Thursday, June 30, 2016

Why Would Jesus Predict Muhammad In The Bible? Why Do Muslims Quote The Bible? (Understanding The Muslims)

            The question is not whether Jesus Christ predicted Muhammad in the Bible as a prophet. Many Christian scholars have adequately and reasonably falsified the notion that Muhammad is mentioned in the Bible. So let us be clear from the outset that Muhammad is not mentioned in the Bible.

            We could think from another vantage point to understand the Muslim mindset. Hence, we could ask two questions:

            (1) If Christ were to have predicted Muhammad, what could have been the most compelling reason that may have motivated Christ to predict Muhammad?

            (2) Why would a Muslim refer to a possibility that the Bible or Christ predicted Muhammad as a prophet? 

            The Bible states that Jesus Christ is God incarnate and the Lord and Savior of mankind. Any conservative Christian would believe that the Bible does not mention Muhammad. On the contrary, the Islamic holy book, the Quran, refers to both Jesus and Muhammad as prophets. The Quran denies Christ’s divinity. 

Why Would Jesus Predict Muhammad In The Bible?

            The most minimalistic answer to this question is that Jesus Christ would have predicted Muhammad, if Muhammad was in God’s will (plan) to carry out the work of Christ Jesus, which is to preach Christ crucified so to save people from their sinfulness or eternal doom. This is the hallmark of a true prophet/disciple succeeding Christ (cf. Apostle Paul).

            Both the Quran and the extra-Quranic literature informs us that Muhammad neither did affirm Christ as God incarnate nor did preach Christ as the only way to heaven. Essentially, Muhammad contradicted Christ. 

            If Muhammad contradicted Christ, why would Christ predict Muhammad knowing well that he would absolutely contradict HIM?

            Christ, being God, would know perfectly well as to what each man would do at any point in time. Hence, Christ would have precisely known that Muhammad would contradict HIM in the future. Christ then had no reason whatsoever to predict Muhammad from the perspective of a true prophet of God. Therefore, the notion that Christ predicted Muhammad is an insane and a preposterous thought.

            However, Christ could have predicted Muhammad for one good reason. Christ could have revealed to mankind that Muhammad would deny Christ. Hence, in this context - the context of false prophets - Christ had a plausible reason to predict Muhammad. Therefore, if Christ had predicted Muhammad, Christ could have only predicted Muhammad as the one who would deny HIM.

            From within the perspective of the Bible, wherein the Bible teaches that Christ is God and that believing in Christ is the only way to heaven, there is absolutely no reason for Christ to have predicted Mohammed as the true prophet or a true disciple of God.

Why Do Muslims Argue That Christ Predicted Muhammad As A Prophet In The Bible?

            Whether we engage in a friendly religious banter or in a serious religious conversation, our Muslim brother or sister, at some point in time, will argue that Muhammad was foretold in the Bible.

            Well-known apologist of Islam, Ahmed Deedat, had argued extensively for the case of Muhammad in the Bible, “During 1975 Ahmed Deedat held a series of lectures at the Durban City Hall, two of which set out to prove that Muhammad is foretold in the Bible. The first lecture, entitled What the Bible Says About Muhammad, dealt with the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18.18 in the Old Testament, and in it Mr. Deedat sought to show that Moses was predicting the coming of Muhammad when speaking of a prophet to follow him who would be like him. During 1976 Mr. Deedat published this lecture in booklet form under the same title. In his second lecture in 1975 he spoke on Muhammad the Natural Successor to Christ and here he endeavoured to prove that Jesus was foretelling the coming of Muhammad when he exhorted his disciples to wait for the coming of the one he called the Comforter who, he said, would follow him.”1 Therefore it is of no surprise that our Muslim friend will table this theme for the purpose of discussion.

            Why do Muslims depend on the Bible to confer greater credibility upon Muhammad? Fundamental to every Islamic argument against Christianity is the notion that their holy book Quran is pure and trustworthy. At the same time, Muslims would passionately argue that the Bible is corrupt in its transmission. Effectively, they argue that the Bible that we have now is not what God gave to the original authors, for the Muslims believe that the original content of the Bible has been corrupted during the transmission of the Bible over the thousands of years.

            If a serious Muslim believes that the Bible is corrupt, then why do they refer to the Bible about the possibility of Muhammad being predicted? If the Bible is corrupt, would not the notion that Muhammad is predicted in the Bible also be false?

            This author highlights this point well, “Muslims have made the claim for a long time that the coming of Muhammad is prophesied in the Bible namely the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament), and the Christian Scriptures (New Testament). Why do Muslims make this claim?

            The claim rests on the assertion in the Qur’an that Muhammad’s coming is described in the Scriptures of the ahl al-kitab, i.e., the People of the Book, a title given to Jews and Christians. It states, “Those who followed the Apostle the unlettered Prophet [Muhammad], whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures) in the Law and the Gospel” (Qur’an 7:157). The Law and the Gospel refer of course to the Jewish and Christian Scriptures respectively. An inconsistency emerges at this point when the Bible is brought into the discussion by Islam. Many Muslims charge that the Bible is:

             1)  Corrupted and unreliable.

            2)  Some parts of it are true.

            3)  Some parts of it are false.

            If (1) is true, then the argument that Muhammad is predicted in the Bible is moot and irrelevant because the Bible cannot be trusted. Both (2) and (3) essentially amount to saying the same thing and most Muslims opt for either (2) or (3). The reason for doing so however is not based on any consistent criterion but rather an ad hoc approach, it is contrived from the beginning. How do Muslims argue what parts of the Bible are true and reliable and which ones are not? They do so by using the Qur’an as their reference guide. When the Bible agrees with the Qur’an, it is right, when it does not, it is flat out in error. This is the exact same methodology that cults use in judging the Bible, if it does not conform with their “new” revelation or scripture, it is in error. The same methodology is employed by Islam in its treatment of the Bible.” 2  

            A Muslim takes utmost joy to an extent that he thinks that it is his birthright to criticize the Bible as a corrupt document. In the same vein, why does Islam not offer the Quran for a thorough criticism (historical, textual etc.)? History is replete with instances of violent Islamic backlashes against any attempt to criticize the Quran or its prophet Muhammad. This is the double standard Islam practices. 

            How do Muslims justify that the Quran is free from all corruption? They will say that the Quran is pure because Quran says so (circular argument) or that Allah has preserved it to be pure. In the same vein, if we assure the Muslims that the Bible claims purity (e.g. John 10:35) or that God protects the Bible from any corruption, they would immediately reject our argument.

            Therefore, whenever Muslims refer to Muhammad from the Bible, they are merely exposing their double standards without realizing their fallacy. This is because they are indoctrinated to do so and they do not think through their arguments. 

            The other reason that motivates Muslims to cite the Bible is more serious in nature. As we have seen, Christ had no compelling reason whatsoever to predict Muhammad as the true prophet of God. Moreover, Muslims believe that Quran is pure and that the Bible is corrupt. However, Muslims have the audacity to falsely cite Muhammad from the Bible as a slap in the face of Christianity.

            By citing Muhammad from the Bible, the Muslim implies that Christ is not God. How? If Christ had predicted Muhammad, and if we are to assume that the Quran is pure and from God, then Christ is a mere prophet and not God.

            Significantly, the Muslims believe, albeit without any good reason, that they possess greater knowledge than Christians.

            Therefore, it is incumbent upon the Christian to expose the fallacy of the Islamic argument in order to highlight the fact that Bible is indeed the word of God. If the Bible can be reasonably proven as God’s Word, and we can prove this reasonably, then on the basis of mutual exclusivity, the Quran cannot be God’s Word.

            Alternatively, we could ask our Muslim brother or sister to prove that Quran is God’s Word. I personally wonder that if Muslims had even one reasonable argument to prove that the Quran is the Word of God, they would have allowed the world to freely and academically critique the Quran without taking any offense.

            When Muslims take the liberty to critique the Bible, they should also allow a free academic critique of the Quran.

            We live in a civilized world, so there is no harm in enjoying a civil discussion analyzing our respective religious worldviews.

Endnotes:

1 http://www.answering-islam.org/Gilchrist/muhammad.html

2 http://www.answeringmuslims.com/2015/12/does-bible-predict-coming-of-muhammad.html


Read also http://crossexamined.org/simple-reason-quran-word-god/ to understand why Quran cannot be the Word of God. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Conjuring Two or Not To

            Conjuring 2 is a horror movie. Should Christians watch horror movies or not? What does the Bible say about watching horror movies?

            Filmmaker and author, Brian Godawa, in his article, “The Apologetic of Horror,” presents an excerpt of horror stories from the Bible, “The prophet Daniel wrote horror literature, based on images and drama pitched by God to him in Babylon. Not only did God turn the blaspheming king Nebuchadnezzar into an insane wolfman to humble his idolatrous pride (Dan. 4), but He storyboarded horror epics for kings Belshazzar and Darius as allegories of the historical battle between good and evil to come. Huge hybrid carnivorous monsters come out of the sea like Godzilla, one of them with large fangs and ravishing claws to devour, crush, and trample over the earth (7:1–8) until it is slain and its flesh roasted in fire (7:11); there are blasphemous sacrileges causing horror (8:13), including an abomination of desolation (9:26–27); angels and demons engaging in spiritual warfare (10:13); rivers of fire (7:10); deep impact comets and meteors colliding with the earth, Armageddon style (8:10); wars, desolation, and complete destruction (9:26-27). The book of Daniel reads like God’s own horror film festival.

            It is not merely the human being Daniel who crafted this work of epic horror allegory, it is God Himself who rolled the camera and directed the action. God himself enjoys the horror genre. That’s God-breathed inerrancy. The author of this faith didn’t grow out of it after the Old Testament. In fact, he may have received an even harsher movie rating in his later production, the New Testament.

            The book of Revelation is an epic horror fantasy sequel to Daniel, complete with science fiction special effects, and spectacles of horror darker than anything in a David Cronenberg Grand Guignol theater of blood. In this apocalyptic prophecy we read of a huge demonic spectacle of genetically mutated monsters chasing and tormenting scream ing [sic] people (9:1–11); armies of bizarre beasts wreaking death and destruction on the masses (9:13–18); a demonic dragon chasing a woman with the intent to eat her child (12:3–4); a seven-headed amphibious Hydra with horns that blasphemes God and draws pagan idol worship from everyone on earth (13:1–10); massive famines (6:8); gross outbreaks of rotting sores covering people’s bodies (16:2); plagues of demonic insects torturing populations (9:1–11); fire-breathing Griffon-like creatures (9:17); supernatural warfare of angels and demons (12:7); the dragging of rotting corpses through the streets while people party over them (11:7–13); rivers and seas of blood (14:20; 16:3); a blaspheming harlot doing the deed with kings and merchants (17:1-5) who then turn on her, strip her naked, burn her with fire, and cannibalize her (17:16); more famines, pestilence, and plagues (18:8); and when the good guys win, there is a mighty feast of vultures scavenging the flesh of kings and commanders in victory (19:17–18). And I might add, this all gives glory to God in the highest.” 1

            Brian Godawa’s premise is that the Bible does not oppose horror movies, since God HIMSELF has narrated horror stories as a part and parcel of HIS revelation. He then goes on to defend the horror genre theologically because…2

            …horror movies reinforce the doctrine of man’s sinful nature.

            …horror movies communicate the logical consequences of sin.

            …horror movies illustrate the consequence of modern man’s pride and arrogance.

            This is a compelling argument. The Bible does not explicitly pronounce a ban on horror movies. In fact, Brian Godawa has presented persuasive reasons to believe that the Bible does not ban viewing of horror movies.

            Those who desire to watch horror movies are not fearful of horror movies. But others may be fearful. Hence they may not watch horror movies. I have not watched horror movies because these movies have not appealed to my interest. I find enough horror in this world, so I do not need a distinctive encounter with horror through horror movies. But our counsel to those desiring to watch horror movies ought to be biblical and without any extraneous bias.

            Some Christians pronounce a blanket ban on horror movies as if they are as horrific as pornography. If we are to pronounce a blanket ban upon horror movies, then we ought not to watch the majority of the television serials and movies, for they contain insane amount of corrupt thoughts, violence and/or sexual connotations. Is this the way forward for us?

            Popular Christian website www.gotquestions.org almost suggests that horror movies are a strict no-no, “As we mature in our Christian walk, sin and evil should bother us more and more all the time. We are to be beacons of light in an ever-darkening world, striving to live a life that is holy and pleasing to God (Romans 12:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:12). Scripture tells us to be moral and pure, abhorring what is evil and to have our minds focused on things which are noble and pure, lovely and admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), and that “whatever [we] do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). These verses should guide us daily in everything we do, including the movies we choose to see. How can it be possible to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) when we are at a horror movie laden with murder and mayhem and, essentially, being entertained by the very sins that Jesus Christ died for?”2

            Does this render a judgment that those Christians who watch horror movies are not Christians or are they being unholy?

            There ought to be a meaning to all our actions. I enjoy watching a game or a clean movie or a TV serial, for I learn something out of them and in the process, I unwind. However, I am unsure how watching a horror movie would bring forth peace or relaxation upon us and I am also unsure how one can enjoy watching horror.

            Watching horror movies once in a while may not be a bad choice. However, I personally find only one good reason to watch a horror movie, which is to review them biblically so to make good use of the knowledge gleaned to disciple fellow Christians to grow in Christ.

            If we watch horror movies frequently, then we are indeed treading dangerous waters. To conclude, here is wisdom in the words of Brian Godawa, “Horror and thriller movies are two powerful apologetic means of arguing against the moral relativism of our postmodern society. Not only can they reinforce the biblical doctrine of the basic evil nature in humanity, but they can personify profound arguments of the kind of destructive evil that results when society affirms the Enlightenment worldview of scientism and sexual and political liberation. Of course, this is not to suggest that all horror movies are morally acceptable. In fact, I would argue that many of them have degenerated into immoral exaltation of sex, violence, and death. But abuse of a genre does not negate the proper use of that genre.

            It would be vain to try to justify the unhealthy obsession that some people have with the dark side, especially in their movie viewing habits. Too much focus on the bad news will dilute the power that the Good News has on an individual. Too much fascination with the nature and effects of sin can impede one’s growth in salvation. So, the defense of horror and thriller movies in principle should not be misconstrued to be a justification for all horror and thriller movies in practice. It is the mature Christian who, because of practice, has his senses trained to discern good and evil in a fallen world (Heb. 5:14). It is the mature Christian who, like the apostle Paul, can explore and study his pagan culture and draw out the good from the bad in order to interact redemptively with that culture (Acts 17).”3 (Emphasis Mine).

Endnotes:

1 http://www.equip.org/article/an-apologetic-of-horror/

2 Ibid.

3http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-horror-movies.html


4 http://www.equip.org/article/an-apologetic-of-horror/

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Sex With Animals; The Dark Future Unravels

            One of the most distressing and nauseating report in the social media this week was about Canada legalizing sex with animals. But this is the truth; Canada did not pass a new law legalizing oral sex with animals.
    
            Let us not be glad that good sense prevailed in Canada, for the truth is much worse than we think.

            Bestiality and Zoophila are the terms that represent the morbid, perverted and hedonistic act of sexual intercourse between humans and animals.

            There are animal brothels! Apparently animal brothels are on the rise in Germany under the pretext that sex with animals is a “lifestyle choice.”

            The presence of animal brothels need not surprise us, for bestiality was practiced even in the biblical times. The Bible deems bestiality as a perversion and pronounces curses upon the perverts indulging in such heinous practices. We live in a sinful world, so we expect and experience sins of all forms and sizes.

            Perverts claim that sex with animals is a lifestyle choice. Mexico, Finland, Hungary, Brazil, Denmark, Sweden, USA, South Africa, Columbia and Germany are the countries where one can have sexual intercourse with animals.2

            The fact that people claim bestiality as their lifestyle choice should also not depress us. We live in a world that actively promotes debauched lifestyle choices.

            Making a bad lifestyle choice is not new to us. Cigarettes, for instance, are proven (beyond doubt) to be harmful to human health. Yet we sell and promote cigarettes. People, who are well aware of the harmful effects of cigarettes upon their body, smoke them willingly.

            So the presence of sin and the sinful preference of man are not the most disturbing aspects. But what disturbs me most is the reason propounded by those combating the evil practice of bestiality.

            Recently the Danish government banned bestiality in Denmark. Yes, bestiality was once legal in Denmark!!!

            Please read this news snippet carefully; this apparently was a statement by the Danish government, “The Danish government has decided that a ban on sexual relations between humans and animals shall be implemented in the Danish legislation.

            Animals must be treated with respect and care and have the right to a high level of protection. When it comes to sexual relations between humans and animals there is a special concern to be taken into account, as the animals cannot consent to enter into a sexual relation with a human being. Another concern is that it can be difficult to identify and document possible physical or mental damage to the animal as a result of the sexual relation with a human being.” (Emphasis Mine).3

            Why did the Danes ban bestiality? The answer is simple. The Danes banned bestiality so to prevent cruelty upon animals.

            It is this answer that disturbs me the most. We are more concerned about the animals than we are about our fellow humans! In fact, we are not concerned about the wellness of human beings. By wellness, I mean the spiritual wellness.

            European countries have long since buried God into the metaphorical grave. Consequently, mankind is slowly yet steadily digging graves and burying each other.

            The morality that the Bible espouses is the creation’s most appropriate response to their creator, which is to honor and glorify God through our thoughts, words, and deeds. Sin is an assault upon God.

            Within the context of morality, when we enthrone animals, we dethrone God, who is the essence of morality. When we deem God as nonexistent or dead or when we intently ignore HIM, we adulterate and mitigate our conception of morality. God is no longer the essence of morality. Within the context of bestiality, animals have replaced God.

            Having replaced God with animals, we are more concerned about our exploitation of animals than we are about Satan’s exploitation of man to lure him to perennially sin against God.  

            Sex, as intended by God, is the sacred consummation of a marital relationship between a husband and his wife. Today, that biblical notion is being erased deliberately. Sex is liberally viewed more as a lifestyle choice by those who have buried God.

            So when we realize that animals are being inordinately hurt by brutal animalish humans, our focus is more towards saving the animals because they cannot fight their own cause.

            We should save our animals, no doubts, but then who will save the sinful mankind?

            Satan is winning huge victories in many lives. Those who stand at the sidelines and are seated at the bleachers, applaud these victories as if these victories are paving way for a blessed life.

            Today, the secular world’s message to its brutish inmates is this; it is wrong inappropriate to have sex with animals, since, by doing so, you are inordinately hurting the animals. This is the morality we desire.

            In the process, we encourage our fellow men to have sex with other humans. It does not matter if that human being is your own spouse or the spouse of your neighbor or even a fellow male or a fellow female. Adultery and homosexuality are Aok! But please do not hurt the animals.

            Morality is thrown into the fire from the frying pan progressively and almost irreversibly.  

            We may think and celebrate that we are saving our animals, but we are losing our fellow men to Satan’s schemes. We do not realize Satan’s presence because we have buried God. Consequently, we are the causal agents encouraging morality to plummet into darker depths all the while thinking that we are the defenders of morality.

            We are defending a skimmed morality. The essence of morality, God, has been skimmed.

            While the world condemns bestiality, it celebrates fornication, premarital sex, homosexuality, adultery and what not!  Welcome to the darker future.

            Do not live under the false impression that our future will be glorious. Our future will not be glorious. Our future will be dark.

            I am not referring to a darker future with respect to our economic development or technological development and the likes. Our world, with respect to its moral state of affairs, will plunge into darker depths.

            What then is the need of the hour?

            God should be in the equation. In other words, those who believe in God ought to remain in Christ, voice their opinions, and strengthen their children and their neighbors to live for God and HIM alone. When we live for God, our thoughts, words and deeds will be pleasing in HIS sight. When we live for God, we will strive to be morally upright and by the grace of our dear Lord, we will.

            As long as Satan exists, and he will exist until he is annihilated by Christ in the future, evil will prosper and morality will plummet. In this depressing situation, if we can live strong and well in the Lord, it is to our benefit.

            Many Christians will be swayed by the world and will depart from the truth that is only found in Christ. These so-called Christians are the wolves in sheep’s clothing (cf. Matthew 7: 15). Beware of them. They will demand that we be politically correct and be tolerant of anything and everything that happens around us.

            I believe it was Francis Schaeffer who predicted that mankind would compromise absolute truth, “Today not only in philosophy but in politics, government, and individual morality, our generation sees solutions in terms of synthesis and not absolutes. When this happens, truth, as people have always thought of truth, has died.” Let us not compromise the absolute truth, rather let us live for the absolute truth in Christ and may the truth set people free.

Endnotes:

1 http://www.snopes.com/canada-legalizes-beastiality/

2 http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/most-shocking/10-nationalities-who-fornicate-with-animals/


3 http://www.peta.org.uk/blog/denmark-bans-bestiality/

Monday, June 13, 2016

Feminism: Should Woman Submit To Man?

            When did we last hear a sermon in the church about wives submitting to their husbands? Sermons about husband loving his wife are in abundance, but sermons devoted to Christian wives submitting to their husbands…?  

            The church, existing in the feminist era, strives to be politically correct. But churches need to be biblically correct!  

            Should the wife submit to her husband in a Christian home? Who is the head of the Christian home – husband or the wife?

            In God’s creational intent, the woman may have been a sequel to man but she most certainly is an equal to man. Neither dominates the other; neither is inferior to the other within the context of God's creational intent.

            But God in HIS perfect wisdom has ordained a hierarchy in the Christian home. The husband is the head of the Christian home. This hierarchy should be unequivocally accepted.

            The wife is not the head of a Christian home, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5: 22-24, NIV, Emphasis Mine.).

            The husband is compared to Christ and wife to the church. As Christ is the head of the church, husband is the head of his wife. Period.

            Moreover, when love (verse 25) and submission (verse 22) are being equated in Ephesians 5: 22-25, unjust domination of any form in a Christian household is forbidden.

            Christian feminists dilute the meaning of the word “submit” or “subject” as being ‘thoughtful and considerate’ or ‘to act in love’ toward one another! This interpretation betrays the biblical intent for this passage.

            The Greek word “hypotassō” - the root word for “submit,” renders the meaning of “submission to authority.” Here are a few other instances in the New Testament where “hypotassō” has been used:

            Luke 2: 51: Submission of Jesus to the authority of his parents

            Luke 10: 17: Demons being subject to the disciples (Demons cannot be “thoughtful and considerate” to the disciples and neither can the demons “act in love” towards the disciples!!!!)

            Romans 13:1: Citizens being subject to government authorities

            1 Corinthians 15: 27: Universe being subject to Christ

            1 Corinthians 15: 28: Christ being subject to God the Father

            Titus 2: 9: Servants being subject to their masters.

            Hebrews 12: 9: Christians being subject to God.

            In all the above instances, the relationship is pretty straightforward – it’s submission and not anything else.

            Wives cannot rebel or be resentful of their husband’s leadership in the family. Wives cannot compete with their husbands for leadership in the family. (A husband cannot be abusive, selfish or domineering.)

            Submission to authority does not include an utterly inactive presence in the family and agreeing to everything that the husband does or does not do. A wife can be totally submissive and at the same time participate in the decision-making process of the family. (Husbands ought to provide godly leadership, and be loving and considerate towards their wives while wives ought to joyfully submit to their husband’s leadership.)

            The Bible provides us with a few instances of feminism, where the husbands succumbed to their wives, who actively performed sinful deeds. A husband cannot be so considerate of his wife that he allows her to make all decisions, even the wrong ones.

            Always remember that the first man Adam was persuaded by his wife Eve to disobey God. King Ahab submitted to his [wicked] wife Jezebel to worship Baal (1 Kings 16: 31-33). The so-called wise King Solomon listened to his many wives and turned his heart after other gods (1 Kings 11: 4) and even sacrificed to Molech (1 Kings 11: 7-8).

            A dominating wife and an inactive husband are a clear recipe for disaster in a Christian household. Feminism will raise its ugly hood in the Christian home when the wife’s faith in Christ is inadequate. The wife who dominates her husband cannot be a mature Christian. The husband who submits to his dominating wife for the sake of peace and stability of his family will always be the victim of Satan’s evil scheme against the Christian household.  

            This then is the solution to any feminism infected Christian household. It’s not surprising that apostle Paul, who laid out the modus operandi of Christian household, concluded his letter with an exhortation to constantly fight Satan’s evil schemes, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6: 10-18, NIV).

            Feminism that destroys the Christian household does not spare the Christian church.

            Consider a church that apparently suppresses its women by mandating them to cover their heads (1 Corinthians 11: 5) and to remain silent (1 Corinthians 14: 34). Should the [spiritually-gifted] women of that church be utterly feministic and rebel against authority?

            Primarily, does the Bible mandate women to be silent in the church? No.

            Before we study 1 Corinthians 14: 34, which appears to mandate women to be silent in churches, we ought to have studied 1 Corinthians 11: 5, which says, “But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head” (Emphasis Mine).

            It’s sufficiently evident that Paul advises women to cover their heads. He does not prohibit women from praying or prophesying. Therefore, Paul did not mandate women to be silent in churches.

            If Paul did not mandate women to be silent in the worship service, he would not have contradicted himself later in the 14th chapter when he said that women ought to remain silent in churches. Therefore, we ought to study 1 Corinthians 14: 34 in the context of Paul’s letters.

            Paul has always been accused of being harsh towards women especially in their involvement in the worship service. But the very same apostle Paul speaks highly of women in positions of leadership in Romans 16: Phoebe (v2); Priscilla (v3-4) and the other women in the same chapter. 

            Therefore, the restrictive passages such as 1 Corinthians 14: 33-36 ought to be viewed as relating to local context of the Corinthian church than interpreting it universally to restrict women from speaking in any church today.

            Should women cover their heads today?

            Would God be more bothered about a head covered in a worship service than a heart that worships HIM in spirit and in truth? Obviously God is more concerned about the heart than the head (cf. Matthew 23: 25-28). 

            Could women be pastors and elders in the local church?

            1 Timothy 2: 11-14, 3: 1-7 & Titus 1: 5-9 and few other passages seem to mandate women to not assume positions of leadership in the churches, whereas we have other verses in the Bible such as Acts 2: 17-18 that seem to suggest that women can indeed participate in leadership positions.

            A church that prohibits women from being pastors and elders does not demean the womenfolk. Women in such situations could be actively involved in the ministries of hospitality, mercy and evangelism. If women are prohibited from teaching men, then women who are spiritually gifted could use their time and resources to teach other women.

            Creating chaos to divide the church is not an option for women who suffer these prohibitions. If your church prohibits you from assuming positions of leadership then so be it. God will provide you with opportunities to serve HIM from other situations.

            Role of women in the church is a fringe theological aspect, which we can agree to disagree. The concerned churches and the women should be gracious and not confrontational. As Saint Augustine said may we be charitable in our relationship with each other, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

Monday, June 6, 2016

Feminism: Does the Bible Oppress Women?

            Read any print or watch any video or hear any podcast that introduces feminism, the minimalistic definition of feminism that you would be exposed to would be in any flavor of this definition from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Feminism is both an intellectual commitment and a political movement that seeks justice for women and the end of sexism in all forms.” Within the context of this definition, if you or I affirm that we are not feminists, we would be raucously ridiculed, for it would superficially portray us as being supportive of the prejudice against women. We would then be termed a misogynist.

            But should not our identity, as Christians, in the context of feminism, be based on an accurate understanding of this subject, especially from within the framework of Historic Christianity? So let us get down to the brass tacks in order to understand the foundation of feminist theology (a theology moored in a feminist perspective that advocates equality to women by abolishing the patriarchal rule – rule of men).

            It is of paramount importance for Christians to minimally understand the feminist theology, for we need to comprehend the modalities of feminism from within a Christian worldview. In other words, we need to understand how feminism strives to achieve its objectives through its consideration of God, Bible and salvation from within the Historic Christian perspective.

            Feminist theology belongs to the theological movement named “liberation theologies.” The liberation theologies movement includes a cluster of theologies namely, Black, Feminist and Third World theologies.

            This movement propounds a unique view of salvation. The specific nature of salvation propounded by the liberation theologies contradicts the traditional understanding of Historic Christianity:

            1. Bible is not considered as a book with eternal truths and rules. In other words, the Bible is not considered as universal in nature but of specific history.   

            2. God is not considered as immutable (changeless) but actively involved in change and favoring equality. Significantly, since God favors equality, HE cannot or must not work equally for all people, because justice ought to compensate the inequality, which entails that God ought to favor the oppressed, poor and the lowly.

            3. Salvation is not essentially life after death. Eternal life is always thought of in the context of a new social order. In other words, our goal in life (or within history) is not to gain access to eternity. Millard J. Erickson, in his work Christian Theology, summarizes the concept of salvation as propounded by liberation theology, “The salvation of all persons from oppression is the goal of God’s work in history and must therefore be the task of those who believe in him, utilizing every means possible, including political effort and even revolution if necessary.” (Emphasis Mine).

            Christians ought to consider their feminist identity from within this background. Feminism, from a Christian perspective, is not merely to attain equality and justice for women. But a Christian ought to understand how this equality comes into being or attains fruition.

            Contradicting the core tenets of Historic Christianity is the modality of feminist theology. In its essence, the feminist theology falsely assumes that the Bible’s proclivity is to oppress women. Hence, the feminist theology movement induces a contentious hermeneutic to alter the message of the Bible.

            Since feminism superimposes the feminist ideology into the Bible, this protracted introduction is necessary to understand feminism from within the Historic Christian perspective.

            Having said this, we also ought to understand that feminism is not a totally wasted ideology. Women have been unjustly oppressed, so they ought to be delivered. Feminism achieves this objective, but does extensive damage when this objective works against God’s will.  

            Does the Bible oppress women?

Woman are Created Equal

            Both man and woman are created in the image of God (Genesis 1: 26-27, 5: 1-2). If both man and woman are created in the image of God, then the creational intent of God reveals that the notion of woman being inferior to man is false.

Woman are Not Inferior

            God described the woman as a ‘helper’ to man. The common understanding of the term ‘helper’ in the context of woman’s relationship to man is that of inferiority and subordination of the woman to man.

            Think about this from our day-to-day understanding of the term helper. The one who receives help is in a weak position (within that very context), for he is unable to help himself (he needs help). The helper, on the other hand, is in a stronger position, because he has something that the needy person does not have. So, the person who helps is not necessarily inferior to the one who receives help.

            A proper translation of the Hebrew word ‘helper’ in Genesis 2:18 into English renders the meaning of co-worker or enabler. This certainly does not refer to being subordinate or being inferior.

Woman are Not Insignificant

            Proverbs 31 praises the virtuous woman. She promotes the welfare of her family and is engaged in trading and business. She is by no means confined to her home, whereas she is a very significant presence in her family.

God Referred in Feminine Imagery

            Deuteronomy 32: 18 portrays God in a feminine imagery (as a God who gave birth). God is depicted as Israel’s mother.

            In the context of God’s concern and search for lost persons, Jesus narrated three parables – the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son, which are found in Luke 15. In the parables of lost sheep and lost son, Jesus used masculine imagery to depict God, whereas in the parable of lost coin, Jesus depicted God in a feminine imagery because it was the woman who is the main character in this parable.  

            Therefore, since God has been depicted in the feminine imagery, women have not been created as inferior beings by God.

Jesus’ Attitude toward Women

            The Jews did not consider the women as equal to men. They pronounced three blessings each day, “Blessed be the Lord who did not make me a heathen, blessed be he who did not make me a woman, blessed be he who did not make me an uneducated person” (Emphasis Mine). The Jewish man who followed the teachings of Rabbi Hillel could even divorce his wife if she burnt his dinner.

            Jesus, being in that very oppressive situation, was very sympathetic to women. Jesus cared about the spiritual condition of the Samaritan woman (Jews and Samaritans did not have normal relationship). Christ commended the woman with hemorrhage for her faith (Matthew 9: 20-22). Mary and Martha were Christ’s closest friends. Anna was probably the first woman disciple of Jesus (Luke 2: 36-38).  

            We can go on and on.

            That Jesus Christ, God incarnate, treated women at par with men, instructs us that women and men are co-equals in God’s sight.

Women’s Role in God’s Kingdom

            Women, although in a minority, played a significant role in the growth of God’s Kingdom.

            Miriam saved her brother Moses. Deborah was a judge of Israel. Jael slew Sisera (Judges 4: 17-22). Esther saved the Jews from destruction by Haman.

            Women were given the gift of prophecy: Prophet Joel prophesied that women will also prophesy (Joel 2:28), Isaiah’s wife was referred as a prophetess (Isaiah 8:3), and four unmarried daughters of Philip the evangelist prophesied (Acts 21:9).

            The faithfulness of women in Jesus’ time was noteworthy. Women were at the cross (Luke 23: 49), women sought to anoint Christ’s body (Luke 23: 55-56), women discovered the empty tomb of Christ, they heard the message of two angels, and conveyed the news of Christ’s resurrection to the apostles (Luke 24: 1-10).

            Finally, am I a feminist?

            I believe that women and men are created equal although different in abilities (women’s world record for 100 metres sprint is 10.49 seconds, whereas men’s world record is 9.58 seconds, and there are domains where women are better than men). But I do not consider myself a feminist by the popular understanding of that term. I do not consider myself a feminist because the feminist theology sets aside the universal authority of the Bible; it dilutes God and salvation severely.

            The Bible does not oppress women. But the Bible indeed lays down a hierarchy for mankind. It is this hierarchy that the Christian feminists are against.

            Christian feminism espousing feminist theology has caused much pain in the church of Jesus Christ and in Christian homes. Many families and churches are suffering inordinately because of Christian feminism. I will engage this theme in my next blog.

            Until then, may the peace of God be yours and may HIS gracious presence sustain you and yours always. Amen. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Should Christians Cremate Or Bury Their Dead?

            “Christians should prefer burial rather than cremation based on what the Bible says about the human body in relation to God and resurrection,” said Pastor John Piper on April 26, 2016 in his modest appeal to Christians.1 It’s a preference, not a mandate, added Pastor Piper.

            Founder of Prison Fellowship, the late Chuck Colson, and the American author and radio host, Eric Metaxas, deemed cremation as a pagan practice.2 So if cremation is a pagan practice, are Christians mandated to bury their dead?

            But you may argue that the cremation of the bodies of King Saul and his sons challenges the notion that cremation was a pagan practice, “When the people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all their valiant men marched through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where they burned them. Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.” (1 Samuel 31: 11-13, NIV, Emphasis Mine) If cremation was a pagan practice, the bodies of King Saul and his sons would not have been cremated, is it not?

            Would cremating dead Christians render them ineligible for the final resurrection?

            No well-meaning Christian would argue that cremation renders Christians ineligible for final resurrection. Why?

            What about the Christians who died thousand years ago? Their bodies would have disintegrated into dust by now, is it not?

            What about Christian martyrs burnt to death? What about Christians who are burnt to death in fire accident? Would not their bodies be burnt to ashes?

            Cremation is merely a faster process of disintegrating a body. If the Lord would return after another 2000 years, would not the bodies of those buried now be disintegrated then as well? If the total disintegration of bodies would prevent the final resurrection, then only those who have died closer to the Lord’s return would be eligible for the final resurrection. Moreover, if total disintegration of bodies would prevent the final resurrection, then the implication is that God cannot raise a totally disintegrated body. This limitation ascribed to God is incorrect for it is a severe slur on HIS omnipotence.  

            The Bible does not speak against cremation. The Bible teaches that God will resurrect a [cremated] unbeliever (a good number of unbelievers are cremated). Hence, it is not impossible for God to resurrect a cremated believer, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5: 28-29, NIV). So to argue that cremation renders a believer ineligible for final resurrection is to argue in vain. 

            Having said this, the more favored Christian practice is to bury their dead. Why?

            The early Christian gravesites in the catacombs were called “coemeteria” (cemeteries), which literally means “sleeping places.” They were termed sleeping places because of the belief in the future final resurrection.

            Four reasons are attributed to favoring the burial of the dead, “(1) The body of every human was created by God, bore his image, and deserved to be treated with respect because of this. (2) The centrality of the Incarnation. When the Word became flesh, God uniquely hallowed human life and bodily existence forever. (3) The Holy Spirit indwelt the bodies of believers, making them vessels of honor. (4) As Jesus himself was buried and raised bodily from the dead, so Christians believed that their burial was a witness to the resurrection yet to come.”3

            Pastor Piper states the dreadfulness of fire as a disincentive to cremation, “The use of fire to consume the human body on earth was seen as a sign of contempt. It was not a glorious treatment of the body but a contemptuous one. This is the meaning of Achan’s cremation. He had betrayed Israel and so was not only stoned with his family, but deprived of an ordinary burial by being burned… To be sure, fire is a great gift from God. It warms, and brightens, and guides, and cooks, and refines. But in relation to the human body, it is a dreadful thing. It wounds and tortures and kills and destroys.”4

            Consider this theme from the perspective of salvation. Burial or cremation is immaterial to man’s salvation. Salvation is only through belief in Christ. Belief or unbelief in Christ is realized during life and not after death.

            The biblical pattern is to bury the dead; ergo, if we can, we bury our dead. But if we cannot bury our dead for any circumstantial reason whatsoever, and if cremation is the only possibility, then let us cremate our dead without guilt or shame.

            God will resurrect the dead, whether they were buried or cremated. Those who believe and remain in Christ in their lifetime will be with HIM forever and ever. This is the unshakeable hope we have in Christ.

            Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ. who will transform our frail bodies that they may be conformed to his glorious body, who died, was buried, and rose again for us. To him be glory for ever. Amen.

Endnotes:

1 http://www.christianpost.com/news/john-piper-why-christians-should-bury-not-cremate-their-dead-162709/#b7dMQiIjhlz4G7YH.99

2http://www.christianpost.com/news/why-cremation-is-pagan-burial-is-christian-161240/

3 http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/may21/27.66.html


4 http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/should-christians-cremate-their-loved-ones

Monday, May 23, 2016

Jesus Christ A Hindu?


          “Christ Parichay” a book authored by Ganesh Damodar Savarkar, one of the founders of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), claims that Jesus Christ was a Tamil Brahmin, born in Tamil Nadu, India and died in Kashmir. This claim, in an attempt to invalidate Christianity, posits the following:

            1. Christ was a mere human, not divine.

            2. Christ did not die; hence HE did not resurrect.

            3. Christ does not offer salvation (Christ cannot save people).

            4. Therefore, the Bible is incorrect and Christianity is invalid.

            Such claims denigrating the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ are not new to Historic Christianity (remember the Da Vinci Code?). So Christians need not be offended by such claims.

            Naïve Christians could be rattled by such claims. Hence, Christians who are strong in their faith should make use of these opportunities to strengthen the faith of their naïve neighbor.

            The popular Indian magazine, India Today, reveals the major claims of this book, 1 “Here are some of the audacious claims made by the author in his book:

            1. Ganesh Damodar claims that Christianity is a sect of Hinduism.

            2. The present day Palestinian and Arab territories were a Hindu land.

            3. He went on to say that Christ traveled to India and learnt yoga. Who knows Modi might have also learnt it from 'our very own' Christ, right?

            4. Christ's real name was Keshao Krishna, according to the author. He even had a dark complexion and his mother tongue was Tamil.

            5. Christ's sacred thread ceremony (janeyu) was held when he was 12, according to Brahmin tradition. He even wore a sacred thread.

            6. Apparently, Christianity was never a separate religion and it was a Hindu cult and doctrine introduced by Christ.

            7. Christ was saved after his crucifixion by people from the Essene's cult, who practiced Yoga and spiritual science.

            8. He was given medicinal herbs and plants for his recovery from the 'deathbed'. Christ also was taken to Kashmir.

            9. It was in Kashmir that Christ prayed to Lord Shiva and he spent the last days of his life in the Himalayas.

            10. Damodar claims that Christ's family dressed in an 'Indian' way and had Hindu signs on their bodies.”

            So how should Christians respond to this book?

            Here is my response for your consideration.

            There are multiple approaches to debunk Christ Parichay. One option is to present reasonable evidences to believe the inerrancy or, minimally, the infallibility of the Bible. If the Bible is factual, then the claims of Christ Parichay could be discarded, because the Bible contradicts Christ Parichay.

            Another option is to present reasonable evidences to believe in Christ’s resurrection. If Christ’s resurrection is factual, then Christ died on the cross. Therefore, Christ did not travel to India, as this book claims.

            Consider the central tenet to Historic Christianity, which is the resurrection of Christ. The Bible says that Christianity would crumble if resurrection is proved false, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15: 14, NIV).

            This book negates Christ’s resurrection (ref. #7). So if we can reasonably ascertain the validity of Christ’s resurrection, then this book, with all of its claims, can be safely discarded and forgotten. (If Christ did not resurrect, HE is not the Son of God, so Christianity would be rendered false and invalid.)

            In an earlier blog of mine, I had mentioned the reasons to believe in Christ’s resurrection.2

            Historians affirm Christ’s resurrection because there were confirmations by independent sources (Gospels and Paul’s letters), unsympathetic sources (Tacitus, who was not a friend of Christianity, affirmed Christ’s crucifixion), and that of eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15: 3-7).

            Dr. Gary Habermas’ minimal facts approach lends greater credibility to Christ’s resurrection, “Furthermore, Dr. Gary Habermas, Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy and Chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Theology at Liberty University, who specializes in the study of Resurrection-of-Jesus research, states five highly credible historical facts a.k.a. “Minimal Facts” that almost every historian accepts:

            “1) Jesus died due to crucifixion.

            2) His disciples had experiences that they thought were appearances of the risen Jesus.

            3) Their lives were transformed because of this conviction.

            4) As a result, they proclaimed this message very soon after Jesus’ death, actually within weeks…

            5) A man named Saul of Tarsus was converted to Jesus Christ by what he also concluded was a personal appearance of the risen Jesus to him.

            These are five tough facts that virtually everyone is going to grant as historical, especially the scholars who have studied this area.” 3

            Moreover, Habermas includes the conversion of Apostle James, brother of Christ Jesus and a skeptic, who became a follower of Christ after HE appeared to him. These historical facts are sufficient to conclude that Christ’s resurrection was factual.”3   
  
            Christ’s resurrection is heavily predicated on HIS death on the cross. If Christ did not die, then HE could not have resurrected.

            In our context, if Christ had died on the cross, then the claim of the book “Christ Parichay” is invalid. Christ could not have traveled to Kashmir for HE died on the cross and resurrected.

            Christ’s death on the cross is also a highly credible historical fact. The “Swoon Theory,” which negates Christ’s death on the cross has been debunked, “The Quran states that Jesus did not die on the cross. Other detractors of Christianity state that Jesus merely swooned or lost consciousness at the cross.

            Medical science strongly suggests that Jesus died of asphyxiation. The heart wound inflicted by the soldier upon the crucified Christ confirmed Christ’s death. The sucking chest condition (Piercing of the spear into Christ’s upper thoracic area would have prevented effective breathing and produce sucking sound from the wound. This would have certainly killed Christ) is an added affirmation for Christ’s death on the cross.

            But the supreme defeater to the objection that Christ did not die on the cross comes from the German liberal scholar, David Strauss.

            Strauss asserted that the swoon theory was self-contradictory. If swoon theory was accurate, then Jesus would have been alive. The disciples then would have no reason to preach the gospel, for there need be no forgiveness, no church, and no eternal hope in Christ.

            Finally, we can safely bury the swoon theory for we also have the affirmation of Christ’s crucifixion by non-Christian historians such as Thallus (52AD), Mara Bar-Serapion (70AD), Josephus (93AD), Pliny the Younger (112AD), Cornelius Tacitus (116AD), and Phlegon (140AD).”4

            Therefore, we have reliable evidences to believe in Christ’s death and resurrection. In fact, Christ’s death and resurrection are believed by most critical scholars today. Hence, we can safely and securely discard the claims of the book Christ Parichay.

            But be sure of this; Christianity has flourished in spite of unrelenting attacks during the past 2000 years. In the same vein, Christianity will continue to stand strong until the Lord Jesus Christ returns.

            “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Jude 1: 24-25, NIV)

Endnotes:

1 http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/jesus-christ-tamil-hindu-rss/1/602926.html

2 http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2016/03/why-should-we-believe-christs.html

3 Ibid.


4 Ibid.