that Christianity is all about love.

Conclusion

            Christianity is not all about love. Righteous hatred has its place in Christianity.

            When we claim to love others as we love ourselves, let us truly love others without any semblance of hypocrisy or political correctness.

Endnotes:

1https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/do-you-love-your-enemies-enough-to-hate-them


Scripture references are from the NIV unless otherwise mentioned. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Why Do Scientists Believe In Christ’s Resurrection?

            Historic Christianity is predicated on Christ’s resurrection. If Christ has not been raised, our faith is futile (1 Corinthians 15: 12-17, NIV).
            Those who invigorate a war between Science and Christianity (e.g. scientists subscribing to atheism and skepticism) claim that Christ did not resurrect. Richard Dawkins - a professor at Oxford University until 2008 - is one among those who reject Christ’s resurrection, “Presumably what happened to Jesus was what happens to all of us when we die. We decompose. Accounts of Jesus's resurrection and ascension are about as well-documented as Jack and the Beanstalk.”1

            But Christian scientists believe in Christ’s resurrection! Ian Hutchinson is one among them, “I’m a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, and I believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. So do dozens of my colleagues. How can this be?...We really believe in the bodily resurrection of the first century Jew known as Jesus of Nazareth. My Christian colleagues at MIT – and millions of other scientists worldwide – somehow think that a literal miracle like the resurrection of Jesus is possible…The founders of the scientific revolution and many of the greatest scientists of the intervening centuries were serious Christian believers. For Robert Boyle (of the ideal gas law, co-founder in 1660 of the Royal Society) the resurrection was a fact. For James Clerk Maxwell (whose Maxwell equations of 1862 govern electromagnetism) a deep philosophical analysis undergirded his belief in the resurrection. And for William Phillips (Nobel prize-winner in 1997 for methods to trap atoms with laser light) the resurrection is not discredited by science.”2

            Dr. John Lennox, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, cites famous contemporary Christian scientists who believe in Christ’s resurrection, “…there are eminent, scientists, like Professor William Phillips (Physics Nobel Prizewinner, 1998), Professor Sir John Polkinghorne FRS (Quantum Physicist, Cambridge) and, in the United States, the current Director of the National Institute of Health and former Director of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins (to name just three) who…affirm their belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which they regard as the supreme evidence for the truth of the Christian worldview.”3

            Why and how do Christian scientists believe in Christ’s resurrection or the miraculous?

            Christian scientists know that science can investigate the miraculous, but science cannot prove or disprove the miraculous, “…while science can’t logically rule miracles in or out of consideration, it can be a helpful tool for investigating contemporary miraculous claims. It may be able to reveal self-deception, trickery, or misperception. If someone has been seen levitating on a supposed flying carpet in their living room, then the discovery of powerful electromagnets in their basement might well render such claims implausible…Science functions by reproducible experiments and observations. Miracles are, by definition, abnormal and non-reproducible, so they cannot be proved by science’s methods.”4

            Moreover, Christian scientists reject the reasons offered by non-Christian scientists. The argument employed by atheists and skeptics to reject the miraculous is grossly invalid.

            Miracles are rejected on the premise that they go against the laws of nature. But this argument, as Dr. John Lennox explains, is invalid, “Hume denies the miraculous, because miracle would go against the uniform laws of nature. And yet elsewhere he denies the uniformity of nature. He famously argues that, just because the sun has been observed to rise in the morning for thousands of years, it does not mean that we can be sure that it will rise tomorrow. This is an example of the Problem of Induction: on the basis of past experience you cannot predict the future, says Hume. But if that were true, let us see what follows.

            Suppose Hume is right, and no dead man has ever risen up from the grave through the whole of earth's history so far; by his own argument he still cannot be sure that a dead man will not rise up tomorrow. That being so, he cannot rule out miracle. What has become now of Hume's insistence on the laws of nature, and its uniformity? He has destroyed the very basis on which he tries to deny the possibility of miracles.

            In any case, if according to Hume we can infer no regularities, it would be impossible even to speak of laws of nature, let alone the uniformity of nature with respect to those laws. And if nature is not uniform, then using the uniformity of nature as an argument against miracles is simply absurd.”5

            Dr. Lennox posits God’s intervention into nature as a reason for the miraculous, “…from the theistic perspective, the laws of nature predict what is bound to happen if God does not intervene; though, of course, it is no act of theft, if the Creator intervenes in his own creation. It is incorrect to argue that the laws of nature make it impossible for us to believe in the existence of God and the possibility of his intervention in the universe. That would be like claiming that an understanding of the laws of the internal combustion engine makes it impossible to believe that the designer of a motor-car, or one of his mechanics, could or would intervene and remove the cylinder head. Of course they could intervene. Moreover, this intervention would not destroy those laws. The very same laws, that explained why the engine worked with the cylinder head on, would now explain why it does not work with the head removed.

            It is, therefore, inaccurate and misleading to say with Hume that miracles "violate" the laws of nature. We could, of course, say that it is a law of nature that human beings do not rise again from the dead by some natural mechanism. But Christians do not claim that Christ rose from the dead by such a mechanism. They claim that he rose from the dead by supernatural power. By themselves, the laws of nature cannot rule out that possibility.

            When a miracle takes place, it is the laws of nature that alert us to the fact that it is a miracle. It is important to grasp that Christians do not deny the laws of nature, as Hume implies they do. It is an essential part of the Christian position to believe in the laws of nature as descriptions of those regularities and cause-effect relationships built into the universe by its Creator and according to which it normally operates. If we did not know them, we should never recognise a miracle if we saw one…

            …To suppose, then, that Christianity was born in a pre-scientific, credulous and ignorant world is simply false to the facts. The ancient world knew the law of nature as well as we do, that dead bodies do not get up out of graves. Christianity won its way by dint of the sheer weight of evidence that one man had actually risen from the dead.”6

            Therefore, the reasons offered by the non-Christian scientists to reject miracles are weak and invalid.

            There are, however, compelling evidences that persuade Christian scientists to believe in Christ\s resurrection, “Most of our evidence comes from the New Testament and it may surprise many that, in comparison with many other ancient works of literature, the New Testament is by far the best-attested document from the ancient world…It is the constant and unvarying testimony of the Gospels that the tomb was found to be empty when the Christian women came early in the morning of the first day of the week, to complete the task of encasing the body of Jesus in spices. And when the apostles went to investigate the women's report, they likewise found the tomb empty…But it was the way in which the grave-cloths were lying that convinced St. John of a miracle. So, could someone have taken the body and rewound the cloths deliberately to give the impression that a miracle had happened? But who could this have been? It was morally impossible for the followers of Christ to have done it. It was also psychologically impossible, since they were not expecting a resurrection. And it was practically impossible, because of the guards. It would be absurd to think of the authorities doing anything remotely suggestive of a resurrection. After all, it was they who had ensured that the tomb was guarded, to avoid anything like that!

            The early Christians did not simply assert that the tomb was empty. Far more important for them was the fact that subsequently they had met the risen Christ, intermittently over a period of forty days. According to Paul's list in 1 Corinthians 15, there were originally well over five hundred people who at different times saw the risen Christ during that period…To anyone who knows anything about the ancient laws regarding legal testimony, it is very striking that the first reports mentioned in the Gospels of appearances of the Risen Christ were made by women. In first-century Jewish culture, women were not normally considered to be competent witnesses. At that time, therefore, anyone who wanted to invent a resurrection story would never have thought of commencing it in this way. The only value of including such a story would be if it were both true and easy to verify. Its very inclusion, therefore, is a clear mark of historical authenticity.

            The evidence of the empty tomb, the character of the witnesses, the explosion of Christianity out of Judaism and the testimony of millions today are inexplicable without the resurrection. As Holmes said to Watson: "How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"” (Emphasis Mine).7

Endnotes:

1http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/richard-dawkins-you-ask-the-questions-special-427003.html

2http://www.veritas.org/can-scientist-believe-resurrection-three-hypotheses/

3http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/04/16/3986403.htm

4http://www.veritas.org/can-scientist-believe-resurrection-three-hypotheses/

5http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/04/16/3986403.htm

6http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/04/16/3986403.htm

7Ibid.


Websites cited were last accessed on 25th November 2017.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Science Cannot Contradict Historic Christianity

            When detractors of Historic Christianity claim that ‘Science contradicts Religion’ or ‘Science contradicts Christianity,’ many Christians succumb. These claims, at their face value, have rattled some Christians because their busy life precludes a possibility of undertaking an adequate research into this theme. Hence, some Christians either believe that science and Christianity are at loggerheads or they are clueless.

            The truth, however, is that science cannot contradict Historic Christianity. This article will endeavor to highlight this fact.

Science Cannot Contradict Religion

            Does science have authority to judge religion? If eminent non-Christian scientists demarcate science’s jurisdiction from religion, then there is reasonable merit in concluding that science cannot judge religion.

            Science cannot deny the claims of religion, let alone Christianity. The non-Christian scientists say so.

            Consider Harvard University paleontologist, Stephen Jay Gould’s principle of Non-overlapping Magisteria (NOMA). NOMA proposes that science and religion represent different magisteria (domain of authority). Hence, science (which covers the empirical domain) and religion (which covers life’s ultimate meaning and moral value) ought not to overlap. (Stephen Jay Gould was not a Christian.)

            Dr. Francisco J. Ayala, a molecular biologist and evolutionary geneticist and the winner of Templeton Prize, contends that science cannot contradict religion. Dr. Ayala is not a Christian. He asserts:1

Science and religious beliefs need not be in contradiction. If they are properly understood, they cannot be in contradiction because science and religion concern different matters…I contend that both – scientists denying religion and believers rejecting science – are wrong. Science and religious beliefs need not be in contradiction. If they are properly understood, they cannot be in contradiction because science and religion concern different matters.
The scope of science is the world of nature: the reality that is observed, directly or indirectly, by our senses. Science advances explanations about the natural world, explanations that are accepted or rejected by observation and experiment.
Outside the world of nature, however, science has no authority, no statements to make, no business whatsoever taking one position or another. Science has nothing decisive to say about values, whether economic, aesthetic or moral; nothing to say about the meaning of life or its purpose. Science has nothing to say, either, about religious beliefs…Science transcends cultural, political and religious beliefs because it has nothing to say about these subjects…People of faith should stand in awe of the wondrous achievements of science. But they should not be troubled that science may deny their religious beliefs. (Emphasis Mine).
        Therefore, since science and religion engage different realms of life, a conclusion that science cannot contradict religion is quite reasonable.  

Scientists Contradict Religion

        Although science cannot contradict religion, certain non-Christian scientists attempt to falsify the claims of religions. Biologist and renowned atheist, Richard Dawkins, in his book “The God Delusion,” ridicules God’s existence, “I am not attacking any particular version of God or gods. I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented.”  

        These non-Christian scientists do not merely refrain from dismissing religious claims, but they pour scorn on Christian scientists as well. Richard Dawkins loves to ridicule Christian scientists, “Creation scientists have more need than most of us to parade their degrees and qualifications, but it pays to look closely at the institutions that awarded them and the subjects in which they were taken. Those vaunted Ph.D.s tend to be in subjects such as marine engineering or gas kinetics rather than in relevant disciplines like zoology or geology. And often they are earned not at real universities, but at little-known Bible colleges deep in Bush country.”2

        These unmitigated assaults intimidate Christians to no end; ergo, some Christians then believe that science has buried Christianity. This is not true!

Trust The Testimony Of Christian Scientists

        If science so categorically contradicts religion, how was it possible that many great scientists of the past were committed Christians? Kepler (Astronomy), Pascal (Hydrostatics), Boyle (Chemistry), Newton (Calculus), Linnaeus (Systematic Biology), Faraday (Electromagnetics), Cuvier (Comparative Anatomy), Kelvin (Thermodynamics), Lister (Antiseptic Surgery), Mendel (Genetics) were all committed Christians. They believed in the Triune God and truly trusted the Bible.

        Scientists who lived in the past were not the only Christians. There are numerous highly successful and credible contemporary Christian scientists whom we can genuinely trust.

        Dr. Francis S. Collins asserts that science and religion cannot contradict, “As the director of the Human Genome Project, I have led a consortium of scientists to read out the 3.1 billion letters of the human genome, our own DNA instruction book. As a believer, I see DNA, the information molecule of all living things, as God's language, and the elegance and complexity of our own bodies and the rest of nature as a reflection of God's plan…So, some have asked, doesn't your brain explode? Can you both pursue an understanding of how life works using the tools of genetics and molecular biology, and worship a creator God? Aren't evolution and faith in God incompatible? Can a scientist believe in miracles like the resurrection?

        Actually, I find no conflict here, and neither apparently do the 40 percent of working scientists who claim to be believers… I have found there is a wonderful harmony in the complementary truths of science and faith. The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. God can be found in the cathedral or in the laboratory. By investigating God's majestic and awesome creation, science can actually be a means of worship.” 3

Why Christian Scientists Believe?

        Christian scientists do not blindly believe in God or the biblical account. They have very clear and valid reasons to believe in God and the Bible.

        Dr. James Tour, a synthetic organic chemist specializing in nanotechnology, is a T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Materials Science and NanoEngineering and of Computer Science at Rice University, USA. He holds more than 120 patents in the USA and has published more than 600 research publications.

        While discussing the ‘origin of life,’ Dr. James Tour contends that science is clueless about abiogenesis (life from nonlife). He contends that the only reasonable conclusion any scientist, who does not or would not want to believe in God, can arrive at is NOT to negate the Creator, but to, at the very least, acknowledge that the origin of life is a mystery: 4

Life requires carbohydrates, nucleic acids, lipids, and proteins. What is the chemistry behind their origin? Biologists seem to think that there are well-understood prebiotic molecular mechanisms for their synthesis. They have been grossly misinformed. And no wonder: few biologists have ever synthesized a complex molecule ab initio. If they need a molecule, they purchase molecular synthesis kits, which are, of course, designed by synthetic chemists, and which feature simplistic protocols.
Polysaccharides? Their origin?
The synthetic chemists do not have a pathway.
The biologists do not have a clue…
The world’s best synthetic chemists, biochemists, and evolutionary biologists have combined forces to form a team—a dream team in two quite distinct senses of the word. Money is no object. They have at their disposal the most advanced analytical facilities, the complete scientific literature, synthetic and natural coupling agents, and all the reagents their hearts might desire. Carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, and nucleic acids are stored in their laboratories in a state of 100% enantiomeric purity.
Would the dream team—please—assemble a living system?
Take your time, folks, take a few billion years.
Nothing? Well, well, well.
Let us assume that all the building blocks of life, and not just their precursors, have been made to a high degrees of purity, including homochirality where applicable—the carbohydrates, the amino acids, the nucleic acids, and the lipids. They are stored in cool caves, away from sunlight, and away from oxygen. These molecules are indifferent to environmental degradation.
And let us further assume that they are all stored in one comfortable corner of the earth, not separated by thousands of kilometers or on different planets.
And that they all exist not just in the same square kilometer, but in neighboring pools where they can conveniently and somehow selectively mix with each other as needed.
Now what? How does the dream team assemble them without enzymes?
Very well. Give the dream team polymerized forms: polypeptides, all the enzymes they desire, the polysaccharides, DNA and RNA in any sequence, cleanly assembled.
Ready now?
Apparently not.
We teach our students that when a mechanism does not support their observations, the mechanism must either be revised to support the facts or entirely discounted. They are not required to provide an alternative.
We are such stuff as dreams are made on. It has a ring among prebiotic chemists.
Those who think scientists understand the issues of prebiotic chemistry are wholly misinformed. Nobody understands them. Maybe one day we will. But that day is far from today. It would be far more helpful (and hopeful) to expose students to the massive gaps in our understanding. They may find a firmer—and possibly a radically different—scientific theory.
The basis upon which we as scientists are relying is so shaky that we must openly state the situation for what it is: it is a mystery.

Conclusion

        We are grateful to the scientific community. We stand in awe of their achievements. But having said that, let us be cognizant of the fact that science cannot contradict religion, let alone Christianity.

        So the next time someone attempts to derail your faith by flinging a random statement that science contradicts religion, do not get rattled. If you are a Christian, do know that the ground on which you stand is rock solid. There is no need to sweat or fret. Keep on and grow in your Christian faith.

Endnotes:

1https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2010/may/28/religion-science-richard-dawkins

2http://scepsis.net/eng/articles/id_2.php

3http://edition.cnn.com/2007/US/04/03/collins.commentary/index.html

4http://inference-review.com/article/animadversions-of-a-synthetic-chemist


Websites cited were last accessed on 20th November 2017.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Can A Christian Kill For A Living?

            Can a Christian serve as a policeman, soldier or a secret service agent? These occupations include killing. But the Bible speaks against murder, here’s a sample:

            Exodus 20:13: “You shall not murder.”

            Matthew 15:18-19: “…the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

            Romans 12:14-19: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… Do not repay anyone evil for evil…Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.”

            So, is a Christian prohibited from killing even though he/she serves as a policeman, soldier or a secret service agent? Pastor John Piper offers an adequate response:1

            “Do those texts prevent a person from being a policeman or soldier? Is no. In fact, I would go further and say: God has arranged that the spheres that make society work, all of them have God ordained situations in them that demand that we not turn the other cheek. The spheres I have in mind are: the state, the family, business and commerce, the Church. God has built in to each of these spheres the necessary principle of justice, not just the principle of mercy where you treat people better than they deserve. In other words, treating a person as he deserves as well as sometimes treating him better than he deserves is essential for the loving, just working of these spheres.

            Let me just give you four biblical examples. The state. Romans 13:4. He is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrong doer. So he is talking about soldiers and policemen there that carry the sword. They don’t turn the other cheek. They do strike in order to defend the father-land or to defend the innocent citizen who is being victimized of a crime. So state.

            Number two, commerce, business. Paul said, 2 Thessalonians 3:10: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. That is not mercy. That is justice. The employer does not turn the other cheek. If a man doesn’t come to work day after day and says: I just don’t feel like it, he gets fired. He gets paid less. You can’t run a business without the principle of merit, without the principle of a day’s work for a day’s wage.

            Thirdly, family. Fathers, bring up your children in the discipline of the Lord. Parents who only turn the other cheek and do not return spanking for insolence breed brats, not pacifists. And the Bible is so clear. Parents have the right to operate on the principle of justice as well as mercy. You have to spank you children, discipline your children.

            Number four, the Church, Church discipline, 1 Corinthians 5:5. You are to deliver the man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

            In all of these we are hoping for the good of people, but in the short run we are not giving to him who asks. We are not turning the other cheek. We are returning some measure of harm, because of behaviors that were harmful or wrong.

            So the point is this. Each of these teachings of the New Testament show that a just and loving society, inside and outside the Church, requires more than not returning evil for evil. It also requires, in the spheres where God assigns it, a principle of justice that returns what a person deserves. So my answer to the question is no. Is the New Testament commandment no to return evil for evil a sufficient warrant for a Christian not being policeman or a soldier? No. Both of these, that is treating a person according to justice and treating him according to mercy, are essential in bearing witness to our God.”

            To say that the Bible does not condemn Christians being soldiers, policemen and secret service agents is rather straightforward. But a more complicated situation is this: What if the State is evil?

            Can a Christian revolt against the State or the governing authorities especially when the State perpetrates evil against Christians? Would a Christian be justified in God’s presence if he/she kills the governing authorities who perpetrate evil?

            The theological term for evil being perpetrated against Christians is “Persecution.” In an article entitled, “Should Persecuted Christians Fight Back?” I offered my response:2

            “If the persecutors force themselves to violate the sanctity of my children or any other member of my family, then I would do all that it takes to defend my family. I would rather give up my life in defending my family than not. Only the creator and the Father God has the right to take life off this earth (Cf. 1 Samuel 2: 6-7; Job 1: 21). Loving our neighbor entails protection.

            If the persecutors are in the business of slaughtering Christians for their faith in Christ, then I would most willingly offer my life for the sake of Christ. In other words, I would not recant my faith in Christ to live a few more miserable years. A profitable reminder from history is the martyrdom of Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna (Izmir, Turkey). 2

            From a nation’s standpoint, the ruling authority should do all that it takes to protect the basic human rights of all its citizens. The world should intervene during persecutions to protect those being persecuted.

            But what if persecutions are engineered by the ruling authorities? A typical case in point would be the persecutions organized by Hitler or Mao Zedong.

            If Christians are being persecuted by the governing authorities, then the Bible does not offer any tangible reason to fight back the governing authorities by means of violence. Fleeing is an option, but if fleeing is not possible, then persecution should be endured. Christians cannot take up arms to fight or rebel against the governing authorities.

            There could be persecutions at the workplace. Especially if we are ardent in our faith in Christ, then the ardent believer(s) of other worldviews may innovate methods to jeopardize our presence at the workplace. In such situations, our primary response should be to allow our work ethics and proficiency to strengthen our presence at our workplace.     

            There is never a good reason to fight our persecutors at our workplace. Therefore, when the going gets tough, then we, as tough Christians, should increase our work efficiency at our workplace to let our work defend our presence.

            If persecutions at work go out of hand, and there are good instances where it can get harsh on us, then it may even be a viable option to consider moving out. But in any case, we should love our persecutors. We should never hate or retaliate against them. We can never repay evil for evil (Romans 12: 17).

            In some instances, our own family members would persecute us (Matthew 10: 21, 35-36; Luke 21: 16). They, like the other persecutors, may say all kinds of evil things against us (Matthew 5: 11) or use our own words against us (Matthew 22: 15; Luke 11: 53-54) or raise false accusations (Matthew 26: 59-61; 2 Timothy 2: 8-9) or crucify our character (Luke 7: 34; John 7: 12, 9: 24) or simply term us as the devil (Matthew 9: 34).

            While we suffer these persecutions, we ought to seriously consider if we are on the side of the truth or not. If we are not for Christ, then we are against HIM (Matthew 12: 30; Luke 11: 23).

            The objective for every Christian is to be in Christ and in HIS truth always. If we are in Christ, then our persecutions would be for HIS sake. The greater reward, according to the Bible, is only to those who are persecuted for the sake of Christ (Matthew 5: 10; 2 Timothy 3: 12).

            However, if we are persecuted by our own, then we should endure it and not retaliate against them.

            Retaliation is never an option for a Christian or a group of Christians. Retaliation against the governing authorities, through formation of rebel outfits, is out of question for Christians. 

            In HIS own mysterious yet marvelous ways, God will help those being persecuted (Psalm 46: 1). These verses summarize the state of the believers being persecuted, “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4: 8-11, NASB, Emphasis Mine).”

Endnotes:

1https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/should-christians-be-cops-and-soldiers

2http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2014/08/should-persecuted-christians-fight-back_18.html

All Scripture references are from NIV, unless otherwise mentioned.


Websites cited were last accessed on 15th November 2017.